It seems to be a common but fallacious belief amongst minarchists and other people who are partly against the State (and even some Anarchists, sadly) that there are only two kinds of methods that one can use to bring about politico-social change: violent revolution (civil war) and political means (activism, voting and fielding candidates). They also believe that anyone who preaches against political means (such as us) must therefore wish for a violent revolution.
Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course. The fact of the matter is that neither of these methods have ever worked. Violent revolutions have never brought about lasting freedom. Political means cannot engender anything but more political means (voting only expands the legitimacy of the State, activism can only create more State power). Both of these methods are coercive and qualify as “violence.” The only method used by all successful freedom movements has been principled disengagement and principled resistance- in short, non-violence.
In the case of ending the State, political means cannot by definition attain such ends, but violent revolution would also present major problems. Even if the State was toppled, people’s ironclad belief in the State as preserver of order would not be toppled. What we would see is an even worse situation: local governments tyrannical enough to ensure that they are not taken down in the same way, and with the full assent of their subjects. This would be a disastrous situation indeed.
People cannot be coerced into freedom. Hence, the use of the free market, education, persuasion, and non-violent resistance as the primary ways to change people’s ideas about the State. The voluntaryist insight, that all tyranny and government are grounded upon popular acceptance, explains why voluntary means are sufficient to attain that end.
Another specific problem with using violence in order to attain anti-State ends, is that such violence makes one a statist. The State is commonly defined as a monopoly of force, but I prefer to define it as a monopoly of legitimate force. Obviously anyone can still kill anyone in a statist system, but his killing is not considered legitimate, while his execution by the State would be considered a legitimate killing. The State, by its very nature, seeks to deligitimize crimes committed by other factions or individuals, while legitimizing its own crimes.
The violent activist obviously sees his own use of violence as legitimate, otherwise he would not be committing it. He also sees the State’s violence as illegitimate, otherwise he would not be fighting against it. Therefore, by using violence, the activists necessarily sees himself and his group as a monopoly (or as part of a monopoly) of legitimate force! This assumed monopoly is no less of a State than the current State. And indeed we see the inevitable result in all violent revolutions: all “revolutionaries” turn out to be even more cruel and bankrupt than those they fought against, including the American case.
From my point of view the killing of another, except in defense of human life, is archistic, authoritarian, and therefore, no Anarchist can commit such deeds. It is the very opposite of what Anarchism stands for…
Joseph Labadie, Anarchism and Crime
There cannot, therefore be such a thing as a violent Anarchist revolution or an Anarchist voting bloc. Such an expression contradicts itself by its very nature. There are very minor exceptions, but I don’t think they need to be considered here.