The Rump

Column by Jim Davies.

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Only one credible plan exists, as far as I know, for the elimination of government in short order. It's outlined here and in summary it consists of each market anarchist introducing one of his or her friends per year to a freedom school, and resigning his government job if he has one. Easy, inexpensive, unstoppable, and totally indispensable. No other way can possibly do the job, but none other is needed. The nature and particular content of the school may very well be improved over time, but the nature of that methodology cannot be improved. If you want a free society, that's the only way to get it (and if you don't want a free society, this article may not be to your taste. Time may be better spent reviewing this page instead.)

Even so, we may wonder: How on Earth can any method or school persuade the hard core statists, the dregs or “rump” of society, to undergo such a radical conversion? If someone insists on being governed, how can one change his mind without using force?

This is a classic “straw man” objection. No such person exists, ever has existed or ever will exist. Nobody has ever said “Rule me, please!” outside of a lunatic asylum (or an S/M parlor).

There are, of course, very many who say “Rule them, please” -- but that's entirely different. In America there are around 130 million, who say exactly that at election time; they want to impose their wills on other people, through government. As part of the price, they do implicitly agree to be ruled themselves also, but they believe (mistakenly, almost always) that they enjoy a net gain in the ruling game. One purpose of the education delivered in the freedom school is to demonstrate the magnitude of that mistake.

But, but . . . I said “almost” always; so how about the few who actually do wind up winners, in the savage game of beggar-thy-neighbor known as democracy? Bastiat was right enough when he said, “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else,” but are there not a few who succeed in that endeavor?

Yes, I think there are. They include the top crust in government, the few who are completely stoned on power and can't imagine life without it. Some lower down are also hard to shift, such as the happy cop typified in a recent STRticle. What are we to do with members of this rump, who resist the tidal wave of liberty; shoot them, as has been fatuously suggested?

No, not exactly.

My answer is: just let it roll. As each freedom school graduate brings one friend a year to follow him, the population of re-educated members of society doubles. After 26 years, about one quarter of US residents will be in that happy condition. One quarter is a formidable minority. It will include some who were previously employed by government (though probably less than a quarter of them). It will certainly be large enough to operate a very healthy, active “white market” underground, largely using money other than government fiat paper; gold, silver, Bitcoin and whatever else this enlightened group may choose to invent.

As well as declining to be employed by government, this quarter will decline to trade with government people; it will “shun” or refuse to do business with them.

A year later, half the population will be working in that free economy; the avalanche will be thundering down at full speed. Even though the other half still persists in clinging to the old myths (and even though a disproportionately large number of them work for government), the eventual outcome will be obvious to all. The presumption of government permanence and power will have been uprooted, like trees in the path of the avalanche.

By this stage – one year prior to E-Day – the “shunning” of residual government employees will be having a massive effect – one exactly opposite to the spontaneous applause some of them enjoyed in Watertown last month. Consider that example of a “happy cop.”

Notice the details of the photo shown in that recent article. He is wearing a smart uniform, no doubt part of what gives him his feel-good prestige. Somebody laundered that uniform. Beside him are a couple of patrol cars, each of them late-model and shining clean. Somebody maintained and polished those cars, and detailed them with prestigious markings such as the five golden stars and the precinct insignia and no doubt the usual “To Protect and Serve” pablum. And of course he is enjoying a rate of pay far higher than he would receive in a free labor market, given that (if he is typical of his kind) he probably wound up in the bottom quintile of his high school graduation class. Someone delivered that pay packet.

Now, as the less prestigious jobs in government – clerks, administrators, or “grunts”--are being emptied of willing workers, who graduated from the freedom schools and so quit their government jobs, who is going to launder those uniforms and polish those squad cars and deliver those pay packets? Nobody. And what is going to happen to the self-esteem and job satisfaction of our typical happy cop when that takes place? Will he be happy any longer?

Suppose further that the shunning extends to where he shops; what if the sign goes up “No government employees will be served.” It has already begun! This month, NYC Mayor Bloomberg himself ordered a second slice at Collegno's Pizzeria and was refused. Dunkin Donuts may be the last to do this, but not even happy cops can live by doughnuts alone. And what if (as will certainly be the case, the nearer we approach E-Day) those stores decline to accept government paper--very probably in hyperinflationary free-fall--but insist on real money? Government employees, if their pay is delivered at all, will be receiving it only in fiat form, for sure. So how will they buy groceries? Not so happy, now.

In the case of the actual police – the teeth in the statist monster – there will be an additional, major incentive to quit in that the people a cop bullies and arrests will no longer be afraid – for prosecutors will be short of clerical staff. And what if the court has no janitors? And how will compliant juries be assembled, when 50% of the pool will decline to vote to convict victimless criminals? How will government laws be enforced? And when laws become unenforcible, how many will pay them heed? Thus, in addition to being unpopular and unsupported by ancillary staff, the once-happy cop will lose the core of his job satisfaction: the power to intimidate people of a quality vastly superior to his own.

There's more. At just the same time as the shine is being taken off working for government, each person in the residual rump will be “snowed” by invitations from his friends--plural--to consider the ideas in the freedom school. As I found when writing the later chapters in Transition to Liberty, the frequency--the intensity!--of those invitations will increase exponentially; for the final few, they will be arriving hourly, because at the very time the rump is shrinking, the number eager to enlighten them will be maximizing. No force will be applied, of course, none will be needed. But it will be one stubborn government cookie, who can resist such peer pressure.

Some will, even so--the top crust, mentioned above. They will continue to bark orders, but in the end the only response will be an echo. The grunts will all have walked off the job, leaving the generals in charge of empty offices. They have so absorbed the government myth, they will never let it go. Some will leap off high buildings; others may have the wit, as some top Nazis did in 1945, to acquire gold and squirrel it away, perhaps in some country not yet on its way to ending its own government. They will, in other words, exile themselves.

And yes, there will be a few who refuse or neglect to open their minds to the reasoning in the freedom schools, yet who will not emigrate, but rather stay put and sulk. So long as they do not aggress (that is, express their belief in force by acting forcefully) they will survive, nobody will harm them. And if they do aggress, the justice industry will handle them; their presumed existence is a key reason why a justice industry will find a market.

Today, government workers and supporters imagine they are getting a net benefit from the system as it is--that's why a large majority, at any one time, decline our invitations to take a look at ideas of liberty. No matter. Each of us knows a couple of hundred people. Eventually one of them accepts, and one (per year) is all we need. Next year, some of those who refused will reconsider; for everyone changes with time. And towards the end of the process, when those perceived net benefits are disappearing before their eyes, the rump will rush to get aboard the train before it leaves the station--and with nary a firearm in sight. What an exciting few years they will be!

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?"


helio's picture

I agree with the spirit of this methodology, but want to take exception to where energies are focused. An example will illustrate my point.

When my mind became unburdened by the encumbrances of state power, my reaction was to tell everyone I cared about of my new way of seeing the world. The summary outcome was that the ones I loved the most, shunned me the most. Casual acquaintances shrugged off my advocacy as quackery, but it was my family and long-time friends who subjected me to intense emotional siege for abandoning the popular view.

The point of my tale is that converting friends is not a reliable strategy and some very large percentage of the time one will alienate those people. That is right; they choose their ideology over their bonds of kin and friend. That is how powerful state ideology is.

As a result, spending so much emotional, temporal, and sometimes financial energy on swaying others produces small gains, by-in-large. It seems to me that people who have an affinity for liberty find it, one way or the other. Casting a wide net is better than spear fishing.

What I advocate instead is to spend little energy on proselytizing and most energy on migration. We can achieve the final result very quickly if everyone who loves liberty resettle to common geography. Statists are generally cowards because they have no deep understanding of what they believe. Most believe what they do because everyone around them believe it.

We don't have to outnumber them nationally, just locally.

When 80% of the people on my street share a love for liberty, cops won't be called, people will be safer, children will be homeschooled, alternative currencies will trade freely, community aid will supplant state healthcare, and even private road maintenance may arise. Doing all of those things will set an example by which cowardly statists can be easily persuaded because everyone around them is living freely.

So, by the line of reasoning I have presented, if you love liberty, you must move to where liberty lovers are. Conversion of others will happen by osmosis as a result of us living freely between each other.

Move to New Hampshire.

Jim Davies's picture

Hi Helio. I moved to New Hampshire in 1993, as a refugee from the CT income tax, so may be one of the first libertarians to have done so; it's nice to have freedom lovers nearby so I'll second your final para.

A couple of comments if I may: you may not quite have grasped the point of the plan the article referenced. It does not involve the backbreaking work of "converting friends." It involves inviting friends - one per year - to explore ideas of liberty in a freedom school, free of charge. If they decline (as most do) move on to the next! All the heavy lifting is done by the school - that's why it's there. If I read you right, you were trying to do it yourself. Bad idea; no wonder you found it exhausting.

Then secondly, while I'm glad FSP chose NH and while the annual Fests are most agreeable, I can't agree that the migration idea even qualifies as a plan to liberate America. It fails even to come close!

By "plan" I mean something that corresponds to the widely accepted meaning of the term "strategic plan" and listed its five components part-way through What a Time to be Alive!   I've no wish to be unjust to FSP, which is one of the few bright initiatives to appear in our movement in recent years, but I don't see any of those five in the idea of migrating to NH - or anywhere else. Possibly its weakest aspect is the fifth; it depends (if I understand it) on the remarkable assumption that if NH were to discontinue its government, the rest of the Union would stand idle and let it happen. While pigs, no doubt, took flight. We already know what nonsense that is, from the example of 1861.

mjackso6's picture

"Thus, in addition to being unpopular and unsupported by ancillary staff, the once-happy cop will lose the core of his job satisfaction: the power to intimidate people of a quality vastly superior to his own."

I hate to be 'that guy', Jim, but I have to say that you're making some very subjective assumptions about what motivates some cops to do their jobs. I can't deny that there's a rush involved (some from the danger, some from the 'respect my authorite' thing), but there are also a lot of cops out there who went into the job and stay there because they enjoy helping/protecting others.

Yes, it's part of a Christ/Superman complex, but the reward is the satisfaction you get when you actually do manage to do something that you feel helped someone. Of course there are plenty of cops out there who just get off on being the 'big man' or who are outright dirty, and I understand now that the whole organization isn't what it seems from the inside.

As you say, law enforcement agencies are the government's front teeth, but the average Joe doing the job doesn't realize that. Most of those folks buy the lie as much as any of the rest of us, and don't realize how they're being used. As for the intimidating vastly superior people, define 'superior quality' for me.

Sadly, like the military, there are some very intelligent folks working in law enforcement, some of them with multiple degrees and all sorts of accolades to their names. And most of those otherwise smart folks are bound up tight in the web of lies that's been spun around them since they were little kids.

Jim Davies's picture

Mjack, the point of my article was to show how, using the plan described here, in quite a short period all but a few of even the most dedicated statists ("the Rump") will be persuaded to abandon their practice of initiating force. I picked police as a good example of the Rump because they openly proclaim they exist to "enforce" the "law." That makes them, in my eyes, very inferior human beings - the "teeth of the statist monster," to quote the article.
But if I'm wrong and many of them are good people out only to help and protect, it means the task of conversion will be even easier, that the Rump will not resist as much as I anticipate, and that a free society will arrive even sooner than I expect.

Jim Davies's picture

UPDATE: refusal to serve government people has not, after all, "begun already." The story about Mayor Bloomberg was bogus, fabricated by the Daily Currant. Ah well, they fooled Matt Drudge and Lew Rockwell as well as me.
Seems we must wait a little longer, at least in NYC.

Yarlan Zey's picture

Jim, I agree. You and I are among those who -- like Butler Shaffer -- realize that the sclerotic state will eventually choke itself on its own piggishness and entropic desire to "control" and to assimilate everything and never accommodate itself by changing its own evil self. I hope I live to see it choke on its own vomit. The USSA's demise will be like the implosion of the USSR. One day it's there, the next, it's not. Yes! Thanks for the essay.

RenegadeRick's picture


Thanks for posting the update on the Bloomberg Pizza story. Oh, were it only true.

I think you are correct on how it will end, through refusal to participate, and refusal to serve. Although I wish there were some way to compel such refusal, I know that compulsion of others is wrong. I will have to settle for serving as an example and providing encouragement to others.