In a recent post, I described how following the central tenet of “Thou Shalt Not Steal” (TSNS) would shape the basic principles of a Truly Human Society. At the conclusion of the post, those principles were described this way…
Members of a Truly Human Society, then, would not make rules, or laws, to control others’ behavior. That would be stealing.
Members of a Truly Human Society would make rules as to the acceptable use of their own property and the acceptable behavior of visitors on their property. And members of a Truly Human Society may legitimately defend their property from unacceptable aggression by others. None of those things would take away others’ full ownership of their own lives and property.
If a society based on TSNS would make no laws to control, mandate, or prohibit anyone’s actions, then it would have no need for a government. In fact, any form of government, including democracy, would be incompatible with a TSNS-based society.
For a whole society to live by “Thou Shalt Not Steal” as a guiding principle requires a totally voluntaryist social structure – one with no government at all.
A common, and legitimate, criticism leveled against this kind of ‘thought experiment’, however, is that it assumes the existence of a society somehow magically free of an existing central government. I have to agree that this is an unrealistic assumption. When governments fall, whether by revolution or by conquest, they are, unfortunately, replaced by new governments. There is never a shortage of wannabe rulers just waiting for their big opportunity.
But think about the ‘anarchy’ that already exists between you and your friends and close neighbors. Do you refrain from stealing from them because of the laws of the central government? Do you make up rules that all of them must follow or be punished? Do all of your disagreements get resolved by courts and judges?
No? Hmmm, perhaps you have already begun your own Truly Human Society. Congratulations! You’re off to a great start.
If you think about it, even if there was, magically, a land with no government, and people had total freedom to organize new social structures, there would likely not end up being one single homogenous society. Different groups of people would try out different approaches, many of which might take hold and thrive. There would also, no doubt, be violent organized gangs of criminals.
Those who wanted to organize around the concept of TSNS could do so, but they would still have to coexist among people with different ideas, values, and social structures, just as your own personal Truly Human Society does today. They would also have to deal with individuals and organized groups intent on stealing their property or their freedom, just as your own personal Truly Human Society does today.
So, we have the same kind of opportunity now to organize a Truly Human Society as we would have in the mythical ungoverned land.
Beyond making TSNS the guiding principle in how you relate to all other people, future blog posts will focus on principles, strategies, and tactics for organizing and leading your own Truly Human Society within today’s government-dominated social structure.