What is the alternative to The State?

Consumer-Controlled Governments

The State should be replaced by consumer-controlled governance.

Consumer-controlled governance will begin when violence-based funding ends. You will set your own budget for governance and choose your own providers of governmental services. We will create a culture of choice. Choices like these . . .

  • Habitat for Humanity vs. HUD
  • Underwriters Laboratories or NSF International vs. OSHA and the FDA
  • A personal security firm vs. tax-funded police
  • Decentralized approaches to national defense vs. a politically managed centralized military

You can fire and replace consumer-controlled institutions. Governmental services need to work the same way. If you want to rule government, rather than having The State rule you, please join us by subscribing to our free email newsletter.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

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Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

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Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of DownsizeDC.org, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of RealCampaignReform.org, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

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Show Comments 33


    1. The American (traditional) response, I believe would be the individual masses forged by the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

  1. > A politically managed centralized military vs. decentralized approaches
    As currently written, this implies the centralized military is the non-state version. I think you want to swap the order of these.

  2. The US Postal Service can be eliminated by granting first class mail privileges to Federal Express and UPS.

    1. Glen, We’re not advocating it be eliminated. We are suggesting that it should find voluntary funding, like all other non-criminal enterprises do. If it can still compete, great. If not, perhaps some of its infrastructure would be valuable to FedEx or UPS. Or, perhaps it is closed, as you suggest.

  3. What kind of government do I want?
    One which I can ignore or opt out of with no consequences.
    One which doesn’t interfere with (or ration) justice.
    One which I never even notice.
    One which never initiates force nor violates property rights.
    One which never pretends it can have any rights or “authority”.
    One which can’t grant privileges.
    One which doesn’t go beyond staying out of my way while I defend my own rights, or the rights of others I choose to assist.
    One which is never externally imposed on anyone.
    So, what kind of government do I want? Self-responsibility.

    1. I love this response. That is exactly the kind of goverment I want and the exact opposite of the type of government our bureaucrats have built. A giant dependent class of people that justify,s their job the bureaucrats want to continually grow the goverment want more and more people dependent on the goverment less and less personal responsibility.
      Half of the people pay for the government use very little government services. The other half pay all most nothing and use all the government services they can sign up for.
      If we paid for the services we use the government would be way smaller.

      1. My remarks were taken from the book – “The Market for Liberty” . It’s available in all formats including audio book, all for free. I highly recommend it to anyone who wonders how a society without a coercive government would function.

        1. And with votes for women…and municipal water has generally been an improvement, except recently in Flint, Michigan…

  4. The family is the basic political unit of society. Tribal societies are extended families. States extend an external control structure through the societies they govern, that is separate from the family. Thus, the historic contest between Tribe and State, operated during most of recorded history.
    Curiously, the winners of this contest, were often the political leaders who governed at the least cost.
    The Roman and Persian Empires fought each other in a death struggle for 700 years…Rome itself, collapsed, and it’s powers were assumed by Byzantium. Typical Byzantine and Persian citizens paid 50% of all they made, to their states, to pay for the continuing war.
    Islam arose on the Arabian Peninsula and ended the conflict. The Islamic state collected 7% of everything it’s citizens made, as a tax.
    Conquered people saw their tax rate fall from 50% to 7%…or 12% if they didn’t convert to Islam.
    Thus, the rapid spread of Islam, was driven by economics. People prospered under it, because it spent so little of their money.

  5. “We will create a culture of choice. Choices like these . . .”
    A choice where each man can realize his full potential by acting in his own self interest. Where each person has a right to his own life,property, lifestyle and mind.
    A choice to hire an a arbiter, instead of so called “legal mumbo jumboo”, for solving disputes and reimbursement of damages.
    A choice where no person can force him to do anything against his own will.
    A choice to use the markets free from manipulation, taxation and coercion.
    A choice of using a market free from price controls with barter, money, precious metals or anything else of his choosing when in need of either providing or using products and services.
    A choice to purchase foods which are free from harmful ingredients
    A choice of where to share his assets be it charity donations, purchasing public property, health care, etc.
    A choice to lend or borrow free from intervention from non participants of ones contract. (bankers, etc).
    A choice of how to spend ones life with activities without barriers such as school, sales, writing, production of goods and services, etc.
    A choice of medical procedures where government mandated rules, regulations, licenses and degrees are not a requirement for service providers and medicines.
    A choice of living in a society where people are not harshly punished, rather made to either reimburse the harmed party or live a life outside the free markets. (very harsh indeed).
    A choice of living in a country where wars are pretty much impossible to occur. (Why would another country invade a land of private citizens?) (Arbitration would be the best way to solve disputes of any international nature)
    A choice to not live in fear of police, or anyone else, with a coercive personality.
    … and that’s just the start.

    1. Great post!
      Some folks may not realize just how the above narrative could be accomplished. Much of it is succinctly outlined in the classic book The Market for Liberty. It’s freely available online in all computer formats including audio book.

  6. It can never happen without God. Men are not to be trusted. That is why as bad as it is we need government until Jesus returns to set up his 1000 year kingdom. AMEN! So be it

    1. Just exactly who do you believe makes up these governments you feel “we need”, if not those men you say are “not to be trusted”?
      If god can somehow make men good enough to govern others, why do you doubt his ability to make men good enough to govern themselves? Seems contradictory to me.

      1. Yes, Kent, this is the same argument T.J. used to refute Hamilton’s defense of authoritarianism.

      2. You make a good point here, and one that the Founding Fathers addressed. Though varied in their beliefs, (Samuel Adams was a Christian, Thomas Jefferson was a deist, to the best of my knowledge) they all agreed that to concentrate power in the hands of a few, (or one) was a fast road to tyranny. OTOH, they weren’t fond of democracy either: as Benjamin Franklin once said of democracy, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on what is for dinner.” They saw a representative republic as the best way to protect the rights of self-governance and yet still have individual rights safeguards. Self governance was supported by the Christians who participated in the founding of this country, including James Madison, Samuel Adams and others. They certainly believed that God through Jesus Christ was fully able to make men good enough to govern themselves, and angels as well. 🙂

    2. I grant that individual men, acting alone, cannot be trusted to constantly and consistently hold to principle . If individuals are not to be trusted, it follows that the fewer the rulers, the less they can be trusted, because they have fewer competing self-interests. As a Christian, this suggests to me that the more broadly the power is spread until Jesus returns the better. Jefferson and Madison agreed, in spite of their theological differences, that government should have minimal power. By this they intended the power to protect the rights and property of the citizen is the just limit of government. What we have currently would by no means be considered just government by the Founders, nor by Jesus. Frankly, it really wouldn’t by Paul either, whose thoughts in Romans 13 have been badly mistranslated by rulers with an agenda. Chuck Baldwin, a former Constitution party candidate, sets the record straight, and you can find out more here:
      http://www.romans13truth.com and http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/109/ID/320/Romans-13-Setting-It-Straight.aspx

  7. I consider myself very libertarian, but I am still not entirely sold on the idea of voluntary criminal justice. What do you do when the criminal declines to submit to your arbiter of choice, or has hired a stronger security firm than you can afford? It seems to me that the latter case is the actual source of the modern state, at least in Europe.

    1. I don’t see how States provide justice of any kind, ever. The rob, they cage, they punish… but justice? If it ever happens, it is an accident.
      Instead of restitution they levy “fines”, wherein they steal money from the person they decide is guilty of breaking their rules… and keep it for themselves. They are more concerned over those who break counterfeit rules than those who initiate force or violate private property- probably because the bullies of the State are the primary aggressors and property violators in society today, and being too hard on that sort of thing might get people’s attention and make some notice the hypocrisy. Of course, they also consider the State to be the victim in almost all “criminal” cases. So, anyone who believes in States, due to not seeing how justice might work in a free society, seems to me to be ignoring reality and simply sticking to the status quo.
      That being said… there would probably evolve many different and competing forms of justice in a free society.
      Since you wouldn’t be choosing the arbiter, the violator (let’s leave the State’s word “criminal” out of it for now) might not see it as such a threat. You both could just have a list of several that are agreeable to you, and find one on both lists. Or you could contract with a third party who would handle the arbitration for you., working from a list of arbiters acceptable to each of you
      If he refuses to go to arbitration you are free to tell everyone he shirks his responsibilities- because regardless of his guilt, that IS his responsibility. In the past it was easy to run away from a bad reputation. It is getting harder, and in a free society it might be almost impossible. Also, if you chose to take your restitution from him personally, and didn’t do damage in excess of what the arbiters decreed you were due, that could be the end of it.
      It is possible there might be some form of violent bounty system for some unrepentant violators (not that I would like to see that, but I know many people are addicted to that sort of thing). I don’t believe I’d ever hire one, and I don’t believe there is any instance where someone would feel the need to send one after me.
      As to hiring a stronger security force… they would still be subject to the same rules as any other individual: initiate force and someone can use whatever level of force it takes to stop you. Trespass, and you are again subject to defensive violence. Plus, the person who hired you could also be held accountable for hiring aggressors, so it would be very risky to contract with someone known to be an aggressor. If a security firm gets into situations like that, it wouldn’t be worth it to hire them. They’d better keep their noses clean.
      You could go on about possibilities all day long. There is probably no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question.
      But, there will NEVER be perfect justice. Just the potential to get a lot closer than what exists now.

    2. Geoff, you have answered your own concern about libertarian justice when you note that what you fear might happen in a libertarian society is already happening. You can’t say: “The libertarian alternative is too uncertain because it might give us what we have now” and make sense. You can say: “The lib alternative might not help, but it can’t be any worse” and that works.

      1. D.T.M. would be the best voluntarist promoting documentary. It answers the fear/need for protection using non-violent, thoughtful, humane social interaction, in place of the present coercive policing by a monopoly.

  8. In our country you have as much justice as you can afford the more money you have the more justice you get.

  9. Land rent is violence based funding as well, isn’t it? Unless a broad consent is reached on it and continually renewed. Which might involve dividends to all individuals to be funded from the land rent, instead of having all the unimproved land value deliver unearned income to a lucky few.

    The Alaska Permanent Fund might provide some interesting perspective in the context.

  10. A nice idea, but as one founding father pointed out, It takes a moral people to conduct moral govern. Ever since the people have been kicking God out of our lives the morality of America has taken a crash dive.

    1. Lawrence: I have followed the ZAP (Zero Aggression Principle) since I was 8 (1950). I have always been an atheist. I found a reasoned philosophical argument for my moral stance when I read “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand. She challenged the religious monopoly on morality and removed “morality based on authority” with a moral code based on reason.

      No one can “kick” an idea/belief out of your life but you. It is the responsibility of each of us to develop our own way in life by thinking for ourselves. No one can do it for us. Not even a supernatural being, if you believe such is possible. You are still responsible for your beliefs. I judge people by their beliefs and I am prepared to be judged by them as well. That is logical, not authoritarian.

      1. My main gripe with Rand is that the she seemingly(?) takes a fundamentally flawed and immoral system of homesteading as the basis for her selfishness. In contrast with the account if homesteading that classical liberals such as John Locke provided ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockean_proviso ).

        Surely it’s legitimate to come first and homestead with your work, but surely the condition Locke attached is important: For there to be enough and as good, and particularly without having to bend to the will of whoever came first. One’s work cannot entitle to becoming a modern highwayman. And it especially cannot be used to justify taking away the sense of autonomy, control over one’s own life from another. (David Graeber also iterates on this point, maybe interesting: https://harpers.org/archive/2018/06/punching-the-clock/ )

        I think the golden rule and a sense of autonomy are circumstances to protect and/or establish in the first place, where homesteading today increasingly means taking and not leaving enough and as good for others. At least that’s my self-interested take on where I’d want to go.

  11. Voluntaryist: Agreed on the criticism of religion. I for my part consider a society decently functional in which its members recognize that fairness in the sense of equality of opportunity is beautiful and in which people are free enough to act upon realizing that sense of fairness for each other. Whatever gods we welcome into our lives or not wouldn’t really affect that.

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