Saturday, March 12, 2005

Voluntary cooperation rescuing students from bureaucrats who should go "suck it"

Elliot Mallen, columnist for The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan's school newspaper, recently chimed in about some campus "guerilla librarians" who have reacted to the university's selling off of material from East Quad's Benzinger Library by attempting to rebuild the collection despite the hostile and uncooperative response from university adminstrators. Known as the Benzinger Library Cooperative, this effort sparked by the voluntary contributions of students living in the dorm is successfully growing in size even though the university hired bureaucrats keep trying to wrestle control away from the students and continue to develop as dull and authoritarian living and learning experience as possible for the students.

This story appears to represent a sort of microcosm of relations between individuals and voluntary groups of individuals and the bureaucratic institutions of government that seek control and conformity of the masses. Since governments are naturally self-serving and corrupt, reacting to situations in ways such as the East Quad students provides an example of how people can overcome oppressive meddling from above. Now if only people would act in similar ways with regard to issues like welfare and other social services instead of turning to the institution that creates most of our problems while claiming to serve and protect us.

Mallen's piece does a fine job describing the authoritarian impulse of university bureaucrats interfering with students' lives and how students have responded by embracing the virtuous choice of using voluntary cooperation to solve their problems. It's a nice break from reading the typical commentary from university lefties who claim to be anti-authoritarian while promoting statist measures to solve problems created by the state to begin with.

I think I'll stop by East Quad on my way to work one day next week and make a donation to the co-op's collection. I have all sorts of great live music that I can burn copies of that'll give the collection some cultural diversity aside from P-Funk and porn, and I think I'll also donate my copy of Benjamin Tucker's "'State Socialism and Anarchism' And Other Essays" after I make a photocopy of it for myself.


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