The debate on anarchism and dualism (see here for all the relevant links) has shifted to a debate about strategies for bringing about (and maintaining) a libertarian-anarchic society. So far the discussion is largely being conducted on Chris’s blog here and John Kennedy’s No Treason (see the comments in Chris’s blog post for the particular link).
I agree with Chris that there are multiple strategies for bringing about such a society. Indeed, multiple strategies will be necessary. No single strategy will work by itself. I also agree with Chris that politics is one of them, albeit a limited one (particularly in today’s corrupt environment). Generally, to succeed in politics one must not only compromise one’s principles but become very good at it. The more statist the society, the more this is true. And even if you can get elected without compromising your principles, it is difficult if not impossible to get anything done (at least at the national level) that is moral and just. Texas Representative Ron Paul is arguably the only virtuous national politician, but even his vote is only 1 in 435. I’m sure he does some good, especially as part of the committee that oversees the Fed, but his influence and power are limited. Moreover, one must not overlook the danger of being co-opted as one begins to see success in politics.
Again, I agree with Chris that the battle is primarily a cultural one on the level of personal and socio-cultural (including business firms) principles and institutions. There are multiple avenues by which to approach this culture war. In academia, libertarians can continue to plug away with libertarian-themed journal articles and books as well as, and perhaps more importantly, providing an increasing number of students with an antidote to woefully inadequate and mistaken statist education (both in public and private schools). Outside of academia one can promote libertarian ideas in the media (op-eds, letters to the editor, tv news commentaries, documentaries, blogs and websites, etc.), in the arts and entertainment (fiction writing (from short stories to novels), comic books, cartoons, music, plays, tv shows, movies, etc.), having children and teaching them libertarian ideas, by ignoring the State as much as possible and creating and encouraging the growth of alternative societal institutions (such as homeschooling, fraternal societies, clubs, neighborhood committees, church-related organizations, charities, and new businesses). This is partly the rational evangelism that John disparages, but not entirely. Rational argumentation often has little effect by itself on those who are old and set in their ways, but the young are more open to new, radical, and true ideas. Moreover, what Chris and I advocate is not rational argumentation merely, but rational action. Different people have different talents and resources to bring to bear on this culture war and so will be better at different avenues of attack. You should do what you can. Rational argumentation will often play a role but it must be supplemented by, or rather supplement, a bevy of other strategies many of which I have already mentioned.
One important avenue that I have mentioned, and John emphasizes as well, is libertarian-run businesses. Yet business, while important, is only one institution of collective action that libertarians can use to ignore, avoid, and undermine the State. John also includes a related issue: invention. I certainly agree that certain new technologies can and will be used to help to create a libertarian-anarchic society. However, John’s argument that so-called “rational evangelism” won’t work and that “the state will have it’s [sic] way as long as enough people approve of it…is simply not the case” is wrong, and his focus on the role of technology borders on determinism. Are certain advanced technologies necessary in order to bring about and maintain a libertarian-anarchic society? John has not explicitly told us if this is the case, and if so, why; but his argument seems to imply that it is. Moreover, if certain technologies are necessary for liberty, then it appears that in a society without said technologies there is an inescapable gulf between the moral and the practical. Ultimately, what technologies are invented and how they will be used is determined by ideas. Email encryption won’t do people much good if people think that they are obligated to let the government through it, or if a majority of the people think the State has the right to punish those who don’t. It is the ideas that people hold that we need to change. Technology can be a useful tool, both for bringing about such change and for keeping out and ignoring the State. Libertarians with the expertise could work on inventing, promoting, selling, and defending new technologies that can serve the libertarian cause.
I think John and I are in agreement about the limited usefulness of collective political movements like the Libertarian Party, however, although I’m not sure he would agree with me that they are not entirely useless or counterproductive.
Update (8/27): Chris’s blog post, “The Rose Petal Assumption,” is also an important read on this subject.
Update (8/28): Walter Block’s recent essay “Austrians in Academia: A Battle Plan” is also useful reading, although it is primarily geared toward economics graduate students and professors. Also, some of the advice for graduate students depends on the character and temperament of their committee members. Luckily, mine, at least so far, have not held my radical libertarianism against me when it comes to grading papers and exams and evaluating my M.A. thesis.