In the acrimonious political atmosphere of the early twenty-first century, where Obama fans desperately defend their latter-day Luke Skywalker at all costs and without much introspection, where authoritarian conservatives fall back to their contrived small-government script and where the middle just wants to know what’s in it for them, those few of us talking about liberty and refusing to choose between the Tweedledee-Tweedledum, false dichotomy of Republicrats and Demopublicans or liberty and security tend to get funny looks when we’re not outright ignored as incomprehensible ideologues.
Liberty Underpins Both Teams
However, both right and left desperately need to recognize the value of liberty. Liberty – the freedom from your fellow man to do what you think best for yourself as long as you don’t initiate force against anyone else – underpins their very existence. Without liberty, the distinction between liberals and conservatives evaporates, since the freedom to discover, hold, advocate for, practice, defend and financially support your principles presupposes the liberty to do so!
Stop Fighting over the Gun
So when you fail to challenge this system whereby certain people doing business as “The Government” claim the right to limit your liberty for your own good, but instead validate it by fighting over:
- which little dictator gets to give you orders;
- which little dictator should be removed from power;
- which inefficient, pork-laden “program” to benefit the friends of the little dictators you should force each other to pay for;
- which innocent foreign people to initiate force against, when and with which overly-devastating and expensive weapons to be produced by which friends of the little dictators;
- which of your liberties the little dictators should infringe upon; and
- which friends of the little dictators should get the property you worked so hard for that they took from you with a credible threat of force,
You Bring Closer the Day of your Destruction
What you are really doing is acting against yourself and the very principles you hold so dearly. By validating the people who do business as “The Government” – an entity that can only violate your liberties, never give you any – and the forceful actions it takes to get what it wants, you erase your own right to dispose of your property and act freely however you see fit, thereby bringing closer the day when you, the ones you love and the ideals that guide your life will be trampled underfoot by drooling legions of lock-step government-lovers who think they know what is best for you and have the right to force it down your throat, no matter what principles you hold dear.
A Thought Experiment
Let’s say you have a favorite government program. Maybe it’s Social Security, the police, the war on terror or public education. Do you really want the government program? Or the value that it provides? If you like Social Security, you want to be secure in your old age, and because you care about your fellow man, you want that security for them, too. If you like the war on terror, you don’t want to see innocent people harmed, you just want to be safe from attack and for the terrorists to be brought to justice.
Imagine all the Good
These are admirable and worthy goals. You rejoice at the idea of seeing them implemented. Imagine all the good that would come out of it and how much better off everyone would be!
Persuasion or Force
You’re faced with two options: use persuasion to convince other people to participate in your program, or use force. If you choose the former, you believe you have equal authority to others. You respect each person’s right to make their own decisions. If you choose force, however, you believe you know better than others what is good for them. You believe you have the right to run other people’s lives and spend their money – even against their will. You agree that “might makes right“.
By Using Force You Contradict Yourself
If you choose the path of force – government – you contradict yourself. You want people to be free to enjoy their retirement, free from terrorist attack, free from theft or free to be productive and enlightened. But when you involve government, you’re also saying “I know better than you what’s good for you. Do as I say, or I will send men with guns to make you do as I say!” The contradiction in this line of thinking is obvious: You want to use force to make people free.
Abjure the Initiation of Force
Abandon the Red Team vs Blue Team partisan games. They serve not only to distract you from the real battle – Liberty vs Servitude – but also to gain your implicit consent for the side of Servitude. Your team is Liberty; nothing good for you can come without it. Don’t let the other team trick you into abandoning it! Don’t affix your personal stamp of approval to your own bondage.