Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 503, January 25, 2009

When will enough be enough?
When will people stop obeying?

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What Would Freedom Look Like?
by Paul Bonneau
1.paulbx1 -+at+-

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

When looking at what direction to go, it's often a good idea to imagine what it would look like if one actually got there. I'm talking about freedom, of course. For one thing, such a plausible scenario might be used to dispense fears of people for whom it is not obvious that the end result is one they can live with.

We have seen various examples (e.g. Probability Broach) giving some flavor of what a free life might be. I think a lot of them tend to be reflections of the author's preferences. "Freedom is just like suburban life today, with a little more drugs and guns thrown in," and things of that nature.

What I think, is that it will look a lot like today in many respects. However, it will not be so "homogenized". Government tends to iron out differences, bear down preferentially on people who are far outside the mean, cast everything into a bland, grey, bureacratized mold. With no government, this blanding of America would be reversed.

Let's imagine no federal or state governments. Perhaps, as has happened now and then in the past, people just stop listening en masse to the ruling classes, simply ignoring them (it takes cooperation to keep the plunder machine going). In such a free world, it is pretty easy to imagine a sort of "anything goes" culture in the big cities -- plural marriages, booze drugs and sex, strange professions and avocations, weird dress habits, you name it ("weird" and "strange" being in the eye of the beholder, of course). But would there still be a place in freedom for Hutterites? For the FLDS Church?

Yes. Not only that; there will also be communities of communists, communities of Nazis, and of any other outlandish human expression or worldview one could think of.

Now, I've seen in discussion of this, that many of those communities would not actually be "free". And that bothers some folks. I find it hard to see why it would bother anyone, as long as you can leave a community that is not as you like it. Remember, in a free society one can find a community that suits, since there will be amazing diversity out there.

No doubt at some point, someone will say, "How do we get there from here? If a gay man is in a community that outlaws homosexuals, does he have to move?"

There seem to be two major difficult points. The transition to freedom, as above; and how children are dealt with. I will address those in future articles, and I hope others post ideas about these too. Right now I just want to look at the end result.

If someone just says, "Freedom means no rules anywhere," they are doomed to disappointment. Not only because it would be awful hard to get any but a tiny minority to go along with that; but because even if such a condition occurred by magic, humans would undermine it by agreeing to give up this freedom or that in exchange for something else like culture or security. And, you can't force them to stop doing that! If you tried, that wouldn't be freedom either, because freedom implies no initiation of force. People can get together and set a speed limit in their community, or say "no gays" or "no straights", or any other thing that pleases them to do. As long as they do not force it on others.

The bottom line here is that, in a free society, there would be vastly more diversity in communities than there is now. Which should be good news to people with all sorts of world-views currently, who might have objected to freedom otherwise if they thought it would mean everything had to look just like San Francisco, but with guns and no cops.

Yes, there is room in a free society for Hutterites and FLDS. In fact there is more room, since current statist society has treated FLDS folks so shabbily.

Do you disagree?

Again, the transition problem and problem with children will be addressed in the future, but I'll bet this will not keep people from objecting based on transition, or arguments about children. In this article I'm just trying to get people to admit that people unlike them will still have a place in a free society.


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