Thursday, February 16, 2012

Voluntaryism in Action

Pete Eyre, who I’ve mentioned on this blog before, (here and here) has recently accomplished a goal which clearly demonstrates voluntaryism in action. That’s not why he did it of course. Pete chose his course of action because he had a problem to solve and wanted to find a peaceful, non-governmental approach.

You can read all about it here but in general what happened is that Pete found himself in a conflict after he loaned money to a friend and was having trouble getting the loan re-paid. So Pete, knowing the importance personal reputation plays in an individual’s successful interactions with others, decided to create a situation that he hoped would provide enough incentive for his friend to act.

He succeeded. What I like best is that this was a win-win-win situation.

Pete has been re-paid a debt he was owed, his friend has freed himself from the debt while moving himself a bit higher up the personal ladder of reputation, and all of us who are looking to see how to solve problems and conflicts through voluntary interactions now have a wonderful real-life example in all its rich detail.

While I sit around blabbering about this stuff, Pete is one of the people actually out there truly living and breathing it. Pete’s patience and commitment to voluntaryist ideas really paid off - not only literally for him, but in general for all of us. Nice job Pete!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Peace: The Natural Consequence of Liberty

The feature article in Issue 35 of The Voluntaryist consists of an excerpt written by Gustave de Molinari called “The Production of Security.” According to a preface written by Murray Rothbard, Molinari was the first economist (this was in the 1880s) to apply free market principles universally and consistently, thereby concluding that security should not be given an exception.

Molinari writes:

"We are consequently led to ask ourselves whether this exception is well founded, in the eyes of the economist. It offends reason to believe that a well established natural law can admit of exceptions.

A natural law must hold everywhere and always, or be invalid. I cannot believe, for example, that the universal law of gravitation, which governs the physical world, is never suspended in any instance or at any point of the universe. Now I consider economic laws comparable to natural laws, and I have just as much faith in the principle of the division of labor and in the principle of the freedom of labor and of trade as I have in the universal law of gravitation. I believe that while these principles can be disturbed, they admit of no exceptions.

But, if this is the case, the production of security should not be removed from the jurisdiction of free competition; and if it is removed, society as a whole suffers a loss. Either this is logical and true, or else the principles on which economic science is based are invalid.

And so he concludes:

"It thus has been demonstrated a priori, to those of us who have faith in the principles of economic science, that the exception indicated above is not justified, and that the production of security, like anything else, should be subject to the law of free competition."

The idea of free competition in security scares a lot of people. They worry that it would lead to war between the security providers. But isn’t that what we have now, with nation-states monopolizing security and compelling funding?

These people don’t seem to understand that if so many people are afraid of out-of-control security providers, then they certainly would watch out for that and not voluntarily fund them. If security providers actually had to work to keep you as a customer, you would certainly make sure the company wasn’t going to go around starting conflicts, wouldn’t you? And if you saw that happening even after doing due diligence, you wouldn’t continue to give them money would you? And if you ran a security company, why would you try to do such a thing? What sense would it make in a competitive marketplace?

I like the way Molinari puts it:

“Just as war is the natural consequence of monopoly, peace is the natural consequence of liberty”