You’ve heard the defense uttered many times before: “I was just doing my job.” It’s a quote that infuriates lovers of liberty and justice and is often the refuge of scoundrels. But it tells us something important about human nature that should not be missed by activists; jobs are more important to people than freedom. And if you think that is only the case for corrupt police and military, think again. It is true for the great many of us, including anarchists. The sooner we understand this near-universal human characteristic the better we can focus our activist energies.
I see there as being two categories that people fall under. There are those that are willing to risk your freedom to protect their own job, and there are those that are willing to risk their own freedom to protect their own job. The common denominator between all individuals is their desire to protect their own job. And it is precisely this point that we should be concerned with instead of our differences.
Consider the police and military. They violate the non-aggression principle on a daily basis. If ever they decide to stop infringing on the freedom of others, they will be fired. Case in point the Jefferson Memorial Dance Party. Watch this video one more time with this thought in mind: the police in this video are threatened by peaceful behavior. Their fear is not of violence, but of unemployment.
Please do not think I am trying to justify their behavior. I’m merely attempting to better understand what motivates us.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. – Sun Tzu
On the other side of the coin you have individuals that will risk their own freedom to protect their job. Consider those who trade contraband for a living. They are essentially risking life-sentences behind bars to maintain work for themselves. Often times these people are criticized for not finding work that isn’t illegal or risky, and the liberty community is quick to aid in their defense. Yet, the liberty community is hypocritical towards police and military; demanding that they give up their jobs for something better.
Even most libertarian anarchists are reticent to give up decent and high-paying white market jobs for low-paying gray or black market jobs. So, the beat goes on. And if you think things will change through political rhetoric you’d be wrong again. When people like Mitt Romney campaign on providing jobs they are all but assuring themselves popular victory over somebody like Ron Paul, who campaigns on freedom. We need to get it in our heads that jobs trump freedom… every time.
So, where does this leave us as activists? It is clear to me that we have no other choice but to offer people better paying jobs in the underground than can be provided otherwise. The economic depression is perhaps our greatest opportunity to alter the paradigm towards that of freedom. If governments could provide massive prosperity and tyranny simultaneously, freedom wouldn’t stand a chance. Fortunately for freedom activists, tyranny precludes wealth creation.