Yesterday, George Donnelly posed the question What’s your Activist Arc? It was meant to get his readers to consider the efficacy and consequences of their chosen method of liberty activism. Is this leading toward my goal or is it a distraction? Am I being effective? Am I getting in more trouble than it’s worth—unnecessarily suffering for my activism? Am I doing too much? Not enough? Do I need to change tactics?

It was an excellent question and nicely illustrated with four examples of activists, including George. It got me thinking about my own activist arc. At the moment, mine is even more low-key than George’s—perhaps, too much. This is partly due to a change of living circumstances: Having moved in with my fiancee to a very rural area of Arizona, I am now almost completely off the grid. This makes pamphleteering, attending rallys, or otherwise physically coordinating with other activists nearly impossible. My personal strategy has always been through the less conspicuous two-pronged approach of agorism and education. Getting my voice heard through my writing, sharing my opinions about the illegitimacy of statism and the means and methods of ending it, is of paramount importance to me. This is less likely to raise ire, as the state still pays some lip-service to the canonized notion of free-speech. And while agorism is not without significant risk, it can be done discreetly—without the fanfare associated with, for instance, directly confronting cops (e.g., Pete Eyre’s chosen “activist arc”).

Ultimately, I’m just a man who wants to live freely and well with the woman he loves, but is now all too aware of the forces that would prohibit that. I’m torn between my passion to end the injustice of the state on the one hand, and my desire to simply disappear with my beloved on the other. I want to change the world, but I also want to live in it. I suppose that I’m still feeling my way through this.

One thing I would like to note, though, about George’s exposition is that, while I agree that direct confrontation with the state’s enforcers will tend to bring about swift and cruel reprisal, even the most passive resistence frequently engenders the state’s malevolence. Consider the jailing of Thoreau for refusing to pay the poll-tax. Even now, peaceful tax-protestor Irwin Schiff is languishing in a federal prison. Anti-war protestors are spied on, cataloged as “low-level terrorists”, searched, detained and arrested. Some, like Martin Luther King, Jr., are even assassinated. And just yesterday, the originator of the Liberty Dollar, Bernard von NotHaus, was convicted in federal court—the U.S. attorney declaring him and his associates “domestic terrorists”, saying,“While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.” One need not harrass cops to call down the heavy hand of the state.

Government is institutionalized violence. The state knows only force. It simply does not know how to respond to peaceful dissenters with anything less than a crushing blow. I do not personally recommend flagrantly defying the state, but even if your chosen “activist arc” is more circumspect, as is mine, you may ultimately face the same consequences. So do what you are comfortable with—what you think is right. In the end, the path you choose must be your own.