Thursday, December 28, 2017

Playing with Fire: An Analogy

A few months ago a new free-nation project came to my attention. It is named Free Society. At a later date I may comment upon how I assess that project. But for now it stimulates me to publish these thoughts which have been waiting 20 years.

Trying to start a new free nation is like playing with fire. It is dangerous. It may blow up in your face for reasons you have not anticipated. But we know that mankind has benefitted immensely from successful uses of fire. We benefit from the play and experimentation with fire done by our ancestors since prehistory.

The first fires occurred naturally, of course. Humans who observed natural fires appreciated some effects such as warmth and cooked meat. Experimentation followed. Precautions and skills were learned. But notice that we humans employed fire beneficially for millennia before we developed the ideas of oxygen and oxygenation. So a deep theoretical knowledge of the process involved was not necessary before practitioners could learn from trial and error.

We libertarians see the freedom available in some nations, both present-time and historical nations, and appreciate what we see. We wish we could make more of it.

I have argued that the best free nations in history happened like the first fires – not because people tried to create zones of freedom but rather because larger historical and physical circumstances happened to combine in just the right way, so that when the final element (like a spark) was introduced a new free nation was likely to grow. We who want freedom from state power, as opposed to state power in our own hands, have not yet created our first intentionally designed nation, as I see it.

As with learning to manage fire, we need both experimentation and thoughtful reflection. I founded the Free Nation Foundation with a belief that history already provides many experiments, assuming we learn to look at the data correctly, and that our greatest progress can now be gained through thoughtful reflection – through research and publication focused upon the necessary institutions. I am heartened to see the spirit expressed by experimenters, that is by free-nation projects, but I continue to believe that detached analysis may bring greater rewards in our present circumstance.

Most libertarians engage, if we are to trust the perception of libertarian activism which comes to us through media at our disposal, in what I call the majority-rule paradigm. These libertarians work through means evidently available in Western civilization. That is education of the masses followed by elections, or at least education of anyone who will listen. That majority-rule paradigm could possibly work for libertarians, I suppose. But I propose that more rapid and direct progress can be made, by any who would join me, with focused research such as we have started in FNF.

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