Here is my question: Both have been gaining in popularity, but which will succeed, and how? Or is it possible that both are doomed to failure? I am seeking as much discussion as possible, because as time goes on this discussion continues to gain more relevance, and we must not discount its importance.
Totalitarianism. This movement is indisputably on the rise. Look no further than the electronic monitoring of many countries, notably in recent times the United States, England, India and New Zealand. There is also the many attempts by numerous countries to insert their influence into the interior of other countries. In the United States regulation is on the rise, fed among other things by an entrenched bureaucracy and complicated by the paid lobby. These and other increases in government power are willingly enabled both by politically motivated media organizations hungry for ratings and by a willing populace more than ready to allow the hard tasks in life to be relegated to an entity other than themselves.
Anarchy. The ultimate expression of individual rights and freedom. Or is it? Yes, if everyone had this as their goal, it certainly would be. Imagine a world where we would be responsible for ourselves and both enjoy all the benefits of our actions and bear the responsibility for our own mistakes. We would never be forced to pay someone else’s way, we would only do so when we voluntarily chose to do so. As long as we neither harmed anyone else nor infringed upon their ability to lead their lives as they saw fit, we would be free to do as we wished. Sounds much better to me than the alternative of totalitarianism.
So why the question? It sure seems like an obvious choice, does it not? But there’s a catch. Many, probably most, of the people in this world do not want to be responsible for their mistakes. They certainly want 100% of the benefits of their good choices, but when they make a mistake, they do not want to pay for it, they want someone else to step in and save them. As long as so many people have this tendency, they will insist that there is some form of government, council, tribe, or something to provide the means for them to avoid the personal responsibility which is necessary for freedom. As long as they insist that this type of entity exists, it will, and it will seek to gain the power needed to be successful, and then some. This entity will also seek the power to prevent a better entity from replacing it.
So what is the solution? On the one hand, many people want, even think they need, a totalitarian type of government with the power to save them from their own mistakes, while those who have honestly studied this problem realize that a government with that much power at some point engages in the abuse of all under its influence. How do we eliminate the abusive governments without leaving ourselves vulnerable to the government installed by our neighbors, which wants what we have, and above all, wants the power over us to prevent us from influencing its subjects?
I have found only two answers, both which must be used in tandem.
First and foremost is education. The people who wish to be taken care of must be taught that there are more potential benefits in a free and voluntary society than in one which is controlled or managed by a powerful central authority. I fear that, unfortunately, this may take generations, and I do not expect to see significant results in my lifetime, but have committed to doing my part to keep the process moving.
Second, it would be better for those who appreciate liberty to accept the fact that most people will insist in having a governing apparatus, at least until the educational efforts reach fruition, and to remain involved enough to influence the scope of that apparatus. If people who understand freedom disengage from the process of forming and guiding whatever apparatus is chosen, people have through history shown a dangerous tendency to select the most totalitarian government available, and those are exactly the kind of governments with the most incentive to interfere with any attempts we make to educate others about freedom. In order to gain the time and the means to educate people to the benefits of liberty and responsibility, we must, even when we find it distasteful, help in the process to ensure that we have the most benign entity possible, rather than the cancerous entity of totalitarian control.
Don’t mistake me for a government supporter, even though I prefer one over another. I do believe that for the foreseeable future a government is necessary and unavoidable, and it is in our best interest to help keep it as small and benign as possible, and continue to shrink and weaken it at every opportunity. As a friend recently remarked, if we suddenly pulled the rug out from under things, it would create chaos which would likely create more problems than it would solve.