Once again, Porcfest
was an enjoyable freak-fest: a gathering of those
weird, abnormal and unusual people who like to think about and talk about
economics, philosophy and morality. Let's face it, those of us who have
the patience and interest to obsess and nitpick over every imaginable
aspect of a voluntary society, or discuss Austrian economics for hours on
end, are not "normal." We aren't the mainstream. We are the freaks.
As it happens, the "freaks" are almost always the ones who move humanity
forward. It is those who dare to doubt conventional wisdom, who dare to
disagree with popular opinion, and who dare to cling to principles when no
one else will, who eventually drag the masses along toward actual
civilization. So I'm proud to be one of the "freaks," despite all of the
personal inconveniences that tends to cause (being ridiculed, insulted,
demonized, robbed, locked up, etc.).
One problem, however, is that the masses outnumber the freaks by a large
margin. Even if all the freaks understand something, it can take years,
even centuries, for the masses to be dragged into understanding it too.
This has been true of astronomy, physics, biology, and all sorts of other
topics and issues. Normally this might not matter much. If 99% of people
never understand anything beyond Newtonian physics, who cares? But in the
case of philosophy, it matters a lot, because the ignorance and
superstitions of the masses have direct, horribly destructive
consequences. The masses waving their flags and swigging their beer on
July 4th are enabling torture and mass murder, and don't even know it,
because their faith in the god called "government" is completely warping
their view of reality. The enthusiastic voter is giving his blessing to
mass extortion and violent aggression, simply because he's never imagined
that society could be anything else.
So where does that leave us freaks? We really need to pull the masses in
the direction of sanity and morality, and away from the cult of
"government." But if we try to do that by talking to them the same way we
talk to our fellow freaks, nothing will happen. If we give Joe Sixpack a
copy of some huge von Mises book on economics, he'll use it as a coaster
for his beer. Think the average soccer mom just can't wait to dive into
Lysander Spooner's "No Treason: the Constitution of No Authority"? Hardly.
We cannot approach the masses as if they're like us, because they're not.
If they were, there would be a couple hundred million people attending
challenging). We freaks like the endless intellectual reasoning and
logical debating. The masses don't. If we can't give them an important,
simple, practical reason to doubt what they've always assumed, we will
never make a dent. And if the masses continue to bow to "government,"
while the freaks don't, the usual outcome is a lot of dead freaks, and a
lot of enslaved masses.
This is not just an intellectual exercise, or some irrelevant obsession
with trivia. Quite literally, the future of mankind depends upon whether
the masses give up their statism or not. Right now, almost everyone
assumes that someone has to be "in charge," and that everyone else has to
obey and pay tribute to whoever is in charge. The result of that
superstition has already been hundreds of millions of murders, and
billions of instances of robbery, extortion and assault. And it continues.
So yeah, fixing this is pretty important.
urgency, pontificating, explaining and arguing will get through to the
masses, unless we can find a way to make it matter to them. To them, a
voluntary society is just some weird crackpot hypothetical theory that
they don't have the time or interest to think about. They do as they're
told, pay their "fair share," vote every once in a while, go with the
flow, and expect everything to turn out fine.
But don't give up and run for the hills just yet. I'm happy (and
surprised) to say that more and more "normal" people these days are waking
up, questioning statism, and sometimes even turning into "freaks." In
fact, the rate at which this is now happening has me totally stunned. Even
lots of "normal" people I know personally can now discuss the idea of a
stateless society without their heads exploding.
As an example, in past years, Porcfest was a minarchist-fest, with a few
fringe voluntaryists and anarchists hiding on the edge somewhere. Now the
anarchists are loud and proud and everywhere, and it's the minarchists
sounding somewhat apologetic, like recovering statists who just need one
more "hit" of political action. ("I can give up voting whenever I want!
Maybe. Kind of. Help me!")
I think the key to getting people to embrace voluntaryism is to show them
that "government" and "political" action--voting, campaigning,
petitioning, legislation, etc.--goes against their own virtues, and
morality, and goodness. The best reason for them to give up statism is not
just because WE don't approve of it, but because it goes against their OWN
values and priorities. The difference between us freaks and the masses is
not that we're good and they're bad (sorry to burst anyone's bubble), but
that we like to obsess about philosophical principles and eliminating
intellectual contradictions, while they're content to let someone else
choose their "principles" for them.
So having a message of "what you want sucks, and what I want is awesome,"
is not only ineffective; it's also untrue. Ultimately, almost everyone
wants truth and justice to prevail. Trouble is, most people have been led
to believe that "government" coercion is the way to make that happen.
Their ultimate goal is perfectly noble, but their means of trying to
achieve it ("political" action) is bat-poop looney and hugely
counter-productive. Instead of starting by throwing their blunders and
bogus assumptions in their faces, start by acknowledging their good
intentions and noble goals. Then show them why what they really want can
never be achieved via "government," but can only be achieved through a
lack of "government"--i.e., a society that abides by the non-aggression
All the while, keep in mind that you're the freak, and they're not. So
don't talk to them as you would talk to another you. Talk to them as if
they don't really care about the complexities of Austrian economic theory,
because they don't. Talk to them as if they are normal, good people, who
mean well, but who have accepted a lot of bogus assumptions on faith, and
who haven't yet bothered to think much about such weird things as politics
(P.S. I'm making this last paragraph a footnote, so it doesn't seem too
much like a self-serving commercial--even though it basically is. I
believe, based on sixteen years of nudging people towards
voluntaryism--with quite a few success stories, I might add--that I've
come up with a method of gently but firmly removing people from the cult
of statism more quickly, more comfortably, and more effectively than
anything else I've ever done, or seen anyone else do. The method is a
one will be happening up in Troy, Michigan (just north of Detroit) this
July 21st and 22nd. So if you're in that area, and know a statist or two
that you just can't seem to get through to--and who doesn't?--then come to
this event, and do whatever it takes to bring them along. You won't regret
Larken Rose is author of several books, including The Iron Web and How to be a Successful Tyrant.