The Benefits of Writing about a Free Nation
by Roy Halliday and Richard Hammer
(to table of contents of FNF archives) (to Richard Hammer's comments)
As a libertarian, I enjoy writing about a free nation for Formulations because: (1) the primary audience is presumed to be fellow libertarians, which frees me from having to devote time, space, and effort in rehashing the arguments against statism; and (2) the secondary audience consists of statists who have some libertarian sympathies and who, therefore, can be shamed into giving up their coercive ways. Writing for Formulations allows me to address decent people who do not wish to impose their beliefs on others by force unnecessarily. It allows me to concentrate on developing a vision of what a free society would be like, instead of complaining about the abridgments of freedom in America and sounding like a whiner who does not appreciate the difference between living in the USA and living in most other countries.
The contrast between the picture of a free nation that is emerging in Formulations and what passes for a free society in the world today is so stark that it should make our limited-government readers have second thoughts about the morality of their position. There is moral power in this approach of simply describing how free people might handle their affairs if the statists let them alone. It puts statists, even mini-statists, on the defensive.
When we in the Free Nation Foundation present plausible descriptions of how free adults might make arrangements to provide for their own needs, we implicitly challenge our secondary, limited-government audience to show that our depictions are not only questionable, but so wrong that violence is justified to prevent us from trying to implement these peaceful, voluntary solutions. We put our statist friends into the position of not only disagreeing with our depictions of social possibilities, but of justifying the initiation of violence against people in a hypothetical society who are admittedly peaceful.
We in the Free Nation Foundation admit that we may be incorrect in our predictions about what free men and women would agree to do. The difference between us and those who oppose a free nation is that we are willing to accept whatever voluntary order evolves, but our opponents are not. For example, I wrote an article about family structure in a free nation in which I predicted that the bourgeois family ideal would predominate. If my prediction is wrong, and some other form of family structure, or no particular structure, would predominate in a free nation, I would not, therefore, abandon freedom. Instead, I would accept the free choices of my fellow countrymen as long as they respect my right to choose my own peaceful life-style. On the other hand, a statist would impose his preferred life-style or, at least, prohibit some of the voluntary life-styles that others would prefer.
I recommend that libertarians join the Free Nation Foundation in shaming our limited-government friends by writing plausible descriptions of the possibilities for social life that statists refuse to allow their fellow human beings to try. This helps us to clarify our own vision, and it encourages sympathetic statists to switch over to the morally consistent, libertarian side.
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Among libertarians, we in FNF march to a different drummer. But most libertarians still do not get it. So I appreciate Roy's help in beating this FNF drum.
But still, I notice a difference between my ideal beat and the stride which Roy describes here. I aspire, in my FNF work, to write only to other libertarians. Whereas Roy thinks of a second audience: some statists who might be swayed.
Imagine this scene. You are having a discussion with your spouse. The two of you, alone where no one else can hear, struggle to clear up some difference.
Now alter the scene slightly. Suppose you are having this discussion face to face across a table in one corner of a large, but otherwise empty and quiet, dining hall. At the opposite corner, someone enters and sits down quietly at a table, evidently waiting for something which has nothing to do with you. You both notice the newcomer. The newcomer can hear, clearly, every word you say.
So, does the discussion between you and your spouse proceed as if the newcomer had never entered?
In my experience the entry of the third party changes the discussion so much that it cannot be the same discussion. With each of you knowing that the third party hears, you start talking, not directly to each other, but for the record, or for the sympathies of some broader society.
If you and your spouse care more about your relationship with each other than you care about your image in the broader society, you will seek a place where once again you can carry on your discussion in privacy.
What I try to get libertarians to see is that we, without statists, can go ahead and create our own zone of liberty. But, since we live dispersed among statists, most libertarians have formed a habit-of trying to sell liberty to statists. Please join me. See this habit.
It is not a bad habit. I am not saying that you should stop it entirely. Indeed, to the extent that you believe your political fate will be decided by majority rule in the polity in which you now live, this habit gives you your only hope. And, when you want to exercise this habit, you have at your disposal every other libertarian organization and publication. I support many of these organizations, and subscribe to many of the publications.
But please see that you have a choice. You do not need to put all your eggs in the basket of majority rule. Another path lies wide open before us. When enough libertarians loosen their ties with statists, enough to allow them to turn and face into the libertarian circle, you will see, with me, that we can easily assemble the resources to create a new free nation.
We do not need to win the sympathy of one more statist. We only need to organize ourselves. Please reach to me-and not to the statists-with your arguments.
I started FNF to shine a light on this other path. You will see it, if I can just get your attention away from the habit of trying to please statists.D
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