Free Association Resolves Cultural Conflict

The very existance of state-provided and/or monopolized services is a boon to cultural conflict over how those services are used and who gets to use them, since the individual must pay for them no matter what and has no real alternative to the singular provider of the service (I.E. the state).

For example, there is endless conflict over the public education system precisely because the individual has little choice but to make use of and pay for it. Everyone battles to pressure the state to enforce their particular preferances for education models, since they don't have a meaningful option to form alternative associations with those who explicitly agree with their preferances. Whatever standards are set by the state apply to everyone involved. If someone objects to a particular standard, they have no choice but to pay for it anyways and quite likely them or their children will end up having to abide by that standard and attend those particular schools.

If people were free to persue such services based on genuine consent, then each individual or group with their own preferances would be able to form into mutual associations and hence a more broad and plural scope of options would exist. Noone would be forced into a model or association that they don't desire or to pay for someone else's preferances. If a given group prefers creationism, they could organize into their own associations that teach creationism. If a given group prefers evolution, they could do likewise. If a given group prefers gay marriages, they can form their own associations to provide them. If a given group does not prefer them, they can form their own associations that don't provide them. Such questions would be reduced in significance to a matter of what flavor of ice cream one prefers.

The incentive for such cultural conflict that we currently see in our politically dominated society is removed when people are free to simply "live and let live". They don't have to fight over how to use a singular organization precisely because they have the option to opt out of them and form alternative organizations. People might still disagree with eachother, but their disagreement would not be manifested in such direct hostility and they would not be able to or find any reasonable need to force their particular preferances onto everyone else. The individual can simply disassociate and freely compete with those whom they disagree with. There would no longer be a singular monopolistic apparatus to fight for control over. One can simply patronize or form alternative associations. It's a win-win situation for all.

This does not necessarily imply absolute cultural separatism, as if each group completely isolates themselves from eachother geographically. Free association does not necessarily imply that, for example, all of the Catholics will band together and form an exclusively Catholic community or all of the Muslim people will form an exclusively Muslim community. Such groups can peacefully co-exist and intermingle within a given geographical area or community. Within a single community there may exist a vast multitude of different associations and organizations for an individual to choose from to best suite their personal and cultural preferances.

There is no reason why a single community cannot contain a variety of different social combinations within it that are in free competition with eachother. While each individual social combination may certainly be exclusive, they cannot be exclusive with respect to other people's property and associations. They cannot exclude someone from the community as a whole unless they were the only social combination in the entire community, which is highly unlikely. The implications of free association is actually an increase in pluralism rather than homogeneity. Extreme homogeniety only occurs when there is a central plan imposed onto an entire society, when each respective group has no choice but to conform to a single standard or participate in a single social combination within a given geographical area. It is only when there is an institution such as the state that cultural and economic standards or models can be forced onto everyone uniformly.

In the absence of the centralized and coercive institutional means by which a single plan can be imposed onto an entire community, the natural result would seem to be more pluralistic than it otherwise would have been. Only a coercive geographical monopoly can uniformly control everyone within the territory or exclude people from the entire territory. Once the draconian geographical apparatus of control is removed, there is much more leeway for people to develope alternatives (and hence more plurality) within a given geographical area.

Published Sat, May 17 2008 9:09 AM by Brainpolice