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  • J. Wm. Lloyd

Everybody Actually Desires Voluntaryism (19th Century Text)

By J. Wm. Lloyd (from Liberty 19th century Newspaper)

What relation has Anarchy to reform? This. Anarchy comprehends the fundamental principles of all true reform. Justice (or right relationship), Freedom, Natural Law,— these are the principles of Anarchy; they are the principles of reform. As the greater includes the less, then, why should not all reformers become Anarchists, and, by supporting Liberty, support the Mother of Reform?

Consider a few samples. In religious reformers there should exist peculiar sympathy with Anarchism. How to win that universal mental liberty of which freethinkers dream to be realized without universal physical liberty,— liberty for the whole man. Free-thought denies the divine right of priests and bibles; Anarchy denies the divine right of rulers and statute books. Free-thought says: Leave all religions questions to the reason and conscience of the individual; Anarchy says: Leave all questions to the individual reason and conscience. The former denies the need of religious chiefs; the latter, of political chiefs. Freedom from arbitrary and conventional control, and the elevation of the individual, are the common aims of both: the only difference being that Anarchy is infinitely the most sweeping, radical, comprehensive, and logical. Therefore, of necessity, all Anarchists are freethinkers, though the converse is by no means true. Anarchy opposes every power, spiritual or material, religious, social, or political, that binds the free spirit of man. It brands it a title-less usurper. Only to natural law is the free man responsible, and in his obedience to that law does his liberty consist, for, in the eloquent words of Wakeman:

The association of law with restraint or compulsion comes from considering the word as meaning a statute or State enactment. But law in science does not mean a criminal code, but the line of least resistance, wherein only freedom is to be found. The forces always follow this line of least resistance, and so the order of the world is simply the record of freedom. Law is achieved liberty, the observed order of Nature. In so far as we conform our lives to her order, we are free. When we conquer by obedience, we are emancipated from restraint. Says Goethe:

Only the law can to us freedom give. (Und das Gesetz aur Kann uns Freiheit geben.)

Then you find that law is the absence of restraint; for its recognition transforms duty into devotion. To do our duty because we can and wish to do no otherwise, any more than the tree wishes to grow downward instead of up towards the light of the Sun,— that is the most beautiful realization of Liberty, Law, and Religion, for it is the three in one. Take, for instance, our American elm, so grand that it may stand for our symbol life-tree. How freely it lifts its head towards the sky! With what unbounded freedom and grace it plays in the breeze! And yet not a branch or leaf or cell in all that glorious structure takes part in that play except under and by virtue of eternal, inevitable, inexorable law. Thus, freedom and law are the same in the New Faith; for law is the order that freedom takes in executing itself.

From the very logic of their position, therefore, every atheist, agnostic, Free Religionist, or freethinker of any other name or station, should be an Anarchist.

In medical reform the same principles come into play. Physicians have banded themselves into associations, forming a veritable priesthood, formulating an arbitrary code of ethics, dictating to each and every individual physician how and by what rules he shall practise, what agents employ, and what prices charge, and invoking the aid of the State to support them in this outrageous attack upon free action and free competition. The physician was once the priest, and seems never to have forgotten it. He still wields the anathema and excommunicates the heretic. “Regular” and “Old School” have the same place in the medical world that “Orthodox” and “Mother Church” have in the religious. Let the learning and ability, the skill and success, of the individual healer be what they may, if he does not belong to the association, subscribe to the code, and display the sacred charm of the diploma, above all, if he has peculiar ideas of practice, he is a “quack” and an “irregular.” The priest of the body is as full of pride and acrimony as the priest of the soul. Unfortunately, medical reformers generally ape political reformers, and, in escaping from an old despotism, have no higher motive than the establishment of a new one,— an Eclectic, Homoeopathic or Physio-medical school, in place of an Allopathic one. These are great improvements, but not radical. The true medical reformer should become Anarchistic, and then he will proclaim and defend the right of every individual to practise the healing art according to his own intelligence, without the license or dictation of any man or set of men, being responsible only to his patients for his well-doing or malpractice.

The Hygienist goes still further. His appeal is always from the arbitrary laws of medicine, fashionable dress and diet, etc., to the unalterable laws of nature. Just as the religious reformer defeuds the right of every man to be his own priest and attend to the salvation of his own soul, so the hygienist defends the right of every man to be his own doctor and care for the salvation of his own body. He opposes compulsory vaccination just as the freethinker does compulsory baptism. Just as the freethinker considers that by right relationship to the laws of mind he can maintain spiritual health without the aid of priests; just as the Anarchist considers he can maintain social health by right relationship to humanity without the aid of rulers; so the hygienist believes that by right relationship to the vital laws of the body he can maintain physical health without the aid of physicians. Therefore, by the logic of his position, every hygienist should be an Anarchist, and work radically for the good time coming, when the arbitrary priest, ruler, and physician will be supplanted by the teachers of morals, justice, and health, whose advice will only be accepted in so far as proved by the laws of the universe and approved by the individual reason.

How can the free lover be aught but an Anarchist? His whole course and doctrine is an eloquent protest against the arbitrariness of those man-made laws which so insult, invade, enslave, hamper, and restrict the holiest and sweetest of human emotions that millions of human souls make horrible shipwreck on this fairest of life’s seas. So far as he goes, every free lover is an Anarchist, and he should go on to the glorious end.

Even those reformers who wish to accomplish reform by legislative enactments will often find those ends better accomplished by no enactments at all. The best way to reform the civil service is to abolish it. When there are no statute laws to bind unequally on man and woman, when woman is free to learn and do all that her brother may, then the righters of Woman will see the fruition of their hopes. Pure democracy is only realizable in Anarchy, for that alone is a government in which each man has his full share, and all his political rights and privileges. Where can the financial reformer find a financial policy more radical and scientific than that advocated by Anarchists? Where can the labor reformer find a better reform than that which emancipates him at one stroke from the tyrannies of Capital and Trade Unionism? Does not the land-reformer, the interest-reformer, the rent reformer, the libertarian of whatever scope, or name, or sect, find all he desires, and more, under the broad wings of Anarchy.

Even the reformer in art matters, the Pre-Raphaelite, or what not, finds his power in appealing from the conventionalisms of the schools to the sweet law and liberty of Nature. In short, every true reformer, consciously or unconsciously, follows the route of Anarchy,— from misrelation to justice (right relation), from the arbitrary to the reasonable, from the hampered to the free.

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