17A043 Funny, Fallible Fred by Jim Davies, 12/5/2017    


Fred Reed is another of my favorite, prolific writers; enjoy any sampling from his LRC archive here. Usually, he is extraordinarily funny, so if I see a new piece listed by him, I read it first. In case you haven't met him, try his article on voting for example, and see if you don't ROF, let alone LOL.

No, of course he's not serious. But he brilliantly uses humor to make a point. I wish my blogs were a quarter as funny. He is a master at pillorying government; and I've heard that when someone is laughed at, his days in power are numbered.

But I do have a couple of bones to pick, with Fred Reed.

First, cast an eye down that archive list again, and see if you can find one piece that clearly calls for the outright abolition of government, or describes what will replace it. I could not. Yes, maybe if you ridicule it often enough and well enough the reading population will dump it; but if that's his plan it seems to me to come up short. As popular an author as he is, a large majority of Americans will not, in fact, read him and therefore will not, in fact, dump it. Then for those who do read him, he nowhere (does he?) spells out just how the dumping is to be accomplished. Here on ZGB, we don't just excoriate government, we describe what a zero government society (ZGS) will probably be like and we show how to get one; all three.

That's a serious omission. It hints that Fred does not actually want a ZGS, but something short of that; even in the voting example above he makes a mockery of the present franchise but nowhere suggests that voting for anyone to rule one's neighbor is grossly immoral, while to vote for someone to rule oneself is ludicrous. I fear that on his face, Fred may not be an anarchist at all, but merely one of the best of minarchists. This, despite his prominence on a self-professed anarcho-capitalist web site.

Second bone: every now and again he waxes philosophical (nothing wrong with that) but comes out on the irrational side of the subject. For example he tries to demolish Darwin's theory of evolution. He isn't the first, and none have yet succeeded because currently and rationally, it's the only game in town. Note please that it's a theory only, and always has been since Darwin published The Origin of Species; one day possibly, it will be replaced by a better theory or at least modified and improved. That's what rational scientific enquiry is all about, and whoever coined the phase "scientific law" did a lousy day's work. Even gravity is not an immutable law, but merely a theory. That's the intrinsic humility of the scientific method.

But Fred brings his powerful guns of ridicule to bear on the best rational explanation yet advanced, of how living things are the way they are, as in The Bugs in Darwin - yet concludes, literally, with "There is Something Else involved. I do not know what." Except for the capitalization shown, I can empathize with that. Life is so utterly wonderful and amazing, it seems almost (but not quite) incredible that it could have developed by a mechanistic process of blind and purposeless chance. To me, however, that is precisely the point, the starting point of wonder, and of further human exploration. It is wonderful indeed that out of the chaotic soup of a cooling earth, life not only appeared but developed into an entity that actually questions and explores how it came to exist and how it may best progress. This is why, once the moronic institution of government is out of the way, humankind will explore and develop into realms of understanding hardly yet imagined.

But the key is that we shall do so rationally, using reason. If superstition replaces that, we are doomed - or at least, arrested for a century or three. Reason is the unique human attribute, and we neglect it at our peril. Hence the awful danger of the government myth.

Fred Reed's preoccupation with the "something else" is much less dogmatic than that of, for example, Gary North. He doesn't face rational enquiry with the Bible in one hand and an executioner's sword in the other. He seems sincere in his agnosticism; his conviction that there must be some other source of meaning and purpose, above pure mechanistic determinism. That's understandable; if effect always follows cause, what then of joy? - of love? - of freedom to choose? Such questions aren't trivial, and may occupy hom. sap. for quite a while to come.

But that's the way it is. And as it is, it is marvelous. Yet in one of his compositions, Fred pleads for meaning in this mechanistic universe. He completely misses the point: the marvel, the utter wonder, is that we, the children of dust, can and do create our own meaning!

If Fred Reed were to enrol in The On Line Freedom Academy, he would learn this. If you know him, do us all a favor: suggest he does exactly that.


What the coming free society
will probably be like
How freedom
was lost
How it is being
The go-to site for an
overview of a free society
Freedom's prerequisite:
Nothing else is needed
Nothing less will do

What every bureaucrat needs to know
Have them check TinyURL.com/QuitGov