Many libertarians foolishly believe that the role of the libertarian is to set oneself entirely apart from the state.
Any good libertarian detests the state, but there is a distinction between the modal libertarian and regime libertarian and solid libertarians.
Principle requires that we do not encourage the state to do evil, but we can and should demand that it function in the way most in line with our sensibilities. Anything that it is right for an individual to do would be right for the state if the state were not a foreign aggressor in our lives.
It is not at odds with the libertarian cause to make particularistic demands of the state.
In fact, it is a path to success.
Understanding the Ruling Elite
Society is run by elites.
This is a law of nature, not a question of how things ought to be. A failure to see what is can only lead to suffering in the long term.
What is important for those of us who want to bring about our vision is to put in place a ruling elite who will enforce the social order we demand.
This ruling elite changes in shape and size (for instance, following the classical patterns of monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy). Even in an anarchic society there is still a ruling elite: there are those who hold power within the social order. The defining quality of anarchism is that society is contractual rather than enforced by vested executive authority, but the counterpoint to this is that anyone in an anarchic society is the rightful enforcer of its contract.
It is unlikely that any of the societies proposed by those who share my convictions would consist entirely of a monolithic ruling elite. If nothing else, there are those in whom the power principle is undeveloped or directed outside the realm of political thought.
As a result, it is necessary to create a vanguard of elites through education, ideological purification, and the recognition of those who act to further society’s values.
The ruling elite enforce the social order. In a libertarian social order, these would include churches, charities, and mutual aid associations, arbiters and judges, employers, and the equivalent of celebrities.
These have counterparts in each social order, and in the democratic social order they include both explicitly defined institutions (the constitutional government of society) and the same sort of soft institutions that would emerge within the libertarian social order.
There are three core reasons for this stance:
1. To find fellow travelers and accrue public support for our positions by participating in the cultural debate that exists within any society.
2. To force the ruling elite to make concessions that further our interests.
3. To put to rest the idea of a benevolent ruling elite that exists to serve the interests of its subjects.
Demands as Advertisements
The problem that right-wing thinkers have not overcome is that we rarely have a systematic understanding of our own beliefs.
Conservatives (who are often right wing only in aesthetics) want the status quo and reactionaries want a return to tradition. But kitsch rather than fully implemented visions come out of these desires for status quo and tradition.
When a conservative shouts about the Constitution or a reactionary seeks a return to the medieval order, they do not explain how this would function. They do not make concrete policy positions. They are a worldview held as a mere picture image.
It is necessary to make concrete demands. A demand that the state pardon Snowden or Assange, or that the right to bear arms be absolutely respected, or that the military cease wasting money to blow up people in faraway lands send a clearer message about what we want and let us attract others to our positions.
Shifting the Window
The left’s success in modern politics has come from its ability to frame conversations.
Take, for instance, the insistence on equality. The so-called right-wing of democratic parties, such as the Republicans in the United States, would insist on equality of opportunity. The left-wing parties insist on absolute equality.
What should we insist on?
We should insist that equality always requires force and goes against nature.
This must be done unflinchingly, and it must be done openly. We must actively encourage policies that limit and curtail the state and its degenerative impacts on society.
We do not need these to be overtly libertarian in nature. Hoppe suggests in What Must Be Done that one step toward libertarianism would be the elimination of the general franchise and a return to property owners would be a significant improvement that could be brought about within the existing democratic framework.
Any demand reshapes the conversation. This is a tactic that the left-wing has used for centuries. The right-wing response has traditionally been to deny these demands. As the dissident right, we must accept the fact that traditional forms of life have gone from our society.
We must, therefore, make demands that seem foreign to the prevailing narrative precisely because they are outside the pale of discussion.
Take What You Can
There is a mistaken conception that any use of the state runs at odds with anarcho-capitalist values.
Many short-term alliances of convenience have indeed turned into marriages of compromise, but this is not the case in all such relationships.
We stand in axiomatic opposition to not only the existence of the state, but most of its practices.
This should not stop us from making demands.
The state uses wicked means. The ends it pursues are irrelevant. It is, to borrow from Murray Rothbard, and institution of theft. Your taxpayer dollars are nothing more than future blood money to be turned into goods and services so desirable that they have to be made compulsory.
People recognize this more than cynics understand. The American pastime has been grumbling about taxes since before it was even a distinct political entity.
Make strategic demands where they are achievable because this uses up the political capital of the ruling elite. Even if the mode and method of addressing these demands takes nothing more than some time from the ruling parliamentary body, this at least is time that will not be spent pursuing damnfool nonsense.
One thing that is important to note here is that there is a room for compromise in some demands. For instance, those who labor under the delusion of constitutional government make for allies in anarcho-capitalist pursuits.
Here, the strategy of deliberately draining the reserves of the ruling elite can be combined with narrative-bending demands. We see this with organizations such as the NRA, GOA, and FPC. The NRA is an obsolete old-guard Republican and democratic institution that was often run as little more than a glorified marketing campaign for the Republicans.
The GOA is less partisan and more dogged in its determination to fight for gun rights, averse to compromise. It plays a much more valuable role than the NRA. while the NRA may threaten to withhold contributions from a Republican, it would never actually attack a Republican in a situation that mattered. The GOA, being less tied to the political establishment, is a single-issue group that demands adherence to its tenets.
Then you have the FPC, which is the sort of organization that we need to cultivate. Not merely a political lobbying and legal activist group, it is on the front lines of culture actively counter signaling the prevailing orthodox narrative. Where the GOA and NRA are inherently conservative institutions, the FPC is dissident and pursues an extreme pro-firearms policy of the sort that is in line with even our convictions.
The FPC is a faction that would represent our ruling elite in a libertarian social order.
But all three organizations can be useful tools in the cause for gun rights, and we should use them to pursue a firearms policy which effectively removes the influence of the ruling elite in controlling the civilian possession of arms. The exact use to which these organizations can be put is a subject for a different discussion than this, as some are more useful as shields than as allies.
Discredit the Elites
Loud public demands are a sign of dissatisfaction with the system. The main justifiable purpose of the ruling elite is that they present themselves as enforcers of the greater good.
By making demands, we can make clear at the very least that there is a portion of the population not satisfied with the current state of affairs.
Every demand is a face challenge. If the elites say that everyone should receive the abominable vaccine, forcing them to resort to mandates and intimidation shows that they are not serving the interests of the people. Even if there are those who are idiotic enough to assume that strangers in some distant capital are more well-fitted to decide for others’ lives, open discontent breeds doubt about the ruling elite’s effectiveness.
This should not be used to garner sympathy. Democracy relies on horizontal enforcement and is a religion of its own. Making demands that counter signal the ruling elite marks one as an apostate.
The goal is to create enough apostates to threaten the state creed. Propaganda is most effective when uncontested. Counter the narrative–dispel utopia–and denude the ruling elite.
The Role of Discontent
Discontent is a sign of sickness, which immediately discredits the elites of its own.
But it has an additional advantage.
Each disenfranchised or dissatisfied individual becomes harder for the ruling elite to influence. It is easy to write off one hardship or a minor complaint. But when people recognize the regime as blood-soaked monsters, they will not ignore its faults.
People will only give their all to a worthy cause. Discontent is as good at suppressing the adversaries of our creed as it is for bolstering our allies, precisely because it sows seeds of doubt.
You Might Succeed
While I have no faith in the democratic process or the reform of the existing ruling elite, there is one important advantage of making demands.
You just might make the world better for people right now. There is an immiseration theory in Marxist thought which preaches that people need to hit rock bottom before a revolution occurs, and this develops into the idea that the ruling elite will only change when the existing circumstances make it more difficult to tolerate them than to replace them.
This is not correct. The American secession from Britain occurred despite Americans living among the materially best lives in the world with far less malnutrition and much more literacy than Europe.
Indeed, while it is necessary for the Marxist to depend on the misery of the masses, those who advocate for freedom can rely on a habituation toward freedom much more than a rebellious spirit fighting against the oppressor. We have seen that the freest among us took up the fight most loudly against the propaganda and machinations of the state during the early days of the coronavirus regime.
Making your end-goals known is critical. It allows one to identify a vanguard, orient one’s actions to undermine the ruling elite, and sow seeds of discontent so that opportunities may bloom. It also is the best short-term solution to having a better life, while it still furthers the long-term goal of replacing the regime’s ruling elite with a libertarian ruling elite.
Of course, there are better and worse strategies to making demands. They should provide a central core for identity and be rock-solid examples of libertarian ideology, for instance. There is room for multiple strategies here, from the demagogue to the well-reasoned academic, and the only limit should be those things which inherently violate our principles.