Fifty Things Liberty People Do
Libertarians want to fight the great evil called the state, but there is a big problem. The state doesn’t really care about our opinions. It just keeps on its merry way oppressing people, ruining lives, and trashing liberty and property. What can liberty lovers do to make a difference?
The “progressive left” is very good at making small steps toward their goal. They focus on the practical ways to improve life. They say we should bike not drive, recycle and don’t mix trash, make a compost pile, and so on. These lifestyle expressions of political values provide something like a daily liturgy for people interested in realizing a vision of how the world should be.
Why don’t libertarians have something similar, a plan for implementing our vision of the social order in our private life? We are getting there. I noticed at Porcfest a strong emphasis on doing liberty. This is not the same as practicing conventional politics. In fact, it is far more radical. It’s about investing in yourself, backing the right causes in economic life, clawing our way toward personal freedom, and building robust institutions outside the state.
Based on my experience at Porcfest, here is an attempt to chronicle the process of quiet rebellion.
1. Get out of debt. Ever since government started the central bank, the money system has rewarded debtors over savers. Presidents and government-employed economists have urged people live beyond their means, with the government leading the way. But look how debt compromises your independence, freedom to choose, and, ultimately, personal liberty. For a freer life, this can be fixed.
2. Reconsider public school. Most people use the public schools reflexively, but maybe there is a better way, even given monopoly control. Most everywhere, and despite all odds, has homeschool co-ops, small private options, and religious schools.
3. Own a gun. Guns are a product of private enterprise, a historically epic advance in the protection of property and life. Don’t let the government have the monopoly.
4. Buy bullets. Even if you don’t own a gun, lots of people say that bullets are a great investment. They are forever rising in price, and, should a crisis come, they could be very valuable.
5. Buy some gold. Maybe it is a great investment but that’s not the best point. Gold is a salient reminder that money used to belong to the people, not the banks or government. Just owning some is a way toward keeping that truth in mind.
6. Get some bitcoin. Cryptocurrency might be the most epic innovation of our times. It’s not hard to get involved. Download that wallet, buy some online or locally, use the Bitcoin ATM, and start learning about and using the money of the future.
7. Travel outside the country. Nationalism is a reflex, but it is wholly unnecessary. Getting outside your home country is a wonderful way of seeing that there is life outside the nation state.
8. Don’t say the pledge. The “Pledge of Allegiance” is a socialist/fascist invention of the early 20th century, one that rules out self determination and tries to make a religion out of the state.
9. Try peaceful parenting. If the idea of non-aggression is to be a first principle of social life, why not family life too? The abuse of power is a problem no matter where it appears. Peace in the home is a great teacher.
10. Turn off the mainstream news. Time was when the government controlled all news to which you had access through its regulatory structures. Those days are over. You can hasten the death of the old-style news media by just declining to give it your attention.
11. Come to Porcfest or other events. A liberty-minded event can change your life by opening you up to new ideas, helping you develop new friendships, and showing off the joy that comes from loving liberty. They are springing up all over the country.
12. Support food trucks. The food truck revolution has been beautiful to see. The bad guys can’t regulate everyone, and now there are millions of these vigilante food servers rolling around the country. They need your support.
13. Reassess materialism. Government policy has long rewarded accumulation and short-term consumerism as a matter of policy. Saving not spending, getting rid of stuff that weighs you down, and thinking about the future are revolutionary acts.
14. Buy a bumper sticker. Sometimes a small slogan on the back of a car is all that is needed to kick off a new way of thinking. Plus, you can meet some fantastic people this way.
15. Hack your home appliances. Regulators control so much in your home, but you can work around many of the resulting problems by hacking your showerhead, hot water heater, and household water pressure. It’s not illegal and it will vastly improve your life.
16. Don’t forget the prisoners. More of us know people in prison unjustly. More than half are in for no good reason. They need letters and visits, and their families need our support. They are the front line of state victims. Let’s not forget them.
17. Be kind to others. A feature of democracy is how it turns people against each other based on class, sex, race, education, region, ability, and anything else the power elite can drag up. You can bypass this through simple acts of friendship that decline to participate in this dog-eat-dog world.
18. Use Uber and Lyft for rides. Every city tried to have a taxi monopoly, and it’s a beautiful thing to see these being smashed through entrepreneurship. When you have the choice, why not use a private service over the government one?
19. Use AirBnB to foil the regulators. The sharing revolution has taken hold faster than government can control it, and now you have amazing services that live outside zoning and other regulations. You can list a room in your home or use someone else’s in a city where you are traveling.
20. Pay in cash. There are very few workers and small shops that wouldn’t appreciate cash over having to pay high fees for credit cards.
21. Use supper clubs. Governments have tried to define what can and cannot be a restaurant but there is a human right to cook and be paid for doing so. That’s why these have started all over the country.
22. Use Craigslist. Here is an amazing service, a product of the free market that illustrates the incredible inclusiveness of peer-to-peer commercial society.
23. Assemble a network. If the battle comes down to the state vs. the individual only, we are going to lose. But assembling support groups for each other gives us all a fighting chance. This is a main benefit of social media. We can build institutions that help us personally and can stand up against leviathan control.
24. Order prescription drugs abroad. Regulators hate online prescription drug markets but they can’t make them go away. Often you can pay less than half for common drugs than you would pay at licit pharmacies, and market competition has inspired vast improvement in quality and service.
25. Download and read free books. The market economy has been working away for 1,000-plus years to get great literature in the hands of everyone. That day has finally arrived. With a $150 tablet, you can download thousands of books. Seize the day!
26. Acquire skills. Nothing boosts personal morale and a sense of individual value like gaining a new skill, even if it is quirky. Like wine making. Like gardening. Like martial arts. An investment in yourself is an investment in liberty.
27. Get a passport. Passports shouldn’t exist but without one, you are trapped in the nation of your birth. People who love liberty should be ready to bolt should it be necessary.
28. Make friends. The nature of statism is to turn people against each other, making civility ever more remote in our lives. The simplest way to turn the tables is to cultivate beautiful friendships and hold on to them as treasures throughout your life.
29. Eat paleo. In the 1970s, the government decided it was the best thing for us to stuff our mouths full of massive carbs. It was bad science and resulted in poor health. We still have the right to choose what to eat, and deciding against the government’s plan is a good start.
30. Use tech to avoid the cops. We know what the police do: they collect taxes under the guise of enforcing traffic laws. Now we have apps like Waze that signal us when the cops are watching, and allow us to help signal others. This is a blow for human freedom.
31. Subscribe to Netflix. This service has helped to break the broadcast monopoly, a wonderful example of how entrepreneurship tears down barriers. Plus it is producing some fantastic pro-liberty programming like “House of Cards.”
32. Publish a book. Time was when publishing was only for elites or the very lucky. Now anyone can do it. You can write and promote and leave a beautiful literary legacy.
33. Start a business. Commerce is the font of progress in our way, a way around the stasis and stagnation of the bureaucrat-controlled world. To disrupt through innovation and commercial service is to make the world a better place.
34. Stay in good health. Government has been wrecking health-care services for at least a century, and it gets worse by the day. It’s never been more important to take charge of your own health care. Plus the free market has democratized information about health that was once controlled by the medical cartel.
35. Try P2P lending. Time was when only banks did lending, else you had to depend on family. That’s changed dramatically with services like LendingTree. You can lend and borrow here with much better terms than you can get through the old-world ways.
36. Contribute to a Kickstarter. It’s so beautiful how online services allow innovators to pitch their ideas and raise capital necessary to make a new business or arts project. These tools have been made available to us and using them is a way to support unconventional approaches to enterprise.
37. Join the Makers. The maker movement of 3D printing promises to send all regulators and controls into wild upheaval in the years ahead. Even products themselves are migrating to the digital frontier. You can put a manufacturing plant in your spare bedroom.
38. Live abroad. People who go abroad for 3 months to a year report that they’ve never felt so free. Just leaving the proximity and jurisdiction of the world’s largest state can provide the emotional and intellectual lift we need to endure the last days of despotism.
39. Expatriate. Now here is a radical solution but it is one more people are embracing. The number of people giving up citizenship has reached record highs. Mostly this is available only for the well-to-do but it is something anyone with means should at least consider.
40. Cheer the arts. Can you imagine that government thought it would take over the funding of art? That didn’t turn out well, but fortunately art survived. Supporting the arts is a way of remembering that freedom isn’t only about material prosperity; it is also about making the world a more beautiful place.
41. Start a Salon. Modern libertarian thinking was born in salons in New York, discussion groups meeting in individual homes. It doesn’t take many people, perhaps just 4 or up to 12. It can be about books or just ideas in general. It’s a great way to feed the mind and inspire us toward action.
42. Stockpile silver dimes. You can get bags of silver dimes from many places, and they are recognized universally as sound money. In natural disasters, these little treasures can be just what you need. In a hyperinflation, they could be a lifesaver.
43. Get corn out of the gas. Ethanol is an incredible racket, a subsidy to corn farmers that mucks up engines and yields inferior production. But some suppliers are staying away. Most towns have one or two places where you can buy corn-free gas that doesn’t become useless after being stored a year.
44. Skip college. Think of the two great costs of college: the out-of-pocket expense and the loss of four years during the time the student could otherwise be acquiring valuable skills. For many technical fields, skipping college is not an option but it is for many others. This doesn’t mean not getting an education; it means not squandering money and time.
45. Work early in life. Child labor laws wickedly doom young teens to unemployment, which means not gaining insight into real-world commercial life. There are work arounds but you have to look hard. Volunteering for any enterprise or institution is a better solution than doing nothing.
46. Unregister to vote. Voting gives the illusion but not the reality of choice. It also gets you on the list for jury duty. Unregistering is a peaceful way to protest.
47. Notice the anarchy. If you have the right outlook on life, you come to notice just how much of what we love extends from voluntary association and trade. Once you observe this, you come to see a beautiful anarchy all around you, and this lifts the heart and points to a possible future.
48. Invest in others. The private relationships we establish in our lives serve as a bulwark between us and the central state, but to make them really robust means paying attention to the needs of others through simple acts of charity and showing genuine love. Investing in others is also investing in ourselves.
49. Sympathize with Dissent. Every day the government arrests people that have few defenders: drug users, drug dealers, prostitutes, and other marginalized figures in society. But consider that the freedoms of everyone are important to our own. Standing up for the dissidents — even or especially when we don’t like what they say or do — is an essential act when everyone is a potential target.
50. Join Liberty.me. This city in the cloud is wholly dedicated to crowdsourcing ways to achieve more freedom, navigating the leviathan state, and pointing to a future of liberty that we build ourselves. It does this through nightly classes, literature curation, publishing for everyone, guides on all the above topics, and community building all day, every day. Join us today for a free trial and start living a freer life.
The modern state wasn’t built in a day. Our liberties were lost through some sweeping periods of grim imposition but mostly we’ve lost them in small steps. It’s the same path to take them back, one small step at a time. Non-compliance, dissent, thinking for ourselves, acting on our convictions — this is how we build a new world and drive the state into obsolescence.
Oh, and please, you are free to add your own ideas. We need 5,000 ways to live a freer life.
The Economics of Life Itself : Beautiful Anarchy is the writing platform of Jeffrey Tucker, in which he covers economics, art, popular culture, and politics from a pro-liberty, anti-state point of view.