“Libertarianism: The radical notion that other people are not your property.”
We don’t know who first said those words. But we’ve seen the bitty meme circulating the social media sites recently. Could people finally be catching on? Probably only the “radicals”…
But it sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? A kind of “do unto others…but not without their permission.” Of course, there are other ways to express this basic idea too: live and let live…to each his own and his own to each…and our personal favorite, mind your own [insert expletive of choice here] business…
Alas, some people can’t just leave well enough alone. They feel the need, the compulsion, the “hand of history,” as Tony Blair once called it, to “do something.” Whether or not that something is the right thing is, to their mind, beside the point. Just so long as it’s not nothing…
That’s the real problem with statism, Fellow Reckoner. All its various machinations are, in one way or another, inherently prescriptive. You try to mind your own business. You try to live a quiet and decent life…but there’s always someone telling you there’s a better way: their way. Oh, and they’ll be needing your money and/or person to make it happen.
But how can anyone possibly claim the right to tell you how to live your life… and to force you to do it?! Seems a tough point to win, no? What about self-ownership? What about the non-aggression principle? What about “live and let live” and all that?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought he found a workaround: The “Social Contract” he called it in his waffling 18th century treatise of the same name. In a nutshell, the social contract holds that, because we are considered part of “society,” we must therefore accept the terms — whatever they may be — of that “society.” In other words, it posits an implicit consent on the part of the individual to be governed by the state…simply because the state exists, and because the majority have so willed it.
Call it “tyranny of the mob-jority.”
But what kind of contract is this, Fellow Reckoner? A “contract” that makes up for lack of consent by simply presupposing it, is no contract at all. What kind of court would uphold such a flimsy non-agreement…besides one owned and operated by the beneficiaries of such an absurd ruling?
Not that the enthusiastic Genevan is solely to blame. He was simply building on the misguided works of previous meddlers. Hobbes gave mens’ rights to the government. Locke gifted them to God (But which God? Interpreted by whom? And what for the agnostics?) Few left them in the hands of free men themselves.
But what about man vs. nature, some may be wondering? What about…gulp!…anarchy! Hobbes argued that, without the state, men would descend into a tyranny all of their own making and that they need the state to “maintain order.” But is this really true? Are we simply to take Hobbes’ word for it, to give away our most precious freedoms because of an arrogant supposition?
Is there any hope, in other words, for self-governing men and women? The state — along with its favored class of crony banksters, faux economists, prattling politicians, warmongers, tax attorneys, social parasites and the rest of their rotten ilk — has long feasted on the wealth and toil of the “free” and productive class. So long have they feasted, in fact, that they now control all the guns, all the courts and all the cages. But we needn’t “rage against the machine,” the preferred strategy for the young and the reckless. We simply need to actively withdraw the consent they claim. Writes Kevin Carson, contributing editor to the Center for a Stateless Society:
The plutocracy depends on the state for its wealth. We don’t. All we have to do to destroy them is walk away. So they’d like nothing better than to distract us from building the kind of society and economy we want for ourselves and abandoning theirs to rot, and instead waste our effort and money fighting for control of their system on their terms.
And how do we do that? With peer-to-peer technology — already flourishing in the areas of money lending (see DR article), property rental (see DR article), competing currencies (see DR article), startup fundraising, employment opportunities, micro-donations, court systems (see LFB article) and entertainment (see DR article)…to name just a few. We do this instead of supporting existing and entrenched corporations currently hiring the gun of the state to protect, by force, their own fattened interests in each of the aforementioned sectors.
We do it, in other words, with cooperation instead of coercion. With ideas instead of edicts. With voluntarism instead of statism. Continues Carson:
As they find it harder and harder to compete with progressively cheaper and more efficient technologies in the hands of ordinary people, they lean increasingly on a state that’s bankrupting itself trying to prop them up. So we can beat them simply by withdrawing from their system and building our own.
Peel back the layers of any statist argument and you will quickly discover, at its cold dark heart, the notion that you do not own your self. You are, to some degree, the property of another. As such, you are to be ruled, governed and taxed in whichever way the owner deems to be “in the interest of society.”
It’s enough to make the questioning individual cry… or laugh… or both. Either way, their message is clear: Free men are not to be trusted with their own lives.
It’s time to tell these people to mind their own [insert expletive of choice here] business.
Joel Bowmanfor The Daily Reckoning
Joel Bowman is managing editor of The Daily Reckoning. After completing his degree in media communications and journalism in his home country of Australia, Joel moved to Baltimore to join the Agora Financial team. His keen interest in travel and macroeconomics first took him to New York where he regularly reported from Wall Street, and he now writes from and lives all over the world.
Joel, this is great stuff. I’m hearing more and more of it lately. Keep it up.
Who is John Galt?
Last night I watched a doco on a tribe in Kenya living an ancient lifestyle in a small village.
In a leadership battle the leader and the challenger stood naked opposite each other with 12 foot bamboo sticks.
They whacked each other in battle until one submitted.
The moral of the story? We are social animals who necessarily live in groups. We have different personalities. Some like to lead and some like to follow. Some like to be left —-ing well alone.
The guy who can absorb the most pain gets the top job.
Just be happy that you are free Joel. You don’t have to take any responsibility. You can just look out for no. 1
“We don’t know who first said those words.”
Actually we do:
re: “We don’t know who first said those words.”
Well, the original quote was “Anarchism: the radical notion that other people are not your property”, as defined by Dr. Roderick Long. Then anonymous, meeker souls with less backbone fudged on the scary “A” word and failed to attribute Dr. Long as their inspiration out of apparent shame.
Well, I did say “libertarianism” in the original version, though the original version lacked “radical notion.” (See links above.)
The one we originally went about promoting, Dr. Long.
“…but there’s always someone telling you there’s a better way: their way. Oh, and they’ll be needing your money and/or person to make it happen.”
a perfectly valid complaint. but that’s not what libertarianism is about. that is not what motivates it. what motivates it is their desire to do what they want when they want in complete disregard of everything and everyone else around them, while nothing touches them without their express approval.
Well, libertarian philosophy is, I can do as I want to or for myself and my property as long as I cause no harm or damage to another person or their property.
Sounds good to me!
[What kind of court would uphold such a flimsy non-agreement…besides one owned and operated by the beneficiaries of such an absurd ruling?]
The ‘Supreme’ Court?
Now you understand why they constantly harp on their tool…. Democracy.
This is Going Galt. Dropping out of organised society in whatever way is legal and practical.
Gulching is the next logical step, far more difficult to achieve but may be neccesary
As for the supposed dangers of “anarchy”, one need look no further than Pennsylvania’s anarchist experiment (circa 1681-1690) to see how “dangerous” it could be (to the so-called establishment).
Your right to autonomy stops where your dependence begins. Ask yourself, to what extent am I dependent upon the state? To what extent am I dependent upon others (whether the state or not)? That is the extent to which it is justified that your benefactor(s) have dominion over you; they keep watch over you, and you need them to.
As for the feds, I want them to deliver the mail, defend our shores, and stay the Hell out of my life.
i am sorry my brain checked out while i was reading your article. How exactly does the state exploit people?
I personally know the state does it, but your article didn’t tie into anything. You did include some items about how people are becoming free of government/corporate ties. But as a whole I think your article is pretty dry and a waste of reading.
As for the social contract, you don’t like how things are going, change it. You can vote with the ballet, or if enough people are unhappy you can refuse to subject yourself to british rule.
I was looking for how the state exploits me, too. I do see the state exploited by interests of those who cannot understand some families can and do get by on less than $50K per year, and, I see citizens allowing themselves to reelect certain exploitable politicians…over and over and over…
My spouse and I are the perfect example of the ‘island’ so many think every family should be. There is no help here. We are on our own. Good thing I’m a Latch-Key Kid from early on…I don’t expect help or empathy from my fellow US citizens…but, I do work hard on social change for the children of the frozen faced adults I get to interact with everyday…
If one man owns the mountain he is also the de facto owner of all of those who depend upon the mountain for survival. When one man owns all of the resources he will become your king, although he may not request the title. Libertarianism only works when resources are infinite or seemingly infinite.
You can choose your leaders through the ballot box or you can have the free market choose them for you.
y’all might find this interesting,
Sophistry. That’s all.
Great, but bear in mind it applies to other people, not just government. If I have to take down a YouTube video, it makes no difference to me if the government forces me to or some corporation. If I can’t access public land it makes no difference whether it’s a military reservation or a private rancher blocking my way. Libertarians fail to realize that private individuals are as serious a threat to freedom as government, especially when they can call on government to back them up.
Free? that is a misnomer. Told to us by the state while they “legislate” away our freedoms.
When you've got a room full of 200 oil insiders scratching their heads at current high prices, something's gotta give.
For most investors, it’s weird to think of stocks as their go-to investing option.
The petropoly has bills to pay and setting the price of oil was a simple way to balance their budgets.
Investors don’t seem to care that what's propping up their investments is what will ultimately destroy them: government monetary policy.
For the next decade the energy revolution will be likely confined to the US, displaying the robustness of American entrepreneurship.
Why the Sage of Baltimore’s commentary persists through America’s changing times.
After attending Platt’s oil conference in London I want to relay two important themes you need to know.