How Anger Ruins Liberty

AngerRuins

The libertarians are right about many things, and the general populace is notably libertarian in many ways. And yet, relatively few people have any interest in the libertarian “movement.” At this point, two or three generations of libertarians have wondered why they couldn’t get more people, but they have few answers, save for being more and more flamboyant.

There are many reasons for the lack of libertarian ideas spreading of course, but my point today is a very simple one:

Libertarians major in anger, and that chases millions of decent people away.

I’m sympathetic, you understand. Once you see what coercive institutions have done to mankind, it’s completely understandable to become angry. But if our writings are a one-note symphony of complaints, we doom ourselves to the fringes, no matter how right our ideas may be. There has to be more than that if we’re going to draw people in.

Doing more of the same things that are failing – but doing them louder and with more “edge” – hasn’t worked. If we want people to receive our ideas, we’ll have to give them a positive image to move toward, and few libertarians ever do that.

Positive Libertarianism?

Yes, positive libertarianism. Please see this article, which makes the case for it pretty directly.

Many libertarians complain simply because it seems to be “the libertarian model.” But that’s a silly reason. And what’s worse is that complaining ties us to the things we complain about. That keeps us from covering new ground and keeps the same old abuses in the forefront of our minds. In other words, it’s a recipe for stasis.

What the World Sees

A young friend of mine is particularly engaged in this issue and recently sent me these comments:

These people are very angry… they all seem to talk with a “screw you” tone of voice and connotations.

People with this philosophy are almost universally lacking in kindness. Perhaps they have it, but they don’t express it in their words.

In my head, the philosophy is a kind one. When you think through the logical implications, you realize that this would produce benefits… but you have to actually tell people that, rather than just say, “Screw you; taxation is theft!”

The delivery of the message is sending people away.

It’s not about the taxes. It’s about people. It’s about respecting and valuing people, and libertarians are really failing at that.

Where Anger Ends Up

I hate to post the following images, but I think they’re important to see. All of these come from the social media feeds of people who boast of “freedom,” “ancap,” “libertarian,” “anti-state,” and so on. This is where anger can lead, and part of the pathology involves picking on women.

HowAngerRuinsLiberty001

 

HowAngerRuinsLiberty002

 

HowAngerRuinsLiberty003

So, why aren’t there more libertarian women?

Yes, I know this isn’t representative of all libertarians (thank God), but the people who post this kind of filth have hundreds of thousands of followers and likes.

So, the libertarian movement has a problem, and at the root of it lies anger.

Anger Is Poison

Let’s get to the bottom of this: Anger, while it may be an understandable response to abuse, is highly toxic if not purged. And it is definitely not suitable as a modus operandi.

Not all libertarians deal in anger, of course, but the many who do are poisoning their own progress. Pointing out evil is fine at times, and occasionally necessary… but not all the time.

If the choir we’re preaching to demands negativity, it’s a choir we need to leave behind. If our “click-numbers” sag, then so be it; if we can’t put goodness above numbers, we’re poisoning  the people who give us their time and attention.

We need to build what’s right, not to complain about what’s wrong.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Moritz’s Journey

It was in 2013 that I first encountered freedom philosophy, after randomly stumbling upon this weirdly beautiful term, “libertarianism,” on a blog in some lonely corner of the Internet. An iTunes search later I was listening to a podcast explaining what is now the cornerstone of my personal ethics: the non-aggression principle.

MsJourney

A very thoughtful friend once told me that I had bypassed teaching some important lessons, simply because I had learned them decades before… that they had passed out of my active consciousness and I was taking them for granted.

So, this week, I’d like to publish an article from someone who is currently young. 🙂

This is the story of a young man named Moritz Bierling. I talk a lot about doing, rather than talking, and I’m please to post this because it’s all about doing.

* * * * *

It was in 2013 that I first encountered freedom philosophy, after randomly stumbling upon this weirdly beautiful term, “libertarianism,” on a blog in some lonely corner of the Internet. An iTunes search later I was listening to a podcast explaining what is now the cornerstone of my personal ethics: the non-aggression principle.

Like so many libertarians before me, I learned about the fact that laws are opinions with a gun, that unencumbered human action in entrepreneurship and science was the cause for prosperity, and that government was not there to protect me; quite the opposite. Going down that never-ending rabbit hole was an intense journey of disorientation, as one firmly held belief after another was exposed as a socially conditioned illusion I had fallen victim to; and the journey continues to this day.

But now that I knew all of this, what was I to do about it?

Deciding what to do had been the result of one year alternating between intellectual exhilaration (when learning something new) and extreme bouts of depression (upon realizing the implications). It took me six more months to follow through on my commitment. On the 26th of September 2014, with €2,000 in my bank account and a gold medal in my hand, I boarded a plane to Santiago, Chile, where I would spend the next two months at an entrepreneurship bootcamp.

What I Found

The eight weeks I spent at the bootcamp were the time when I felt the most alive up to that point in my life. I reflected deeply on the power of radical self-reliance with Emerson, stayed up long nights to code an Android app, and started businesses with some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. I lost and won some money, gained a great deal of experience, and in the process:

All of this was only possible because I was willing to leave behind the well-trodden path, was fortunate to work with trustworthy individuals with whom I shared basic values, and trusted enough in my ability to adapt and to put my money (and time and effort) where my mouth was.

Continuing Adventures

Since I’ve taken that step it hasn’t gotten easier. But living a life of integrity doesn’t make all your problems disappear. If anything, it makes things more difficult, because as you start solving all the little problems you have, bigger ones emerge that were previously hidden.

But then again, isn’t that the only thing worth living for? In the end, what’s the point of saying, “F*** you,” to the world if you’re not going to do anything about the problems you criticize? I very much like this thought:

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

In my conversations with fellow freedom lovers over the past year, I’ve noticed an escalating urgency when talking about expatriation. Many of them are looking to go off the grid, both in literal and metaphorical terms. Indeed, a rather sizable market has developed over the last decade to sell easy solutions to libertarians looking to get out of Dodge. Knowing how bad the situation is, many are so desperate to satisfy their thirst for real freedom that, like travelers in a desert, they are happy to buy snake oil just to whet their palate.

However, solutions to difficult problems are always and ever either difficult or expensive – and often both. So if you understand that there are never easy solutions, what concretely can you do about taking that first step?

In any real change of basic patterns of life, the first step is recognizing that there is nothing in the external world that will make your problems go away. That part always has to come from within yourself.

The second (and much harder) step is taking that plunge and trusting yourself to handle whatever comes your way. You have to get out of your head and manifest your values in the real world in a meaningful way in order to make any progress. If all you do to call yourself a freedom lover is read blogs, comment on YouTube videos, and argue with your coworkers about their politics, you don’t really believe in the power of your ideas. Or you are simply not able to back out of commitments made to family or business partners.

So…

Since making my fateful decision over a year ago, I have come full circle and am now the Hydra Program Manager at Exosphere*. The purpose of our meetings is the same as it has been:

  • To reflect deeply on the most fundamental principles of living a good life through solving your own and other people’s problems;

  • To learn the ins and outs of building and running a business and take the first real steps to get it up and running;

  • To understand and work with several emerging technologies, including virtual reality, drones, biohacking, and 3D printing; and

  • To meet international experts in entrepreneurship, science, and technology.

We only accept people who understand that we don’t have all the answers for them. What we do is offer an environment far away from home where you can focus on building the foundational habits, honing your skills and discipline, and acquiring the network you need to succeed in the long run. Because success is a matter of surviving long enough to get lucky. (And luck can be engineered.)

Adieu

I will leave you with a quote from the post I made the night before my departure from Germany:

My beliefs are simple – yet hard to uphold in a society demanding I cheer for violence. My beliefs are principled – yet no one cares to listen for fear of being a radical. My beliefs are rooted in reality – yet everyone decries me as utopian. My beliefs carry deep emotion – yet I am perceived as uncaring and cold.

Such is the nature of a sick society. Lies are truth, violence is love, sociopathy is leadership, and most important of all, slavery is freedom.

I vow hereby to myself and everyone who cares to know:

I will live to know truth, experience love, achieve meaning, accumulate wisdom, produce value, speak honestly, act virtuously.

**

*Moritz’s Hydra Bootcamp will be held at the Exosphere project headquarters, just off the beach in Viña del Mar, Chile. The camp runs for eight weeks.

As an FMP subscriber you may take advantage of a 10% discount by mentioning FMP on the application form.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Word Formulas Are the Wrong Path

formulaRecently, an argument was made that libertarianism is okay with hate, since a word formula that libertarians like, the non-aggression principle, or “NAP”, didn’t exclude hate.

Therefore, I’ve concluded that it’s a good time to address the subject of word formulas and rules. And I’ll begin by being explicit about this:

Word formulas are the path to destruction. They are the wrong path.

Word formulas are the province of academia and politicians, of people trying to prove things. They are part of the “winning” game, which goes nowhere except to support domination.

Again, I will be explicit:

Liberty and life are not about proving other people wrong and proving ourselves right. That is the wrong path, and it leads back to bondage.

The case I mention above is one of many, and I’m not interested in attacking the person involved, whom I believe to be a decent man. I’m trying to make a point, not to “win.”

Why Word Formulas Fail

Liberty is a means, not an end.

Liberty matters because it is a condition in which life flourishes. And that’s all.

Our goal is not to achieve liberty; it is for life to flourish.

Hate, as you must know, is the enemy of flourishing life. So, if a “libertarian” word formula preserves hate, something is wrong somewhere. And the problem here is not the specific word formula, but all word formulas.

Words are necessary tools of communication, but they are imperfect symbols of reality and are easily abused. If then, we use these imperfect symbols in formulas and then claim that they define the most crucial things, we place the symbolic above the real, and we lose our bearings.

Then What Is Right?

It’s a telling commentary that so many people feel utterly lost without rules. But we don’t need rules when we have reality right in front of us.

For example, private property is right, not because we have ironclad arguments from famous people to prove it. Private property is right because it derives from nature.

Earlier today, I ate a few oranges, and by doing so, I made them utterly unavailable to any other person or animal. They were mine, and if not previously, they certainly became my private property when I ate them.

Likewise, I must sleep somewhere tonight. And when I do, that space is mine and cannot be used by any other person at the same time and in the same way. And when I drive my car, the gasoline I use must be mine; no one else can burn that gas.

So, life itself – reality itself – requires private property. That is primary, and our explanations of the principle are secondary.

A word formula does not justify my private property; reality does.

We Are Not of the System

We are living in a tight, intricate world system that has its own ways of justifying things, and those ways have degenerated Western culture significantly over our lifetimes.

We see the insanity of the “war on drugs,” the irrational fear-baiting of the “war on terror,” the emotional manipulation of “do it for the children,” and so on. All of these are based upon word games, and frequently on word formulas. They go like this:

We believe in supporting democratically elected governments, right?

Yes, of course.

Well, XYZ was democratically elected, so we must support them.

XYZ, unfortunately, likes to bomb innocent people in suburban subdivisions. But according to the word formula, the bombers must receive our support. The word formula says so.

Let me be clear:

The system that surrounds us is not like us. It is a system devoted to dominance and control. That’s why they always end up playing the “winning” game.

Their game is not our game. We are not like them.

We’re not going to “win people to our cause” by using the tools of oppressors; by doing that we would undermine ourselves… and we see precisely this when we excuse hate in the name of our formulas.

Their game involves the abuse of symbols and defeating opponents. Our game involves spreading life. We are not like them and we shouldn’t try to be.

Rules Are Not God

More often, rules are idols.

I’m not going to take a great deal of space on this subject today, but I would like to make the point that rules are all too often tools for evading consciousness… a way to skirt the responsibility of seeing and deciding.

Here are two quotes on the subject that are worth your consideration:

The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions.
– Mike Krzyzewski

I have only two rules which I regard as principles of conduct. The first is: Have no rules. The second is: Be independent of the opinion of others.
– Albert Einstein

When we appeal to a rule, we are stepping right past the real reasons and appealing to authority… and authority is the foundation of our oppressors.

To quote a wise man of many centuries ago: If we rebuild the things we have previously destroyed, we make ourselves transgressors.

Word formulas are our enemies, and hate has no place among thriving life.

We are not like them, and we will not improve ourselves using their tools.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

A Way to Prove We’re All Born Libertarian

natural libertarianWe’re all born knowing the truth, but by the time you’re four or five years old, they’ve beaten it out of you.
– Attributed to Bob Dylan

I think I’d be a bit more charitable than Mr. Dylan; I’d say that we’ve only had the truth partly beaten out of us by the age of five. I think truth endures in us, at least to a significant extent, up till puberty, after which it is beaten into submission over the next decade or so.

The Crazy Years

We all have experience with the tumultuous years that begin with puberty: First we are slapped with a rush of hormones. That triggers a reproductive imperative. That’s crazy-making enough, but then we find ourselves inside of a rigid, status-based system… a system that massively influences all of our potential mates.

That’s a recipe for the corruption of thought, and it does corrupt our thoughts.

Orson Welles was an unusually clear-thinking and experienced child… far more experienced than average. He spent his days (he was what we’d now call home schooled) reading the works of Shakespeare and all the existing Greek tragedies, repetitively.

As a man, Orson was once interviewed about his young days. The interviewer asked what he had thought of teenagers. Orson replied, “I thought they were absolutely insane.”

I think all of us can understand why.

Getting to the Truth

So, if we want to get a glimpse of human nature before it’s stressed and shaped during the crazy years, we should really go to pre-teens.

Granted, kids are not the pure saints they are sometimes imagined to be… and it is true that these kids are already sexualized and trained in status these days… but there remains, in most of them, some residue of honest thinking. They have not yet been dragged all the way into the conformist way of mind.

My hypothesis is that most of us are born as natural libertarians – having a built-in bias toward liberty.

And I have a clean way of testing this idea: Go to pre-teens, in a neutral setting, and ask them a very simple question:

Shouldn’t you be allowed to do anything you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone?

My guess is that the results would show a large majority agreeing with the statement, and the younger the respondent, the higher the percentage.

A Challenge to You

I’d like to propose we actually run such an experiment. I’ll be pleased to coordinate and publish the data.

In order to ensure that the results are meaningful, I recommend the following:

  • Make sure you have a neutral setting. Don’t talk to the child about liberty, obedience, or anything along those lines before asking the question. Make sure that you are feeling neutral too. You should want to know the child’s opinion, sincerely.
  • Since children have notoriously short attention spans, ask the question only after you have calmed them and centered their attention. I suggest something like this:

   Can I ask you a question? I want to know what you think about this.

  • If the child answers more than a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ write down precisely what they say. Then, if necessary, write down your interpretation of what the child said and why you interpreted their meaning that way.
  • After you write down the answer, feel free to continue the discussion with the child if fitting, but not if there are other study participants in the area. Keep them neutral.

As I say, I’ll be pleased to tabulate and publish the results if one or more of our readers want to run the experiment.

I think the results might be very interesting… and quite possibly very useful.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Liberty And Art: How And Why Libertarians Have Failed

liberty artAs I have noted in my “Failure of the Libertarian Movement article,” libertarians have generally limited their activities to marginally useful areas like politics and economics but have seldom used them to illuminate and free the human spirit. Liberty is ideal for freeing the human spirit, but we really haven’t used it very well.

In fairness to the economic and political folks (and I’d have to include myself as one of the guilty), a lot of analytic ability was required to push through the thick web of statism that we grew up with in the 50s and 60s. Often, highly analytical people were the only ones who could push through it all without serious emotional damage. As a result, most of the early libertarians were moved, by both their skills and the situations they faced, into economics and politics.

But regardless of libertarianism’s unique past, politics and economics are not rich fields – they certainly matter, but they leave huge sections of the human experience unaddressed.

Music, on the other hand, is a much richer field, as are painting, sculpture, and a dozen other artistic endeavors.

Doing Art, Not Politics

There have been a few libertarians pursuing art (God bless them), but they have often felt a need to use the early libertarian model of political and economic analysis as fodder for their art. The results were not as good as they could have been.

Let me be clear about this: Mixing politics with art demeans the art. Actually politics plus art more or less equals propaganda. And it is not beautiful.

Mixing philosophy and art can be done, but it can’t be preachy, doctrinal philosophy. It needs to be immediate and real – the fruit of life lessons that you personally experienced – not someone else’s ready-made doctrine.

Art has to be fresh and exciting: authentic, soul-birthed emanations of light and love and passion. It can be wise passion, even intelligent passion, but it may NOT be formulaic or analytical.

There is nothing wrong with analysis, but it is not soul-breathed like good art. As much as I love passages from Rand, Rothbard, and Mises, they cannot be simply set to music and expected to take on a life-giving beauty.

Politics is external and economics is external; art is primarily about internal experiences and visions. Art is not at all mechanical; it is organic.

The Fields Are White for Harvest

The truth is that we libertarians hold the answer to the world’s problems in our hands, but we’ve never spread it beyond a few small and contained areas. There are vast areas lying open before us, and it is time for us to go out into them.

Liberty is the great handmaid of life and beauty on the earth. It is the great catalyst of new visions, the key that unlocks the barriers between people and their impossible dreams. Liberty empowers the life-force inside a billion individuals, and when touched by it they find new ways to release hidden talents, to remember lost epiphanies, and to reanimate their crushed spirits.

I am not trying to be poetic here – I am trying to describe the real situation that sits in front of us.

Let me say this again, in a slightly different way:

Liberty is really about life. The purpose of liberty is to allow human life to flourish. And it is art that reaches inside of people and touches the frustrated life inside of them, that draws it out of them and makes them believe that it can thrive in the world. Economics and politics, however necessary they may be, cannot do this.

What Now?

Here’s the great thing about art: There is – and can be – no plan.

Art is an expression of life. It must be planted and nourished separately in each of us. It grows differently in each of us, and it emerges differently from each of us and thus enters the world. We are each a unique womb of sorts, in which our art grows and matures.

It is our job as artists to take in the best seeds, to nourish them as best we can, and to be as purely honest with what we produce as possible.

When we create, we should not be focused on external things like approval, style or reward. (Though we must seriously develop our skills; they are essential to expression, after all.)

To create great art, we must focus on the thing itself: this new expression that is growing inside of us, the people we will give it to, and most of all, the unique nature of what we are producing.

Life improves every living thing it touches, and our job as artists is to birth these emanations of life into the world and to love the people we hope it will reach.

Each creation of yours will have its own nature and should be used in its own way, not according to anyone’s expectations. Plant and nourish the best seeds you can find, but let each thing that grows inside of you choose its own direction and nature.

But, most of all, go out and create. Don’t wait. Start small if you must, develop your skills at whatever pace you can, but do NOT sit still and wait for some magic day when “it happens.” Make passable art at first if you must start there, because passable art has a way of developing into good art, and that often becomes great art. But it will never develop at all until you are in motion.

And by all means, cooperate with other artists. Learn from them, teach them, collaborate. Think of this as cross-pollination: We are all unique, and we can pass those unique characteristics from one to another, and all benefit from the experience. To borrow a phrase from my economic training: Creation is positive sum game.

Creating art can be hard, frustrating and even disappointing. But if you give honest expressions to the things that really matter to you, to the things that mature within you, the effort will enrich you for life, and many others with you.

I wish you all the best.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Failure of the Libertarian Movement

libertarian movementTurn on a television after midnight some time and watch the churches that offer prayer for the sick, the depressed, and the overwhelmed. At first you’ll probably be put off by it and angered by hucksters who are selling things that they can’t possibly deliver. But if you stay with it for a few minutes, you may see something important.

Look at the people in the pews. Don’t just classify them as a group of stupid people – look at them – see the individuals. These are people who know they need help. They know that they are in pain, that they have failed to become what they should be, that they have hurt others, that they are lost in the middle of a confusing world, and that they don’t know a way out.

These people are not morons. They know that dipping slips of paper with their names on them into holy oil is silly. But they overlook the stupidity, because they’re desperate for help. And don’t kid yourself, they do get some temporary help from these places. Yes, they are also removed from their money, but if they go to that church, they will be surrounded by people who will try to help them. Humans are clever creatures, and when they try to help each other, they often succeed. (This help will come from the other attendees, not the guy with the holy oil.)

You can complain all you like about the huckster, but he’s only in business because people have nowhere better to turn. They’re sitting in front of the TV at 1 AM because they are depressed, guilty, desperate, and they need something.

SO…?

So, what if there was a group of people who had the answers to these problems, who knew how to eliminate the pressures that caused them? And what if those people didn’t have the sense to recognize it and spread it? How would you describe them?

Well, take a look in the mirror, Mr. and Ms. Libertarian, because that’s you.

I was one of the early libertarians. We were engineers and analysts and financial experts. We knew math and analysis, science, and the intricacies of law. If you wanted to know how property rights led to increased financial output, we could tell you immediately. If you asked aloud why central control of commerce led to shortages, five of us would turn around to enlighten you. But we were insular; we were contained. We didn’t appreciate that we held the world’s cure in our hands.

I’m not trying to be critical here; I was a part of it all. But the truth is that we missed the biggest philosophical opportunity of the century; we failed to see how our new truth applied to millions of people who needed help so badly that they’d put up with TV hucksters.

Our Enemies Judged Correctly

We really should have known. We’ve all had the experience of people embedded in the state system flying into a wild rage upon hearing our ideas. We thought we were just talking about economics, but they acted as if we were trying to destroy everything they loved.

Our enemies thought our ideas were far more powerful than we did.

And they were right; we didn’t appreciate what we had.

If our message is ever understood by average people (and it isn’t hard to understand), the systems that treat them like farm animals will simply vanish. They have a stunning amount to gain from our discoveries, and whatever pain they take along the way would be a joke compared to what the existing system lays upon them.

So, yes, our enemies’ judgments were right when they flew into malicious rages. And if we are grudgingly accepted by them now, it’s because we’ve been limited to abstract and confusing areas like finance and politics.

Simple Truths

How many personal problems do you suppose thrive on low self-esteem?

How many personal disasters happen because people are afraid to act on their own judgment?

The answer to both of these questions is “most of them.”

So, why are self-esteem and judgment at such abysmal levels? The answer is simple: Because the state and its agents are dedicated to this result. They’ve been doing this since their inception, and they have no other choice. Can you imagine trying to get tax money out of people who felt perfectly confident in themselves and their own judgments?

Governments are necessarily against human will. If they can’t make us feel that our desires and judgments are shameful, their entire operation will collapse. Their game requires Joe Average to feel insecure and flawed.

Our enemies were right to freak out. Now it’s time for us to agree with them, and to start fixing the world.

We hold the cure in our hands. It’s time to break out of our bubbles and start distributing it. Once people see that the pressures crushing them are artificial, they will begin shrugging them off.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Paul Rosenberg featured on Declare Your Independence Radio

declare your independenceIn this energetic interview with Ernest Hancock of the Declare Your Independence radio show, Paul Rosenberg shares:

  • How he first came to think like a libertarian as a teenager… thanks to the guys at the local gym
  • How to take the entire complexity of the world and make it über-simple
  • The parallels between the decline of Rome and the world we live in today
  • The difference between the Cynics and the Christians: Why one group survived and the other did not
  • What a “golden future” could look like

Click here to listen (opens in a new window on the radio show’s site)

For more information about Declare Your Independence, visit the Freedom’s Phoenix website.

What Is Liberty Exactly?

what is libertyMore or less every modern politician talks about “freedom” or “liberty.” Actually, they don’t talk about it as much as they use it as a magic incantation. They go on at length about “our free country,” but if you could get them to define freedom, that definition would be something along the lines of “what we have.”

Once we’re past such self-praising nonsense, we’re still left with the original question: What is liberty exactly? And then the trouble begins. There are dozens of definitions. This is a problem. We’re all going around talking about liberty, but no two of us mean precisely the same thing. If you’re looking for reasons why liberty gets so little real traction in the world, this would be a good place to start.

So, it’s about time that we clarified what we mean by these terms. And, since I’ve spent decades pursuing liberty, and since no one else seems to be addressing this, I’ll take on this chore myself.

First of all, I’m going to treat “liberty” and “freedom” as the same concept. After all, the word freedom comes to us from old English and liberty from old French, and they both mean the same thing: unconstrained.

The problem with unconstrained lies in the fact that we are constrained by the natural world, by everything from gravity to rocks to weather. Nature constrains us. Yet, we don’t feel oppressed by nature – it isn’t trying to hurt us or limit us, it simply is what it is, and we can use it as we wish too. Our bodies are part of nature, after all.

It is when other people force us to obey, use violence against us, or simply intimidate us, that we feel constrained and abused. (Which tells us all we really need to know about the nature of liberty and humanity.)

So What Is Liberty?

Here is a precise definition for freedom/liberty:

A condition in which a man’s will regarding his own person and property is unopposed by any other will.

That is the bedrock. From there you can add other aspects if you wish, but you cannot deviate from this core and still be talking about “liberty.”

For example, Thomas Jefferson used the same core idea (notice the inclusion of “will”), but added a political aspect:

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

The great John Locke also held to this core, but took it in a more philosophical direction:

All men are naturally in a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man.

Personally, I like a very plain version of the same sentiments:

We should be allowed to do whatever we want, so long as we don’t hurt others.

I generally call these statements as Lockean, since John Locke was the first person to clearly define the concept of liberty in modern times. But, that’s just my preference.

These statements are clear, and they define liberty. No more really need be said.

You can ignore manipulative “freedom to” statements like Franklin Roosevelt’s famous Second Bill of Rights, whose proposed ‘rights’ included the right of everyone to their own home. This, of course, would require the enslavement of builders, suppliers and taxpayers. (Roosevelt never mentioned that side of the equation, of course.)

There’s only one thing which I will add to this discussion, and that is this: None of us have a monopoly on Lockean liberty.

Anyone who holds to Locke’s formulation is your brother and sister, and you must accept them as such.

We are past the time when we can be insular (if there ever really was such a time). You don’t have to agree 100% with the Ron Paul people or the free-market anarchists, or with anyone, but if they accept the core statements above, you must accept them as joint heirs of the Lockean liberties.

If you think someone is wrong, you can ignore the difference of opinion, or you can, respectfully, correct them. Better still, you could laugh at your joint human frailties and move forward together. What you may not do, is to cast them off as idiots; you may not resent them for honestly disagreeing. If they believe in John Locke’s liberty, they are your allies, not your enemies.

If we can’t do that, we don’t deserve to succeed.

Paul Rosenberg
What is Liberty Exactly?
FreemansPerspective.com