"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
Exclusive to STR
Libertarians, and anarchists in particular, are appropriately skeptical of anything on which governments place a stamp of approval or disapproval. Nevertheless, the state and its manipulators are such a monumental influence on society, that it is likely impossible for the most skeptical anarchists to escape all of its false ideology and propaganda created not for our good, but in spite of it. Unfortunately, monumental is not the most accurate adjective. Sometimes the state does stand there, predictable in its foolish pride and self-destructive wars and policies, where we can plan our lives to minimize our interaction with it and the cost to us. But in other cases, state influence is more like an odorless poison gas, diffusing in all directions where only people actively searching for that particular poison will have warning.
That is an issue today. The state wants big businesses because they are easier to control. This requires centralization. But centralization also requires division of labor. Murray Rothbard rightly critiqued Adam Smith for over-estimating the importance of division of labor, both in economics and in material progress. However, I still commonly see the division of labor being praised as direct evidence of a free society when it can just as easily be evidence of an un-free society.
But this isn't an article about theory. It is just an attempt to give an example where many readers (radical anarchists that you are) have areas that they still have not yet thoroughly questioned beliefs where they are still dupes of bad propaganda.
We have been trained to think that if we or a spouse have a child, that it requires trained professionals to assist in childbirth. Childbirth is supposed to be a painful process with many dangers, requiring drugs, IVs, measurements, prescriptions, confinement to laying on one's back, pushing when told, and not when told not, cesarean sections, vaccines, artificial vitamins, testing for certain diseases, and always going to a centralized mass production factory for birth and death (where resistant diseases are created and spread) which we call a hospital.
So for the birth of our fourth child, we were ready for a change. Two hospital births were done with epidurals, and then the third baby was delivered completely naturally, one minute after getting into the hospital room, but while I was still parking the car and so I missed it. The recovery after natural birth was much faster, but the doctor stitched my wife's tear up poorly and it bothered her since. About every aspect of childbirth that we disliked involved the intervention of the government-directed medical profession. Thereafter, she discovered the Unassisted Childbirth movement and was quickly persuaded for us to study it to see if we could have our fourth by ourselves. (I must clarify that as my wife was the one giving birth, it was up to her to make the decisions on this. I would not and did not pressure her to this position. She led me to it.)
The argument went like this. Birth is a completely natural process. It doesn't normally require outside interference. Outside interference causes stress and anxiety that further makes childbirth more difficult. So does the whole process of being in a sterile environment, hooked up to machines, being touched and examined by strangers, confined to a certain position, and so on.
So what preparation was needed? I read and studied an emergency childbirth manual, and bought a few medical supplies like cord clamps, scalpel (for the cord, not my wife!) , a digital fish scale to weigh the baby, etc. I would estimate the cost of everything as about $100 in products, and about ten hours of research, study, and reading interesting testimonials as examples.
So the time came. Most labor was done standing up. When it became non-stop, my wife alternated leaning against me and being on all fours. I massaged her tailbone area, and used a heat pack there also. She positioned herself in an inclined all fours position, the baby crowned, the water broke, as the pain peaked with the head half out my wife yelled, " GET HER OUT!" I knew not to pull on the baby, but slightly manipulated the birth canal, she inclined a little more, and with a few more pushes, the ten pound seven ounce baby was out and in perfect health. By the time my wife was ready to deliver the afterbirth, she decided to walk to the shower and did it there herself. (While there was plenty of preparation, there was a planned intent to do what seemed most comfortable when the time came, realizing that it may be different that assumed in advance.) There was moderate tearing, but it healed on its own better than the doctor's stitching job from the previous birth. It was all quite an intimate and personal experience. There was no rush to cut the cord, and we waited till it stopped pulsing.
Who might consider unassisted childbirth? If a woman is healthy, and her man is smart enough to learn how to change the oil and do some research, that's about all it takes. If you factor out complications due to women in poor health and poor American medical practices, I think the risk to a healthy woman is less by herself than if she went to a hospital.
Think about the application to GDP and such government figures. We significantly reduced the amount of money spent, and so GDP was reduced, but utility and happiness were increased. Decreasing GDP does not always mean decreasing happiness, and when Third World countries increase GDP due to changing actions like natural childbirth to hospital births, standards of living do not increase, merely the conversion of good aspects of a self-sufficient lifestyle to one where rich strangers are paid because the people have been persuaded that such is an improvement. It is like the case of the smoking monkey. He has been taught an unnatural habit that he cannot provide for himself. Unlike a human smoker who might grow his own tobacco, roll his own, and make his own fire, no combination of monkeys could perform the task. But the common people cannot grow their own medical practice free of government regulation on what is practiced. The common people are no better off with government-approved medical advice than is the monkey with a cigarette.
Note: In totalitarian countries without freedom of the press or speech, the following disclaimer applies: None of this is intended as medical advice. Consult your government-licensed physician because he has all the answers and would never perform a cesarean so that he can start his golfing weekend early.