[This is the first article in the left-leaning LBRT101 section of the Guided Study at Liberty HQ]
The Past 12 Years
[This is the first article in the left-leaning LBRT101 section of the Guided Study at Liberty HQ]
The Past 12 Years
Broadness is fairly spread throughout ideologies and worldviews, with each ideology having their own “school,” or “branch.” Very few worldviews have been capable of escaping this kind of disorienting divide, a separation creating quarrels between individuals due to the fact that their sociopolitical ideologies can be expanded so broadly. The reason for this is quite simple really – these “ideologies” and “worldviews” that I speak of all target the state as a way to control the masses into doing what these individuals believe is best (or worst) for the world. Governance, as anyone with a basic understanding of political science knows, can be done in a variety of different ways, due to the fact that the state itself is a monopoly – an institution that has a monopoly on whatever it chooses through the “ideologies”. Therefore these ideologies which I speak of only vary on the level of violence they want the monopoly to utilize – this is what creates the “schools” and the “branches.” Continue reading
MICHAEL: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn’t let him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1,000.
KAY: How did he do that?
MICHEAL: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
KAY: What was that?
MICHAEL: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract … That’s a true story.
Of course, we all recognize the pun – making “an offer he couldn’t refuse” ordinarily means an offer so good it can’t be passed up. In this case, it means literally an offer that cannot be refused because Luca Brasi will kill you.
“In large states, public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in a large kitchen, the cooking is usually bad.”
The common faith of government today lies in the power of state funding through taxation. The reasoning goes that if the state can mobilize vast amounts of resources for things such as wars, highway infrastructure and space exploration, why even leave anything for the private sector to do? If the state can fund a large military, why can it not alleviate poverty or educate the poor? Private service X is only for the rich, but by the mighty power of public institution X, the poor too can have a chance at life. Never has a greater lie ever been told than this.
The voluntaryist view stops at condign power and states that all other forms of power are irrelevant to freedom.
What voluntaryist ever said this? Any form of force or fraud – even if disguised, even if systematized – is “on the table” to be answered with force, if necessary.
He moves on to criticize voluntaryism but ends up apparently agreeing with voluntaryism, as far as I can tell:
… market exchange, being based on power imbalance, is itself a “manipulation” of people’s values and desires.
I don’t know what “market exchange” is as against simple exchange, but what voluntaryist has ever said that exchange in the present order is free of manipulation? Quite the opposite. The entire system is rotten at its very core – the Federal Reserve has corrupted the single most important and universal good in the economy, money. The law monopoly prevents people from forming or abandoning agreements as they see fit, interfering into the voluntary choices of individuals and presuming to know better than the parties to an agreement what their own interests are. The security monopolies render every citizen virtually helpless against the money and law monopolies. And the ecosystem of regulation-favored cartels, corporate lobbyists and crony capitalists that has grown up around this Iron Triangle force out would-be competitors who do not have access to the artificially large capitalization required to enter the market.
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.
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.
Libertarians often get caught up in internet debates which test both their knowledge and their rhetoric. An unfortunate truth is that the task of proving liberty is volumetrically larger than that of defend the state – you have to show in-depth knowledge on why all the different government interventions have to be stripped away, while the opponent can wave a magic wand and claim that government will solve a problem. The libertarian, then, has to be well-versed in economics, history, and philosophy, while the opposition can say that we just need to “elect the right people into power.” I’d like to let you in on a public secret: The Socratic Method.
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.
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.
by Michael Eliot
With all the (nauseating) discussion I have seen on the interwebs and in real life, back and forth, about what could be done, should be done, will be done in response to yet another horrific school massacre, I would like to paint a picture of possible responses were we living in a free society. And the interesting thing is that everyone gets to have their own way.
A free society means the end of politics as we know it, because ‘politics’ means the majority choosing a policy to force on the minority, which the latter must then endure. By contrast, in a free society, which would be marked by the sovereignty of individual decision-making more than any other factor, each family would be free to pursue whichever strategy they felt the most efficacious in achieving their desired goal.
In response to this most recent shooting, several policy prescriptions have been put forth from all quarters. There are those who want to further restrict gun ownership and availability. Some feel that only on-site protection along the lines of armed guards in schools can prevent further tragedies. And there are those who want to focus on improving mental-health-care availability. I’m sure there are others, but let’s focus on these three main responses.
This is part 1 of a multi-part reproduction of Auberon Herbert’s A Plea for Voluntaryism.
Herbert calls attention to the chasm that divides a society when people pit themselves into a system of competition for the place of emperor, autocrat, conqueror – even if that system is based on majority-vote. At heart, it is a system of subjugation where today’s majority subjugates yesterday’s majority and heaps on it all the humiliation and servitude that it was just forced to endure. Though written more than a century ago, Herbert’s words ring as true today as ever. The two-party democratic systems have devolved into a winner-takes-all sweepstakes for temporary occupancy of the Emperor’s seat in the Capitol. It creates, as Herbert says, nothing but a permanent, smoldering civil war.
But an even more terrible price is paid in the violence that it does to our most basic sense of decency. Herbert calls attention to the mutually exclusive relationship of power-worship and religion, that is, “our own personal sense of right and fulfilling the commands of duty, as we each can most truly read it.” The power-worshipper, by contrast, must necessarily be willing to go to any length to protect and expand his power.
WE, who call ourselves Voluntaryists, appeal to you to free yourselves from these many systems of State force, which are rendering impossible the true and the happy life of the nations of to-day. This ceaseless effort to compel each other, in turn for each new object that is clamoured for by this or that set of politicians, this ceaseless effort to bind chains round the hands of each other, is preventing progress of the real kind, is preventing peace and friendship and brotherhood, and is turning the men of the same nation, who ought to labour happily together for common ends, in their own groups, in their own free unfettered fashion, into enemies, who live conspiring against and dreading, often hating each other.
Look at the picture that you may see to-day in every country of Europe. Nations divided into two or three parties, which are again divided into several groups, facing each other like hostile armies, each party intent on humbling and conquering its rivals, on treading them under their feet, as a conquering nation crushes and tramples on the nation it has conquered.
What good, what happiness, what permanent progress of the true kind can come out of that unnatural, denationalizing, miserable warfare? Why should you desire to compel others; why should you seek to have power– that evil, bitter, mocking thing, which has been from of old, as it is to-day, the sorrow and curse of the world– over your fellow men and fellow women? Why should you desire to take from any man or woman their own will and intelligence, their free choice, their own self-guidance, their inalienable rights over themselves; why should you desire to make of them mere tools and instruments for your own advantage and interest; why should you desire to compel them to serve and follow your opinions instead of their own; why should you deny in them the soul–that suffers so deeply from all constraint–and treat them as a sheet of blank paper upon which you may write your own will and desires, of whatever kind they may happen to be?