"Government means always coercion and compulsion and is by necessity the opposite of liberty." ~ Ludwig von Mises
Column by Jim Davies.
Exclusive to STR
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!