Freeman

ARTICLE

Peace or Politics

APRIL 01, 1969 by FRANK CHODOROV

Peace is the business of Society. Society is a cooperative effort, springing spontaneously from man’s urge to improve on his cir­cumstances. It is voluntary, com­pletely free of force. It comes be­cause man has learned that the task of life is easier of accom­plishment through the exchange of goods, services, and ideas. The greater the volume and the fluid­ity of such exchanges, the richer and fuller the life of every mem­ber of Society. That is the law of association; it is also the law of peace.

It is in the market place that man’s peaceful ways are ex­pressed. Here the individual vol­untarily gives up possession of what he has in abundance to gain possession of what he lacks. It is in the market place that Society flourishes, because it is in the market place that the individual flourishes. Not only does he find here the satisfactions for which he craves, but he also learns of the desires of his fellow man so that he might the better serve him. More than that, he learns of and swaps ideas, hopes, and dreams, and comes away with values of greater worth to him than even those congealed in material things….

The law of association—the supreme law of Society—is self operating; it needs no enforce­ment agency. Its motor force is in the nature of man. His insatiable appetite for material, cultural, and spiritual desires drives him to join up. The compulsion is so strong that he makes an automo­bile out of an oxcart, a telephone system out of a drum, so as to overcome the handicaps of time and space; contact is of the es­sence in the market place tech­nique. Society grows because the seed of it is in the human being; it is made of man, but not by men.

The only condition necessary for the growth of Society into One Worldism is the absence of force in the market place; which is another way of saying that pol­itics is a hindrance to, and not an aid of, peace. Any intervention in the sphere of voluntary exchanges stunts the growth of Society and tends to its disorganization. It is significant that in war, which is the ultimate of politics, every stra­tegic move is aimed at the disor­ganization of the enemy’s means of production and exchange—the disruption of his market place. Likewise, when the State inter­venes in the business of Society, which is production and exchange, a condition of war exists, even though open conflict is prevented by the superior physical force the State is able to employ. Politics in the market place is like a bull in the china shop.

The essential characteristic of the State is force; it originates in force and exists by it. The ra­tionale of the State is that conflict is inherent in the nature of man and he must be coerced into be­having, for his own good. That is a debatable doctrine, but even if we accept it the fact remains that the coercion must be exercised by men who are, by definition, as "bad" as those upon whom the co­ercion is exercised. The State is men….

Getting down to the facts of ex­perience, political power has never been used for the "general good," as advertised, but has always been used to further the interests of those in power or those who can support them in this purpose. To do so it must intervene in the market place. The advantages that political power confers upon its priesthood and their cohorts con­sists of what it skims from the abundance created by Society. Since it cannot make a single good, it lives and thrives by what it takes. What it takes deprives producers of the fruits of their labors, impoverishes them, and this causes a feeling of hurt. In­tervention in the market place can do nothing else, then, than to cre­ate friction. Friction is incipient war.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

April 1969

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

Essential Works from FEE

Economics in One Lesson (full text)

By HENRY HAZLITT

The full text of Hazlitt's famed primer on economic principles: read this first!


By FREDERIC BASTIAT

Frederic Bastiat's timeless defense of liberty for all. Once read and understood, nothing ever looks the same.


By F. A. HAYEK

There can be little doubt that man owes some of his greatest suc­cesses in the past to the fact that he has not been able to control so­cial life.


By JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Leonard Read took the lessons of entrepreneurship with him when he started his ideological venture.


By LEONARD E. READ

No one knows how to make a pencil: Leonard Read's classic (Audio, HTML, and PDF)