THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 393, November 12, 2006
"Knowin' history's the KEY t'keepin' a FREE country."Lucy Kropotkin
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Freedom. The seven letter backbone of our civilization, the supposed the underpinning of all western culture and society. Many millions of people have willingly endured the horrors of war in order to defend this abstract principle. Its emergence and spread has been the dominate geopolitical trend of the past two centauries, a trend which shows no sign of ebbing as we enter the new millennium. Yet what does it mean to be free? No term evoked so frequently is shrouded in a greater cloud of ambiguity. This lack of understanding presents a grave danger to ideology of liberty, as that which is known only through dogmatic acceptance cannot stand the test of time. If the reasoning behind a belief is not known, it is mere inevitability that this creed will soon disappear.
I wish to avoid debates of semantics, as it is irrelevant which concept we choose to pin to the particular arrangement of letters F-R-E-E-D-O-M. Words are simply conduits used to transmit the content of one mind to another, and their only currency of worth is mutual intelligibility. The real question of focus should be if our arbitrarily selected schema is worthy of admiration. Thus I will first describe what abstract idea I plan associate with the word freedom. Secondly, I will attempt to answer the more pressing question of why the protection and implementation of this version of liberty is a noble goal worthy of the utmost pursuit. Finally I plan to address some issues of practicality, essentially how the theoretical concept of freedom could be implemented in our real world.
However, before we define freedom it is necessary to decide what entity shall possess our chosen liberty. The great philosopher Descartes once said "I think therefore I am." 1 I would take this supposition one step further, I think for only my own self therefore I am discrete. From birth to death we have just one identity; our mind is only ever privy to the thoughts of one soul. The lines that separate personality are thick; there is no partiality in this equation. We are who we are, and no one else. Even identical twins, whom when viewed through the objective lens of science are almost completely analogous, do not experience even the slightest continuity, each being a completely independent individual. The cause of this innate separation is not relevant in regards to our current question, as all that matters is each and every one of us is indeed a separate unit completely unattached. We are islands adrift in the sea of life. Humanities fundamental discreteness is a fact of much gravity, as it justifies why our claim to liberty is more legitimate than our leg's desire to be freed from the control of those authoritarian neurons.
However this treatment still fails to answer whether or not our person is to extend further than the chemical components that compose our flesh and blood. The answer to this question has deep reaching consequences as our external identify, our property per say, has long be considered the most fundamental facet of Capitalistic liberty. It is my contention that we are indeed much greater than are mere chemistry, and that this fact justifies the existence of property. Human beings are defined by the entirety of their actions and the entirety of that which is resultant from their behavior. Thus, our person is not just our simple genetic makeup, but also that which modern society has termed our property and our possessions.
This is similar to the argument Richard Dawkins explained in his book The Extended Phenotype. There he argues that just as our genome is responsible for our internal characteristics, it can be said that our genes as well influence our external behavior. Survival capability is dictated by both internal composition and external actions. He explained a beavers brown fur and its drive to create a dam are alike both portions of its phenotype. Though I do not wish to quibble over the relative importance of nature and nurture, the point illustrated is clear, our identity is larger than our simple physical being. Just as the beaver is defined by the dam it creates, we too are defined by that which through our actions modification is imbued.
Consider a situation where due to my planting and tending to an apple tree it sprouts and bares fruit. My actions gave birth to this entity, as if it was not for my behavior this tree would have remained forever inanimate. This tree is part of my identity just as fundamentally as my skin, my hair, and my mind. Its existence is brought about by my act of creation, and therefore this tree is both mine and my responsibility. I in essence receive tacit ownership. Thus, it follows that I would possess full discretion, when it comes to the concerns of my possessions, as completely as I possess full authority over my liver, legs, and loins. Just as I am defined by am my brain, I am as well defined by my actions, I am as well defined by my creations. That which would not exist in absence of my emotive force is intrinsically my own. Freedom extends to all portions of a human being, external and internal alike.2
Now that the unit of operation is understood, it is necessary to decide what rights these agents are to be endowed with. I am choosing to define freedom as the ability of the individual to act in the manner they personally deem most fit, within the constraints put upon them by the world they operate in. Realizing that the rest of society is a compilation of equally autonomous individuals, freemen assume no right to control the actions of others. You have no in born right to anything more than what is willfully given to you. Thus freedom is not a guarantee of any tangible concerns, as all theories of entitlement are inherently unequal in their distribution of control. Actions of force fall into two categories, that which is perpetrated by the individual, and that which is perpetrated by the government. In a free society neither form is to be tolerated, neither is to be allowed.
Freedom is a condition where the power to physically coerce, except for in cases of self protection, is never justified. Whether or not this power is democratically assumed is unimportant, as the power itself not just the method of attainment is contrary to the notion of liberty. This is an egalitarian brand of freedom, as every individual is endowed with an identical set of protections. The equal distribution of rights is an important caveat as all concepts of freedom that allow certain segments of society to be "more free" are inherently contradictory.
To restate more succinctly, our only inborn entitlement is the freedom to choose our personal best course of action unfettered by physical coercion, given the restrictions that are inherent in our interaction with other free individuals. True freedom lies in the ability to go forth in our selected direction without being physically restrained by either of the two methods of coercion. A freeman must be unhindered not only by the physical coercion of criminals, but also that which is derived from the unjust laws of an unjust government. In a free society all other rights and legislation are merely a derivative of this foundational liberty.
The pressures that are put upon each and every one of us by other individuals and by society itself are outside our domain, as we possess no inherent authority to alter the actions of any other human being. Freedom is simply, given these externalities, the ability go forward in the manner we deem to be personally most beneficial. The shape of the world limits the choices available to us, as our natural state of completely unfettered action is curbed by our interaction with other independent individuals. I cannot wake up tomorrow and become president of Microsoft for the reason that Bill Gates is unwilling to grant me that position. This is a gift that only he has the authority to donate. I merely have the power to go forth through the world in the way I believe to be best, based on my own unique system of pros and cons, or my base beliefs. I may attempt to pursue options that are currently outside of my sphere of potentiality, but I will never have absolute assurance that I will achieve these goals. That which is for others to give, I cannot claim as intrinsically my own.
This discussion touches on the more abstract principle that in a free society as we make the actions of others perquisites to our happiness, our ability to attain the life that we desire is reduced. If what we wanted could be achieved completely through our own creation, than we would be free to live our ideal life. However, when we alter our personal belief structure, and make the actions of others essential to achieving our preferred existence, our ability to gain that which we seek is no longer is guaranteed. If someone's actions are dictated by the fact that they can only be happy if they gain their mothers approval, then they are no longer free to act in whatever manner they please. Our chances to ascertain the apple of our eye is lessened when that which we desire lies outside our sphere of natural control, and in the hands of other individuals.
I would like to demonstrate the fundamental difference between physical coercion and all other forms of persuasion, in an attempt to explain why in a free society only physical force is restricted. Fundamentally, other influences are simply the altering of factors that are not in our domain of control. If my smoking causes a loss respect in the eyes of others, this is not a violation of my freedom, because who another individual chooses to respect is an intensely personal decision. Verbal persuasion is even more innocuous; as it is merely an attempt to initiate the willful alteration of an individual's belief structure. No liberty is violated when I attempt to convince you to quit smoking by stating the deleterious effects of nicotine. This form of enticement is only effective if the other party voluntarily chooses to submit.
The reason behind this utter separation of physical coercion lies in our inability to possibly refuse being thrown in a prison cell or receiving a bullet in our brain. These actions are making decisions for you. If you are incarcerated for committing a particular crime, than that action ceases to be viable, no matter what costs you are willing to shoulder. Yes, in reality there may be flaws in the system and certain transgressions may pass unnoticed, but this does not change the fact that the aim of all laws is to completely eradicate a so called undesirable behavior. In theory if it is illegal to ingest a drug, no one is to be able to act in such a manner. For those unlucky individuals who happen to be caught this hypothetical outlawing of an action is not hypothetical at all, but instead a painfully obvious reality.
Thus, all other definitions of freedom are inherently hypocritical as they involuntarily distribute the power of control to sources outside our own being, they allow individuals to alter externalities. For example take the belief that we intrinsically have a right to be free from the pressures presented by societal norms and social conditioning. To the naïve this addendum seems consistent, as the influences of societal dogma appear only to retard our development as autonomous individuals.
But, before jumping to that conclusion lets analyze what such "freedom" would truly entail. First, it is necessary to clarify that the pressures presented by societal norms are due to the potential of being ostracized if we were to ignore certain standards. So, keeping with this thread of logic, to enact this definition of liberty legislation would be needed that would punish anyone who discriminates against individuals who do not conform to societal expectations. Again, at first glance this law seems naively in line with the condition of freedom. However, this legislation is clearly giving individuals power alter the landscape they operate in, a landscape that is composed of other equally free individuals. Acceptance is not a birth right, but rather a gift given from one free individual to another. Forcing me on the threat of imprisonment to give alms of approval is taking the power of decision out of my hands. Whether or not others will agree with my action is an externality beyond my domain, and thus forcing others to accept my way of life is clearly outside the power justly granted to a free individual.
This again illustrates how when our ideal life hinges on the actions or acceptance of others, our ability to attain that which we desire is inhibited. Despite the disdain we may receive, in a world free from physical coercion, everyone still possess the final ever present potential to act in a manner that society happens to frown upon. If we are willing to pay the costs, these courses of action will always be ours to choose. Freedom is the belief that we all have prerogative to wade unhindered through the sea of life, but the admission that we will never have authority to alter this terrain.
However, a free society does allow the physical coercion of a specific set of individuals, those that violate the rights of others. The reason behind this is twofold. First the act of forcing someone not to force is in its essence a different undertaking. Stopping individuals from inflicting their will upon another is simply a police action that prevents individuals from over stepping their justly granted free authority. It is a preventative measure, not a power grab. Secondly, those that violate liberty explicitly state that they do not accept nor believe in the idea of intrinsic autonomy. Thus, it follows that given this belief they shall not be afforded the protection that is associated with such freedom. You shall receive no shelter from that which you believe to be invalid and false. If I commit murder, I deny that man has an inherent right to chose to live, and thus I too lose such protection.
The only written legal precept of a free society shall be the aforementioned right to live ones life free from outside coercion. Actions are only prohibited if they can be shown to violate this simplistic law of autonomy. This right of retribution applies to the uniform coercion of government as well. Such a state is to receive no protection, as just like criminal, it does not profess an understanding of liberty. When a government unjustly violates my intrinsic freedom of action it admits upon itself the potential for revolution lead by lovers of liberty.
Freedom is simply the ability to weight the pros and cons of an action and choose down what path, given own unique perspective, we wish to precede. It is a negative rather than a positive condition. We possess no other inherent entitlement. A truly free man realizes his ability to act will forever be curbed by his interaction with others, and thus he will only ever be able to choose from the set of potential actions presented to him by the summation of fellow freemen. This freedom includes We do not possess the right to alter the conditions brought about by the rest of society, as these factors are born of equally free individuals. We are simply to possess the authority to, using our own system of personal judgment, go forth down whatever presented road we deem most fit. Freedom is not the ability to control my surroundings but rather the choice to act within them.
The lack of Certainty
But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
Having clarified which theoretical concept is to be termed freedom, there exists the more important task of justifying why this chosen form of liberty is a favorable condition. This goal of articulation was clearly and concisely achieved by the pre-Socratic philosopher Xenophanes, even if this was not in fact his latent intentions. Humans are faced with the curse of insufficient information, as the justification for the validity of a belief will forever lie on an unsteady bed of improvable assumptions. All human knowledge is at some level reducible to statements that we cannot and will not know with complete certainty. Even the assertion that I am indeed currently sitting in front of a computer typing, is at some level questionable, as it relies on the belief, for one, that my sensory information is without flaw. Betrand Russell expressed this viewpoint when he said "I do not believe that I am now dreaming, but I cannot prove that I am not." We do not sense objects, but rather imperfect reflections. I cannot prove the color of an apple, as I possess no guarantee that my eyes perfectly rely my surroundings. This is because I am analyzing the way in which photons reflect off the apple, instead of the apple itself.
In fact, there is increasing amounts of evidence that the most important sensory organ is the brain itself. The mind, and not the eyes, decides what photon reflections are to be consciously known, and what are to be ignored. Since we can't prove even such elementary propositions, it is ludicrous to contend that humanity will ever answer with 100% certainty life's more complex and difficult questions. If I can't prove I am not dreaming, what chance do I have of demonstrating with complete certainty the objective truth of Keynesian economics?3
This is relevant to our current discussion, for the reason that freedom is the only ideology that admits this inherent fallibility of man. Implicitly, a freeman does not pretend that his value structure is above dispute, as he respects the right of all individuals to follow their own personal code, even when those beliefs contradict his own. The reason for this is, due to the allusive nature of proof, nothing can be known with certainty to be superior and correct. Within the philosophy of freedom is an implicit admission that we will never prove that our beliefs are representative of reality. As I have potential for error, I recognize that I have no right to coerce others to live in the manner I personally have deemed best. Freedom is the acceptance that we may indeed be wrong. Having relinquished my perch atop Mt. Olympus I allow all, who upon hearing my rational still disagree, the ability to act in a contrarian manner. Self autonomy is acceptance of our own mortality.
As freedom admits our own innate potential for fault and mistake, it is equally true that creeds of coercion blatantly disregard our fallibility. If I physically force you to live and act as I do, I explicitly assert my own intrinsic and supposedly certain superiority. This misguided notion of supremacy is implicitly built upon the opinion that the belief I am forcing upon other individuals is indisputably true. The belief is without possibility for error, and thus is indeed superior. This principle is demonstrated even when I force another to accept something as trivial as say my style of fashion. This action asserts that I know without doubt that the forced individual's fashion is wrong, and that my fashion is without question right. It assumes that their rational is unimportant, as it is provably incorrect. Hence, since I can prove I am right, it is legitimate that I force you to dress as I do, no matter what your objections are. I can coerce you to dress as I choose because implicitly I believe I know my opinions are objectively true.4
Abstractly, as stated earlier when an action is forced through coercion, there is to be no means of refusal. That which we cannot ignore, speaks with an air of 100% certainty. With coercion everything is complete, final, and has no further debate as a victor has been proclaimed. When coerced your course of action is fixed. Thus, it would follow that in order to justify such an act of violence, possession of final indisputable proof would be necessary. When we act with 100% certainty and finality, if we are to be justified, we also must possess the necessary evidence. If we are to offer no method of disagreement, logically to legitimize such an action we must posses no potential for mistake.
Nevertheless, as demonstrated previously this assumption of infallibility will always be utterly wrong. No person, group, or majority shall ever possess such certainty of their beliefs, and thus none one will ever be able to act with knowledge of their own superiority. As I will never prove the correctness of my mode of living, the finality of physical coercion will never be justified. The provable truth necessary to assert through coercion the perfection of one particular opinion shall forever fall outside the grasp of humanity, a fact that those who physically force blatantly ignore.
However we must quickly digress and remember that our inability to prove our beliefs, while it should prevent us from physically enforcing our will on others, should not stop us from trying to personally find what is true and right. What I believe to be correct is not arbitrary, but rather that which most complies with my personal system of evaluation. I believe something to be true because it is in line with my personal mode reasoning. Though I lack 100% proof, I do not believe the apple is red arbitrarily, but rather because this statement is consistent with my experience, instincts, and intuition. We are hence justified in attempting to persuade others of our correctness by sharing, but not forcing, our internal understanding, despite the absence of certainty. 5
The Apparent Paradox
Many rightfully contend that just as I cannot prove that I am not dreaming, that paradoxically I also cannot prove that I cannot prove this. This is indeed true. The protectorate of freedom must understand that those who choose to disagree with the assumption that indisputable proof cannot be found, indeed have the right to disregard it and inflict their will physically on others. However, it is noteworthy to remember that individuals who choose to physically force, through the implicit statement of their actions, believe in and possess no intrinsic liberties. These individuals can have free society forced upon them against their will, without the philosophy of freedom losing its consistency. This justification is why, upon committing assault, I can be justly incarcerated. If I wage war against a free society, the free society is permitted to return fire.
Those who harm admit on themselves infinite vulnerability, as they do not believe in inherent autonomy. It is the duty of those that support freedom to bring authoritarian beliefs to their logical conclusion, which is the rouge individual's imprisonment. Essentially, if in a group of 100 people 95 believe in the truth of liberty, and 5 do not, those 5 have the prerogative to hold such opinions, and commit any resultant actions. They can physically coerce till their hearts are content, but eventually the chickens will come home to roost. This is because those other 95 individuals also have the right, in fact the onus, to rise up and arrest those 5 contrarian individuals. It is imperative that the vanguard of freedom make evident that when the acceptance of liberty is prevalent in a society, harm is not an effective course of action.
I would like to briefly clarify that it is not the author's purpose to prove the validity of freedom above the possibility of question. My objective is to rather justify it as the best system, with the intent of causing the reader to personally accept this doctrine. Though I cannot prove that I cannot prove anything, my hope is to explain to the reader why they should subjectively accept this ideology as truth, given our own inherent fallibility. Simply, I wish to convince the reader of liberty's merit. I harbor no pretensions of my own divinity.
The Shape of Freedom
Having dealt with the justification against force as a general concept, it is important now to take a look closer at the most virulent form of coercion, that which is derived from the State. Governmental force by its very nature silences discussion, as there is no need for debate when the victor has already been proclaimed. Yes verbal sparring may persist in a society of partial freedom, but words hold only so much weight and cannot independently force change. Free speech is of little value without freedom of action. When it comes to our conduct, in a society lacking liberty, there is ideally to be no deviation from the legislated norm. . If the ruling class passes a law that enforces mandatory charity, no matter what words are spoken, or opinions held, all must comply. By essentially choosing the actions of others those who enact force have artificially and unjustly increased the volume of their voice. The landscape of belief and action for the entirety of society is unjustly decided by men who are oh so mortal.
When individuals are forced to follow an arbitrarily defined governmental compass, this society, which lacks freedom, becomes disconcertingly homogeneous. It is formed not by the entirety of its makeup, but rather by an arbitrarily chosen percentage.6 The only opinion that matters is that of the ruling elite, be that a king, oligopoly, or majority. A large section of the citizenry inevitability become of secondary importance, being usurped by a segment of the population clinging to the false belief that they hold unquestionable answers. When allow anything to speak for the greater whole, we infer the belief that this section of the populace is infallible.
The unanimity obtained, however, is illegitimate, as it persists without the necessary certainty. If the majority passes a law banning smoking in restaurants, we are assuming falsely that that is course of action is provably 100% correct. The minority who happen disagree, are unjustly spoken for and have their actions dictated by a headstrong sect of society that believes they posses the power to ascertain truth. Ruling by an iron fist without exception gives a portion of the population a power that they have not realistically earned and thus do not deserve. Not even the hallowed process of democracy is beyond err and thus cannot be trusted with the power to force societal uniformity.
Yet again the uniformity attained through force is demonstrative of the fact that coercion persists under an assumption of complete unquestionable certainty. Logically the only means by which to justify such a state of accord is if we could ascertain objectively the correct answer, the correct beliefs, and the correct course of action. 100% similitude can only be legitimately attained if we possess 100% proof. However, this proof shall forever remain an unachievable concept, an unachievable goal. Thus, anyone who enforces his will uniformly over a populace is committing the most egregious of follies.
In comparison, lacking absolute answers to life's question, a healthy free society exists in a state of heterogeneous contradiction. The landscape of belief and action are shaped by the opinions of all component individuals. In a completely free nation issues have no victors, and questions have no universally held answers. This is the only state of affairs that acquiesces to the notion that truth cannot be known. Might, be it autocratic or democratic, does not make right, as a free society is shaped not by an arbitrarily propped up of portion of the populace, but instead by its summation.
Essentially, a free society's form is decided in vote that far out strips any democratically proclaimed equality. Simply, if 51% of the population believe action A is correct, and 49% believe action B is correct (assuming neither action is coercive in nature), 51% of society will do A, and 49% will do B. Society shall never be anything more than a mere compilation of individuals. Thus, we should not allow when it comes to societal composition, any individual, group, or majority to speak through the conduit of coercion louder than their own ordained voice. Only if fettered by the constraints of liberty will the ambitious and power hungry be prevented from assuming more power than they are voluntarily granted. If we were to view society as an organism, if free, it has no brain.
In order to more thoroughly explain the value of liberty it is first necessary to take a closer look at the agent of civilization, solitary individuals. Despite certainty being an unreachable plateau, we as individuals cannot live in a perpetual state of indecision. Practically, each and every one of us needs to accept certain statements as true. From my experience I believe the apple is red, and I go forward based on this belief. Our life is a journey of discovery, a journey that constantly cultivates our own personal vision of truth and knowledge.
However we must remember that we do not embark on this odyssey unequipped, as we enter the world with the wisdom of our genetic heritage. This baggage is embodied by our emotions and instincts. It is both our inborn and acquired beliefs that are the emotive force behind our actions, though they are not always verbalized. Nevertheless, our actions speak louder than words, as the path we precede down makes an indisputable commentary on what we fundamentally hold to be true. The bundle of assumptions that direct our day to day comings and goings can be characterized as our base beliefs. These derivatives of our actions, whether consciously understood or not, are fundamental parts of our personal identity, and could be described as the rules by which we live. 7 They are the compass we, if given the freedom, follow throughout our lives. No action is without purpose.8
Some respond to the previous declaration with the claim that certain actions are without reason, and that in fact much what we do is the consequences of unmotivated impulse. This opinion is invalid, as even decisions of a completely irrational nature fall back on the wisdom of our genetic past. When or actions follow emotions and instincts, it expresses an implicit opinion that our gut level beliefs are of more value than reason and rationality. In such instances we follow the compass endowed by our ancestors, rather then the contraption that has been crafted by experience.
We must remember that rationality is not inherently of more merit then irrationality. Rationality to, in the final analysis, is not fact but more aptly defined as an educated guess. Reason, just like emotion, is colored by our irrational belief in certain unsupported assumptions. Thus, following the former argument, we cannot declare actions that are based on rationality as always superior to those derived from irrational instincts. That which is reasonable is not necessarily true, and that which is unreasonable is not necessarily false.
A free society is predicated on the intrinsic equality of our base beliefs. Individual may only hold similar opinions do to similarity of judgment, but when free this similarity will not occur by artificial coercion. We now must ask, in such a scenario of liberty, what form will the societal organism take. Summed up concisely the answer is, if each individual goes forth in the manner most in line with his own personal code of conduct, society as a whole becomes the summation of the innumerable resultant interactions. A society, whether it is made up of free individuals or not, cannot be without characteristics. However, unlike when freedom is not present, a nation possessing liberty derives its shape from the entire immensity of its constituents, not just an arbitrarily designated section.
Decisions in a free environment are made in a decentralized manner, as there exists no centralize directing authority. This is again derived from the truly egalitarian nature of a free society. The value of such a decentralized mechanism has been intuitively understood since the days of Adam Smith, but however has only recently been articulated by the newly burgeoning field of complexity theory. Generally, when you have a mass of agents acting under the direction of a simple set of rules, higher level behavior not present in the agents themselves will result. 10
A textbook example would be what occurs within a termite colony.11 Each termite is reacting to a simple stimulus, smell other termite spit dirt, yet somehow when millions of such agents act in accord they possess the ability to create structures that, when compared to termite body size, are greater than the largest of skyscraper. The whole demonstrates characteristics that are by no means evident in its components; the sum does not equal the parts.
The science of biology is the product of a similar phenomenon. Individually, each molecule is governed by the microlaws of chemistry. Yet when millions of these agents swarm together, the macrolaws of biology, and life itself, emerge. The microlaws of chemistry still apply on this larger playing field, but are just insufficient to explain and predict the new complex emergent behavior. However, the pattern does not stop there. One sphere higher the now microlaws of biology beget the macrolaws of psychology, the science of human beings. Higher still from the microlaws of psychology, springs the macrolaws of economics, the science of society. It is this level of complexity that we currently dwell upon.
A free society is composed of a mass of independent agent individuals. The set of rules, what I have termed our base beliefs, may be more complex than those of termites, but this fact only seems to predict emergent phenomenon of greater scope. A free society and a free economy are on a sphere beyond the comprehension of those that compose it. It is truly a sum greater than its parts. Asking man to understand the complexities of swarm phenomenon he himself gives rise to, is equivalent to asking a cell, the agent from which psychology is derived, to understand the works of Freud.12
All others modes of governance, except for those of complete freedom, though crafted with the best of intentions, inherently alter and destroy complex emergent machinery, machinery that is in no need of a mechanic. The miracles of a free society are derived from our intrinsic freedom, our intrinsic lack of control, and thus all attempts to alter this condition of liberty will bring the workings of a free economy to a screeching halt. Only when government does not tamper with the freedom of individuals, is the emergent power of society and mankind as a whole truly harnessed. It is through the conduit of freedom that humanity will gain the power to reach the astounding heights of our true potential.
This true potential can be seen in the self regulating power of a free market. Somehow from a mass of self interested individuals, emerges a greater whole that possesses characteristics that are not existent in its parts. Nearly the whole discipline of economics is an attempt to describe beneficial phenomenon that, though not evident in solitary people, becomes evident when they are allowed to interact unfettered. Many have catalogued the benefits of a free economy, and it is not my current purpose to rehash those accounts. Instead I hope to finally put into words a sentiment that has been around since the Wealth of Nations was first penned, and were championed by the likes of FA Hayek. The invisible hand which forces all of us to benefit the greater whole despite our own personal selfish intentions, typifies the type of nonlinear emergent behavior that can only exist when individuals possess the freedom of both expression and interaction. It is from this fountainhead that all the counterintuitive wonders of Capitalism spring.
The distribution of power in a free society is but another manifestation of this emergent nature. While we all possess the inherent right to control our own actions, so to can we choose to follow outside persuasion. If we are to be free in the fullest sense of the word, we must not only have the ability to live as autonomous individuals, but also be allowed to voluntarily enter into the domain of others.13 At the moment of birth all are truly equal, however, as each second elapses, through voluntary consent, we amass steadily increasing differences. Freedom denies communist naiveté, as it admits that if individuals are given the power to choose their own actions, inevitably an uncompelled but uneven distribution of power will result.
As stated earlier, when we make interpersonal behavior prerequisites for our happiness, we essentially lose ability to independently bring about our own contentment. However, this authority, lost by voluntary choice, does not simply evaporate but is instead is transferred. Basically, when individuals by preference tie their ideal existence to your actions, you personally accrue power. For example, say there is someone of much charisma, who men and women alike wish to gain praise and esteem from. Substantial numbers will willfully alter their actions in hope of impressing this individual, and thus it can be said that in a sense our example member of humanity gains partial control over their actions. Our highlighted person, through their prestige and debonair, has gained substantially larger quantities of influence, when compared to what he was originally born with. This is not the ill gotten gains of coercion but instead legitimate earnings brought about by free decision.
When allowed the freedom to interact without interference the power of a society is distributed by the summation of these acts of submission and domination. The distribution of power becomes an emergent phenomenon, as it is dolled out through the combined wisdom of an entire civilization. Authority will not be distributed based on the arbitrary decisions of those who happen to possess the largest guns, but instead by the aggregate accrual of many willful and voluntary choices. If we were to characterize society as mind, our voluntary choices serve as segments of this societal brain from which the larger organ arises. I would argue that this is a substantially more effective means by which to allot sway. Power must exist, and I believe that this emergent group thinks method is the most sensible tool of apportionment.
Now we cannot forget that true freedom again involves the right of voluntary abdication. Just I can deliberately choose to follow the lead of someone I admire, I can too, consistent with the bounds of liberty, decide to rid myself of a portion of my person. In theory, if I so desire, I have freedom to trade away my limbs. More realistically this has applications in the fact that we may trade, give, or gift the sections of our identity born of our behavior. In essence, our property will forever be at our whim. If I wish to have a pear tree, rather than the apple tree I myself planted, I can make efforts to procure such a transaction. It is equally totalitarian to declare that people cannot give away their own body or specifically their property, as it is to declare that they must.
Practically this fact unearths another means by which a person could attain sway over the actions of others. If I, by my own choice, decide that one of your possessions is to be the object of my desire, it can be said that you hold a form of partial control over my actions. When I alter my course, or chose to trade a portion of my property for your Corvette, you have gained a semblance of power. My desire for your Corvette has molded the way I act in such away that some of my inborn authority is transferred. If you wish to gain that which is not your own, you relinquish some of your innate autonomy.
Wealth then is essentially representative of the potential to influence. If you have lots of possessions, than more people in all likelihood will manipulate and change their behavior in the hopes of gaining a section of your external proprietal identity. This interplay can be seen throughout the free market. Money is in its essence, liquefied property, property that has been altered in order to make trade more conducive. Thus, the demand for your creation from the society, or more aptly termed the compilation of its component of individuals, can be measured by how much money you receive for your property. You attain wealth only through the creation of a product that society deems to be wanted and necessary. Basically, if Bill Gates makes 100 million dollars in revenue, it can be said that society has valued Microsoft at level equivalent to 100 million dollars. Dollars, Pounds, and Euros are the units by which civilizations measures worth. This illustrates how money, just like power, in a free society is not distributed in arbitrary manner, but instead in line with the worth anointed by a summation of free individuals. Again each individual through his willful actions acts one agent in a swarm, a swarm from which higher level phenomenon arise.
Freedom, like all theoretical concepts, will face certain difficulties when implemented in our real world. If all were willing to submit and accept the legitimacy of freedom, indeed no state would be necessary. However in all likelihood this will not occur for the foreseeable future and thus certain precaution must be taken. In this world rife with corruptive coercive power, those who believe in the worth of liberty must actively attempt to safeguard it from attack. This being understood, one of the most pressing concerns is what mode of government, would most aptly protect and maintain the condition of freedom.
I am of the opinion in a truly free society there are only three essential functions that must be performed by the state's coercive hand: the police, the courts, and the military. The police are necessary to protect our freedom against non-believing criminals. Law enforcement is to simply apprehend those individuals who, in violation of our innate freedom of action, force their will upon others. The army is to perform a similar function. However, rather than protecting us from home grown megalomaniacs, the armed forces' duty is to defend the borders of liberty against non-believing foreign aggressors. Finally courts will be necessary to prove the guilt of these foreign and domestic enemies. They are to uphold a simplistic set of laws and regulations, all of which must be directly derived from our intrinsic liberty of action. They are merely to deliberate with the aim of discerning if a defendant has violated the fundamental right of another.
A potential means by which to fund these organizations is a voluntary tax. Essentially, if you wish to receive protections from the previously described institutions, it would be necessary that you pay for their operation. You have every right not to fund such edifices, but if you get robbed or coerced you will not receive protection. This taxing apparatus, though not perfect, is very consistent with the ideal of freedom, as ones entry into a nation would be unforced. In a sense such tax would be comparable to a membership fee, where if an individual wishes to join a free nation and gain all the protections that such citizenship would entail, it would be only necessary that they pay a tax to fund the three essential pillars of government.
Nevertheless, one potential problem may lie in the fact that the protection given by the military is uniform, and cannot be doled out to only specific individuals. However, this could be solved by tying the decision to fund law enforcement with the choice to fund the armed forces. Thus, if you wished to gain the protection of the police, you would also have to pay for the operation of the military. This problem however demonstrates how the financing of a free government is an issue of much complexity, and I do not pretend to hold all the answers. This question, and the method by which to officers would be selected, undoubtedly should be treated more thoroughly in future literature. These problems, though immensely important, are not the prime focus of this current text.
These governmental institutions are in a sense a free society's response to the threat posed by those who still believe in their prerogative to inflict their will upon others. Just as individuals who do not believe in liberty can legitimately hold this contrarian opinion, the vanguard of freedom can justifiably enact measures to prevent the violation of their autonomy by these coercive souls. If liberty is to survive the attacks of those who support the iron fist of coercion, these aggressors must be met with a response of equal if not stronger might. This response shall be carried out through the tools of police, military, and courts.
However, if the funding of such institutions is parlayed through a voluntary tax, these functions of the state need not be permanent. As individuals feel that their rights are sufficiently safe, they may find no incentive to continue consenting to such a tax. Conceivable as times goes on, if liberty is without threat, these institutions will erode away, with the nation collapsing into an anarchic utopia. Though such conditions of safety appear to be far from feasible in our current timeframe, they are worthy goals of aspiration.
The Potential Problem
We must not forget that the existence of these governmental organizations allows for a wide array of potential abuses. As the state is to be the guardian of the only legal use of force, we must view such power with apprehension, and fear. In reality, there exists no fool proof method to prevent those with the largest guns, though they lack consent, from assuming power. Even in the United States, the so called bastion of anti-autocratic democracy, there is no tangible entity preventing the army from staging a coup and turning the constitution into smoldering ash. American democracy is built upon a popular sentiment, and without this support the constitution is nothing but a piece of 200 year old parchment. The unstable nature of democracy can be seen in the many nations of the developing world, who despite professing an outward belief in majoritarian institutions, lack the necessary inertia to prevent their overthrow by particularly ambitious generals.
The general point that this fact is attempting to illustrate is that all governments based on principles contrary to might makes right lay on an unsteady foundation. Humanities most easily attained form of rule will always be autocratic. This propensity can be allayed by the separation of power into different segments of government, but it can never be completely eliminated. Thus for a truly free government, like all even partially non-coercive governments, to prosper it will be necessary that there exists wide spread acceptance of the ideal. Such a truly free government would be more apt to succeed in the developed world, or more specifically in the freedom oriented Anglo-Saxon nations of America, Great Britain and Australia. These countries are best situated to lead the charge towards liberty.
Freedom is acceptance of our inborn right to follow our own personal compass, our own base beliefs, when traveling down the unalterable road of life. However, as mentioned repeatedly when operating in an arena absent of such freedom, the rules of the game are inoperably changed. A lone protector of liberty, surrounded by aggressors, is not obligated to protect the rights of these offenders. In the same sense, as we live currently in an environment of much oppression, drastic measures may be necessary in order to bring about a state of liberty. Though, the vanguard of freedom must act with caution when choosing which nation to attempt such a government, this hesitancy cannot prevent our fist from falling indefinitely. Those that truly believe in the value of liberty, must be willing to bear the sacrifice necessary to bring about its birth, no matter what form such a sacrifice takes. We all must, by any means necessary, throw off the yoke of those that deny mankind its innate freedom, as until this occurs liberty, and in essence humanity itself, cannot truly blossom.
LOVERS OF LIBERTY of all Countries, UNITE!
1 Descartes Mediations
2 Their does exist the tricky question that under this logic many would argue that a parent do indeed own his children, as their existence is the result of their labor. In fact, this view has been held by many societies at many times, and I am in no position to declare it fundamentally wrong. However, it is my personal opinion that this form of human ownership is fundamentally different as it occurs between two equals, two source of self originating action. In fact until a child is of a certain capacity it is universally held that he is for all practical purposes owned by his parents. He is not free until he is an adult. A fully functioning adult's equality with his parents differentiates this type of ownership from say the owning of a dog.
3 However, if we could see the world through the lens of a God, and observe the Universe for what it truly is, we potentially could discover fact and truth. Human beings pursuit for truth can be likened to a blind man attempting to find a path, even if we find our desired destination we would not be aware. If I had a perfect lens, rather than the imperfect conduit of our senses, then objectivity would exist within the realm of possibility. Reality must possess some characteristics, though our knowledge of them can never be proven. Even if the universe is a mere subjective creation of a slumbering mind, than knowledge of this condition is the objective truth of the world. Regardless, this fact is of little worth and importance, as our status as mere mortals will undoubtedly exclude this objectivity into the indefinite future.
4 The debate over whether or not opinions can ever be objective fact, or whether everything is relative to the individual is currently irrelevant. Even if the world is objective I can never truly know it, so I must act as if my statements are subjective. Whether they really are subjective is another topic.
5 Actually that is exactly what this essay is attempting to do.
6 Be it 1%, 10%, or 51%
7 Whether our actions and opinions are influenced by free will is not relevant to our current question. All that matters is that which is us, whether it consists of some independent soul, or is merely a product of its environment, holds these base beliefs to be true.
8 I am personally of the school that we are directed by a self interest similar to the one described by Maslow. I believe that much of our actions and thus our base beliefs are derived from our desire to fulfill our needs. However, this is opinion is based on personal experience rather than hard empiricism.
9 My theory of emergence is not an original concept. It can be founded in a myriad of sources, and is widely understood and implemented.
10 A simplified reason for this nonlinear emergence is specialization. Essentially, when you separate something into a mass of competing autonomous parts you what occurs is similar to the gains achieved by an assembly line. When you centrally try to make decisions for the entire whole you are forced to make poor compromises, you must be good at everything and great at nothing. However when the power of decision is portioned out to competing sections, each part becomes specialized in its particular niche. Through the pursuit of their own selfish benefit each agent experience coevolution as it becomes uniquely suited for its surroundings. Again just like an assembly line since each part is most effective at their particular task the whole benefits.
11 This example is taken from the book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steve Johnson.
12 We do have a limited understanding of this higher sphere, through economics. However anyone who has ever taken even an entry level econ course realizes that such knowledge comes about through gross simplifications. Economists very rarely agree on policy or predictions.
13 However this is not true dominion as it is still a choice. Power is still distributed equally, as everyone can only independently chose the actions of their own person. The choices of our followers still rely on their choice of voluntary submission and thus cannot be initiated independently. If I chose to follow the direction of someone else, I can still be said to have control of my actions, based on the fact my course is still personally controlled.