22 Jan 2011

Maybe There Is Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Pacifism, Politics 23 Comments

This is why I wrote my post about Arizona. Folks, those of you who are an-caps in the crowd, you have to realize that the people at ThinkProgress are salivating at the quotes this guy is giving them. He is to them, what those nutjob environmental commercials were to Glenn Beck. (And you see the “tie” to Rand Paul?)

The general public already thinks someone calling himself an “anarcho-capitalist” is a nut. The way you defuse that is to be as harmless as a dove. (And sure, don’t forget the corollary of being wise as a serpent. “Dove” doesn’t mean “doormat” or naive fool, it means you don’t threaten anyone, both figuratively and for gosh sakes not literally!)

People keep worrying about when the “feds are gonna round us up.” Don’t you get it? It would be hard for them to justify doing that, if Roderick Long philosophically discusses the nature of the State.

But if self-described anarcho-capitalists go around saying stuff like this guy, they will give the State the pretext to throw prominent an-caps in jail.

The strategy of violence is unnecessary. It only works if you get a sizable portion of the country on your side. But if you have the truth on your side, and you can manage to get 5% to agree with you, then go ahead and repeat until you get 10%, 15%, etc. No fighting is necessary. It’s not as if this guy’s comments are going to “awaken the sleeping giant.” No, they are going to scare off people who may have been intrigued by, say, the quotes from Doug French in Christopher Beam’s article. Anyone who thinks this guy is telling it like it is, was already in his camp. So he’s not adding to the numbers.

I find this quote particularly frustrating:

“As per the Declaration of Indep, when a gov becomes destructive those ends, it may be abolished,” he continued, “and the most moral approach is that which spares the maximum number of lives. Thus, assasination is a legitimate tool.”

No, assassination does not “spare the maximum number of lives.”

If we are choosing historical role models in our efforts to change the political power structure, I choose Martin Luther King over Malcolm X. The power of violence is overrated.

As always, if you advocate anything illegal in the comments, I will delete it. I am just that much of a sell-out.

23 Responses to “Maybe There Is Such Thing as Bad Publicity”

  1. Greg Ransom says:

    I’m guessing you meant the people at “Think Progress” NOT “ThinkMarkets”

    • bobmurphy says:

      Heh good catch. Although Gene Callahan is probably salivating over that guy’s comments.

  2. Greg Ransom says:

    Got to watch out for that Roger Koppl guy as well ..

    • bobmurphy says:

      Nah I imagine Roger would be bereaved. Gene is more of the Dennis Hopper in Speed type.

  3. Anon73 says:

    Your post echos Caplan’s essay about anarchism and force, and how when anarchists use violence it really just helps the state because it’s what people cling to most in adversity. On the other hand, Malcolm X once said something like “Peaceful movements like MLK only really work because of the violent movements that are ready to take over if they fail”. There is a grain of truth to this – people who make a living by violence really only understand violence, and there’s a reason Neville Chamberlain is universally reviled as a complete fool for trying to appease Hitler.

    So it seems ancaps are in a bit of a dilemma – if they advocate peaceful change, then nothing will ever come of it because a corrupt system can’t reform itself; yet if they advocate violence, it drives people to cling further to the state and the state wins anyway. The only other alternative is to somehow leave the advocates of violence alone and escape to form a new society like the Puritans and other minorities of the past have. But the state exists everywhere now except the oceans, and I have a hunch that when people finally venture out into ocean settlements the decaying, boney hand of the state will not be far behind.

    • Michael J. Green says:

      “people who make a living by violence really only understand violence”

      Our goal is not to convince them; it’s to convince the masses subject to the state. As la Boetie pointed out, those in command are vastly outnumbered by those commanded, and rely on their tacit consent. Convince enough people to withdraw their consent, and the state can collapse without violence.

      And because it can never be recommended enough: Check out Charles King Whipple’s “Evils of the Revolutionary War,” free on Google Books.

    • TGGP says:

      Mencius Moldbug agrees with that interpretation of MLK (which sounds a lot like that Orwell quote militarists like to repeat).

      • bobmurphy says:

        I tried the link but I have a three strikes rule in such matters: If I don’t know what the author is even talking about after the third paragraph, I close the tab on Firefox.

        • Silas Barta says:

          I’ve had the same experience with “mencius moldbug” … but sadly, I’ve given him more chances…

  4. yahya says:

    if this guy is an anarcho capitalist, why is he citing the constitution and dec of independence? maybe he doesn’t fully understand anarcho capitalism? just a guess.

    also, malcolm x changed a lot over the years. we just remember what he said when he was young and hot headed, not when he became much more humble and mature right before he was assassinated.

    • bobmurphy says:

      if this guy is an anarcho capitalist, why is he citing the constitution and dec of independence?

      That’s nothing: If he’s a fan of Rand Paul, why did he say 534 to go?

  5. Jim O'Connor says:

    Other than disagreeing that they’ll need a legitimate reason to round people up and ship them off, it isn’t like the Japanese were burning factories to the ground in WW2 after all, I whole heartedly agree.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Well there was the whole Pearl Harbor thing. I think that made the American people more accepting of Hiroshima.

  6. bobmurphy says:

    NOTE: “Christopher” asked a perfectly reasonable question, but I decided that it was only going to lead to problems as people tried to answer him. So I deleted it (and my initial attempts to answer him).

    • Christopher says:

      Well, as long as you don’t forget the question and try to find an answer for yourself, I am fine with it. If you have one, feel free to write me an email.

      • bobmurphy says:

        Once again, sorry everyone for getting trigger happy with the Trash button, but I don’t want to get into drawing a line and then enforcing it. I actually wish I could have just closed this particular post to comments, since I feel funny only allowing people who give me high-fives to comment.

        Does anyone know if that is possible in WordPress? I tried to find it once before, but didn’t see it jump out at me. (Again, I’m wondering if I can turn off the comments on particular posts.)

        • Michael J. Green says:

          Do you mean turn off replies to a particular comment, or shut down all comments for this “Bad Publicity” post? If the latter, go into WordPress and edit the post. At the bottom of the Edit Post page should be a small section labeled Discussion. Uncheck “Allow comments.”

        • Daniel Hewitt says:

          I feel funny only allowing people who give me high-fives to comment

          I’m sure Brad DeLong felt that way at first too.


  7. Mike Sandifer says:

    Good comments Bob. I add that it’s hard to imagine anything like “anarco-capitalism” will ever take off. As long as human nature is what it is, people will want what other people have and will obtain it in part through wealth redistribution.

    When the economy gets better, I imagine most of the gains libertarians have made will disappear, never having risen much to begin with if not for the financial crisis and recession.

    • Richard M says:

      Well, if libertarians (Austrians) are correct about Fed-induced credit expansions causing business cycles, the next ‘recovery’ (like the recovery we had 02-07?) will be followed by another bust, and likely worse than this one.

      I think libertarians might yet be taken more seriously if that should occur.

      But, to Bob’s point, the last thing they need are nuts, like this guy, as ‘spokesmen.’

  8. Roger Koppl says:

    I assume Greg is having some fun, although I don’t quite see what makes the quip witty. Anyway, for the record I am not an anarchist. I am on record favoring “Humean status quo bias” which is to say I fear precipitous social change even when it goes in my preferred general direction. I like muddling through, thank you very much. My fear of the state does produce in me the slightest murderous impulse. While we’re at it, I don’t see why Gene merits Bob’s (mild) swipe.

  9. jimobject says:

    This was the post script to my blog post. Of course the first line was coy.

    If you’re not a libertarian, anarchist, or voluntaryist, the post is over. I’ll see you next time. Otherwise, scroll down a bit.

    I have to talk to my fellow anti-staters who might secretly think this whole mess is either a good thing, or a win. It is neither. The judge and the congresswoman, while illegitimate in their authority had not initiated violence. Sure, they had instructed others to do so, but they did so in the open, non-fraudulently. Individuals who follow orders are responsible for their actions, not the commander. People forget this sometimes. Where’s the hell is your praxeological individualism?

    [I edited out the rest of this because of naughty words and since I’m shutting down the thread anyway. –Bob]