Freedom Has No System by Chris Dates

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

Whenever speaking of free and voluntary societies I’m often asked, “What would we do about this”, or, “who would take care of that.”  I used to rattle off answers to these questions that were supplied by minds sharper than mine without even examining the questions. Then I realized I was focusing on the wrong part of the question. I was simply explaining how a different system would work, and hoping the ones asking the question would be won over with the clever and well thought out answers I had either memorized, or thought of myself. I have been trying to persuade people away from their system using the promise of a new and improved system. I realized I was no different than any other philosophical political peddler, and I would no longer tempt people with “our system.”

The truth is no one knows what “we” will do in a completely voluntary society, there is just no way of knowing. Any answer that is given to questions pertaining to the problems that individuals would face in such a society are purely speculation. I cannot tell you what we would do, I can only tell you what I would do. I would honor my contracts; I would defend myself; I would choose to help others in need; I would expect no one to support me; and I would plan accordingly. I want to be very clear here, I do not disagree with the theory that is being presented on how the logistics of society would be handled. There is no doubt that these organizations and such would arise and be needed in a voluntary society. I disagree with the fact that these theories are being pushed as answers before addressing the only real and true problem; collectivist thought. When those who are curious about voluntarism ask the “we” questions, the underlying collectivist philosophy is still there, and this is what needs to be addressed first before any practical questions can or should be answered. Otherwise, you are just trying to get them to abandon their system for your system.

I’ll admit that getting people to see the gun in the room is a very important and crucial step when trying to win them over, but that is not enough. In my experience, after I have been successful at pointing out the systematized coercion, and institutionalized violence in the current system, the conversation always turns to how we would deal with the practical issues. This is where I would start to explain how we would handle these things, but lately I have been pointing out the “we” in the room. In a revolution of the individual, “we” questions should not be answered. Put the ball back in their court. Ask them what they would do. When human interaction is purely voluntary, there can be no system.  It is important to let the ones asking the questions find their own solutions, or what they think might be solutions. I have at 32 years old, accepted that I am probably as free now as I will ever be. I know there is one crucial step that has to be taken before humans are physically free, and that step is to be mentally free. If it will be their decision in a voluntary society, it must be their decision now. I must say, watching my fellow humans squirm when asked to think like a free people is a little disheartening. There is a long road ahead, my only hope is that my children will  be the pioneers of this new society.

I have been able to uncover a couple of fears that hold the human mind back from being able to grasp and accept the idea of a free society. One big issue is justice. Again, it comes back to, “what will we do about the criminals?” This is where I say, “I don’t know.” I have my ideas, but they are mine. I don’t know what neighbors will do when an intruder breaks into their houses, I don’t know what the family will do to the rapist who is caught. I don’t know what will happen to the murderer. This is usually where I start to lose those who I have been able to entertain this far into the conversation, you know, the ones who have not walked off and called me insane yet. Humans will know when a crime has been committed regardless of what society they live in. The American Justice system has set objective standards such as; murder is wrong; rape is wrong; and theft is wrong. These standards were not set by the government, they were set by the human mind. We are able to recognize wrong doings; entering into a free society will not change this. Just as punishments are subjective now, they will also be subjective in a free society. The map does not match the territory, and that is fine. This is part of the human experience, and it’s the reason why we have judges and juries now.

The fear of criminals is still rooted in collectivist thought. The fear of the other guy, makes us turn to the other guy. How many criminals are really out there? I’d say about 1% of the human population are actually psychopaths, and capable of real horror. Does this mean we should create an incubator for more psychopaths known as the state? We make more criminals out of our fear of criminals. Fear makes humans do very unreasonable things like give psychopaths a place to be pardoned of all responsibility for their actions. The fact is, bad people will continue to do bad things regardless of the society we choose to live in. They will still have to be dealt with, and I have no doubt they will be. Good humans will not sit idly by and watch as crimes are committed against their neighbors. This will especially be true when there is no state agency claiming to protect us. We will have to take our safety a little more seriously, and personally. Of course that should be the focus now, but the state has either outlawed your personal protection, or removed it from your decision all together. Either way both are false. To my way of thinking, we pull some ticks off of this dog and keep hunting. We will deal with the blood suckers as they come, it’s really all we can do.

In closing, freedom has no system, and it never will. Billions of humans making trillions of decisions could never be harnessed or thoroughly theorized by even the most brilliant voluntaryist thinkers or free market economists. I try not to use the term, “free market system” anymore, because humans trading goods and services is not a system, it’s what humans do. I have abandoned the use of the word “system” completely. Of course, some of the more logical folks out there might say that having no system is a system. Well, for those of you who would say that and discard this whole essay, I would ask you this….

Is there a difference between those who seek to build a system, and those who only seek to build?

“Freedom, morality, and the human dignity of the individual consists precisely in this; that he does good not because he is forced to do so, but because he freely conceives it, wants it, and loves it.”

~ Mikhail Bakunin


24 thoughts on “Freedom Has No System by Chris Dates”

  1. Excellent post! Reminds me of Rothbard:

    “[T]he advocate of a free market in anything cannot provide a ‘constructive’ blueprint of such a market in advance. The essence and the glory of the free market is that individual firms and businesses, competing on the market, provide an ever-changing orchestration of efficient and progressive goods and services: continually improving products and markets, advancing technology, cutting costs, and meeting changing consumer demands as swiftly and as efficiently as possible. The libertarian economist can try to offer a few guidelines on how markets might develop where they are now prevented or restricted from developing; but he can do little more than point the way toward freedom, to call for government to get out of the way of the productive and ever-inventive energies of the public as expressed in voluntary market activity. No one can predict the number of firms, the size of each firm, the pricing policies, etc., of any future market in any service or commodity. We just know — by economic theory and by historical insight — that such a free market will do the job infinitely better than the compulsory monopoly of bureaucratic government.”

  2. Pingback: Freedom Has No System | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. As a voluntaryist I’m not trying to get anyone to abandon anything other than using violence to force me or anyone else into their system.

  4. Many people when asked about God and the Devil or good and evil would describe God as being a force of order and the Devil as being a force of chaos. I have come to the conclusion that this is backwards. God is not order God is chaos, the shear chaos of creation itself. If we were to find ourselves at the edge of our universe we would see the work of that creation. Beyond it into the blackness of nothing we would see the face of chaos. As the creation forms and condenses into mater and shape order sets in. This is a cycle of decay from creation to ordered mass to breakdown back to chaos again.

    Now this is on a cosmic scale but its in the details as well. You can however see that we will never reach a state of pure liberation. Pure freedom is only at that edge of chaos. Nature will impose order, and systems will form. We can only hope to do what we can to stay as close to that edge as possible but we cannot exist beyond that edge.

    It is utopian idealism to think that you can inhabit a pure state of freedom. It sounds good on paper and you surely can exist in your own personal space in as close to free state as possible. You however do not live on an island and nature will impose order. Your fellow men will decay towards ordered tyranny as time advances. Even if you were to achieve a complete change of mind for every member of society as time advances that achievement will decay. It is the nature of order that systems will form. All you can hope to do is keep as little order as possible in that system and continue to recreate it as time advances so as to set back the rate of decay.

  5. Good comments so far. Thanks for the feedback.

    “It is the conservative laissez- fairist, the man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then
    says, ‘Limit yourself’; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian.”
    – Murray Rothbard

    Grenadier, it is utopian to think it can be any other way. I am not advocating for nomadism or a world with only one individual. I am advocating only that the individual is free to associate with whoever or whatever he wants. I’ll respond with more later.

  6. “Is there a difference between those who seek to build a system, and those who only seek to build?”

    Yep, those trying to build a system are try to garner control over the labors and fruits thereof, of those who only build.

  7. Pingback: Decriminalize Freedom, and Criminalize the State! »

  8. Great line, glink! Grenadier, you write…

    > It is utopian idealism to think that you can inhabit a pure state of freedom.

    No, that’s a misidentification of freedom. We live in a state of mobility too, but that doesn’t mean we can fly to Mars.

    Rather than defining freedom as such-and-such and then showing how it’s not like that, the better approach IMO is to try and identify exactly what the nature of freedom is. That’s what Chris has down pat, and he’s right—we ARE free. Maybe not free of the State, just like not free of gravity, but in the sense he means, we are totally and utterly free.

    Except when a force of nature or force of men has chained you, every single waking action you’ve ever taken, was driven by your own volition. At least as an adult, anyway. That’s the simple fact of the matter and the way I read Chris, he’s pointing out that no system, however contrived, can ever change that fact.

    And hence, we ought to stop pretending that it might.

  9. Great post Chris: This reminds me of Milton Friedman’s comment that advocates of freedom were “intellectual cowards” if they couldn’t provide a detailed blueprint for how freedom would “work”. What BS! As if, when a mugger accosts you in the street, instead of just shooting the bastard, you were somehow obliged to explain in detail how he could live a happy life without the money he was about to steal from you.

  10. I mostly agree with this post, but I think that just as it is possible to get too bogged down in details of a hypothetical free society, it is also possible to get too ethereal in your response.

    Look at it from the point of view of the guy asking, “who will provide the roads”? Maybe he really doesn’t care that much about this hypothetical or that. Maybe what he really looking for is some indication you are not a nut. He is hit by people trying to sell stuff or sell ideas all the time, and he needs something concrete just to filter out the time wasters. If he figures your answer is somewhat plausible, he may continue to listen to you – where you can then get into the collectivist vs individual stuff. But starting out saying “I don’t know” may just cause him to dismiss you immediately. You are asking him to take it on faith, and he’s not there yet.

    So, I think it does not hurt to provide a few historical examples first. Or ask him if he would want roads and be willing to pay for them, just as he does now when he buys a gallon of gas. There are lots of ways to convince people that roads and freedom are not incompatible. Hit him with the big picture after he’s swallowed a couple of these examples, or at least admitted they are possible.

    If you can’t or won’t go along with such questions, he will conclude you are not serious. And he will be right.

  11. “But what would you replace the state with ? The question reveals an inability to imagine human society without the state. Yet it would seem that an institution that can take 200,000,000 lives within a century hardly needs to be ‘replaced’.”
    – Joseph Sobran

  12. Paul, your comment assumes that it’s important what the other guy thinks. Obviously in many ways it is, especially if he’s thinkin’ about bopping you over the head. Just as obviously, what you’re saying about how to persuade others is completely valid.

    The thing is, how does a question like, “How am I going to get from A to B,” somehow justify even thinking about slavery as the means to provide it?

    I’ve been asked all my life, “So what’s your solution?” I never did see why it’s incumbent upon me to figure out how others are going to deal with their challenges. I don’t seek that of them.

    I mean, if the guy really can’t figure out how to get where he’s going, I’ll be happy to take care of it…for a fee!

    Also, I’ve got a news flash. We can toss out all the historical examples except as they might provide insight into principles. It’s never happened that all the information ever garnered by anyone, is basically available to everyone. This implies massive changes, the most obvious being the single greatest thing that could happen anyway—“public” funding of education already has zero (less, really) value. Besides the practical benefit of saving tons of money, it gives us hope that the children of the next generation or two, might be able to recover the use of the human mind.

  13. Paul,

    First of all let me say, I truly enjoy your essays that you submit to Strike the Root. My aim with this essay was to point out the fallacy in collectivist thought. Sure, our collective no doubt would be better, as in no initiated violence, but it’s still a collective. This is not to say I am anti-society or anything like that, I am just trying to point out as long as the individual looks anywhere other than himself FIRST before moving on to cooperate with society then we will never get out of this mess, and it will always come back to the state, because someone from the collective will say, “well we do have all of these guns.”

    Basically, I have changed my approach to something like this. When asked, “how would WE do this?”, I would give a brief explanation as to how this specific problem could get handled(I’m only one man out of billions, billions of possibilities are left unsaid). After that I would explain that it is them who has to be the one to come up with practical solutions that suit them, basically there is no “we”, they need to come up with an idea and approach their neighbors and society, and not sit around and wait for an idea to approach them. This is why we are in the mess we are in, everybody just waits around for someone else’s idea, and unfortunately that idea has been slavery for a very long time.

    Jim and I think alike, both him and I know what really has to happen to rid ourselves of slavery, and we are not even close.

  14. Great post! One point that I would add is that the more power we allow to be concentrated, the more damage that 1 in a hundred psychopath (or even the garden-variety sociopath) can do when he gets his hands on it. Big power=big abuse

  15. Pingback: Militant Libertarian » Freedom Has No System

  16. There is no “we.”

    That is the simplest way of putting it, and the most truthful. The parasites are forever saying that “we” must, “we” should, “we” have a responsibility to…

    There is no “we.”

    People don’t embrace freedom/voluntaryism until they’re intellectually and morally ready. The govt schools have been resoundingly successful at spreading the thought virus that murder/theft/slavery/assault are OK as long as the criminals wear govt costumes. In my experience, people can’t productively dialogue and think about possible solutions to widespread multi-person problems until they confront and reject their unstated premise that initiating violence is an acceptable way to solve their problems. I have more success attacking the premise (to say nothing of the fun at seeing the resulting mental contortions) than I ever did trying to persuade with case studies and facts.

    Challenge the premise. There is no “we.”

  17. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Freedom Has No System

  18. Well, “we” is in fact a word, that describes a useful (although often abused) concept. The point is to stop abusing it, rather than dispensing with it altogether.

    “After that I would explain that it is them who has to be the one to come up with practical solutions that suit them, basically there is no “we”, they need to come up with an idea and approach their neighbors and society, and not sit around and wait for an idea to approach them. This is why we are in the mess we are in, everybody just waits around for someone else’s idea, and unfortunately that idea has been slavery for a very long time. ”

    I thought the whole advantage of being in society is that each individual does not have to come up with a solution to every problem, does not have to sell neighbors on it. He can just sit around and wait for various solutions to appear, and choose one of them – except in areas of his own expertise of course, where he can make his own solution as he pleases.

    I do get the point, and completely agree that we need to (gently) steer people toward the notion that things that people value will exist merely because people value them, and that it is not really that edifying to get into details, and that it in fact is a technique of the parasite class to keep asking apparently unanswerable questions implying life would be impossible without parasites.

  19. Pingback: 21st Century Abolitionists by Chris Dates « Libertopia Festival – Oct 21-23 San Diego

  20. Pingback: Polyamory Is Next, And I’m One Reason Why. Here's how libertarianism has led me... - Connect

  21. Pingback: Natural Monopoly [Playing to Natural Strengthes of a Philosophy of Liberty] - Connect

  22. Pingback: Freedom Has No System | Beyond The Corral

  23. Pingback: The Covenant of Unanimous Consent - Connect

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top