Photo credit: Library of Congress
Every now and then, I get into friendly exchanges with statists who suggest that my libertarian views are only suited for someone who has chosen a life of isolation, disconnected from others and living "off the grid" according to dogmatic "rugged individualism."
According to them, in order to connect with other human beings in any meaningful way, I have to be part of society, and government is the necessary to maintain that social order.
I don't disagree with the first part of that statement. While I do not disparage those who "go it alone" completely, living in that way does limit your prospects somewhat. You may subsist; you may even thrive; but there is a definite ceiling as far as what one person or a single family can produce without cooperating with others.
This is not a new concept. In the 18th century, Adam Smith talked about "specialisation" in his seminal work The Wealth of Nations. What he observed is how the division of labor among many different participants led to higher output and individuals excelling at what they are good at while contributing to the overall good of the marketplace. In other words, we are better together.
Where I take issue with my statist friends is in the way they conflate "society" and "government." When I engage in any type of human action with another, I am part of the fabric of "society." We do not need a political class to plan and to debate and to engage together in commerce. In fact, people managed to do this for countless centuries before the state decided that more regulation and more centralization were better for our dealings with one another.
Society is not the state, however. We are indeed better together, but we do not need the government to initiate or prohibit or regulate the nature of our work together.
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