R.C. HOILES, THE EVERYMAN OF EXCELLENCE: HIS EARLY YEARS
by Wendy McElroy
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Chapter Two: R.C.'s philosophy in plain language
1. That every man is born with certain inalienable rights.
2. That these rights are equally the birthright of all men, that they are the endowment of the Creator and not of any government.
3. Since we believe these facts are expressed in the Commandments, we do not believe any man has the moral right to curtail the rights of his brother. That is, no man has the right to initiate force against his brother.
--R.C. Hoiles, “Here is our Policy”
Stated in everyday language, what are the bare bones of the philosophy R.C. explicitly developed during his hiatus of discovery? And how did he apply his philosophy to specific issues?
R.C.'s political philosophy, like the man himself, is deceptively simple and straight forward. Yet, when the simple statements are followed through to their logical conclusions, they render radical results such as a call to abandon the public school system and the condemnation of all taxation. Indeed, one reason people found it so difficult to win an argument with R.C. was because his controversial conclusions were rooted in and derived directly from basic truths, like the Golden Rule, with which almost everyone agrees. Once the truths or principles are accepted, however, the conclusions logically followed almost as a mathematical equation.
In the book dedicated to R.C. on the occasion of his 75th birthday and of his 50th year as an editor and publisher, Bob Segal commented, “[T]he controversial philosophy of R.C. Hoiles is based simply and firmly on human liberty to which most men render lip service and formal devotion. The distinction is that R.C. Hoiles is genuinely devoted to liberty, not an image of liberty; and he is among the relatively few men who would, without hesitation, entrust his life and his fortune to a society of free men.”
Despite its simplicity, R.C.'s philosophy suffers from three powerful strategic disadvantages. First, R.C. never systematically set down an integrated outline of his beliefs. There is no magnum opus that expands upon the straightforward statements he made. His long-time secretary Fern Maloney commented, “He would pick up on something in the news and then he would extend it in his column. I think he found that writing a book was just not his style.”
Perhaps R.C.'s disinclination to write a book-length exposition came from his belief that truth was “self-evident” and, so, it merely needed to be stated; that is, “self-evident truths” required no commentary or interpretation. Instead of a centralized and systematic explanation, most of R.C.'s philosophy is spread out thinly across decades of short columns or articles, it resides in transcribed speeches and ephemera that now reside primarily in archives. Taken together, the material can seem jumbled and eccentric unless the reader is familiar with the underlying principles that unite them. Indeed, even the Articles may seem like disconnected declarations.
The second disadvantage: R.C. wrote in a conversational style with long sentences flowing in a manner that interferes with clarity. His message is simple; his sentences are not. Maloney added, “Even his columns were awkward sometimes, in as much as he would have such long sentences.” In her 1988 thesis entitled “A Libertarian Dynasty: Publishers of the Orange County Register 1935-1987,” Jordana Milbauer presents an example of one such passage from an R.C. column.
“About all an educator can do for a pupil is to stimulate in that individual a will to learn. And when the pupils know that those responsible for hiring their teachers and selecting their books, themselves do not have enough will to learn, it is very difficult to stimulate the youth to want to learn, whether this course of action of that course is in harmony with such great moral laws as the Declaration of Independence and the Commandments and the Golden Rule.”
Moreover, some of R.C.'s columns ran in installments which may have caused readers to lose the logical progression of his arguments.
The third disadvantage: R.C.'s choice of language could be inflammatory and emotional. He did not hesitate to call his opponents “stupid” or “wicked” nor did he shy away from causing offense to them and to readers. D.R. Segal described the reaction R.C.'s bluntness inspired. “A half dozen syndicate salesman have told me they would love to add his column to their stable. They think about half their editor-customers would get apoplectic and the remainder would buy him just to see if he's for-real; because he says out loud things that all of us, in the still small voice, have said to ourselves. He fights dragons of any size, bare knuckled and no-holds barred. It never occurs to him whether he is offending the biggest merchant [advertiser] in town.”
A bare-knuckled approach tends to elicit an emotional response and makes people focus upon the style and attitude of the writer rather than upon the content of his arguments.
Yet, as simple or bombastic as R.C.'s belief system might be, it is also an reasoned and eloquent progression from basic principles through to a sophisticated theory of man's nature and of what constitutes a proper society. From there, the philosophy proceeds into a theory of government that is reminiscent of the benign and uniquely American anarchism of Henry David Thoreau. In short, R.C.'s approach should not be dismissed as merely a passionately-expressed personal credo; and it is most definitely not the expression of a political curmudgeon. His system of belief is a compelling and eloquent argument for human liberty and the dignity of man.
To present the flow of R.C.'s argument from basic principles, it is necessary to use not only the Articles but also the '3 Moral Guides' that R.C. consistently upheld throughout his life as touchstones: the Ten Commandments; the Golden Rule; and, the Declaration of Independence.
R.C. listed his Articles of faith in order to mark his 75th birthday, and they are as close to a comprehensive exposition of philosophy as R.C. offered readers. For purposes of bringing a logical flow to his argument, however, the order in which the Articles were presented should be rearranged. In their original order, the statements can be confusing because they seem somewhat unconnected with no sense of priority or sequence. For example, the Article that mentions eliminating immigration quotas follows directly after one that states, “I have faith that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” (Note: Each statement in the Articles is quoted once in the following the analysis.)
As well as being rearranged, the Articles need to be placed into a broader philosophical and political context that informs their meaning. No context is more important than what R.C. called the “3 Moral Guides” by which he lived.
R.C.'s 3 Moral Guides
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10.You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
The Golden Rule:
This is generally stated in one of two ways. Although the meanings are often equated, they are subtly but significantly different. R.C. included both versions in his philosophy: 1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and, 2) Do not do unto others what you do not wish done to you.
Relevant extract from the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
The Flow of the Articles in the Context of the 3 Moral Guides
A bedrock of R.C.'s value system is a belief in God as the eternal truth from which all other eternal truths proceed. In the first Article, R.C. states his opening premise,
• I have faith in principles, in truth, in sequence, in order, in cause, in action and reaction, in the Commandments, in the Golden Rule, in Natural Law, or God.
R.C. was not orthodox in his approach to religion. For example, he sharply distinguished between God and organized religion, and he explored a variety of different faiths. In the tradition of Protestantism, which emphasizes a direct relationship between an individual and God, he approached religion as a personal journey rather than an institutional one. The journey involved not merely non-Christian texts, such as the Koran, but also many versions of the Bible. Bob Segal explained, “He [R.C.] founds his faith on the principles of Christianity; and he quotes frequently from Scriptures. But he has no truck with mysticism and the hair-splitting of subsidized theologians. He expects Biblical passage to stand up to the test of logic as much as he expects logic of contemporary writings. What is not acceptable of Christianity, he rejects. He once said he could not understand the 'fundamentalists' who accept every word of the Bible as absolute truth, even though it conflicts with another passage of Scriptures.”
The core role of God in R.C.'s freedom philosophy is evident in the fact that the Articles open with faith in God and end with a concluding statement (not an Article) that refers directly to God's function in man's life. Thus, R.C.'s exposition of philosophy forms a closed circle. The concluding statement declares,
If an atheist is an individual who contends there are no eternal principles and everything happens by chance, it is hard to conceive then how an atheist can believe that he has any inalienable God-given rights. The only philosophy he could possibly have would be that might makes right and that the end justifies the means.
The wording here is careful. R.C. says, “if an atheist is an individual who contends there are no eternal principles and everything happens by chance...” Given how well-read he was and the diversity of his associations, R.C. was certainly aware of natural rights traditions which were independent of religious belief. For one thing, he read, admired and personally associated with the novelist Ayn Rand who was one of the 20th century's most aggressive advocates of both natural rights and atheism. Rand did not deny the existence of “eternal principles” nor did she argue for “chance” in a random universe. She believed in knowable world of cause and effect in which rights derived from both man's fixed nature and from an objective reality.
Thus, R.C. is aware of 'natural law atheists' but simply disagrees with a secular approach to morality and natural law. He is unshakable in the belief that man's nature comes from God and it is the God-given aspect of rights that make them inalienable. Among his favorite passages in Western political thought was the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Proceeding from the opening Article statement of faith in God, principles and truth, the Article that logically follows is,
• I have faith in the immortality of influence and the immortality of the race.
Individual men will die but the inherent nature of 'man' is no more changeable than are morality and truth themselves. Those roles or influences are eternal. And it is from the fixed nature of man that rights are derived.
R.C. defines rights in plain unadorned terms. Everyone has a right to live peacefully without having force or threats of force initiated against him. This is essential not only to the well-being of individuals but also to civil society.
• I have faith that gaining understanding of nature’s laws is the best way to be useful to one’s self and to his fellow man.
R.C. wrote, “It seems to me that all our progress comes from reducing the use of initiated force [that is, increasing respect for rights] or the threats of same. What is civilization but a process of setting man free from aggressive force or threats of same being used against him?”
Each man owns himself and no man can claim ownership in the body or property of another without committing the evil of slavery. This prohibition against interfering with the self-ownership or individual rights of another is often called “negative” rights, with the word “negative” carrying no pejorative meaning. Such rights tell people what they may not do to others; they may not steal, they may not assault,they may not commit fraud or otherwise initiate force. Stated in terms of the Golden Rule, each person should not treat others in a manner he would object to being treated himself. In terms of the Ten Commandments, arguably the most important ones are phrased negatively.
You shall not murder.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The gist of negative rights can be stated in a more positive manner to escape pejorative shadows, however. To R.C., each person was equally a creation of God and so possessed the same rights to an identical degree regardless of secondary characteristics such as sex, race, culture, social status, religion, or nationality.
The foregoing concept is called the “universality of rights.” The concept expands the application of rights to include both sexes, all races and every class within society. The history of human liberty, from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence, has consisted of identical rights being extending to an ever broader circle of people. The history of tyranny is a record of rights being reserved to specific groups while being denied to others. The two dynamics are diametrically opposed. Indeed, as long as a right is considered to be the province of a limited class or type of individual (e.g. land owners as opposed to serfs), then it is not a right at all but a class privilege or entitlement, which can only be maintained by violence and repression.
In today's political context, a call for absolute equality of rights can be confused with a demand for egalitarianism — the advocacy of political, social and economic equality among men, which usually involves the use of force to redistribute wealth and opportunity. This is far from R.C.'s position. His view of equality leads to the opposite of egalitarianism by requiring each person be free to develop politically, socially and economically according to his or her own character and through hard work. He argued for rewards to be based on merit.
R.C. wrote, “a good job for a person is one that permits him to get all he produces, no more, no less, as determined by a free market for his production and to and use all the talents that God gave him physically, mentally and morally as rapidly as possible.”
Logically rearranged, the next Article promotes a merit-based society.
• I have faith that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.
Men who strive both economically and spiritually will receive the rewards of their effort. Inherent in this statement is a belief that man is perfectible; namely, he is able to improve through his own effort. The other assumption of the statement is that, to the extent a man perfects himself, he will be both materially and spiritually benefited.
• I have faith that man is perfectible even if he is fallible.
Like the universality of rights, the “perfectibility of man” is a concept with deep roots in pro-liberty traditions like classical liberalism. The concept reaches back through the Renaissance to Greek philosophy. Perfectibility does not mean that men can become flawless or omniscient, as R.C. explicitly notes. Rather, it affirms a man's ability to improve himself, to progress toward excellence through acquiring knowledge, using reason and exerting honest effort. It is a process, not an end state.
To R.C., perfectibility is an aspect of man's nature which resides in the drive to achieve and understand. It is found in a child's eager reaction of joy at learning a new skill; it lives in the sheer pleasure of understanding. Here, again, R.C. builds on his former argument; all men were perfectible precisely because each individual has the ability to “gain an understanding of natural law,” to seek out what is true and and live in accordance with it.
A few weeks before the end of his life, R.C. was asked about his political philosophy. He replied, “Every individual should grow and develop just as much as he possibly can. He should always strive to be and to do better.”
Perhaps, it was his belief in the perfectibility of every person that made him blind to differences of race, gender, and social status. What mattered was how sincerely the person moved toward excellence. His own pursuit of perfectibility made R.C. genuinely grateful to those who pointed out errors in his thinking.
But perfectibility was not merely a moral imperative, it was also an eminently practical goal with tangible rewards.
• “I have faith in work.
• “I have faith that men who have faith in moral principles live more abundantly than those who believe there are no eternal, moral, just principles that govern human relations.
• “I have faith that man lives a more abundant life when he lives by the sweat of his brow than by gifts.
An abundant life that results from living moral principles is what philosophers often call “the good life,” although they may disagree with what constitutes that state of being. “The good life” refers to 'a life worth living', a life that conforms with man's nature and leads to happiness or peace of mind. For R.C., the good life is both a process and a reward. Having raised himself and his family from comfortable but modest circumstances into the opportunities and freedom of vast wealth, R.C. had reason to believe in the material benefits of unremitting effort.
But living in accordance with natural law brought much more than material reward. R.C. referred not merely to material goods, although the pride with which he carried a gold watch from childhood to his death speaks of a healthy respect for prosperity. He referred primarily to spiritual rewards. By being true to himself and his own nature, a person developed a character that allows him to embrace the intangible rewards of life. For example, he nurtured characteristics such as honesty, integrity, and consistency which are essential to self-respect. And, without self-respect, happiness or peace of mind are not possible.
The spiritual rewards do not end there. The good character upon which self-respect rests will naturally attract others of similarly good habits. Then, it becomes possible to enjoy the extraordinary emotional richness that others can bring to our lives – family, friendship, romantic love, communication and enlightenment. By honoring the best within himself, a man becomes capable of enjoying the best within others and is constantly enriched by their companionship.
To R.C., the greatest spiritual reward must have been love of family. His deep and abiding love for his parents, wife and children was so palpable that it is impossible to believe that an abundant life would have been possible to him without them. As in the following Article, he put family first.
• I have faith in myself and my wife and children and grandchildren, and in all men who will answer questions without evasion about what they are advocating.
After family, the next most important spiritual reward of a principled life was the sustaining presence of kindred spirits. These were the men and women who answered questions without evasion and gave priority to truth. They were people, like Rose Wilder Lane, whom R.C. both championed and challenged but in whose company he reveled.
• I have faith that there shall ever be friendship among the good, but never be friendship among the evil.
R.C. was particularly fond of what he called the “the human relations commandments,” especially “Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal.” They were essential to a good life because true friendship is a joy that a liar or thief could never know. Other human relationship commandments include,
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
An adulterer could never trust other people. A man tormented by coveting the goods of others cannot appreciate what he has; he is more likely to blame fate or his neighbor than he is to work to earn what he covets. Only those who live in accordance with human nature become capable of the finer impulses that permit happiness.
Another reward of the good life is the flow of compassion or empathy that good people naturally feel for each other and for strangers. The good will between human beings is expressed through far more than merely eschewing the use of force. Compassion and empathy incline people to act in a positive manner toward others in order to ease suffering. The same impulse that make people help a lost child also inclines them to donate to charity, to do favors for strangers, or simply to wish someone well. Ironically, however, it is those who express compassion who are the most enriched by doing so. The preceding sentiment was expressed in the Articles as,
• I have faith it is more blessed to give than to receive.
So far, however, the discussion of R.C.'s philosophy has focused on the material and spiritual benefits that accrue to a man who pursues perfectibility. There is a strange twist to R.C.'s presentation. Namely, if it is “more blessed to give than to receive”, then the primary beneficiary of a gift is the bestower. This means the act could be viewed as a selfish one. R.C. would not deny that giving is selfish – that is, in a man's best interest to do – but he adds an enlightening insight.
Pursuing 'the good life' not only benefits the individual but also society at large. Every man who strives to live honestly and in cooperation with others improves society. Strangers the man will never meet are rewarded by his pursuit of perfectibility because the collective impact of men acting in a moral manner raises the quality of society itself. Individual moral acts maximizes the chance that prosperity, good will and peace would prevail in general. In other words, good men not only enrich themselves but also everyone else, which lifts their behavior out of the category of mere selfishness.
• I have faith that the Commandments and the Golden Rule will promote good will and peace to the degree they are obeyed.
Few people would disagree with the Golden Rule or the emphasis R.C. placed upon it but, now, the publisher introduced a belief that may sound strange to modern ears.
• I have faith that in free enterprise the gain or profit of one is the gain of all.
The foregoing statement goes far beyond the idea that the good will expressed by one man benefits all of society. Free enterprise is a competitive system aimed at obtaining profit, which is often viewed as the opposite of compassion or good will. Nevertheless, R.C. argued that the marketplace was a main mechanism by which good men enriched society. In short, honest competition benefits everyone. (Note: R.C. does not apply this mechanism directly to family or friends with whom, presumably, other factors loom larger – for example, the bonds of affection.)
In a 1958 editorial entitled “Promoting Hope,” R.C. advised, “It is our belief that any person who creates wealth and gains understanding harms no one, but benefits himself and everyone else in the world.”
This view of competition may require some explanation. By “competition,” however, R.C. did not mean a winner-takes-all situation or a cut-throat contempt for anything but winning. Quite the opposite. He meant a process through which human beings perfected themselves by producing the highest quality work or product that they exchanged with others.
Again, more than material goods are at stake. Just as intellectual encounters weed out errors of knowledge so, too, does economic competition refine a person's abilities. The best is not only expressed in superior products or services but also through hard work and the development of good habits. People become the best versions of themselves, which benefits society at large.
The libertarian Frank Chodorov, who was frequently quoted by R.C., captured the salutary effects of competition in a July 1949 article published in the periodical Analysis. Chodorov wrote,
“The only constructive' idea [for progress] that I can in all conscience advance, then, is that the individual put his trust in himself, not in power; that he seek to better his understanding and lift his values to a higher and still higher levels; that he assume responsibility for his behavior and not shift his responsibility to committees, organizations, and, above all, a super personal state. Such reforms as are necessary will come of themselves when, or if, men act as intelligent and responsible human beings. There cannot be a 'good' society until there are 'good men.'“(emphasis added)
R.C. expressed the same concept in a different manner:
• I have faith in free competition.
• I have faith that men would more nearly reap all they produce and more nearly approach justice under the competitive, free, private, enterprise system than under any other system.
• I have faith that competition will create both material and spiritual development.
• I have faith that free competition or an unhampered market in both material things and ideas is a blessing to all mankind.
The opposite of competition or rising through merit is the use of force to acquire power, wealth or another advantage. Or, more specifically, the opposite is the initiation of force. R.C. was not a pacifist. He believed every man owns his person and property; he argued for everyone's right to defend their person and property, even if the defense involved killing the aggressor.
Bob Segal wrote, “By 'initiation' of force, R.C. Hoiles means just that. He is no pacifist. In fact he has researched the background of the Thou Shalt Not Kill commandment; and it is his belief that the original concept of the commandment was Thou Shalt Not Murder. The distinction, of course, reflects the idea of the initiation of force. It is R.C. Hoiles' belief that no man has a right to murder – that is, take the life of another wantonly; but, he believes any man enjoys the privilege of protecting his own life, or the life of another, even to the point of killing an aggressor.
“Just as the individual has certain 'inalienable rights,' so does the representative of a group of men have certain rights. Thus, if a man has a right to shoot an armed thug, so does the state (a policeman) have that right. But, since the individual has no right to murder, neither does the state.”
It is the initial act of force that can neither be committed nor tolerated by a good man. This single and simple insight has profound implications for government. Another Article states:
• I have faith that a government is a good government that only does what each and every individual has moral and ethical and just right to do.
The sentiment is similar to the Declaration of Independence, which states:
"That to secure these rights [life, liberty and happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
This simple-sounding Article of faith – a government is a good government that only does what each and every individual has moral and ethical and just right to do – was the source of most of the controversy that surrounded R.C.'s opinions. In typical fashion, he followed the logic of “an evident truth” through to its conclusion, wherever that conclusion might lead. The end result of his logic: there is one and only one eternal code of right and wrong. The code applies equally to everyone whether the 'everyone' under discussion was an individual or a group of individuals who were acting collectively. The collective he targeted most frequently was the group of individuals known as government. What is wrong for an individual to do could never be proper for government to perform. R.C. referred to this insight as “the single standard.”
Otherwise stated, the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule binds everyone, individually and collectively. If an individual has no right to initiate force, then neither does a group of individuals, including the group calling itself government. This applied to duly elected governments as well. An election is no more than an expression of majority will, of 3 men imposing their will upon 2 men. It cannot replace the eternal truth of man's God-given nature, which demands the recognition of individual rights. To substitute the will of the majority for eternal truth violates the First and Second Commandments:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
Majority rule must not be 'worshiped'. The only rights a group could possibly possess are the individual ones that people assign to that group in much the same manner they might assign a power of attorney.
R.C. used the single standard principle to judge all human action and social issues. One issue to which he frequently applied a single standard was taxation.
• I have faith that our government would better protect every person’s inalienable rights if it was supported on a voluntary basis rather than by taxes.
R.C. opposed mandatory taxation of any form. As with every issue, in arguing against taxes, R.C. began with basic principles, with the simple truth that no man had a right to use force or fraud to take the property of his neighbor. Such an act was theft. R.C. then applied a single standard of conduct to government regarding taxation. In a Register editorial, he declared, “Any time a man has to pay for something he does not want because of the initiating of force by the government, he is, to that degree, a slave.” If it is wrong for an individual to enslave or steal, then it is equally wrong for a government to do so. R.C. was unswerving in filtering all issues through this analysis.
Methodology: How R.C. Applied Philosophy in Specific Issues
It is instructive to use the issue of education to grasp the methodology with which R.C. applied the foregoing philosophy. In his wide ranging social and political critiques, R.C. often included historical perspective and Constitutional context but his moral case derived from the 3 Moral Guides; it could be repeated and rephrased frequently within a single article, some of which resembled a presentation of credo.
Again, in approaching education, R.C. began with the basics. If a man wished to have his children educated, then he should pay a fee or otherwise arrange to procure the service in a voluntary manner, such as homeschooling. The public school system, however, does not allow people to choose to pay or not for the 'service' it provides. If a man wishes to homeschool, then he might well be allowed to do so but the tax-collector still demands a mandatory payment to support the public school system. Moreover, he is forced to finance the education of his neighbor's children even if he disagrees with the values they are taught. His opinions, values and preferences were irrelevant as far as the government is concerned. It wants his money. And, if he refuses, the government will confiscate his property, arrest him or both.
• I have faith that we will be better educated by voluntary, competitive schools than by government schools.
R.C. had faith in “voluntary, competitive schools” because they were the only ones that could teach children the ideas, the life lesson upon which moral character and practical habits depended.
R.C. explained why public schools were incapable of teaching basic truths in a March 14, 1947 editorial entitled “Moral Ideas Tax Supported Schools Cannot Teach.” The contradictions inherent within the public schools made it unable to teach the lessons or to instill the qualities that were most necessary in life. R.C. pointed to the contradiction, “They cannot teach the single standard of rightness because they are practicing a double standard....” That is, by being tax-funded, they promoted theft and the use of force. “They cannot teach that the state is the servant of the individual rather than his master. They are his master when they are saying that he must pay for an educational system he [the reluctant taxpayer] thinks is out of harmony with God's laws.”
Among the truths and character-building lessons that public schools cannot not pass on, R.C. listed: [Note: words in quotes are his.]
----“They dare not teach the spirit of the Constitution...” because it says all men, not just the majority or collectives, are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights.
----They dare not teach the “part of the Declaration of Independence” that speaks to pursuing happiness because, “if they were successful in explaining and teaching the true meaning...there would be no gun-run schools.”
----“They dare not teach that “to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed....They have to teach the old-world philosophy of the divine right of governments.”
----“They dare not teach the meaning of liberty.”
----They “cannot teach successfully the will to learn” because “the schools themselves are not enough interested in the will to learn to be willing to answer questions...to determine whether what they are is in harmony with what they profess to believe.”
----They “dare not teach the meaning of the Golden Rule” because “it was a violation of the Golden Rule to force others to pay for their schooling.”
----“They dare not teach their pupils to believe that is it is wicked and a violation of the Golden Rule for one man to do a thing, it is still wicked and a violation...if 49 per cent or 99 per cent of the people do the same thing.”
----They “dare not teach the First and Second Commandment[s]: 'Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.' 'Thou shalt not worship them nor serve them'....because they are bowing down and worshiping the will of the majority rather than eternal laws of God.”
----“They dare not teach discipline and self-reliance because the teachers are not disciplining themselves enough to render such service that they can be paid voluntarily.”
----“They dare not teach the responsibility of the individual or the family because they are denying that the family is responsible for the sustenance and education of their children.”
----“They dare not teach thrift and the harm that comes from getting in debt...because the government is encumbering the children and every person in the United States with a debt.”
----“They dare not teach respect for human initiative because government schools are based on lack of respect for other people's initiative.”
----“They dare not teach humility and meekness because the means used by government schools are the exact opposite of humility and meekness.”
----“They dare not teach children to reason.”
----“They dare not teach the harm that follows socialism, communism, collectivism and fascism.”
----“They dare not teach that there are certain acts that are eternally right, that right is not determined by counting noses.”
----“They dare not teach...that everything man wants must be obtained on a voluntary basis.”
----“They dare not teach the difference between socialism and private ownership of property.”
----“They dare not explain that in free enterprise in education, the gain of one is the gain of all.”
----“They dare not teach that no one should do anything that injures another person.”
----“Tax-run schools dare not teach love and charity because they are using aggressive force.”
----“They cannot teach patience because they are so impatient...that they dare not wait to persuade those who should employ them to pay their salaries.”
----“They cannot teach peace and goodwill because they are an example of the opposite of peace and goodwill.”
----“They cannot teach how government should be supported because they believe it should be supported by giving it a monopoly to use aggressive force.”
----“They cannot teach justice because their method of supporting the schools is based on injustice.”
----“They cannot teach that each man is a steward of his own life because they are denying that by using aggressive force.”
The foregoing is a graphic illustration of how R.C. translated philosophy into practical policy. His arguments were often a string of statements that could seem jumbled and repetitive. But, through them, he analyzed the issue of education from a variety of angles in order to drive home a single point: the same standard embodied in the '3 Moral Guides' must morally bind collectives as surely as they do an individual.
Education was one of many issues to which R.C. applied the single standard rule and concluded government should play no role. He applied the same principle to everything from immigration quotas to military defense, from universal medical care to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
• I have faith that to the degree we have free trade and no immigration quotas will we have peace and good will amongst men.
• I have faith that our country would be better protected by voluntary soldiers rather than by drafted soldiers.
R.C.'s demand for government to abide by a single standard of morality led him to part political company with most contemporaries and to be 'accused' of anarchism. Bob Segal explained, “Most Americans cannot comprehend a state without the powers we have come to accept. They cannot imagine a nation without tax-supported schools. ('You have no tax-supported churches,' R.C. Hoiles reminds them.) They cannot accept the practice of freedom – the idea of life without subsidies, supports, cushions frightens them. They cannot comprehend the beliefs of a man who is opposed to collective bargaining; graduated income taxes, state schools; state post offices; fiat money; conscription; and the do-good laws...” The Articles conclude with an observation rather than with another statement of faith.
In looking up the word ‘faith’ in the Concordance I was surprised to find that it was only used once in the Old Testament and was used 234 times in the New Testament.
Elsewhere, however, R.C. stated in Article form,
• Yes, I have faith. I do not see how man can live without faith.
This Article returns to the idea of atheism versus natural rights; R.C. clearly believed that a secular basis for individual liberty was either invalid or so incomplete that it could not produce 'the good life' and benefit society.
Thus, R.C.'s philosophy and methodology were rooted in both religion or morality and in the practical. The Articles are misleadingly simple, direct and they flow in a straight line from premise to conclusion. The simplicity is misleading because the truths are profound and R.C.'s arguments challenge the most entrenched beliefs of our society, including the rejection of democracy as majority rule. In a 1941 editorial entitled “The Danger of a Little Learning,” he stated. “A democracy is a government with the consent of all the governed, not just government with the consent of 51 per cent as we are rapidly becoming.”
Like the child who cried out “the Emperor has no clothes,” R.C. invited readers to cast off assumptions and to see the naked truth before their own eyes. The Articles are overwhelmingly positive in their presentation but R.C.'s usual style was confrontational and could offend people. It did not seem to matter to him. Although he did not write to create trouble, he did want to challenge readers rather than coddle them. R.C. believed people needed to be 'shocked' out of their assumptions in order to start questioning them. Toward this end, he was more than willing to shock. As Fern Maloney observed, “I think he tried to stir up thinking in his columns, more than anything else. Even if it made them [the readers] kind of mad, at least it made them think.”
At the root of his efforts and beliefs, however, was the most positive statement anyone can make.
• I have faith that life is good.
These are words of a man who has been true to his own nature and, so, is reaping the just rewards of the good life.
In summary, the flow of R.C.'s philosophy:
Faith in truth and God;
A belief in the fixed, immortal nature of man;
Understanding natural law improves oneself and society;
Effort is rewarded and man is perfectible;
Living by moral principles deepens the abundance of life as does hard work, which builds character;
The abundance includes love of family and true friendship;
Moral principles also promote good will and compassion throughout society;
Every honest striving individual increases the good of all;
Striving toward perfection involves healthy competition that benefits all;
The key to healthy competition is applying a single standard of morality to individuals and to groups;
Government must be held to the single standard;
Life is good.
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