Peace Requires Anarchy

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RE: What do you mean I could be “more radical”?

Hello Tom,

I commented on your video:

2:25 Rand: “I will support [endorse] the nominee.” Ugh. Shame on him. Rand Paul is a statist. Good commentary at the end. You can still be way more radical though, Mr. Woods.

And you replied with a Tweet:

What do you mean I could be “more radical”? This isn’t good enough?

First of all, I know you’re already aware of this, but I just want to say that it’s really great that you take the time to interact with your audience. The liberty movement can definitely benefit from more scholars willing to have conversations with average people. Your recent conversation with Greg in the comment section of your blog post on drip pans, for example, is worth noting.

It’s a very powerful gesture to actually reply to such comments rather than just ignore them. Many scholars would and do ignore such comments, including arguments a great deal more substantive than Greg’s. For example, Paul Krugman won’t even debate Robert Murphy. Who does he think he is? I think it’s clear that your approach is far better.

When I made my comment saying that you can be “more radical” I already knew that you were an anarchist. To be honest, though, that fact can be easy to forget when watching some of your videos.  It’s true that sometimes you make it clear that you are an anarchist, as you did in the clip of the video “Is Limited Government an Oxymoron?” (posted at the bottom of this blog post), but at other times it seems that everything you say is compatible with a small government conservative Republican’s beliefs.

What I meant to say with my comment was thus not that you can be more radical, but rather that you can act more radical. By this I mean you can challenge your audience’s beliefs more often. I think I am correct in saying that a majority of your audience supports government to some degree. Not all Ron Paul supporters are anarchists either, of course.

To be fair, the video that I commented on was one in which you were the interviewer and thus it probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for you to interject with your own views. You did state your own views in the commentary at the end though, but even then everything that you said could have been said by a small government conservative fed up with the rapid growth of the federal government.

So basically I often find myself urging you to say something to challenge your non-anarchist audience’s views and make them confront their support of government on a fundamental level. There’s a featured quote on your website that says:

“During these times that challenge our freedoms there is no one more qualified to make U.S. history relevant to the fight against big government than Thomas Woods.”
-Barry Goldwater Jr.
Former Member of Congress

Why the qualification “big”? I agree that you are very good at arguing against “big government.” The problem (if it is a problem) is that that this seems to be almost exclusively what you argue against. It’s rare that I see you argue against all government. I understand that you are opposed to all government and that you can argue well against all government, but you often choose not to at times when I wish you would.

You have managed to gather a large audience, however, so I will leave it to you to determine what you think the best strategy is for educating people about liberty. Should you mainly preach to the choir–argue for the liberties that your audience already believes in–or should you argue for the remaining few liberties that many in your audience do not currently support?

If you agree with my intuition that bringing up the more “radical” subjects more often is a good thing, then perhaps a good time to begin is when Obama is re-elected in a few months. There are probably many non-anarchists in your audience still hoping that Ron Paul will save the day. Once they see that politically he has failed, perhaps they will realize how successful he has been at what really matters–educating people and spreading the ideas of liberty–and thus will possibly be more open to learning about the “radical” notion of consistent support of peace.

Thanks for reading this, Tom. I appreciate what you do.

Will Kiely