One is to fight with the wrong strategy, and the other is not to fight. In our defensive war with government, the first may be excusable. The second is not.
Let's be clear: admit it or not, the state, by governing or ruling all within its reach or domain, is waging vicious, unrelenting war on everyone. According to Glen Allport's recent article, even the happy-faced debaters currently being paraded on our TV screens are merely mass murderers. The state is our enemy, as Albert J Nock wrote. Justin Raimondo chose to call his biography of Murray Rothbard "An Enemy of the State." There was even a movie of the same title, made in 1998 about the monstrous growth in state surveillance, and that was before the Patriot Act was rushed into law. We didn't start this war, but whether or not we like it or believe it, it's happening anyway.
In its insatiable thirst to rule, it strives always to reduce the range of choices that we are free to make. Consider any half century in American history; very clearly, its evil influence was far worse in the second than in the first, in the third than in the second, in the fourth than in the third, and so on. In each such period, those with long memories could rightly say that freedom was greater in their youth than at the current time. That malignant progress will certainly continue, if not prevented. I don't know when, but ultimately it will slash our freedom to zero if it can. At that stage we shall cease to be human beings and become robots, like those in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or the brainwashed Brits in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
We have two options: fight back, or do nothing.
If we do nothing - decline to engage the enemy or resist - then he will certainly win. He will not stop just because we do. Then eventually that fate will overtake the human race, and I think it would be an incalculable tragedy for, as Paul Rosenberg recently wrote, we are a beautiful species. That fate might be avoided only by another, arguably worse: that due to the state's fascination with weapons of mass destruction, all seven billion of us are wiped out.
Enslavement, or extermination; that is what awaits humanity if the state wins this war. Yet some libertarians, even, favor doing nothing! Some among that do-nothing crowd might be called masochists. Hard for me to grasp, but they actually enjoy being mis-treated (ruled) by the state; the more they suffer, the more they can complain about being made to suffer, and the more sympathy they get. If there were no state, that pleasure would be denied them. Nobody would turn them into martyrs. So at one and the same time, they bleat pitifully about how the state is treating them, yet offer no effective resistance. They just like to be seen as victims.
Then, some others get discouraged and quit. Just last month an article in Strike the Root held that "There's a lot of freedom in just that act of letting go, believe it or not. More than you realize when you begin to put activism... on the back burner." The author, Alex Knight, is a latecomer to the do-nothing party, so it would be unfair to blame him in particular; there are many others on that site who think the same way, but are less articulate and have nothing like his fine history of activism. Some "strikers at the root of evil"!
Alex' premise is that it's impossible to end the state, at least in our lifetimes; and if he were right in that, he'd certainly have a point. Why knock yourself out, for an unattainable goal? But he's not right in that, and my proof of that is that every one of us who embraces the principle of self-ownership and voluntary action came to that understanding after being persuaded of it; nobody is born a libertarian. If you and I can be persuaded, so can everyone else.
And so we come to my opener above: it's possible to lose this war by fighting with the wrong strategy. To work earnestly yet see no good result is clearly very disheartening. Wrong strategies include violence (obviously a non-starter, for to force someone to become free is a contradiction in terms; also if freedom-seekers were so numerous as to defeat the US Army, we'd not need to use violence!) and voting (ditto; ballots are merely bullets in drag.) Nonviolent resistance like Gandhi's satyagraha is laudable but, as I see it, over-rated and, at this stage, ineffective. "Activism" generally is not much use either, unless it's structured to achieve the one result that will cause the state to implode: to take away its workers.
That's the single weakness of the state. It depends totally on those it hires. Indeed, it actually consists only of those it hires! So our strategy or "war aim" must be to dissuade everyone from working for government.
Everything else will fail.
How? - the appeals in TinyURL.com/QuitGov may help, but mainly by a program of education in liberty which ends with a request for two simple actions: to quit any government job held, and to find one friend a year to complete the program and do the same. Exponential growth then completes the job in less than three decades. Details here.
Nothing less will do, but nothing more is needed.
A beauty of the TOLFA program is that those who graduate and mentor one friend a year through it need not engage in any other form of activism. No conferences, political meetings, speaking, writing, certainly not persuading! The need is simply to ask whether a friend would be interested in studying ideas of liberty, then mentoring him as he works through the course. It is interactive and self-driven; all the persuading is done by the course!
So participants can actually relax and have fun and stop worrying. We live a normal life, much as Alex Knight recommended, as above.