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.