Happy Australia Day, dear reader!
Your editor and the rest of team at DR HQ are taking the day off to celebrate the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet in 1788.
We will fire up BBQs. Drink beer. And watch cricket.
But you’re not getting off that easy!
Below you’ll find a note from long-time friend (and Queenslander) Joel Bowman. Regular readers of the U.S. edition of the Markets and Money will know Joel from his many wise words and travel exploits. He’s based in Argentina now. But before that it was Taipei…and before that Dubai…and before that Laguna Beach…and before that New York City…and before that Baltimore…and before that…Brisbane.
You can take the boy out of Brisbane. But you can’t take the anarchist out of a good man…or good people.
In Praise of Anarchy
By Joel Bowman in from Buenos Aires, Argentina…
Left alone, good people tend to do good things. And, when free of coercion, force, violence or other tools the state employs to foster and maintain a more “responsible,” “socially conscious” citizenship, most people tend to be good…all on their own.
Nowhere was this better expressed during the past few weeks than in flood-stricken Queensland (and, more lately, in Victoria).
The rains inundated an area the size of France and Germany (combined!) across the Sunshine State and wrought havoc upon its people. Lives were lost. Property damaged. And industry was crippled.
And, when Mother Nature’s wrath subsided, Queensland residents were left with a massive clean-up job.
To their credit, these people, in the face of near-untold disaster, did what came naturally. Contrary to the patriotic rally cries of politicians, they didn’t do what Queenslanders do; they did what good people do. And it was beautiful.
The general feeling was perhaps best summed up by Wally “The King” Lewis – a retired national football hero – who spent the last week of his holidays helping fellow Brisbane residents prepare sandbags and bail rising flood waters out of their homes.
Speaking to National Nine News from the waterlogged front yard of a neighbour – whom he had never met – Wally said, “If someone’s doing it tough, I think it’s the right thing to do to put the hand up and ask them if they want any help.”
The interviewer then turned his microphone to another volunteer. “What was your reaction when Wally Lewis turned up?”
Typifying the laid back crowd, the young man said, “[Laughs] Yeah, I was a little surprised but…you know…people help out. It’s all good.”
The Australian people appeared perilously close to discovering something very important about themselves. Something, perhaps, they’ve always known. An instinctual tendency toward human solidarity; the natural urge to help a neighbour in distress, to lend a hand; in short, to volunteer.
Alas, barely had the first piece of debris been cleared away when the media lost sight of the bigger picture. Alongside inspirational stories of non-violent, voluntary cooperation, the local papers turned their attention to the state’s role in the cleanup. Should the state and federal governments focus on returning “their” budgets to surplus? Or should they use funds to help those in need? In other words, how “best” should the state spend its people’s money? As if the only just, honest option had not already expired when the government chose to steal it in the first place.
While sifting through the news reports and reading comments about what the state “should” do, we wondered how people who are so ready to do what is natural – to cooperate freely with neighbours and “mates down the street” – could miss the overarching lesson in all this tragedy. Why do hostages of the state turn to their captor when it comes to settling issues of freedom? Issues they are capable of resolving themselves?
It might have to do, at least in part, with the misrepresentation of the concept of anarchy; a misrepresentation that only serves the interests of the state. We are taught “anarchy” means violence, looting and the aggressive form of chaos that often rises in the wake of natural disasters. We are told this is what happens without state control. Nothing could be further from the truth. The state IS control. It is the incarnation of force and violence from which it purports to protect us.
As Murray Rothbard, the man credited with coining the term “anarcho-capitalism”, expressed in Society and the State:
“I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of any individual. Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defence service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.”
We can expect nothing more from an agent of force than, well, more force. A mule is as capable of giving birth to a unicorn as the state is of “granting” freedom.
Last night, with all this in mind, your editor phoned his father. Dad lives about an hour south of Brisbane, where the post-disaster clean up continues. In the aftermath of the flood, volunteer posts were set up around the city where groups of concerned individuals could assemble to donate their time and/or resources to help get the place back on its feet.
“Sixteen thousand people turned up to help on the first day,” Dad told us. “They came with their own equipment and made their own way there. In the end, they had to turn people away.
“I put my name down to lend a hand,” he continued, before adding, with sincere disappointment, “but I haven’t been called up yet.”
Then, as a man who has spent his life helping people, he added, “but I’ve still got two more days of holiday left, Sunday and Monday. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to get up there and help out then.”
To those who would argue coercion is necessary to foster freedom. That force is a prerequisite for peace. And that the expropriation of individuals’ property on threat of violence is compulsory to fund an agency that, alone, is capable of guaranteeing safety and prosperity, we say: you don’t know the real meaning of anarchy. You don’t know what voluntarism is. And, until you do, you will never know what it means to be free.
Thank you to all the people in Queensland – and around the world – who understand these concepts and, through their fine example, prove statists everywhere wrong every day.
for Markets and Money