Laisser Faire - Let the Dictator be?
Abstract: Many Concepts only articulate what they reject, not what they advocate! Edwin Thor argues that advocating the concept Laisser Faire does not effectively reject dictatorship; Edwin argues that in some respects Laissez Faire even endorses dictatorship! In petitioning the dictator one asks for and endorses a dictatorial ruling!
No to Dictatorship!
There are many philosophies and ideologies that claim to entirely reject dictatorship. At closer look, however, many of them in fact condone and even institutionalise dictatorship, e.g. democracy claims to place power in the hands of the people, yet it enforces the rule of the majority over minorities. Of course, advocates of democracy will claim that true democracy goes hand in hand with a Constitution or Bill of Rights that protects the interests of individuals and minority groups, but such a legal framework is equally dictatorially enforced and amended by majority vote. Civil rights merely limit the reach of dictatorial rule. Civil rights call for dictatorial action in order to enforce and to 'protect' such rights. In the end, democracy dictates the law and is prepared to use military force to coerce its subjects into obedience.
Concepts such as independence, freedom, free markets, liberty, libertarianism and laisser faire can go much further in rejecting dictatorship. Such concepts can articulate powerful arguments against dictatorship. Many individuals and organizations have exposed the inconsistencies in the 'logic' used by dictators to lull people into a tacit condoning of dictatorship. Optionality Magazine encourages such individuals and organisations to build up links to each other, not out of commercial considerations, but because it fits in with what we stand for (see Appendix). No single publication can claim to have invented all the arguments that can be raised against dictatorship; in fact, this magazine takes the position that the arguments against dictatorship are so numerous, that we could not possibly list them all in a magazine such as this. Let's give credit where it is due; let readers find such arguments where they originated, this may also make it easier to understand those arguments!
For some examples, go to Optionality Reviews.
Is Laisser Faire similar?
Concepts such as liberty, independence and freedom have been discussed extensively in this magazine. Some of the weaker points of these concepts are that they are derived from what they argue against; they are defined by what they oppose; as such, they are essentially negative; they oppose, say, dictatorship, but they do not manage to formulate what they want instead; they only promote an absence of the dictatorship they oppose with so much vigour. If they succeed in bringing down their dictator, invariably, in the absence of something positive to focus on, a new dictator emerges.
The concept laisser faire has not been discussed in great detail in this magazine; there are many overlaps with concepts such as freedom, liberty, free markets, etc, which implies that laisser faire shares the above weaknesses. Laisser faire also glorifies the dynamics of nature. In March 1991, we said that laisser faire is not enough; it is an antidote against interventionism, but it does not sufficiently articulate alternatives, it is no integral part of the future; if things are left to their 'natural cause', 'natural monopolies' are likely to develop.
We do not believe that to reject the 'order' as established by the Government, we need to revert back to nature where coercive forces so often determine success. Laisser faire gives the impression that, if matters are left to the natural flow of things, it will all be O.K. By contrast, we believe that to grow out of the 'order' as established by the Government, we do not need to go back to nature, but we need to promote optionality.
Petitioning the Dictator
The problem with the concept laisser faire is that the dictator's presence is almost built-into the concept. Laisser faire may suggest that we should let matters be, but what if politicians ignore laisser faire's appeal? Should we let politicians be and allow them to do their thing and dictate people how to behave? Alternatively, laissez faire addresses politicians directly and in doing so acknowledges their position of power.
In petitioning the dictator one asks for and endorses a dictatorial ruling! By accepting politicians as part and parcel of the whole scheme of things, laisser fair becomes another case of opium for the people; laisser faire regards politics as an evil that we somehow have to live with. This is the trap into which many libertarians fall. Their rhetoric may reject politics. But in their thinking they lack a concept that more decisively rejects politics. The tragical consequence is that they often end up actively engaged in politics.
Don Paragon's Vision
Multimedia firm Optionality has brilliantly interpreted DonParagon's arguments in the article Vision of the Future, which goes something like this: Don argues that what is required is a change of culture. Don rejects government-construed civilization; but Don does not reject cultural progress, as some do who advocate going back to nature; instead Don believes in optionality. More optionality for Don is part of a change in culture in which all kinds of changes take place. In Don's Vision of the Future, interrelations between people will no longer be determined by politics, but will be agreement-based. In Don's Vision, politics becomes less and less relevant as these changes take place. The optionality as in Don's Vision is a good example of a positive concept that opposes dictatorship - in fact, it is our own preferred perspective.
Laissez Fair Books
The concept laisser faire has also many strong qualities. One of them is that it is a good name to group together a large number of publications that all reject the Government. That is exactly the idea behind Laissez Faire Books, which publishes books, video- and audio-cassettes by Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and many more recent authors. For more reading, we gladly refer to such authors and we hereby enclose a link to Laissez Faire Books, in the hope that they can appreciate both our reflections and the hyperlink. Perhaps one day, they will include more about optionality.
Appendix: Why this Magazine is what it is
This magazine has no second or hidden agendas; we advocate optionality, without expecting to make profits; we study subjects and write from the perspective of optionality, as this is how we think. Paradoxically, the concept optionality implies that no single concept should be promoted as the one and only ultimate ideology or belief.
This is why we like to discuss a variety of concepts, each of which may promise to abolish dictatorship; of course, in our comparison of one concept with another, any stronger and weaker points are inevitably described as we perceive them. We recognize that others may have different views and we therefore encourage like-minded individuals and organizations to submit their views to Optionality Reviews and Optionality Discussions.
Furthermore, we like to give readers the opportunity to find out more about other views and our preferred format is to establish hyperlinks. If appropriate, we even like to add a logo or a photo. This doesn't mean that we have 'sold out to commercial interests', we just like to offer readers more background and more optionality.