Slackers, Arise! Support the Anti-Party!


People concerned about the growth of government start developing migraines around this time of year. They feel compelled, somehow, to scrutinize the candidates up until Election Day so they can put their votes where they will do the least harm. They tell themselves voting is how responsible people act in a democratic republic, even if it's a lost cause. With all the candidates promising great things the government way, these people attempt to ferret out the least promising.

Sounds to me like it's a win-win situation. Big government not only wins the election, it can claim legitimacy by telling us that since nonvoters are indifferent to the outcome, they can be counted with the winning votes to give government a majority's validation.

As for the nonvoters avoiding the polls, perhaps someday government will declare a War on Apathy and create a Department of Homeland Ennui run by state-certified psychologists who specialize in rat mazes. With such palpable activity, voters will get that peaceful-easy feeling that their government is 'doing something' to wake the slackers up to their civic responsibilities.

Prodding the slackers

Imagine marching barefoot through an ice storm in the middle of the night so you and the rest of Washington's ragged volunteers might surprise hung-over Hessians at dawn. Washington was so concerned about troop morale he had Thomas Paine's American Crisis I read to the men before they got underway:

"These are the times that try men's souls," Paine began." Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated." "By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils."

The men heard these words and went off to fight, reportedly with renewed spirits.

How strange his message sounds in today's world. We're not concerned with freedom; we're concerned about "the sad choice of a variety of evils"--if we're concerned at all.

Is there no alternative to more war, more taxes, and further deterioration of the dollar--no alternative to ineptly run and expensive government programs that fail to achieve their stated ends, but which, because they're government programs, prohibit market alternatives and perpetuate themselves until the last copper-clad penny is shaken from the taxpayers' pockets?

There just might be. The answer may lie with those "slackers" who don't vote--if enough of them are fed up with the state altogether.

Like any other group of humanity, slackers can get organized. I suggest they form a party of their own and call it, perhaps, the Anti-Party.

The Anti-Party, of course, would have no candidates -- nonvoting slackers wouldn't have it any other way. The party's focus would be on ideas. The Anti-Party would provide high profile, timely commentary that debunks the claims that government is necessary for a secure, prosperous, and free society.

After the last hurrah has faded from the last political convention, the Anti-Party could hold a get-together of its own. It's quite possible the nonvoters, because of their numbers, could raise some appreciable funding for such a purpose.

Imagine clicking on the tube and finding some of the better libertarian speakers dissecting the state or hearing a well reasoned and economically sound argument for privatizing defense--knowing it was going out to a national TV audience, thanks to Anti-Party supporters.

Following the convention, the Anti-Party could continue to hammer away at the state's charade right up until Election Day. It would measure its success in the number of people who repudiate the state and don't vote.

If enough people withhold their votes in an election -- but do so vocally, through participation in or support of a convention, and in speaking out in their private lives--the winners will have a hard time claiming legitimacy, while winners and losers might see a new direction to take.

Are some kinds of coercive monopolies necessary?

Many people believe the idea of a stateless society is ludicrous because they assume only a coercive monopoly can provide protective services such as police, courts, and military. But as Murray Rothbard points out in Power and Market,

"In arguing thus, they are caught in an insoluble contradiction, for they sanction and advocate massive invasion of property by the very agency (government) that is supposed to defend people against invasion! [Such a] government would necessarily have to seize its revenues by the invasion of property called taxation and would arrogate to itself a compulsory monopoly of defense services over some arbitrarily designated territorial area." [1]

Others believe we need a central state to ensure peace and prosperity, that without such a state we would be in the throes of chaos. Interestingly, many of these same people rightfully reject the idea of a single global government like the United Nations. Again quoting Rothbard:

"[O]nce one concedes that a single world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as being in a state of impermissible 'anarchy,' why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the state? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighborhood? Each block? Each house? Each person? But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist." [2]

How successful could the Anti-Party be? Looking at surveys about why people don't vote would be of little use in predicting its success because nonvoting has rarely been offered as an organized force. If nonvoters get organized, nonvoting will become more attractive.

At the very least, the Anti-Party would get people to think about the coercive nature of the state and how the act of voting sanctions legal aggression. If the party attracts enough members, it would also deny legitimacy to election winners. An organized force of principled nonvoters might accomplish more--a lot more--but that would come in time.


1 Rothbard, Murray N., Power and Market: Government and the Economy, Institute for Humane Studies, Menlo Park, CA, 1977. p. 7

2 Ibid.

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George F. Smith's picture
Columns on STR: 71

George F. Smith is the author of The Flight of The Barbarous Relic, a novel about a renegade Fed chairman.  Visit his website.