Liberty in Our Lifetime: Lessons from Prague
In a city that looks like Paris meets the Iron Curtain, with nice restaurants, city tours, and where I was even able to shoot an AK-47 at a gun range (after going through training and while under supervision), I attended the 2022 Liberty in our Lifetime event in Prague. Last month the “City of 100 Spires” hosted an international gathering of who’s-who of libertarians, Austrians, and others in the free market crowd. Parallel Structures, referring to the creation or use of a voluntary system instead of or in replacement of an involuntary one, was the conference theme, a concept foreign to most, but not for long.
Cryptocurrencies exemplify this idea. For better or worse, cryptocurrencies are used for exchange when two parties do not want to transact in a national currency. Bitcoin is probably the most well known parallel structure, but this can be applied to any new system which attempts to escape the State’s monopoly of force.
Homeschooling is another parallel structure. Consider that property taxes are typically used to support State sponsored schooling. But schooling for some is socialist indoctrination for others. For those able and willing, homeschooling offers a viable solution; the caveat, like all parallel structures, is that the onus is on the individual for success or failure.
Fortunately, little things have a way of turning into much bigger things. With the emergence of parallel structures, their continual implementation and eventual growth provides solutions the world desperately needs, with the possibility of eventually supplanting the State entirely. One day, we may very well find ourselves living in the world's first Free Private City, as written about by Titus Gebel in his book Free Private Cities, who also presented at the event.
There appears to be two methods these structures can be implemented. I alluded to this a few weeks ago, about how something needs to change or else socialism will consume us all.
Either we change the system from within, or remove ourselves from the system entirely; if not by internal change or external flight, eventually we’ll be consumed by it.
At the conference, there were some groups wanting to create private dwellings in the ocean on moveable pods which could be physically joined to form communities. There were other groups promoting the “digital nomad” lifestyle, for those who have the option of living and working in various countries across the globe. The idea of flight is understandable, and historically a winning strategy under repressive regimes, in which a societal transformation seems all but impossible.
However, there were also those who wanted to stay, essentially fighting the government to better society. One non-profit organization in South Africa called Sakeliga describes itself a “club of businesses, professionals and investors together taking up their constitutional duty to resist state power, help establish a just commercial order, and form thriving trade and financial networks.” I was fortunate enough to meet the Executive Director Russell Lamberti, an Austrian economist, author, and investor who has written several articles for the Mises Institute. In his presentation he made it clear that South Africa is his home, and his organization intends to use litigation and all legal means to thwart government corruption and overreach.
The involuntary nature of government will always make it a force for evil. The real question is whether it’s possible to escape the system through fleeing or fighting it head on. Luckily, the beauty of a parallel structure is that its potency can transcend physical location. Wherever in the globe it is being implemented, it will always act as a force against State power through competition.
No one size fits all approach works best. But if some in the liberty crowd seek greener pastures elsewhere, while others seek to change society from within, the rise of parallel structures, such as work, media, culture, education, finance, and eventually a political or social system itself, will continue to exist as a beacon of hope.
Combine the rise in these new structures against the inevitable failure by the State, there becomes a real opportunity this decade to create a monumental shift towards a voluntary society and to find that “unbridled capitalism” we so long for.