My Basic Premises

A while ago Charley Reese wrote an interesting post about some of the basic premises on which he bases his thinking. To be frank the article didn't blow my hair back, but I thought the concept was worth repeating on Catallarchy, since I can't recall ever having done so. So:

  1. Governments necessarily act inefficiently, and free markets work better than anything else at organizing society fairly.
  2. Governments necessarily violate rights.
  3. Positive change in society is effected by a small pro-liberty vanguard, a tiny minority on down to a single person.
  4. Philosophical premises have important consequences in the larger world (but we don't all have to agree on philosophy to arrive at the same desired ends).
  5. The natural tendency of government is to gain power, but the natural tendency of technology is to empower people. I am not sure which direction we will go in the future, although I remain optimistic.


i. Governments are made by humans and approved by humans. They are not omniscient, and can't even come close. Their method is to impose one-size-fits-all solutions on people according to some ruling entity's goals. Any solution they can impose is necessarily not what all people would have chosen for themselves. It's true that imperfections are features of markets as well, but markets by their nature meet the individual ends of as many people as possible. These are the two poles, and between them are only unstable mixes.

ii. Roy Childs already addressed this one in his Open Letter to Ayn Rand, but so that you don't have the read the whole thing (which you should anyway):

Suppose that I judged...that I could secure the protection of my contracts and the retrieval of stolen goods at a cheaper price and with more efficiency. Suppose I either decide to set up an institution to attain these ends, or patronize one which a friend or a business colleague has established. Now, if he succeeds in setting up the agency, which provides all the services of the [minimal] government, and restricts his more efficient activities to the use of retaliation against aggressors, there are only two alternatives as far as the "government" is concerned: (a) It can use force or the threat of it against the new institution, in order to keep its monopoly status in the given territory, thus initiating the use of threat of physical force against one who has not himself initiated force. Obviously, then, if it should choose this alternative, it would have initiated force. Q.E.D. Or: (b) It can refrain from initiating force, and allow the new institution to carry on its activities without interference. If it did this, then the [minimal] "government" would become a truly marketplace institution, and not a "government" at all. There would be competing agencies of protection, defense and retaliation...

iii. I don't think that average citizens are malign, but I do think they are usually busy making a living and pursuing their own personal goals. This is usually fine, as efforts to raise a family right, get another degree, or learn to tango with the spouse are worthy pursuits that make each individual's life richer. But there are bad apples—even if they don't identify themselves as such—who are assaulting liberty from all corners and their efforts go largely unresisted precisly because the average decent person already has enough items on the agenda. To turn the tide requires several things, and a conscious mass movement might be nice, but the first and most important is always one individual or a relatively small group with inspiration. Before the mass movement, there is a small vanguard. It might take Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, or Ayn Rand tirelessly promoting individualism thoughout a whole career, or it might take Mucius Scaevola and his determination (his is a good legend, anyway). Nowadays the Austrians are dispersed and underappreciated, but they persist, non cedentes malis. The heroic resistance in WWII was a network of isolated people here and there striking back as best they were able at great personal hazard. And the classic example, with a much less classic but no less relevant follow-up:

I can't count the number of times I've started on a magazine article only to find that the writer's philosophical foundations

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