Front Page Titles (by Subject) VII.—: By AUBERON HERBERT. - Taxation and Anarchism: A Discussion between the Hon. Auberon Herbert and J.H. Levy
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VII.—: By AUBERON HERBERT. - Auberon Herbert, Taxation and Anarchism: A Discussion between the Hon. Auberon Herbert and J.H. Levy 
Taxation and Anarchism: A Discussion between the Hon. Auberon Herbert and J.H. Levy (London: The Personal Rights Association, 1912).
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By AUBERON HERBERT.
I am not so thirsty for Mr. Levy’s blood, nor even anxious to convert him to my own views, as perhaps I ought to be. It seems to me natural and healthy that we Individualists should split into various schools—there is no Catholic Church in Individualism—and, as we grow in numbers and importance, one may feel pretty certain that there will be more splitting amongst us than there is to-day.
The point of interest, in the discussion between Mr. Levy and myself, seems to me to be the formula under which we each express our view of Individualism. I hold, rightly or wrongly, that compulsory taxation is so opposed to the principle of Individualism, that no human ingenuity can bring the two together in any satisfactory fashion; and I was personally curious to see how Mr. Levy would get over the difficulty. I take it, from his comment on my last letter, that he himself is not quite satisfied with his own formula, and, therefore, I need not return to it; but I will now offer, as I think I ought to do, a philosophic basis for Individualism from the anti-taxation point of view. I should lay down that basis in some such fashion as the following, hoping that others may make suggestions for its improvement:—
(1). The great natural fact of each person being born in possession of a separate mind and separate body implies the ownership of such mind and body by each person, and rights of direction over such mind and body; it will be found on examination that no other deduction is reasonable.
(2). Such self-ownership implies the restraint of violent or fraudulent aggressions made upon it.
(3). Individuals, therefore, have the right to protect themselves by force against such aggressions made forcibly or fraudulently, and they may delegate such acts of self-defence to a special body called a government.
But such rights of self-defence, which exist simply for the preservation of the sovereignty of the individual, give no rights of using force against the individual who has not so aggressed; if they did, then, ipso facto, the sovereignty of the individual would disappear, and the Individualistic basis would be exchanged for an Authoritarian or Socialistic basis. We should have given up our primary law—that the individual was sovereign over his own mind and body, and put in its place a secondary law—that we might use force to secure such measures as we thought favourable for this sovereignty; in other words, we should have sacrificed this sovereignty in order to secure it. Condensed into a few words, our Voluntaryist formula would run: “The sovereignty of the individual must remain intact, except where the individual coerced has aggressed upon the sovereignty of another unaggressive individual.”
I hope the distinction between the two cases of using force will be clearly seen. In using force against the aggressor, we use it against the person who has forfeited his own rights in attacking the rights of others; we stand firmly on the primary law, though acting on the secondary law of self-defence which is implied and involved in the first; in the other case, where we use force against the non-aggressor, we depart from our primary law, and act as the Socialist does, putting something of our own invention and manufacture in the place of liberty, though we choose to call it by the same name.
I did not mean in my last letter to state Mr. Levy’s position unfairly, when I spoke of his being willing to allow A to tax B for any purpose up to any amount. We all know that he would persuade A not to use such powers. Few men have striven longer or better for this object than he has; but I wished to note that he left the full power of taxing intact in A’s hands. I had half expected him to have limited the tax to the purposes of preventing aggression. To do so would make his position much stronger; though, in my opinion, it would still leave it open to capture. I have never liked to trouble Mr. Spencer by asking him the question; but I have always imagined, from certain passages in his writings, that this limited taxation expressed his position. I am afraid that—if challenged—I could not put my finger straight off on these passages, and might not be able to justify my impression.
As regards our debt, it creates that eternal difficulty—so well pictured by Mr. Spencer—of choosing between methods, all of which have the element of wrongness in them. What I said was, if I remember rightly, for I am away from home, that, after mortgaging all public property to the holders of debt, I would employ taxation till I could get rid of the remaining portion of uncovered debt. That is what I would do with past debt.* As regards the future, I hope that we Individualists shall join in making a great protest against any new debts being based on taxation. The subscribers to such debt must be content with other security.
[* ] These letters were written some years ago. I doubt now about our right to continue compulsory taxation even for the good and righteous purpose of paying off the debt-holders. If continued, it should only be continued for a few specified years. I think the interests of the present debt-holders would be secured by the sale of some national property, the mortgaging of other national property, and a great national effort—made in all seriousness of purpose and at the cost of considerable sacrifice—to get clear of debt, which is in itself an utterly scandalous and wrong thing, since it is simply the mortgaging of the faculties of some men, many of them unconsulted and unconsenting, by the forceaction of other men. All future debts should be secured upon certain specified property, and in no case upon any form of compulsory tax or rate; but the right course—except in those cases where a valuable property (e.g., docks, harbours, etc.) is created, and itself supplies a security for the money raised—is not to incur debt for any national or local purpose, but to raise the money by voluntary contribution. Our next great step forward is to form this habit of voluntary contribution for common purposes. When once formed, it will seem to us all quite simple and natural; and we shall look back with horror on the days when a handful of men were allowed to tie mill-stones round the necks of those they professed to represent. What I have said about national debt applies even more strongly to local debt.