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Making the State Irrelevant
Much of the pro-liberty movement (myself included) tends to focus on the role of education as the prime driver towards a freer world. Given that, ultimately, any regime is cemented in place by the will of the people, such a world is unlikely to thrive unless people are motivated to embrace their freedom while rejecting all forms of force and coercion.
While the role of education is, therefore, indispensable, thought needs to be given also to another critical aspect: the actual method of defeating and rejecting state power. While the political arena will be a critical forum, we should pay attention also to a seemingly more mundane possibility: making the state, and everything it does, simply irrelevant. Such irrelevance could be achieved by circumventing the state rather than seeking to actively overthrow it. How might we go about this?
Some examples are quite evident already. In spite of censorship, the internet (and increased accessibility to the world wide web through portable devices) has already rendered state control over the flow information much more difficult than it once was – at least, that is, for people who are willing to go searching for it. Indeed it is possible to suggest that any person today has quicker, better access to information than Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton did thirty to forty years ago.
Second, while digital technology is becoming increasingly synonymous with regimentation and control, we cannot overlook the fact that it provides us also with the wherewithal to circumvent the state. While the long term efficacy of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin can be doubted, it is not impossible to envisage how this or similar technology could make the private movement of wealth (or rights to wealth) possible, rendering state control over currency and capital less effective.
Finally, there is the increased possibility of both hard and soft secession – the former meaning a formal decoupling of a territory from a state’s jurisdiction, the latter referring to the kinds of things we have already discussed: ignoring, circumventing, or otherwise rendering the state inert through building alternative institutions and economies. The latter could even involve taking over parts of the existing state-corporate infrastructure. While, for instance, Elon Musk’s intention to restore Twitter as a true free speech platform is still in its infancy, wresting away the primary tool of state sponsored censorship is certainly a promising step forward.
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The marvellous thing about most of these mini-revolutions is that they can occur without violence and bloodshed; there is no fighting, no overthrow, no killing. If civil strife and conflict is focussed on who controls the centralised state, violence is likely to become inevitable at some point. If, however, the objective is to simply get the state out of the way, then a multitude of small, decentralised, peaceful revolts will simply cause the state to wither away in helplessness. In that event, the death of the state will come from a thousand cuts.
This is not to suggest, of course, that today’s large, powerful nation states will fail to fight back. As their collapse from over-borrowing, overspending and eventual bankruptcy draws nearer, states will be ever more desperate to enforce increased controls while plucking all of the remaining feathers from the golden geese of their citizenry. But the more those geese are plucked the more they flap towards an escape hatch. Independently minded individuals and groups have, historically, been better at what we might call the "invention of circumvention" than the state has been at stopping it.
With this in mind, let us focus on the one area of the state that is both its method of function and it's raison d'être: the monopoly over force and violence. The state commits its horrendous abuses while enriching its participants through the use of force against others. But it is also supposed to protect the common citizen from criminal acts so as to maintain law and order - hence the state is still regarded as necessary by the vast majority of people.
But what if this very function could itself, in some way, be circumvented? What if there was an invention or device that would enable any person, at extremely low cost, to protect his or her person and property from all forms of force and violence? I have very little idea as to what this could be – an invisible force field around each object you own, perhaps. But imagine the result: in one swoop we will have eliminated both the ability of government to tax, steal, imprison, kill, maim and live off the fat of everyone else, and eradicated its reason for existence. For if people could protect themselves from invasion of their person and property at very low cost, why would anyone bother turning to the state? Why would anyone pay taxes for an army or police force when this new, cheap, method renders the very existence of those institutions superfluous?
Of course, some people may continue to pay "taxes" voluntarily for the services of their existing states. But there is nothing wrong with this if that is what people want to do with their own money. The bite of force, however, will be lost, with the state being relegated to the same level as every other player in the marketplace – having to offer people a valuable service in return for voluntarily paid revenue. To that end, it would cease to be a state entirely.
We should, therefore, urge all inventors to dust off their drawing boards and get to work on such a marvellous invention. The recent strides we have made in technological development may well be encasing us in a digital prison. But they may also contain the seeds of an invention that would enable our jailbreak – an escape that will become all the more necessary before the world drowns in a sea of statist despotism.