Here is an anarchist paper I wrote in 1966 or 67 at Grove City College for a course in the Development of Social Though. My professor, Dr. Susan Huck who wrote articles for the right-wing magazine American Opinion, liked my paper and gave me an A.
by Roy Halliday
This paper is not intended to deal with the ideal or absolutely perfect society, but rather with the society which I believe is most capable of satisfying human desires with a minimum amount of coercion.
The failing of many utopian schemes is that they overlook the immutability of human nature. They hypothosize a world where selfishness and possessiveness are no longer human traits and consequently there are few problems. In this paper I hope to avoid such assumptions. Although I am optimistic in that I believe many human vices could be substantially reduced, if not eliminated, by a more perfect social structure, I do not make this assumption as a prerequisite in advocating my society.
Another criticism of utopian schemes is that the author tries to impose his personal tastes and preferences on others. Often the author assumes that what he regards as right and good are absolutely so and should be universally adopted regardless of dissension. Such dogmatism I hope to avoid by making aggressive imposition of personal whim on others a crime. In fact the primary rule in my society would be that no one be permitted to impose his will on others by aggressive use of force.
Rather than try to impose my way of life on everybody and declare it the ideal for all, I want everyone to have the liberty to live according to his own ideal. My society is basically defensive rather than aggressive. I want each individual to be spared from the utopian schemes perpetrated on people in the name of humanity. In short I want to achieve the ideal of individualistic anarchy.
Only a governmentless society can provide a completely voluntaristic social structure. Such a society is the only one that is safe from the criticism of those who regard initiation of force against others as immoral. Those who do not regard initiation of force as immoral do not logically have to be anarchists, but neither can they criticize anarchists for trying to impose anarchy on them.
My society would not impose any particular code of morality on anyone.
Mind your own business is its only moral law. Interference with another’s business is a crime and the only crime, and as such may properly be resisted. In accordance with this view the anarchists look upon attempts to arbitrarily suppress vice as in themselves crimes.1
By making my society voluntaristic no one is inflicted with any particular economic system. Those who would like to try a communal system of living would be free to so as would those who prefer to live more independently. It is conceivable that various forms of economic production might develop in a free society: syndicalism, communism, partnerships, limited liability corporations, privately owned companies, etc., all existing together on a voluntary basis just as various religions exist together in “free” countries today. My personal opinion is that the private property system would take over because of its superior efficiency. Capitalism will become popular when people are given the choice to try any system. No other economic system would be able to support the heavy population which I assume my society would have from the very beginning. There might be a few dissenters--monks, nuns, nudists, die-hard Marxists, etc.--living in communes at the sacrifice of their living standards, but the vast majority would prefer the market economy.
If anarchy were adopted all over the world war would no longer be possible.
It is, after all, governments which prepare for war and wage warm even though you are obliged to fight in them and pay for them; the bombs you are worried about are not the bombs which cartoonists attribute to anarchists, but the bombs which governments have perfected, at your expense.2
War will not be ended by summit conferences, defense alliances, and unenforceable treaties. It can only end when the nation-state system ends, along with the means of gaining political power. When there are no governments there will no longer be any armies and artificial boundaries separating people and inhibiting free trade. There will be no arms race, no draft, no slavery, no rule, no chaos. Society will take the place of government. Voluntary associations for definite purposes will replace the State. Free contract will replace statute law. There will be no absence of order, just absence of rule.
Admittedly a system of equity, no less than a system of law, implies machinery for determining and administering its principles. I can imagine no society which does not embody some method of arbitration. But just as the judge in equity is supposed to appeal to universal principles of reason, and to ignore statutory law when it comes in conflict with those same principles, so the arbiter in an anarchist community will appeal to those same principles, as determined by philosophy or common sense; and will do so unimpeded by all those legal and economic prejudices which the present organization of society entails.3
Since I am assuming no changes in human nature, there will still be social problems to be dealt with in my governmentless society. There will still be crimes committed and disputes to be settled. People will still be born ignorant and require education. There will still be poor people and handicapped people, and there will still be irrational forms of discrimination among men.
Parallel institutions may be demanded to replace the government in areas where the government performed useful services. In so far as the government fulfilled "needs" of society it can be replaced by the market system where "needs" are expressed as economic demand and command a price. If the government was doing things which are not profitable on the free market it signifies that people do not want these services as much as they want other things. If this is the case, then why should they be made to pay for them? There is no just answer to this question. The most common reply usually contains presumptions as to the inefficacy of the free market. For instance J. K. Galbraith contends that the space program (which is so necessary and does so much good for everyone) could not be financed by private enterprise because of the tremendous costs involved. In fact the government has no resources at all but what it takes from private enterprise in taxes. The taxes from such companies as General Motors alone provide enough resources for a large percentage of the costs of the space program. The only thing the government does in financing the space program is to take the resources from companies like GM out of worthwhile production and use them for production which people think is not as important as the production from which they were withdrawn.
It is often contended that the free market is unable to perform certain vital services and that some coercive institution is needed to keep law and order and to pass laws and regulate people. If you grant any validity to this argument you admit that we live in an absurd world where institutionalized evil is logically necessary to preserve order. By admitting this you imply that there are no absolute moral standards. If governments have legitimate power to coerce, then people have no inalienable rights and there is no basis for morality. I believe there are no contradictions in nature and that ethics are in accord with nature, consequently there can be no such thing as a logically necessary evil. Governments which engage in coercion and plunder then must be unnecessary and replaceable. I further believe that peaceful cooperation can better be achieved through peaceful cooperation than through monopolizing coercion in the hands of government. Peaceful cooperation on the free market, which has improved the quality of services in all other fields, would, if allowed, provide a better system of protection from criminals than governments have. After all, governments in so far as they provide useful services use methods which private industry could easily duplicate or improve so long as there is a demand and people are willing to pay.
My society would use a diversified approach to finding the best solutions to all problems. There wouldn’t be one plan, but several. There would be many minds at work trying to solve social problems. The most successful plans will gain the most support, but there will always be profit to be made by thinking of better ways. I have seen some great ideas for free-market alternatives to government monopolized industries in my readings, and these from just a handful of libertarian theorists--imagine what great progress could be made if businessmen were free to put their minds to it! Everyone would be thinking of these things if they were not discouraged from doing so by the government. If profits were allowed o be made for devising better ways to defend and protect people’s rights, free-market protection and insurance agencies would make all government systems look sick.
There would be less crime in an anarchist society of the type I propose if for no other reason than that there would be fewer activities considered crimes. There would be no such crimes as treason, tax evasion, draft dodging, or crimes against the State. There would be no bribing of officials for no one would have arbitrary power. There would be no laws regulating any peaceful pursuits or infringing on the rights of anyone.
It is difficult to predict what shape society would take and how specifically they would solve social problems, except to say that, because of the free competitive approach, the best solutions would quickly replace outdated solutions.
The biggest problem would be to prevent organized crime--government. It will be necessary for people to jealously guard their own rights and the rights of others from those who would rule them. An ideological revolution would have to have taken place prior to the overthrow of government and the spirit of that revolution kept alive afterward. In the past the ideals of the revolution have always been betrayed shortly after the last battle was won. For my society to last there would have to be a spirit of freedom prevalent in the populace to the extent that they would rise up in arms against the first person to demand them to pay a tax. This spirit would have to become a tradition, a way of life passed on from generation to generation.
A common criticism of proposals which reduce the activity of government is that usually no definite plan is offered to replace the government’s program. Critics ask, “What are you going to do about the poor? How would the mail be delivered? Who would build the roads? Who would educate our children? etc.”
And the damnable thing is that, of course, everybody believes that except in this pattern nothing could possibly be accomplished: if there were no marriage licenses and no tax, none could properly mate and no children be born and raised; if there were no tolls there would be no bridges; if there were no university charters, there would be no higher learning ... Once a society has this style of thought, that every activity requires licensing, underwriting, deciding by abstract power, it becomes inevitably desirable for an ambitious man to seek power and for a vigorous nation to try to be a Great Power.4
Such people fail to grasp the central point of the anarchist proposal. Anarchism does not seek to eliminate government planning simply to replace it with a different plan. Its purpose is to eliminate central planning and imposed power altogether. It does not matter what plans are adopted as long as they are freely adopted and not imposed. It doesn’t matter what system for solving a social problem I favor so long as I am free to try it and leave others equally free. In a free society there would be no all-inclusive plan.
For instance, consider the poverty problem. What would happen to poor people in a free society? First of all there would be fewer people involuntarily poor because everyone would be able to find some kind of lucrative employment in the open market and everyone would benefit from the increased productivity when government restrictions are lifted. So the only really poor people would be so voluntarily or else as a result of some mental or physical handicap. The handicapped would represent a very small percentage of the population. They would have to rely on spontaneous human compassion for the amenities of life. These unfortunate people will not have come from nowhere. Chances are they will have families who would provide for them. If they have no family then they would have to rely on friends or strangers. Who would sit by and watch a handicapped person starve to death? I am confident that there is enough compassion in human nature so that in a free society poverty would not constitute a social problem.
There is no room in this paper to go into all the social problems and their solutions in my society except to say that they would in many cases be probably very different from the present system of solutions. For instance, I think that education would become a profit-making industry instead of a socialized or charitable institution, and that would necessitate many changes in the subject matter taught, in the form and methods of instruction, in the kind of people attending, and even in the whole style of life of society. Since education would be voluntary and privately operated there would be no such issues as forced integration or segregation, school bussing, etc. New Math or Old Math, religion or atheism would not be imposed on anyone against his will in school. There would probably be a much wider selection of educational institutions and opportunities for the kind of education best suited to each individual’s taste.
Rather than try to speculate about possible solutions to all the possible social problems that might come up, I will simply suggest that the private sector in all societies has always been the productive sector while the government has nothing to offer but destructive brute force. In an anarchistic society everyone will belong to the private sector and there will be no power structure available to those who would like to force others to conform to their plans.
But even if I didn’t believe that anarchy was necessary to maximize human welfare, I would advocate it anyway because I believe in individual rights. I believe the individual has the right to govern himself and consequently all external government is tyranny.
Back to Pieces from My Radical Libertarian Period
Back to Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday
This page was last updated on October 1, 2012.
This site is maintained by Roy Halliday. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to email@example.com.