Crossing the 10% Rubicon

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

A very recent article published in Science Daily reveals the findings of a study that has yielded some very positive information for the Voluntaryist movement. In short, that once an ideology or set of beliefs is fervently held by ten percent of any given group or population, it invariably becomes the predominant philosophy throughout the entirety. Any less than this, and things remain more or less static amongst the adherants. Cross the ten percent Rubicon, as it were, and the movement begins to spread hither and yon like wildfire.

Given that the current American population is a rough 312 million persons, this would mean that around 31 million would need to be hardcore zero-government advocates before widespread change becomes feasable. Thirty-two million die-hard anarchists would tip the scales irreversibly. At that point, we’d be cooking with gas. Government would be on the chopping block, awaiting execution.
It would help to know just what percentage of American residents are already Voluntaryists. I don’t know if any reliable studies along these lines have been conducted, but my guess would be that, at very best, we might currently number around one percent. Far more numerous, at present, are the minarchists: Constitutionalists, and other advocates of “limited” government as opposed to none at all. The irony is that the minarchist goal is absolutely unachievable – even given the 10% rule. Should small-scale government ever return to America, it will promptly revert back to what it is now, and worse. Minarchism necessitates that its adherents win every election, indefinitely hold every office, vote correctly on every issue, never make mistakes, never become corrupted, never retire, never die. More likely is it that the Man in the Moon will descend from his lunar home and endow us all with the powers of Superman. It is completely preposterous, and for this reason alone, will never happen.
The elimination of government altogether, however, is entirely possible – and in fact, I will say, inevitable. For it does not rely upon the imposition of violence in order to survive, but rather, only on pre-existing natural forces that are at present suppressed by the inherently aggressive presence of government – and in an absence of which, will flourish.
Take as an example one of the prime elements of libertarian thought, that of private property ownership. It is all well and fine, let’s say, that I own the computer I’m using to write this essay. Probably no one reading this would disagree with that assertion. But what happens if you want proof of my statement? How is it possible for me to provide that? I might be able to show you a sales receipt – assuming I haven’t discarded it – but those can easily be forged or falsified. You might seek out some eyewitnesses or other parties to the sale, but there again the evidence is largely circumstantial if not in fact out-and-out hearsay. You still can’t know to a certainty that I haven’t stolen, or otherwise illegitimately acquired this computer – or at least the temporary use of it. After all, I could be typing this from inside an unoccupied dwelling . . . or one in which I have terminated the occupants.
Before I begin to turn this into some kind of bizarre murder mystery, one point begins to come clear: There really is no way I or you can establish ownership of anything except in one of two ways. Either we extend ownership of personal property to each other by way of mutual consent, or we establish ownership by means of brute force. And it is because of our subconscious or implicit denial of the second means that most of us most of the time opt for the first choice. True, disputes will and do arise from time to time, whereupon we generally, where and when possible, seek non-violent mediation or arbitration of such disagreements. Government provides us only its courts, which are always biased when any case involves that which bureaucrats arrogantly lay claim to, and are only sometimes honest when the dispute in question does not. Either way, courts are financed by taxation, which means extorting money from people by violent force.
As well, there will always be, government or no government, a minority of unscrupulous individuals who will always disregard the sanctity of such unspoken social arrangements as ownership in the name of their own personal gain. Alas, we live in a less than perfect world, or essays such as this would not be necessary. I would only add that there exists a centralized monopoly of thugs who draw their pay from stolen cash who constantly exhibit just such an attitude, and generally act with total impunity. Three guesses as to just what they call themselves, and the first two don’t count. But I’ll even give you a hint: the first letter starts with “G.”
My overarching point here is that a social construct such as ownership of property is already an anarchistic enterprise. It exists in spite of government, and certainly not because of it. In short, if anarchy works in the vast majority of cases in an area as vast and all-important as property ownership, there remains little relevant excuse as to why it can’t work in all other areas of human life.
We Voluntaryists may now only exist in the static numbers I referred to above (though those numbers, thanks in large part to the Internet and alternative media, are larger than ever before and growing), but the mechanism for passing that 10% goalpost is within our grasp, and it’s called The Truth. In other words, we can do this. It will happen.
The only remaining question is: When? That depends on how badly you want it. I’d say it’s time to get busy.


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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 153

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His MeWe group can be found here.


Suverans2's picture

"...the current American [as opposed to UNITED STATE's] population is a rough 312 million persons...", and a handful of nonpersons (non-members).

But that aside, you wrote:

    "Before I begin to turn this into some kind of bizarre murder mystery, one point begins to come clear: There really is no way I or you can establish ownership of anything except in one of two ways. Either we extend ownership of personal property to each other by way of mutual consent, or we establish ownership by means of brute force."

Let us begin with this; you are of the opinion that I must have, "mutual consent...or...brute force", to establish ownership of my self? If you are willing to discuss this, we will take if from there. No sense muddying up the waters too soon.

WhiteIndian's picture

More white man's Ghost Dance* word magic: "...American [as opposed to UNITED STATE's]..."

by Robert C. Black

Paul's picture

" are of the opinion that I must have, "mutual consent...or...brute force", to establish ownership of my self?"

Seems so. Just like any other property. How could it be otherwise?

Maybe in your own mind, you might have a different opinion. But you still have to make that claim stick, where others are concerned. And that's where we run into mutual consent, or brute force.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Paul,

I need neither to establish ownership of my self, but, you are correct in saying, I very likely will need "mutual consent...or...brute force" to enjoy that ownership of my self.

Enjoy. To have, possess, and use with satisfaction; to occupy or have benefit of.

You and I have been down this road before, haven't we, my friend. As I understand it, your belief is that if someone has the physical ability to enslave you, you no longer have a lawful claim to your 'self'; the slave-master is now the rightful owner of you. Is my understanding correct?

Suverans2's picture

The other question, (unrelated to the one above), I have of you, is, once you cross the "10% Rubicon" and anarchy has become the "predominant[1] philosophy" [not in your lifetime, my friend], what are you going to do about the unrepentant percentage who still want a government, a parens patriae, to take care of them from "cradle to grave"?

[1] Quick definitions from Macmillan Dictionary (predominant) adjective
▸the most common or greatest in number or amount
▸most important or powerful

Sounds a bit like a democracy, in its purest form, to me.

Paul's picture

Let them have it. Panarchy is the answer to that question.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Newly published related article places the "rubicon" at more like 25%:

Samarami's picture

My "exhaustive study" places the "rubicon" at 1. I don't mean "1%". Probably more like ".0000000---0001%".

In actuality, using the linked article's assessment ("How Many People I'll Need on My Side"), the answer is 0. Zero.

I've discovered I can be free. Here. Today. Where I'm "at". Now. I truly hope you'll join me. But I don't need even that for me to be free. Your freedom is not a requirement for my freedom (nor is my freedom a requirement for you to be free)

And that, my dear friends, appears to be where this whole she-bang went astray and STR participation fell to a small handful -- where we once had dozens and dozens (many genuine "heavy-hitters", but also many, many freedom seekers who wrote no erudite essays and who did not always agree with you or me or anybody else posting on this site).

"Society" is I. Or, I am "society". Actually, "society" (like "government" and/or "the-state" and/or "our-great-nation") is an idea, not an entity.

"Governments" and "states" are very bad ideas.

On a brighter note -- it's nice to see you reviewing some of the older articles that made STR great. Sam