I heard Robert Higgs speak at a Cato conference in California a few years ago and found him winsome, humble and bright. His resume is remarkable: Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, Editor of The Independent Review, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He’s best known for his tour de force, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, which was first published in 1987 and was just republished a few months ago.
He has been inveighing against big government for decades and, happily, has condensed his methods of resistance into a short article, “State Power and How It Might Be Undermined.” It’s comforting to learn that what many of us are already doing rates No. 1 position on his list: working to reduce the ignorance of people by exposing leaders’ lies and deceit. You no doubt have noticed the insertion at the top of this website a favorite quote of mine from Ephesians 5:11-12. Whether he knows it or not, Higgs is recommending doing the same thing:
First, they may work to reduce the number of people who succumb to the rulers’ bamboozlement by exposing the rulers’ lies, spreading truthful information, and revealing the rulers’ venality and cynical disregard of the people’s natural rights and the general public interest.
People may withdraw their children from government schools and teach them at home; they may spread truthful information about the horrors of the state and the glories of freedom by means of the Internet and the World Wide Web.
In short, people may use the word processor that is mightier than the Predator drone (formerly the pen that is mightier than the sword) as well as face-to-face communication to reeducate those who have been taught, conditioned, and forced to drink the rulers’ Kool-Aid.
His other suggestions should resonate as well: refusing to do business with companies or people who have drunk the Kool-Aid and aren’t open to considering alternatives. Doing business in the black or underground market. Leaving the city, the county, the state (or even the country) in favor of places that have more freedom.
As to that last point, did you happen to read about the serious discussion several counties in Colorado are having about seceding to form their own state?
He thinks that armed resistance to the state would be fatal to freedom:
Please note that I have said nothing about the use of violence against the state. In general, I oppose such violence. The rulers of leviathan states such as the USA love nothing more than violent resistance. They can deal with such forms of resistance readily by bringing their overwhelming advantages in the use to violence to bear by means of police and, if need be, military forces.
Moreover, in doing so, they can teach the false lesson that they are the true protectors of the public against those who threaten the social order by resorting to violence. They thereby encourage the public to think of the violent resisters as the crazies and of the state authorities and their police as the sane and peaceful ones, notwithstanding that the state is nothing if not a massive, bureaucratically organized means of threatening or wielding violence against innocent people in order to plunder and bully them.
His is a most comforting and encouraging article. It’s short and you can read it here.