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L. Neil Smith's
Number 528, July 19, 2009


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Will You Fight?
by Rob Sandwell

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

A friend of mine who would best be described as a "young professional" asked me this question over dinner the other night.

"Will you fight? Or will you leave the country?"

A dark question asked in a dark time. One I believe most men would gladly live their lives without asking or answering.

First let me tell you the context of the question.

I am a free market anarchist. I was not born into this philosophy, nor did I arrive at it over night. Like many others who share the position, it was a period of slow transition from Republicanism, through small government Libertarianism, and eventually towards Anarchism. My friend is a well educated Libertarian with a Masters Degree and a career in finance. We were enjoying dinner at a chain restaurant, discussing the possibility of widespread economic collapse and what the results of that would be. Food riots. Chaos. Political dissolution.

Violent revolution.

Now, I used to think violent revolution was inevitable and necessary.

I have come to change that opinion. I no longer see it as the most effective, nor the most likely route towards individual liberty. It is still a possibility, though I think less now than ten years ago, but the amount of bloodshed necessary for a successful violent revolution would be appalling. I'm not sure there would be much left to save after that.

Instead, I hope for a revolution of ideas. A time when people mature past subjugation and turn towards self reliance and voluntarism. I think it's both more likely, and more effective than violence. And it will leave us with far more people saved than slaughtered, which also makes it preferable to violent revolution.

As to the chance of a revolution succeeding, I actually rate it fairly high. Our government, with the might of arguably the most powerful and advanced military in human history, can't put a stop to a few thousand peasants in Iraq and Afghanistan using relatively low tech weaponry. Bolt action rifles and homemade bombs. There is no way that same government could effectively counter a leaderless revolution in a country with nearly eight thousand miles of open land border, over ninety thousand miles of coast, and vast uninhabited areas of forest, desert, mountain, and prairie. We can't effectively monitor the 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants in this country. We can't even count them. There's no way they could stop a revolution.

It wouldn't even take that many people. It would just take dedicated people. There are more guns in private ownership than soldiers currently stationed here at home. Even if they pulled back all the soldiers stationed around the world, and called up all the reserves, and enlisted all their "law enforcers," and fielded all their mercenaries, they would still be desperately out numbered. Not too mention quickly bleeding capital and materiel. And that's assuming that none of those in the military chose to join the revolutionaries, which might occur depending on the circumstances of that revolution.

They'd be able to win a pitched battle, but the revolutionists wouldn't wage one. Instead, they'd engage in asymmetrical warfare, like all guerrilla fighters throughout time faced with a large, entrenched, implacable enemy. Targeted bombings, assassinations of political and military leaders, attacks on infrastructure, coupled with a massive information effort to educate those uninvolved in the rebellion as to the aims of the revolutionaries. The state would be surrounded on all sides, harassed and abused by an amorphous, well armed mob who would be immune to typical military efforts. With no one to parley with, no one to sue for peace, the state would be forced into a long term war of attrition they could never win.

And of course, since the only tool the state has is violence, they would respond as state's always have. They would resort to crushing, indiscriminate force which would consistently drive the populace towards greater support for the revolutionaries.

History is filled with examples of local insurrections defeating imperial powers widely perceived to have every traditional advantage. History is witnessing just such an event right now. No. The state would lose that war in the end. There really isn't any question. But it would be horrible and violent and heartbreaking. Those who love freedom would lose a great deal in the exchange. And it would require people willing to risk their lives, liberties, and sacred honor.

And ultimately, I think if we just remain patient and continue to extol the virtues of freedom, the system will collapse under its own weight anyway, without much of the attendant violence.

Because it is inherently unsustainable. You can't continue to force the productive members of society to subsidize the unproductive sectors at gunpoint forever. It creates a perverse incentive which drives people into non production. You can't force people to accede to an ever more invasive police state which robs them of their potential ad infinitum, eventually there is simply nothing left to steal.

The ultimate goal for which the very evil people who wield the Gun of the State strive, absolute and total control, is exactly what will bring about their destruction. It is an unattainable mirage. People will, and always do, resist the constraints put upon them.

Even though they are able to propagandize to our children eight hours a day for 17 years. Even though everything in our society screams obeisance to the state is a virtue. Even though they crush dissent with the most appalling violence in order to instill a subconscious aversion to disobedience. Even then, people constantly awaken to the fact that all statism is violence and theft, and nothing else. Every single time people are given the chance to stretch their wings they do.

Freedom will not cage itself. It must be shackled and pinioned. Otherwise it always takes flight.

Which is why I encourage other people to read websites like this one. Which is why I continually ask my friends, family, coworkers, and associates what right any of them, any of us, have to turn the Gun of the State on our fellows for profit. Which is why I encourage people to put aside their emotional attachment to the state as "life giver," the sad product of years of constant Pledging of Allegiance in one form or another, and instead to use the gifts of ration and reason with which they are endowed to determine the righteous course. Which is why I implore my peers not to turn to any authority to determine their morality for them, but rather to derive their morality solely from the impact their actions have on others. Which is why I promote zero aggression.

So when my friend asks me, "Will you fight?" I really have only one answer to his question.

I am.


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