Not government, not financial or religious institutions, not the media, not health or educational ‘services’, not corporations, not the legal system or police, not the military, not experts or academia. After you eliminate the State, who is left? Society – the dynamic of average people who produce and trade honestly through their own efforts.
Posts Tagged ‘Wendy McElroy’
Non-cooperation is most often associated with social movements but it can function on the individual level to preserve personal freedom. A person is as free as his ability to say “no.” But criminals who would compel compliance often respond with punishment backed up by force. It is far from clear how an individual should react to the threat of force because circumstances vary from person to person. A bachelor might be willing to say “no” and be imprisoned for doing so; a family man might not be willing to deprive his children of his income. For the family man, a better alternative might be a display of consent that is backed by the reality of non-cooperation.
A number of libertarian concepts have troubled me for years. In at least three cases, my discomfort results from the manner in which the concept is being presented. Accordingly, I am throwing my doubts and conclusions into the movement ether in order to test them against feedback.
Denying the right of a woman to abort involves denying the basis of libertarianism itself. Libertarianism is often expressed as “the non-initiation of force” but the question is why – why is it wrong to initiate force? The answer lies in a more fundamental principle. The Levellers in seventeenth-century England called it ‘self-proprietorship’; the first American anarchist Josiah Warren referred to ‘the sovereignty of the individual.” 19th century American abolitionists defined the concept of ‘self-ownership’ as the jurisdiction that every human being has over his or her own body simply by virtue of being human. The answer to why it is wrong to initiate force is because force violates that person’s self- ownership. The jurisdiction of each peaceful person over his or her body is what constitutes individual rights.
Were 19th century individualist anarchists in America inherently atheistic? Certainly freethought – a common term for atheism in that day – exerted a strong influence on such significant figures as Moses Harman and E.C. Walker who co-edited Lucifer, the Light Bearer. Their freethought was rooted in a deep desire to remove Church authority from marital and sexual matters; too often this authority went beyond moral suasion and was translated into laws that violated the peaceful actions of consenting adults. In short, the Church tended to become the State.
I generally eschew question-and-answer as a format for presenting ideas but the choice I confront is to use this ‘easy’ structure or to delay the promised ‘refutation’ until next week due to deadline pressure. I chose ‘easy’. The following commentaries do not exhaust my objections to the Single Tax – far from it. But they provide a good indication of those objections and (hopefully) a springboard for productive discussion. The questions in bold face represent the Georgist position, followed by my ‘refutation.’
Anyone familiar with the Individualist tradition in America has encountered the Single Tax movement. It is sometimes called Georgism after its formulator and foremost advocate Henry George (1839-1897). Georgism links the poverty and injustice of society to the usurpation of land and advocates the imposition of a single tax on land (“economic rent”) as a solution. That is, land should be viewed as common property with payment for use — a single tax — going toward society. Several prominent individualists have championed the single tax, including Albert Jay Nock and Francis Neilson, founders of The Freeman. Yet the doctrine has attracted equally prominent critics both in the 19th century and now.