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The Competing Institution Strategy

RecoveringAStudentAug 3, 2019, 4:21:46 PM

This essay is part of the Plan for Action series.

    One component of "negative knowledge" unlearn is the idea that one must destroy an enemy in order to defeat him. Now sure, if a criminal or invader is coming right at you, you have to fight. But failing systems, and currently powerful ones in particular, can be defeated by creating a competing institution that degrades support for the failing institution.

    In other words, there won't be a "revolution," but an "evolution" in which bad institutions are no longer called upon, and indeed become a nuisance when they were once seen as "vital."

Starting the new institutions

    When it comes time for this type of activism in your area, start with just one issue, such as education, or security, or production of some kind of good or service. The goal is not to start an organization, but an organized community of people who are committed to building a stateless, debt-free society, and doing so through that issue.

Build and replace

    Like The Lending Strategy, you aren't trying to destroy state institutions per say. You start with simply wanting freedom to operate, and once your program succeeds, two things happen:

    First, local people start coming to you instead of the "programs" because your program actually works. The most powerful example of this is the alternative education movement, because once people try it, they walk away from state-corporate "public" schools, because the new education just works.

    Second, because your program actually works, it is entirely possible that local or regional government start coming to you, instead of the other way around. In Debt Free by Design, I explained that one measure of success is the number of layers between a struggling person and destitution, and in our current age, we can see that the "social safety net" is stretched thin and breaking, in spite of high taxes.

    Once these happen, you have public support *and* dependency of state institutions upon you in order to deliver promises that they cannot deliver at all. This puts bargaining power in your hand, and in a time of crisis, you can negotiate a retreat of old programs and taxes. Once you do, promote the replacement elsewhere, so that more cities do so, creating a cultural snowball effect.

Targets for this strategy

Public schools are controlled by curriculum boards, and friends who have served on these boards have explained to me that the boards usually consist of clueless people, a corporate salesman, and maybe one token sane person to give dissent so that the process looks "open." We aren't looking for merely private schools, but different forms and methods of education entirely. Authors like John Taylor Gatto, and more recently Connor Boyack, have many excellent ideas for alternatives.

Food and energy are fundamental to life, yet many cities actively prevent local production of these vital basics. We can start with backyard gardens, but once the community is developed, settings up co-ops for power, community gardens, and so on can change the way people think about basic needs.

Housing is designed around maximum tax revenue, and also around the "house as an asset" myth that causes many to go into outrageous debt for living space. Alternatives like that seen in Earthbag or Sandbag housing, or building according to the Timeless Way of Building, can change the conversation from a multi-decade mortgage for "my greatest asset" to buying and building with cash for a durable consumer good. This changes the relationship people have with the banks.

Journalism is an important part of communication, and if you asked me, I would say that Minds is a leading competitive institution on this very issue. Building and promoting investigative journalism is critical to building momentum on all other issues.

Security is what libertarians consider to be the lynchpin of all statism - when people can prevent or fight criminality on their own, the entire notion of "I will belong to you if you protect me" is broken. There are a few institutions, like the Threat Management Centers, that are working on this very issue.

Time to take action

    I don't think there will be just one solution in this strategy, but the bottom line is, taking action by building a community of like-minded people will bring us the competing institutions that will transform society. And this action begins by transforming yourself.

If you liked this article, please take a moment to check out the Debt Free Society group, where we can continue the discussion.