As a species we have come a long way from the days of barbarism and conquest. There is, however, still a thread of tribalism that runs through many in the world that brings the worst qualities out in otherwise peaceful and enlightened people. This is understandable, we’re a social mammal for whom association with fellow members of our species is an innate quality. It can be problematic, however, when we lack self knowledge and apply that collectivist instinct to our opinions and beliefs. Those mere concepts, when applied to the universal, can often be problematic too. I had a debate over the weekend on the role of force in society. Through extensive reading and thought on the subject I have come to the conclusion that the Non Aggression Principle is the most virtuous guide for my actions and the highest goal for human behavior. If applied in society it would lead to a far more peaceful, prosperous and free world. The folks I was debating with, however, didn’t agree and while I respect their right to hold an opinion or belief the problem with the debate was that the facts I was presenting, for example that the notion that the best way to subdue violence in society is the threat of violence is an inherently circular and irrational position, their emotion and predisposition to thinking within the current paradigm uncovers a lack of thought about the subject or an acceptance of the legitimacy of force, something I reject.
The reason I find this interesting is that I was struck by something Michael Malice (author of the excellent “Dear Reader”) said on Gavin McInnes’ podcast “Free Speech” a while ago. He said that he thinks most people aren’t “thinking beings” and are much closer to the instinctive ancestors we tend to think we have left behind. I’ll admit that I initially balked at this idea as it could be used to leverage an argument for subjugation and against a free society. The rationale might go something like “Most people aren’t thinking beings therefore they are unfit to govern themselves and an elite must be empowered to make decisions for them”. This, I think, is the current rationale for statism. As Mises said, and I paraphrase, the [statist] claims that because we say something ought not be done by the government that it ought not be done at all. There seems to be an assumption that because the voluntarist rejects the monopolistic, violent entity of centralized, coercive government that he wants the world to revert to feudalism or that this would be the inevitable result of the transition to a free society. It is this assumption of the worst in humanity that I find so very disheartening. It is the epitome of cynicism misanthropy to conclude that without the constant threat of violence hanging over our heads we would all become pillaging murderers and rapists. That we are inherently bad and need to be forced to be good makes zero logical sense when you apply rational thought to the problem. This is, again, something that Mises pointed out and all it takes is a simple thought experiment to verify it. If people are so bad that they are incapable of governing themselves then it follows logically that none are suited to govern others. We are the best judges of our own actions and thoughts because only we know our whole selves. Striving to attain better self knowledge is something that helps us inform our actions and decisions thus increasing our focus on developing self knowledge is essential to the transition to a more peaceful and ultimately free society.