MICHAEL LAIRD

My transition to libertarianism was a slow one. I was raised in a conservative Christian home by parents who had very firm political ideologies.

I regurgitated Rush Limbaugh until college. There, my mind was transformed, not by the liberal perspectives commonly spouted in that setting, but by one class in particular—philosophy.

It taught me skepticism and free thought, enough that I put all my assumptions about politics on hold. I was apolitical for the next several years, but my default conservative conditioning was still present.

Then, a few years after 9-11 happened, a close friend of mine turned me on to some rising 9-11 conspiracy theories. And while I may not have bought into any one of them wholly, what I did buy was the idea that, historically, government is dishonest, self-seeking, and oppressive.

Enter Ron Paul. Through him, I learned about libertarianism—a political bent that, until then, had always confused me, and understandably so. It leaned left on many issues, and right on many others.

But Ron Paul, speaking into my freshly-opened mind, laid the mysteries of libertarianism bare. But my work wasn’t done. It took years of slogging through the contradictions of minarchism before I finally realized that I was an anarchist.

Not the I-just-wanna-watch-the-world-burn kind we’re all told from a young age is the anarchist norm. I was the I-believe-people-own-themselves kind. And from that premise, all else followed in time—my understanding of private property, taxation as theft, arrest as kidnapping, law as slavery, and politics as war by proxy.

Through that process of discovery, I came to steer away from using the label of anarchist, misrepresented and tainted as it has been over the years, and adopted voluntaryist, agorist, and consensualist.

Now that I have the fundamentals of liberty nailed down, I’m doing all I can to learn about how best to apply them and share them with others. What I’d like to see is an awakening on a grand scale akin to the one that brought me into the liberty movement.

I’d like to see enough people find voluntaryism that they might successfully repel statism and government interference in their lives. But I don’t see this happening in reality.

At least, not quickly. A much more likely scenario might be that pockets of voluntaryist communities would form through necessity, as a result of growing tyranny, and operate through agorism to avoid as much statist oppression as possible while starving the state of that percentage of production normally stolen from them via taxation.

Their success would determine their future growth or decline. Perhaps generations later, thriving agorist societies would press along the edges of the state and begin to push it aside into obsolescence.

As for ways to accelerate this, I really do think that the current growing tyranny is causing an equal and opposite reaction. It is actually helping move marginalized, disenfranchised people toward the philosophy of liberty.

I also think that those of us out there talking to people everyday about our perspectives does, over time, sink in and change minds. Not all of them, of course, but some. And that’s encouraging.

There are some other more radical ideas about how to accelerate liberty. Among them is the movement to effectively hijack the Libertarian Party which, to date, has been a mostly lame duck.

Those conspiring to take it over are “bomb-throwers” metaphorically speaking. They’re unafraid to call things by their right name and to call out hypocrisies on both sides of the aisle.

If not to take over the state so they have the power to leave everyone alone, at the very least, their pursuit of political office might provide them a loud blow horn with which they might reach the quagmired masses with the message of real liberty, not that watered-down swill currently offered.

Another radical idea is to tap into the influence of magical belief to spread voluntaryist ideas much in the same way statism impresses with its holy buildings and monuments, its mystical legal ritual, and its sacred texts.

My understanding is that this is a very new idea a few people in the liberty movement are just beginning to explore. Self-Determination, as I understand it, is another expression of self-ownership.

That people should have the freedom to choose their sovereignty has far-reaching implications. Helping people become aware of this concept would likely help move the needle of culture toward liberty.

Changes to the political terrain would certainly follow.

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