« Last post by Erik on October 25, 2014, 05:29:07 pm »
I have only been an abolitionist for a couple years. Prior to my conversion, I was a minarchist and had been for most of my life. Looking back, I now believe minarchism is a required stop for many of us on this journey. I would say “six months” is even too short for many— it is way too short to sort out the logical contradictions and argumentative fallacies that have been impregnated in our minds since we were children. Six months is far too short to fully deprogram our minds and reprogram our language. I would caution anyone who fell into this after six months to take it slow. Don’t become the firebrand zealot who burns out and grows cold with bitterness. You are weak and vulnerable. Statism is a cult, and exiting this cult requires slowly building and enduring new habits for your mind. Although “exit counselors” exist, I would caution everyone who is on this path, including recent arrivals to avoid being dependent on these people. Again, you are vulnerable, and the last thing you want to do is exit one cult to find yourself in another.
That being said, I was a minarchist for a long time, and I like to think I have been slowly moving towards abolitionism this entire time. My father was a John Birch Society member back when it was cool (and before it was compromised). From a rather young age, I read in Bastiat, de Tocqueville, Montesquieu, Hayek, Hazlitt, Sowell, Elder, and even the great Ron Paul. I supported Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and attended the early Tea Party events before they were hijacked by neo-conservatives. I spent my formative years, college, and professional life explaining my beliefs to curious friends, family members, and coworkers. All this time, I was gradually moving towards something, but I didn’t know what it was.
Looking back some more, I remember pretending to be comfortable and confident in my minarchism. I knew it was more moral and true than conservatism or progressivism, but there was something about it that left me wanting more. There was something about it that left unfinished or unsettled. I remember making the same old, tired logical contradictions and argumentative fallacies that statists would make only to a lesser degree. The Achilles heel I later discovered with defending minarchism was this: that accepting the smallest form of government as moral and true, is taken to a logical conclusion of maximizing government. A thing is the sum of its parts, and a large government is the sum of small incremental pieces of government. As some people around here like to say, the minarchist argument goes something like, “we think government is so inherently evil, that it should only be entrusted to do the few but most important things.” This is the problem, for if minarchy proves capable of doing a few very important things with violence, coercion, and fraud, then so should it be able to do more. I had instinctively known this my entire life that this wasn’t true, but I went through such amazing mental gymnastics to hide this weakness. As an armchair Austrian Economist, I can now reasonably argue that minarchy is as self-destructive as the largest of states.
Approximately two years ago, I discovered reddit. I discovered reddit/r/libertarian and from there, I discovered a libertarian “welcome pack” that included writings from someone I had only heard about but never fully engaged: Murray Rothbard. I picked up “For a new Liberty” and after reading it, concluded that Rothbard was touching upon something that went a level deeper than most libertarians would go. Someone in a thread once mentioned that this next level was called anarcho-capitalism or voluntaryism and there was an entire sub-reddit dedicated to that. I remember someone had also suggested reading Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason” as a primer. I picked up that book from Amazon and it had the same effect on me as Rothbard’s FANL. Somewhere on the way I watched Stefan Molyneux's videos and found them to be compelling, but I like to steer clear of his podcasts and fans.
This flashpoint took place within several weeks, and I remember exactly how I felt. It was like passing through a door into another realm where suddenly the universe, the world, and society made complete sense. But my conversion didn’t by all means stop there. I spent the next two years up to this very day reading every such book I can get my hands on, participating on forums like this, and watching podcasts of great speakers in the movement. I went through a long phase of asking those common questions, trying to understand how every minute aspect of society could function without government in the free market. I asked about the roads, I asked about Somalia, I asked about the space program and the internet. But the answers are all the same, and they’re all unassailable-- once you fully grasp the zero/non-aggression principle, you can use your creative imagination to come up with the free market alternative yourself. And just because you or I may lack the creativity to understand how to do something peacefully that the government does with violence in this very moment, does not validate the use of force against anyone to accomplish what we want to do. It’s that simple. But this simple truth remains so hard for most common people to get.
So here I am, looking back again. Larken Rose likes to say that Statism is a cult, and it is. But it’s much more than that. Statism is more than a cult because there is no single leader. It is a cult that is enforced and reinforced by the masses, self-perpetuating generation after generation and working its way through the fabric of society like a rogue software program or worm makes its way through the internet.