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News Link • Philosophy: Anarchism

Should we wait for a perfect world to get rid of force?

by Auberon Herbert,

The reader writes:--It seems to me that the Voluntary State--taking human nature as it is and has been for centuries past--will not be possible of realization for a long time to come. Until men are very much nearer perfection would not Voluntaryism mean something like communism--each individual contributing voluntarily to the common fund according to his means, each taking according to his needs? Would there not be the possibility of the few conscientious citizens being left to bear the burdens of all, while the mean and sordid escaped?...If the principles of Voluntaryism are extended beyond the question of taxation and cover the whole ground of industry and commerce, do you think that, at the present time, work would be done, services rendered voluntarily? I mean national services, etc. as I presume you do not propose to interfere with the regulations affecting labour and capital in their individual relations. Perhaps I don't understand your theory....

Herbert replies: So many friends cry with the writer of this interesting letter,-- "Ah! If it were only possible! Blessed Voluntaryism! only we must be perfect first" -- that I am tempted to point out that it is just because of our imperfections that Voluntaryism is so excellent for me. In the first place, being so far from perfection, we cannot do a more dangerous thing than to hold up power as a prize to be scrambled for by imperfect people. We may be surrounded by imperfect men and women, but so long as our own free actions and free life are guaranteed, so long as the great scramble of property is restrained, so long we may all bear patiently each other's imperfections.
Secondly: Voluntaryism, or a condition in which men act on each other by moral influences, not by brute force, is the one great way of making the world better. Force does not make us better. It makes us brutal, unscrupulous, and stupid. If the imperfect world is to become the perfect world, it can only become so by the practice of Voluntaryism. We do good by discussing and reasoning with each other; we don't do good by knocking each other down.

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