By: Shane Radliff
Edited by Kyle Rearden from The Last Bastille blog
“…The basic principle which leads a libertarian from statism to his free society is the same which the founders of libertarianism used to discover the theory itself. That principle is consistency. Thus, the consistent application of the theory of libertarianism to every action the individual libertarian takes creates the libertarian society. Many thinkers have expressed the need for consistency between means and ends and not all were libertarians. Ironically, many statists have claimed inconsistency between laudable ends and contemptible means; yet when their true ends of greater power and oppression were understood, their means are found to be quite consistent. It is part of the statist mystique to confuse the necessity of ends-means consistency; it is thus the most crucial activity of the libertarian theorist to expose inconsistencies…” [Emphasis added]– Samuel Edward Konkin III, from New Libertarian Manifesto
Consistency is a major issue in the libertarian community today. I’ve witnessed “anarchist politicians”. I’ve been a pragmatic witness to those who claim to value Liberty, advocating for a political candidate. And possibly worse, I’ve seen too many who proclaim the ideology, exercise the inability or complete negligence, in taking any action to truly live it in their own lives. It’s quite disconcerting to me, and as someone who now focuses on methodology and strategy to increase personal Liberty, I find their bad example completely reprehensible.
One of the major issues rampant in contemporary libertarian circles, is an inconsistent application of what is supposed to be a philosophical grounding. Within libertarianism, these are the non-aggression principle and the self-ownership axiom. Anything beyond that is whimsically added on, such as “left” libertarianism and so-called paleo libertarianism. Other than voluntaryism, agorism, mutualism, and “black flag” (pure) anarchy, most of the anarchic schools of thought, I think, should concern themselves primarily with their compatibility with “black flag” anarchism (the negation of rulers) as a whole.
In my search for alternative media outlets, I have found quite a variety within the Market. Hardly any of them focus on solutions, or individual actions that their respective audiences may decide to do. There are plenty of outlets that proselytize libertarianism, or scream bloody murder about the grievances of the week, but there is a lack of focus on how to bring about this libertarian culture that, by either implication or explicit advocacy, they claim to desire. Their narrow focus is still obsessed with theorizing (if that, at all), without a more practical focus on true human action; by which I mean the options any individual has in increasing freedom in their own lives, which would then translate into helping to free others.
If there is one thing that Ludwig von Mises offered humanity that deserves consideration, it is the idea of human action; that is, an examination into purposeful behavior. It all begins with the individual; one person deciding that they are going to start living their principles, one example of which could be the practice of agorism.
Without action, any ideology, philosophical grounding (or lack thereof) means nothing. Expanding upon that reminds me of another concept the Austrian economists have taught: that is, their notion of opportunity costs, which, put quite simply, is what time or value is lost, by the allocation of that time or value towards something else.
To put it more simply, spending your time voting (including all of the various other costs involved), rather than, say, spending that time writing an article, recording a podcast, or cancelling your voter registration, is time and value lost that could have instead been spent on actually freeing the world, all by your decision to trundle on down to the voting booth.
To refresh so far, I’ve mentioned the inconsistencies, a few concerns with libertarianism today, the importance of purposeful behavior, as well as the consideration of opportunity costs.
Today, libertarianism is missing something crucial in this digital age, and the remedy I am proposing is the technique of libertarian role-modeling. What this means, is individuals who choose to live these principles consistently in their own lives, through their words as well as their actions.
As I mentioned previously, I see a lot of proselytizing on the Internet and at freedom gatherings, but not much action; if anything, I’ve borne witness to actions emblematic of anti-libertarian behavior, behind the scenes.
In order to smash the State, “we” must not become the State, as the Free State Project is attempting to do; rather, “we” must outgrow it. Government creates nothing of value. It generates no wealth or innovation; everything it has it must first steal from the free market. That can come in the form of taxation or outright contracting with fascist corporations who directly benefit from government largesse.
If one does not live what they preach, they lack integrity.
So, the ultimate question is this: how does one demonstrate the non-aggression principle and self-ownership, in their own lives?
For me personally, I lost my job on October 14th. I could have obtained unemployment “benefits”, but I chose not to. I chose to struggle with a clear conscience, rather than doing a little bit better, with my conscience and principles violated. Yes, I guess you could say that I “paid into it”, but no government program is allocated based off of what I pay into it now; rather, I would be stealing it from future generations, whether they be my children, or the children of others.
There is also an issue of practicality, as well as privacy. Am I really better off for accepting scraps from the King’s table?
My answer is a resounding “no”:
- Any participation in government programs destroys any chance of me practicing security culture, for it notoriously violates my privacy;
- I can continue reducing my tax burden, in the form of growing my own food, and other methods of self-sufficiency;
- Alternative currencies might just reduce my dependency on Federal Reserve Notes. Bitcoin isn’t an option where I live, but I can pay my rent in silver bullion. (And at the time of writing this article, I profit from using both of these bartering tools); and
- Other things the State doesn’t need to know about. ‘Nuff said!
Examples of Bad Libertarian Role Models
I may very well make some enemies with this section, but in order to move onto positive examples, you must first become aware of what not to do, if you are going to begin (or continue) living your principles.
The first example is Dr. Tom Woods. When it comes to Austrian economics and history, Woods has some good things to offer; that being said, he is a big advocate of state nullification, which requires the use of reformist means (otherwise known as “working inside the system”).
Next is Christopher Cantwell, host of the Radical Agenda podcast. Cantwell is doing some good work pointing out the hypocrisies and dangers of the “social justice” warrior movement, although he is a big advocate of the anti-libertarian Libertarian Party. Cantwell encourages people to run for public office on the LP ticket, and his recent support of Augustus Sol Invictus is very evident of that fact.
Continuing forward, another example would be Dr. Walter Block, a well-known Austrian economist. Block has terrific things to offer in the field of economics, especially for his masterful debunking of the gender pay gap myth, but his advocacy for voting for the “most libertarian candidate”, leaves much to be desired.
On episode 296 of The Lew Rockwell Show, Block claims that the way to create more libertarians, is vis-à-vis the political process:
“How do we expect to win? The only way we can expect to win and bring about a libertarian society is to have a lot of libertarians. And how do you get a lot of libertarians? Well, the vehicle of the political process. I think Ron Paul has empirically demonstrated this, so, I don’t want to jettison the political process because we can use it as a means, as a vehicle, as Ron Paul has shown, to promote liberty, even though the thing itself is rotten to the core, as you [Lew Rockwell] point out.”
The last example I will mention is Ian Bernard, who is a Free State Project member and one of the hosts of Free Talk Live. Being a member of the FSP, it is expected of him to be involved in the political means. Although, the main issue at hand with Bernard, is the dragging through the mud of consistent libertarian philosophy, by his open support of (now former) “anarchist politician”, Tim O’Flaherty.
As you can tell from those examples, all of them advocate for the failed reformist means, in one way or another. It would be one thing if they had openly advocated for “restoring the Republic,” as the minarchist Oathkeepers and Three Percenters have done, but such is not the case here with these practitioners of cafeteria libertarianism, which is the desire to unendingly edit and alter the philosophy of liberty to suit their own special interest agendas. Yes, all of these folks may have good things to offer, but the inconsistency within their claimed ideology is something worth calling out.
Examples of Great Libertarian Role Models
Now that I have provided you with bad examples of libertarian role models, let’s examine a few folks who are truly living their principles.
Kal Molinet, founder of Liberate RVA, has been consistently living his principles for years now. His YouTube playlist, “Spreading Anarchy”, has provided voluntaryists the rhetoric necessary to successfully defeat statist arguments. He has also brought over a hundred anarchists together in Richmond, in hopes of being able to “outgrow the State” , and consistently rebukes all means of working inside the system. Molinet’s example is one to be emulated by people who want to consistently live libertarianism.
Next, is a gentleman named Carlos Morales. Morales used to work as an investigator for the Department of Family and Protective Services (a CPS-type administrative agency) in Texas, until he quit, after witnessing how these “child protective services” are tearing apart families. He wrote a book titled, “Legally Kidnapped: The Case Against Child Protective Services,” which documents all of the corruption he witnessed, during his time spent inside the system. Morales is now a Liberty speaker, host of The Libertarian Atheist podcast, and someone whose example is worthy of emulating.
The next example is Brett Veinotte, a former teacher within the government schools. Veinotte abandoned his post after seeing the true intent of public schooling: indoctrination and brainwashing. He is the founder of the School Sucks podcast, which encourages students to leave the government schools, in pursuit of real education.
As referenced in the previous two examples, if you are working a government job, one of the best ways to put your principles into action is to quit and never return.
One more case study is worth mentioning: Larken Rose. Here is a man who has specifically denounced reformism, and whose reputation is still above reproach, at least, until the FSP board of trustees, at the insistence of none other than Ian Bernard, decided to investigate Larken for his public advocacy of individual self-defense, particularly against government police. Larken, as a role model, has never sacrificed libertarian principles for the sake of reformist expediency, and for that, he has my most heartfelt respect.
Other Ways to Live Your Principles
More generally, what are other ways that you can emulate libertarianism? First off, you should not advocate for the utilization of the political means—that includes voting, running for public office, and state nullification, among others. Secondly, you should never use or advocate for initiatory force, especially by way of government law, to solve your problems, such as legitimizing the victimless “crime” of copyright infringement by filing DMCA claims on YouTube. Next, in the words of Michael Dean, don’t hurt anyone, and honor your contracts. If you say you are going to be somewhere, or that you are going to do something, do it or be there.
Also, examine how you treat other people in your life. This could include friends, family, and normal day laborers. Are you treating them with love, kindness, and respect? How do you act in front of children? Are you setting a good example?
Just as important as doing this is not doing other things that directly aid tyranny. Government employment is, arguably, the most anti-libertarian action possible, for not only does it legitimize the State, but the practical consequences are very real and often immediate, in much the same way buying government bonds is. Therefore, the very minimum of integrity that ought to be demanded from those espousing libertarian values is for them to not directly profit from government employment.
Considering all of the options within the free market, there is little excuse, if any, for those who proselytize libertarian theory, but who voluntarily engage in statist practices. It is one thing to live as freely as possible without committing civil disobedience because of the coerciveness of “the law” itself, yet, willfully propping up the authoritarian structure is blatantly hypocritical, and unbelievably so when such advocacy is done in the very name of libertarianism. A truly free society can only be built by innovative entrepreneurs, not by “theoreticians” or “activists” who can’t wait to unabashedly contradict themselves at every given opportunity.
To conclude, the way that you act, either justifies or disproves the philosophy. Are you consistently emulating libertarianism, or are you acting in a contradictory manner? The answer to this question will determine your next step.