"Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards. The nature of the encroachment upon the American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching. Like a cancer, it eats faster and faster every hour. The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society." ~ John Adams
A Personal Thanks to Strike The Root
Exclusive to STRA
August 24, 2006
Yes, I should have done this a long time ago. And when the editor encouraged everybody to write about Strike The Root for its fifth anniversary, I thought this is the time. There is so much I want to say, but I just seem to never get around to saying it. So I missed the chance again. But better late than never, I guess. Here it goes.
I've been a market anarchist for just about a decade now. I can't say it is thanks to Strike The Root, it is not. It is not thanks to any hardcore libertarian website. If anyone should have thanks, it is David D. Friedman, who showed me it was practically possible to put courts, laws and police on the market. He showed me not to be afraid to cross the line with his magnificent The Machinery of Freedom.
But just believing you are an anarchist isn't enough. Even though you feel there isn't enough to say in favor of the State, you aren't completely 'there.' Yes, I was an anarchist back in 1998 or so, but I was a reluctant and insecure anarchist. It was so easy to argue for shutting down state welfare and corporatism when you could still safeguard by saying 'No, I'm not an anarchist - there will still be a state.'
I used to miss that. Being a minarchist was so simple - I had answers to everything, and I could promise this or that would never take place. Because I myself could make sure that my [minimalist] state would never allow it.
Now that's freedom. Actually, in a sense, minarchism is freedom. But only for you because only you get to say what is or isn't allowed - for everybody. And that is ultimately the reason I started thinking about anarchism in the first place. I identified that contradiction in statist philosophy - minarchists and welfare-warfare statists are principally the same. They all say 'this will be the case' - and they know it, they can make sure it will be whatever they say it will be. It doesn't really matter if they talk about economic equality or certain rights (natural or whatever) - they know because they set the rules. That is the problem!
Understanding this, one has to take the next step to be true to yourself and your intelligence. There was no way I could live with myself advocating an obvious contradiction - differing from the socialist mammoth state in degree only, not in principle. So I sought a solution, a way out. I wanted to break free from this super-confidence in myself as a semi-god. Whoever gave me the right to say what would be?
Anarchism, to me, was not only the solution to this very frustrating philosophical state of inherent contradictions. It was a way out. I could escape from the necessity of elevating myself above all others. I no longer have to supply solutions for everybody and defend my scheme against other ideals. I don't have to tell people they don't understand their true wants (but I do) and I don't have to defend my omni-liberating system against their 'obvious' misunderstanding of their objective nature.
Finding anarchism, I broke free from my own philosophical chains. But I wasn't safe. There are so many statists out there wishing nothing but your subjection - to their system and their forceful thinking. A newborn anarchist can easily be grabbed and pulled back to 'safe' ground again, back to statism and limited thinking. If you don't have all the arguments and don't have friends to talk to, you can easily find yourself lost. It is so easy arguing your point from a fixed point of forcefully upheld this-is-how-I-say-it-will-be.
But to be comfortable as anarchist, you need to identify there is no fixed point and there are no guarantees. Every argument you make is pro-choice and pro-freedom, it is not pro-system. You cannot ever say what will be, only what you think could be. At first, it seems you are pushed in the corner in each and every argument - how do you defend not knowing? How can you proudly claim you don't know when everybody is ultimately out to get a detailed and warranted answer?
The problem, until you realize it, is of course that there are no answers about the future. You simply cannot tell. No one on earth or anywhere can tell. The only thing we can know about the future is that if statism prevails, there will be someone saying what should be and having the power to make it so. And that that can't be right.
This is actually the most important point I can ever make: that it can't be right. This is my most fundamental moral conviction. No one is my master, and I am no one's master. No one is my slave and I am no one's slave. And this, the morality of being anarchist and thus respecting each and everybody's right to choose for themselves, is the fixed point of anarchism.
It doesn't matter what blueprints, structures, fixed hierarchies or systems statists can present, and it doesn't matter what cunning schemes they have made up to make sure it will be so. It doesn't matter as long as they do not attack me, they mean nothing to me and they can have their corrupt coercive system for as long as they like.
But they do attack me, and that's the reason to argue with them before they turn to brute force (which they eventually will). That's the reason to push them to the point of no return, where there are no more lies and where they have to see the ugly principle they ultimately stand for. This is where I strip them of their lies and illusions and ask them to defend their faulty logic and offensive morality. This is where I win, as an anarchist.
Their fixed points are non-existent, and that's what we need to make clear. The state may seem like a rock, but it is not. The rock is man; it is the stability from within - your moral conviction and the superiority from accepting non-aggression as motive, means and aim. The only rock in every man and woman's life is him- or herself. That's the truth people wish to forget, but it is also the truth they know deep inside.
To get to this point, to find perfect comfort in being an anarchist in a world of statists, is to win -personally as well as morally. And we get to this point only through learning how to strip statists of their illusions, learning the arguments and how to use anarchism as a weapon in discussion. We learn from more experienced anarchists and through putting our own arguments to the test - making them clash against those of others.
This is where market anarchist gathering in places such as Strike The Root is so important. The writers at Strike The Root keep you motivated and fill your stock of arguments, making you ready philosophically and morally for the hostile world of statism. That's what this site has done for me, and it is still doing it years after I first found it and made it a bookmark. And now I get to share with my experience and teach a new generation of anarchists that they aren't alone, that there is nothing wrong with being anarchist. Contrarily, anarchism has everything to do with right.
On August 12 Strike The Root turned five years old. Five years might not seem much, but it makes a hell of a difference in a person's life. And considering the Internet is only 15 years old, it is quite an achievement keeping the site alive and well. A lot of great sites have been born and passed away during this time, while a lot of anarchists have found daily comfort in finding people sharing their views of the world ' and what's wrong with it.
Thank you Strike The Root for always being there; thanks for being the comfort of generations of new-born anarchists around the world. And thank you, Mr. Editor for making Strike The Root such a special place.