L. Neil Smith's
Number 239, September 21, 2003

Evil is as Evil Does

Liberty, security, and safety
by E. J. Totty

Exclusive to TLE

Safety and security are just two terms that mean "convenience." But, neither safety nor security can be had without Liberty. It is convenient to say that safety or security can be had only at the expense of liberty, and this is so because those who accrue to themselves power which is not theirs, will demand that liberty is less important than what its effects may produce.

This is not unlike the Marxists/communists/socialists proclaiming that equal wealth may be had by all by simply "redistributing" all private wealth by making it public. However, what the aforementioned fail to understand is that by equal distribution of a thing, there arrives that condition of "zero difference" and that directly leads to economic stasis. The analog in the physical world of things is absolute zero — the temperature at which nothing moves: All particles are at the exact same physical state.

If nobody ever has anything more — or less — than anyone else, then by what mechanism may the any form of specie (regardless) proceed to generate any degree difference such that any thing is worth more than another thing? By dint of the above polities, a diamond would be worth a grain of rice, even though rice is by far magnitude upon magnitude upon magnitude extremely more in abundance: Rarity would be equal to abundance.

In the Marxist/communist/socialist world of things, all wealth is absolute: Nothing is worth more or less than anything else. In the Capitalist world of things, all wealth is relative: You get what you pay for.

If the effects of liberty are the variables of safety and security — as needed, then to proclaim the effects may be had without the cause, is ludicrous in the extreme. Again, if you are not free to choose, then how could you have either? If you do not have access to the mechanism which produces those, then they cannot exist except by artifice, and caprice, neither are any aspect of liberty.

One might profess that either of the former is as a result of surrendering the latter, but that simply cannot be true, for when one surrenders the right to choose, then one has no right to determine anything: How could one have either safety or security, if one has not the liberty to determine just how much safety or security one desires? If you are not free to choose, then how could you be either safe or secure?

Ergo the Franklin argument: He who would give up essential liberty for little extra security, deserves nether security nor liberty. If you give up the former, you cannot have the latter.

Essentially, it is a matter of concepts: The idea that one is somehow less threatened by allowing someone else to provide that which the individual should rightly provide for himself. Consider: If we were to surrender to the state all ability to earn a living, then the state would be charged with providing for us — would it not?

Unequivocally, it would mean that we would be dependent upon the state for our daily bread — and in fact — for our very existence. But, what if the state didn't carry through with that promise? How could that be entertained as "safe" or "secure" (because we did surrender our choice in the matter ...)?

What if the "state" decides that we are no longer useful — what then? If we have surrendered our liberty for state provided "safety & security," then what we have is neither of the latter, and nothing of the former. How could one be safe — or secure, when the government decides to act capriciously, in the name of whatever the de jure idea of the moment may be?

How does one trade a condition of existence for concepts of that existence? Liberty is that which describes a condition of unrestrained living at your own expense. Safety is a concept which — if carefully evaluated — can never totally exist, even when we are completely free. Actually, safety is the slippery slop upon which all tyranny originates, because it is used as the excuse to remove the essential liberty of the individual by degrees — continually.

Actually, if you are unsafe while being totally free, you will be even less safe while being less free, because you will have less of a choice about that condition of safety.

One can never be entirely safe, and security is only as good as what exists at any given moment: They are the sliding scales of a variable set of circumstances. Therefore & therefor, both safety and security are mere concepts, whereas liberty is a fact of existence: Either you are free, or you aren't — there really are no other conditions of existence. The only degree of "safety" that may exist is that which manifests itself in both the individual's desire and actual acts designed to restrain and/or repel attacks upon him which would diminish his freedom.

But wait: Just what is "safe"? Is a free individual ever safe? Never! If a free individual can never be safe, then what good is liberty?

The quandary is solved by observing the less than free individual: Is he safe?

The idea of "safety" is predicated upon being free from a certain condition. Actually, the terms "safety" and "security" are predicated upon the idea of some kind of "threat." Without any threat, there is no need for security, or safety, as why would you seek either if there were no threat of any kind?

If the "police" cannot be with you 100% of the time, then what good are they? Threats exist 24/7 ... If they ARE with you 100% of the time, but are in effect going to murder you, then what good are they? Anyone who can protect you from a threat, is also able to allow — or enable — your demise via that same threat.

Ergo, the only people who are seen as weak at the hands of the state, are those who pass all of their defence into the hands of that state. If you cannot defend yourself, then are you not helpless? If you are helpless, then you are not free, and if you are not free, then you cannot be safe or secure, because you cannot bring about either of those conditions.

If any organ of government cannot provide you with either safety or security 100% of the time — without becoming a threat in the process, then what good are they? You do pay for them ...


Search Amazon.com for ANY Book

In Association with Amazon.com

Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates. We cheerfully accept donations!

to advance to the next article
to return to the previous article
Table of Contents
to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 239, September 21, 2003