The Value Of Aggression

November 26th, 2011   Submitted by Seth King

Imagine you and another person squaring off in a game of poker. Now pretend that your style of play is generally aggressive, whereas your opponent is generally defensive. When the action is upon your opponent he will only apply passive measures, such as checking and calling bets. You, however, choose the aggressive strategy of betting. Over the long hall the aggressive player is almost surely to be the victor by a large margin. The state, therefore, wisely values aggression as a long term stratagem.

This is because the aggressor has multiple ways to win each hand. He can win a hand when the opponent folds or calls, but has a weaker hand. In order for the passive player to win, he must not only be holding a greater hand but neither can he fold it. The passive player, never threatening his opponent with aggression, cannot get his opponent to fold a superior hand.

This is what is understood as the value of aggression in the poker world. And it is a lesson the state understands far better than the voluntaryist community. It is also why the state is so powerful and accumulates vast resources. When the state goes on the offensive the target of its aggression has two choices, fold or defend. The consequences of constantly folding is the same in poker as it is in real life: loss of wealth and power.

Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength. – Sun Tzu

The lesson to be learned here is that if the voluntaryist community is ever to defeat the state it must not always choose to fold its hand. This might lead one to think that defense is, therefore, a greater tactic than that of folding. But you would be wrong. In fact, defense is almost universally the worst option among the three.

Defending a hand and, subsequently, losing it is a catastrophe both in poker as well as real life. This is because the potential for loss far exceeds the potential to gain. Aggressors understand that defense implies weakness. If one held an extremely strong hand then they would be on the offensive in order to gain ground. But strong hands played defensively are likely to yield no gains facing an intelligent opponent. Therefore, if the aggressor is not met with escalated aggression, but instead defense, he understands that his opponent is weak and victory is reasonably possible.

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory. – Sun Tzu

The state is extremely sensible to only fight battles it can win. Only a desperate state will partake in coin flips. The highly skilled and aggressive combatant will constantly attack weakness and rarely defend, preferring instead to fold. He who defends most, loses.

The beautiful thing about an arrogant state is that it generally feels it must defend against any perceived attack in order to save face, thus ensuring its inevitable demise. I have long since believed that the state is a paper tiger, fearing an offensive opponent more than anything. The libertarian community has thus far employed a passive strategy when combating the state. I believe it is time they fully understood the value of aggression and went on the offensive.

The questions we must ask ourselves is which situations we should fold, and how to engage in offense. There are many instances where these exact questions come in to play within the activist scene.

One such topic of debate within the New Hampshire civil disobedient community is whether or not one should ever take a plea deal. Many realize that the state is banking on the fear of the accused when offering reduced penalties for guilty pleas. And so they are. It is a perfect aggressive tactic. The state can win either through the defendant folding or by going to court and losing his or her case. The defendant can only win by going to court and being found not guilty. The potential for losing the case can be huge for the defendant and minuscule for the state. Even a so-called “win” for the defense can cost thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. The best case scenario is for the defendant to win his case and hope that the cost of trial was greater to the state than to the defendant. This is little consolation indeed.

The idea of never taking a plea deal is to jam up the courts and jails to the point where the state will refuse to prosecute future offenders. Yet, while this tactic seems plausible it supposes two highly unlikely requisites. First, that there is an abundance of martyrs willing to sacrifice themselves for the whole of the good, and second, that the state would choose losing face through defeat rather than increase prison populations, despite the cost. Being individualist-anarchists I find the idea of self-sacrifice to be somewhat anachronistic and contradictory. Furthermore, the instances of states willingly conceding defeat over increasing prison populations are next to none.

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. – Sun Tzu

It seems to me, then, that each individual would be best served to decide for themselves whether or not to fold their hand or defend themselves in court. This would not be a matter of principle but of circumstance. In war principles go right out the window. This does not mean that one must violate their principles to win, but neither does it mean that principles alone will sufficiently defend against aggression.

So, after having been kidnapped by the state it may frequently be the best strategy to fold and fight another day. How, then, can we put the state in the position it often puts us? How can we make it so that the state must choose between defense and folding? Very little effort has been put into this topic to my utmost chagrin. If there is anything the state absolutely does not want us to discuss it is the topic of offensive strategies.

27 Responses to “The Value Of Aggression”

  1. Ron HelwigNo Gravatar says:

    I think comedy is a great way to go on the offensive. Look at all the pictures of the “silly sprayer”, Lt. Pike for one example. Also, the portrayal of Uncle Sam as an asshole by Ademo could be considered good satire that directly attacks the issue of the ridiculousness of government legitimacy.

    I was always a big fan of Hogan’s Heroes, which I give some credit for preparing me to accept libertarianism. It portrayed the authority figures as mostly buffoons, while the heroes were good guys that broke the rules. And Hogan himself was very much like a John Galt figure, being very competent and strong.

    Comedy can also do a good job of attracting those who don’t really care. Most people aren’t going to listen to Free Talk Live and read LvM. But a good movie, TV, or web comedy series can reach a huge market.

  2. Skyler DacheNo Gravatar says:

    We simply have to strike where the state is weak and fold where the state is strong. The State is an aggressive, military propaganda machine. It’s weakest link is reason and truth, within the domain of the reasonable, responsible leaders of society beyond its employ.

    Knowledge is transferred to society through intellectuals. Business leaders, teachers, professionals, the upper class. The voice of these people reflects the knowledge of society, everyone else learns from them. In order to spread knowledge to society, we cannot just approach random folks on the street. Lower class people don’t teach others, and even if they did, they are more susceptible to state propaganda.. We need to target the intellectuals and reason with them, for their words are learned by all. I think this is at least a pretty good way of fighting the state.

    Of course, we need to earn their respect before they will listen to us. Therefore, we need to be honorable in everything we do. We have to live by our principles. This is not to say we shouldn’t drive on roads or attend public courts, but we should limit our advantage from state privilege when possible. To me it’s not an issue of self-sacrifice for the good of the community, it’s just doing what’s right. As we do this, intellectuals will listen to us more and more, adopt our principles, and teach them to the rest of society.

    • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

      Spreading the message is definitely where the state is the weakest. They have absolutely no defensible position to stop individuals from talking about these ideas. So they must always fold. If they tried to defend against it they would almost surely lose and face complete humiliation.

      When I was still living in California I joined a very popular and well connected town charity and was relentless in promoting Ron Paul, and then later anarchism. I’m sure a lot of them thought I was a fanatic, and others thought I was on to something. I suspect Ron Paul’s success this time around will help to “legitimize” whatever it was I was talking about. If they become big fans of him, then his defeat will further legitimize anarchism.

      To be clear I only promoted Ron Paul because at the time I was still a minarchist, but later converted to anarchism while belonging to the charity.

      I think joining charities is a great way to infiltrate the movers and shakers in your local area. You’ve got a captive audience and they will respect you for being a community organizer instead of just a complainer.

      Any other ideas where the voluntaryists can go on the offensive?

      • EddyKNo Gravatar says:

        I think the key here is to first gain someones respect before engaging in conversation about radical ideas. If someone knows and can see with his own eyes that you are a moral and good person, he will be open to your ideas and although he might not agree instantly the ideas will become credible in his mind.

        If you apreach a complete stranger and start spewing ideas that are totaly contrary to everything he has been thougt, and he does not know what sort of person you are, he can easily dismiss you as an evil or crazy person. The ideas that you propose will likely have no credability to him.

        The fact that Seth was part of the charity showed those people that he shared morals with the other people involved. Therefore people respected him and could accept his ideas more easily. Charity is only one option, but it is one of the best because it is almost universally known as something that is good and moral.

        • EddyKNo Gravatar says:

          I just noticed a slew of spelling errors in that post. Shame you can’t edit comments. I meant approach and not apreach and taught instead of thougt.

          • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

            I think you CAN edit your comments if you have an account with the blog. If you, or others, would like an account with the blog, message me what you would like your username to be as well as your email address, and I will create one for you.

  3. Pete WalkerNo Gravatar says:

    To me there are three core forms of social power: Violence, material wealth, and applied intelligence (Muscle-Money-Moxy). “Aggression” infers violence, including all forms of abuse, and The State is unbeatable through violence. So some people may forget that “aggressive” and “offensive” mean different things. The State produces nothing and is thus vulnerable to being starved; it also depends on its hosts not knowing they’re hosts and thus is vulnerable to social unengineering. No hosts, no parasites.

  4. While I certainly appreciate good comedy (and further we all know that the state offers such as easy target), my perspective is that as individuals we cannot risk a frontal assault on bureaucracy. That is striking at their strong point and will yield poor results. I agree with Sun Tsu; you can generally win if you are careful not to triumph.

    As individuals our power comes from within, and the best way to manifest that power would be (as Morhei Ueshiba would advise) to flow with the enemy and use their energy against them.

    So how would this be practiced by individuals? I would view what most see as the state’s strength (its overwhelming use of power) against itself. Who does the state view as its worst enemy (after its own citizens of course)?

    It is other states. If that statement is true then how do we as individuals use that weakness to our advantage? By playing each enemy against itself. Can that strategy form the basis of a successful “flank” attack? It is my position here that the answer to that question is not only “yes”, but that once thought out, I will also suggest that one can, additionally incur the support of a state despite that if carried to its logical end will ultimately destroy that which the state most values.

    I would summarize this strategy as follows: Defeat the 800 lb. guerrilla (actually in terms of some states we are talking about an 100,000 monstrosity) by gaming the state with its own “rules”.

    And yes, taking on this strategy means you will take on the heart of a Warrior. Rather than take up more time here to discuss philosophy, I will briefly summarize the practical steps that anyone can take. All you need is heart:

    1) Drop your W2 job and become a local entrepreneur. Despite the current economic conditions fostered upon the world by the states and their cronies at the banks, there have never been greater opportunities to start a business. The tax system in the US has always favored businesses over employees. At the very least, by creating one or more businesses, you will learn to live life on the “pre-tax” and cut out your largest bill, your taxes. And the state will approvingly support this.

    2) Take your business offshore. While this would be obvious for anyone living outside the US, most Americans have no idea of the opportunities that lie outside their home state borders. The US is strikingly unique in the small number of its citizens who have never traveled outside the prison that has become the US. By taking your business “global”, you will not only expand your opportunities, you will discover how to really “play” governments against themselves.

    3) Take your life offshore. I know; this is scary or at least disconcerting for most people living in the US. But there some serious positioning advantages here. You see, the state only cares about itself. Yet unless it has minions and “ordinaries” to financially soak, the state cannot survive. In present and past (and in the future), the various governments will always continue to “court” whomever they feel will can add to their power. The best way that governments have accomplished this to trip over themselves by providing benefits, both tax and lifestyle benefits to “outsiders”.

    By following the three suggestions above, you will get governments to court you. Instead of being raped, you will get finessed. Instead of being bullied, you will be treated with respect (whether real or phony).

    Instead of being treated like a “citizen”, you will be treated like a “customer” or better yet, like a virgin with states falling over you looking for that first caress. You will accomplish this by following the rules set up in each state fiefdom (mistakenly called sovereign countries).

    When carried to its logical conclusion, will you possess more then one passport (and most likely jettison those passports that offer no benefit like a US passport). Do you know that the largest tax haven in the world is the US? Problem is, it is only available to NON-US citizens and residents.

    You will selectively live (i.e., domicile) in fiefdoms where you do not necessarily have a passport (aliens are generally treated better then citizens) within fiefdoms. You will have bank accounts in multiple jurisdictions, use internet services from multiple jurisdictions, you will be able to take advantage of tax holidays and special exemptions given to individuals and businesses who bring potential wealth to a particular state.

    The irony here is that while you will appear to be a “global” person, you are in fact more free than any citizen forced to live under the rules of a particular state. By living under multiple rules, you can pick your terms. Even better, all this goes on right under the nose of the state and they will do nothing to change those rules, because these rules benefit them (or so they think).

    At the risk of giving a shameless plug, I have a book coming out in the next few weeks. It is titled “Liberty Taken” and it discusses how to institute these ideas I have discussed today.

    However, everything I have discussed above is within reach of all of you reading this article now. For most of you on this site (which I have been a member as well), the strategy I’ve outlined above will get you your “get out of jail” card. You can take back your dignity.

  5. KontrarianNo Gravatar says:

    What about Agorism?
    Personally, I just ignore the government and try to educate people to do the same.
    When you can’t ignore, fold.
    I don’t know about this offense stuff.
    Sun Tsu was a logical genius, but his premises are incorrect, so he end’s up being fatally flawed and looking like a fools.
    Remember that.
    All you need to do is protect yourself, and as many others you can, from the collapse.
    No need for offense.
    What we need to do is make sure that after the collapse the State can’t resurrect itself.
    We prevent that by changing the hearts and souls of the strong willed but minority.

    • Kyfho MyobaNo Gravatar says:

      Sun Tzu was absolutely correct. Ch 1, Sec 1: War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. More importantly: Ch 1, Sec 17: All warfare is based on deception.

      Do you see how profound this is? How important it is to our cause? Since all warfare is based on deception, what is business based on? Which is more robust? Which persists? Which costs less?

      Great article. I have always claimed that the State will not go quietly. If you’re a pacifist, I have some more bad news for you.

  6. PericlesNo Gravatar says:

    The State is consolidating at a global level in order to enhance it’s power to enslave their retarded tax/fiat-money-using livestock…The State will win because the overwhelming majority of humans on Earth are FAR too stupid to be free and actually support – to their own death – their own slavery…There is no way to free yourselves in a permanent way so you need to keep yourself MOBILE and hide your earned property from these political terrorists and their stupid parasite supporters/voters. You have to live the life of a stateless pirate or just be one of their disgusting farm animals, aka, Serf. Learn from Ancient/Current Greece and the Soviet Union. Imagine a society of infantile and violent mental retards that think they are entitled to aspects of other people’s lives simply because they out-vote them. Democrats are just stupid psychopaths.

  7. Governments are and always have been in a state of consolidating their power. Power rarely remains stagnant; it either grows or retreates in a rhythm that has been the dance for ages. While there may be no way to rid yourself of the state, you can live in any system if you understand the rules and play under those rules. This does not represent a submission; it is the recognition that you can achieve what you want, which is to live as independently as possible without living the life of a hermit.

    If we all can agree that each of us is born with a potential, than I would respectfully submit that potential is best realized when you allow yourself the most options. While living stateless leaves you few options, living a multistate lifestyle affords you many choices. The ancients had few choices; there was no middle clas; the less-than-1% ruled and barely tolerated the remaining masses. However, as commerce improved, businesses evolved to take advantage of inter-fiefdom commerce.

    By playing the state at its own flawed game, you can, ironically enough achieve a great degree a freedom. Even stateless pirates are not free and certainly do not live up to their potential.

    Taking a multi-state approach will get you treated as a customer and not as a citizen. Like any courtship (where you traditionally have two people chasing each other at the same time), as a customer you are treated like a favorite girlfriend. As a citizen you are treated like prostitute.

    Many cruel things have been effected in the name of “civilization”, but if we didn’t have civilization, we’d find some other excuse. Anything that makes a noise is satisfactory to a crowd, which finds it easier to cheer than to think. Man’s tendency is to fight for “freedom”, only to then accumulate laws to take that freedom away. By using the system against itself is the ultimate form of victory; you achieve freedom in a manner which becomes very difficult for any one state to tear from you.

    • Ron HelwigNo Gravatar says:

      I know that I’m not in this fight just to live with a “degree of freedom”. We might not win in my lifetime, but I am doing what I can to end the state altogether. That is my goal.

      Thus, the strategy of pitting states against one another isn’t something I subscribe to. It won’t end the state. Perhaps as a tactic in a greater war it might be useful, but it won’t make anyone free by itself.

      I prefer agorism as a strategy: outcompete the government in every place it exists until it is beaten and dead. Home and un schooling are good examples. Private currencies (like my Shire Silver) are another.

      • The goal here is not to destroy anything; it is to live within one’s own control. Pitting the enemgy against itself causes it to use its own energy instead of sucking yours. Having a greater number of options does not preclude you from incorporating other strategies such as home schooling or using private currencies; in fact the strategy I propose gives not only allows you to utilize those options but to implement them in a more effective manner. With independence comes power, and even what is perceived to be limited independence includes individual power to a greater degree.

  8. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Comedy can be effective. I am a big fan of the original The Prisoner tv series.(not a comedy) The series was ahead of it’s time. Someone posted about ignoring the state. If one is the “Village” that is not possibe. The fact is ignoring the state completely is not possible unless perhaps you are on a deserted island.

    This is one of my favorite scenes from the series. It seems to me that the in this scene the prisoner although succeeding in his goal simply turned the “herd” 180 degrees. They were lead but I don’t think really were thinking for themselves.

    Another one of my favorite scenes:

    Btw, this is the correct link from a previous post:

    Be seeing you

  9. DROINo Gravatar says:

    Guerrilla warfare could work if one wanted to fight the state.
    It would be pretty easy to harass individual police stations and the like.

    • Pete WalkerNo Gravatar says:

      DROI you’re comment is failed humor, statist false flag, reflects mega-naiveness, or something similar. 19 years in the USAF told me you can’t beat The State with violence — that’s what The State wants “you” to try. And violence just gets a new state ran by the most ruthless all over again.

      • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

        I don’t think DROI was attempting to be funny here. And I don’t think the jury is out on whether or not sabotage can be effective. In fact, I think we’re all probably going to see a lot of violence directed towards the state in the coming years.

      • Kyfho MyobaNo Gravatar says:

        States are defeated by violence all the time. THE state isn’t, though. The State doesn’t exist. “It”‘s just people. People behaving toward others in a particular manner. Government is not a noun, it is a verb. The people that make up the State are not just the aggressors, the State includes most of the victims, as well. The State exists in the minds of people. Lots of ways to change peoples minds. Violence is one of them. Best to use it sparingly and covertly. Assassinations of the lowest level thugs. People that are not important enough for security services (like security guards), What if no one wanted to guard the king, not because there were lots of attempts on his life, but on the life of his guards? Or on the lives of the people that brought him food?

        This will not be practical without a much, much larger base of support for anarchy than what we have now.

  10. augustNo Gravatar says:

    “So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. – Sun Tzu”

    I think the weakest link in the state’s armor is in the myth of their morality. If people can be shown, loudly and repeatedly, how the concept of the state is in total contradiction to what we all know is true morality, then they can be convinced to withdraw their consent.

    As John Adams said: “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people;… This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”

    The other challenge I see in reducing the state’s power is that they are the insurgency, all they have to do is wage a battle of attrition and they are almost impossible to beat. They do not have to battle threats head on, but just need to neutralize them as time is on their side. Their power has been ratcheting up for over 200 years while those who oppose them come and go is short bursts; Spooner, Rothbard, etc. We have to support families, we grow tired and we die. The growing power of the state does not slow when it’s soldiers die.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      The state counts on and doesn’t expect most people to do much in the way of protest. They have made it difficult and inconvenient to take your case to court. They know most people have important things to do like make a living rather than spend their time taking a ticket to court or some other matter. Even when someone does the deck is stacked against them as the state has the upper hand. The state often wants someone to beg permission to record in court. The state makes up silly rules to incovenience people. To have any chance of success generally requires one to hire a good attorney. Courts are a conflict of interest because the judge, prosecutor, and police all represent the same organization. The state will offer people a plea deal to sound like they are doing the person a favor as if a criminal who breaks one’s leg and gives them crutches is doing them a favor by giving them the crutches.

  11. JohnNo Gravatar says:

    Like Max Planck said: “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    The government has all bombs, most of the guns and thousands who would die to defend it, I don’t think we can beat it, but we can outgrow it. Raising children without force, unchoosen obligations or irrational mythologies is the only way forward for liberty.

  12. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    Good point. I’m impatient, though. Does this mean I need to go on a killing spree? J/K! 😉