Sunday, June 12, 2011

Voluntaryist Issue 19: Miscellaneous Mutterings

Up to now, I think I have taken nearly every item in each issue of The Voluntaryist and written a post exclusively for that item. However now that summer is here and I’m well into my bicycle riding stupor days again, I’ve realized at the rate I’m going, I’ll never get this project done if I continue in this manner. Particularly since Carl continues to churn out issues as I go!

I started last August and am now on Issue 19. If I get finished with Issue 20 by this August that’s 20 issues a year and at that rate I’ll be doing this for 7 and ½ years. And that’s only counting what’s been published so far. I am enjoying this project but I’m not sure I want to do it for 7 more years.

So from now on, I may just pick one item to post about separately and then post another entry that consists of the other items in an issue. I guess that means I’ll pick the one that interested me the most, or hits me in particular in some way.

At any rate, I hope to be moving at a faster pace through the issues. Below is a compilation of comments on the rest of the items in Issue 19.

The Value of Institutions

In Issue 19 Carl Watner reviews a book by Butler Shaffer, Calculated Chaos, Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival.

Butler Shaffer is a law professor at Southwestern Law School and before reading this issue of The Voluntaryist, I had already read many articles he penned on I clearly remember, after reading only one or two, that his viewpoint resonated with me so much that I clicked the archive button to see all of his writings.

And in this review Carl mentions that Professor Shaffer was an instructor in the Freedom School, which we’ve discussed here before. No wonder I found his writings so intriguing and interesting. (Sometimes I feel like I’m putting together a puzzle of people promoting a voluntary society.)

But back to Carl’s review of Shaffer’s book. This book is about institutions and their effect on human interaction. Apparently, Shaffer is no fan of institutions in general. Carl is somewhat neutral on the value of institutions and as you might expect, the important consideration for Carl is whether or not the institution is of a voluntary nature. In the end Carl recommends the book and leaves it for each reader to decide whether or not even voluntary institutions are valuable.

Coffee Communism?

Issue 19 reprints an article that was published in 1986 in The Wall Street Journal. “Who Makes the Coffee in Your Office?” was written by Jane S. Shaw and she describes what happened in an office where she worked after the company decided to supply free coffee to the employees.

Microfiche: Lost In Technology?

This issue contains an article, “A Modest Revolutionary Proposal: John Zube and Microfiche,” where the benefits of microfiche are touted as a way to store and disseminate information. Although I believe microfiche is still being used as a way to store data, I wonder how useful it will be now that pages can be directly scanned right onto a computer. This article does contain some interesting points on how it is getting easier and easier to spread information and ideas, which we all hope will one day lead to an improved society, one that understand voluntary interactions are the best means of human interaction.

L. Neil Smith’s “A New Covenant”

Finally this issue contains a document that libertarian science fiction writer L. Neil Smith sent to Carl. It’s titled “A New Covenant,” and seems to be Smith’s attempt to write a document of libertarian principles.

Unfortunately in 2010 this document became part of a strange controversy when The Shire Society, a group of people in New Hampshire’s freedom movement used this document as a basis for creating their own covenant. It led to Smith accusing them of stealing his property which led to the issue of copyright and intellectual property rights. To see a link-filled history of this controversy, go to this link at


MamaLiberty said...

Hmmm, the summaries will be most welcome, Debbie, but I don't see much here that reflects YOUR reactions or thoughts on the subjects.

Summaries good... just need more input from Debbie. :)

Debbie H. said...

Ok, more input next time then. :)