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"Potential resistance" can and does make a difference

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 force. 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 statism. 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 resistance?

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.


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