"He is free who knows how to keep in his own hands the power to decide at each step, the course of his life, and who lives in a society which does not block the exercise of that power." ~ Salvador De Madariaga
On Withdrawing from the State
Statism, like any other addiction, can only exist when there is a continual source of the drug to supply the addict's need. If an addict successfully removes the drug from his lifestyle, he is well on his way to killing the power it holds over him. Certainly the withdrawal from a physical addiction is uncomfortable'even fatal sometimes'but withdrawing from an ideological addiction is infinitely harder.
I should know: I've been a recovering statist for nigh on three years now. What do I mean by this? Well, once upon a time I wouldn't have hesitated to give my bank any amount of personal information about me, including my SSN, my personal consumption trends, and even where I spend my money from day to day. In fact, I did both of the latter with that magical device of the millennium, the debit card. I was also an avid watcher of television. Thinking back, I can actually remember a time when I spent approximately three hours a day in front of the thing, listening to frosted blondes squawk propaganda and watching reruns of sitcoms that weren't funny the first time around. I faithfully listened to the radio, saw every new blockbuster in theaters, and read such hard-hitting journals as Newsweek and The New York Times. I didn't vote'even a public schools indoctrinate like me could see that voting was a waste of time'but I sure was outraged when Dubya 'stole' the election (it had not yet occurred to me that the election process itself is a sham).
Oh, man. They have a word for people like that: statist.
Since my awakening to the mind-bending realities of free-market anarchism, I've changed my life drastically. And let me tell you, the change has been for the better. Now I deal only in cash and I don't use banks except to cash my paycheck. I do this through the bank that issues them. This has resulted in almost complete financial privacy. Once I removed myself from the quasi-centralized banking system known as the Federal Reserve, I found that the nuisances of telemarketers and junk mail were halved. I also realized just how much money I was wasting on checking and ATM fees. I'm competent enough to handle my own finances, thank you very much.
I don't get television reception in my home'when I was given a TV as a gift last Christmas, I disabled the antenna. Now it functions solely as a screen for watching movies on video. Ridding my life of the demon TV has had a most lasting effect. I am always delighted when a stranger mentions last night's programming as an introduction to small talk. Because I can't respond to him in kind, he must either wrack his mind for a new topic or have nothing to say at all. Either way, I win. Further, I am no longer subject to the endlessly flashing graphics and screaming voices designed to make me consume. I buy what I need and save what I can. Never again will I purchase something on a television-driven impulse while standing in line at the grocery store. Never again will I waste hours and hours absorbing useless trivia from blowhard 'experts' and sleazy talk show hosts. Best of all, never again will I trust a television flack for honest news coverage. I've abandoned mainstream print publications for this purpose as well; the Internet is my news garden. With sites like STR and www.lewrockwell.com to name but two, why bother with NPR or that ultimate government mouthpiece, CNN?
I don't have a credit card. The current disaster that is the American economy needs savers, not spenders. My father taught me 'Don't spend money you don't have''sound advice in these times when bankruptcy is an increasingly popular way of defaulting on debts. Without a credit card, where and on what I spend my money is nobody's business but my own. I may not have all the latest high-tech gadgetry or vacation in Bermuda every winter, but I also don't have to worry about paying off gargantuan bills over the next ten years of my life (at 8% interest). I spend a lot of my money in the untaxed market, i.e. garage/yard sales, flea markets, farmers' markets, and other like places of private sale. I avoid feeding the parasite that is the State whenever I possibly can.
I don't have a cell phone. I don't have call waiting. I do, however, have mountains of books and a newly aroused voraciousness for reading and writing. I have a great collection of movies and classic films. I have a piano, innumerable CDs and mp3s, and a lifelong love of music. I also have an active imagination. And each time I refuse to acknowledge an organ of the State'be it the Fed, the mainstream media cartels, the tax leeches, or the thought police'I am denying its legitimacy and therefore its authority over my life or my property. I am actually weakening the State by ignoring it. What I didn't realize as a statist was that by participating in the myriad demands of our modern consumerist (as opposed to entrepreneurial) America, I was strengthening the very Leviathan I wanted to destroy. Consumerism is driven by the demands of pop culture. Pop culture represents the very worst that a nation has to offer: the mediocre middle. Pop culture represents the mythical 'voice of the people,' otherwise known as mob rule. Pop culture lends the State a respectability it hasn't earned. By withdrawing from the shrill cacophony of the mob, I have taken control of my life and my thinking. I've been listening to myself for a change.
Admittedly, the extent of my self-liberation may seem extreme to some. I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to the most recent technology, and I couldn't possibly tell you what hot new movies are playing in theaters this week. It is less convenient to carry cash than a flimsy plastic card. Without credit, I won't be able to buy something large, like a house, without the full amount up front. I don't insist that these methods are suitable for everyone. But if freedom-minded people are serious about striking at the root, shunning the State and any of its tentacles is a peaceful and effective form of resistance.