June 12, 2009
Freedom or Government?
by Harry Hoiles
The following essay is reprinted from The Voluntaryist (October 2000), p. 2. It has been edited in terms of its content (simply to eliminate an unnecessary reference to another article).
The other day we received a letter in which the writer stated that in his opinion the choice was between government and anarchy. He asked what we proposed in place of government and we said that we proposed freedom.
Government by its very nature must govern. To govern is to dictate. All governments are dictatorships of one form or another. They may be one-man dictatorships, constitutional dictatorships, dictatorships in republican or democratic form, majority rule dictatorships, dictatorships by bureau or what have you. But the fact remains that to govern is to dictate.
The alternative to government is freedom. The individual who believes in freedom does not seek to govern others. He merely wants to govern himself. He is perfectly willing to let other people govern themselves also.
"Ah, but what about the criminals who would aggress against people who would be helpless without the protection of government?" say those who are afraid of freedom.
In the first place, the criminals are a small proportion of the population. We do need protection from criminals but we should recognize the size of the problem and not blow it up out of all proportion as is done when we organize our whole society around an agency (government) whose only [alleged] legitimate function is to protect us from the small proportion of the population who are criminals.
If criminals were more than a small proportion of the population, it would be impossible to protect the rest of the population from them anyway. As big as the government now is, it, or any agency its size, could not protect innocent people from criminals if criminals represented a large proportion of the population.
Most people by nature are not criminals. Most people do not seek to aggress against others. People are not naturally thieves, murderers, rapists, etc. They are naturally peaceful and harmless. This is the nature of things as they are.
The nature of government is to govern, to dictate to everyone in its sphere of influence. Since government dictates to everyone in its sphere of influence and since most people are peaceful and harmless, most government actions involve dictation to peaceful, harmless people. This is the nature of government and this is the nature of people.
Is this what any thinking person wants?
Do we want dictatorship be it by a sole dictator, an oligarchy, a president, a legislature, a government, a county commission, a city council, the school board in a school district, or the majority in any political area?
Or do we want freedom?
That is the question of our age.
Either we want dictatorship, which we now have in every governing body constituting our government, or we want freedom.
Freedom by its very nature is not government. It is self-control, no more no less.
[. . . .]