ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Peacefully Staring Down The State

The Power Of The Potential

By Dan Sanchez
June 12, 2014

How do you think the American public, even as supine as it
is, would respond if the Federal government were to attempt
to re-assign everybody’s children to other parents; to force
everybody to burn their Bibles and other religious or
ideological texts; or even to confiscate everybody’s guns?

More importantly, what kind of response do you think the
government would expect?

The answer, of course, is mass resistance, including, but
not limited to, evasion and civil disobedience.

Why do I classify civil disobedience and evasion as “resistance?"

Here, I define resistance as the assertion of control over one’s own
person and rightful property in defiance of the State’s pretensions,
or helping others to do the same.

Under this definition, resistance is not limited to repelling
aggression with countervailing force or the threat of countervailing

Civil disobedience qualifies as resistance, because the disobeyer
is asserting control over his own person and rightful property by
conspicuously refusing to follow State dictates, even if he does
not put up a fight when State agents comes to arrest or otherwise
expropriate him.

Evasion qualifies as resistance, because it is simply a surreptitious
(and noble) assertion of control over one’s person and rightful
property in defiance of the State.

The importance of evasion for the effective defense of liberty is
the chief reason that mass surveillance is such a tyrannical threat.

It is primarily because of the expectation of mass resistance that
the State does not and will not soon even dare to attempt such
outrages as the hypothetical ones listed above, at least not until it
manages to induce, through ideological indoctrination, propaganda,
and fear-mongering, a mass shift in public opinion toward greater

Otherwise, wouldn’t it be in the interests of those in the State to,
with such brazen grabs, demolish rival bonds and loyalties, delete
inconvenient doctrines, and confiscate potential tools for

It is ultimately thanks to this potential resistance, and not thanks
to any constitutions, laws, or “advocates” within the State, that
we still retain whatever limited inviolable rights we still have.

This truth has crucial implications for libertarian strategy.

Education is widely, and rightly, regarded as essential to libertarian

But the next question that naturally arises concerns how the rubber
meets the road: how can public intellectual assent to libertarianism
translate to a libertarian reality?

A common answer is politics: a libertarian population inducing
the state to roll itself back, either through democratic reform
or popular revolution: through ballots or bullets.

This answer is fatally flawed, for reasons I’ve previously discussed
and legitimized aggression will never be ended by seizing (whether
partially or completely) the apparatus of legitimized aggression,
whether such a seizure is undertaken by flooding voting booths,
public squares, or battlefields.

How else could the rubber meet the road?

The only way to realize liberty in a principled, non-backfiring
fashion will rely on potential resistance.

As argued above, State officers know that there is only so
much the populace will stand for.

They know that depredations outrageous enough would meet
extensive physical resistance if enforcement were attempted.

And they generally decide the costs of trying to overcome such
resistance outweigh the benefits of enforcing them; so they don’t
dare to even try.

Thus, government powers are effectively nullified or precluded
without a shot ever actually being fired and without a vote being

Now, imagine if, in the future, the public felt about truancy laws
and sporadic CPS kidnappings the same way they feel now about
wholesale child confiscation; about mass surveillance the same way
they feel now about forced book-burning; about all gun restrictions
the way they feel now about blanket gun confiscation.

The more successful that libertarians are in their educational work,
the less tolerant will the public be toward their own subjugation,
and the more will State encroachments on liberty be nullified or
precluded by potential resistance.

As the peaceful libertarian educational project marches forward, so
too will the buffer margin of potential public resistance advance
and induce the State to reverse-march.

The State may press its luck on some occasions and tyrannically try
to call what it suspects to be its victims’ “bluff”; and in response,
potential resistance might become actual resistance.

But it is absolutely vital that any such actual resistance is purely
defensive over one’s person and property, is as passive as possible
(e.g., civil disobedience and evasion), never violates the rights of
bystanders or even aggressors (through disproportionate responses),
is assiduously contemplated beforehand (painstakingly weighing
costs and risks to oneself and others), and is only undertaken in
a way that will likely invoke widespread public sympathy for the
defiant victim and public outrage against the State.

The recent shooting in Las Vegas was not “resistance” at all, but an
act of wanton murder. Such evil only breeds more evil, and feeds

And yet, if, through protests, strikes, online campaigns of
expression, etc, the public unmistakably conveys its profound
ideological shift and its newfound resolve to the power elite,
incidents of actual, true resistance may be few and far-between.

In that case, even the dullards and knaves in the State will have
to realize that there is no bluff, that their spell of false legitimacy
is broken, that they are hopelessly outnumbered, and that they
would be better off cutting their losses by either joining the
voluntary society, or skipping town.

“Ballots or bullets” is a false choice.

Non-state potential resistance can make a difference, and,
ultimately, is all that really has.

Education, ideological change, and potential resistance, and
not voting, legislation, or revolution, are responsible both for
the liberties we still retain, and the liberties we will peacefully

Dan Sanchez directs the Mises Academy at the Mises Institute.
He writes at and

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