Recently, I was drawn to an article from Innovator, written in April 1964 by Rayo. It is titled, The Time To Design A Free Society, and is another one that could honestly have been written like, yesterday.
Roughly 60 years later, and the words are still timeless…but beyond that, he poses some interesting questions and ideas towards the building of a free society, much like what some of us envision with this P.A.Z.NIA/Second Realm Network.
The Second Realm strategy consists of rebuilding all human institutions upon frameworks of voluntaryism, a massive undertaking. It would behoove us to try out different strategies at different P.A.Z.NIAs and find out what works best.
As one example, due to the recent events at JackFest, a dispute resolution organization plan is now out there for freedom festivals to use. I offered my insights and I’m quite happy with how it is, even if only a first draft, a starting point.
And in terms of a free society, a parallel network, in my humble opinion, the most important task is connecting the already-existing, disparate freedom communities…of which there are many.
This definitely got my mind going this morning, after the official end of VONUFEST3 (of which this video contains some footage/information) — I hope it does the same for you.
Please enjoy — hope to see you in the Second Realm soon!
The Time To Design a Free Society (April 1964)
The successful implementation of a society of liberty requires that valid answers be synthesized to a wide range of legal philosophical questions. Some of the more general questions are:
- What is a proper legal basis for a laissez-faire society?
- What should be the functions of government?
- How can these functions be financed?
- How should a government or other enterprise that performs these functions be organized?
- Will all potential problems which could negate individual freedom be automatically solved by free market competition?
Today, when socialism threatens to engulf the world, it is very easy to become completely engrossed in combating the day-to-day collectivist idiocy, and ignore or postpone long-range questions regarding the proper structure of a libertarian society. In fact, some individualist leaders have tended to depreciate the value of considering such questions now, declaring in effect:
Let us first achieve liberty; then we can concern ourselves with the details of it.
Two assumptions implicit in this point of view are: (1) Many decades will elapse before the United States becomes a free nation and (2) freedom will come first to the United States.
The first assumption is probably correct, the second is more doubtful. Nevertheless, the soundness of this point of view is questionable even within the context of these assumptions. In fact, there is a potentially serious and real danger in postponing theoretical design of a laissez-faire society until we are on the threshold of such a society, and, in generating a popular demand for total liberty without first working out a detailed conception of how to successfully implement liberty.
One can appreciate the dangers of such a course of action by reviewing the history of an earlier ideological movement, noting (1) what the early intellectuals of the movement were seeking; (2) what the actual results were; and (3) why.
During the first half of the 19th century, a certain kind of ideologist generally advocated: Abolishment of slavery; Application of reason and science in place of superstition; Freedom in sexual relations – the elimination of prudery and state licensing; Freedom of children from coercive exploitation by their parents; Freedom of international trade and migration; and Alleviation of poverty.
These ideologists were the early socialists. Today, we are painfully aware of the horrors and misery which have resulted from socialism – in contrast to the good intentions and near-libertarian principles of the early advocates. What went wrong?
The early socialist intellectuals concentrated on gaining popular support. They painted vivid pictures of a society they dreamed of, of a world without poverty, disease, unhappiness or violence, but neglected the problems of how to implement their goals without contradiction, as unimportant details to be resolved in the future. Some of their objectives, such as the abolition of slavery, were achieved in large measure, quickly and easily. But the dream which aroused the most popular support – the elimination of poverty – can be achieved only by increasing productivity, not by legislative fiat. And the attainment of higher productivity requires time, even in a capitalist society.
This, the socialists failed to consider and proceeded to arouse an intense popular demand for social welfare, without acquiring, nor conveying an understanding of the preconditions for prosperity. Less scrupulous leaders swept to the forefront of the socialist movement by catering to and further cultivating this demand – and found it expedient to discard libertarian ideals. Activists, such as Marx, noted that early experiments in voluntary communism were dismal failures and, instead of discarding communal ownership of property as incompatible with freedom, recommended instead that organized coercion be used to implement altruism. And Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler proceeded to do this. Note that one glaring fallacy was sufficient to undo all the good intentions of the early idealists and turn their envisioned utopias into totalitarian police states.
Today, some advocates of freedom are proceeding in a not dissimilar way – attempting to create a popular demand for “freedom” as a disembodied ideal, without an accompanying understanding of what freedom entails – offering idyllic visions of a laissez-faire society without carefully examining feasibility – sometimes going so far as to cast aspersions on anyone who would shatter one of their beautiful dreams by pointing out bugs.
At present, libertarians are few in number and high in overall creative ability. But what today is a minor philosophical viewpoint may, in 50 years or so, be a powerful worldwide movement attracting millions of critical followers. A seemingly innocuous philosophical error, if absorbed as part of the moral values of the majority, could lead to irrepressible demands for irrational actions, and catastrophic consequences.
Legal philosophy is a difficult and demanding subject. There are few easy solutions or pat answers to the challenging problems which arise. But to prevent unintended perversion of libertarian ideals – to build the foundations of a truly free future society, we must take time now to work out the means of implementing freedom. We should define operationally as well as conceptually the objectives towards which we are striving, predict the consequences of the societal structures we envision, and test out our theories, when possible, in small-scale developments. If libertarians proceed with care and deliberation, the millennium will be ours. EL RAY