Friday 8 June 2018

Launch of the Individualist Movement

Jeffreys Bay, 5th June 2018.

by Trevor Watkins    (You can view a video of the launch here.)

Why did we invite you here today? Well, a movement is like a rocket - pretty useless if you don’t launch it. So we wanted a specific moment in time and a specific place where history could record the start of the Individualist Movement. We wanted to test our message on a typical audience and gauge the reaction. While we would love to recruit you as a member, that is not our first priority tonight. Rather, we hope to entertain and enlighten you in a pleasant atmosphere.

Today is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, the launch of the Normandy landings in 1944, when many of our forefathers fought and died to ensure the survival of our western civilisation. They laid down their lives to preserve the ideas we take for granted today - rule of law, individual freedom, government by the consent of the governed. It is a stark reminder that ideas matter, and bad ideas have dreadful consequences. Three generations later, what sort of a job are we doing to protect the legacy they fought for?

The vast majority of people spend their lives providing a service to others. Whether you sell coffee or cars you engage in a voluntary transaction for the benefit of yourself and others. As a nurse or doctor or policeman or priest you provide Social Services in order to make a living. You volunteer to assist your family and friends and community for the spiritual rewards it provides. You are not the problem with our society.

Some people crave power over others and often disguise this as a service, most notably politicians. They are easy to spot. If you have no choice but to do their bidding, to follow their rules, to pay their taxes, then you have a power seeker, and a problem.

What you believe influences your worldview and how you act and react with others. Robert Heinlein put it well, “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Either individuals are free to choose, or others, individuals and groups, make their choices for them. In my opinion, these views are mutually exclusive, there is no middle road. Either your rights as an individual are respected, or you are subject to the interests of the group. Either you ask for consent, or you use force. It is a binary choice, it is right or wrong, it is true or false.

Who here believes that the interests of their preferred group, their nation, their church, their municipality, their family, should take precedence over the rights of any one individual?

Who here believes that others should always ask for your consent before doing something that affects you?

Who answered yes to both questions?

Why is this important? Throughout history tyrants have used the greater interests of the group, any group, to justify doing stuff to individuals against their will. Kings and conquerors, mayors and councillors, always appeal to the greater interests of the group, while almost always advancing their own private interest. It is the oldest of all the myths - the commonest lie. And yet we believe it everytime. As Ronald Reagan said, the scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”.

So what is to be done? The American founding fathers took a giant step for individual liberty when they produced their Declaration of Independence. This resulted in the freest and most prosperous country in history, despite its modern difficulties. Many constitutions, South Africa’s included, pay lip service to individual rights, but always with critical exceptions that favour groups. Most western countries support democracy, which replaces the tyranny of the one with the tyranny of the many, as South Africans know only too well. Can human nature be changed? Is it worth even trying?

I have been trying for the past 33 years. And I am trying once again. Some people think this is very trying. Earlier this year I realised that the communists have had a communist manifesto since the late 1800’s, which became the basis of the communist movement, an epic disaster for humanity. What is the polar opposite of a communist? An individualist. This thought prompted me to write down the Individualist Manifesto, which merges the predominant ideas of classical liberalism and libertarianism into a single short document. When I showed this document to my friend George Werner, he suggested we start the Individualist Movement to publicise the ideas therein. And here we are today.

Although the manifesto is deliberately as short and simple as possible, I think there may be some value in explaining some of its terms.

I am a sovereign individual. I am a nation of one.

While many may think the idea of sovereign individuals is a pipe dream, we already live in a world of sovereign states which enjoy all the privileges that we seek for individuals. There is a general agreement among states, backed by treaties, to respect the independence of other states, to avoid interfering in their affairs without consent, to respect their boundaries, to treat their representatives with dignity and respect. Any attempt by one state to coerce another will quickly result in retaliation and possibly war. Likewise for any attempt to seize property unlawfully, or cross agreed boundaries. This respect for sovereign states should simply be extended to sovereign individuals, to nations of one.

Respect me, respect my independence

Most conflicts arise from a lack of respect for others. We fear people who are different to us and favour those who are the same. We don't have to love other people, we don't even have to like them. But if we don't respect them and their differences we will end up fighting them.

Request my consent

Consent is at the core of the Individualist Manifesto. Consent enables all voluntary human interactions, and forbids all involuntary or coerced interactions. No one may make decisions on my behalf without my consent, no matter how well-intentioned.
Recognise my property

The rule of law and the recognition of property rights is the fundamental basis of the free market system. It is a hot button in South Africa at the moment because the collectivists and communists know this well. Without secure property rights there can be no market, no prosperity, no future

Resolve disputes by jury

Job 5:7 says that “Man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward”. Things fall apart. Conflicts will always arise. In the past conflicts were resolved by the king. Nowadays they are resolved by courts and judges appointed by politicians in government. This critical function is now beyond the control of the individual and often beyond his reach financially. We suggest that conflicts between individuals should be judged by other individuals in the tried and trusted jury system.


Although brief and simple, the consequences of these principles are profound.
  • No one may take your life except you.
  • No one may decide what you eat or drink or do to yourself.
  • No one may tax you without your consent. Without taxation the nation state will wither away.
  • No one may impose regulations upon you without your consent.
  • No one may decide how you use your property unless it affects them directly.
  • You may defend yourself with vigor against anyone acting against you.
  • Disputes will be resolved by juries of your fellows, with up to three appeals.
  • Providing aid and assistance to your fellows is a personal moral decision, not an obligation.


Respect, request, recognise and resolve; These are the 4 R’s that are the basis of the manifesto, and make up the logo of the Individualist Movement.

They describe how you wish to be treated,and how you will treat others. They place a limit on the power of groups. We invite you to become a sovereign individual.

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