“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend” - Robert Louis Stevenson
“To know the road ahead, ask those who are coming back.” - Chinese proverb
The Fellowship of the NAP
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Fellowship of the Ring is gathered for the expressed purpose of destroying the ring of power. The One Ring, you see, was created by the evil one in order to rule all. Anyone attempting to wield the ring’s power, even in the hope of doing good, risked corruption. It was agreed that no one should ever possess the ring as its intoxicating force inevitably led its bearer into darkness, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.
While working on the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien wrote to his son that “my political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)” adding “The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity." In Tolkien’s trilogy, we find the Fellowship operating as an anarchic band without an official leader. Each individual, guided by a noble purpose, contributes as the situation warrants and is free to adapt to changing conditions.
For many people anarchy is a scary word. For some the word conjures images of mad bombers and chaos but the word “anarchy” simply means the absence of rulers. It does not necessarily mean the absence of rules. Language, for example, is anarchic in that there is a structure with rules but there is no centralized authority enforcing proper usage nor is there an agency for creating new words. When the publishers of the Oxford Dictionary add new words to their volume, they are only recognizing current usage and documenting its evolution. Shakespeare invented and combined hundreds of words, many in common use today, not because he had any authority to enforce their usage but because the words and combinations he coined enhanced the ability of humans to communicate. In this matter Shakespeare was a creative anarchist, fully embracing liberty in his artistic endeavors.
Out of Their Heads
In today’s modern world most philosophical anarchists generally support the
Libertarians, anarcho-capitalists and libertarian-anarchists, on the other hand, are more closely wedded to the
Finally, out on the fringes, there are the completely self-contradictory nutcases who attach to themselves the term “anarchist” while simultaneously inflicting violence against both people and property. During the 1960’s, for example, there were a small number of supposedly antiwar protestors who would bomb buildings and sometimes kill people in the name of “peace”. In more recent times there have been so called “enviro-anarchists” who have used similar tactics. It is important to remember that terrorism is a tactic, not a philosophy, and that the practice of terror usually creates blowback, often in an unintended or unpredictable direction.
The Liberty Movement
"As for politics, I’m an anarchist. I hate governments and rules and fetters. Can’t stand caged animals. People must be free." - Charlie Chaplin
Advocates of the
The following is a short list of people currently active in the liberty movement that I would nominate for inclusion in a Fellowship of the NAP. I embrace them as fellow travelers for their consistent support of both peace and liberty. This is in no way an inclusive list but is a purely personal selection:
Lew Rockwell (The Guide) – Lew is the founder and chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Mises.org), an organization dedicated to Austrian economics education and the promotion of the free market. He also runs the self-named website LewRockwell.com which proudly declares itself to be “Anti-State, Anti-War and Pro Market”.
Scott Horton (The Defender) – Scott is passionate about peace and liberty with a focus on foreign policy from a libertarian perspective. He has a podcast archive of thousands of interviews at ScottHorton.org. He is also one of the co-founders and managing director of The Libertarian Institute. Scott is the kind of person I would want working next to me on any kind of dirty, thankless job.
Tom Woods Jr. (The Teacher) – Tom is an all-around great guy. He is an excellent teacher with a background in history and a solid understanding of economics. He is strongly anti-war. He runs a daily podcast at TomWoods.com. This is the kind of guy I would want to be my next door neighbor.
Stefan Moloneaux (The Philosopher) – Stefan is a loquacious know-it-all who I none-the-less tend to agree with most of the time. He has a background in philosophy and entrepreneurship with a solid understanding of economics. He is strongly anti-government and pro free market. He posts a regular podcast at FreeDomainRadio.com. I especially like his "The Truth About.." episodes that can also be found on YouTube. I wish I had this guy as a professor.
Dr. Ron Paul (The Healer) – A former obstetrician, Ron Paul has been handing out the prescription for peace for decades. A lot of people have jokingly referred to Dr. Paul as the gateway drug to libertarianism. Unfortunately a lot of people, especially his former colleagues in Congress, have preferred the drug of power and the rush of war. He has a daily video podcast called The Ron Paul Liberty Report as well as a site for his Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. There is also a great fan site at RonPaul.com.
Steve Patterson (The Seeker) – Steve is an anarcho liberatarian currently traveling the globe in search of the truth (Paterson in Pursuit). In his series of podcasts, he has demonstrated great talent in interviewing, calmly and intelligently, thinkers from a great variety of perspectives. He is also adroit at discovering foundational errors in orthodox opionions and in what is considered the "mainstream consensus". Steve Patterson gives me great hope for the rise of a new generation of libertarians.
In addition to those above, there are a great many other hard working libertarians making significant contributions to the cause of peace and liberty. Additional links can be found on the Resource page.
The Society of Friends
As with any group of fellow travelers, there will always be some disagreement among friends and companions with regard to goals, ideals and understanding of the world. Although I myself am agnostic towards religion, I have a special place in my heart for the Religious Society of Friends, more popularly known as the Quakers. I highly respect this group’s long history of opposition to war and slavery. In the 1600 and 1700’s the Quakers had a great reputation for peaceful cooperation with the Native American tribes within the Pennsylvania colony and surrounding areas. As Murray Rothbard describes in Conceived in Liberty:
“Pursuing a policy of peace, incomprehensible to most of the other colonists, who were generally conscienceless in slaughtering the Indians, the Quakers of Pennsylvania built no forts, established no militia, and hired no scouts and Indian fighters. And by pursuing a policy of peace and no armaments, they found, mirabile dictu, that they had nothing to fear. They had earned and gained the lasting respect of the Indians, and fair play met with fair play in its turn. As in New Jersey, where Quakers were influential in shaping Indian policy, there was no Indian war in the history of the colony so long as the Quakers ruled.”
Considering all believers to be members of the priesthood, some branches of Quakerism are very anarchic in their organization. Additionally, while some sects seem to have a dubious understanding of the operation of the free market, the BBC none-the-less once described them as “natural capitalists”. Members of this group have also pushed hard for prison reform and other social causes over the years. Guided by the Inner Light, this group has demonstrated a deep commitment to non-aggression over the centuries.
In keeping with the intimate nature of this section, it would be ill-mannered not to mention one other personal influence that guided me to the Liberty Movement and the
Ron Smith was a talk radio host in Baltimore from 1984 until his passing in late 2011. I began listening to his show in 1985, shortly after moving within range of his station’s signal. Perhaps more that any single person, he influenced my intellectual growth over the quarter of a century that I listened to him. Probably best described as a member of the “Old Right” with a strong libertarian leaning, Ron was a former Marine who was also a harsh critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He reported that he lost over a quarter of his audience for a time because of his position. Unlike Phil Donahue, a popular "Left leaning" television show host on MSNBC who was none-the-less fired for his criticism of the Iraq war, Ron managed to hold onto his job and his audience benefited greatly from his presentation of dissenting opinions throughout the early years of the war.
Through his discussions and interviews, I was exposed to the unintended consequences of government policies in books such as Blowback by Chalmers Johnson and Preferential Policies by Thomas Sowell. I was also introduced to the revisionist history writings of his friend Thomas DiLorenzo and that author’s support of the free market through historical examples.
Though Ron Smith may never have made the leap to fully support the
The Road Ahead
Congratulations on making it this far. Be prepared, however, as some of the remaining sections may be particularly challenging. On the next part of our journey we will navigate Treacherous Roads, confront Mirages and Delusions, and discover the risks of Losing the Way. We will then take note of Dead Ends where others have faltered and wrap up by considering the risks and rewards of Going Off Road. For those with a stout heart and an inquisitive mind, we bid thee fare well!
-Anarchy is the absence of rulers. It does not necessarily mean there are no rules nor is it a synonym for chaos.
-Power is a corrupting force as has been demonstrated throughout history. It is also a common theme in literature.
-Although we each have our own journey to travel through life, our paths often intersect and parallel those others have traveled. Experienced fellow travelers can serve as helpful guides on the path of peace, liberty and prosperity.
Chalmers Johnson describes the unintended consequences of U.S. government interference in other countries in Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project).
Thomas Sowell describes the destructive outcomes of government preferential policies across the globe in Preferential Policies: An International Perspective.
Thomas DiLorenzo provides multiple historical examples of how the free market has worked much better than government in How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, from the Pilgrims to the Present.