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Herman Kuehn

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Comrade Rappaport, in February "To-Morrow" makes a convincing argument against brotherhood and for compulsion. I quote him literatim:

"Voluntary association? Absence of authority? Indeed! If any number of persons form a voluntary association and meet together for the purpose of deliberation, and two or three insist on speaking at the same time, not even such a meeting can be held unless some one is clothed with authority to determine the order of speakers. 'Authority there must be even if it rest in the majority."

Let's see whether Comrade Rappaport may not have put the cart before the horse. A voluntarian association, we are justified in assuming, is composed of persons who subscribe to the voluntarian principle. They come together to deliberate and tacitly or expressly they agree upon some orderly process. The chairman represents the prevailing purpose. He recognizes the several speakers. Having recognized one, another, or two or more who have not been so recognized insist (according to the Rappaportian "sposin'") upon speaking at the same time. Does it require a superior intelligence to understand that it is those who so insist who are exercising authority? Even persons of a very low order of intelligence ought to be able to see that! There is no compulsion involved in the chairman's recognition of one speaker at a time. Those who insist upon speaking without being recognized by the meeting, as the chairman represents it and its purpose, are invaders. It is the invasion principle that Rappaport really pillories while he thinks he is spitting the libertarian. As a matter of fact such "sposins'" do not come to pass among voluntarians. It is not usual for authoritarians to attend voluntarian meetings. If such a thing were to happen at a meeting of a voluntarian association, I fancy the members would rather submit to the authority than to make a fuss about it. But it would be the authority of authoritarians and not the authority of libertarians. And as to majority rule, no voluntarian rhiects to it so long as it is aereed in advance that in a common purpose matters of details would be decided by numerical preponderance. Majority rule under such circumstances is entirely within the bounds of vohmtarianism. But if some measure not rermane to the asrreed purpose should be sprung upon an unwilling minority the latter would not feel bound by it. And the majority would be entirely free to go ahead and do the thine their wav at their own cost. Not so, says the scientific school of which Comrade Rappaport is a distinguished disciple. Not so. The majority having ruled they are justified in compelling the minority to pay for something the minority does not want. If Comrade Rappaport does not mean this, what'n the world does he think he means.

—Herman Kuehn.

  • Herman Kuehn, “Compulsion?,” To-Morrow 3, no. 3 (March 1907): 70-71.