New Years have always been a time for reflection and resolve. Although 2012 featured a steady trend of authoritarianism and political theater — the National Defense Authorization Act, predator drones, fiscal cliffs, and the Obama-Romney election — there was also much to be optimistic. All around the country, campuses and auditoriums were filled to the brim to see a humble old doctor awaken a remnant and ignite an intellectual insurgency. Perhaps more than any year in human history, the ideas of liberty reached more minds than ever before.
In order to make sure that 2013 continues to see a spread of libertarianism throughout the U.S. and the world, here are 13 resolutions that I plan to keep throughout the year and beyond, as well as general resolutions for those seeking economic and political liberty. Happy New Year!
1. Defend liberty across the board
No matter how politically unpopular or inconvenient it may be, the liberty of each individual must be defended, even (and especially!) if they disagree with you. This can be incredibly tough at times, especially in democratic systems where liberties and property are put up for bid every few years and many in society may not grant you the same respect. Whether it be Muslims, atheists, evangelical Christians, heroin users, the gun rights of the mentally ill, "speculators," and those evil, evil rich people should always defend the rights of the most persecuted minority in history: the individual.
2. Stand up against the warfare state
This is perhaps the most important and pressing to the libertarian movement. Throughout history, war and empire have been by far the greatest contributor to the growth of state power, leading to erosions of civil liberties and the destruction of free economies. War destroys lives, property, and wealth, benefits the corporate state at the expense of the average citizen, and is truly the most emblematic symbol of the horrors of state power. We stand for the building blocks of civilization: private property, markets, and peace.
3. Practice agorism
Agorism is the practice of counter-economics to circumvent the state as much as possible. Underneath the weight of an Orwellian surveillance state, this can be incredibly difficult, but the market always finds a way to supply demands. Use cash whenever possible. Take every tax deduction you can. Give to private charities, or better yet volunteer for one. Use gold, silver, or bitcoins. There are an infinite ways the web allows us to interact with one another peacefully. This will help build a free society from the bottom-up.
4. Become completely proficient in the use of firearms
Because I refuse to outsource my security and safety to others without their consent. And when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
5. Never send your children to government schools
The role of government education is to immerse us at the youngest possible age with the banners, songs, and propaganda of state power and to create good corporate drones and yes-men. If we want to have independent children who reason, question, and embrace freedom, we should keep our kids as far away from government schools as possible. Private schools are a fine alternative, but homeschooling (including co-ops) is even better. And despite the caricature, in nearly every statistical category measuring education, social skills, graduation rates, test scores, and costs, homeschooled students far outperform their "public" school counterparts.
6. Vote with your feet
In this day and age, it is becoming easier and easier to relocate to areas of the country, or even the world, that are more in sync with one's values. There is nothing that frustrate governments looking to squeeze every dollar they can than mobile capital and mobile people. Many states in the U.S. are recognizing this. I myself made a pledge over seven years ago to join the Free State Project.
7. Have as little involvement in politics as possible
Libertarianism and politics are like oil and water, and looking to politics for genuine solutions and answers will bear bitter fruit. Anyone who chooses to become a politician is basically advertising their willingness to sell their soul; the only thing to negotiate is the price. Human liberty will grow and thrive despite politics, never thanks to it.
8. Read, write, research, and read some more
Start with the classics (Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, Bastiat, Hazlitt) and then move on to whatever subgenres of political theory interests you. Unlearning the lies, echo-chambers, and talking head bickering of the mainstream media is a full-time task. And as my dad once told me, you should know everything about something and something about everything. Unlike most branches that "specialize," libertarian academics tend to synthesize history, economics, biology, science, and politics together. Information and knowledge truly is power.
9. Challenge yourself intellectually
While I was convinced very early on in my life about the virtues of a free society, entropy in philosophy and the battle of ideas is dangerous and intellectually lazy. I don't ever want to be content or satisfied with the answers in front of me, no matter how convinced I am that they are just. Playing devil's advocate refines arguments, expands intellects, and changes minds. I would much rather be lost in the pursuit of truth than to ever claim to have found it.
10. Stop the libertarian in-fighting!
I have noticed than on far too many occasions, libertarians spend more time bickering with other libertarians — often with much hostility — than keeping their eyes on the real targets. And while the debates between minarchist libertarians and anarcho-capitalists is essential, America resembles the Soviet Union more than a constitutional republic. There's a lot of work to do. We should be united against the welfare-warfare state and central banking! If, or when, the U.S. begins to resemble a commercial, free republic, then have at it.
11. Always be patient, reasonable, and civil
This should be basic common sense, but I'll be the first one to admit a tendency to talk past people and get frustrated. When advocating the radical notion that other people are not your property (and vice-versa), hostility commonly ensues. But leave shouting matches and ad hominem attacks to the talking heads, Republicans, Democrats, and TV pundits. Sometimes, the messenger can be just as important as the message.
12. Avoid the state-corporate "Bigs"
Big Pharma. Big Agriculture. Big Medicine. Big Everything. The permanent entrenchment of the corporate welfare state has created a vast network of hideously large and bureaucratic corporate monsters that acquire their wealth through the enforcement power of state regulations (tariffs, subsidies, IP, etc.) rather than through the entrepreneurial satisfaction of customers in the marketplace. These industries love the stasis of a highly-regimented state capitalism; they would rather watch the world burn than see a free market. Too often, libertarians offer knee-jerk defense of corporations because they seem "capitalist." But as a general rule, the bigger they are, the more likely they are involved with the state. Do your best to avoid these "Bigs" and seek out cheaper, safer alternatives for independence, freedom, and health.
13. Set an example
Just as I believe that the best foreign policy is one of armed neutrality, free trade, and leading by the force of example, this applies just as equally to my personal life. How can I advocate liberty if I myself don't internally understand freedom? How can I say, "Don't tread on me" if I tread on others? The world has enough busybodies as it is. Give the universe one improved unit, a radical departure from the general public acceptance of servitude, and I guarantee others will follow and emulate. This is essentially what civil society and the marketplace is: a division of labor where each of us cooperates and interacts with each other for mutual benefit; or as Albert Camus put it, "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."