"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
An Armed March on Washington?
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Perhaps never before have I encountered a proposal within Liberty Movement circles that has generated more controversy faster and further than Adam Kokesh’s planned July 4th march on Washington, District of Criminals, in which he states that himself and the other participants “will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny. We are marching to mark the high water mark of government & to turn the tide. This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent. Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington, & returning with the resolve that the politicians, bureaucrats, & enforcers of the federal government will not be welcome in the land of the free.”
This plan has evoked responses across the spectrum, ranging from go-to-the-wall devil may care enthusiasm, to those labeling this about the worst and most potentially volatile idea imaginable.
Note that Kokesh has also made it clear that he will attempt to coordinate this protest with the full advance knowledge of D.C. police, and that anyone who chooses to participate should peacefully submit to arrest if things should come to that. He is evidently being as above-board and forthcoming as one could hope to be with such an event.
Of course, any number of things could go wrong, especially should the march attract more than a modest number of activists and police. It is, no matter how you want to dice the tomatoes, a confrontational move. As it is intended to be, in a certain manner, of course.
My own predominant question is this: Is this the best and most effective way to attempt to achieve individual liberty, either under the current socio-political circumstances, or in general, regardless? Yes, it does send a message of sorts, but will it actually achieve anything substantially beneficial?
Kokesh is a self-styled Voluntaryist, and I have heard nothing from him of any alarming significance thus far to disabuse me of the notion that he is genuine philosophically. True, I may have heard a thing or two I disagreed with here or there, but it’s long been my experience that you can show me any two libertarians who claim to see eye to eye on every solitary fine detail of their views, and I’ll just as quickly be able to show you two liars. So I have no major qualms with his starting point.
But if the goal is the dissolution of government in sum total in favor of a non-coercive, free-market society, I personally fail to see how it behooves anyone to afford the titular head of the State – or the State at any level – attention and importance it does not deserve. In other words, I don’t believe we should be engaging government, in a show of force or otherwise. In fact, it is the force element of government we oppose to begin with, is it not?
Rather, I believe government, stem to stern, ought to be abandoned. Shunned. Walked away from. Left unsupported and un-cooperated with.
True, as things stand, those who call themselves government will not leave those of us who do not wish them to involve themselves in our lives and property alone. Far from it. And their insistence on pushing us further and further in this regard has not gone unnoticed by myself, or many others. I fully understand Kokesh’s frustration and intentions, as well as those others who will choose to stand with him this July 4th.
However, I fear this will, even should the event come off peacefully without so much as a hitch or a single arrest, produce counterproductive results. Why?
Simply put, because the only means by which government bureaucrats continue to be able to impose their aggression on us to begin with is because too many people still accept their fundamental existence as rulers and the gatekeepers of basic order. Were this not so, they would be afforded no more legitimacy than any run-of-the-mill pack of brigands, thugs, and killers. By marching on them, it only strengthens that false concept of legitimacy, and does not erode and weaken it, as is ultimately required for victory.
It will be interesting to witness how this turns out. Certainly, America is at a great crossroads right now. Polarization between statist and anti-statist ideologies has perhaps never run higher. The tensions are more palpable by the day, it seems.
It also seems to me that the most productive and peaceful path to liberty – and perhaps the only one at all – is in almost all respects the opposite of Kokesh’s plan. If government employees do go North Korea, then yes, we will have no option but to fight or be marched off to the Nazi ovens or someplace equally horrific. And the actions of bureaucrats during my lifetime have thus far only agitated further and further towards this destination, without question. Thus we must at all costs retain our arms and the corresponding fundamental ability of resistance. I will not argue against either of those points.
Meantime, however, instead of marching on or into Washington – with or without arms – which can only serve to cast government in a light of undue relevance, let’s continue to find new ways to try to intellectually persuade anyone and everyone to march right on out…never to return.