Do Libertarians Depend on the State?

Libertarians are born in state-regulated hospitals, treated by state-licensed doctors, travel on state-maintained roads, go to state-run schools, drink state-regulated water and wear state-approved clothing. We grew up in the milieu of the state. When we die it’s usually after a long stay in that state-regulated hospital again, maybe on the Medicare tab. Is the state cradling us from, uh, cradle to grave? Are we “sucking hard on the teat of the system [we] so revile,” as one redditor recently put it? Is our use of state-controlled resources evidence of hypocrisy and dependence? No, it is evidence of how controlled and enslaved we are by that state.

Is it Anarchy if the State Owns it?

While discussing Adam Mueller’s 60 day caging in Keene, New Hampshire on reddit, a fellow redditor said to me, “You will never ever in your lifetime or after see this sort of thing [anarchism] implemented even slightly.” Sorry, I replied, I live anarchy daily. We are building communities and it works. His classic response?

I would like to see some evidence of this. Where do you live that you do not benefit enormously from the infrastructure and stability of our state? I suspect its a bunch of Libertarians playing make believe that they are living outside society when in fact they are sucking hard on the teat of the system they so revile.

Try moving a hippie co-op to a region in Africa say, without the benefits of the protection and infrastructure of a civilized state and see how long it takes for criminals to rip it apart. You live in this stateless fantasy while protected deep inside the bosom of the state. I would love to do a 30 days with George Donnelly documentary so I can point out the thousands of things you depend on from the state every day.

You did not grow up in a vacuum. The system you despise is the system that grew and nurtured you. You were educated in peace and relative security. How dare you now spit on that and pretend this country and its laws have not served you. I am so sick of you goddamn thankless pseudo-intellectual douchebag Libertarians.

This World was Handed to Us

The gentleman’s obliviousness is matched only by his eloquence. I know for a fact he’d come up with dozens of connections between me and the state. But it’s all for naught. This world was handed to us. We had little if any role in creating this corporate-run, state-appropriated environment. We use the roads and sidewalks, not because we depend on or endorse government, but because doing so makes them ours (homesteading). We also have no other choice. We make do with what we have as we subvert it in service of the good and right. If we have benefited from the state’s crimes, all the more just that we should use that illicit privilege to destroy its source. An anarchist using Comcast internet, facebook, corporate supermarkets and state-licensed taxis is not hypocritical. She is simply making the most of the few tools left to her.

Anarchy Built on Top of the State

Is there any other way to build anarchy but on top of the state? Archaeologists have discovered ancient cities underneath existing cities. Sometimes they find even more cities underneath those ancient ones. So, too, do we build the new society on top of the old. There is no other way because states claim ownership (control) over everything. Even if I took the redditor’s suggestion to move out to some desolate part of Africa that nobody cared about, I would soon be run off by a state authority.

Consider the Republic of Minerva. In 1972 it was an artificial island in the South Pacific. Libertarian visionaries aimed to establish freedom there. No one was using that space. In fact, it was in the middle of open ocean. But once the Minervan flag was raised, Tongan forces rolled in and put a stop to it. So just because we’re building anarchy on top of the state doesn’t mean it’s not actually anarchy. It just means we’re taking back what is rightfully ours. Anyway, having to run off and create something new in a wilderness is an admission of tyranny, isn’t it? Look at the Quakers, the Amish, the Pligrims, et cetera. If we weren’t living under tyranny, change could happen organically.

Do We Endorse What Surrounds Us?

The underlying principle the redditor wants to enunciate is this: you endorse what surrounds you. That might be valid if our choices were entirely voluntary. But the state is not voluntary. It doesn’t allow you to opt out. According to this logic, those in prison must be the most committed supporters of the state. The state controls everything in the prisoner’s environment – what he eats, wears, does, where he lives, where he may go. Surely then, the prisoner is surrounded by the state and must depend on it. How ridiculous it would be for a prisoner to advocate for liberty when he lives in chains! What a hypocrite, right? What an ingrate he is! He spits on the very system that keeps a roof over his head and three squares in his gut.

Do I Owe Fealty to the System?

The redditor also believes that I owe a debt to those who got me to this point. No, that’s not it. He thinks I owe fealty and obedience to the system that cradles controls me. Do the slaves of the American south and their descendants owe a debt to their former masters and their descendants? After all, they transported them free of charge to the new world and gave them food to eat (sometimes). No, the debt goes the other way. And the same is true of my relationship with the state. I am the controlled one. My freedom has been denied.

Am I spitting on the system that raised me? You bet – except it didn’t really raise me. I grew up in spite of it. It’s screwed up. It’s unjust. It is hurting people. It is killing people! I spit on it. Does that make me thankless? Thankless for government schools, subsidized processed foods and intellectual property tyranny? Every incidence of state control cuts out opportunities for better solutions.

*Sucking Sound*

So if you see libertarians sucking hard on the teat, it’s probably an undercover op to recover stolen property because we’re too outgunned and controlled to do much else. Ease off on the chains a little and we’ll give you some fireworks you’ll never forget.

Photo credit: Nepenthes. Photo license.

15 February 2011
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