Ron Paul is out. We can already hear the cry, "What will we do now?!" Leonard Read's "How to Advance Liberty" provides some insight. In my opinion, Rothbard had a massive non-sequitur which was advocating the use of politics to end the state. I am unaware of any state that has ended this way (my little resort to a historicism fallacy). Logically in terms of means and ends, it is impossible for political means to result in non-political ends. Historically, states end themselves. All political action then is the velvet glove over iron fist. For example, no state income tax (velvet glove), state spending out of control squeezing the main industry out (iron fist). What good is no income tax if your job is eliminated? Conversely what good is a job if the state is legally entitled to take as much as they wish? The catch-22 of statism. Obviously the practical answer is that not ALL jobs are eliminated and/or that not ALL income is taxed. Politics is then the practical question of degrees of violence. One who believes in non-violence must then walk away to the maximum extent possible, being mindful to go about this in a peaceful way so as to avoid creating a ratchet effect where the state then escalates its violence.
Political thinking and political action necessarily accepts the premise of the state, so of course it is divisive. It is by nature "us" against "them." Voluntary action benefits both parties. State action benefits one at the expense of the other. Always. The division and futility of libertarian activity in Alaska is a fascinating story and history with a lot of useful takeaways, but for me the most fascinating part is that the ideologically pure ones who went directly after the state as Mike notes accomplished nothing for themselves or others. See also Schaeffer's thing. Same result. The de La Boetie essay suggests something different. Walk away. There are oh-so-many ways of doing this without stepping in the beehive of the state (which it considers to be violence against it). You won't find tax protestors at the Mises institute. Attacking the state is an exercise in futility. Selling ideas to those who are "shopping" is the only method consistent with the desired ends of a voluntary society. This obviously excludes "successful" politicking. To use Ron Paul as an example, he has never claimed that he can make a difference or that him being elected would make a difference. His reply is always, "When the people decide to change the nature of government, that's when things will change." Since he's the only one presenting an alternative for people to consider, how would they ever learn of another way if he weren't out there being unelectable (and not caring about being unelectable)?
You'll note how much time I spent advocating state action vs. individual action when I went on Duke's show (none). I don't care about the borough or the state or the feds except to the extent which I must adjust my action based on their decisions. I can far more effectively free myself from the state by spending my time doing other stuff. Anything done in a political sphere is a compromise. It is those who don't understand this who find politics frustrating. Again, it comes down to means and ends. Political means will never lead to voluntary or non-political ends. Ever. Most people accept this, so they accepts political action as useful (believing that voluntary ends are a largely unattainable goal). This is consistent with their premises. In that context it makes sense.
I don't really have any use for the velvet glove or the iron fist. I don't have to stay anywhere. I don't care about "my" country or state or any of that stuff (probably because they're not "mine" in any logical sense). Furthermore, I can be the most useful to society not through political action but through market action and education. No one is better off because I convinced them to vote for Ron Paul in 2008. Some people are better off because they learned about the risk of holding dollars in 2008 (and since). Steve Jobs has created more prosperity for mankind than Ronald Reagan. Bill Gates than Bill Clinton. Etc.
My initial idea for the Austrian Economics book club was to read about econ and investing so that people wouldn't get wiped out. No one can or will save us but ourselves. This has always been true. No one is really interested in that tho. The "liberty movement" in America is wrapped up in the myth of collective salvation. Tragic yet funny. I can safely say that there are only a couple of us with significant positions that will weather the coming storm very very well. Everyone else, two years later, has been completely wrapped up in politics even tho they now KNOW what is coming economically. What do they have to show for it? They are frustrated, tired, and poorer than they were two years ago. The state wins. All the money and effort spent on Joe Miller, for example. There was a lot of money to be made (or at least preserved) in that time. This would facilitate a lot of families being able to pull their kids out of public school. This would reduce a lot of people's dependence on their state job, or the PFD, etc. What is there to show instead? Nothing. What would there be to show had Joe won? Nothing. A shame and a waste. And for what?
Probably my favorite "place" to hang out is the Daily Anarchist site/forums, because no one there advocates anything political. It is calm, the discussions are civil yet deep, and no one is getting tweaked about political trivialities. There is a Ron Paul thread, but no one cares if any of the others participate or do not participate in the election. The overwhelming recognition is that for questions of "what do we do" the answer will be unique for each and every one of us (indeed this is the basis of voluntaryism). Therefore we can share ideas and personal courses of action without crossing so-called Ego Boundaries. This is simply not possible in a political context because people who think politically are 1) collectivist to some extent and 2) authoritarians to some extent. Since I do not like being pushed around, to be consistent I have to refrain from pushing others around. So very few get that. I never expect it to be more than a very few. But a whole lot are indifferent (terrific!). I try to minimize exposure to those who my buddy Jake and I call the "True Believers." Those who believe that shoving people in the right direction somehow makes things better. If the cause of liberty is futile, then sanctioning authoritarianism is certainly more futile. States forever and always eventually revert back to the only way feasible in the long term: they cease to exist. Sort of a liquidation of counterproductive action.
The Caesars have already de-based the money and sent the young men to go die for the empire. All that remains is for Nero to burn Rome. All those dependent on Rome will be in trouble when this happens. This includes the Borough itself. It does not include me. It no longer includes my family. It no longer includes some of my friends. It no longer includes at least one guy I work with. While we wait, we can go about our lives without fear. That is a success. Let Rome Burn. It's going to anyway.