Again, the following article is an expanded version of a post I recently wrote on my new Facebook liberty page, Toward Autarchy. If you have a moment, after reading it here, please consider visiting & liking the page. Thanks!
For me, as well as all true proponents of liberty, the goal for liberty is self-determination for all individuals—ultimately, the world over—within the parameter of what many would refer to as the non-aggression principle, or NAP. However, since that term tends to be somewhat ambiguous, often prompting debate and disagreement within the liberty community (such as conflating it with pacifism (the rejection of the use of violence even in self-defense), I prefer to use a more defined statement, as is found on the Mises Wiki website: do not initiate force or violence against innocents or their property.
So essentially, the ultimate goal for liberty is self-determination for all individuals, short of initiating force or violence against innocents or their property.
And in order to shift society, or the collective conscience, toward Autarchy (or Autarchism), I believe that rather than those in the liberty community infighting, arguing amongst themselves, debating their petty ideological or methodological differences—while tyranny marches ever forward—we should instead evaluate any idea, proposal, solution, legislation, etc. in relation to the above stated goal and parameter: does it, or does it not, move society toward the stated goal? And does it, or does it not, fall within the stated parameter?
Or worse, does it actually move society further from the goal?
Just as with an individual’s striving for personal growth and development toward autarchy (self-mastery, self-rule)—wherein, being incremental in nature, I would support any progress an individual achieves toward that goal, regardless of the extent of each incremental step—I would also generally support any idea, proposal, solution, legislation, etc. that shifts society toward autarchy, or toward the goal of self-determination for all individuals, and falls within the parameter of non-aggression against innocents or their property, and would generally not support those that move society away from that goal, or which fall outside of that parameter.
This is generally speaking, of course; there are always outliers, exceptions to the rule. But that’s my overarching approach, which I’ve elected to term Toward Autarchy, in reference to both the incremental progress of the individual toward autarchy (self-mastery, self-rule) and the incremental progress of broader society toward autarchy (self-rule, liberty).
My reason for returning to the basic principles of liberty is this: we aren’t there yet. In fact, we’re far, far away from achieving anything even close to a free society. That being the case, arguing/debating amongst ourselves over the details at this juncture is moot, and in fact counter-productive. We can work out the details once we’re there, or at least much closer to achieving a truly free (stateless) society.
But for now, we need to focus on getting there. It is said that when you find yourself in a deep hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging. Well, we’re in a deep, deep, hole, which is growing ever deeper—so the first thing we need to do is stop moving backward, stop digging ourselves in deeper. And the only way we can do that is to form a united front and begin pushing back together against the encroaching tyranny. That means finding common ground on which to stand, i.e., basic principles upon which we can all agree, at least for now.
And I believe that going back to the basic principles of liberty as stated above can help resolve much of the infighting in our community, and better enable us to present a united front against the ever-encroaching tyranny. Whenever we’re faced with an idea, issue, proposal, legislation, whatever, we could simply evaluate it as stated above: does it, or does it not, move us closer to the stated goal for liberty, and fall within the stated parameter of non-agression? In other words, does it move society Toward Autarchy? If so, we should tend to support it, and if not, not.
This way, we can all move incrementally forward, toward the goal of a free society, and stop moving incrementally backward away from that goal.
So, the incremental shift of society Toward Autarchy is what I hope can become unifying vision for the entire liberty community, regardless of our myriad minor ideological and/or methodological differences. Is it possible for us to unite on the basic principles of liberty and non-aggression, and work on arresting, or even pushing back the current and growing tyranny, and perhaps even work toward achieving a free society? And then, once we’ve achieved it, work on ironing out our myriad differences afterward?
I, for one, certainly hope so.