When does the banditry of government end? How do we get our lives back? In traditional voluntaryist fashion, I’m convinced we need to liberate 6 billion minds worldwide simultaneously. But pure educational efforts are not enough. We have to live our principles, as exemplified in agorism. We need an organizational model that is resilient, efficient and easy to plug in to, as we see in open source efforts such as Linux and Wikipedia. Innovative developments in warfare, such as seen in the Iraqi insurgency (4th & 5th generation warfare), can inform our plans as well. If you’re ready to get the government monkey off your back join me in building a libertarian insurgency with the following principles.
Step 0: Liberate Yourself
The prerequisite is to evolve yourself. Study the principles of liberty unrelentingly until you live them like muscle memory. Clear out your pro-state brainwashing. Get your debt load under control. Become self-employed, if possible or at least build up a nest egg of time and resources. Get your kids out of state or Prussian-style schools. Live a sustainable lifestyle. Don’t give the bad guys your sanction. In other words, get right with the universe. As Albert Jay Nock said:
[A]ges of experience testify that the only way society can be improved is by the individualist method … ; that is, the method of each ‘one’ doing his very best to improve ‘one’.
Once you’ve got that process going (not complete – it’s a process after all), and I’m sure many of my readers are very advanced in that area, move on to outward activism. The Survival Podcast’s Modern Survival Philosophy is an excellent start for personal independence.
The 11 Principles of Open Source Peaceful Evolution
I’ve adapted these principles from thinking on fourth-generation warfare, principally John Robb’s. I will soon publish a series of articles with increasingly specific examples of how we can apply these principles to the fight for liberty. I know you have ideas as well.
1. Break Networks
- Breaking networks is about cleaving the opposition (and never about dividing ourselves). Those who support the state are not a monolithic group. Despite the fact that republicans, democrats and even many independents and libertarians support the state, they do vicious battle over their differing visions of the state. Our job is to exploit those differences (peacefully) in such a way as to draw attention to the differences within the pro-state coalition with the ultimate intention of weakening, fragmenting and co-opting it.
- As Sun Tzu said:
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.
2. Grow Black Economies (Agorism)
- This is the more obvious aspect of agorism. Hollow out the state by peacefully trading with your fellow man “under the table”, in silver, gold or barter if need be. But don’t let the state track you or tax you. Don’t collect taxes for the state (sales tax). Build networks outside the state’s purview and eventually market defense providers will be viable enough to hold off the statists’ last attack, leaving us in a stateless society.
3. Virtualize Your Organization
- Open source means that we organize in a loose fashion. There are no formal leaders, there is no chain of command, there are no elections or orders handed down. Individuals work together or not as they see fit. Individuals organize for “ops”, do the job and disperse. The exact same teams may not work together more than once. Even among libertarians there are diverse interests, priorities and comfort levels.
4. Repetition is more important than Scale
- Don’t do a few big ops, do a huge number of small ones. Easy, inexpensive and uncomplicated ops that you can repeat often are more sustainable and produce greater impact. Getting arrested (going to jail, dealing with court, etc.) is not sustainable (though we have to prepare for it). This means that we resist up until the moment the gun will come out and then we back off. As John Robb said, “The great is the enemy of the good enough.”
5. Coopetition not Competition
- Everyone who opposes the state is our ally. Perhaps even those who oppose just this state are our allies (up to a point). We will work in a space where we can simultaneously grow our effort and accelerate our growth as we complete with each other. Consider the Visa card system as an analogy. Banks’ credit card offerings compete against each other while all sharing the Visa payment system. As the competing banks grow, the shared Visa platform grows, and vice versa.
6. Don’t Fork the Insurgency
- We can not allow major disagreements to become more important than our shared vision. In other words, no infighting. The kind of organization contemplated here is so ephemeral, you don’t have to work with anyone you don’t want to. There are no votes to be won or lost that you can’t simply walk away from. It’s a free market; forking it is dumb because the more participants in the market the more efficient it will be. People who lack tact or common courtesy, who start pointless arguments should be ostracized.
7. Minimalist rule sets work best
- In the best case, a peaceful evolution leads to a government going away. In a traditional guerrilla paradigm, the guerrillas roll in and take power. They need a rule set to govern with. But since we want precisely to liberate people from all governments, we need a rule set that everyone can understand and enforce themselves.
- Self-replication is about making more of yourself. In other words, persuade more people to abandon aggression and embrace voluntary interaction. Anything that leverages people, that multiplies a person’s productivity is also included. Videotaping your productive activism is an example of this, since it can put you on the computers of potentially millions of people. Effective use of social media can be self-replication. Pamphleting, campaigning and other face-to-face activities can also qualify. Sharing how to duplicate your ops is also self-replication
9. Share or Copy Everything that Works
- The value of open source comes from sharing innovations openly and freely. Nothing is held back. Theft of ideas is your bread and butter. If it works, use it. This practice benefits all parties.
10. Release Early and Often
- Innovations must be released quickly and frequently. Perfectionism, secrecy and other practices that slow down or impede the distribution of information to allies are deprecated.
11. Co-Opt, Don’t Own, Basic Services
- This means that if the insurgency needs something, it gets it from someone else. This could be via a free market transaction or via what has been called “parasitically rid[ing] on a degraded form of the global/national economy’s corporate and public services”. But the insurgency itself should avoid building services itself. So we don’t create A[gorist]Bay, we co-opt Ebay instead.
Is 4/5GW an Appropriate Paradigm for Peaceful Evolution?
It might seem curious at first to apply the principles of fourth- and fifth- generation warfare to the struggle for peace (liberty), but let’s consider the definition of guerrilla. Bandits with bandoliers in Latin America may at first come to mind but my dictionary says a guerrilla is “ï»¿ï»¿a member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces“. Since fighting doesn’t have to include aggression, and we liberty lovers are currently small in numbers (and very independent) and in opposition to the ostensibly very large forces of the state, we qualify as guerrillas. Of course, we must be guerrillas for firm love, peace and respect. Let us get our inspiration from brilliant warriors without ourselves becoming aggressors.
Is It Just Agorism?
Some agorists might say that this is just agorism. That’s fine. Call it what you like. I think at the very least it connects agorism with tactics from other schools of thought. If it advances the front lines of agorism to a place where more people can better grok how they can practice it, I’ll call it a success.
Emphasis on ‘Early’
This is an early draft, so I welcome your comments. What principles would my fellow market anarchists add?