Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
A very recent article published in Science Daily reveals the findings of a study that has yielded some very positive information for the Voluntaryist movement. In short, that once an ideology or set of beliefs is fervently held by ten percent of any given group or population, it invariably becomes the predominant philosophy throughout the entirety. Any less than this, and things remain more or less static amongst the adherants. Cross the ten percent Rubicon, as it were, and the movement begins to spread hither and yon like wildfire.
Given that the current American population is a rough 312 million persons, this would mean that around 31 million would need to be hardcore zero-government advocates before widespread change becomes feasable. Thirty-two million die-hard anarchists would tip the scales irreversibly. At that point, we’d be cooking with gas. Government would be on the chopping block, awaiting execution.
It would help to know just what percentage of American residents are already Voluntaryists. I don’t know if any reliable studies along these lines have been conducted, but my guess would be that, at very best, we might currently number around one percent. Far more numerous, at present, are the minarchists: Constitutionalists, and other advocates of “limited” government as opposed to none at all. The irony is that the minarchist goal is absolutely unachievable – even given the 10% rule. Should small-scale government ever return to America, it will promptly revert back to what it is now, and worse. Minarchism necessitates that its adherents win every election, indefinitely hold every office, vote correctly on every issue, never make mistakes, never become corrupted, never retire, never die. More likely is it that the Man in the Moon will descend from his lunar home and endow us all with the powers of Superman. It is completely preposterous, and for this reason alone, will never happen.
The elimination of government altogether, however, is entirely possible – and in fact, I will say, inevitable. For it does not rely upon the imposition of violence in order to survive, but rather, only on pre-existing natural forces that are at present suppressed by the inherently aggressive presence of government – and in an absence of which, will flourish.
Take as an example one of the prime elements of libertarian thought, that of private property ownership. It is all well and fine, let’s say, that I own the computer I’m using to write this essay. Probably no one reading this would disagree with that assertion. But what happens if you want proof of my statement? How is it possible for me to provide that? I might be able to show you a sales receipt – assuming I haven’t discarded it – but those can easily be forged or falsified. You might seek out some eyewitnesses or other parties to the sale, but there again the evidence is largely circumstantial if not in fact out-and-out hearsay. You still can’t know to a certainty that I haven’t stolen, or otherwise illegitimately acquired this computer – or at least the temporary use of it. After all, I could be typing this from inside an unoccupied dwelling . . . or one in which I have terminated the occupants.
Before I begin to turn this into some kind of bizarre murder mystery, one point begins to come clear: There really is no way I or you can establish ownership of anything except in one of two ways. Either we extend ownership of personal property to each other by way of mutual consent, or we establish ownership by means of brute force. And it is because of our subconscious or implicit denial of the second means that most of us most of the time opt for the first choice. True, disputes will and do arise from time to time, whereupon we generally, where and when possible, seek non-violent mediation or arbitration of such disagreements. Government provides us only its courts, which are always biased when any case involves that which bureaucrats arrogantly lay claim to, and are only sometimes honest when the dispute in question does not. Either way, courts are financed by taxation, which means extorting money from people by violent force.
As well, there will always be, government or no government, a minority of unscrupulous individuals who will always disregard the sanctity of such unspoken social arrangements as ownership in the name of their own personal gain. Alas, we live in a less than perfect world, or essays such as this would not be necessary. I would only add that there exists a centralized monopoly of thugs who draw their pay from stolen cash who constantly exhibit just such an attitude, and generally act with total impunity. Three guesses as to just what they call themselves, and the first two don’t count. But I’ll even give you a hint: the first letter starts with “G.”
My overarching point here is that a social construct such as ownership of property is already an anarchistic enterprise. It exists in spite of government, and certainly not because of it. In short, if anarchy works in the vast majority of cases in an area as vast and all-important as property ownership, there remains little relevant excuse as to why it can’t work in all other areas of human life.
We Voluntaryists may now only exist in the static numbers I referred to above (though those numbers, thanks in large part to the Internet and alternative media, are larger than ever before and growing), but the mechanism for passing that 10% goalpost is within our grasp, and it’s called The Truth. In other words, we can do this. It will happen.
The only remaining question is: When? That depends on how badly you want it. I’d say it’s time to get busy.