“Libertarianism: The radical notion that other people are not your property.”
We don’t know who first authored those words, but we’ve noticed the pithy meme doing the rounds on social media sites again recently.
Could people finally be catching on? Probably only the “radicals”…
It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? A kind of “do unto others…but not without their consent.”
Of course, there are other ways to express this basic principle: live and let live… to each his own and his own to each… and, our personal favorite, mind your own [insert expletive of choice here] business…
Alas, some people cannot leave well enough alone. They feel the need, the impulsion, the “hand of history,” as a conspicuously invertebrate British politician once described it, to intervene… to “do something.”
Whether or not that something is the moral thing is, to their mind, beside the point. Just so long as it is not nothing…
And therein lies the root problem with every brand of collectivism, be it socialism, republicanism, monarchism et alia. Each and every machination is, in one way or another, inherently coercive. That is, they all rely on the initiation of force against another.
So, you try to mind your own business. You try to live a quiet and decent life…but there’s always someone telling you there’s a better way: their way.
Oh, and they require your money and/or person to realize their utopian dreamscape. No permission asked. No consent necessary.
But what about self-ownership? What about the non-aggression principle? What about “live and let live” and all that (apparently) uncommon sense stuff?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought he found a neat little justification for State violence: The “Social Contract” he called it in his waffling, 18th century treatise of the same name.
In a nutshell, the Social Contract holds that, because we are considered part of “society,” we must therefore accept the terms — whatever they may be — of said “society.” In other words, Rousseau posits an implicit consent on the part of the individual to be governed by the State…simply because the State exists, and because the majority have willed it so.
Of course, thoughtful individuals recognize that truth doesn’t derive from consensus. Truth is not subject to opinion, whether that opinion happens to be favored by a royal minority or held in the collective palm of the sweaty majority.
Recall that it was the Ancient Greeks that bestowed democracy on the Western World… shortly before they used it put their greatest philosopher, Socrates, to death, by a vote of 280 – 220. (Recall, too, the charges against Socrates – “Corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens” and impiety, or “not believing in the gods of the State.”)
Call it “tyranny of the mob-jority.”
But what kind of agreement is this “Social Contract” anyway? A “contract” that makes up for lack of consent by simply presupposing it, is no contract at all. What court of true justice would uphold such a flimsy non-agreement… besides one owned and operated by the beneficiaries of such an absurd ruling?
Not that the enthusiastic Genevan is to blame any more than the Ancient Greeks. Rousseau was simply building on the misguided works of previous meddlers. Hobbes, for example, gave men’s rights to the government. Locke gifted them to God (But which God? Interpreted by whom? And what for the agnostics?)
Few thinkers throughout history have proven brave enough to leave individual sovereignty where it belongs… in the hands of free men themselves.
Ah, but what about man vs. nature, you may be wondering? What about the Hobbesian notion of a life without government as being, necessarily, “nasty, brutish and short?”
Hobbes argued that, without the State, men would descend into a tyranny all of their own making. The State, therefore, is required to “maintain order.” But is this really true? Are we simply to take Hobbes’ word for it, to give away our most precious freedom – self-ownership – because of an arrogant, violent supposition?
Is there any hope, in other words, for self-governing men and women? The State — along with its favored class of crony banksters, faux economists, prattling politicians, warmongers, tax attorneys, social parasites and the rest of their rotten ilk — has long feasted on the wealth and toil of the “free” and productive class.
So long have they feasted, in fact, that they now control all the guns, all the courts and all the cages.
How, then, to buck the “Statist-quo,” to rage against the dying of freedom’s sweet light?
For starters, we needn’t take to the streets in acts of angry teenage rebellion, the preferred historical strategy of the young and the reckless. The streets, as government apologists never cease to remind us, are the State’s home court advantage. Rather, it falls to peaceful, voluntary individuals to actively withdraw the consent that those in power so righteously claim of them.
Those who feed off and control the State depend on its growth for their survival. Productive individuals do not. Better, then, that we focus on building our own, decentralized society, a dynamic economy that stretches beyond political borders, replete with all the goods and services the market demands and that cooperative, profit-seeking individuals are only too happy to provide.
That means, at a minimum, leveraging the asymmetrical advantage of mass information dissemination, i.e., the Internet. Not since Johannes Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press catalyzed the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution, have ordinary individuals had such a powerful tool for disruption at their disposal.
Specifically, this means investing in and developing peer-to-peer technology, which is already flourishing in the areas of direct loans, property rental, cybercurrency, startup fundraising, employment opportunities, micro-donations, dispute resolution tribunals, escrow services, land registries and entertainment… to name but a few mushrooming cyber-economics.
This we do instead of feeding existing and entrenched corporations currently hiring the gun of the state to protect, by force, their own fattened interests in each of the aforementioned sectors.
We reclaim our own freedom, in other words, with cooperation instead of coercion. With ideas instead of edicts. With voluntarism instead of violence.
Peel back the layers of any Statist argument and you will quickly discover, at its cold dark heart, the notion that you do not own your self. You are, to some degree, the property of another. As such, you are to be ruled, governed, harassed, intimidated, harangued, invigilated, searched, censored and taxed in whichever way the owner deems to be “in the interest of society.”
Such a brutish proposition is enough to make the questioning individual cry… or laugh… or both. Either way, the Statists’ message is clear: Free men are not to be trusted with their own lives.
It is time to tell these people to mind their own [insert expletive of choice here] business. We have an entire world to build, and precious little time to burn on violence and destruction.
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