Has the current occupant of the White House been sneaking reads of Equality: The Unknown Ideal, and, convinced by Roderick’s argument, spent the last few years quietly advocating the Anarchistic doctrine that principles of individual freedom, carried to their fullest extent, logically entail freedom from any and all forms of government? Selective quotation and convenient ellipses would seem to indicate that he has!
We consider these rights to be universal, a codification of liberty’s meaning, constraining all levels of government …. Moreover, we recognize that the very idea of these universal rights presupposes the equal worth of every individual. … We also understand that a declaration is not a government; … [T]here [are] seeds of anarchy in the idea of individual freedom, an intoxicating danger in the idea of equality… [F]or if everyone is truly free, without the constraints of birth or rank and an inherited social order, how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?
–Barack Obama (2006), The Audacity of Hope, 86-87.
we can’t. Which is fine. Of course, you’re free to go around cohering as much as you want on your own time; but what I want is a peaceful, consensual society. One where people come together where they want to, and aren’t forced into lockstep where they don’t want to be. Obama is of course right that the principles of individual liberty and equality produce declarations, not governments, and that that soil is sown with the seeds of Anarchy. He’s right to see that when you let those seeds grow and come into bloom, it means that everybody is truly free, and that they overwhelm any political scheme of rigid rows, of constraints of birth and rank, of
social orders imposed from above (whether by the self-selected, or the majority-elected). Which is exactly why Anarchy is something to be desired and cultivated. The solution to the problem of incipient Anarchy is to realize that there isn’t a problem. Political
coherence is not required. Freedom, peace and equality are more than enough.