In the wake of yet another senseless mass shooting, I posted the following on social media, to which a friend responded with a question, which I addressed—and felt the conversation worthy of sharing here:
First, my post:
“I’ve said for years that what has wrought the most death and destruction throughout all of human history has not been the state or the church, or nationalism, or religion, or racism—but the root of such: collectivism.
And seems there’s only two potential means of substantially reducing the carnage wrought by those possessed with such thinking: either through the successful education/evolution of all (unfeasible), or the arming/training of all (feasible).”
To which my friend commented, asking:
“The question becomes, then, how do societies balance the benefits of cooperation versus the benefits of personal sovereignty. The best answer we have come up with so far in all of human history is the US Constitution.”
And this was my response (which I’ve subsequently expanded upon just a tad):
Unfortunately, as we are now witnessing (and suffering), the US Constitution/”American Experiment” was a dismal failure.
Thinking that any institution that is largely insulated from market forces will regulate itself is indicative of a total lack of understanding of human nature.
The only check against human nature is free market forces—i.e., financial incentive and social pressure.
When all individuals have the right to associate with (or disassociate from) others, then others have the financial and social incentive to regulate their own behavior in a cooperative sense, because it’s critical for surviving—let alone thriving—in a free society.
Because in a truly free (i.e., stateless) society, nobody can use the guns of the state to force others to associate with them, or to support them (privatized profiteering) via tax dollars (socialized extortion).
So, as you ask, devoid of the immoral and violent institution of government, what is a potentially alternative to balance collective cooperation with individual sovereignty?
Well, Constitutional Libertarianism/minarchism (limited government) doesn’t work, as has now been more than adequately demonstrated; and straight anarchy won’t work either, because it only explicitly addresses the individual sovereignty (rights/liberty) side of the equation, and not necessarily the collective cooperation (responsibility/duty) side.
This is precisely what my continuing explorations in my liberty philosophy “Toward Autarchy” (ref: FB page and blog) is all about; that if we are to eliminate the violence in society perpetuated by government (the very element on which all governments are predicated), and greatly reduce the violence in society perpetrated on one another (because government is incapable of preventing it), then individuals within society must be willing and capable of governing themselves—on both sides of the equation, or what I call the “liberty coin”: the rights/liberty (individual sovereignty) side, and the responsibility/duty (collective cooperation) side.
My conceptualization of Autarchy addresses both sides, as I take the liberty to expand upon the explicitly stated “self-rule” aspect of autarchy (as opposed to merely “no rulers”, as defines mere anarchy), to include self-liberation, self-discipline, self-mastery, and the like (all of which I umbrella under the term enlightenment).
And enlightenment includes not only the striving toward self-mastery, but also individuation, mindfulness, and ultimately non-egocentric living—the lynch pin of mutual respect, cooperation, and trade with others, which in turn is the essential foundation of a free, peaceful, and prosperous society.
So how do we balance individual sovereignty with collective cooperation, in order to build a free, peaceful, and prosperous society? Well, I believe there’s only one way: Autarchy.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been exploring for the past year or so with my blog articles & FB page Toward Autarchy, after developing the idea and piecing together elements from various fields of thought over the past few years. Eventually, I coined the term Toward Autarchy in reference to the correlation between individual advancement toward self-mastery (or enlightenment), and broader society advancing toward self-rule (or freedom).
But is Autarchy achievable? Only time will tell—certainly more time that I have left on earth—but don’t you think it’s worth working toward?