Violently Overthrow The Government
It is not impossible, impractical, or immoral to overthrow the government.
The ideas of what a free society is, or ought to be, are pretty well established. Surely, there will need to be a great deal of outreach for more people to understand those ideas before they take hold, but the questions of defense, roads, economy, and law, have been answered. The question which remains, is how to achieve this.
Not that people haven’t tried to answer it. The general public’s rightful aversion to violence being taken into account, all proposed paths which have gained any sort of traction have attempted to portray themselves as peaceful. The democratic process, civil disobedience, peaceful parenting, and education, to name a few. This all sounds very positive, until we realize that these methods are not peaceful, they just predetermine who the victims of the violence will be.
While we vote, disobey, breed, and teach, the State robs, kidnaps, and murders. (Need I mention that the State is also voting, disobeying, breeding, and teaching?) With every moment that this is allowed to continue, the violence gets worse. With modern weaponry being what it is, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the next outbreak of State violence could result in the extinction of the human race. Hell, it wouldn’t even have to be war, some intern in a biological weapons lab drops a petri dish, doesn’t tell his supervisor, and the next thing you know some weaponized virus is turning us into Resident Evil. That’s right, not the slow biters of The Walking Dead, but the strong, fast, variety of zombie that isn’t stopped by a locked door.
Science fiction humor aside, this is very serious. We all spend a great deal of time talking about freedom, and economics, but the very harsh reality of this struggle is that the survival of our species is not guaranteed, and the greatest threat to it is very plain to see. Mankind may well know extinction, before he knows peace, and it is entirely possible that we are already too late.
I would far prefer to avoid this. So when I hear about “solutions” that permit the problem to persist, I reject them.
I really should not have to spell out the problems with the democratic process. We are looking at them. Anything that so dramatically disconnects responsibility from action is bound to result in bloodshed. While most people do not want to participate in violence themselves, they do fantasize about it often enough. So if they can have somebody else commit these horrors on their behalf and at no direct expense to them, they are generally very enthusiastic about it.
Voting is not a new idea, it has happened for hundreds of years in the United States, and for many more centuries around the world. Tweaking that voting system over the course of years to be more inclusive, and shuffling who gets to vote for what and where, has only increased the rate of government expansion.
I could write thousands of words on this subject alone, but for now I will assume you’re already an anarchist and save that for another article. For now, let’s take the evidence of failure out of the equation, and just say that the problem is a mathematical one. In any of our proposed solutions, the key is getting enough people to agree with us. In theory, a democratic election could abolish the State. Let’s give our political friends a leg up here, and ignore the fact that this would involve electing thousands of presumably dishonest politicians to various offices around the country and planet, and just pretend there is a simple up or down referendum on ending the State. Vote yes to abolish, vote no to continue. This would require 50% +1 of the eligible population of a given jurisdiction to succeed.
No one rules, if no one obeys. True enough. Civil disobedience, for the purpose of this paper being defined as non-compliance with laws until force is brought to bear, has its merits. Its advocates will look at the American civil rights movement, or the struggle for Indian independence, to say what a wonderful non-violent solution these actions are.
They ignore the fact that these things were anything but non-violent. In both the American civil rights movement, and the struggle for Indian independence, countless demonstrators were beaten, imprisoned, and murdered. Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi were both ultimately rewarded for their kindness with assassins bullets through vital organs. All that was accomplished in the way of non-violence, was assuring that the demonstrators remained the victims when the violence occurred, empowering aggressors at the expense of victims.
It also isn’t really dis-obedience, so much as it is delayed obedience. Governments surely require a very high rate of compliance in order to accomplish their goals, but they have always ultimately gained that compliance with a threat of force. If one disobeys laws, but refuses to deploy defensive force when government agents come to gain their compliance, then the compliance is ultimately gained, and the purpose defeated. This again, is not non-violent, it only empowers the aggressor at the expense of the victim, as evidenced by countless beaten, imprisoned, and dead activists.
There are those who would say that the goal of civil disobedience is to expose the violence inherent in the system, and there is merit to that. On the other hand, why we need good people in prison to expose the violence inherent in the system, is beyond my comprehension. The violence is on the television daily. People vote for wars and gleefully worship dead soldiers. Police who rob, assault, kidnap, and murder are hailed as the saviors of mankind.
Exposing the violence inherent in the system is not only redundant, it is counterproductive. When you disobey the law, and law enforcement comes to gain your compliance with force, and you submit, what you actually do is show everybody how effective violence is. Problem: Lawbreaker, Solution: Force. You are assaulted, imprisoned, or murdered, and the rest of society either cheers for your suffering, or fears these penalties being exacted upon them, and in either case, the outcome is compliance.
Still, the advocates of civil disobedience would say, a large enough civil disobedience movement would be unstoppable. So the problem again becomes a mathematical one. This gives civil disobedience a leg up on democracy, in that far fewer than 50% of the population of a given geographic area can render a place ungovernable, simply by failing to comply.
This sort of requires one to set aside a few harsh realities, not the least of which is, this would still result in a great deal of violence. Governments have been known to open fire on crowds of peaceful demonstrators, and since civil disobedience forbids violent resistance, the demonstrators would have to tolerate bullets flying through their vital organs without fighting back. They would have to continue to disobey, even as the man next to them was beaten, hauled off to prison, or murdered. Fear being a powerful motivator, you can imagine very few would remain both defiant and peaceful under those circumstances.
If civil disobedience aims to prevent violent conflicts, it fails the moment the State decides to make it. If the goal is to prevent an insurrection, then it fails the moment demonstrators decide to fight back instead of going to prison and dying. Since neither of these factors are within the control of the advocates of civil disobedience, I’m going to go ahead and write this off as impossible. If someone else would like to write a paper quantifying the number of people they think would need to engage in civil disobedience to bring down a government once and for all, I’d be happy to update this article with a link to that post, and perhaps even publish it on this website.
This is not to say that civil disobedience is useless. I think there is a great deal of value in the practice in that it sends a powerful message. It just won’t bring down a government by itself.
Education and Peaceful Parenting
I group these two things because they are essentially the same plan. There are advocates of education who might reject peaceful parenting, but there are no advocates of peaceful parenting who would reject education. In either case, these options, if not coupled with democracy, civil disobedience, or violent resistance, purport to solve the problem of the State by outbreeding it essentially.
If everybody understands that violence is not the way to solve problems, then nobody will engage in violence, and the State will simply cease to exist because people will simply cease to participate in it.
While a fine thing to desire, I don’t think this is an entirely honest plan. For the State to be bred out of existence would essentially require a 100% conversion rate. Long before your numbers reached 100%, you could vote the system out of existence. Long before that, you would have the numbers for civil disobedience to be effective. Long before that, you would have the numbers to deploy defensive force. Why you would allow the State to survive for centuries while all of these other options opened up simply defies reason.
So what to do?
My proposal, and in all honesty, I’m still working out the details, has been to resort to force. For free men and women to forcefully defend themselves against agents of the State. To kill government agents who would otherwise use force against them, until their jobs simply become so dangerous that they seek other lines of work.
Mind you, I’m not speaking of “revolution” as it’s typically thought of. Revolution generally tends to involve organized fighting forces taking out strategic targets in an effort to overthrow the government and replace one government with another. Replacing governments has had mixed results throughout history, depending on how you measure things, but the outcome has always been oppression. In the end, a government will either be an elected one, or a dictatorship. We know that we cannot trust our neighbors to elect rulers for us, that’s (theoretically) the position that we are in now. So overthrowing an elected government, and then holding an election, really does seem like a terrible waste of blood. A 17th century British monarchy may seem preferable by comparison, but we can look at countries like North Korea to get our measure of liberty in a modern dictatorship, and cross that option off of our list.
No, the goal of overthrow must be to put an end to the State, not shuffle the deck. Admittedly, history provides us with no examples of this, and that is one of the primary criticisms pacifists have to this approach. They will say that violence begets violence, that we must reason with our oppressors, to appeal to their compassion, to suffer their violence for generations to come, until this strategy yields results.
Need I remind you, that their approach has the same problem? Nobody has ever talked down a government. To say that history proves overthrow only leads to reorganized statism, is to ignore the fact that the end result of everything in history has been some form of statism. It is to say “don’t talk! talking only leads to statism”, “don’t breath, breathing leads to statism”, “don’t breed, breeding only leads to statism”. In fact, people have done a lot more talking, breathing, and breeding, than they have done overthrowing of States. So if we are to say that overthrowing governments only leads to the existence of governments, we can just as easily say that since breathing and breeding and talking have all happened more and with the same result, these behaviors are even more to blame.
Lucky for us, we are intelligent enough to understand that correlation is not equal to causation. So let us discard this fallacy to the dustbin of history. What history actually teaches us about force is that he who is willing and capable of using force, gets what he wants. It teaches us that the victor of a conflict is the side best at using physical force, not the side with the best ideas. In fact, since the best ideas are non-violent ones, bad ideas have a tendency to win out, and hence, global statism in perpetuity. Every successful revolution throughout history, had always intended to set up a new government. We can argue the merits of that until we’re blue in the face, I don’t like it any more than you do, but the fact that revolutions resulted in governments, only teaches us that the violence accomplished the desired result. If the government itself turned out to be a miserable failure, that should come as no surprise to any anarchist, regardless of how said government was instituted.
Since violence has a tendency to win out over non violence, and good ideas tend to be non-violent ones, this leaves those of us with good ideas in a difficult position. The moral and intellectual superiority of our ideas does nothing to repel aggressors, so our ideas require teeth.
Luckily, libertarianism provides this. The non-aggression principle forbids initiatory force, and provides for defensive use of force to repel it. Even the most ardent advocates of non violence will acknowledge this on some level. Stefan Molyneux goes so far as to say an anarchist society would have private defense agencies armed with atomic weapons.
Well, if I were setting up some sort of private military defense agency, the first thing I would do is try to figure out how I could most effectively protect my subscribers, for the least possible cost. The first thing that I would note is that nuclear weapons have been the single most effective deterrent to invasion that has ever been invented. Not one single nuclear power has ever been invaded, or threatened with invasion – and so, in a very real sense, there is no bigger “bang for the buck” in terms of defense than a few well-placed nuclear weapons.
Of course he is here saying that the goal of these weapons is as a deterrent, not as a toy to be joyfully lobbed at competing institutions on days ending in “y”. But the reason nuclear weapons are a deterrent is because they can and may be used. This is only the most extreme example, any anarcho-capitalist will tell you that they expect there to be armed people in society prepared to defend themselves against aggression. Whether they be your average citizen with a handgun in his belt, or a defense agency hired to patrol a neighborhood with rifles, the reason they have those weapons is so that they can use them to kill aggressors if those aggressors do not respond to warnings.
There should then be no moral question when it comes to using force against State agents. Badges, uniforms, fancy hats, and popularity contests do not grant someone the right to use violence against me. I have the same right to deadly force against a police officer during a traffic stop, as I do against any masked assailant on the highway. The same thing goes for a defense agency. If one were inclined to offer private protection services, he has no moral obligation to wait until the State abolishes itself to do so. He is perfectly justified in setting up this business and protecting his customers against theft, even if the thief decides to call that theft taxation.
The problem here is necessarily a practical one. Engaging in gunfights with government agents is very scary. You are outnumbered, outgunned, and statistically less likely to have weapons training. Usually it is preferable to pay the extortion, and move on with your life.
On the other hand, paying that fee is hardly practical if you take a step back and look at the big picture. You are paying that fee because a man with a gun told you to. He is going to use that money to buy more guns, and hire more men, and cars to transport them, and radios for them to communicate on. Paying the fee did not repel the threat, it actually made matters worse, and of course, compliance doesn’t always equal survival in encounters with government agents.
Every day there is a new story about police killing somebody, “justifiable homicides” alone by law enforcement average approximately 400 per year in the United States, not including that which the State recognizes as murder or manslaughter. Meanwhile, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty is just over 25% of that number, ranging between 100-150 dead officers per year. More people have been killed by police in the United States since 9/11, than there have been American soldiers killed in the war in Iraq. The death penalty, war, conscription, private sector violence driven by economic controls, the list goes on.
And that’s just talking about literal death. Personally I don’t place an extraordinarily high value on life in a cage, and I shouldn’t have to tell you how many innocent people are experiencing just that right now. How many years in prison would you have to face before holding court in the street became an acceptable alternative to surrender? Ask yourself now, because the laws on the books right now provide decades in prison for a litany of victimless crimes, and as leftists pursue bans on everything from weapons to words, this condition will only get worse with time.
I shouldn’t have to explain this to anarchists. The State is a threat to your life, whether you resist it or not.
So here’s what we know for certain. There is going to be violence, people are going to die, and nothing any of us do is going to prevent this from being the case. The only question is who will be the victim, and who will be the victor? Being perpetually on the receiving end of violence without ever fighting back pretty much makes certain the answer to this question. For all of eternity, the ruling class will thrive and common people will suffer and die if the pacifists have their way. The only alternative is for common people to do violence against agents of the State.
Met with this morbid reality, people understandably get uncomfortable. They spent most of their lives hearing comforting lies from State propagandists, and if they found libertarianism, they were met with more comforting lies from pacifists. To have both paradigms shattered is unthinkable, they literally can’t even think about it.
The good news is, this isn’t half as bad as it sounds.
We talked earlier about how many people we would need to convince for any given method to succeed in abolishing the State. The most attractive part of force, is that it requires the fewest participants. State agents are not the brave saviors propaganda makes them out to be, they are cowards for the most part. If met with the reality that going to work today has a considerable likelihood of ending their lives, they will not go to work, and the State will cease to be.
Let us assume that the average cop writes 10 traffic tickets per day. If 5% of the population of a given geographic area simply understood that force was necessary and proper, a police officer would be coming into contact with one of those people roughly every other day. Up that number to 10%, or be in a place where police write more than 10 tickets a day, and the likelihood of such an encounter becomes much greater. Keep in mind that there is generally more than one police officer in a given jurisdiction.
This very quickly leads to many dead and wounded police in a very short period of time. The news coverage of the phenomenon would be non stop. If someone you loved was a police officer, would you encourage them to go to work under these conditions? If you did show up to work, would you be anxious to answer calls, or make traffic stops? Of course not. Police go to work for the same reason all of us go to work, to get paid. If your job means certain death in a matter of days, that sort of defeats the purpose of your paycheck, you’re not going to do it. You’re no longer at the top of the food chain, it makes more sense to work at McDonalds.
If police won’t come to work, then how are taxes going to get collected? How are fines going to be issued? How are the edicts of politicians to be enforced? Who is going to pay the town clerk? Simply put, the whole thing comes to a grinding halt once the enforcers decide productivity beats oppression as a career choice. It’s no different than the mindset of any common criminal. Gangs run amok in New York and Chicago because the population is disarmed. They would have to be out of their fucking minds to behave that way in New Hampshire, because the 911 call would be to report a body, instead of a robbery. Criminals, whether their uniform is a red bandanna or a blue suit, almost exclusively prey on people who cannot or will not defend themselves. It’s a fairly simple and universal truth.
Of course, there are objections to this. Such as;
“If you shoot at a cop, the cop will kill you!”
There is certainly a risk of this, but as previously stated, that risk doesn’t go away by not shooting the cop. More importantly, it is important for people to understand that the winners of gun battles are decided by who shoots who first, not who wears what uniform. Losing a gunfight with a police officer is not a foregone conclusion. With a little weapons training, you can easily defeat some lazy bully any day of the week.
“But if people start killing cops, then there will be more cops!”
Basic math suggests that dead police means fewer police, this is subtraction, you’re thinking addition. For sure, if one cop dies, the State will just pick from the long line of people who want to be police officers and hire new ones. This is why I’m not out shooting police right now. There first needs to be a critical mass if you will, of people who understand that force is necessary and proper. The idea here is for many dead and wounded police in a very short period of time, within a given geographic area, to demoralize them into quitting their jobs.
“But people will still believe in the State even after you bring it down, and then they will just erect a new State, and that might be worse!”
Worse than the most powerful government in the history of mankind? Unlikely. Besides, if the enforcers wouldn’t show up for work for one government, why would they show up for work for another? We are not revolutionaries trying to replace the British crown, we are people who are fucking sick of being abused and we aren’t going to take it anymore. Go ahead and hold your election, when your enforcers abuse us we will kill them and it doesn’t matter what 95% of you vote for if 5% of us will shoot back, and by the way, once people see that shooting back works, you can bet the number will be greater than 5%. In the absence of a functioning government, those who were once so infatuated with the State will have no choice but to learn to live without it. Screw convincing them, they will simply have to get used to the idea.
“The public will view you as terrorists!”
Let them. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. That has always been, and always will be, the case. Who the terrorists are and who the good guys are is a thing sorted out by history through body counts. We were all raised in the US to believe that the “founding fathers” were wonderful men, despite their slave raping hypocritical behavior. That’s because they won the war. If they had lost the war they would have gone down in history as violent terrorists, and we’d all be speaking English right now, I mean, well, you get the point.
“But they have armies and nuclear weapons and submarines and stuff!”
Granted, handguns and rifles are rather useless against atomic bombs and naval superiority. Luckily this is a land battle and we can more or less forget about the submarines. Nuclear weapons, I think that’s a stretch for a government to use on its own soil, I’m not saying its impossible, but if they would self destruct and kill us all before giving up power, that problem is going to exist no matter how the power is taken away. The far greater threat of nuclear annihilation is a foreign war provoked by the government we seek to overthrow, should its existence be permitted to persist. Armies are basically just police with bigger guns without the phony “here to help” routine. We’re not talking about organized fighting forces meeting on a battle field, we’re talking about individuals standing up for themselves. I think a military is fairly useless against that kind of phenomenon, but then, I never claimed to be a military strategist. All I know is they haven’t been able to stop an insurgency in Iraq after 13 years, and that’s been with free run to kill whoever the hell they want. You can imagine that public support for government forces would dwindle rapidly once the military began firing on innocents here at home.
This is my first attempt to write a definitive explanation of my theory on this, I’m sure there will be no shortage of objections to it and I’ll take them all into consideration for a follow up. For now, I believe I’ve made the case that it is not impractical, immoral, or impossible to violently overthrow the government, and that contrary to popular belief, it can lead to a permanently stateless society. Whether or not that ever happens, well, that’s not entirely up to me.
What is certain is that the State is a force for bad in this world, and the more time that is allowed to pass, the worse it gets. Most of the world already has very strict gun control laws in place, and it is only a matter of time before the United States finds itself in a similar position, if drastic action is not taken soon. If you think my proposal is far fetched today, it will become even more difficult as time is allowed to pass and bring new laws and institutions with it.
Those who have attempted to avoid this discussion, such as Stefan Molyneux, and the Free State Project, do so at the peril of their own credibility, and do a disservice to those who they would claim to be trying to help. This discussion is happening with or without you, and if you really think I’m that far off base, then the proper way to handle that is to make a coherent response. Shutting down the lines of communication only proves that you don’t have one.
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