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Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Sunday, February 22, 2009

LeFevre: Abstain From Beans

From Robert LeFevre at Lew Rockwell, via Bill St. Clair:

Abstain From Beans
by Robert LeFevre

In ancient Athens, those who admired the Stoic philosophy of individualism took as their motto: "Abstain from Beans." The phrase had a precise reference. It meant: don't vote. Balloting in Athens occurred by dropping various colored beans into a receptacle.

To vote is to express a preference. There is nothing implicitly evil in choosing. All of us in the ordinary course of our daily lives vote for or against dozens of products and services. When we vote for (buy) any good or service, it follows that by salutary neglect we vote against the goods or services we do not choose to buy. The great merit of market place choosing is that no one is bound by any other person's selection. I may choose Brand X. But this cannot prevent you from choosing Brand Y.

When we place voting into the framework of politics, however, a major change occurs. When we express a preference politically, we do so precisely because we intend to bind others to our will. Political voting is the legal method we have adopted and extolled for obtaining monopolies of power. Political voting is nothing more than the assumption that might makes right. There is a presumption that any decision wanted by the majority of those expressing a preference must be desirable, and the inference even goes so far as to presume that anyone who differs from a majority view is wrong or possibly immoral.

But history shows repeatedly the madness of crowds and the irrationality of majorities. The only conceivable merit relating to majority rule lies in the fact that if we obtain monopoly decisions by this process, we will coerce fewer persons than if we permit the minority to coerce the majority. But implicit in all political voting is the necessity to coerce some so that all are controlled. The direction taken by the control is academic. Control as a monopoly in the hands of the state is basic.

In times such as these, it is incumbent upon free men to reexamine their most cherished, long-established beliefs. There is only one truly moral position for an honest person to take. He must refrain from coercing his fellows. This means that he should refuse to participate in the process by means of which some men obtain power over others. If you value your right to life, liberty, and property, then clearly there is every reason to refrain from participating in a process that is calculated to remove the life, liberty, or property from any other person. Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others.

Robert LeFevre (1911–1986) was a businessman and radio personality, and the founder of the Freedom School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, whose purpose was to educate people from all walks of life in the libertarian intellectual tradition. Before it closed in 1968, it had featured among its rotating faculty Rose Wilder Lane, Milton Friedman, F.A. Harper, Frank Chodorov, Leonard Read, Gordon Tullock, G. Warren Nutter, Bruno Leoni, James J. Martin, and even Ludwig von Mises. His library and papers are housed at the Mises Institute.

More from Robert LeFevre later this week.


Anonymous AlanR said...

I have mixed feelings on this topic. I dislike that participating in the voting scam appears to lend it an air of legitimacy. But I do still vote. I don't want to but I do. I justify it as self defense, of meeting force with like force. Much like "if someone tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back."

It also deflates on of the favorite strawmen of the collectivists, that if you don't vote your complaints are without merit. Not true but that is how they think.

February 22, 2009 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we come to the final step in the grand scheme to usher in a new understanding of liberty: the divine right of majorities to rule is as bogus as the divine right of kings. True liberty means you don't get to forcibly impose policy on anyone! No matter how much you think their uninformed lifestyle could use a little mandatory sprucing-up!

It is not acceptable to liberty to dictate the terms under which other people work for their employers. No matter what color skin, or what color passports, those other people have.

Either you're a libertarian, or you're a Socialist.
There is no middle ground.

February 22, 2009 at 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More good stuff on abstaining from beans, in more detail:


February 22, 2009 at 8:15 PM  

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