Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Plan to Attain a Voluntary Society

Discussions about a voluntary society often arise from a discussion on a particular issue, for example, education, or maybe Social Security. If the discussion continues long enough, eventually someone asks for a plan - a specific plan to explain in detail how that issue can be solved or accomplished through voluntary interactions.

For many people, a plan validates an idea. They are used to plans because politicians are always offering plans. They don’t understand that the lack of a central plan is a free society’s strength.

The point is to not confine society to a singular plan, but to allow individuals the freedom to create and choose from a wide variety of plans that meet various needs and desires.

This is why I try to focus discussions not on plans but on principles.

In Issue 29, “What is Our Plan?” Carl shares an editorial, written in 1844 by slavery abolitionist Nathaniel Peabody Rogers for a publication titled HERALD OF FREEDOM where the author describes the focus on principles rather than specific plans:

“(T)o be without a plan is the true genius and glory of the anti-slavery enterprise. The mission of that movement is to preach eternal truths, and to bear an everlasting testimony against the giant falsehoods which bewitch and enslave the land. It is no part of its business to map out its minutest course in all time to come, - to furnish a model for all the machinery that will ever be set in motion by the principle it is involving. The plan and the machinery will be easily developed and provided, as soon as the principle is sufficiently aroused in men's hearts to demand the relief of action.”

During the closing of Libertopia 2011, Stefan Molyneux gave an interesting demonstration of what it would be like for someone offering a plan back in the days of slavery in answer to the question, “But who will pick the cotton?” At 13:44 in the video, you can see how ridiculous a real plan would sound to those living at the time:

The abolitionists knew it was not about providing a plan for who will pick the cotton, the point was the principle that slavery is wrong.

So, right now it’s important to spread the principles that provide the foundation for a voluntary society using any and all peaceful means available. Then, as society begins to understand, accept and universally apply these principles, specific (and varied) plans will follow.

Here’s another excerpt from Carl’s editorial section from Issue 29, “What are we for? – What Do We Believe” that lends some basic ideas worthy of passing along to others:

“THE VOLUNTARYIST is seldom, if ever, concerned with personalities; but we are concerned with ideas. Our interest is in the enduring aspects of libertarianism. Among these ideas we would include the concept that taxation is theft; that the State is an inherently invasive institution, a coercive monopoly, that war is the health of the State; that power corrupts (especially State power); that there is no service demanded on the free market that cannot be provided by market methods; and that the delineation and implementation of property rights are the solution to many of our social and economic ills. Nor to be overlooked is our insistence on the congruence of means and ends; that it is means which determine ends, and not the end which justifies the means.”

The absence of a singular confining plan is the entire point of a voluntary society, so rather than trying to come up with complicated plans to fit all needs, perhaps we should stick to the simpler task of clarifying basic principles.

Don’t be fooled though. Just because it’s simpler, doesn’t mean it’s easier.

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