Recently, someone presented us with a thought/question through our Facebook Page. We addressed this through some private messages and by letting our page fans discuss it. This idea of changing the state from within comes up from time to time. Frankly, it will be easier for us to just link to this blog post from now on, rather than constructing the answer all over again and again. So let’s put this persistent fairy tale of changing the state from within to bed, once and for all.
The Fairy Tale:
“The state is so large that it’s unreasonable to assume it can be ignored or reduced in any reasonable way by being ignored, therefore disarming it from the inside is the most realistic way of fighting it.
If there were a bunch of anarchists and libertarians in the administrative branches of government, surely it would be a much more limited government, if not on the verge of eventual non-existence.“
Sounds good in theory, right? And as they say: in theory, theory and practice are the same.
Unfortunately, in practice, they are not.
Getting yourself into one of the branches of government is a process that you don’t just wake up one day and decide to do. Actually, you could wake up one day and decide to do it, but it has the same effect as deciding to be a banana. The process that you go through to get elected will destroy your anarchist/libertarian credibility (*cough*Rand*cough*). Even more if you are going to get appointed to your position. You will have to make promises (lie), fight politically (cheat) and get funded (steal) to get into that that office.
And once there?
Now you have promises to fulfill.
Now you have enemies to ward off.
Now you have debts to repay.
“But wait!” you say. “I am a principled anarchist/libertarian! I won’t play those political games! I won’t fulfill those promises (that would make government bigger). I won’t repay those debts (with government contracts) Now I’ve achieved my goal of bringing down the state from within! Now I’m going to launch my state-ending policy agenda! Muahahahaha!”
Good for you, Super Anarchist Politician (SAP). How are you planning to get your government limiting bills to the Floor for a vote? Might be that you need a co-sponsor or some other champion to help you out. Who have you got? The senior members from your State want nothing to do with you. In fact, nobody does after they found out you lied, cheated and stole your way to get in. And you didn’t even have the common courtesy to pay back your campaign contributors (tsk! tsk!). Do you really think anyone is going to jump on your bandwagon?
“But wait!” you say. “I was swept in on a massive wave of anarcho-libertarian voting. We have a solid caucus in both the house and the senate. We can join our voices together to co-sponsor bills and champion our own policies!”
Awesome, SAP! Did your wave of anarcho-libertarian voters give you chairmanships on the Way and Means Committee? The Budget Committee? Appropriations? Energy & Commerce? Rules? Finance? Judiciary? None? I mean did you even take over the Indian Affairs committee? No? Oh…. So how are you going to get your government shrinking bill to the Floor again? Are you a banana, yet?
Ok, you are starting to look lost. Let me tell you how you are going to do this. You are going to make promises – and, by God, you are going to keep them this time. You will promise to vote for the Senior Member’s appropriation bill with a payout to his campaign contributors back home. You will promise to pass a subsidy through for the big industry in your state (your phone has been ringing off the hook for that one anyway). And you will not fail to cast those votes or your bill will never see the light of day. Count on it.
So there you are, growing the government and influence of the state, you libertarian SAP, you. You’ve successfully entered the belly of the beast to kill it from within and whaddayaknow? You are going to have to grow it if you want to get any power to kill it. And the more you grow it, the harder it will be to kill. You are literally making it harder for other people to bring an end to the State by being a part of its government.
“But you don’t understand! I’ll slow down the rate of growth. I’ll vote “No” on all spending or increase in regulations. And since there are so many of us now, we can really help to bring down the State apparatus!”
The Fairy Tale dies hard.
What You’ll Have the Power To Do.
Ok, it’s time to put up or shut up. As a Representative or a Senator you have a staff that is feeding their families based on working for you. Without them, you really can’t get any bills drawn up or keep track of the appointments with the portion of the 45,000 members of your constituency that are writing, calling, emailing and showing up at your door during dinner. Without them, you will likely miss the call from that senior member you need to co-sponsor your bill. But so what, you are here to bring down the state.
So… Let’s make the easy cuts first and cut your staff. I’m sure you are running at least as anarcho-libertarian an office as the beloved Justin Amash. So, there are 15 welfare recipients you can cut out right now for a savings of just about $1,000,000 per year. It’s not much, but it’s a start. And it should be easy to cut them. All these people ever did was volunteer their time to run your campaign and get you into office. They’ve probably only worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week for 15 months… walking every precinct, knocking on every door, calling every voter… to get you elected. Taking their salary away should be easy as pie. Go ahead, you don’t need a co-sponsor to conduct that meeting. Just call it and look them all in the eye and tell them their child’s next meal is going to have to come from somewhere else. C’mon, do you want to bring down the state or not?
Ok, with that out of the way… no wait. Sorry, this is game over. You can’t do another thing now. You are literally powerless to affect any more change. All you have accomplished is wasting a lot of people’s time, a lot of people’s energy and a lot of other people’s money. The only way to really play this political game is to get in and get as much power as you can. And to get that power you will compromise all your values. You will abandon all your anarcho-libertarian principles. And ultimately you will just end a corrupted part of the system.
At Least We Can Slow It Down
I call this a Fairy Tale because it is so obviously false, yet believed by so many with childlike faith. You have a better chance of infiltrating your local street gang and converting them from thieves and thugs into a meals on wheels delivery service for the poor. In fact, go out and do this. If you are successful you will have bettered the world more than trying to run for political office. But if you can’t bring it down, maybe you can slow down the growth. The state may be ultimately bigger but we’ll have smaller government than we would have otherwise.
Every single voter who ever thought they were voting for “smaller government”.
Every single candidate who campaigned on “smaller government”.
Every single activist or party member who walked a precinct, rang a doorbell, called somebody or promoted “smaller government” with a sign, a bumper sticker, a social media status, an online video, or any other such activity.
All of that activity has lead ultimately to where we are now: the largest criminal cartel in the history of the planet with control of the most deadliest weapons ever conceived and policies of the most invasive violations of individual rights.
The efforts to change the state from within have done nothing to slow down the growth of government at all. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about the founders or all the way up to Ron Paul. To wit, the taxes paid today by the average tax payer are 300%-5,000% higher than they were under King George. And, in just the last 5 years 13,000 new regulations were published in the Federal Register. The size and scope of the US government has not been slowed and has, in fact, been growing non-stop since it’s creation. Since Ron Paul entered office for the 2nd time in 1997 there has been an average increase of 13,000 new regulations PER YEAR. Prior to that time going back to 1789 there was an average of 4,000 new regulations per year. So how was “small government” Ron Paul not a failure? Ronald Reagan is another shining example of a “small government” politician who increased the spending, debt and size of the government more than any of his predecessors. The debt increased under Reagan more than under all previous presidents combined. George W Bush ran on a “small government” platform and oversaw the creation of DHS, TSA, the Patriot Act, a 100% increase in military spending, warrantless wiretapping, increasing the scope of the war on drugs, increasing the unfunded liabilities of Medicare with Part D, federalized schools with No Child Left Behind… the list goes on and on.
After all these failures, all these actions that led to even more and worse government you believe that they slowed things down or did good? The people in the United States would be better off, have more freedom and less regulation/taxation if they were still subjects of the Crown. They traded being ruled by one tyrant thousands of miles away for being ruled by thousands of tyrants one mile away. Enough of that fairy tale. Enough of that utopianism. It’s time to accept reality. The State will not be changed by having more people in it with whom you think you agree.
The State exists and has power because people believe it does. People believe that the government should rule over them and society. People believe we need a group of rulers to keep us safe. People believe that voting grants special rights, powers and privileges to the elected that don’t exist for everyone else. People believe lies.
The solution isn’t joining that system and validating their beliefs. The solution, as clichéd as it sounds, is to free people’s minds from these beliefs. Shine the light of rational truth to expose the State for what it is… a shared illusion. When you give up that illusion and you stop participating in it, you will be free of it. You will still be surrounded by people who hold onto the illusion, but you will be free in your mind. Once you have freed your mind from the chains of statism, it is incumbent on you to free others.
Don’t fall back into old thoughts of political change. The steps to changing a society involve changing the individuals in the society, not the government. This blog and our Facebook presence exist for the purpose of waking people up and showing them this solution. We are a resource to free minds from the chains of statism. If you are here, you are on the path to freedom. It won’t come through political activism. It will come through individual change.
Read more about walking the path to freedom:
- 20 Baby Steps Toward Anarchism
- The Village Elders of the Liberty Movement
- The Inevitable Libertarian Victory
- Whose Idea of Freedom Should We Use?
- Rothbard’s “Anatomy of The State”