Does the "Freedom Train" Metaphor Work?


An anarchist libertarian wants to hop off the metaphor of the "freedom train"–a somewhat common metaphor used by those trying to keep on board libertarians with different opinions on exactly how little government they want.

The metaphor implies both anarchists and minimal-statists are natural allies heading in the same direction, just with different opinions about when to get off the train. "Rad Geek" disagrees. An excerpt:

The image of political factions hopping onto a train, and getting off at different stations, might work well enough if you're talking about factions within a party all of whom agree on the legitimacy of an electoral process. ……But does the same image work for the relationship between minarchists and anarchists? I don't think it does. The basic problem is that when we imagine the minarchists getting off the train, we imagine that they are simply done with going where they want to go, and, while they prefer to stay at the minimal-government station, we will be free to go on past that station to the anarchy station.

….if minarchists simply hop off the train and leave the anarchists in peace to go on towards the anarchy station, then they are no longer acting as minarchists. Once we're down to the minimal State and the anarchists start trying to withdraw and set up their own competing defense associations (or withdrawing in favor of individual self-defense, or whatever), the minarchists have only two choices. They can allow it to happen. But then what you have is government where any subject can choose to refuse or withdraw her allegiance at any time, and give it to a different government, or to no government at all. But that wouldn't be a minimal government, or any kind of government at all; it would just be one voluntary association amongst many in a state of anarchy. Or they can try to forcibly suppress anarchists' efforts to withdraw from the minimal State, and to move from limited government to no government. If the minarchists really mean it, then in the end they are going to be turning their limited-government cops and limited-government military on us, just as surely as any Bushista or Progressive.