This is the fourth and final part of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Herbert provides practical advice for the furtherance of the voluntary principle within society. He counsels to avoid the temptation to resort to protectionism; it creates an illusory feast with the result that “more vultures of every kind flock to the feast”. The protectionist measures stifle the development of productive skills within the populace. Instead, we should wish for the constant strife of market competition, “for in the fair open fight the good always tend to win over the bad”. Society itself is improved and renewed again and again by the constant struggle of the good to overcome the bad. And the happy result is that “under the influences of liberty and her twin-sister peace — for they are inseparably bound together, neither existing without the other — our character as a people [will] grow nobler”.
Keep clear of both political parties, until one of them seriously, earnestly, with deep conviction, pledges itself to the cause of personal liberty. At present they are both of them opportunist, seeking power, rejecting fixed principles. It is true that we owe great debts to the Liberal party in the past, but at present it is deserting its own best traditions, ceasing to guide and inspire the people, fighting the downhill not the uphill battles, and intent on playing the great game. Some day, as we may hope, it may refind its better self and breathe again the spirit of true exalted leadership, and regardless of its own fortunes for the hours place itself, openly on the side of Mr. Spencer’s ‘ widest possible Liberty’.
But to-day both parties mean anything or nothing; they represent only too often mere scrambling, mere lust for power. It is true that one or other of the two parties may mean to you some of the things that you yourselves mean, but it will also mean a great many things that you do not mean. They both believe in subjecting some men to the will of other men, in using the State as the instrument of universal force, and you cannot rightly take your place in their ranks, or fight with them.
Carolsfeld – Die Schlacht von Iconium
Have nothing to do with the scramble for power. Hold on your own course and stand ‘foursquare to all the winds’. Pick out your boldest and most resolute men, and fight every by-election. Don’t fight to win, but fight to teach and inspire. The more resolutely you stand on your own ground, the more men of both parties, who begin to see the worthlessness and the mischief of these party conflicts, and the growing danger of using force, will come to you and join your small army. Few as you are to-day, you are stronger than the huge ill-assorted crowds–representing many conflicting opinions–that stand opposed to you, for no one can measure the strength that a great and true cause, devotedly followed, gives to those who consistently serve it. Fight the battle of liberty at every point.