Recently, my wife shared with me these incredibly awesome videos that do an excellent job of conveying the principles of anarchism/libertarianism in a non-confrontation, and even approachable way:
These types of videos inevitably get us asking ourselves what side we’re on. Not only that, but what can we do to improve the freedoms of ourselves and others?
A good friend of ours, knowing our political beliefs, conveyed her concerns about the libertarian party. She mentioned that she didn’t feel such a small party would ever really get into power, so even though voting for them might be the best option, it would end up being useless when compared to the votes gained by the other parties. She brought up that not voting seemed just as useless, if not more so, because the government doesn’t care about how many people vote. They just take whoever got the most votes and puts them in power.
I think all anarchists and libertarians have been here. What I find interesting is that the answer to this question is where the two philosophies part ways. Libertarians choose to work inside the system, trying to change things from the inside. Anarchists don’t believe the system is legitimate, and even believe engaging with it is morally offensive.
I do not vote.
What do we find offensive about government? They rely on violence to get their way and they rely on theft to pay for what they deem appropriate, including the salaries of the politicians. That applies to every politician in government. Even a politician who is working to eliminate the government, and works for free is forcing others to be without government. Voting for any politician is stating that you endorse them to act on your behalf. That means you are enlisting them to see to it that others are forced to do things the way you believe are right. By voting, you become an aggressor against others.
So just don’t vote. You aren’t a bad person for not voting. You gave it thought, and have made a decision. Even if you previously never voted just out of apathy or ignorance, now it’s an informed decision. Inaction is rarely a bad thing. If deciding between robbing someone, and inaction, you would rightly choose inaction. Inaction is not apathy.
Deciding not to vote is not the same as deciding to ignore the problem, or even deciding to do nothing. There are a few things you can do that would make a far greater difference than voting.
- Keep learning – Almost instinctively, as soon as people discover an objection to Anarchy, instead of attempting to resolve it, they throw their hands in the air and say “Well, I guess we do need government after all!” Every state-controlled service has a free market alternative. Roads, fire departments, hospitals, police, military, etc, can all be addressed, and solutions have already been thought of by many very educated individuals. You can even try to come up with your own solutions to problems you think of yourself. Get as creative as you can. Be willing to think about the craziest possibilities, and then try to turn them into realistic solutions. The more you know, the more confident you’ll become, and the better able you’ll be to defend your beliefs.
- Don’t be shy – People find anarchists interesting. Don’t shy away from talking about it. Avoid getting mad! Almost all anarchists, when they first realize they are anarchist, are furious, and justifiably so IMO. The problem is, it’s hard to sound rational and be taken seriously when you’re filled with rage! Answer questions when you can, and be perfectly comfortable saying “I don’t know, what do you think?” Stay calm, and the person you’re talking with will notice. You almost certainly won’t convert someone to Anarchy in a single conversation, but the discussion will keep them thinking about it long after it’s over.
- Support non-government alternatives when possible – The government has monopolies on a lot of things, so when you find someone providing a product or service that negates the work of government, take advantage of it. Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, litecoin, etc) is a great example of non-government controlled currency that is gaining popularity all over the world. Peacekeeper is an app that replaces several government controlled services (Police, fire, ambulance) with free association among your neighbours. When you use the internet, use a VPN (ivpn.net, ipredator.se, frootvpn.com) or even the TOR browser bundle to prevent the government from tracing your internet activity back to you. Teracycle is a great, non-government solution to recycling. There are tons more of these out there. By supporting these yourself, and telling your friends and family about them, you are helping people naturally transition away from any dependency on the government at all.
- Avoid paying taxes – This one is tricky. Don’t do anything that could cause harm, financial or otherwise, to yourself or your family. Complacently paying taxes is being financially irresponsible. In 2000, the average Canadian family earned $51,174 and paid $24,309. That’s 47.5% of their total income, stolen. If you need to, talk to accountants and do research online on how to legally keep the most money you can. (The only reason to be concerned with legality is for your safety, not because of it’s legitimacy!)
I like the saying that the only difference between a libertarian and an anarchist is 6 months. Eventually, you realize that freedom is incompatible with the state, and you simply change the way you identify yourself from libertarian to anarchist.