The people who are daily landing here are not paupers, if the capacity and disposition to labour may exempt a man from that appellation. They are, for the most part, the sons and daughters of useful toil. They are men and women of hardy frames, accustomed to earn their living by the sweat of their brows. They are a class of which, in truth, we stand much in need. . . .
These men are not paupers, and if they become so, it is the fault of our own laws. Let us not lay our sins, then, at their doors. We have perfect control over the matter. We are not obliged to open our poor-houses to those who are able to work; and, indeed, we believe it would be far better for the community, if we did not open them to any class of indigence or misfortune. The care of those really disqualified by nature or accident from taking care of themselves should be left to voluntary charity, not to that wretched system of compulsory charity which poor-laws enjoin. We are too reluctant, in this country, to trust the voluntary principle. We are for doing everything by law; and the consequence is that hardly anything is done well.
But with regard to these poor creatures who are flocking to our country as the boasted asylum of the oppressed of all the world, we ought to welcome them hither, not meet them with scowls, and raise a deafening clamour to excite unkindly prejudices against them, and drive them back from our inhospitable shores. For our part, we open our arms to them, and embrace them as brothers; for are they not a part of the great family of man? It is a violation of the plainest principles of morals, it is a sin against the most universal precepts of religion, to harden our hearts against these men, and seek to expel them from a land, which they have as much right to tread as we who assume such a lofty port. The earth is the heritage of man, and these are a portion of the heritors. We are not bound to support them; they must support themselves. If they are idle, let them starve; if they are vicious, let them be punished; but, in God’s name, as they bear God’s image, let us not turn them away from a portion of that earth, which was given by its maker to all mankind, with no natural marks to designate the limits beyond which they may not freely pass.
The glorious principles of democracy, which recognize the equal rights of all who bear the human form, forbid the intolerant spirit which is displaying itself to these friendless, homeless exiles.
—William Leggett (1837)
Libertarians . . . tend to concentrate on, How can we change society in directions that increase human options and increase freedom, on a more global scale? I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that, at least within a reasonable amount of time, that isn’t the way to go about it. We can’t reform society. You’re not going to get the government to go away, or get smaller, by making the government get smaller; you’re going to make the government go away or get smaller by ignoring it, which is essentially the Soviet model. The state withered away when no one paid any further attention to it.
(Excerpt from an interview in Extropy #12, 1994)
Capitalism for Punk Rockers
Capitalism, when we get down to it, is merely the buying and selling of goods and services with the freedom to make a profit by doing so. Simple as that. Every one of us, like it or not, plays a part in the game. Most folks spend their time as a consumer and seller (i.e., selling your labor to an employer for financial gain). Very few people, in the grand scope of things, ever fill the shoes of producer. This is where most misconceptions of true capitalism come into play.
. . . If [I] were to adhere to the beliefs of your average anarcho-punk or any other of the multitude of folks that believe punk records should be put out as a public service, then I couldn’t endorse one single record reviewed in the back of this ‘zine. Why? Because every single person who put those records out hopes to make a profit from it. If you don’t understand that, then you have never produced a record and tried to sell it.
. . . Why do people start to express disdain for [record] labels that start to do well financially? Do they owe the punk scene anything? Should they give something back? No, because they’ve already given something . . . records. That is the job of a record label, to produce records.
Keep in mind that I am in no way running [down] folks . . . who feel the need and responsibility to donate all their time to their projects for free. That is their choice. But if someone chooses to try to earn a living from something they create, that is their choice also. One of the biggest problems the punk scene has is people trying to live by someone else’s rules.
In order for any capitalist venture to survive, people must consume what is produced. If there are no consumers, there is no capitalism. In short, question yourself on your buying. If you think a record (or anything) is priced too high, don’t worry yourself to death questioning what you don’t know, just don’t buy it. If a show costs more than you think it’s worth, don’t go. The consumer determines the value of anything (in a monetary sense). Folks cannot charge what nobody is willing to pay. Use your power. . . . [M]ost folks continue to complain about prices, etc., but buy them anyway. Just stop it.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are powerless. Communism makes you powerless, in that no matter how hard you work, you will never rise above the status of anyone else. True capitalism makes that possible from the onset by granting consumer power.
—J. Gordon Lamb, III
(Writing in his self-published punk-rock fanzine The Atomic Ballroom, Athens, Ga.)