Why should you tackle the five hardest issues first?

Pillar Strategy
Use the Pillar Strategy to collapse the mental structure of statism

What if there was a persuasion strategy that toppled all statist “exceptions” to voluntaryism?

Ultimately, most objections to the Zero Aggression Principle revolve around the notion that it’s an “unrealistic” or unattainable goal. To illustrate that point, people make specific policy exceptions. It’s these exceptions which keep them from becoming voluntaryists.

These exceptions can cover a wide variety of issues. You’ll lack time and expertise — and your objecting friend will lack the patience — to address them all. Moreover, the “Pillar Strategy” suggests that addressing all of them is a waste of time.

The Pillar Strategy is…

Knock-out the foundational necessities of a paradigm first, so as to topple the structure of that belief system.

Don’t waste your time on minor, brick-by-brick issues. Go after the very things that seem to most necessitate a need for The State.

Pillars are integral supports, much like legs on a stool. Likewise, there are certain pieces of a statist’s philosophy that are foundational to their conception of the world. Indeed, most people (even many libertarians) assume that aggression is needed to…

  1. Fund a military
  2. Furnish courts and criminal justice system
  3. Assess taxes
  4. Help the poor
  5. Fight pollution

These particular ideas, about how a government must work, are like a well-guarded fortress of the mind. The person you’re trying to persuade will be more highly resistant than usual to a post-statist solution. You’ll be tempted to avoid these matters and instead present ideas where agreement is more likely.

But we’ve found this persuasion strategy rarely works. Mere days after what seemed like a fruitful discussion, people will forget agreeing with you (the Rubberband Effect). Why?

  • The pillars reinforce the idea that The State is a necessity.
  • If you already have a State, then it might as well help with other things.

However, if you can knock-out foundational pieces of The State, the payoff is huge. Pull these pillars, then it becomes much more obvious how the smaller issues can be better handled with a voluntaryist approach.

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

Facebook Twitter Google+

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

Facebook Twitter

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.

Does this way of thinking intrigue you? Want to learn more or participate in creating such a society? Then join the Zero Aggression Project using this subscription form…

Subscribe form for Lever Pages


Show Comments 35


  1. I have been considered inflexible by many of my friends because of these kinds of arguments. The funny thing is, I’m not really the inflexible party usually. So thanks for helping me out with that. I have a hard time expressing myself with statists.

  2. There is no “why?” the ‘verse exists. Cause/effect exist IN the ‘verse, the ‘verse does not exist within cause/effect. First, there is a ‘verse we conceive, then we contemplate how it works, e.g., the physical laws, the mechanisms of change. The systematic contemplation of reality is called metaphysics, and relatively new. It began with Aristotle, the father of science. After metaphysics comes epistemology, the study of how we know, of knowledge. Their order of importance is essential for avoiding confusion and dead end philosophy. All philosophical schools can be divided into two, Aristotelian and Platonic, i.e., objective and subjective. The first starts with the study of “What is”, of reality, and the second starts with introspection, the assumption that the mental process is primary, before anything else. Putting the mental first leads to superstition. Putting reality first leads to science, and endless knowledge. Ignorance of this “necessary order” is the norm worldwide. This is why superstition, e.g., worship of authority, is so prevalent. If it were assumed that knowledge was dependent on reality, that the workings of the mind were physical manifestations of natural laws, that “We live in the ‘verse, not the other way around”, then reason would be the norm, not faith. This would be an objective epistemology without limits of what could be learned, with the labor of thought. It would be a second enlightenment, but one founded on an explicit understanding that objectivity comes first, before emotion, before wishes, before hopes, before dreams, before imagination. Before we can be certain we know what we believe, we must get our priorities straight.

    1. Excuse me. I meant to “paste” another essay as comment here. When I saw it was the wrong one I couldn’t figure out how to erase it. I just left the page without clicking “Submit comment” thinking that would do it. I was wrong.

  3. I’m trying to be honest with you. I probably agree with you most of the time, but I’m too lazy to look up all your terms, although I just did look up some of them. Why can’t you just write in plain English what you mean?

    I like to be free. I like to not be spied on by government. I think the government is taxing me illegally via the income tax. I think the Federal Government is out of control and not following the Constitution. I don’t like the idea that I have to worry what I do on my own property. I don’t like the idea that I have to pay property tax or lose my property to the government, which means I really don’t own my property, the government does. I don’t like having to pay for wars that I don’t think are defensive. I don’t think government should rob Peter to pay Paul with the welfare state. I think that should come from nongovernmental charities.

    Am I a Libertarian? I don’t know. I like freedom, but I don’t want to see anarchy. I won’t feel free until the government doesn’t know who I am. That means no income tax, no spying on the phones or internet, no police state atmosphere. There are too many rules and regulations in many areas, but yet they will not let us know what is in our food, they will not prevent the contamination of our food with pesticides, GMO’s, etc. and they force vaccinations on many and cause more death with so called legal drugs than illegal ones. It’s a screwed up world.

  4. I recommend we go to the heart of the problem of statism: Worship of the initiation of force. Once one gives up that illusion, that faith in force, the particular solutions to social problems will not be a major problem. We struggle with all sorts of problems, personally and collectively. No one would suggest that a personal problem, such as shyness, should be solved by aggression. That would be considered a joke. But our survival as a species in the event of a worldwide threat would probably be considered the realm of govt., i.e., forcing everyone into contributing to a centralized authoritarian solution.

    We need to replace the statist/authoritarian mentality with an individualist/voluntary mentality. Then all other problems will be solved without violence, quickly and effectively.

    1. Yes. The ZAP is one libertarian idea that applies to all issues. Convince someone to apply it consistently and everything else follows. Alas, some minds are very good at avoiding this kind of intellectual consistency.

      1. Far too many people see the use of force as a necessary evil. They cannot see outside of the box they have been raised in and therefore cannot conceive of solutions that do not involve initiated force. When alternatives are proposed, they dismiss them because—within their mental model of the world—those ideas cannot work without the use of initiated force.

        It’s difficult to get ants to see the world outside of their own hill.

        1. What you say is true of many but not true of all. The few it is not true of is enough to make progress. Progress brings increased resources to make new ideas more visible, and the more people encounter a new idea the less strange it seems.

          I began this work in 1980. At that time, whenever I would explain my views people would respond by saying that I was a communist. That was because they could only hold three ideas in their head — Republican, Democrat, and communist. So, since I wasn’t a D or an R I must be a communist. But things have changed dramatically over the past 38 years. Roughly 65 million people now identify as libertarian, and many of the rest know the word. I see this transformation as a tremendous reason for optimism.

          1. I completely agree, Perry, I wasn’t trying to sound hopeless or discourage anyone from making progress. I was merely lamenting the mindset that I run into so often.

    2. So the crazy terrorist will be stopped by a wall of positive thinking? Or is self-defense okay? If it is, isn’t that violent?

      I am extremely tired of the narrow-minded “all or nothing” arguments. Unqualified statements do no good and only muddy the issue.

      1. @Michael, there’s a difference between initiating aggression and responding to it. You have every right to protect yourself from aggression someone else initiates.

        1. Yes, that is quite correct, and hence my comments.

          Further, I don’t see any Libertarian, Voluntaryist or other, standing up to defend against the aggression of the state.

          Promoting a position and acting on it are obviously two different things. And if they don’t do that, it remains every man for himself. Talk is cheap. Actions count.

          1. Come on out to Phoenix and you can see how my teammates and I are doing just that every week.

          2. I agree, it is time for those of us who believe in ZAP figure out some ways of countering the violence of the state on an organized basis.
            The best argument I have ever heard for the state boiled down to the fact that organized initiation of violence always trumps defensive unorganized individual response to violence.
            Perhaps we need an organization of our own. A sort of underground railroad of support for those being aggressed against by the state. Taking a page from Gandhi and other pacifistic resistors we could try to make the state live up to its own standards – aka fight them in their courts. Sure we will loose most of these battles but it may cost them the resources that they need to win the war.
            The homeschooling movement has a good example of just the sort of thing I am talking about – they have sympathetic lawyers that will work for the homeschoolers, and a sort of legal insurance and backing association to help homeschoolers deal with the states overreaching.
            Why can we not, as libertarians come up with some key issues that we have a chance of legally defeating the state on, and form a sort of legal insurance association to help pay for legal battles against the state in these areas?
            I recommend the areas include eminent domain and asset forfeiture to start with. Both are already political hot potatoes for the state, where majority opinion is against the federal government stance and behaviours.
            Perhaps there are other issues we should also include?
            And when an association/insured member is aggressed against in a case around these issues the ZAP association will work with other related groups to defend the rights of the individuals bringing media attention and legal representation to fight the state.
            Eventually when those issues are decisively won for the ZAP, we could move onto making support associations other issues – like informed self medication (decriminalizing marijuana, and other self medication at a federal level) fully informed consent for all purchases (require listing of all ingredients and sources of food stuffs), etc, etc.
            And by loosely associating these ‘self insurance’ groups to a central guiding group with a unifying ZAP principle we can draw in people who believe in the single cause to examine how a similar stance on other issues could work.

  5. Larken Rose is going on tour to teach voluntarists how to get across our ideas in two day seminars. The 1st will be in Phoenix in May, then Redlands, CA. You can buy tickets for $115 at his FB page.

  6. I had an exchange like this with a socialist-educated friend recently. My friend was bent out of shape at the Trump Administration’s budget cut to Meals On Wheels. She felt it was horribly mean-spirited to shut down a small program that did so much good. I tried to explain to her the violence that is done daily to our seniors, who lose a house because they cannot afford to pay their taxes, as an argument why the violence makes taxing inhumane. She disrespected me by calling my violence argument hypothetical. She was unwilling to believe that any actual living flesh-and-blood person ever lost a house to taxes. Or if they did, that they might have suffered any angst over it.

    So I threw a different argument at her. “Would you agree, that since nobody has ever been to Mars, that we should ask those people who really, truly, desperately want to know what’s on the Martian surface, to pay for NASA’s Mars program, instead of forcing taxpayers to pay for it?” And she immediately agreed with me.

    (FYI: Most of the people reading my post, probably won’t realize that NASA’s primary function is to do research on the design of passenger airliners and jet engines. It taxes money away from airline companies to do that research, because otherwise, other taxes affecting airline companies would spend that money first and the research would be done in other countries, making the US dependent on imported airplanes to transport people. Nowhere in the course of any of this, does anybody reason out whether there’s something particularly bad about depending on imported airplanes, that justifies using a tax to keep the planes being made here. Nor why it’s necessary to fly astronauts to Mars, to keep the airliner-design agency’s funding protected. Nor what’s wrong with simply lowering taxes for everybody. Eventually, the practice of avoiding the hard issues leads to inaction. Wrongfulness accumulates, because nobody speaks against it.)

    1. @Bob Schubring, it’s easy to get a list of tax lien houses for sale in your area. Every single one of those houses was stolen from someone by the state because the owner did not or could not pay their property taxes. It would be interesting to hear her response to that list.

    2. The flaw in the argument you make is that vast majority of citizens have no problem whatsoever with paying a fair and minimal tax. They never have. Those that demand we pay no taxes are almost minuscule in number, and are in contrast to the concept of the citizenry’s implied contract with their country unit.

      Your friend was correct; eliminating Meals on Wheels is hateful, niggardly, disgusting and mean-spirited. It shows a lack of empathy and is only supported by sociopaths. Rather than arguing about that, we should be discussing how to eliminate the trillion dollars wasted on the military when we can already beat any and all comers in the world.

      Worrying about the homes that are taken from people must take into account the circumstances in the history of the foreclosure, the relative weight of taking tax money to pursue that versus say pursuing the wealthy who do not pay their fair share and other worthier pursuits, the actual ability to find meaningful, appropriate and gainful employment in our society, and what is just and fair overall and in each situation.

      That situation required sympathy, followed up by a discussion about how to fix the national budget and how to make everyone pay their fair share based upon some simple Libertarian concepts.

      1. Actually, the Meals on Wheels example refutes almost every point you’ve made in your posts here. Nearly all of that programs’ funding comes from voluntary funding, NOT taxes. Only 3% comes from taxes. And the moment there was news that this tax-funding might be cut, more than enough voluntary donations flooded in to cover the loss.

        Your assumptions about human nature are WRONG. Most of us have a self-interest in the interests of others. This empathy is hardwired into our brains. Neuroscientists have shown us that the thrill we get from giving to others is chemically similar to using cocaine. Given that, there is no need for your violence-based approach. Sociopaths — those who lack empathy — are a tiny minority of the populace. Alas, many of that minority are attracted to politics, because power attracts the corruptible. In summary…

        You are wrong in your assumptions about humanity, and you are wrong in your assumptions about the benevolence of political power. I encourage you to repent of your love of violence and instead embrace the path of zero aggression.

        1. It is good to know that Meals on Wheels is funded by contributions. With that said, I would like to know who is funding it, or is it an organization or exactly how that breaks down.

          But you are totally wrong, wrong, wrong about humanity. History shows that my position is correct. Empathy is not hard-wired into our brains, else there would be no sociopaths.

          Plus, you are the one who is shouting. Maybe it is just your naturally violent nature shining thru. 😉

          You are also wrong about your assumptions. I never advocated a violence-based approach, that political power is benevolent or that I love violence.

          But let me ask you, what do you do with the criminal?

      2. @Michael March, it’s puzzling that you use terms like “just” and “fair” when talking about using violence to accomplish theft. If the thief steals more from poor people than from rich, your solution is to have them steal more from the rich? How about they stop stealing from everyone?

        1. @Michael Gibbs March
          I did not advocate theft. You appear confused about the social contract citizens have with each other and their country.

          We all get together and set up a list of rules. That is actually what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is. We either abide by it or we don’t. We can’t pick and choose which parts we will support.

          Everyone wants to change those documents, just like Voluntaryist Libertarians. Only the methods by which to accomplish that actually change. The Libs want to preach the truth until everyone accepts it, but that will never, ever happen, and we all know that.

          Just to be clear, violence is not just or fair, but is necessary when a criminal needs to be captured and incarcerated for the benefit of the common good. Nobody likes it, but some must do it. Even you advocate that.

          It is a form of self-defense. Do you think that is just and fair?

          1. @Michael, you are absolutely advocating theft. “We” did not get together and sign the social contract and even if “we” had, it does not give you any authority you didn’t have before, such as a higher claim to my time and effort than I have. And, of course, if I resist when you take my property, you send people with guns to impose your will on me through force. That’s the initiation of aggression by government on your behalf.

            If you want a good primer on the zero aggression principle, I suggest you go to youtube.com and watch “The Philosophy if Liberty.” It’s well worth the 8 minutes it will take.

        2. Obviously you don’t know the meaning of violence. Libertarians here advocate against it, but when it comes to defending what is “theirs”, they are all in favor of it. You’d think they had never heard of Mahatma Gandhi.

          And of course there is a social contract. It is implied. Because if citizens don’t like it here they can leave. Unless we actually fought against it, we have exactly what we wanted. So the saying “Love it or leave it” really comes into play.

          If you want to know what actually is theft, just look in the dictionary.

  7. I have a number of Democrat/ Socialists in my family who have accused me of being a Corporatist Republican just for mentioning that Obama prosecuted more whistle blowers than any other President, Or, that Hilary’s Campaign undermined the campaigns of all the other Republican candidates because they knew they could beat Trump, then they stole 9 Primaries from Bernie. As much as I try to tell them that the Dems are as corrupt as the Republicans, they seem to be blinded by the bullshit they see on TV. They seem to think that only big government can keep Corporations from taking over. I say Big Corporations, like the Federal Reserve, run the federal government and use it to steal from and enslave the people. If they can get this pissed at me, I can only imagine the animosity they feel for people that are Republicans.
    The masses have been deliberately turned against each other, Add to this a Market Collapse the likes of 1929, and the World Bankers pushing a new World Currency, and it seems apparent that we need a plan out of this!

  8. I do not regard these 5 issues as tough issues. I can offer tougher ones. My answers to these 5 are:

    1) Fund a military. – Let’s not have a military. True it is far easier said than done, but the reply IS easy. The tough part is that there some people want to create a military, and therefore will have a government whether we like it or not. So the tough question is rather, how to deal with spontaneously appearing armies. You DO need a government to contain the military much like you need a sewer to contain spontaneously appearing sewage. Funding a military is like funding sewage. The sewage will appear on its own. You don’t need to fund it.
    2) Furnish courts and criminal justice system. – People can fund their own arbitration, but implicit in this “hard” question is the desire to fund prisons, to put dangerous people out of sight and out of mind. Again, some people will imprison others whether we like it or not, but we don’t need to fund prisons. Rather, we should look to our churches and voluntary peaceful civic organizations to deal with dangerous people. After all, what happens if someone decides that YOU are dangerous?
    3) Assess taxes – Get RID of taxes. I recommend a third house of Congress, with a veto, where seats are auctioned off for one-year terms. It deflects bribery from other authority, reveals the source of such influence, and provides financial feedback on government activities.
    4) Help the poor – “Poor” is a relative term. We will always have poor. A free market lifts all boats. Churches and voluntary peaceful civic organizations help the poor best, because they know better when to stop aid, and can stop it quickly.
    5) Fight pollution – Pollution is always worse where regulation is greater, because people have fewer resources and far less freedom to prevent pollution. If a corporation causes significant pollution, boycotting is far more effective than any regulation, because of regulatory capture. Regulations eventually become implicit government monopolies run by the monopolies for their own benefit.

    Truly tough libertarian questions include:
    1) Extent of property rights of some versus freedom of movement and freedom of speech of others.
    2) Freedom to make mistakes in designing government, especially at the local level.
    3) Fine lines between corporation and civil government.
    4) Fine lines between rudeness and aggression.
    5) Controlling others with drugs versus simply filling a demand for drugs.

    I do not mean to imply that I endorse force for ANY of these situations, but that it is very hard to come up with a succinct reply.

    1. “…it is very hard to come up with a succinct reply.” Hard and a waste of time. When you have beaten down every argument against your “replies” the listener will walk away unimpressed. That is because you did not address the primary basis for the statist’s superstition. The same with any religion. Statists do not obtain their “faith” by reasoning. Therefore, they are unlikely to abandon them for good reason. They will remain faithful. That is a hallmark of faith.

      If you want to put doubt in faith you must find the emotional tie to the faith. You must help the listener out of their contradictions using their own words/beliefs/thoughts. You can only guide by respecting the person’s ability to reflect on his inner ideas, as he has not done before. With your guidance and his integrity, his courage to search through his ideas, comparing and contrasting, he will make new break throughs.

      Larkin Rose has worked out a way to do this and is presenting a seminar on it in various cities. See his FB page for details.

      1. Very true. To quote Dr. James W. Lark III, you have to help people to convince themselves. They have to come up with the arguments against their own statism.

    2. Wonderful post, IMHO. A few comments, if I may.

      1. If we don’t fund a military, we won’t have one when we need one. It is impossible to stay abreast of the latest technology without constant research, and that takes money. That does not mean we need to build up the military with every single latest piece of technology we invent, but we must be ready to build the latest very quickly when we need it.

      A lean and mean military is best, and the most inexpensive.

      2. Without a standard for the application of justice, we will see the problem we have now, where every state or jurisdiction does its own interpretation of the law. That is hardly equitable. And we’ve got to have prisons, but they can be mostly self-supporting.

      3. There is no way to get rid of taxes completely (see at least number one), but if they are a small pittance compared to current ones, then they are hardly onerous. Everyone pays the exact same percentage in an equitable system.

      4. A free market does not lift all boats. That only works if everyone has the same relative resources and abilities. Further, it should be stated that a free market is most definitely not a capitalistic one. It must be driven by worker ownership rather than corporate ownership.

      5. Pollution exists outside of regulation. Regulation only comes into play when individuals or corporate leadership are not concerned with people and the environment.

      While you are correct about boycotting polluters, I just don’t see our self-centered populace boycotting auto manufacturers because they don’t want to use petroleum products any longer, nor buying only organic because it is better for them and the land. Convenience outweighs good intentions. Only regulation forces everyone into the same boat, one way or the other. Public shaming might help if violence is not used.

      At the end of the day, the natural tendency of the populace will be wait until it is too late to make any change, because they do not want to deny themselves or go out of their way to make the world a better place. That is just human nature.

      The sooner that all people can recognize the problem with human nature, as well as recognizing the difference between allowing everyone to have their own sovereign space versus maintaining a clean and healthy environment for all, whether or not everyone cares for that, the sooner we will see the correct place for taxes that pay for the regulation of these things. Again, taxes need not be onerous, but they must exist.

Leave a Comment:

Fields marked with * are required