Self ownership is the ideal. The day when no one owns you or a piece of you without your consent is when you become a free man.
This past week at Porcupine Freedom Festival, I can say Bill Buppert influenced me the greatest of any one person. But the whole experience is a life changing one that cannot be boiled down to one influence, or one idea, and it is hard to even put the growth as a person into words… but dammit I’ll try!
You know what is freeing? Being able to admit when you are wrong, and being able to alter your position when new information and ideas are presented. Not changing your mind because of fashion, or popularity, but because of truth and reason. This blog has been a journey for me for the past 2 years, and I intend to continue this journey for quite some time.
Bill Buppert of ZeroGov.com is an abolitionist. He tells people, “I am opposed to all forms of human slavery”, and asks, “Which kinds do you support?” His goal is to see on earth 7 billion autonomous societies called individuals, freely interacting without owning one another. True equality means freedom from servitude. Someone asked, is it wrong to call ourselves slaves while some suffer so much in the sex trade, or in direct servitude, to which Bill replied, you can’t be a little bit pregnant. You are a slave, or you are free, there is no in between.
There is a difference in how slave owners treat their slaves, as there always has been. There have been house slaves who run to their masters like dogs with their leash in their mouth when they get out of sight, and there have been field slaves who are worked to death because it is cheaper to just replace them. But when slaves know they are slaves, there is only so much you can extract from them. American slaves often have no idea they are slaves, which is why we have doctor slaves, and engineer slaves. And every four years we get to choose a new slave master! How quaint.
At PorcFest there were hippies, libertarians, stoners, riflemen, chefs, dancers, muslims, drunks, gays, quakers, Australians, and nudists (who were repressed by an outside food vendor which saw their business run dry as word got out that they complained—ah yes, the free market). This event is about freedom. It is not about your idea of freedom, or my idea of freedom, it is about removing the shackles of slavery that hold almost every person on earth in servitude. And when you celebrate that as a community, it doesn’t matter the difference, because we all have one defining characteristic which unites us: self ownership as an ideal.
Sometimes you didn’t approve of what everyone around you was doing, but you accepted it, because they were not forcing it on you. A (new) friend of mine pointed out that this tiny one week model of anarchy worked, despite it being the worst possible model for a free society. It is only one week, meaning the effects of a food vendor that poisons its patrons may not effect the vendor since everyone disperses at the end of a week. Yet no one was poisoned. No one was shot, despite (because?) of the abundance of safely holstered firearms. There were disputes; they were resolved non-violently and without coercion in the absence of a body which monopolizes force. I didn’t see a police officer for 7 days, and never felt safer.
But again, this is the weakest model possible: long term infrastructure and market demand cannot be supplied in one week. I am increasingly convinced that agorist societies—groups of people who believe in voluntary exchange—will lead to widespread opting out of coercive society, and supply a market for peace, while affording protection against hordes and looters (the most prominent of which in my life call themselves the United States government).
It’s not necessarily that no one in these societies would want to initiate force, it is just that it would be self destructive. Some people wonder how you would deal with a rapist in this system, but I’m sure there would be a few people willing to grab some shovels and dig a nice hole for the dearly departed. If we don’t outsource our personal protection, many problems would be solved on the spot—especially if the body which demands protection money from us does not turn around and punish someone for defending themselves, family, and property. The true “bad” people in these societies would learn quite quickly how a free man deals with those who initiate force against him. And by the next generation, considering initiating force against someone would be archaic: a relic of an outdated violent society which looks in hindsight like cavemen wearing suits.
But what if the bad guys band together? We need our own set of bad guys to deal with them, and pray our beasts don’t turn on us. No, that is how it is now. Again, market forces would solve this problem. Disregarding whether Cliven Bundy was right or wrong, a few armed men managed to hold off the largest military on earth. Now that might not be over, but Bundy has set an example, and next time around there will be others like him all around the US who opt out and say, no, you will not use force against me to retain me as a slave. I am a free man, interacting with other free men, and it benefits us all to show that we will not be governed.
Anarchy is not synonymous with chaos, it more closely resembles freedom. Freedom is not burning down buildings and rioting in the street. Freedom is reaping the rewards of your labor, and enduring the consequences of your actions. No society has ever maintained a limited government. And self ownership does not condone a weak slave master, or a kind slave master. Do you own yourself? I want to take back what is rightfully mine, but right now, I must admit that I do not own myself. But before I die, I intend to.