'Nature abhors a vacuum.'
-- Francois Rabelais, 1494-1553
One of the most misused words in the English language is 'statism.'
Merriam-Webster defines the word as meaning 'concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry.' They date the word to 1919 and I am willing to accept their date and definition.
In recent years, much like the words 'Communism' and 'socialism' (which also have very specific dictionary meanings), self-proclaimed libertarians have used the word to mean 'anything the government does that I personally dislike.' It is certainly perfectly acceptable to dislike action taken by the government (something many conservatives forget when it comes to liberals, or when they themselves are in power.) It is simply not correct to use the word 'statism' to describe actions that fall outside its proper definition. Nor is it correct to use 'statism' to describe the belief that government should exist at all or should take effort to solve social problems. There are a lot more words for this, all dependent on context.
If one wishes to follow the correct dictionary definition of 'statism', then I don't believe there are many 'statists' in the United States of America at all. Nor, for that matter, do I believe there are many in most of the Western world. Even the most aggrieved socialists, most critical of capitalism, believe to some degree in capitalism and markets and do not believe the government should control or centrally plan the entire economy. Many of the most aggrieved socialists are philosophical anarchists who see the state and its sponsorship of corporate power as the problem.
I would like to be a philosophical anarchist. The problem is that government isn't going anywhere. It is inevitable and inescapable. If we successfully dismantled the United States government from top to bottom today then the governments of each of the fifty states would successfully Balkanize into fifty little countries. Some of them might combine to form larger associations on the pattern of the very government recently dis-established. If we dismantled the state governments from the ground up as well, we'd still have all that local government. Cities, counties, and townships would govern themselves as separate entities or federate into larger states on their own. The latter is highly likley, as that's the whole point: cities and fuedal counties discovered that they could better manage their affairs and protect their security by combining their interests under a central authority that could respond in emergencies.
I'll even go one further. Let's say we succeeded in completely dismantling local government on top of everything else. Everyone looks after themselves as best they can, gets together in community organizations to look after themselves collectively as best they can, or pays someone to provide them with protection. The former and latter system, which today is called anarcho-capitalism, has been tried before. During the Dark Ages they called it 'feudalism.' Everyone either protected themselves or paid someone else to protect them. Ultimately, the people providing protection became the government. They had the power to do so and there was no one with equal power to stop them. The middle option, community collectives in which freemen combined to defend themselves and each other against the feudal protection racket, is frequently lauded by anarcho-socialists. Ultimately, as the protection racket got bigger and stronger and more united, cities had to all with a bigger mobster, the king, to survive.
So modern government, in its first infantile throes, was born.
Break down everything libertarians and anarchists despise in modern government, dispose of the state entirely, and you simply create an environment for feudalism to make conditions so difficult that government becomes necessary all over again.
Of course, there is one notable difference between the Dark Ages and today. We have corporations with entrenched money and power. We complain about the government being in corporate pockets, with some degree of justification in many cases, but with no government at all we'd have the pleasure of watching corporations build the kind of government and society they wanted all around us with no recourse at all. Their government would be a lot less democratic and participatory than the one we have now, and a lot less responsive to the needs of society. It would be a 'one dollar, one vote' democracy. As bad as things are now, that would be much worse.
What society needs to do is take control of government. Government needs to cease to be a means of state control over society and become a means of societal control over the state. The state came into being in order to serve specific societal needs. These include (but are not limited to) public safety, general welfare, and (whether conservatives like it or not) the redistribution of wealth through the various strata of society in order to attempt to secure a basic standard for the quality of life. The only way this will happen is if people act. Responsible and informed voters must make responsible and informed decisions for the genuine public good, rather than base their decisions on personal prejudices against their neighbors or their desire to pay lower taxes. Democratic society must be an educated society. This does not mean everyone needs reams of paper proving their formal education. It means that everyone needs to be willing to take responsibility for educating themselves for their entire life regardless of their level of formal education.
It also means that society needs to reject ignorance as a badge of honor and embrace the fact that there are things we do not know... and seek to learn what we do not know. We should be proud of what we learn, not huddle in the dark and fear the sounds from outside. The only way this will happen is if we take control of our political environment. Government must become society's servant.
This is all very radical and extremely difficult.
Unfortunately, we've already gone through far too many years of the alternative.
Who's happy with what we've got now?