Against Social Reformism by Tom of Preform (Rayo)

Editor’s Note: The following is a “new” article by Rayo, taken from Vonu: Book 2, Letters from Rayo, the second major batch of vonu publications from the 1960s-1990s that we’ve been able to obtain. This article in particular absolutely destroys any credibility collective movementism had–anarcho-capitalists are targeted as well. All abbreviations and original errors have been left to uphold the integrity of the original publication–[brackets] will be used for any corrections–any errors beyond that are those of your humble transcriptionist.

If you’re interested in picking up a FREE copy of the book he references, The True Believer, click here to do so.

Please enjoy and keep a look out for more great content like this.


Reprinted from PREFORM #9, May 1970

For those not acquainted with it, collective-movementism (also called “utopianism” & “bullshit libertarianism”) comes in many styles. There are the “educationalists” who think freedom will be achieved by just talking about it, the “politicians” busily campaigning for tweedle dee as the lesser evil to that terrible tweedle dum, & the “revolutionists” who want to play cops-and-robbers with the Establishment (or, more usually, TALK about doing it). Some dream of a utopia of “limited govt” capitalism, some anarcho-capitalism, & some anarcho-communism. But no matter how great their surface differences or how bitterly they feud among themselves, they share the same fundamental fallacies.

The basic premise of the collective-movementists is, in essence: no one can be free unless/until everyone is free. From this authoritarian assumption comes what there is of their strategy: to change society as a whole – to achieve freedom thru altruistic crusades and provide it for all as a free gift.

Such strategy goes contrary not only to historical experience but (in the case of the “individualists”) to their economic theory & social ideals as well. (The anarcho-communists are at least consistent in their mistake.) The collective-movementists propose to produce & maintain freedom by means proven ineffective for the large-scale production of anything of value – failing to recognize that incentives/benefits must be individualizable. They embrace a dichotomy between means & ends failing to recognize that, in social movements, the means employed will determine the ends (if any) achieved.

The collective-movementists are invariably utopianists – dreaming not of INDIVIDUAL freedom for those willing to expend the effort to achieve & maintain it, but of a “free society” wherein millions of people behave as the dreamer thinks they shd [should]. Such a view is implicitly authoritarian – perhaps another reason why the best-intentioned political crusades have brought forth only more tyranny & destruction. Consider the results of the Russian revolution, & of the many “social reform” movements in the US of 50 yrs ago.

Collective-movementism, in all its bizarre variations, is too flagrantly irrational to be explained just as an error in philosophy. The cause must be sought in psychology – for this I highly recommend Eric Hoffer’s THE TRUE BELIEVER.

Not surprisingly, most collective-movementists fail to achieve even their own personal ends. Most “mass movement” advocates end up as feuding little sects. Most “educationalists” talk only to themselves in their little magazines, books & conferences; their utterances so dogmatic & unrelated to reality as to repel most people.

As an alternative to collective movementism/utopianism, I advocate what I call libertarian realism, the application phase of which is self-liberation. I believe that freedom can be achieved by individuals/small groups regardless of how others choose to live. I intend to demonstrate this not thru verbal manipulations but by becoming more and more free. But words may suffice to clear up some misconceptions regarding libertarian realism:

In rejecting collective-movementism the libertarian realist does not shun association with others. Rather he recognizes that friendship & love can be the coin of trade among close, compatible personal acquaintances.

In rejecting utopianism the libertarian realist does not discard his ideals. Rather, he rejects trying to impose HIS ideals on others; he actualizes them in his own life.

In rejecting “educationism” the libertarian realist does not oppose education. Rather, he rejects the notion that most of the population can be propagandized into values & world views which clash with their living patterns. He recognizes that education-in-freedom & self-liberation must proceed hand-in-hand.

In rejecting crusades the libertarian realist does not neglect selling. Rather he refuses to try to sell an empty bag – which is not selling but preaching. He recognizes that he can SELL freedom to rational people as he is able to DELIVER it. (How many automobiles wd [would] be sold by someone who claimed his design wd [would] run 30 miles on a pound of sage brush & a qt [quart] of water, but who cd [could] not make his 1st delivery until 50 yrs after he had received 20 million pre-paid orders – with the automobile then to be given to everyone, whether they had paid for it or not?)

In rejecting “revolution” the libertarian realist does not necessarily shun active resistance. Rather he rejects attempts to destroy the State per se. He uses force only to repel or deter attack upon a freedomite client. (A private protection service does not attempt to eradicate stealing as a mode of behavior; rather it prevents or discourages burglars from molesting its customers.)

In rejecting “social change movements” the libertarian realist does not deny the possibility of social progress. Rather, he recognizes that social change comes only as the summation of individual changes.

In rejecting utopian speculation the libertarian realist does not neglect theory. Rather, he recognizes that theory must relate to practice, otherwise it becomes mysticism.


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