Author Archives: claytonkb

Liberty and Property: Two Sides of the Same Coin

This is part 3 of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism. Part 2 is here.

Herbert discusses the intimate link between liberty and property. You cannot love liberty and undermine property rights. He says, “property is … the crystallized form of free faculties.” Without liberty, the individual is reduced to a slave, a robot, an automaton, a mere cog in a machine. Happiness and flourishing are impossible under conditions of containment that deprive the individual of the full expression of his higher faculties. But it is property that preserves for the individual the fruits of this expression. Thus, without property, these expressions are fruitless; which is the same as to say the individual really has no freedom at all.

Delacroix – Liberty leading the people

Nothing can be well and rightly done, nothing can bear the true fruit, until you become deeply and devotedly in love with personal liberty, consecrating in your hearts the great and sacred principle of self-ownership and self-direction. That great principle must be our guiding star through the whole of this life’s pilgrimage.

Away from its guiding we shall only continue to wander, as of old, hopelessly in the wilderness. For its sake we must be ready to make any and every sacrifice. It is worth them all–many times worth them all. For its sake you must steadily refuse all the glittering gifts and bribes which many politicians of both parties eagerly press upon you, if you will but accept them as your leaders, and lend them the power which your numbers can give.

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Dear President: What I Want for Christmas

bernanke- santa claus.
Perhaps you wrote a letter to Santa Claus when you were a child. “Dear Santa”, you wrote. You poured your energies into it in the expectation of receiving many blessings. When you finished, you mailed it away to be read by the magical man who can deliver all the world’s toys in a single night. But, alas, you never heard back from him. You are to rest assured that he got your letter – he reads all the letters of all the little girls and boys. Of course, your parents will have read it and taken upon themselves the costs of providing the real toys that you actually received on Christmas day.

Santa, in many ways, is an excellent metaphor of the popular conception of government. It’s how government wants to be perceived. All-capable and hyper-competent, government accomplishes feats that surpass the ability of the individual to even conceive of doing through non-governmental means. Governments build eternal, awe-inspiring pyramids. They launch men to the Moon. They build massive dams. They implement vaccination regimes affecting vast, uncountable populations. A touch of the nose and a wink, and it’s done.

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The Futility of Quashing Dissent

This is part 2 of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism. Part 1 is here.

Herbert identifies the common ground between religious and non-religious voluntaryists: principled opposition to the substitution of force for reason. He then goes on to show the futility of suppressing opinion with force. It stunts the progress of thought by denying to those on the correct side of a question the opportunity to air out the arguments against those on the wrong side of a question. Thus, even when force happens – by accident – to be employed in the “correct” direction, that is, to the suppression of an incorrect view, it still cannot help but obstruct human progress.

There are some who reject the doctrine of soul and would not, therefore, base their resistance to State power on any religious ground. But apart from this great difference that may exist between us, we are united by the same detestation of State power, and by the same perception of the evils that flow from it.

Dore – Destruction of Leviathan

We both see alike that placing unlimited power — as we do now — in the hands of the State means degrading men from their true rank. It means the narrowing of their intelligence, the encouragement of intolerance and contempt for each other, and therefore the encouragement of sullen, bitter strife, the tricks of the clever tongue, practised on both the poor and rich crowd, and the evil arts of flattery and self-abasement in order to conciliate votes and possess power. It means the excessive and dangerous power of a very able press, which keeps parties together, and too often thinks for most of us, the repression of all those healthy individual differences that make the life and vigour of a nation, the blind following of blind leaders, the reckless rushing into national follies, like the unnecessary Boer War–that might have been avoided, as many of us believe, with a moderate amount of prudence, patience and good temper–just because the individuals of the nation have lost the habit of thinking and acting for themselves, have lost control over their own actions, and are bound together by party-ties into two great child-like crowds. It means also the piling up of intolerable burdens of debt and taxation — the constant and rather mean endeavour to place the heaviest of these burdens on others, whoever the others may be — the carelessness, the high-handedness, the insolence of those who spend money compulsorily taken, the flocking together of the evil vultures of many kinds where the feast is spread, the deep poisonous corruption, such as is written in broad characters over the government of some of the large towns in the United States–a country bound to us by so many ties of friendship and affection, and in which there is so much to admire; a corruption, that in a lesser degree has soiled the reputation of some of the large cities of the Continent, and is already to be found here and there sporadically existing amongst us in our own country. And it only too surely means at the end of it all the setting up of some absolute form of government, to which men fly in their despair, as a refuge from the intolerable evils they have brought upon themselves; a refuge that after a short while is found to be wholly useless and impotent, and is then violently broken up, perhaps amidst storm and bloodshed, to be once more succeeded by the long train of returning evils, from which men had sought to escape in the vain hope that more power would heal the evils that power had brought upon them.

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Defending Voluntaryism from Radical Marxists and Feminists

ruminatrix / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

We at the Voluntaryist Reader have begun a series giving weekly installments of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism (part one) to the end of presenting to the world what, exactly, voluntaryism is. But there are those on the blogosphere and elsewhere who attack voluntaryism and I want to give an answer to Francois Tremblay, in particular, who has regularly criticized voluntaryism. His latest post on the subject is here. Tremblay immediately states that not only is voluntaryism a target, it is among “the roots that support the institutionalized evils around us.”

This is puzzling since – as voluntaryists – we not only see voluntaryism as precisely the opposite, we actually define it as such. Voluntaryism is the opposition to aggression in any form, whether institutionalized or not. The only possibilities are that either a) we are terribly confused or b) we are devious liars.

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The Universal Bully and Other Approaches to Law

police_bullyThis is the final part of a four-part series presenting a praxeological theory of the origin and character of law. Parts one, two and three.

In a very primitive society, the situation where one person is significantly stronger than another creates the potential for bullying. The bully enjoys a surfeit of rights vis-à-vis others weaker than himself. Simple verbal dispute in a primitive society does not provide any means to solve this problem. Other, more sophisticated social structures – such as the division-of-labor and specialization in the production of security – must emerge before the bully problem can be solved.

However, it is important to note that the bully problem is not solved by government, contrary to common belief. Hoppe ridicules the State:

Moreover, as ultimate judge the state is also a monopolist of taxation, i.e., it can unilaterally, without the consent of everyone affected, determine the price that its subjects must pay for the state’s provision of (perverted) law. However, a tax-funded life-and-property protection agency is a contradiction in terms: an expropriating property protector. [Emphasis added]

Hans HoppeState or Private Law Society

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Disputes and Centrally-Planned Law

Code of Federal Regulations, Titles 12-26 (out of 50)

This is part 3 of a multi-part series presenting a praxeological theory of the origin and character of law. Part 2 here.

After two people verbally argue out their differences – perhaps with the assistance of a neutral arbitrator – the dispute can either go back to a state of open conflict (perhaps a standoff), or it is resolved through some kind of mutually agreed (stipulated) settlement. If the parties settle, then – as time goes by – they will either abide by the terms of the settlement because they believe sticking to the settlement is the best choice among the alternatives or they will end up in a dispute again over this or something else (feud). Good settlements are proven by their ability to prevent a return to open conflict or standoff. Poor settlements are proven by the opposite. As many disputes are settled, people learn that certain kinds of settlement are likely to fail and other kinds are likely to succeed in preventing a return to conflict or standoff. Those terms of settlement that tend to work in preventing future conflict can be termed law. The profession of assisting people who are trying to bargain for terms of settlement of a dispute in choosing good terms of settlement (and avoiding poor terms of settlement) can be called arbitration.

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Why We don’t have War Every Time We Disagree

This is part 2 of a multi-part series presenting a praxeological theory of the origin and character of law. Part 1 here.

Morality can be thought of as the art of choosing right ends. I think it’s safe to say that most people choose their own ends without a great deal of introspection. But among those who do introspect and opine on morality, there is almost universal agreement that the choice of right ends cannot be based solely or even primarily on one’s own desires irrespective of social well-being. This is the central tenet of collectivism, which is the prevailing moral sentiment today and has been for a very long time.

But the only sense in which an end can be right as opposed to wrong is the extent to which that end is a means to the ultimate end which every acting being has: satisfaction of wants. Satisfaction of wants is only apprehended subjectively.

… As a passive being [man] experiences sensations that are painful or pleasurable. As an active being he strives to banish the former and multiply the latter. The result, which affects him again as a passive being, can be called satisfaction. [Emphasis original]

Frederic BastiatEconomic Harmonies

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