One of the recurring discussion topics common in libertarian circles concerns the question of political action. To some anarchists, in particular, politics is strictly forbidden. Arguments for this range from the lack of feasibility for achieving change to the assertion that attempting to vote amounts to violence; a vote for a candidate, policy, or other action inevitably brings the force of government to bear on others.
As we live in a world where political systems exist and are accepted by the vast majority of people, I see no way to exclude politics from any attempt to bring about a free society. The political arena is, at the very least, a place where new ideas and approaches can be communicated to a more willing audience. Absent the air of politics, few people appear receptive to challenges of their social beliefs.
Concerning feasibility, this argument is akin to sour grapes. Seeking a goal is valid regardless of the fruitfulness of the effort. If this were how all innovators thought, where would ever innovation occur?
With regards to the understanding that political action must result in government force, Murray Rothbard had this to say:
I see no other conceivable strategy for the achievement of liberty than political action. Religious or philosophical conversion of each man and woman is simply not going to work; that strategy ignores the problem of power, the fact that millions of people have a vested interest in statism and are not likely to give it up…
So, while politics may perpetuate violence against individuals, it is but one of the ways to move us ultimately toward liberty.
Just over a week ago, a wealthy older man fond of gambling and otherwise unremarkable, gathered a small arsenal in a Las Vegas hotel and opened fire on a nearby concert, killing dozens of concert goers. Since the event, few answers have emerged regarding the motivation behind this despicable act.
Predictably, the gun control lobby shifted into high gear to capitalize on the event, calling for stricter gun laws. The question of how such laws would differ from existing restrictions, how gun control has failed to eliminate gun violence, or how the only way to restrict gun ownership is to put more guns in the hands of the state are apparently insufficient arguments to silence this particularly myopic political movement. Those of us familiar with the movement to disarm the masses know that self defense is often just as necessary against the government as it is against other criminal elements.
The Vegas shooter chose to take other human lives as his last waking act. Much like a suicide bomber, this man reached a point very few people contemplate and acted in a manner few are capable of. He could very easily have chosen explosives as his means and taken far more with him. Regardless of the method, Stephen Paddock’s goal was the death of others and no gun restrictions would have changed that.
Prior to 2009, professional football players in the U.S. did not participate in pregame activities like the singing of the national anthem. In an effort to purchase support for foreign adventurism, the U.S. military began spending millions in taxpayer funds to get athletes to participate in patriotic ceremonies. This effort was broadly accepted until Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel during the anthem in protest of police brutality toward members of his race. Mr. Kaepernick is no longer employed by any team in the NFL but that has not deterred others from joining in the protest. While some argue that the protests themselves are expressions of free speech, they actually help prove the fallacy of free speech absent private property.
While Mr. Kaepernick has every right to believe as he does and express himself through such non-violent means, his rights do not provide him access to football fields or national broadcasts. His absence from the national stage reflects the desire of team owners to remove political activism from their sporting events. The choice by owners to refuse him access resulted from significant numbers of consumers who disagree with Mr. Kaepernick’s position, the use of his fame to protest, or both.
In response to Mr. Kaepernick’s absence, several teams and teammates elected to continue his efforts. However, just as with democracy and government, the number of participants don’t change the ethical nature of rights. Just as Mr. Kaepernick and his supporters are free to think and speak as they wish, those who own the property on which they speak, or consume the entertainment which they provide, are just as free to reject these efforts. In order to be ethically applied, no individual’s or group’s freedom to speak cannot infringe upon the freedom of others.