Tag Archives: Thou Shalt Not Steal

Why are Property and Ownership So Important?

“Thou Shalt Not Steal” is found almost universally at the core of religious commandments and secular legal systems. The implication of this is that property, and property ownership, are universally considered to be of central importance. And not just in legal systems, but also in religions.

Why is property ownership so important that respect for it is enshrined as a basic tenet of Human society?

Ownership only begins to take on importance when there is scarcity involved.

We typically don’t worry about who owns the air we breathe. Air is obviously important, but as long as there is plenty for everyone, and your breathing does not reduce the amount of air available for me to breathe, then we don’t have to worry about who owns what air.

The easiest way to illustrate how the issue of scarcity leads to the concept of property and ownership is to use a typical ‘Robinson Crusoe on a desert island’ scenario.

Shipwrecked and alone on a deserted island, Crusoe would have faced a severe scarcity of modern supplies and tools. But he still had no need to worry about whose property the remaining food supplies and tools were. Because there was no one else on the island, there was no one whose usage of the supplies would impact Crusoe’s usage.

It is only when another man, Friday, arrives on the island that the issue of property might arise. For then there might be a conflict over scarce resources. Property rights serve as a means to prevent conflict over scarce items.

The structure of the property rights in this case could take a variety of forms:

  • Crusoe could maintain full ownership rights to the scarce supplies and declare that they are for his use only.
  • Crusoe could maintain full ownership rights to the scarce supplies and make all of the decisions, himself, as to how much to share them with Friday.
  • Crusoe could give ownership of some portion of the supplies to Friday, giving Friday full control over those specific supplies.
  • Crusoe could agree to share ownership of the supplies with Friday, based on mutually agreed upon rules as to how supplies would be allocated by the two men.
  • Or, the scarce supplies could be considered the property of no one, and therefore under the control of neither man.

The final option, above, assigning communal rights to the supplies so that no one owns them sounds nice. It fits nicely with the sentiment in John Lennon’s beautiful song, “Imagine“…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

Unfortunately, “no possessions”, meaning no person owns or controls the property, doesn’t mean no person makes decisions about the property.

If neither Crusoe or Friday owns the scarce supplies, it means that each of them can decide what to do with them.

Crusoe, who has found ways to survive on local foods, might want to continue to ration the modern supplies or keep them for emergencies.

Friday might be weak and starving from the mishap that landed him on the island, and decide that he needs to consume the supplies now to regain his strength.

If Friday does start to rapidly consume the remaining supplies, what would Crusoe do? If it starts to look like there may soon be no supplies for him to save or ration, he may decide he has to consume whatever he can before Friday finishes all of it.

This scenario, which often plays out when there is ‘community property’ (scarce resources with no owner) has been called ‘The Tragedy of the Commons‘ by ecologist Garrett Hardin…

The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen.

So,having clear ownership of resources is important, even when the plan is for them to be shared by everyone.

Other examples of the problem with ‘no possessions’ are pretty easy to come up with.

Suppose strangers off the street started living in your house? That would be okay, since there would really be no such thing as ‘your’ house. Or your car. Or your money.

It’s hard to imagine a functioning real-life society with no property rights, no possessions.

John Lennon’s goal is a good one…


No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

…but possessions are not the problem.

Respect for possessions, ownership, is a core requirement for a functioning society. And only a functioning society could become the kind of brotherhood of man that John Lennon envisioned.

(This article was originally posted at a Veresapiens blog.)

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Stealing From You is One Way of Taking Your Life

Why is “Thou Shalt Not Steal” (TSNS) a primary commandment in so many religions, including…

  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Taoism
  • Shinto
  • Sikhism
  • Jainism
  • Bahá’í Faith
  • Cao Dai
  • Veresapiens

What causes “Thou Shalt Not Steal” to be right up there with “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?

Is it possible that they are two different ways of saying essentially the same thing?

(read more on a Veresapiens blog)

Government Appeals to Your Better Instincts

Sometimes you have to resist your better instincts.

The latest allegations of pervasive spying by the US Government have led to a spike in sales of George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel,  ‘1984’. In ‘1984’ Big Brother was always watching.

Another insightful aspect of Orwell’s prescient novel was the concept of ‘doublethink’. Doublethink is defined as simultaneously holding two mutually contradictory ideas in your mind and believing both of them.

One very common real-world example of doublethink has puzzled me for some time:

You can get almost unanimous agreement that ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ is a basic moral value that should apply to all people. Yet when Government, which is an organization made up of people, involuntarily takes people’s money (i.e. steals), almost no one declares it immoral.

People taking your money is immoral, but people from the Government taking your money is not immoral? Doublethink.

Creating and maintaining such a pervasive case of doublethink is an amazing accomplishment for the Government.

And even more amazing, they do it by appealing to your better instincts.

By appealing to your better instincts, they get you to accept immoral actions? Sounds like more doublethink, doesn’t it?

Here’s how it works…

Recent psychological research has identified sixteen core instinctive drives shared by most people.

‘Drives’ refers to non-conscious desires that cannot be permanently satisfied. Any time they are satiated they soon reassert themselves. These common drives range from basic survival goals like food, safety, and ‘amorousness’ to more civilized goals like social interaction, honor, and idealism.

It is important to distinguish that these drives are not the same as emotions. Drives are more like routines hardwired into the brain to ensure that you are constantly driven to attain these goals.

Even though we all share the same drives, we don’t all act the same because for each person the strength and priority of each drive is different.

And here’s an interesting twist…

Because we directly experience only the conscious part of our minds, we believe that we make all of our decisions consciously . But, it turns out that these non-conscious ‘drives’ drive our behavior much more powerfully than whatever we’re thinking consciously. And once any of the sixteen drives gets activated, it tends to stay active, non-consciously driving our behavior, until it reaches its immediate goal.

Here’s a problem: The list of powerful non-conscious drives does not include ‘not stealing’.

Mothers do teach us not to take the other kids’ toys. And pretty much all religions teach some version of Thou Shalt Not Steal. But it’s not hardwired in. We learn it and may fully accept it as valid, but only consciously, and that is what leaves it open to doublethink.

The hardwired non-conscious drives are focused on goals (ends).

Our consciously learned moral philosophy is focused on behavior (means).

When a drive is active, the desired end is what is important to the drive, not the means.

This sets you up for a battle between powerful, instinctive non-conscious drives focused only on ends, and consciously learned moral philosophies vainly attempting to control the means.

So, even though Mom also taught us that ‘the ends don’t justify the means’, meaning moral behavior should not be abandoned even for good goals, again, that’s a learned conscious concept. And from a practical standpoint, if the ends are tied to instinctive drives and the means are tied to learned philosophy, the ends may simply overpower and drive the means.

So, here’s the secret.  Government triggers, and ties itself to, as many of the core drives as possible. Once a Government program is embraced as important to a core non-conscious goal, people become suddenly much more flexible on allowable behaviors.

(At this point, I was going to give examples for a couple of drives, but obvious examples leaped out for so many, that I ended up including 12 of the 16 drives without much effort.)

Let’s take a quick look at some of the common drives the US Government attaches itself to. You can start with our most basic drives like eating, and work your way all the way up to the our higher instincts like idealism.

Note: The statements below don’t reflect what Government actually does. These are just illustrations of how Government instills in you that it is critical to your drives.

Eating (goal: acquiring food)

  • Without Government Subsidies basic foods would be unaffordable
  • Without Government Regulations and Inspectors foods would be unsafe

Tranquility (goal: avoiding fear, anxiety, pain)

  • Without the Police the criminals will get you
  • Without the Military foreign powers will invade and take over
  • Without the NSA the terrorists will make you live in fear

Family (goal: good parenting)

  • Without the Department of Education and Public School Systems, only the rich would be able to afford good schools for their children
  • Federal Student Loan Programs ensure that every child can have a college education

Saving (goal: preparing for future needs)

  • Without Social Security old people, and eventually you, too, will starve
  • Without Medicare, medical care will bankrupt you as you age

Acceptance (goal: avoiding criticism or rejection)

  • (Think about what would happen to any child that didn’t stand and recite The Pledge of Allegiance)
  • (Think about the reaction you’d get if you remained seated during the National Anthem at any large event)

Independence (goal: personal freedom)

  • The Constitution makes us free
  • Voting controls the Government

Power (goal: control over others)

  • As an American, you can claim you saved Europe from the Nazis and then saved the whole world from the Soviet Union
  • As an American, you are now the Hegemon, the greatest power the world has ever known

Status (goal: social standing, superiority)

  • America has the greatest form of Government in all of history, making Americans the best people ever

Vengeance (goal: revenge)

  • The Government has avenged 9/11 by killing the evil-doers in Afghanistan and Iraq

Order (goal: structure, rules)

  • The Congress represents the will of the people in creating Law and Order
  • The Justice Department and the State and Federal Courts ensure that all Americans are treated equally under The Law

Honor (goal: loyalty, tradition)

  • It is important to be a loyal American to honor all Those Who’ve Sacrificed to preserve the Freedom we enjoy today

Idealism (goal: improve social conditions)

  • The Government takes care of all those in need in America with Entitlement Programs so that none will go hungry or be excluded from all the benefits of being an American
  • American Foreign Aid prevents mass starvation around the world

So, even if you walk someone through an irrefutable logical argument proving that taxes amount to theft, they still won’t condemn taxes as immoral, because that would logically mean that Government, as the thief, is immoral. And that logical conclusion would be too emotionally unsettling, as it threatens the ‘government-linked’ attainment of so many of their core drive goals.

Thus, doublethink must be maintained.

Now, you would think that maintaining doublethink would lead to ‘cognitive dissonance’…

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.

But perhaps another keen insight from ‘1984’ – Newspeak – helps explain how the Government prevents cognitive dissonance from interfering with its achievement of pervasive doublethink.

According to George Orwell,

“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc [The State], but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

So taxation is never referred to with any words related to confiscation or theft. In fact, the word ‘tax’ is even avoided as much as possible. Instead we get Newspeak words like ‘revenues’ (hence IRS), ‘fees’, ‘assessments’, ‘withholding’, etc., etc.

Taken all together, this explains why, and how, people can so obstinately hold on to the doublethink necessary to believe in ‘good Government’.

This also helps us to see why we struggle to gain traction for our Voluntaryist message.

Perhaps our most brilliant arguments against the State have minimal impact because we’re aiming at the wrong targets. We’ve been blasting away at consciously held constructs like logic and morality, but that isn’t where the love of Government lies.

Government has burrowed deep into people’s unconscious and entwined itself within their most basic instinctive drives.

So to overcome people’s attachment to Government, I believe we need to re-target our efforts.

If attacking the logic or morality of Government makes people unconsciously uncomfortable with our message, perhaps we would accomplish more by simply sowing seeds of doubt – illustrating Government’s actual record of failure relative to achieving the goals of our common drives.

And, finally, to affect real change, we must begin to consistently tie Voluntaryism into people’s visions of satisfying their core drives. Rather than discussing the mechanics of providing roads, we need to convince them that in a voluntary society they will have better food, and safer communities, and more opportunities for their children.

You Can Be Truly Human Now

Which of these statements is true?

  1. Republicans are Outraged at Democrats!
  2. Democrats are Outraged at Republicans!

Yes, both, of course.

Democrats accuse Republicans of using the power of Government to steal from poor and working class people through preferential treatment for big business.

Republicans accuse Democrats of using the power of Government to steal from working people to give free stuff to lazy people.

Is it possible that half the country is Evil and the other half of the country is – Evil?

But Republicans don’t think they’re Evil. They believe they are Good.

Democrats? Same thing.

Maybe politics creates this confusion over basic issues like Good and Evil. With politics, what each side sees as Good looks like Evil to the other.

Maybe this is done on purpose.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple way to see past the Politics of any issue and clearly distinguish Right and Wrong?

If you could discover a simple way to tell right from wrong that would also light the path to Freedom, wouldn’t that be worthwhile?

In fact, the answer is so simple it’s not even based on a list like The Ten Commandments. It’s more like The One Commandment.

And yet it clearly lights the way because it is directly related to the most basic thing that makes us Human.

We know that Man is not the only Animal that makes tools, or communicates, or lives in social groups, or builds homes.

What is it, then, that is uniquely Human?

All living things need space to live in and things to consume. Non-human living things simply Take what they need.

What truly differentiates Human from Animal is that a Human is able make the conscious decision to refrain from Taking. A Human is capable of consciously choosing Voluntary interaction, in Cooperation with others, to satisfy needs.

Humans choose to Trade, not Take.

Humans choose to live by the rule “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.

Not every Man is capable of making that choice. But, to actually make, and live by, that choice is what it takes for Man to be Truly Human.

Humans have always considered Thou Shalt Not Steal so significant that it is a basic tenet of every major Religion.

What causes the morality of Thou Shalt Not Steal to be so universally recognized, right along with Thou Shalt Not Kill?

Is it possible that they are essentially two ways of saying the same thing?

Yes.

Your earthly lifetime is not infinite. You have one body and a limited amount of Time to spend in it.

You may choose to Spend some of your brief Time creating something. In other words, you may Trade some of your precious Time for something else of value to you.

If a thief Takes what you created, is he taking your Life?

Yes.

It took your Time to create your new possession. You Spent Time. That Time is Gone.

You gave up (some of) your Life for that possession, so the thief Took (some of) your Life when he stole it.

And that is why Thou Shalt Not Steal is held Sacred, right along with Thou Shalt Not Kill, in all the major world religions.

Thou Shalt Not Steal is clearly an important commandment, but is it comprehensive enough to be The One Commandment?

Yes.

Let’s explore the meaning of Thou Shalt Not Steal a little further, and see how it manages to cover behavior from petty Theft to Slavery and Murder.

To define what it means ‘To Steal’, let’s first define what it means ‘To Own’.

At the most basic level, Ownership is not a financial term. To Own is to Control.

If you Own something, You can make all of the decisions about it, yourself. You can do whatever you wish with something you own. You can use it, give it away, destroy it, whatever. It’s totally up to you.

If you need Permission to do something with it, You Don’t Own It… at least not fully.

Here’s an illustration of what I mean by partial ownership:

Suppose you ‘own’ a house. And suppose you bought the house with a home loan. And, finally, suppose that you rent out the house to tenants.

Financially, you own the house. You are the homeowner. However, your ownership rights have been voluntarily limited, as detailed in your mortgage loan agreement with the bank and your lease agreement with the renters.

For example, you own the house, but you cannot use the house as your home. You have agreed to give all of the normal residential usage rights (control) to your renters for the duration of their lease.

Also, you own the house, but you cannot tear it down and turn your property into a wildlife sanctuary. You have agreed to give up some rights (control), relative to the physical building, to the bank for the duration of the mortgage loan.

The important point here is that Control is not All-or-Nothing. And therefore, Ownership is not All-or-Nothing. Some portion of your ownership can be given or traded away.

And some portion of your Ownership can be Taken away. (And we have thereby arrived at the broader meaning of ‘Stealing’.)

If someone Takes away some or all of your Control over your possession, against your will, they are Stealing from you.

Even if, rather than physically taking, they simply prevent you from exercising Your full Control over your possession through threats or force, they are still Stealing from you. Because, even if they are not physically taking your possession, they are Taking away your Ownership (control).

Now, here’s a critical question.

Do you believe your life belongs to you? If you fully Own your Life, you must fully Control your Life.

Anyone who Prevents you from exercising full Control over your own life is Taking your Life.

At a minimum, they are Stealing your Freedom. In the extreme, this can rise to the level of Slavery or Murder.

Now that we have fleshed out the broader meaning of To Steal, we can begin to explore how Thou Shalt Not Steal can be applied to political questions.

If the primary guiding principle shaping society was Thou Shalt Not Steal, what kind of government, legal, and social systems would such a Truly Human society have?

The answer to that question goes back to our earlier discussion of Ownership. If you ‘own’ something, it means that you have total Control over it. If someone Takes away some or all of your Control, then, because they are Taking away your Ownership, they are Stealing from you.

That means that if someone Takes any Control over your Life, they are Taking Ownership of your Life. Taking ownership without permission is Stealing.

A Truly Human society, then, would not make Laws to Control people’s behavior. That would be Stealing.

Individuals would make Rules as to the acceptable use of Their Own Property and the acceptable behavior of visitors to their property. And Truly Human individuals may rightfully choose to Defend their property from unacceptable aggression by others. Such individual property rules do not take away any others’ full ownership of their own lives and property.

If a society based on Thou Shalt Not Steal would Make No Laws to Control, Mandate, or Prohibit anyone’s actions, then it would have no need for a Government. In fact, any imposed form of government, including Democracy, would be Incompatible with a Thou Shalt Not Steal-based society.

Thus, for a whole society to live by Thou Shalt Not Steal as a guiding principle, a totally Voluntaryist social structure is required – one with No Government at all.

You may already live much of your life in a Truly Human, Thou Shalt Not Steal, Voluntaryist mode. 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 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?

If not, you’re already creating your own personal Truly Human Society!

Many truly wise philosophers and authors have written about how an entire Society without a Government might function, so rather than re-create that content here, let me just recommend a good, easy-to-read introduction, available as a free download at this link:

The Market for Liberty

Of course the most common criticism leveled against this kind of ‘Society Without a Government’ thought experiment 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 unlikely scenario for the foreseeable future. And when Governments do 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, 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, they would most 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 Thou Shalt Not Steal 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.

At this point, you may still be wondering how the Voluntaryist philosophy helps answer Political questions in the ‘real world’.

So let’s see how our philosophy scales up. As an example, let’s consider this politically hot question:

“What should the Government do about the problem of Illegal Aliens?”

First let’s Question the Question.

Why are ‘illegal aliens’ a ‘problem’ to be solved?

A common answer would be: “They don’t pay taxes, and yet are served by government programs paid for by citizens.”

That answer hints at a new way to look at almost all ‘political’ questions. The answer to why illegal aliens are a problem is centered around Government Programs (taxes and services).

In other words, we need to solve this problem (illegal aliens) because of the impact it has on Government ‘Solutions’ to previous ‘Problems’ (the collection of taxes and the provision of services).

What happens if we consider the problem of illegal aliens, setting Government aside?

OK, setting government aside, what is an illegal alien? Borders are imaginary lines drawn by governments to declare their Control over people and places. So, without government borders, there are no aliens, legal, illegal or otherwise. You just have People. No problem there.

What about taxes and services? Setting government aside, people in communities would work to create products to sell or trade, provide services to sell or trade, and would provide goods or services as Charity for people in need. Taking from some people to give to other people is a government thing.

So, setting government aside, the ‘illegal alien’ problem simply starts to fade away.

You can follow this thought pattern on just about any Political issue. Instead of answering the political question, as asked, try considering the question itself. And then, setting aside the political roots of the question, consider the issue in Human terms. This approach will lead you to Truly Human answers.

  • What is the Political Question?
  • What are the Left vs Right conventional Political Answers?
  • How do the conventional Political Answers relate to Government Laws, Activities, or Programs.
  • What Different Answers would arise from taking a Truly Human Approach to the issue?

And for now, since we do not live in a society that is Free of existing Government, the next question a Voluntaryist will ask is…

  • To what extent can you implement a Truly Human solution in a Government dominated society?

This last point is important to consider, since Truly Human solutions, implemented fully, may well be Illegal in today’s society. (Think about the impact of ignoring Government immigration regulations).

Political discourse, framed in terms of Government Programs, confuses the distinctions between Right and Wrong.

As you mentally break out of that political frame, you can simply re-frame the original question in terms of basic Morality. And the most basic Human morality is Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Because Thou Shalt Not Steal, when consistently applied, requires that all Human interactions be Voluntary, it provides a simple way to determine what the Truly Human approach would be in any situation.

The Truly Human, Voluntaryist, philosophy helps you distinguish Right and Wrong and helps you find Moral approaches to social issues.

The Voluntaryist philosophy seldom mandates one particular solution. There will almost always be a range of consistently moral approaches available to a Voluntaryist.

All we need to do is ensure that our chosen approach refrains from Taking property or freedom from others.

This is something we can all do Now.

And today, by our example, we help others to also become Truly Human.

This article is adapted from You Can Be A Veresapiens Now posted at veresapiens.org.

Today Is The Start Of A Truly Human Society

Today is the start of a new, worldwide, Truly Human Society.

Many of you have already developed your own smaller, more individual Truly Human societies. Now we can go ahead and take the idea global.

As you may recall, what makes us Truly Human is to follow one simple rule, “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.

We often think of ‘ownership‘ as a legal or financial concept, but in practical terms, to own means to control. What you own, you control.

So, to take control of something is, in effect, to take ownership. To take control of anything without the current owner’s consent is to steal.

What makes “Thou Shalt Not Steal” the key to defining a Truly Human Society is that for anyone to take control of another person’s life without their consent is to steal from, and to take ownership of, that other person.

Our Truly Human Society, then, is based on the belief that no people should be owned by other people. In practical terms, that means no people should have control over other people. All Truly Human interactions should be voluntary.

Most of us already live our everyday lives as ‘voluntaryists’. Do you use force or threats against others as you go through your day? Probably not. For most of us, being controlled and forced to do this, or not do that, generally only occurs in our relationships with government.

And that brings us to the 800 pound gorilla – involuntary government – that has continually blocked our path to a voluntary, Truly Human Society.

Today we realize – we’ve been on the wrong path!

We have been stopped by the gorilla only because we believed we had to retake the path he sits astride.

We have assumed that we can only have a voluntary society in the absence of an existing government.

But a government isn’t a society. A government is a parasite living off of a society. A government is simply a “bandit gang writ large“.

Libertarians have developed and documented all kinds of practical strategies for how a voluntary society could be effectively organized without coercive government. But we never seem to get beyond the idea stage because we see no practical way to be rid of government.

The gorilla owns that path.

Let us travel another path.

To counter claims of being utopian, libertarians have always insisted that a voluntary society would be able to deal with the reality of criminal gangs – small and large.

So, if libertarians think that the presence of criminal gangs is not a showstopper, and that government is simply a criminal gang writ large…

…then now is a great time to start a libertarian society.

Your Truly Human Society

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.

Could There Be A Truly Human Society?

To live by the simple principle “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is what allows an individual Man to become truly wise, truly Human.

What, then, would a Truly Human Society look like?

If the guiding principle shaping the society was TSNS, “Thou Shalt Not Steal”, what kind of government, legal, and social systems would the society have?

Before we begin to answer that question, we need to review one important aspect of TSNS.  If you ‘own’ something, it means that you have total control over it. If someone takes away some or all of your control, then because they are taking away your ownership, they are stealing from you.

That means that if someone takes any control over your life, they are taking ownership of your life. Taking ownership without permission is stealing.

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. Members of a Truly Human Society may also 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 non-aggressive 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.

Is it possible to have a society with no government?

UPDATE: The answer to that question starts here.