Column by Jim Davies.

Exclusive to STR

To protect the guilty, I'll falsify his name as “Naylor,” but last weekend I received a concise email from someone who had read my recent Murray's Missing Plan on STR; for doing which, of course, he is much to be commended. Among other things, he offered three key opinions:

  1. Universal re-education won't work, 99% of children are born statist and can't be changed.
  2. Libertarians need to get used to the idea that they are permanently a 1% minority.
  3. [That 1%] will need to keep the bulk of humanity off of them [sic] by force of arms.

I've long suspected that there lurks among STReaders a small group of nattering nabobs of negativism, but this is the first time I've seen the view expressed clearly and without shame. My reply expressed thanks for that, and I meant it. Now I'll show why he's dead wrong.

From what he wrote, it seems by “universal re-education,” he has in mind the upbringing that parents give children. He said correctly that America began as a much more libertarian society than it is now, two centuries on, and that decay followed a normal path. “If education worked,” Naylor wrote, “it would have worked in early America” to prevent that decay.

This is nonsense for several reasons. First, parent-child education is not RE-education at all, and has little to do with the strategy referenced at the end of Murray's Missing Plan. Naylor seems to have completely missed or misunderstood the point, possibly having failed to follow the links provided. To “re-educate” means to take someone with a certain understanding, and lead him to a different one. Second, all education was removed from parents anyway by the middle of the 1800s and handed to government; little wonder government didn't teach the little ones about freedom. Third, early Americans were certainly less trustful of government than today's Booboisie, but they were barely libertarian and certainly not anarchist; they actually set up a government! There was never a true American “Eden”--it's a myth. And fourth and most of all, very few libertarians are born that way, into a libertarian family. Every one of them I know began as something else and became a libertarian after learning (via some process of education) which way is up.

So much, then, for the claim that re-education doesn't work. It may not always work, and for sure a great deal more of it is needed, but re-education is the only thing that does work.

I've come across the objection that to re-educate over 300 million people in short order is not a feasible task, and that too is dead wrong, as shown here and here; but Naylor didn't say that. He said re-education would not work even if and when delivered. Nonsense, on stilts.

His second opinion is that Libertarians will stay at 1% of the population and must get used to it. The only good thing I can say about that is that it does follow from his first. If it's not possible to re-educate people, then of course we'll be at most a small minority forever, amen. But that premise is false, and so is the conclusion.

It means that as a tiny minority, we'd be permanently treated as freaks and misfits and see ourselves as some class of victim. The psychology of this is beyond me, but right off the bat I'll say that if it were true, I'd be right out of here. I see no merit or enjoyment whatsoever in being in such a queer backwater of humanity. Life is good; I want to enjoy it to the full. Yet some folk, it appears, actually like being victims. Up to a point, presumably. To me, it's very odd, and I'm not sure whether “martyr complex” quite covers it, so maybe a shrink is needed. Might one be provided, under Obamacare?

It is, in any case, diametrically wrong, the polar opposite of the truth. Human beings are born free and our nature demands freedom; we are self-owning, rational animals! To be free of rule by others, therefore, is our normal, natural and suitable condition. To adopt Naylor's second opinion would be to deny all that, to say that mankind can never live as he has evolved to live. If libertarianism is true, then it is a proper fit for everyone, and to say it is true but fits only 1% of the race is a fundamental contradiction, a classic example of confused, irrational thinking.

Then thirdly, this introspective 1% must protect itself with force of arms, says Naylor. If it were permanent, I concede it might be ill treated, for government likes bullying defenseless people, and on occasion, violent defense might be the only way to keep it off; and of course the self-ownership axiom certainly encompasses a right to self-defense.

Reality, on the simple assumption that each libertarian brings one of his friends per year to a re-education facility such as this one, and that each graduate resigns any government job he may hold: We take the initiative and peacefully turn the tables on our oppressors in little more than a single generation. Being a tiny minority is a temporary, not a permanent status at all.

A form of permanent war, though, is what results from Naylor's naysaying. Libertarians are stuck as a 1% minority forever, and forever must kill or be killed. It hangs together, this benighted perspective! It's quite true, that if a small minority of any sort is persecuted over a long period, it's like raising the temperature of a pressure cooker; eventually, there will be an explosion. The minority may well be exterminated as a result, but yes, violence is probable.

Hence the twisted version of the libertarian advocate: come one, come all, freedom is the answer! Join us if you can miraculously overcome the constraints of your ineducable mind, and huddle with us in a dark hideout knowing we shall never be more than one in a hundred of our fellow human beings. And be sure to bring your weapons, for eventually there will be a shootout and you will probably die. Yea, Freedom!

What a sick caricature.

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?"


Thunderbolt's picture

My experience has been that the twenty-forty y.o. serfs sense that something is very wrong, and many of them have suffered at the hand of the beast via police, prison, and taxes. They are very receptive to the libertarian message. The incessant use of computers and smart-phones enables them to access information and ideas that they immediately recognize as truth.
Once they see, they cannot go back, and do not want to.

julyfrank's picture

If a man threatened you with death to rob you in an alley, would you
force him to stop his attack with a gun, or with talk therapy? If you
answered "gun", then how about 10 men attacking you? 1,000? 150
million? At what number of foes does the military analysis change,
and how and why there? Is the change only because the gun-type weapon
can't engage 1,000 enemy at once, and could this change if a better
gun was invented? How different is your talk therapy approach from
'voting your way to freedom'?

I don't think your article addresses my point. Mencken worked on
re-education for decades, his writings were much wider read than STR
is, and his approach lost ground the whole time. This is a decisive
failure. The strongest evidence that libertarianism doesn't have the
recipe right yet is that we are not free.

> His second opinion is that Libertarians will stay at 1% of the
> population and must get used to it. The only good thing I can say
> about that is that it does follow from his first

If it follows, and the first is true, then we're stuck with it.
Dislike does not make it go away.

> To be free of rule by others, therefore, is our normal, natural and
> suitable condition.

"Normal" is a statistical claim that means the most common and
prevalent case, and this claim is factually incorrect. "Natural"
means the use case that was optimized for, and this claim is factually
incorrect; human politics optimized for a tribe of 200 ruled by a
warlord and priest in cahoots. "Suitable" is an open question, but I
suspect that, as recently described here, the urge for government is
anchored in the mind by the instincts for both religion and
alcoholism. I think the urge to submit one's personhood and personal
agency to a government is the same urge as that to submit to an
imaginary extraterrestrial alien in the sky ("God"). Similarly for
self-loathing and belief without evidence. If all this is so then you
have an impossible task ahead of you: first talk everyone into being
rational tee-totaling skeptical atheists. Talk your worst political
enemies into it. Talk all of the clinically-diagnosed psychopaths
into it, because you're never using force in self-defense, right?

> A form of permanent war, though, is what results from Naylor's
> naysaying.

'Everything competes for resources' is a law of nature. Darwinism
means everyone is stuck with a permanent form of war, and vigilance
must be eternal. The war is already upon you. Your choice is to
adapt to its reality, or not. I advocate the peace of mutually
assured destruction, it is the only known stable situation.

> huddle with us in a dark hideout

I never said that. The claim that the only workable military
solutions are bleak and awful ones is something Jim added. Self-
defense is "that which prevents the operation of a government". 100
years ago, the revolver handgun was refined into a practical form.
This weapon allowed a frail grandmother a decent chance against one
strong man attacking her. Consider the political implications if the
personal weapon continued to improve at the rate the automobile did,
such that it could provide mutually assured destruction to a half
dozen attackers, or a dozen attackers, or twenty attackers. Tax
collection would never be the same. Successful gun control froze the
evolution of personal self-defense weapons for a hundred years.
Technological progress has now made it that everybody who wants one
can have a metalworking shop in their garage, at a hobby price, with
capabilities far greater than the pioneers of the industrial
revolution had. I don't know what the next evolutionary step of
personal weapon will look like, but I am sure that it will appear.

> nattering nabobs of negativism

I'm interested in feedback that points out where my analytical claims
are factually incorrect. The purpose of intellectualism is to
recognize truths which we despise. Saying that you don't like my
conclusions doesn't falsify them. I don't like them either.

Jim Davies's picture

Mencken was the most perceptive journalist of the 20th Century, no question. But I had no idea he had a multi-decade strategy to re-educate 120 million Americans (the 1930 population) in some kind of freedom school, to negate the effect of pro-government propaganda in 12 years of schooling, 4 of college, and 24/7 of media saturation (his part of the Baltimore Sun excepted, with a circulation of around 120 thousand.)

What is the chapter and verse, please, where I can read about that educational facility?

julyfrank's picture

I think his Baltimore Sun output was exactly an attempt at that kind
of re-education. I don't think public school type educational
facility details are important, or necessary, or a good idea; I think
the critical path is getting correct libertarian analysis in front of
lots of eyeballs in a way that is engaging to read.

Let me try to state that in a disprovable way. I will consider my
education-can't-succeed claim disproved if you can show that the
freedom-through-education approach has worked even once, anywhere, to
move the majority of any population of millions to liber-topia. I
will accept examples in Switzerland, which is not liber-topia, but
sufficiently better at retaining liberty that I would like to
understand it better.

Jim Davies's picture

Okay, it's time to end this garbage. You argued that education had been tried and failed, and chose the example of Mencken to prove your point. I asked where and when Mencken had established an education facility to reach the whole population, with chapter and verse, and now you say - as I expected - that "his Baltimore Sun output was exactly an attempt."
But I had already pointed out that the Sun had a circulation of roughly one person in a thousand of the population, so your answer is claptrap. Mencken was widely quoted and respected - but nobody can reverse the effect of wall-to-wall government propaganda over several generations by reaching one in a thousand.
Mencken ran no freedom school, and you know that, but you failed to admit it. This exchange is over.
You have a very great deal to learn, julyfrank, and you've come to the right place to do it. There is a very rich archive on STR, of excellent articles  by scores of authors. I suggest you write less, and read more.

julyfrank's picture

> nobody can reverse the effect of wall-to-wall government propaganda
> over several generations by reaching one in a thousand

If the school-like approach is to work, then it will have to
successfully make entry into this market. Your political philosophy
will have to exponentially grow using this population as growth media.

One of your planning assumptions appears to be that all humans are
equally susceptible to libertarian education. I do not agree with
that assumption. Observed history matches what we would expect if a
fixed 1-in-100 are libertarians. I think libertarian education can
reach the remnant, as described by Nock. I think you and I are
members of that remnant. I suspect that due to religion and
alcoholism, the remnant will permanently remain small.

Mencken reached more than his paper's circulation. I've read a lot of
Mencken output, but I've never seen a page image of the Baltimore Sun.
Nevertheless, if Mencken's reach was too low to disprove the school-
like approach, consider Ron Paul. He had the public platform of being
in congress, he said the same things in his speeches for 30 years, he
wrote several books, and he ran for president. President! Is this
not enough of a national reach? I'm getting the impression that what
you will count as an example of an "education facility to reach the
whole population" is nearly the same as the libertopian victory
condition. Your business plan to get from here to there seems missing.

mhstahl's picture

"Consider the political implications if the
personal weapon continued to improve at the rate the automobile did,
such that it could provide mutually assured destruction to a half
dozen attackers, or a dozen attackers, or twenty attackers."
This is a crucial point. States exist by granting favors to select groups, and then enforcing such with overwhelming force. Without the ability to bring such force the state is hamstrung. It doesn't matter what one has been taught, what one's philosophic alignment might be: if groups or individuals can successfully counter the state's force when it comes for them, its ability to come for them is stymied. No one can be taught to submit in the way Jim thinks that they have been-some may, but most do so primarily out of self-preservation or greed.
This does NOT mean there needs to be violence, but rather the "mutually assured destruction" that julyfrank suggests. Now, to get from "here" to "there" is a long, arduous, and doubtless dangerous road that will, by necessity, require a far more radical shift in social, economic, and cultural norms than most "libertarians" are willing to accept or forecast. We are talking about a true paradigm shift, and it will not come about through stockpiling of arms, or through education-because neither of these truly addresses the nature of the "state."
Really think about how government maintains control. It is not just from the barrel of a gun, the gun only secures its true source of power-the resources and wealth that it uses to curry favor and secure loyalty. It can only do this because on Earth, resources are finite and therefore valuable. Jim suggests that "America" started out as a far more "libertarian society"(which is debateable, but beside the point...after all it was founded in part on the slaughter and enslavement of innocents) than it is today-well, why? Great Britain at the time was surely not "libertarian" by any stretch of the imagination, why were the colonies different? Education? That would be a hard case to make. Weapons? Perhaps, but that is not the "root".
Instead, what the "New World" had in comparison to the old was relatively unlimited resources, and despite the old world powers attempts to claim such and thereby dispense favors, they simply did not have the means to control and distribute such vast property(I recommend Rothbard's Conceived in Liberty for an overview of this.)
So what are we left with? The high-voltage third rail of libertarianism-property. And more specifically the state's control and dispersement of such. So, what is to be done? To me, the real hope-the only real hope- twinkles in the night sky. Nothing else but resources on such a scale can truly render the state powerless and pointless. None of us will see this.
That's not to say conditions cannot or should not be made better, but we ought to remember that, to paraphrase Thoreau, we are only hacking a path through the branches of evil, and not striking at its root.

Glock27's picture

July Frank. Not being a professional in this area of freedom and liberty (still struggling to get around a lot of boxes). What I gather, from your rebuttal, it makes no difference whether your analytical clams are factually incorrect; I do not believe is the real point. The fact that you proposed a concept to be contemplated is sufficient from my perspective. Maybe I am trying to dumb things down.
Gun control is a nightmare which should never have happened, but as usual there are people who think they know better than we do. "You gotta pass the bill before you can know what's in it" Now that is a statement of tremendous intellect. I think Saul Alynski would laugh his ass off if he heard that statement. However Pelosey is not the only idiot in Washington who believes they are gods to be worshipped.
There are weapons currently on the market you can purchase which will rapidly drop 30 or forty attackers, even more--the .50 caliber machine gun. Yes you can own one, you just pay through the nose to get permission to own one. Yes "Permission", but the machine gun will not resolve the problem. Alex Knight posted about a week past that Coast to Coast, a radio station, had two voluntarist on the show for two hours. This was a mighty fine step for those of us who believe in Liberty and Freedom. One bureaucrat mentioned that control comes for the end of the barrel of a gun, but the public has no right to possess such instruments of control. I wonder why. You can be sure something is going to come out of the legislative toilet given all the murders recently happening.
I would like to read your article but your response falls under one of Jim's articles. What is its title?
I am of a mind set that this nation has permitted all the bad things to happen to it. Currently it appears as if there is absolutely no solution to resolve the status of surfs and eventually full fledged slaves regardless of what you believe. Many on STR will have as little as possible to do with the government. I currently view that it is nearly impossible to change the government by remaining silent and uninvolved regardless of how distasteful it may be. It has to be dismantled from the inside out, not the outside in. There is a chance the outside approach might work, but it presents a greater number of obstacles to overcome.
I would appreciate seeing a change in the government, starting by reducing its size and its involvement in the lives of the American people. There are many groups exposing the government for what it is. and it seems to be a useless effort, maybe, and maybe it is getting peoples attention, especially the gargantuan Affordable Health Care Act. Many of these people, former supporters of Obama are finally seeing the truth because their health insurance policies are being canceled and Doctors are refusing to take on Medicare patients. Many, especially seniors are seeing their premiums are going up by $300 to $400 more a month; many are also being enlightened to the fact that the Senators and Representatives are not subscribing to [o]bama's Affordable Health Care Plan Act. I wonder why?
It is my personal belief that many Liberty and freedom lovers are setting in a prime time to make their attack upon the government via information, an opportunity that many on STR will not take up. Exposing them more and more till the cannot survive the lies they propagate.
Anyway, what you said in your rebuttal appears to make sense. Wish I had a solution, but at my age and given my genetics I am not as mentally acute as I once was. I hope what I have said makes sense.

With all due respect.

Samarami's picture

I am a sovereign state.

My sovereignty does not depend upon your becoming free. I hope you do, and if you ask and to the extent I have the expertise I will be glad to help you.

But I will stay free.

Nattering nabob of negativism? The fact you are here sharing with me should put that to rest. What you believe counts -- whether I agree or whether I don't.


Jim Davies's picture

Of course, Sam, every human being is by natural right "sovereign" - over himself. That's what self-ownership means, and it's what Naylor so miserably failed to grasp, in the first of his three benighted opinions.  Not everyone comes to understand that, but you have - good for you! And that single realization brings one part-way towards freedom. We get to stand up straight, to know that while freedom is viciously curtailed in practice, those who curtail it have no right to do so. I don't want to belittle the great feeling that produces.
But we part company, alas, if you maintain that that's all there is, to freedom. For sovereignty to be exercised in practice and in full, the rest of society must come to exercise theirs. There is no way around that. For as long as some believe in slavery (some humans ruling others) some of them will impose that slavery if they have the chance to do so. On you. So the full enjoyment of your sovereignty certainly does depend on others embracing the self-ownership axiom.
Further: the limited extent to which you can enjoy it now is predictably going to shrink. It has shrunk terribly, every decade in living memory. Until and unless a program of radical, universal re-education takes effect, it's reasonable to expect that process to continue, and possibly accelerate.

Samarami's picture

My position began to be formulated over fifty years ago, Jim, in a place called "Alcoholics Anonymous". It is not considered proper for those of us involved to "break anonymity"...

    " the level of press, radio and films..."

...this written in the 30's and 40's, long prior to internet and media capable of making it possible for individuals to instantaneously share with each other -- even television was still in the future. But since this is a discussion forum in place to help others achieve freedom I'll call what I have to say "appropriate", since AA is probably the most libertarian organization of which I'm aware that is not specifically designed for promulgating what we iron out here at STR.

And since "The Big Book" is now online for all to read I doubt that anybody will complain if a member of STR outlines its principles. Which in itself is striking to "non-sufferers", because never does it urge us to try not to drink alcohol. The early members knew that drinking ain't the problem -- thinking is the problem.


    "But we part company, alas, if you maintain that that's all there is, to freedom. For sovereignty to be exercised in practice and in full, the rest of society must come to exercise theirs. There is no way around that. For as long as some believe in slavery (some humans ruling others) some of them will impose that slavery if they have the chance to do so. On you. So the full enjoyment of your sovereignty certainly does depend on others embracing the self-ownership axiom".

First, Jim, I won't accede to the idea of you and I "parting company". You've been far too much of a mainstay in my quest for sovereignty (and no, I do not mean a "natural right") for me to consider "parting company" with you. I was devouring your articles in the early stages of my search for freedom -- long before you and I ever exchanged emails or comments here on the forum.

Approach liberty from slightly different angles, yes. And I know you were using a figure of speech, so I'll let that one go.

Next, I see the analogy between being restored to sanity ("quitting drinking") and achieving liberty ("sovereignty") as a very poignant one -- for me. I'm truly thankful I once had a severe drinking "problem". I never did embrace the idea that alcoholism is in any manner or form a "disease", and refuse to argue that with anybody. I do know that, had I not been forced -- first by psychopaths of that abstraction called "the state", later by my desire to achieve true self-ownership -- to stop drinking, I would inevitably and inescapably revert to taking that next drink.

And a large parcel of drunken debauchery and additional (and probably well-deserved) tyranny from the white man.

What I had to learn in order to stay sober appears to be the precise opposite of that portion of your comment I've quoted above. It's not, really -- but you and I have different perspectives from which we approach the topic, each of them legitimate in its own light. I had to come to understand that I, and I alone, am responsible for my freedom. And for my enjoyment OF that freedom. Today.

Nobody else -- my wife, my children, my neighbors or students or customers -- none of them can subtract from my sovereignty unless I allow that to happen.

I am responsible to be a good teacher. I am not responsible for the learning -- only the teaching. Simple stuff, but far more difficult to grasp than it appears. Because the student will not always agree with or conform to the teaching -- "my" version of the teaching. And if the teacher isn't careful that will unreasonably rankle her or him -- particularly in those many instances where the student turns out to be right.

One of the esteemed assets of the truly great educator is the understanding -- and acceptance of the fact -- that many of his or her students will have "...much greater insights than I..."

You see, Jim, old Naylor may not be so miserable after all. He might just have a point, although I'm certain that his "1%" declaration is bogus. I recently read that 68.8% of all quoted statistics are proclaimed at the spur of the moment. That's supposed to be a joke.

But MY sovereignty does not hinge upon "the rest of society" (another abstraction) to exercise THEIR sovereignty. I can't get to them all. Neither can you.

Many probably will never even desire or understand or agree with the term. Ever. Many may even feel duty-bound to expend large blocks of energy in attempt to douse my sovereignty. Some will "...believe in slavery (some humans ruling others)...", and will attempt to "...impose that slavery if they have the chance to do so. On you..."

My responsibility is strictly to myself -- to achieve and to maintain my sovereign statehood -- in spite of the naysayers. I feel a need to and would enjoy the opportunity to help you along -- if and when you ask for my help -- to the extent that I have the expertise to counsel. I'm happy to declare that of my 25 grandchildren 19 are homeschooled. We start homeschool at birth, not age 5 or 6 or other arbitrary state-mandated jejunity, and my newest little granddaughter just came about September 23rd on the Gregorian calendar. She is being homeschooled as we speak -- largely by her 4 older ornery brothers.

I'm glad that I urged homeschooling to my adult children. But some of them are caught up in a religiosity (thanks, Paul Bonneau) to which I do not subscribe. That is their responsibility -- not "grandpa's" -- and I lend whatever support I can without trying to subvert them or their beliefs or their adoration for Dr. Paul.

My stance is to lead by love and example, not tyranny. For that, I am responsible.


Jim Davies's picture

Good morning, Sam. You truck, I think; I do hope you'll find your way one day to the North East. We could share a jar (of lemonade) and have a great old time.
Please don't get hung up on phrases. "Parting company" means, in my book, respectfully to disagree. You use such phrases, too: you often refer to a "White man" in a way I don't understand. I suppose its some kind of cultural thing, in each case.
It worried me, though, a bit, that you seem unable to grasp the fact that we fully agree, about "your sovereignty." Of course it doesn't depend on anyone else. Whenever did I say it did?
What certainly does depend on everyone else is your enjoyment of your sovereignty in practice. That is so abundantly obvious to me that I'm surprised I have to repeat it, and I'm at a loss to know how to explain it in different or simpler words.
You have an absolute right to drive your truck any place you wish, unless someone else owns the land under its wheels. You're sovereign. But can you do so in practice? - NO!  You have to get permits from a third party; a permit to get into the driver's seat, a permit to buy the truck (they call that sales tax, and it's horribly expensive), a permit to move it without frequent roadside inspections... I don't even know them all. You know perfectly well you are a very, very long way from being sovereign, in practice.
Your enjoyment of sovereignty in practice, and mine, awaits the disappearance of government; and (as I see it) that requires an universal re-education effective enough to motivate everyone not to work for it.

Jim Davies's picture

(Re-posted as a reply. Sorry.)

Mark Davis's picture

Education is the only way to overcome the normalcy bias inherent in all victims of statist indoctrination, because it was mis-education that created the problem to begin with.  Jim's program is but one of many, which is a good thing, but also a significant program due to both its scope and the emphasis on a simple strategy.  The alternative of violence is counterproductive at best, and destructive at worse.  Perhaps when all is lost and desperation rules the day, then violence becomes unavoidable as a survival strategy, but we are not there yet.

mhstahl's picture

Jim, I'm hurt. Here I'd thought I'd been quite forthright and direct in my natterings of negative nabobery! :)
I do respect your efforts and certainly your enthusiasm, but your vision just doesn't comport with my view of freedom in any way, in fact it is more than a bit frightening to me.
Of course, I am teasing you a bit, though I really don't think I (and several others, IIRC) have ever shown any shame in challenging your views. You do stick to your guns, and I can respect that.

Jim Davies's picture

Please don't be hurt! - and even less, frightened. You aren't even on my list of nattering nabobs.
Now, however, I'm not so sure :-)  You say my vision of freedom doesn't comport with yours "in any way"? Really? You've read A Vision of Liberty, perhaps, and still say so? That would be a real puzzle. Details here and there may be wrong or disputable, but "in any way"... hmmm. I have to wonder in that case whether we are even on the same page.
BTW, in case you have not read that book, several of its chapters appear on STR, see index here.

mhstahl's picture

I was really just having a little fun...
I say "in any way" mainly because of the "universality" that you find so essential, as well as you oft repeated assertion (including in this thread) that an individual's freedom is predicated on the actions of others. I truly disagree, I see no reason that there can't be a full spectrum of ideas and social structures...why not? Likewise, unless someone is actually doing me harm, why do I need to concern myself with what they do, or why? In fact, that's what I do now, and aside from some irritating but prudent steps to avoid the tender caress of the government's costumed crusaders I do as I please. I've never deliberately hurt anyone, and outside of those in government employ I've rarely been harmed by anyone else deliberately. I think most people live that way, frankly.
Perhaps "in any way" is a bit strong as there is plenty of common ground, but when you put your notion of a free society forth it reads like a bureaucratized version of anarchy, with complex rules that are immutable and "universal." In the end, I think the entire system almost begs for an overseer with the ability to apply force at will. Hence my fear.
I don't think all of that is necessary-people already know how to get along for the most part, and are quite capable of adapting and forming societies with all manner of customs. What I don't think people are capable of is embracing a single overarching philosophy- I for one wouldn't wish to.
What is ultimately going to be necessary is wresting control of resources from government-but there is hope there, the universe is vast, as is the seabed, and who knows, perhaps someone will unlock fusion, or find a way to convert matter to food without agriculture(all of which is completely possible.) It is government force of arms that enslaves us all to artificially scarce resources, not a misunderstanding of philosophy(which is, I would suggest, not even possible anyway), at least in my opinion. It is technology that has permitted that overwheming force, and with it the nasty tendancy for government to make itself indispensible by passing out favors to the select, but it is also technology that might unlock the cage. Violence will never work, as it will only exchange masters(though it can check the rise of new ones.) It took millenia to get to this sorry state of affairs, it will take a long time to unwind the clock.
For what it's worth, you are in good company, Hoppe's view of society with (very) strict property "rights" causes me almost the same fact even more so.
I am a firm believer in disagreeing without being disagreeable, I hope I've managed to do that in our frequent jousts.

Jim Davies's picture

Very glad it was all in jest, Mike. Fun is good.
I'm still horrified though that you see my vision of liberty as "a bureaucratized version of anarchy". I wonder how you could possibly have gained that impression. From the chapters to which I provided a link,  can you give me an example or two?
They are (or are meant to be) visions or estimates of how a free society will function. It may - probably, will - work out differently, at least in minor detail. But each chapter does try to address real questions that are bound to arise, and suggest how in a zero-compulsion society they will be resolved. The very last thing it will need or attract is some kind of overseer!
You refer also to the old canard known as "Panarchy" and yes, I certainly see that as a distraction, a snare and a delusion. In its nature, a free society will be just that - free; each person does his or her own thing.  The only prohibition will be not to impose an obligation on someone else. So far, so good. But it just doesn't end there, if there remains an element of statism; because statists by definition believe in governing. Sooner or later, belief produces action. Inevitably, aggression will happen.
Now, if the aggression is minor (eg, 1% or 2% of the people aggress) then a free-market justice system will handle it readily; this chapter suggests how. But in a panarchistic society there is no such limit. Hence my insistence that panarchy is utopian; even if put in place, it could not possibly survive.

Samarami's picture

I'll throw in with Mike on this one.

    "...You do stick to your guns, and I can respect that..."

Not only that, Jim, but you elicit lots and lots of good comments and vigorous discussion. Some, I'll admit, turn out to be pissin' matches; but even that brings activity here. Sorely needed. If I never get mud slung in my eye, I'll probably not advance in my learning. I'm old, and skeered of getting set in my ways.

So many opinion forums deteriorate into one- or two-line insults between combatants, then everybody gives up and the forum dies off. None of us would want to see that happen here. This is one of the rare libertarian discussion boards where everybody gets a chance to punch the bag without anybody getting hurt.


Jim Davies's picture

It's not about "throwing in" or taking sides, Sam. Or, I hope not. It's about getting one's head straight.
Either my vision of liberty is a "bureaucratized anarchy" as Mike suggested, or else it's not. At the moment, he and I differ. I've invited him to name a couple of examples to prove or illustrate his point, and extend the invitation to you. Can you name any, from the eight STRticles here? To take sides before having done (or failed to do) that would, I suggest, be premature.
Maybe you don't get these thrown at you, but it seems to me that when we say we favor a zero government society, our hearer is entitled to ask some tough questions. How would this work, and why would that not produce chaos, and so on. One of the toughest is, how would title be awarded, to receivers of former "government property"?  When I write about a free society, I like to anticipate such objections and show possible solutions. That is not, absolutely not, to be confused with enforcement of those fixes.

Wani1's picture

Is there a truly free society in the modern world? I'd like a ticket to that very much.

JD: So much, then, for the claim that re-education doesn't work. It may not always work, and for sure a great deal more of it is needed, but re-education is the only thing that does work.

Whether education or re-education, each (adult?) individual will accept and reject what fits into his/her 'world-view', what applies to their ideas of 'good vs bad', 'right vs wrong', or 'other ways vs my way'. One example that comes immediately to mind is creationism vs evolution. One can present the best scientific evidence, etc, to a creationist and have it all summarily rejected, forever. The same applies in the opposite direction. Once set in a human mind, most things seem to be set in stone and steel. The immovable object and the irresistible force may have at each other for eternity, and lead to a no-win situation. We can tell another that this will lead to that, or that the result of whatever is going to be thus, but until the 'other' decides (perhaps secretly?) to test, re-test, then test some more to exhaustion, few will accept what they don't or won't believe in. Some may even perish trying not to be 'wrong'.

Two quotes attributed to Einstein come to mind:
"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."
(If one can't or won't even imagine a possibility, it will never really exist for him/her.)
"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result."
Ah, the human rut. Some (most?) dig in so deeply that they can no longer see over the top and so rut becomes grave and they take with them only what they brought into the rut: themselves. All else is, must be, rejected.
Why? How?
We just don't know the answers to that because no one has yet found a way to crawl inside another mind and shine a light into all the cracks and crevices and unravel the rope people use to tie themselves to their own belief system.

Until/unless a human being can first imagine his is not THE way, THE right, THE good, education does fail, because the individual, from cradle to grave, is also 'educating' himself, and he is his favorite teacher, but then, in many instances, he becomes the only teacher allowed in his 'classroom', his private mind.
I assure you, from a strictly clinical analysis, one can knock on the door to a human mind until knuckles shatter, but unless someone opens that door, and not even then in many instances, can we go in and so much as visit the well-kept parlor, much less the bedroom closet.

JD: Yet some folk, it appears, actually like being victims. Up to a point, presumably. To me, it's very odd, and I'm not sure whether “martyr complex” quite covers it, so maybe a shrink is needed.

Why, yes, yes many do like being the victim. "It's me against the world." "I'm OK/smart/right, but you're trying to make me seem NOT OK/dumb/wrong." Shields up! "People just won't leave me alone!"
Victimization can be addictive to many. If they are victims, surely enough "rescuers" will notice and should gather around them to overcome the attackers. If that doesn't happen, retreat further into victimization? Likely, unfortunately, for who wants to be not OK, or dumb, or wrong? A martyr tells himself he's dying for the good of 'others', the 'masses', but a victim is in it alone. In that type of mind, solitude/isolation becomes the very insulation needed to remain a victim. Every knock on the door to that mind is an alarm going off that just screams "HIDE!"

JD: It means that as a tiny minority, we'd be permanently treated as freaks and misfits and see ourselves as some class of victim. The psychology of this is beyond me, but right off the bat I'll say that if it were true, I'd be right out of here. I see no merit or enjoyment whatsoever in being in such a queer backwater of humanity.

This is something that has always perplexed me. May I call it the "herd mentality"?
I do not mean this to apply to you personally, but to society in general. We must be acceptable, or part of a group/herd that is recognized as not "freakish", not a tiny herd, not "queer"?
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, yes?
He would definitely be a minority, and likely 'queer', and also 'freakish' when compared to the 'norm', but he'd also be, shall we say "blessed" to have sight, even if in only one eye.
Should he blind himself in his one eye to not be any of those things, to be part of the majority?
Looking at the "recently discovered tribes" in South America...before their "discovery" they were obviously content for centuries or perhaps for millennia, and likely survived things most 'modern' folk would have probably succumbed to. Their skills and customs were unique, to say the least, but as a very small minority, and appearing 'freakish and queer' to the rest of us, they weren't at all either of those things amongst themselves. Until they learn a language other than their own, none will know they're "misfits" and even after that how many will care? Will they be better off, happier, once they're part of the modern majority, once they're no longer the "backwater of humanity"? I've read a few case studies on that sort of thing and I'd have to say they'll likely rue the day they were "discovered".

Could I but dare imagine I was in a "1% group", not the 99% norm, I should be delighted.
Alas, 1% seems too large a grouping...for me.

JD: To adopt Naylor's second opinion would be to deny all that, to say that mankind can never live as he has evolved to live.

Each human being 'evolves', mainly, within himself.
Whereas we could say I (hypothetically) evolved to paint my behind a bright red and run wild with the rabbits, eat wild honey and bay at the moon, you might well be appalled that I evolved that way.
If you (hypothetically) said that you evolved to walk on your hands, quack like a duck, and drink only dew off roses, I'd have to reply, "Right on, dude! More power to you!"

But is that how modern society is geared? Can 'evolved' humans accept the evolution of ALL equally? Can he who has evolved to truly appreciate Mozart and must wear a dinner jacket to the toilet ever live in harmony with a neighbor who arises every morning to stand naked in his own yard and pipe the sun up on bagpipes?

Is the answer to such vast differences in 'evolution' then to have only pipers living amongst other pipers, and only those who quack like ducks live with other quackers?
Can quackers and pipers both live their personal evolution in peace and harmony, given there will be those who find such intensely loathsome and will surely want to create laws to stop that?
What of those who evolved to become pedophiles, child-beaters, rapists?
We each have drawn lines in our own sandpiles and chosen things we won't tolerate crossing beyond that line. Right/wrong, we choose, and that too, is part of evolution...some choosing this, others that. Seems impossible to resolve how we each have evolved with how others have. Some things seem to be too 'mind-blowing' for some individuals to ever accept in others. For some, merely drumming fingers on a table is a killing offense.

JD: A form of permanent war, though, is what results from Naylor's naysaying. Libertarians are stuck as a 1% minority forever, and forever must kill or be killed.

A permanent state of war has indeed existed among humans since the first ones crawled out of caves, has it not? And, given the nature of the beast, the quest to be "top dog" (WHY?), push inevitably leads to shove and war it is, yes?
Mankind has barely risen above the unbridled 'kill or be killed' in, dare we hope, the majority of earth, or perhaps not even that, but such super-aggression still exists as we witness in headlines each new day.
Is there remedy for that?
Hope is all we have, and clinging to that seems a fine idea.

Labels create a lot of controversies. "Left-wing/right-wing", "conservative/ liberal", "caucasian/non-caucasian", "poor/middle-class"...on and on, ad infinitum et ad nauseum. Even "man/woman" can lately start a fight it seems. "Earthling", "space-traveler" might not be as dangerous a label as the others we use but labels they are. Labels create division. Division has gotten us into many a fine pickle.

JD: It's quite true, that if a small minority of any sort is persecuted over a long period, it's like raising the temperature of a pressure cooker; eventually, there will be an explosion.

Is the persecution reduced by refusal to feel persecuted, or, put another way, how do each of us define persecution? Is some persecution merely differences of opinion? Certainly real persecution exists, no denying that, but if we could avoid feeling even slighted when differences, or even objections, are made known, well, what if? If, in my own mind, I am truly devoted to and convinced of "my way", ideals, choices being the right ones for ME, why would I care who agrees/disagrees, condemns my choices, or mocks me for having them? If I am 100% certain that what I "am" or think is the only way I can live happily and peacefully upon this tiny speck in the universe, why would anything but a physical attack on me matter? Certainly if, say, "Mr. Bagpiper" came at me with those pipes as if to slay me, I would have no problem doing what was necessary to stop him in his tracks. First law of nature and all that. But if he merely stood in his yard and pointed at me and laughed, why care? There would be humor in that, at least to me. I might even feel badly FOR him. But to allow that to escalate to feelings of persecution, even if he did so every day?
His yard, his choice.

As in the case of a pressure cooker, the pressure builds from within, not from without.
Let the thing vent, and no explosion, right?
We may do well to discover our vents, and use them in utmost privacy...perhaps?

My grandfather used to sit and tell us of the 'old days', when there was but one 'law' not steal. Not the truth, not a life, not a bow string or a kernel of corn. If one stole, it was their family's responsibility to apply the 'solution'...death. If the family refused, someone appointed would do so.
Children learned by watching, listening, living, and by finding out for themselves that fire will burn, etc. No one presumed to stop anyone from doing anything, except for stealing. People could agree to all that or move on. If Little Johnny persisted in hitting himself in the head with a rock, rather than interfere, people would let him continue until he was gone with the wind. Others saw what that got Johnny. Few followed suit.
Yes, it was too simple, but it did deter, just a little, just enough...usually.
At least for those who chose to be a part of that society.

Ah, life, and choices.
Life does have a way of becoming what we choose.
Education or not, change or not, this and that, all choices, and, in the end, only ourselves, our deepest selves, to thank or blame.
Or so it seems to me.
May we evolve to be grateful to be a 1% or less.
Our individual rarity may demand we need to be the only 'one'?

Jim Davies's picture

Most of the extremely negative ideas in this Comment are refuted by the "Naysayers" article itself, so in reply I'll just recommend a re-read. One, though, perhaps does warrant a little extra.

It is that once made up, a mind is very hard to change; Wani1 gives the example of the dedicated creationist. He's right, to a point; there are periods in life when no amount of rational persuasion will suffice, and my own story (published here) may illustrate that. However, I've had more than one major change of mind in my life, and very probably so has everyone reading this; for there are other periods when persusasion is perfectly effective. My own main regret is that when I was ready to listen, there were too few around ready, able and willing to show me which way was up.
That anomaly - that we are not fixed entities, but have minds whose open-ness varies with time and circumstance - is nicely handled by the replicative principle associated with TOLFA; to bring a friend to the Academy only when he wishes to come. The rest (the great majority of those invited) will be invited again, another day. And eventually, as suggested in Transition to Liberty, we'll reach the lot - within a single generation.