Sunday 25 February 2024

Manifest lies

Manifesto season is upon us. Every man and his dog has a heartfelt and lengthy manifesto, words filled with sound and fury, promising everything, delivering nothing. Not one is honest, Not one lists the things you can’t expect, the stuff you must do if you wish to succeed, the sacrifices this will involve. 

As a voter and citizen of South Africa, what should you be looking for in a political party and its manifesto?
How about a track record of delivering on promises? Fat chance.
Perhaps honesty? Do they promise stuff that everyone knows is unachievable, like free medical care for all, or free tertiary education, or land redistribution without compensation. Extravagant ideas, but not a snowball’s chance in hell of being implemented.
Do they skip over the nasty bits, like crime, unemployment, infrastructure collapse?
Do any of them promise to leave you alone? To let you keep your income. To raise your kids as you see fit. To protect you from the bad guys. To stop interfering in every aspect of your life. To do less, rather than more.

On 29th May I might vote for a party with the following manifesto. I just haven't found it yet.

We will not harm you.

We will not steal from you.

We will respect you.

We will not lie to you.

We will not solve all your problems, you must do that.

We will not give you special advantages, that is not fair.

We will not fix everything, because that is too hard.


The Individualist Movement is not a party, and it is not contesting the elections. It is a group of South Africans who believe in individual freedom. However, we do have a manifesto, which follows.

The Individualist Manifesto is short, less than a page. It consists of 4 short sentences, propositions that anyone can understand. Its aim is to provide words that will protect the rights of each individual within a society, without exceptions.  It uses profound but simple words, like harm, consent, respect, property, rule of law.

The Individualist Manifesto

Render no harm without consent, except in self-defense

Respect those who respect you

Recognise property rights

Resolve disputes by jury

Governments, businesses and other individuals would have to seek consent from each and every individual before causing them harm. They would have to respect the independence of their citizens and customers. They could not take their property without their consent. This manifesto would protect the integrity of every individual, poor, rich, powerful or weak.  

This is hopelessly utopian, many would say. Yet we live most of our lives within these rules. If you are not causing harm, you expect your neighbour to respect your privacy. You do not expect your neighbour to decide what you may eat, or say, or how you must behave, in public or in private. You do not expect to be robbed, or attacked, or held captive. If you or your neighbour behaves unreasonably, you expect  to be judged for this. 

For some reason this only becomes utopian when government gets involved.

The Individualist manifesto does not promise grants, or houses, or jobs paid for by some unspecified others. Mostly, it specifies what individuals or groups may not do. 

If you are averse to lies, if you do not seek to profit at the expense of others, if you simply wish to be left alone, then this is the manifesto for you.

For more information, or to become a member, visit the Individualist Movement website at

Trevor Watkins is the founder of the Individualist Movement, the author of two books, and a contributing author for the Free Market Foundation. He publishes on a blog at  The views expressed in the article are the author’s and not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.

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