by Carl Watner
Number 93 – Aug 1998
As I compose this article, I have only a few more issues of The Voluntaryist to write and publish before I reach No. 100. Once completed, that effort will have spanned nearly seventeen years of my life. During that time I have been imprisoned for forty days on a federal civil contempt charge (1982); married Julie (1986); witnessed the homebirths of our four children; operated two businesses here in South Carolina (one of them a feed mill, I have been running since my marriage; the other, a retail tire store and service center I took over in early 1997); have been responsible for the building of our family’s house; and participate in the homeschooling of all our children. Although The Voluntaryist has been an important and constant part of my life all this time, the first article that I wrote and published preceded The Voluntaryist by nearly a decade. It was “Lysander Spooner: Libertarian Pioneer” and appeared in Reason Magazine in March 1973.
As I reflect upon my writing career. I recall one of my very first self-published monographs – Towards A Theory of Proprietary Justice. In it there was a piece titled “Let It Not Be Said That I Did Not Speak Out!”. There is obviously something in my mental-spiritual-physical constitution that needs a publishing outlet. It is important to me to set forth my ideas, especially when they are so very different from the vast majority of people that I associate with most of the time. If everyone seems to be heading toward a precipice, they need to be warned. If I am pushed and shoved along with them, even if I am powerless to stop the crowd, it is important to me and my integrity that some record be left of my resistance and of my recognition that we are headed toward danger. “Let It Not Be Said That I Did Not Speak Out!” was published in 1976, and appears now in the pages of The Voluntaryist for the first time:
When the individuals living under the jurisdiction of the United States Government awake to political reality, they are going to find themselves living in government bondage. Every act of government brings us closer to this reality. The only logical future is to expect life in a socialized state. Henceforth, to be a citizen will mean to be a slave.
To speak the truth without fear is the only resistance I am bound to display. To disseminate without reserve all the principles with which I am acquainted and to do so on every occasion with the most persevering constancy, so that my acquiescence to injustice will not be assumed, is my self-assumed obligation.
The honest among us realize that the resort to coercion is a tacit confession of imbecility. If he who employs force against me could mold me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would.
The alternative is then simply living by the libertarian principle that no person or group of people is entitled to resort to violence or its threat in order to achieve their ends. This means that everyone, regardless of their position in the world, who is desirous of implementing their ideas must rely solely on voluntary persuasion and not on force or its threat.
Individuals make the world go round; individuals and only individuals exist. No man has any duty towards his fellow men except to refrain from the initiation of violence. Nothing is due a man in strict justice but what is his own. To live honestly is to hurt no one and to give to every one his due.
. . . Justice will not come to reign unless those who care for its coming are prepared to insist upon its value and have the courage to speak out against what they know to be wrong.
Let it not be said that I did not speak out against tyranny!
As much as any other piece I have ever written, it probably best explains why I have devoted so much time to The Voluntaryist over the years. There is an episode in Ayn Rand’s Anthem in which the protagonist, Equality 7-2521, discovers a room full of books, someone’s personal library, that had escaped the book-burning that undoubtedly had accompanied the creation of the collectivist holocaust in which he lived. It was among these books that he rediscovered the word “I” which had disappeared from the current lexicon. My hope is that The Voluntaryist message – that a non-violent and stateless society is both moral and practical – will survive, just like the books that Equality found. Hopefully, if someone in the future finds copies of The Voluntaryist newsletter or the anthology that I am proposing to publish (see accompanying article) they will help to re-kindle, re-discover, or elaborate the ideal of a totally free market society. One doesn’t need to be a pessimist to see that those ideas might one day disappear. Even in our own time, only a small part of the population enbraces libertarian ideas; and only a small number of libertarians would consider themselves voluntaryists – people who reject voting and the legitimacy of the State. Even the individualism of several centuries of American history is in danger of being obliterated by State propaganda. With luck, The Voluntaryist will play some small part in preserving a record of those times in history when men were free to act without State interference, and were self-confident enough to know that the State possesses no magical powers.
May knowledge and wisdom come to those who read The Voluntaryist. Long live voluntaryist ideas.