Column by Jim Davies.
Exclusive to STR
If I outline the delights of a free society, quite often the listener will say that it's "Utopian." All very nice but not practical, he means, and after clarification he usually agrees that "Utopian" means a status that is not stable; that if it is put into place, it will inevitably collapse. If I have the chance, I'll then continue by suggesting he has it exactly upside down--that it's today's beggar-thy-neighbor governed society that is unstable, and the free one that will stay fixed. Why so? Because in a true free society, everyone understands the self-ownership axiom. Since everyone is free to maximize his own enjoyment of life, there is no motive to change the status. It's optimal, and therefore stable. Things tend to change only when there's a motive to change them, and a free society is the most satisfying of all possible societies. In contrast, one in which everyone is constantly clawing to grab more of a cake confiscated by government, and daily trying to avoid the oppressive diktats of government, there is inherent instability, for few are ever content.
We must then consider the exceptions, to make sure they do prove that rule. In a society of 300 million, one cannot be certain that nobody at all will try to take by force something his neighbor owns. The education, without which the free society cannot come into being, is unlikely to be 100.0% perfect--nothing ever is. How, then, will the free society handle those exceptions? With a justice system. An industry that will strive to repair injuries caused by aggressors--and, of course, to settle disputes that arise from misunderstandings. Such a for-profit, competing justice industry is described here.
Today the caricature of a justice system that government monopolizes handles civil and criminal cases and locks away about 1% of the population, plus a further 2% on supervised parole etc., and it's busy. Now, fewer than half of that 3% ever hurt anyone except by voting; most of them are victimless criminals. But it does show that if in the coming free society there should be 2% who aggress, the justice business will be able to handle them, and restore the rights they stole or damaged. Two percent would be feasible. Five percent, maybe. Ten percent, no. Twenty percent, no way. Forty-nine percent, absolutely not.
Therefore, our skeptical friend is not far off the mark when he says a free society would be unstable (Utopian) if it has a sizeable minority in disagreement with its fundamental aims. Should 20% of the population spend its time trying to rob or bully the other 80%, its justice industry would be overwhelmed. If it were to be introduced by majority rule, with as many as 49% opposed to its principles and working to undermine it, it would indeed swiftly collapse; hopelessly Utopian.
Therefore, a free, stable and long-lasting society must come about by some means other than by convincing only a majority, who will then impose it upon the remainder. Such imposition would be inconsistent with the very principle underlying freedom (self-ownership) but in any case be impossible to sustain, as above.
Now we see why all attempts to introduce liberty to America by political means (majority rule) are doomed. They will necessarily fail, even if they "succeed." Freedom can be obtained only when everyone (or virtually everyone, that ~2% excepted) embraces it for himself. That requires universal re-education, a result of which is that everyone is so repelled by the nature of government that he ceases to work for it and sets about earning a living by voluntary exchanges. That re-education is already in process. When it is complete, government and politics and majority rule will be concepts found only in history books.
That serves as a long preamble to the question of what would result for liberty if Ron Paul were to win the White House this year, and has shown already that he could not produce a free society--not even if his platform were fully consistent with that of a free society, which it isn't. I can however see two probable positive results from such a victory--which is by no means as unlikely as the blind guides in the Main Stream Media suppose. Paul has a solid base of grassroots support, which is likely to survive until all his conservative rivals give up. When they do, many of the 60-75% of Republican voters opposed to Romney will hold their noses and vote for Paul--rather than trigger the breakup of the GOP. Therefore, he may win their nomination. Then he will face Obama, the authentic and principled candidate against the smooth-talking deceiver whose credibility is shot even among some of his most fervent admirers. So as Dave Trotter recently reasoned, a President Paul is a definite possibility.
The first of those two good results is that while we wait for the re-educated population to grow exponentially, life will be a good deal less unpleasant. A Paul administration will quickly gut the Patriot Act of its enforcers, and swiftly remove the military trip wires the FedGov has strewn all over the world. The threat of war and terrorism will fast recede. Fiat-money bailouts for failing banks and other dinosaurs will cease, so after a short-lived bloodbath of bankruptcies, prosperity will return. There will be serious shortfalls to the Paul program as my recent review noted, but overall we'll see a huge improvement.
The second is that those several aspects of the Paul program that are in good accord with the self-ownership axiom will be ever more visible to the population at large, and the beneficial effect of some of them will be felt within a couple of years, and so the climate of public opinion will change. Result: the re-education process will become easier, and perhaps be enhanced. It will become even simpler for graduates of the Freedom Academy to find and help one friend a year through its course. Therefore, we may expect the average to rise from one friend a year to something a little higher, and so the task will end a little sooner.
Who knows, it might clip a whole year off the remainder of the Government Era.