by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
The word “anarchist”, like the word “atheist”, says more about what you are not than what you are. If there were a better word than “atheist” to describe those of us who do not believe in the idea of an almighty, all-seeing, all powerful god, I would like to know it. Perhaps the word “deist”, as was used by some of the early American movers and shakers is not bad — it describes the idea of a “creator”, who having done his/her/its work then went on leave for the universe to work it all out — for eternity. No religion, just a dispassionate uninterested creator who wants to leave us alone.
But the word “anarchist”, in its popular use implies chaos and disorder. “Anarchy” in its other classical use means “without a ruler or king”. I am a peaceful anarchist, a loving anarchist, a person who believes he has one life and it is mine to live as I choose: the concept of self-ownership. I have come to this position after many years of wandering, pondering and learning, so I will share with you this journey.
Perhaps Hans Hoppe’s expression, “private law society”, is a better one — the idea that just as you can choose your brand of toothpaste and supplier of groceries, so might you choose your security and legal services supplier instead of having a government monopolist forced on you.
In the 1960’s finding myself in business with nothing but a minimum pass of Four B’s in the Leaving Certificate, I thought it might be prudent to learn about economics. So I went in to Dymocks book shop, found a big hardcover book with the word “Economics” on the spine and started to read it. Or I tried to read it. It made no sense to me. There were graphs and numbers and formulae and I could not understand it. “Too hard for me, this economics” I thought so I put it own and went on with learning to be a businessman. The book was by Samuelson.
Then in 1970 my brother Andy came back from a trip to America with a book by Harry Browne, How you can Profit from the Coming Devaluation, in which he correctly forecast the devaluation of the American dollar. And there was information in the book, economic information and ideas on individual freedom that made sense. I read another book by Harry Browne and wrote away for some of the books he recommended. These included works by Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Albert J Nock, Henry Hazlitt and more.
I thought I was on to something here. It all resonated and made sense, economically, politically, “spiritually”. But I was lonely and had no friends or fellow travellers on this path on which I had found myself. Then in 1975, a year of political and economic and electoral turmoil in Australia — the Whitlam era — I read an ad for a new political party: The Workers Party. An unlikely name, but the words and ideas resonated and so I went along.
The Workers Party was an unspectacular failure electorally and soon died; but what it had done was coalesce some lonely fellow-travellers and was the beginning of the libertarian movement in Australia.
In 1976 I got a note from Greg Lindsay looking for support for the creation of some sort of institution to explore and propagate the libertarian ideas and I sent him a cheque. Greg was delighted to find he had some support and we become friends and colleagues in The Centre for Independent Studies.
While my strong early influence was Murray Rothbard and his book For a New Liberty, I did not mind whether we had very small government or no government as long as things went in a less-government direction. And there were smarter people than me around — Professors and PhDs — so I put my weight behind Greg and the Classical Liberal views of the CIS. Actually in its early days, the first ten years or so, the CIS was quite radical and libertarian and fun.
CIS became increasingly “successful”, with growing financial support and increasing acceptance by the media and even by some politicians. In those days I thought that if Premiers and Politicians were taking interest, if the press was publishing CIS material, then the outlook was positive for a winding back of the The State.
In the mid 1990′s I started to question my assumptions about increasing apparent acceptance of CIS’s work and ideas: government continued to grow, taxation grew, regulations proliferated — what was going on? The politicians who would hang around CIS at times and who seemed to be “on side” (Bob Carr comes to mind), when they got into a position of power became intent on “politics”, on power, on elections, on tax-and-spend.
And CIS was less fun than it used to be when we were the “lunatic fringe”. We had The Big End of Town in the congregation; they gave nodding assent to the work, and they gave money. If you’re running an organisation with growing approval for your work, with some hungry mouths of academics to feed, you don’t tell them that their hitherto-held beliefs could be wrong. You confirm their beliefs, pass around the plate and urge support. CIS was becoming more and more part of the “establishment”, the Ruling Class.
I had suggested to Greg that a radical wing, a “CIS Extreme”, or a somewhat separated group of young radicals could be created, so as not to rock the “CIS Mainstream” boat, but at the same time attract the Young Turks it was losing, who would in turn have some cross-fertilisation with the “Establishment Conservatives”.
There is an expression “Management vs Enterprise” or “The Entrepreneur vs The Institution”. CIS was now an “institution” and its “management” did not want any boat-rocking entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are disruptive. Management and Institutions do not like disruption in what is so apparently “successful”.
When the GFC came and the political reactions were exactly the opposite of what a libertarian would want, I knew we had failed. Keynes prevailed, The Establishment won, CIS was more concerned with funding than real influence. “The Institution” was focused on its own preservation.
At this time I discovered The Property and Freedom Society and Prof Hans-Hermann Hoppe. When I learnt that Greg Lindsay and the Mont Pelerin Society had a dislike for Hoppe I knew I was on to something. The MPS is the Establishment of the Establishment Conservatives, the precious and self-righteous peak body of the Classical Liberals. They don’t like Rothbard or Hoppe, they tolerate Mises but prefer Hayek, they never mention Tannehill, David Friedman, or Nock. Rand is tolerated but not applauded. At the 2010 MPS meeting in Sydney I was underwhelmed with the content. There was a Panel of Think Tank Industry executives who dispensed to the audience their advice on how to succeed in this Free Market Think Tank Industry. “Succeed” seemed to mean to be like them, despite their failure to have much influence. This panel of “successful think tankers” seemed to be rather smug and self-satisfied. They were the Church Elders.
I have been to three conferences of the Property and Freedom Society in Turkey.
“Read Hoppe and Nothing is the Same”, so says Stephan Kinsella, a scholar at the Mises Institute, who is running a course on Hoppean ideas. Stephan Kinsella is also scholarly in his antipathy to intellectual property rights — patents and copyright law — a construct of The State and a reversion and clinging on to Mercantalist ideas that prevailed a couple of hundred of years ago when The King dispensed privileges.
About eighteen months ago I met Benjamin Marks at a dinner put on by Shaken and Stirred at which I gave this talk — ”My Journey to Anarchy”. Benjamin and I clicked and he initiated Economics.org.au, the small weekly e-letter and website where I enjoy writing a weekly essay of ideas — trying to be provocative and controversial. This has been a most enjoyable outlet for me. And the good part is I expect to have no influence, or to change anyone. Any influence I may have had is a bonus. I do it for me. And sometimes I get some applause.
So this has been my journey; I feel now I have “arrived” at a comfortable place, devoid of political questions (if not of political interference). I have a good sense of self-ownership, at least mentally, morally and intellectually, if not physically, financially.
I enjoy practising as much responsible civil disobedience as I think I can get away with, and I choose mostly not to do things that require governments’ permission or approval. For pragmatic reasons I have a Drivers Licence, Passport, pay tax and comply in many ways.
People are very compliant and obedient and submissive. It would take about 5-10% of the population to practice responsible civil disobedience for the non-compliance to become so great that governments could not hope to bring everyone to heal. I emphasise the responsible side of civil disobedience, the important thing being that there are no victims, no injuries or property violations.
I like the words of Henry David Thoreau, the nineteenth century libertarian writer and teacher: “be a good neighbour and a bad subject”.
- Welcome from Neville Kennard
- Think Tanks Don't Work
- "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
- The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
- Corporate Welfare
- Citizenship for Sale?
- I Don't Vote
- Voting: Right or Privilege?
- Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
- Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
- Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
- Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
- Government Likes War
- Collusion is Our Right
- Why Not the Drug Olympics?
- Unconventional Wisdom
- Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
- Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
- Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
- Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
- Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
- Separating Sport and State
- Your Home is Not an Investment
- Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
- A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
- Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
- Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
- What is a good Australian?
- Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
- The Market Failure Industry
- Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
- Wot if ...?
- The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
- The Tannehills
- Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
- Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
- Minarchy vs Anarchy
- Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
- The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
- Is Howard Our Best PM?
- Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
- Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
- Authoritarian Freedom
- Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
- The Tyranny of the Majority
- If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
- Business Should Exploit Boat People
- The Immorality of Trade Unions
- "America" vs "The United States"
- Sweet Anarchy
- The Illusion of "Job Creation"
- Gold Is Money
- Guilty Capitalists
- Prosperity vs Growth
- Capitalism vs Democracy
- More people = More fun
- Self-Ownership - the very idea!
- Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
- The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
- Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
- My Journey to Anarchy:
From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
- Government Needs Bad Guys –
that's why they like wars
- What Is Obscene?
- Traffic Economics
- Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
- Neville Kennard Obituary
- Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
- Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
- Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
- Singo and Howard on Compromise
- Singo and Howard on Monopolies
- Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
- Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
- Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
- Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
- Singo and Howard on Drugs!
- Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
- Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
- Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
- Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
- Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
- Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
- John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
- John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
- Singo and Howard on Aborigines
- Singo and Howard on Conservatism
- Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
- Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
- John Singleton changes his name
- Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
- New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
- Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
- Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
- Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
- Singo and Howard on Rights
- Singo and Howard on Crime
- Singo and Howard on Justice
- Singo and Howard on Unemployment
- John Singleton on 1972's Cigarette Legislation
- Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
- Workers Party Platform
- Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
- Singo and Howard on Business
- Singo and Howard on Discrimination
- Singo and Howard on the Greens
- Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
- Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
- Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
- Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
- Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
- Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
- The last words of Charles Russell
- Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
- Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
- Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
- Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
- "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
- Introducing the new Workers' Party
- Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
- Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
- Voices of frustration
- Policies of Workers Party
- Party Promises to Abolish Tax
- AAA Tow Truck Co.
- Singo and Howard on Context
- Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
- Singo and Howard on Apathy
- Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
- Singo and Howard on Decency
- John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
- Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
- Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
- The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
- Who's Who in the Workers Party
- Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
- A Farewell to Armchair Critics
- Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
- David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
- David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
- Bludgers need not apply
- New party formed "to slash controls"
- The Workers Party
- Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
- The great consumer protection trick
- The "Workers" speak out
- How the whores pretend to be nuns
- The Workers Party is a Political Party
- Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
- My Journey to Anarchy:
From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
- Workers Party Reunion Intro
- Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
- Singo and Howard on Young People
- Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
- Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
- Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
- Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
- Singo and Howard on Consistency
- Workers Party is born as foe of government
- Political branch formed
- Government seen by new party as evil
- Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
- Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
- Singo and Howard on Licences
- Singo and Howard on Gun Control
- Singo and Howard on Human Nature
- Singo and Howard on Voting
- Singo and Howard on
- Singo and Howard on Education
- Singo and Howard on Qualifications
- Ron Manners on the Workers Party
- Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
- Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
- A happy story about Aborigines
- John Singleton on Political Advertising
- Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
- Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
- How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
- The Discipline of Necessity
- John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
- Libertarians: Radicals on the right
- The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
- Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
- Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
- Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
- The impossible dream
- Why can't I get away with it?
- The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
- Time for progress
- The loonie right implodes
- Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
- John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
- Censorship should be banned
- "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
- John Singleton on Advertising
- John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
- Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
- Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
- John Singleton defends ockerism
- Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
- The Census Con
- Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
- Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
- Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
- John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
- King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
- Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
- Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
- John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
- Save Parramatta Road
- 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
- Smoking, Health and Freedom
- Singo and Howard on Unions
- Singo and Howard Smash the State
- Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
- Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
- A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
- Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
- Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
- John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
- Thoughts on Land Ownership
- 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party