A Voluntary Political Government: Letters from Charles Lane

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A Voluntary Political Government: Letters from Charles Lane

by Charles Lane, with an introductory essay by Carl Watner.

Kindle Edition.

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Amazon Review:

This is a series of letters written by to William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator in 1843. Carl Watner's extensive introduction puts the letters into historical perspective. The letters are a lively defense of individualist thought and offer insights into how the world can be changed from one that is rooted in violence to one that flourishes in freedom.

According to Wikipedia: Charles Lane (1800–1870) was an English-American transcendentalist, abolitionist and early voluntaryist. Along with Amos Bronson Alcott, he was one of the main founders of Fruitlands....Charles Lane was probably the most consistent voluntaryist of the abolitionist era. He was friendly with Amos Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Thoreau.

Between January and June 1843 a series of nine letters he penned were published in such abolitionist’s papers as The Liberator and The Herald of Freedom. The title under which they were published was "A Voluntary Political Government," and in them Lane described the state in terms of institutionalized violence and referred to its "club law, its mere brigand right of a strong arm, [supported] by guns and bayonets." He saw the coercive state on par with "forced" Christianity. "Everyone can see that the church is wrong when it comes to men with the [b]ible in one hand, and the sword in the other." "Is it not equally diabolical for the state to do so?" Lane believed that governmental rule was only tolerated by public opinion because the fact was not yet recognized that all the true purposes of the state could be carried out on the voluntary principle, just as churches could be sustained voluntarily. Reliance on the voluntary principle could only come about through "kind, orderly, and moral means" that were consistent with the totally voluntary society he was advocating. "Let us have a voluntary State as well as a voluntary Church, and we may possibly then have some claim to the appeallation of free men.

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