I do not surrender my treasures, nor do I share them. The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass and flung to the winds as alms for the poor of the spirit. I guard my treasures: my thought, my will, my freedom. And the greatest of these is freedom.
I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them. I ask none to live for me, nor do I live for any others. I covet no man's soul, nor is my soul theirs to covet.
-Ayn Rand, Anthem
Words Get Around II
The following is something I posted at RN in response to this article:
(Mad dope props to Ayn Rand for inspiration)
Any system which aims to respect individual liberty must accept that society (or the greater good, or the majority) is built up from the basic unit of the individual. There must also be the recognition that no group of individuals -- be it a group of only two individials, or of all other individuals -- has any special rights of its own; and it certainly has no superior rights over the individual. Put briefly: society has no rights; government has no responsibility to safeguard society. The term "social contract" clouds the truth that government is basically a contract between the individual and his government; society itself has no political-cum-legal substance, with no rights, privileges, or responsibilities of its own.
Society must be allowed to take whatever course it will, regardless of the outcome. Representative government is founded on the principle that the constituency deserves whatever it votes for, and should be allowed to freely choose its fate. Society must be treated -- respected -- in the same way: whatever society as a whole wants, society as a whole should get.
In other words, government is assumed to be more responsible than the individual -- even though the enormous mass of human history has proven the reverse. Misanthropists-as-socialists do not trust people; and since according to human nature they must trust in something to make things right, they place their trust in government. Beware those who would take away responsibility from the individual, for they are putting responsibility into the one human institution which least deserves it: government, which has the power to arrest or even kill those who dare violate the tyranny guarding the current social ideal.
-Lo Bastido, on individual freedom and the negatives of socialism
Words Get Around II
- Property damage and theft
- Copyright and patent infringement
- Breach of contract
All these activities violate one fundamental precept: that we all have the rights to our own bodies and property, and nothing else. (None of us, of course, have any rights toward other people's bodies and property.) The principle is that adults of sound mind may consent to activities with other adults with no interference from government except as an arbiter in case of dispute.
-Lo Bastido, on the five areas gov't are needed
Free Market News
Tibor R. Machan
The Libertarian Perspective #75 Tue, 24 Oct 2006
The Common Good
I have a better idea. Let Democrats, Republicans, and the rest recover the powerful idea that got the country going in the first place, one laid out pretty neatly in the Declaration of Independence. This idea is that the common good is pursued precisely when government does what justifies its existence—namely, secure our rights. That, indeed, is THE common good in the American political tradition.
There are millions of disparate "goods" that individuals pursue, but only one unites them, only one is their common good: the protection of their fundamental individual rights. This was part of the revolutionary idea that animated the Founders and put the country in opposition to so many others, including those in Europe from which so many of its initial population fled.
In most countries throughout human history the idea was promoted that there is a rich common good, a whole slew of objectives that everyone must pursue. In other words, the common good was really the collective goods of all the people, as if they really did share goods galore that they needed to promote. The one-size-fits-all mentality was encouraged by rulers, monarchs, tsars, and the rest who needed to hoodwink us into thinking that their goals are really our goals and we cannot really, individually, have goals of our own. That was the common good–the leaders' good peddled for the rest as their good, too.
The American Founders, guided by the classical liberal social-political philosophies of John Locke and company, saw through this. They realized that in a big country, the millions of inhabitants share but very few goods. (Of course, small associations—churches, clubs, corporations, professional groups and so forth—can have some common objectives all right. But no such common good or objective exists for the millions of us!) And the most important—probably, in fact, only—common good we share is the protection of our individual rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It's the one good that's indeed good for us all, that we have in common.
If government, which is instituted to secure these rights, does its job right, it will stick to little more than making sure that everyone's liberty is safe. Why? Because then all the millions of different individuals, and some of the groups they voluntarily form amongst themselves, will quite successfully embark on the task of pursuing all those goods that suit them. Securing our rights does that for us!
But today's public pundit-intellectuals don't get it. They want to find some thick public good—a whole, humongous basket of allegedly common goods—that government will set out to achieve. And they are surprised that there isn't such a basket; in a largely free society people have their own basket of proposed goods they want to obtain for themselves. And this isn't because they are selfish and will not make sacrifices—notice how looking out for yourself is being demeaned in Tomasky's call to arms—but because even in what they consider appropriate objectives for which sacrifices should be made the citizenry differs significantly. They don't need having one idea of what's worthy of a sacrifice shoved down their throats. No, they want to choose those objectives, as well as the ways of making the sacrifices for them if need be.
Maybe the Democrats—and Republicans—ought to recover the Founders' vision. Then they wouldn't have to concoct an impossible one behind which they cannot manage to unite folks.
Strike the Root
Libertarians in general knew government had every motivation to grow in size and intrusiveness and lacked any real deterrent against doing so. The Libertarian Party represented a growing understanding that force or the threat of force, in whatever form, was required to maintain control of a population increasingly aware of the illegitimacy of so much government in their lives. Most people simply wish to be left alone, but government cannot leave them alone. Men in uniforms with shiny badges and seal-embossed parchments demanding service to “The King” have always been accompanied by the threat of violence for non-compliance.
The Revolution between the ears won’t take place all at once, but it will take place overnight. One morning everything will be different. Government actions against the people in the form of laws like the USA PATRIOT Act, surveillance of the innocent, controls on communications and the supposed dominion over one's body are creating an explosive environment, and the central planners know it. These police state tactics are not for our protection from outside threats, but for the protection of government from the American people. Government limits on our ability to seek redress and physically defend against tyranny are increasing -- an outcome predicted for decades by libertarians.
There are reasons to avoid being in public office these days. I firmly believe there will be at least a metaphorical guillotining of public officials responsible for destroying the American Dream for tens of millions of Americans. And I do not wish to be affiliated with those standing in line for their turn to have the lever pulled on their fate. I have absolutely no political goal other than to be left alone. My whole family and large circle of friends have invested a great deal of time, effort and money to that end. But I don't see wielding the power of elective office as a path to that goal.
While content to focus my efforts at home in Arizona , I have become increasingly aware of those with a great desire to be a “respected member” of the very system we oppose. The claim that one needs positions of power in order to free individuals is very troubling. We should be the Hobbits who do not seek power over others, and are willing to make great investments to ensure being left alone. Changing the hands on the levers of power won’t eliminate the levers. The abandonment of the principled foundation of libertarianism now would be disastrous and leave us with nothing of value to distinguish us from our ideological competition.
And while most libertarians would welcome a return to the size of government allowed by the US Constitution as championed in the Federalist Papers, many recognize that this document created the opportunity for the powerful central government we oppose today. The liberty-minded people of the American Revolution were profoundly ambivalent about the US Constitution, and detailed their concerns in the Anti-Federalist Papers. What good are checks and balances when all three branches of government are aligned against the rights of the individual? The Bill of Rights was the libertarian compromise. These ten “Thou Shalt Nots” of government was the deal made to avoid conflict. But the document has proven to be binding only on the people, in our forced support of our present government, while every single one of the Bill of Rights is constantly violated without hesitation by government. I am certain that I am not the only one wondering when this “social contract” will finally be declared null and void.