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Dr. Anarchist (Voluntaryist) and His Patient (19th Century Article)

By P. K. O’Lally (from “Liberty” newspaper published by Benjamin Tucker)



I think, if all man-made laws and all government of man by man were inverted, better results would accrue. I think no amount of misapplied effort — regardless of good intentions — is equal in beneficent result to an intelligently applied non-effort. I shall endeavor to illustrate this idea by the following:


A man named Public felt very ill from a chronic disease; his friends advised him to consult his family doctor, a Mr. Constitution, which he did. The doctor examined, said it was an aristocratic disease, and, as it was a very lingering sickness, therefore was not immediately dangerous. But neither death nor cure came, but the disorder of the whole system continued to increase until death seemed preferable.


There was in the sick man’s vicinity a doctor named Anarchist, who was noted for his sound advice and whose merit did not inhere in the broad seal of his college diploma, but in his own demonstrated skill. Dr. Anarchist was not popular with the two classes who constitute what is called The Public, because he was not understood by them. Dr. Anarchist immediately advised the discontinuance of the causes of his troubles.


“But, Doctor,” said the patient, “I do not take anything except the medicine which Dr. Constitution prescribed for me.”


“Precisely so,” said Dr. A.; “that so-called medicine is the cause of your disordered system. Those state-correctional powders, those public pills and majority ointments and government plasters, throw them all to the dogs, and you will not continue sick.”


“Then, Dr. A., what medicine shall I take to make me well?”


“None; you suffer from taking. It is not that you need to take to get cured, but it is that you need to cease taking to avoid being constantly poisoned. Trust Nature, attune your ear to understand her calls, and obey those calls intelligently. Take what you please, and, when living in intelligent harmony with Nature, you will please to take and do that which is right, your intelligent self being the standard or judge of what is right for you.”


Mr. Public very quickly recovered and changed his name. He proffered to Dr. A. a large sum for having advised him how to cure himself. The doctor would not accept pay for service rendered a sick man. He said: “You cured yourself. I simply told you how to not make yourself sick. I visited you only once, a neighborly visit. I have an interest in the health of my neighbors,— not in their misfortunes, necessities, or sickness.”


I assume that the moral of this is manifest.

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