Saturday, April 16, 2005

who owns you?

The title of this very blog may lead one to believe that I am a hopeless, dreamy-eyed ideologue. Nonsense. I’m actually much more of a pragmatist in real life than I would ever admit in public…ooops. The truth is that I see the value of lofty goals. My concept of human nature is quite unfavorable, in that we/they, more often than not, will do little more than the bare minimum of that which is expected or required. Therefore, as the official spokesman for Libertopia, I’m charged with delivering its creed: may the desire for maximum liberty result in an ever increasing progression toward that end.

Here in Libertopia, as one might suspect, individual liberty is paramount. Individuals are responsible for them selves alone and must respect the freedoms of their neighbors. In fact, the Libertopian Constitution is printed on a 3”x5” post card. In it, are the specifications for the limited collective endeavors. The braod categories are the following:
3.Legislative body
4.Military and Constabulary
6.Taxation: on consumption and equally applied

The overarching concept that guides the particulars of various legislation that, of necessity, should arise in a pluralistic society is: private property rights. Private property is not limited to inanimate possessions, but extends to the life of the individual and the products of his hands and his mind. The respect for private property is of utmost importance. Without private ownership, commerce would be impossible. Without commerce, wealth creation cannot occur. Without wealth creation, there is no incentive to innovate and no progression of the species...i.e. third-world agrarian subsistence societies. Mere survival is not enough for the pursuit of happiness.

Commensurate with private property is the concept of individual liberty. When speaking of liberty, it’s important to note that there are two distinct sub categories: positive liberty and negative liberty. Many people confuse these two, whether intentionally or not, I can’t say. It could be that some use manipulation to herd the masses in this direction or that…that’s just my cynical nature rearing its head, but I digress.

Positive liberty is also known as the “freedom to” act in this way or that, move to and fro, etc. Many on the left-wing of the political spectrum are vocal proponents of positive liberty. Democrats are well known for their support of “reproductive rights” and “free speech” and the like. Conversely, those on the right-wing of the spectrum often seek to restrict various positive liberties in the name of morality or “decency”.

Negative liberty is referred to as the “freedom from” X. This is typically invoked to argue against coercion, usually the force of the state. Here the ideological camps switch sides. Republicans tend to support property rights and lower taxation, but Democrats advocate “public good” initiatives that often call for “common lands” and costly social welfare programs.

It is clear to me that the two main players in American politics are “fair weather” supporters of freedom, yet they both claim to be advocates of liberty. Take the First Amendment for example. Democrats correctly recognize a freedom from religion, but promote politically correct speech codes. Republicans will decry silly “new speak”, but will pressure the Congress to reinstate compulsary prayer in schools. True freedom is obviously not what many people want; they want to control the behavior of others in order to reshape society according to their personal view of supreme morality.

The core of liberty speaks only to the individual. The question is: who owns you? When reduced to its essence, the issue is one of either-or. Either one is free or one is not. If I own my life, then I decide when, where, how and whether to act. If I’m merely a member of society and must hold the greater good in higher esteem than my own well being, then am I not a slave? I submit that a vast majority of our fellow citizens care far less about freedom than security. To that, I would say that prisoners have sufficient security. They are fed, housed, clothed, protected by guards with guns and they have the insulation of their cozy cells. I wonder whether they value security more than freedom. Do you really want liberty, with all of its implications?