Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Building and Supporting Alternatives to the State

The last item in Issue 11 is the editorial, “What’s Next in the Pursuit of Liberty?” This editorial was written by Carl and a fellow by the name of Paul Bilzi. Mr. Bilzi is someone I haven’t heard of and know nothing about. Carl tells me he never met him in person and hasn't heard from him in years. If anyone wants to contribute something about him, feel free.

This editorial continues the attempts to persuade political anarchists to move outside politics and into other forms of activism. Carl reiterates the point that patience is required for change and the best focus one can have is on improving oneself. However, in this editorial he and Paul also point out the importance of creating new voluntary associations:

“We must be dedicated to razing the State, but we must also raise new voluntary associations which allow people to be self-responsible. We have to contribute to the development of constructive alternatives to State services and attempt to get people to understand that they do have the capabilities of providing for themselves without government. Only then can we be assured of having taken care of the means; realizing that right means are the only route to our final destination.”

Much of the disappointment I think many Voluntaryists have with those who spend a lot of time, money, and energy in the political realm revolves around this idea. If we are constantly trying to battle and change the system and ignoring the problems of the system itself, then we are not working to build alternatives. And if there are no alternatives to move to, people will be hesitant to leave, even if they understand all that’s wrong with government.

As is usual, I can best relate to this personally in terms of education. If we really want to improve education and educational opportunities, then we are just wasting our time trying to reform the coercive government system. It’s best to just get out completely, ignore the state and do it yourself while building networks and creating alternatives that help others do the same.

I’ve been a part of a group in Indiana that’s been doing that for some time now and it’s been rewarding and fun. What I like about the way we’ve set up the group is that it’s very informal. It’s been great because as individuals network and connect locally, they voluntarily and spontaneously develop plans and ideas that work for the people involved at any given time.

But even though this group has helped literally thousands of people network and collaborate, even this isn’t completely necessary to help others consider alternatives. Because as each individual takes action and does something outside the realm of government, whatever it may be, others who come in to contact with those individuals see an example right in front of their eyes.

And eventually, some of those people will become curious, want to learn more and figure out if they can do it too. My husband and I had this experience quite a few times when we were homeschooling as friends and acquaintances came to us asking questions, after observing how homeschooling was working in our family. Most of these people were concerned and afraid that they just couldn’t do it, for a variety of reasons, but as we talked to them, we tried to help them see that it was possible, that they can do it. Our respect and confidence in their ability helped move some of them to make the same decision we did and they did just fine, as we knew they would.

What associations, organizations and groups do you know of that are good examples of people working together to develop alternatives to state services?


Less Antman said...

Paul Bilzi was an active member of the LP from Colorado through at least 1983 (which is when I took my major hiatus from national LP activities). Just another anti-political libertarian who owed his involvement in the movement to the LP. ;)

If I'm remembering the right guy, he was in a wheelchair. If Carl can confirm that (or at least that the guy lived in Colorado), then I'm pretty certain he died several years ago.

Less Antman said...

On your question, I think ADR (alternative dispute resolution) services get people mentally away from government courts, and personal security (including alarms, private patrols, and personal gun training) encourages the idea that we can do better than government police. But homeschooling may be the most valuable.

Debbie H. said...

Less, Carl did tell me that he was a paraplegic so you must be thinking of the same person. If you google his name (and I'm not saying this is the same person, but it's pretty coincidental if not because this person was disabled and from colorado), you will get lots of links about someone who appears to be very involved with making sure there is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don't know if this is the same person, but if so, did the LP really help him become anti-political?

Thanks for mentioning alternative dispute resolution services as another way to help people move from state services. Do you know of any association or some way people can learn more about getting involved in perhaps offering such a service?

Less Antman said...

Well, given his negative comments about politics in issue 11, which he must have co-written with Carl very soon after leaving the LP, I'd say it DID help make him anti-political. ;) I just googled Paul myself and, yes, that's him. He did run a business that helped companies modify their facilities in order to make it easier for disabled workers. Obviously, passage of the ADA helped his business.

The best source of information on ADR is the American Arbitration Association (which grabbed the web URL). My older brother once provided mediation and arbitration services for private disputes (such as divorces). But some of the best examples are religious: in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, immigrant Jews didn't trust the courts and used their rabbis as arbiters whenever possible, enforced only by reputation mechanisms. And to this day, the Jewish diamond merchants in New York have a disdain for the courts and use private mechanisms exclusively: those who don't comply are ostracized from the business.

I have an old book called Justice Without Law? that discusses the history of non-governmental dispute resolution. Should be easy to find a used copy (the author isn't a libertarian, though).

NYSTaxpayer said...

There are many alternatives to state services that we can support and promote. An alternative to welfare and state supported homeless shelters is the Salvation Army. If you don't have kids to homeschool, you can find a local private school and participate in the school's fundraisers. Instead of buying a lottery ticket, you can buy a raffle ticket from a local church or fire department.
In addition to supporting alternatives, we need to point out the existence of those alternatives at the time local governments are talking about their budgets, and the fact that it is better to have voluntary rather than imposed charity during the recession.
Voluntaryists and Libertarians should be involved in their communities. It does no good to hold the opinion that there should be less government if you keep it to yourself.