Damage Control: The Panacea of Politics and How Voluntaryists Are Falling Prey to It

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

There’s been a trend of late, among both more and less visible “voluntaryists” in social media, the blogosphere, and elsewhere, to simply backpedal:  To retreat to the conclusion that, since a voluntary society isn’t happening any time soon, it’s best – in the name of what “progress” can “realistically” be made given “what we have to work with” – to reengage the political system and process.  To resume voting – even for such as Donald Trump.  To writing letters and sending e-mails to various politicians and bureaucrats in the hope of at least holding Statism in check, or slowing down its insatiable growth, rather than simply pontificating on libertarian anarchist ideology from the sidelines while maybe 0.00001% of the population takes notice in any meaningful way.  In other words, to “do something” . . . even if in that doing, voluntaryism is effectively scuttled altogether.
It can get very lonely, to be sure, being a voluntaryist.  We live in a world so absolutely submerged in the cult of governmentalism that it has nearly become infused into people’s DNA.  To speak to the average Joe or Jane about the prospect of a world without political governance is to, for all practical purposes, propose that they solve trigonometry equations written out in Mandarin Chinese.  They’re lost with such a concept.  And pursuantly, most of them have no desire to learn anyway.  Football, video games, and a few cold beers are all they really want or understand.
People are social creatures, and they crave acceptance, most of them.  So much so that anything which isolates them – no matter even if it makes rational sense – they want no part of, generally speaking.  They’d rather be liked than right.  So they conform and adhere to the status quo.  Any social rebellion they may engage in is almost invariably of a “safe” variety:  A new clothing style, haircut, or type of music they listen to.  But embracing the idea of and proselytizing for no government?  No thanks.  Too much social risk there.  I’ll stick with my Sanders or Trump-loving friends, thanks.
Voluntaryists are not wholly immune to this.  Leastways, Stefan Molyneux and Chris Cantwell are not – to name only two of the more prominent examples.  They’ve both long since joined the Trump bandwagon, after years of cogent and penetrating libertarian thought, which, if not always “universally preferable” (apologies to Molyneux), certainly expanded the breadth and range of libertarianism to take into consideration.  But no more:  Their efforts are now expended on a futile brand of damage control at best – the endless and fruitless treadmill of sticking to the Republican Right to impede and slow the steadily rising tide of left-wing socialist collectivism.  But hey, it earns you more friends, the girls start talking nicely to you again, and you get booked on the Alex Jones Show more often.
Let’s be serious for a minute or two:  Yes, there is only the slimmest chance – if any whatsoever – that anyone now living will still be when and if a voluntary society becomes reality.  We absolutely need to acknowledge that, in my view, before we can think about proceeding to any next step.  Yet even given that, is there really – in truth – any advantage whatsoever to going back to trying things the way (I would assume) most voluntaryists did before first embracing the vision of an actually free society?  Do you in all honesty think that reverting back to the false promise of statist incrementalism – if indeed such can even be said to produce any moderate reduction in state power – is a workable, worthwhile proposition?
Or, maybe, are you just getting lonely; tired of being on the outside looking in?
Beyond the social-isolation element, I understand the siren song current political events are singing:  Gun control, higher taxes, the continuing socialist disaster of Obamacare, the prospect of an ultra-Left Supreme Court, the prospect of World War III.  It would be nice (possibly you even consider it critical) to stop or reverse these things, and all too few people milling around out there are willing to set down the gauntlet of government anytime soon.  So what continues to exist is another round of voting in a rigged system, and sending e-mails to bureaucrats who care about them roughly as much as they care about how much methane ice there is on Pluto.  And so in turn many people who are actually knowledgeable enough to see this sham for what it is, and understand there is a better way, nevertheless repair back to such ineffectual inanities because . . . well . . . it’s there . . . and there’s nothing else coming along anytime before their own mortal end.
Perhaps if anyone could concretely demonstrate that engaging in statism presents a credible possibility of ending or even reducing statism, I might listen.  But I’ve been watching pretty attentively for nearly a quarter-century now and haven’t seen it.  And just as with the prospect of a full-on voluntary society in my time, I’m not holding my breath.
You can stand for reason and rationalism regardless of prevailing circumstances and at least have and retain your integrity – or you can lose even that by abandoning principle and the example it sets (perhaps even for posterity), by caving in to the futile and panacean promise of politics.  Either way, unless you really believe in miracles, you won’t get freedom in your lifetime.  True enough this.
But you don’t and can’t control damage by just creating more of it.  In abandoning voluntaryism for politics, you only make yourself all the more willing prey for predators, and nothing besides.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 153

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His MeWe group can be found here.


Jim Davies's picture

Rather clearly, if one just gives up trying, one's objective will not be met.
A couple of more encouraging points: first, you may (inexplicably) have missed my latest Zero Government Blog, which notes the extraordinary activity of Adam Kokesh. He's a breath of fresh air, and just may cheer you up.
Second, are you sure Stefan Molyneux has "joined the Trump bandwagon"?  I confess ignorance, for while much admiring what I know of him, I don't follow closely. The reason I ask is that just maybe, he's playing the sort of game I am myself: on statist forums, I'm posting plenty in favor of Trump over Clinton. That's just because the latter would be so much worse than the former, I'd like to encourage voters to pick the Donald. It will be so much less uncomfortable for everyone, while the real work gets done.
Lest you fear I have gone off the rails, please check my Take on Trump.

mishochu's picture

I think Molyneux thinks that this election is a great ¿irreversible? fork in the road. I've also watched him state that his involvement is an attempt to slow down a process that seems to march inexorably towards globalist totalitarianism.

I'm not going to attempt to change the course of this election through voting. However, I do like to point out the misdeeds of the media, Clinton, and sometimes even Trump (but honestly...the media has it covered there, they even manufacture drama once they run out of the real thing).

I think that if Clinton wins it will be easier to attract disaffected statists towards the ideas of liberty (if that's your bag).

It certainly won't be as frowned upon to find your own freedoms when more than half the country also feels cheated and lied to.

It's not my job to change minds. There's plenty out there who do. I just resolve to live free (in plain sight if needs be).

Samarami's picture
    "...It's not my job to change minds. There's plenty out there who do. I just resolve to live free (in plain sight if needs be)..."

I can be free. Today. Here. Where I'm "at". So can you.

It's much easier to be objective when one has no dog in the fight. This way s/he can observe the machinations which are what "the-political-process"is all about. Without emotional upheaval or fear of whoever's manning the banana stand, or repercussions therefrom.


Mark Davis's picture

Trump is providing a great service to anarchists by undermining the legitimacy of the inherently corrupt system used by the elite to enslave us. One does not have to support, much less vote for, Trump to appreciate the damage he is doing to the credibility of the corporate media and the political infrastructure. Calling Hillary a liar to her face, the elections rigged, how crooked the establishment political hacks in both parties are, the media corrupt and saying how "going into Iraq was stupid" are just a few of his wonderful public service moments. His run for president has sped up the process of bringing on a voluntary society more than even Ron Paul's did. It also will make more people not want to vote for anybody. That's a beautiful thing.

Jim Davies's picture

Mark, that's very well expressed.

Paul's picture

Yes, I believe much of what appears to be support for Trump, is actually support for the damage he is doing to the Government Religion. That's so when he is running for office; if he actually gets in I doubt he will change much.

A few weeks ago I made the case for voting Trump, on the sole issue of likelihood of nuclear war (if Hillary wins). After all, nothing else matters if the whole Earth is being obliterated. But in the end I decided not to vote for him, because the connection between my vote and nuclear war was pretty remote! Anyway I figured the Deep State would just assassinate him.

Strangely, when I made this case, I got a negative reaction from some Voluntarists that can only be described as religious. I'm not a religious person.

BTW, I can give two examples of incrementalism that have worked. 1) The concealed carry movement. I opposed the half-measure of government-regulated carry, thinking it would short-circuit any drive to what's been called "constitutional carry", but now I think it actually advanced that cause. How many states now have "constitutional carry" these days, 9 or 10? It seems to be coming along nicely. 2) Same thing with government-regulated homeschooling. Sure, the state got into it to try to co-opt it, and to re-capture homeschoolers, but there are an awful lot of "noncompliant" homeschoolers these days, and many of them ended up that way via the government "legitimization" of homeschooling. I think noncompliant homeschooling is much farther along than it would have been without the partial government surrender.

I'm still not a big fan of incrementalism, but I no longer think it is necessarily a fatal mistake as I once believed.