Chris Cantwell is All Wrong

Chris Cantwell published a blog post this week in which he made the case that violent revolution is moral, possible, and practical.

To me, Cantwell’s argument comes down to: “Violent revolution is the right thing to do.” Specifically, he advocates for killing in self defense. In other words, killing police that would otherwise be killing you. He argues that peaceful resistance is fruitless because, “ideas require teeth.” He seems to assert, “Why allow our friends to be relegated to the dustbins of history for standing on principle? As long as the State can legitimately kill and cage us, we’ll never have peace or freedom!”

There’s nothing special about you or this time. You aren’t owed freedom in your lifetime, but you can have it. One way you can earn it is by using your brain to think creatively about ways to live more free. To achieve your goals. Any Austrian or Objectivist will tell you: follow your rational self-interest. If your self-interest is personal freedom, then live free and take the consequences. There are steps you can take to improve your personal freedom–let your imagination be your limit! I’ve personally benefitted from keeping a public journal and moving to New Hampshire for support.

What it comes down to is a war of ideas. If all the world’s a stage, and we all the players, then let us demonstrate for the world what a free society can look like. Let us provide the example and be the light on the hill. Let us provide alternatives to the things the state provides, like food and care for the old and needy. Let us make the State as irrelevant as MySpace. Right now, the State is good for some things, for some people.

The people have to be won, they have to be sold on the idea. If people arrest the politicians, they may cheer, but does that mean they have a foundation for independence? No. Most people would do very poorly in a situation of freedom because they have been conditioned to living in prison planet. It’s not only bad strategy, it’s immoral to impose a situation of freedom onto a population that can’t cope with it.

And practicality? Chris points out that a few well-placed nuclear weapons can be a effective deterrents to violence because of mutually-assured destruction. But could the sociopaths in power provoke nuclear conflict in a desperate attempt to preserve hegemony?

If a violent revolution presented the American Sheeple the options to either disband all the people in government or replace them, they would replace them. We know why: They are more than comfortable with tyranny–they have grown to love their servitude.

And listen, you’re picking the wrong battle. You’re outmatched. There will never be a successful violent revolt in America; it will be squashed. No, like the Cyclops in the Odyssey, free humanity must outwit the sociopaths to defeat them. We will never overpower them, but we can side-step them until they are irrelevant. Livestreaming video communications, Uber transportation worldwide, cryptographic currencies, smart-contracts built on blockchains, decentralized autonomous corporations … Violent resistance? No. The State is present-day Muhammad Ali. It may be physically strong, but it’s mentally weak and almost dead.

The battle that must be won is a much more urgent and more important battle than is being discussed: the battle of ideas must manifest into a battle of actions. Like independence? Become independent. There is no one to defeat but yourself.

When you have achieved personal freedom, you’ve nullified the State in your own life. The next step is to show off and make people envious of your freedom so that they take risks to achieve it for themselves. Show them how it leads to prosperity and more choices. With each new person who declares meaningful independence, the state becomes weaker. It depends on those who depend on it. When you are independently providing your food, energy, and support for yourself and your community, you’re living in an anarchist society.

Ignore Washington. The politicians and control freaks are irrelevant. Focus on you. Free yourself, and the world will follow.

To watch my first attempt at living free, watch my free movie about moving to New Hampshire!

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DerrickJ is a media producer with a penchant for peaceful resistance. After serving 60 days of a 540-day sentence for engaging in a "Victimless Crime Spree," he moved back to Philadelphia where he now produces a live podcast on the peaceful evolution happening around the globe.

9 thoughts on “Chris Cantwell is All Wrong”

  1. I am a huge fan of Chris Cantwell. Most of what he says is right on the money, especially when it comes to reminding Libertarians about the elephant in the room that they’re so keen on neglecting in favor of wishy-washy popular cause celebres of the day. The libertarian, as Rothbard put it, must always be a radical, and that involves an uncompromising, unyielding hatred for the state and burning desire to oppose it at every step possible. But Christopher argues for a violent revolution. I say this is stupid, and in this and in this alone, I do not listen to Christopher Cantwell!

    Because the worst that could happen with a violent revolution is not with the state violently suppressing it, but with it being successful!

    No matter how powerful the state appears, a violent overthrow is always possible. Remember that the government’s soldiers are people with feelings and perspectives too. This is especially the case when the apparatus of statecraft is weak, its military and security systems are overstretched and unpopular, with many local and ethnic tensions brewing across the country. In that sense, modern America shares many similarities with late Imperial Russia. That’s why I don’t think it’s impossible, or even particularly perilous, to destroy the current political system and its ruling class (to NSA screeners reading this message, I will say once and for all, I DO NOT endorse or am willing to personally participate in such a thing).

    But the question is, will such an event lead to a positive outcome for libertarians? I would argue that it would lead to much more horrifying outcome than the status quo.

    When you kill a man it’s extremely difficult to go back to normal civilian life. When you have cadres of people employing violence, assassinations and terrorism associated with revolutionary activity, it’s almost guaranteed that the overwhelming bulk of these individuals would not be able to make the transition back to peaceful civilian society. This essentially was the reason behind Cheka’s genocidal repressions of 1919-1921. Do not forget that the Bolshevik revolution too, was a popular revolt of the people fed up with a state it was at odds with. When the main object of violence, the Tsarist government, was toppled, and its agents and representatives murdered or chased out of the country, the violent revolutionary elements responsible for it did not step down from power and simply hand over reins of power to civilian figures. No, they simply started looking for other things to declare a revolution against. Former members of the ruling class, or those associated with it became the new targets of revolutionary fervor, without dealing with which, as they reassured their followers, the Revolution wouldn’t be complete. The result was the Red Terror, where basically everyone who was well off in the pre-Revolution era was marked for extermination.

    Right now there are many people in the Untied States, whose livelihoods and prosperities stem from government employment and patronage. Countless scientists, businessmen, politicians, public workers, etc..etc… .After our successful Libertarian revolution, they’re not going to be too happy about their lives being ruined and having to look for jobs (for which they will often have no qualification) in a free market economy, and would react vehemently against it. It will be extremely easy, and convincing, to paint these people as forming part of a counter-revolutionary, reactionary movement that threatens the new libertarian order of the nation. Would we then have our own version of Cheka Terror? Would individuals like Christopher Cantwell head “Extraordinary Commissions for the Rooting out of Hidden Socialists and their Cronies”, which will act as death squads after the heads of celebrities, oil executives, pharma magnates, GMO company stock holders, former military contractors, former politicians, scientists, journalists, economists and so on, employed or associated with the state, or receiving subsidies from it?

    But that’s not all. America is a land with many severe ethnic and cultural divides, that are haphazardly kept glued together, in a very un-certain fashion, by the inertial hand of the state. But as soon as this illusion of control is dispelled, these ethnic, and class differences would rear their ugly heads in full view, as different groups vie for control over the resources that the state left behind. So the libertarian order, we will be assured, is under threat, from these certain undesirable class elements, who instead of embracing universal de-politization of the economy, seek to appropriate the state’s resources for their own benefits. Next thing there arise power groups representing main class demographics engaging in internecine conflict and never being capable of agreeing to a course of action in face of the countless problems of the new society. In such a chaotic environment, it is quite possible for a powerful, authoritative and charismatic figure to rise to the top, brutally suppress the competitors, and dictate the shots in a pharaoh like manner. Who knows, maybe it will turn out to be Christopher Cantwell. In order to buttress his rule, such a person would create a network of sycophants to carry out his will, a means by which one could enter this newly formed “preferential” class, a caste of brutal (but controlled) thugs to ensure orders are carried out and dissent is silenced, and a place to which those who do not agree with the regime are sent. In other words, the Vozdh, nomenclatura, the Party, the NKVD, the Lubyanka and the GULAG. The names, and the ideology that mask them do not matter. Such a state of affairs WILL be created by historical forces, or rather, more specifically, the absence of checks and balances (and I mean this term literally, not as it is defined in a civics textbook) upon unrestricted dictate of force. In Russia this person came to be in the form of Stalin. The only people who could have stood up to Stalin, or had the political skill or capital to outmaneuver him and thwart his designs, ironically, were destroyed beforehand in the Revolution and the Red (Chekist) Terror. That is why I view Stalin not as choice, but an inevitability. The revolution caused the dissolution of the social order down to the fundamental level, so that a critical mass of informed, activist people did not, and could not in principle, form to oppose such unrestricted tyranny – THIS is what I mean by historic “inevitability”. If we think that our libertarian ideology alone somehow inundates our movement from falling into a similar outcome, then we are truly fools. Ideology is completely useless in light of historical events which proceed in a manner like natural forces.

    Basically my argument comes down to this. The state, like a cancer, metastasized to the vital organs of the body. You cannot, with a scalpel, remove the tumor without causing the organism to die. Only when the body dies, can a new one emerge. The only question left up to us to decide is that if the body dies, do we die?

    There is another way to deal with our present great problem of civilization without entering pointless pacifism which essentially amounts to forfeiting to the current system, or a violent overthrow the consequences of which we can’t account for. This requires realizing a few important things. The political opponent of today might be the savior of tomorrow. There’s no way to get people with diverse political viewpoints on our side of the debate, unless they see clearly and undeniably with their own eyes, the utter collapse of their God and idol, the state. The state does not need our help to be destroyed. It is self-destructive by nature. If it was sustainable, if the statist system worked, then we would not have a reason to rebel against it. The state WILL collapse sooner or later, on grounds of its economic un-viability, a simple question of its balance sheet. This too, is inevitable.

    But as the state collapses, it will become more brutal and tyrannical. In its death throes it might utterly destroy the capital producing potential of a society (either through physical extermination, or a slower economic drain from the crippling effects of taxation and inflation). This happened countless times. Somalia is an example. Russia is a better one. If our entire capital base, along with the people with the skills and capability to run it, is wiped out, then we shall be at a stage no better than African countries. Even with the absence of a government, it’s unknown how long this will last. Perhaps millenia. The fact that African nations are so poor and backwards is not because they’re primitive or subhuman as internet racism would have you believe, but because they have no capital base on which to build wealth, no experience with free market capitalism, and no concept of long term time preference. In many of these countries, this state of affairs is engendered by decades of brutal misrule.

    That is why it is extremely important for us to conserve every little bit of knowledge, of action and of principle of how to run and maintain a working, prosperous society. Education, from the ground up, is crucial. Most importantly however, we need to slowly wean away from the establishment’s financial, health, and food systems, and this involves being very careful about our choices as consumers. Understand that the assault against us is two fold – both from the state and the politically connected big corporations whose profits are intertwined with governmental policy. Refuse to deal with businesses that destroy the environment, put poisons in our food or are connected with the military industrial complex in any way. In the future, those who know their way around digital technology would be worlds above, in terms of education and freedom, than those who don’t. Learn computer science, learn the fundamentals of IT, learn how encryption works and use it, learn to use non-traditional operating systems, learn to use the deep web. With that, the only action we truly take to provide sustenance to the system is to pay taxes, and in that we have no choice, if we want to avoid physical discomfort. When we look at the long term, our survival is more important than sending a message or becoming a martyr for a cause like Irwin Schiff. Remember that the state will always actively try to destroy those of us, with various illogical laws and heinous policies, who merely refuse to be part of the system, who opt out of the network of surveillance and control over us, as part of its agenda of full spectrum dominance. But how can it destroy us if it can’t find us, and how can it know we are breaking its laws, if it doesn’t know what we are doing? This is the crux of our upcoming evolutionary struggle for survival with the state, which shall in the end, decide which of us is the most resilient. We must not expect to see the effect of its outcome in our lifetime, as impatient Christopher Cantwell wants to, or even in our children’s lifetimes, but many generations ahead of us. But imagine the deliverance we shall have from the state in the end. It will be a society genuinely built from the ground up on the principles of liberty, that shall undeniably demonstrate the rest of the world, if our belief in our knowledge is worth anything, that an unprecedented standard of prosperity and freedom for humanity is possible to achieve without bloodshed.

  2. This entire article is idiotic. “Like independence? Become independent. There is no one to defeat but yourself.” There is also the state. “Let us provide alternatives to the things the state provides, like food and care for the old and needy.” The state has a history of squashing all of these attempts. Read: The Making of the English Working Class by E. P. Thompson for some examples. “…it’s immoral to impose a situation of freedom onto a population that can’t cope with it.” Freedom isn’t imposed. “If your self-interest is personal freedom, then live free and take the consequences.” So, if I want to be free I should have no problem committing non-violent crimes and eventually ending up in prison for the majority of my life? Being imprisoned is the exact opposite of freedom! “I’ve personally benefitted from keeping a public journal and moving to New Hampshire for support.” You may have personally benefited, but you are not one step closer to liberation.

  3. A few points. Govts are an idea, and one that in varying degrees is highly supported. Supply and demand. As an idea, you cant kill the statist idea any more than you can kill the anarchist idea. Violence works for the same reason nonviolence works, they both create a cost to those opposed. They both are blunt tools, and neither works well but both work to some degree or another. The major determining factor in weather one would work better than the other is the issue of legitimacy. The gov’t has legitimacy, and as long as it does, they will be supported. A relatively minor number of libertarians and anarchists are not enough to break this legitimacy. Even a right wing militia guerilla war would at best simply replace the gov’t with a right wing fascist version, one that is legit to the right wingers. Heres the kicker, legitimacy will actually cause the support for the gov’t to go up when it is attacked. This is true even in nonviolent activism, though less so because the nature of nonviolence is that it isn’t usually seen as an attack, or it is less threatening. This is also why maintaining action discipline, focus, and above all, moral high ground is so important. This is the only way to get past the massive amount of other ‘noise’, meaning there are literally millions trying to get the attention of others, and like it or not, you must deal with this. Also, if it bleeds it leads, a breakdown in nonviolent discipline will result in that being what the media covers, and this will never change. Mr. Cantwells call for violence will lead to a great deal of resistance to his cause.

  4. I don’t think you’re exactly right Derrick in your evaluation of the relative strength of the State vs. America’s rugged individualists (“You’re outmatched”).

    With 43 million annual hunters multiplied arbitrarily multiplied by 3% to match participation in the American Revolution, you’d have more than a million men under arms. What’s more, the way Cantwell, novelist John Ross (“Unintended Consequences”) and others tell it, these American rebels would eschew uniforms and formations in favor of methods that relatively protect the guerrilla fighter from personal danger such as IEDs, D.C.-Sniper style precision small arms attacks and the like, bleeding the resolve of whomever they would be in contest with by inflicting continuous casualties until their enemies couldn’t support continued occupation.

    I don’t want anybody to confuse my technical analysis for an endorsement of the methods being proposed. While I maintain every individual’s right to self-defense, I have no desire for America to relive the 1860s nor for New Hampshire to become Chechnya. My conclusion is to agree with Derrick and offer the same advice I do to my five year old:

    Use your words.

  5. I must respectfully disagree with you Derrick. When violence is used against a person, that person has the right to respond with violence when there is no other option. When those who wish to harm you or violate your rights are placed above the law, marching and protesting will not make much change. The only way there will be accountability if is when people realize they are the only ones who can make the difference. When the prosecutor refuses to indict a murdering police officer or corrupt politician, they have made themselves an accessory after the fact and should be punished too.

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