Freedom and Slavery are poorly understood, and the limits of our understanding have become the limits of our political achievement.
2-1 Freedom vs. Slavery
Any person can use any words to refer to any thing. Thus, North Korean Tyrants can call their regime the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea"even though it isn't democratic, it isn't a republic, it occupies only half of Korea, and the only relationship it has with the Korean people is that it conscripts as many as it can and starves the rest.
The obvious question here is: If an abject communist dictatorship is a good thing to be, why isn't it a good thing to be called? The obvious answer is that it isn't a good thing to be, ergo the need to lie about it.
Words are not TruthTruth is Truth. Language is just a tool developed by people to try to communicate with (or deceive) each other. Honest people will choose their words with care in an effort to fairly characterize things. People whose purpose is to deceive will also choose their words with care, in hopes of succeeding at mischaracterizing things.
Now, anyone's rhetoric can get heated from time to time, and perfect honesty will be as hard to find as human perfection in general. But at some point a threshold gets crossed from more-or-less honest to materially dishonest. And while what really matters to the Human Cause are principleslanguage just being a way to represent thosewords do become important because of their relationship to political fraud.
The word "freedom" is a case in point. For example, a catchphrase like "freedom from want" or "freedom from fear" looks like a feeble attempt to borrow some of Freedom's favorable connotations for a concept like Statism, which has fewer favorable connotations of its own. (And which deserves none at all, Statism being the actual opposite of Freedom. What about people who "fear" Oppression and "want" to own their own lives?) The very use of political bait-and-switch betrays a knowledge of what people really want as it tries to stiff 'em with something else in its place.
Nevertheless, Real Freedom is desired by many people, and even in the absence of a formal definition of it we have a pretty good instinct about what it is. The clarity of a formal definition is of great value in fending off political fraud, however, so it's high time to give one to Freedom:
Freedom is the absence of coercion.
This is a definition of principle, not words, so rather than carefully parsing the words in the manner of lawyers looking to twist them around and corrupt their meaning, please try to focus instead on the concept they describe. If it's any help, here is a list of synonyms:
Freedom, Liberty, self-determination, self-ownership, Personal Sovereignty
Here is a list of synonyms that can be applied to the opposite principle:
Slavery, Oppression, subjugation, coercion, Pushing People Around, Tyranny
The thing to take away from this discussion is that "freedom" is a word fairly used to describe a situation where coercion is absent (i.e. held at bay), and misused (perhaps intentionally) when applied to any situation where coercion is present (i.e. unchecked).
Of course, if Freedom amounts to the absence of coercion, then it follows that creating Freedom involves the elimination and/or prevention of coercion. Which in turn requires understanding something about coercion.
If there were such a thing as The Freedom Pledge, it would be simply this:
"I utterly reject coercion!"
Now, lots of people can get behind the idea of rejecting coercion when it's aimed at them, but what about going in the opposite direction? So, the first thing to realize about coercion is that it goes both wayswhat might be referred to as "outbound" (you do unto others) and "inbound" (they do unto you) coercion.
One obvious answer to the problem of Outbound Coercion would be a pro-Freedom indoctrination. "Indoctrination" is considered a bad word by some, having become associated with the idea of inculcating falsehoods in a captive audience, so you may prefer "education" or "training" in its place. The idea is the same: An understanding of the counterproductivity of coercion is not something most of us are born with; it has to beand can beacquired.
The concept behind this understanding is not a difficult one to grasp: Coercion is a discouragement to merit. The plain fact is that when people can conduct business at gunpoint, they don't have to be any good.
For example, if you had to persuade your neighbor to buy your used computer for $200, it helps if it actually is worth at least that much. If you can force your neighbor to "buy" your computer, however, it's real value becomes irrelevant, and a waste of your time to worry about.
Contribution lives, gratification dies. People focused on gratification might naturally conclude that coercion is simply an efficient approach to having their way with others. But coercion is really an excellence-killer, and therefore a major impediment to a Successful life. To grasp this powerful truth is to develop a distaste and abhorrence for coercion, something of great utility to those hoping to live in a Free Society.
On the other hand, if you want to virtually guarantee being lousy at everything you do (other than Pushing People Around), then Coercion is your best friend ever.
And what about the problem of Inbound Coercion? Unfortunately, the state of the art there is more in the nature of grim than it is cheerful. The only answer of proven effectiveness to aggressive force is defensive force.
Manyprobably mostpeople are appalled by and opposed to violence or conflictto fighting. Pacifism motivated by a desire to avoid human suffering is easy enough to understand, and even seems noble.
But pacifism comes in several varieties. A strange and virulent strain of pacifism exists that gives every appearance of being motivated by a desire to see Evil triumph, by refusing to embrace any effective response to it. We also know from bitter political experience that subversion and treason (giving aid and comfort to the enemy) like to try to disguise themselves as pacifism.
If Real Pacifism is meant to prevent suffering, then some understanding is required to achieve it. History teaches us that some conflicts cannot and ultimately will not be avoided, and that the procrastination resulting from trying to deny this reality has the effect of increasing rather than decreasing the final tally of human suffering. Some wannabe abusers simply will not take "no" for an answer, and some intended victims will decide that fightingand even dyingis not necessarily a worse option than what their abusers had in mind.
Anyone who can grasp the fact that Slavery really amounts to "murder in slow motion" will be able to understand that Oppression no more leads to Real Peace than murder does. In this sense, Slavery also is violenceviolent in the damage it does to the Human Cause, and additionally and explicitly violent in response to any resistance to Slavery.
So, however abhorrent fighting is, it's impossible to fairly assign blame without remembering this fundamental truth: without Aggression, Defense never has to occur.
One other critical point has to be made regarding Defense. While conflict is nothing to celebrate, owing to its human cost, it is accompanied by a side-effect that deserves celebration as the closest we can come to True Peace in an imperfect worldDeterrence.
Most wannabe aggressorsbasically all of those who aren't outright insanevalue their own skins if nothing else. Because of this, they can often be held in check by the credible threat of violence. Credibility here depends both on their belief that they aren't just being bluffed, and on their estimation that they will decisively and painfully lose any conflict that they provoke.
To summarize then, the antidote to Coercionand therefore the key to implementing Freedomdepends on what might be called a "Libertarian" indoctrination and on effective Defense.
The other thing to be observed about Coercion is that it comes in two guises: what might be called "overt" and "covert" Coercion. Overt Coercion involves force and the threat of force (also known as intimidation).
Fraud is Coercion by covert means. Since self-determination depends on consent, one way for wannabe Oppressors to short-circuit consent is just to obtain it under false pretenses. It should be readily apparent that misinformed consent is really no consent at all.
So, even though Fraud isn't as obviously violent as Force, it's no less destructive to Liberty. Possibly more so, since it has the effect of turning people into agents actively working for their own Enslavement.
While isolated fraud perpetrated by individuals against other individuals constitutes a breach of Freedom, as do isolated acts of overt Coercion like murder or assault, it is organized Political Fraud that should be of particular concern to those wanting to live in a Free Societythe same way mass murder or mass imprisonment would be.
With the definition of Freedom as the absence of coercion, the answer to the question "Has Freedom ever existed?" becomes obvious.
Now, to be a U.S. citizen and to suggest that the United States isn't a "free country" is to risk sounding like an ingrate, in light of the enormous sacrifices made by those responsible for its creation and preservation.
But while the U.S. can be said with complete justification to be "freer" and even the "freest" nation in human history, it has never been Free.
Institutionalized slaverythat is, not mere de facto Slavery, but officially-recognized and legally-mandated Slaveryexisted from the country's founding until a catastrophic Civil War nearly a century later, a Civil War made unavoidable by the exhausted patience of some and the refusal of others to be pushed. Race-based legalized inequality persisted for many decades thereafter, and long before it had finally been addressed, the country was overtaken by a malignant, creeping Marxism.
At no time in its history has coercion been absent in the United States. No society, in fact, has ever eliminated coercion, or even had the elimination of coercion as its goal.
Actually, Slavery and Freedom exist on a continuum, and every society that has ever existed has fallen somewhere between its extremes. Lots of past (and some present) societies have fallen so close to the Slavery extreme as to be fairly described as Enslaved. Meanwhile, there has been a centuries-long movement in Western civilization to try to understand and achieve Freedom, a movement that has lately shown signs of having run out of gas.
So, Slavery and Freedom being mutually exclusive, the question becomes: Where's the "proper" place to come to rest on the Slavery/Freedom Continuum? What is the "right" amount of Slavery to endure? How do you know? Is a gradual (or not so gradual) slide toward the Slavery end of the continuum any cause for concern? Why not?
As it turns out, the elusiveness of Freedom and the ubiquity of Slavery are not too difficult to explain. There are, in fact, Three Fundamental Political StatesAnarchy, Slavery, and Freedomand their associated properties are illustrated in the following table:
|Basis||"law of jungle"||human-invented
As the table shows, Anarchy is the most easily achieved of the Fundamental Political States, and in fact is the default state, since it alone is not dependent on the invention of any specialized institutions devoted to organizing the use of force.
The next most easily achieved Political Stateand the only fully-realized alternative to Anarchy, so faris Slavery. It is dependent on Coercive institutions like government (which is based on human-invented lawwhat might be called "decree"). Pro-Slavery institutions explicitly support the accumulation of Political Power, and social interaction under Slavery may be governed by force or fraud.
In order for Freedom to be achieved, it will be necessary to develop robust Defensive (non-coercive) institutions, which must necessarily be based on an investigation into and reasonable comprehension of Real Law (referred to in some circles as "Natural Law" or "Divine Law"). These Defensive institutions would be engineered so as to thwart Power Accumulation, as well as force or fraudall social interaction in a Free Society being governed by persuasion and consent.
The invention of robust, effective Defensive institutions requires a lot more effort and understanding than did the invention of Coercive institutions, which can be quite crude and have been around in some form since before the dawn of recorded history. As a result, Freedom is by far the most difficult to obtain of the Fundamental Political States, and has resisted some of our best efforts at it.
One thing has to be made abundantly clear, however: while Anarchy-to-Slavery-to-Freedom represents a progression in terms of the sophistication of their underlying institutions, replacing Anarchy with Slavery does NOT represent a progression in terms of its effect on the Human Cause. Even though lots of people would prefer the apparent stability of Slavery over the chaos of Anarchy, the notion that Slavery poses less risk to the Human Project than does Anarchy is highly debatable.
There is probably as much misunderstanding surrounding Slavery as there is Freedom.
Human Enslavement has existed since prehistory. But for the Imperialist Europe and her colonies of a few centuries ago, Slavery and Racism joined forcesa legacy the American Revolution proved inadequate to overcome. (Not that many of the Founders, like James Madison, didn't recoil from the blatant hypocrisy.)
The very word "slavery" has come to have a fairly narrow meaning for many Americans, referring to the institutionalized slavery perpetrated against kidnapped Africans. But what actually is it that makes "slavery" Slavery?
Is it the fact that human beings were bought and sold? Would Slavery not qualify as "slavery" if Slaves simply stayed with the same Masters for life, without any bills of sale or money changing hands?
Is it the fact that institutionalized slavery used Racism as its basis? Would Slaves not qualify as "slaves" so long as their Masters were of the same race (or perhaps a "politically correct" race)?
Ownership of other human beings has nothing inherently to do with Racism or any explicit, pseudo-legal title. It is simply the power to force them to do what they otherwise wouldn't choose to do in the conduct of their own affairs. Just as "freedom" is a word fairly applied only to self-ownership, "slavery" is a word fairly applied to any condition of ownership by others.
The connection between institutionalized slavery and institutionalized racism in America's own experience is doubly unfortunate. Not only are they both bad in their own right, but their juxtaposition has served to obscure their real lesson for many people (a confusion that Marxist politicians have aggressively exploited).
The real lesson of institutionalized slavery is that Slavery is an abominationperiod. If Racist Oppressors ultimately manage to sell us on the idea of Racism and Oppression, then they've succeeded at heaping Fraud on top of Injustice.
The cure for Racism is not to try to find it a more "politically correct" formit is to join a larger Family. The cure for Slavery is not to try to put The Plantation under new managementit's to eradicate The Plantation for all who have the capacity and will to be Free.
2-2 Persuasion vs. Coercion
When it comes to Real Freedom, figuring out whose business is involvedwhose life it isis the central issue.
For instance, put yourself back in the days of alcohol Prohibition in the U.S. Suppose you wanted to make up a batch of home-brew and drink it at homewhose business is that? Now suppose you got intoxicated and beat up some of your family memberswhose business is that? Suppose you got wasted, got behind the wheel of your car and ran over some peoplewhose business is that?
Now imagine that you wanted to burn a pile of old tires on your property, sending great clouds of toxic smoke over onto your neighbor's housewhose business is that?
Or, suppose your neighbors decided to shave their heads and paint them pink, a practice that deeply offends youwhose business is that?
Government decree doesn't have to fairly reflect who's entitled to whatit can just be the whim of 51% of the people (in a democracy), or of a single person (in an autocracy). But Freedom means being able to tell when people are making their own decisions, and when they're trying to make other people's decisions.
Before the word "tolerance" was hijacked by Marxists to mean whatever they want has to be tolerated and whatever others want doesn't, it had a perfectly good meaningsomething along the lines of actually putting up with other people making choices for themselves that we wouldn't necessarily make for ourselves.
If you think about it, Real Freedom and Real Tolerance go hand in hand. Your Tolerance is other people's Freedomtheir Tolerance is your Freedom.
Since Freedom is the absence of Coercion, the one thing that absolutely cannot be Tolerated in a Free Society isyou guessed itCoercion. How do we know Coercion when we see it?
Suppose you go to the market for a loaf of bread and the merchant won't let you take it home without paying for it. Are you being coerced?
Of course not. What self-determination means in a multilateral context is mutual consent. In a Free Society, you're no more obliged to agree to other people's terms than they are obliged to agree to yours. If everyone involved can find some mutually agreeable terms, then greatotherwise, no deal.
But what if you're broke and your family is starving? Now are you being coerced if the merchant won't provide the bread for free?
No. You might be able to fairly accuse the merchant of being uncompassionate, but not of being coercive. It's not your prerogative to decide who must come to your aid, whether it be the merchant with the bread or passersby from whom you could take the money to pay for the bread. If you take other people's property against their will, then it's you who is being coercive, regardless of what your motives may be.
Real Compassion is a fine thing, a necessary thing, and not nearly as unpopular as Statists would have us believe. Gunpoint compassionbetter known as "robbery"is another matter. The Marxian version of "compassion" doesn't reflect Reality. Robbery is a job for thugs. It's Slavery, and there's nothing compassionate about Slavery.
Agreement is also good and necessary, but in general is not nearly so necessary that it ought to be achieved by force. Quite often, "different strokes for different folks" is a perfectly acceptable solution.
Yet when Coercion is available as an option, as is the case with government, it becomes a first resort rather than a last resort. Under "one size fits all" coercive government, we frequently see what amounts to the 51% zebras telling the 49% ostriches that the only way to run is on four legs, simply because they have the power to coerce. The fact that the ostriches might have a different technique that works better for them becomes irrelevant.
Polite disagreement is not always a bad thing, and can even have a positive side. These days, the word "diversity" has been co-opted to refer to something like a rainbow of Marxists, all marching in political lockstep. But Real Diversityas opposed to lip-service, superficial diversityis very constructive because it allows us to hedge our bets.
Compromise is often treated as some sort of political Holy Grail, even to the point where we can be pressured just to reach some agreement. But compromise is overrated if it means accommodating illegitimate expectations. If your opponents want to chop off both of your legs, and you want to keep both, should you compromise and allow them to take one instead? They're not entitled to any of your limbsyou are. Better no agreement than an abusive one.
Occasionally, agreement isn't optional because only one choice can be made among many. For example, a river can either be dammed or notthere isn't any in-between, and multiple simultaneous approaches aren't possible.
A Free Society would have some way of identifying instances like that, and some arbitration process for resolving them that stood the least chance of devolving into outright coercion. (The reason government abuses something like eminent domain is that it can.) In all other instances, a Free Society would embrace dissent and pluralism as a sign of good political health.
A big part of getting a handle on Coercion is being able to tell the difference between Coercion and Persuasion. How do we know Persuasion when we see it?
Persuasion can be very . . . well, persuasive. That is, Persuasion can involve forcefulness of a sort, but never actual force. It can be reasonably persistent, but can't cross the line and become the kind of unreasonable persistence that's referred to as harassment. If all that sounds like it requires making a judgment callit does.
But ultimately, it's easy to distinguish between Persuasion and Coercion. Persuasion will take "no" for an answerCoercion won't. If you have any doubt that government is a Coercive institution, try to remember the last time you saw government take "no" for an answer for anything.
2-3 Power Accumulation
The French Revolution went in the ditch, as revolutions are wont to do, but its "Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!" motto is right on the money. These 3 principles may be thought of as Freedom's Trinity.
Liberty, also known as self-determination or self-ownership, is often misunderstood to mean that people should simply be able to do as they darn well please. What self-determination really means is that people should be able to do as they please when it comes to their ownand only their ownbusiness. Doing as you please about other people's business is not self-ownership, but ownership of others.
There's no such thing as the "right" to violate other people's Rights. There's no such thing as the "freedom" to Push People Around. Pathological selfishness is consistent with Anarchy and Slavery. Social Individualism is consistent with Freedom because it embraces the principle of Fraternity.
The vast majority of human activity involves not just a single individual, but groups of individuals. What self-determination means in a social context is the right of individuals to give or withhold their consentnot the nonexistent "right" to make other people's decisions for them.
"Egalitarianism" has become something of a bad word, having been co-opted by Marxist scammers to refer to an equality of material circumstances enforced at gunpoint by Joe Stalin, regardless of any individual's effort or ability. Real Egalitarianism, however, is all about political equality.
A Free Society is necessarily Egalitarian, in the sense that nobody outranks anyone else politically. Since the exact purpose of Power Accumulation is to be able to pull rank on othersto subjugate themit's obvious that a Free People would view it with appropriate suspicion, and would develop institutions promoting Power Retention (i.e. Political Equality) as a check against it. Power Accumulation is not an act of good will toward the rest of society!
Power Accumulation and Power Retention derive from a principle that can be referred to as The Conservation of Political Power:
Political Power is neither created nor destroyed, except when people are created or destroyed; otherwise, it is only either retained or stolen.
To see how political power is conserved, imagine a group of 100 people that includes one "control freak" who "needs" to have power over 100 people. That leaves 99 people with power over no one, particularly themselves. It's impossible to surrender power over your life to others and somehow retain it for yourself. Being only one person, you can't simultaneously follow your own orders and someone else's (conflicting) orders.
It's common for Capitalists to defend the accumulation of power by people in the so-called private sector, and common for Marxists (i.e. Statists) to defend the accumulation of power by people in the so-called public sector. But Power Accumulation is Power Theft.
So, Slavery is characterized by Power Accumulationthat is, the accumulation of power by the Masters at the expense of the Slaves, to whom it rightfully belongs. Likewise, Freedom is characterized by Power Retentionin other words, political power remains distributed among its rightful owners and is not accumulated by anyone.
Now, a question may arise as to whether the transfer of power is necessarily theft, or if it can be done voluntarilywhat amounts to willing Slavery. To address that, it's necessary to identify another principle, The Inseparability of Authority and Responsibility:
Whosoever hath Authority over a thing deserveth Responsibility for it, and whosoever beareth Responsibility for a thing deserveth Authority over it.
Thus, all you would need to do to legitimately reassign Authority over your life to others is to likewise give up Responsibility for your life! Can you even do such a thing? How do you know?
Power Accumulation by people in the so-called public sector is easy to visualize, because Coercion based in human-invented law is quite blunt: Either do what you're toldor be executed, imprisoned or some such other highly unpleasant consequence.
Power Accumulation by ultra-wealthy private citizens is a bit more subtle. But people who doubt the coercive power of money should spend a few decades in abject poverty and then see what they think about it. There is no shortage of evidence that people in dire financial circumstances will knowingly act against their own interestsincluding endangering their health and even liveswhen they're unable to see any better alternative.
On top of economic desperation, there is also the ample corruption potential of just plain old greed.
Money is definitely Power, and there is a relationship between the accumulation of vast (disproportionate) wealth and the accumulation of Political Power. And just what constitutes "disproportionate" wealth? That depends.
People who haven't a penny aren't just economically impotent, they're also politically impaired because of the relationship between economics and politics. Freedom is a pretty abstract thing when you don't know where your next meal is coming from. As people begin to accumulate wealth, self-determination becomes more practical, assuming it isn't curtailed by non-economic means such as law. At some point, however, wealth accumulation ceases to have anything to do with mere self-determination.
In the Hollywood film "Chinatown" (1974), a private eye (Jack Nicholson) is surprised to discover that an already wealthy man (John Huston) is behind a real-estate scam. "How much better can you eat?" he asks.
The answer in the movie is the real-life answer: It isn't about eating any better. It's about buying the futureother people's future.
Some people can win the lottery once and be happy. But what kind of people can win the lottery 10,000 times and still not be satisfied? Unquenchable greed is a sickness, and it's closely related to the unquenchable thirst for poweralso a sickness.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong, from a political standpoint, with accumulating more and better possessions in life. But no one can drive 500,000 Porsche sportscars, or eat 50,000,000 pounds of Beluga caviar. And the accumulators of vast wealth aren't really interested in caviar, they're interested in controlling other people's lives.
The Aristocratic fairytale isn't just about the palaces, it's about the servants. Owning things is appropriate; owning people is inappropriate. Unfortunately, this Reality doesn't jibe with Aristocratic fantasy.
Pushing People Around may be entertaining as a fantasy. Evidently, it connects with some (not particularly wholesome) part of human nature. In that regard, it may be similar to the more overtly violent abuse of others that figures so prominently in what-passes-for-entertainment these days. Perhaps "virtual reality" can provide some safe outlet for warped human nature, but in real life, Slavery is an abomination.
Once upon a time in America, millionaires were considered to be very wealthy. Now, thanks to inflation and confiscatory taxation, millionaires scarcely have the means, financially, to order their own lives, within the ever-narrowing boundaries prescribed by law.
Billionaires are another matter. As things currently stand, the accumulation of billions of dollars means control of enough wealth to represent a political threat. Freedom depends on Political Equality, which depends on Political Humility. Vast wealth in the hands of the Politically Arrogant becomes a way to take political advantage of the economically disadvantaged. Disproportionate wealth can be used to buy the kind of socio-political influence that people of more proportionate means can't hope to match.
Please don't mistake this discussion as a knock against the idea of gainful employment. Trading an honest day's labor for an honest day's pay is entirely consistent with the principle of self-determination. Using money as a tool to dominate other people in a way that amounts to ownership, however, is not. There's a world of difference, politically, between service and servitude.
Neither is all of this meant to be some pseudo-Libertarian repackaging of the Marxian class-warfare scam. Under Marxism, economic envy is used as just another politically divisive tactic in the quest for Power Accumulation. The answer, you see, to getting even with the "rich folks" is to sic a true champion of "social justice" on themsomebody like Joe Stalin, for instance.
The only point we're trying to make here is that Power Accumulation of any kind is consistent with Slavery, and inconsistent with Freedom. Any approach to creating a Free Society that addresses Power Accumulation only in the so-called public sector doesn't cover all the bases and won't succeed.
Lots of people subscribe to a "might makes right" worldview. Power Accumulators, being mighty, must find it particularly appealing. But while might has a lot to do with the exercise of Rights, it has nothing whatever to do with the creation of any Rights.
And here's some more bad news for the Politically Arrogant: Even if it were valid, there's nothing about the "might makes right" model that prevents the Meek from developing enough collective might to fend off Aristocrat wannabes. The only way that can happen without becoming just another exercise in Power Theft is by a cooperative, Power Retention approach.
2-4 Limited Slavery
The American Founders are highly regarded by many people. Not by Marxists, of course, who have good reason to hate them. What the Framers produced was genuinely liberal and progressive, in the quite-literal sense of being both new and improved. That's in stark contrast to what Karl Marx produced the following century, which wasn't new and improved even by dismal 19th-century European political standardsmuch less when compared to what was already well under way in the United States.
And the American Founders did hit a home run. In The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776), it says:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.
That is an exact statement of the problem to be solved. (Only, don't mistake the expression "Pursuit of Happiness" for some advocacy of hedonismthe Founders were true Public Servants enough to know that Real Happiness comes from contribution, not some pathological quest for gratification.)
However, the Framers did something that looks a little strange on closer examination. They gave the securing of our unalienable Rightsa Defensive taskto government, an inherently Coercive institution. That's like trying to perform heart surgery with a jackhammerit's the wrong tool for the job. What gives?
Certainly, the Founders were what you might call "proto-Libertarians"the opposite of Statists. The reason they didn't create Real Freedom wasn't because they didn't want it.
The catch is that creating Real Freedom is what computer geeks would call a "bootstrap operation"like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. It's not possible to go directly from nothing to something. An intervening stage is required. That's because the robust Defensive institutions that Real Freedom requires take time, and can't be developed in any case under Slavery.
Yet, the American Founders had a narrow window of opportunity in which to act. Their hand was ultimately forced by the British government's move to confiscate the colonists' arms. If they were ever to mount a successful rebellion, it had to start before they were rendered politically helpless.
And so, upon prevailing in the American Revolution, they set about creating the best thing they could in such a limited time-frame, and the very thing that Real Freedom must have as a launching padlimited government. They took that inherently Coercive, unholy monster called government and tied its hands every way from Sunday, in an effort to render it into something more suitable to the Defensive task of securing our unalienable Rights.
The United States' relatively brilliant career (so far) is proof that they did an outstanding job. They themselves were not without some apprehension as to its long-term prospects, however. Benjamin Franklin's comment about having given us "a republic, if you can keep it" is typical of that concern.
The more than two centuries that have passed since the United States' creation have afforded ample opportunity for progress in replacing Coercive institutions with the anti-Coercive institutions that Real Freedom (self-determination) requires. Unfortunately, things have gone the opposite direction, and the limited government that's absolutely essential as an intermediate stage between Slavery and Freedom is rapidly disappearing, not just from the U.S., but from the entire planet.
That disappearance is no accident. While neither Anarchy nor Slavery is a usable precursor to Freedom, Limited Slavery (i.e. limited government) is. But Limited Slavery has instead been taken to be an end in itself. Can that really work?
It's impossible to make a compelling case for a certain amount of Slavery on a permanent basis (other than none at all). Without that, it's difficult to argue against Slavery's increase because there can be no recognized cutoff point. A little more is just as "legitimate" as a little less.
A growing public perception of the need for dependence on government (and reliance on government to hold itself in check) is an organic part of delegating the People's responsibility for their own political future to an institution like government in the first place. Meanwhile, expanding government becomes ever more attractive to people who value its Coercion potential, and who will do whatever they can to grow it furthera vicious political circle.
In reality, Limited Slavery is only good for 2 thingstaking advantage of the political "breathing space" it provides to prepare for the next step in the journey to Real Freedom, or sliding back down into the pit of Unlimited Slavery.
In theory, a country like the U.S. is a "constitutional republic" rather than a democracy. That Constitution is meant to protect political minorities from unchecked government obeying (allegedly, at least) the majority's will.
That's great in theory, but reality is whatever actually happens. And the idea of using a Constitution to protect political minorities suffers from a Catch-22: It only works if the majority wants it to. To see that in action, it's only necessary to ask what happens when the Constitution is violated.
When the U.S. president and Congress violate the Constitution (according to the courts), they need have no fear of being hung for treason or even impeached. The absolute worst-case scenario is their removal from office in the next electionassuming enough of the voters are upset by (or even aware of) their malfeasance. Generally, their "punishment" consists of having to try it all over again, until they finally succeed.
The same thing applies to unelected judges who violate the Constitution, except for the risk of being removed in an election, of course. Their worst-case scenario is being overturned by appellate judgesunless they themselves are the judges-of-last-resort, in which case they're home free.
On top of the fact that what amounts to Treason carries little or no risk of real punishment, human-invented law itself has no fixed meaning. Not only doesn't it mean whatever the People were told, it doesn't even mean what lawmakers sincerely intended it to mean. It only means what the judges-of-last-resort declare it to mean, unless the People revolt. No wonder judicial confirmation is such a big deal!
If a substantial majority of the voters understood the real spirit of their Constitution and zealously defended it against corrupt politicians, a constitutional republic might actually work. But if a substantial majority had a sincere respect for the Rights of political minorities, a Constitution would be superfluous in the first place.
There are basically 2 ways to organize any society: it's either Egalitarian or else it isn't. A Free Society is Egalitarian by definitionself-determination being impossible in a situation where some people outrank others politically (which is what forcibly making other people's decisions for them equates to).
Elitist societies (which are Oppressive by definition) have plagued humankind throughout our history. We've heard all manner of absurd theories as to why the self-appointed elite are "better" than we are, including:
They're wealthy and we aren't
They're "somebodies" and we're "nobodies"
They had the "right" parents and we didn't
They're members of the "master race" and we aren't
They were appointed by God and we weren't
They are God and we aren't
They work for the government and we don't.
And, being "better" than we are, it's only natural that our decisions should be theirs to make. Elitists invariably produce schemes that put them in charge of telling the rest of us what we must and mustn't do about our own affairs, using made-up law enforced at gunpoint.
Of course, there are people who really are elite, in that they're the best in the world at somethingthe best singers, gymnasts, whateverby some objective standard. The "superiority" of Aristocrats, however, isn't objective at all, but subjective. They're strictly legends in their own minds. And your typical Aristocrat suffers no doubt that Pushing People Around is for their own good.
The American Founders tried to debunk Elitism in what is arguably the premier American legal document, The Declaration of Independence, but delusions of grandeur die hard. Still, the old-time version of Aristocracy based on inheritance had begun to suffer a loss of credibility worldwide in the last couple of centuries. What's an elitist to do?
Karl Marx & Company came riding to the rescue, with one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of politics. They discovered that a significant percentage of people will accept lip service as equivalent to the real thing. By feigning an interest in Social Justice, wannabe Elitists could pass themselves off as its true champions, whose only interest in the accumulation of Absolute Power is to defend the downtrodden. Voila!Aristocracy based on inheritance has been replaced by Aristocracy based on ruthlessness.
Marxism has turned out to be such a successful hoax precisely because so many people hunger for Social Justice, see its absence in the world, and want to believe that somebody really cares and can do something about it.
Unfortunately, the answer to Oppression isn't so simple as just enabling even worse Oppression from a different source. In truth, no amount of Coercion can accomplish Social Justice. Only the absence of Coercion can do itbetter known as Freedom!
The Marxian class-warfare spiel is a total mischaracterization. Marxists' real view of social stratification is betrayed by their seething hatred of the middle class, whom they've targeted for destruction.
Don't look now, but the Robber Barons and Joe Stalin are in bed with each other. And there's nothing at all strange about the upper class' love affair with Marxian Political Correctness. How could wannabe Aristocrats really hate a movement that has given discredited Elitism a new lease on life?
"Aristocrat" and "Marxist" have become essentially synonymous. All Marxists are either Aristocrats themselves, or suffer from a (perverse) longing to be in the thrall of Aristocrats. Likewise, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single Aristocrat these days who hasn't made the switch to Marxismworld-class, butt-kickin' Slavery, plus all that phony "social justice" cachet? An offer like that's just too good to pass up.
As for the poor, Marxism is their best "friend" ever, so long as they have no ambitions other than to remain poor and dependent forever. According to Marxists, the only thing wrong with The Plantation of the Old South was that it wasn't run by "benevolent" government. (Or to paraphrase George Orwell, who knew a scam when he saw one: "Uncle Tom's Cabin bad, Uncle Sam's Cabin good!")
Meanwhile, the middle class poses a serious threat to Slavery. They're neither wealthy enough to own anyone, nor poor enough to have to put up with being owned by anyone. What's worse, the middle class provides the captive lower class with a place to escape to.
Thus the need for confiscatory taxation. The fabulously wealthy upper class can afford to pay any amount in taxes and still remain on the top of the heap, but heavy taxation is enough to force the middle class back down into povertyand onto The Plantation, where they belong. Plus, all that money can be used to buy an awful lot of Marxist government.
Marxists desperately want to claim the mantle of populism, but theirs is an Aristocratic pseudo-populismnot the Egalitarian, Real Populism of Freedom. It isn't any lack of "redistribution" that afflicts Real Peopleit's Political Arrogance. (And nobody embraces that more tightly than do Marxists. If Joe Stalin is any indication, some "comrades" are considerably more "equal" than others.)
Marxian Socialists allegedly don't even believe in the individual, but rest assured that all the Aristocrat "somebodies" get to be individuals all they want. It's all the little "nobodies" who get to become non-entity members of some politically-convenient (for their Masters) social group.
In fact, far from being the anti-Racists they purport to be, Marxists have made "group identity politics"the very definition of Prejudicea cornerstone of their divide-and-conquer political attack. And their much-vaunted "tolerance" is as patronizing as it is phony. Marxian Aristocrats, as it turns out, are condescendingly "tolerant" of pro-Marxists, but murderously intolerant of anti-Marxists.
Progressive?? Liberal?? Just what exactly is so "new and improved" about Marxism? Aristocracy is not merely archaic, it was retarded to begin with. In the 18th century, Real Liberals would've been Constitutional Republicans (and were). In the 21st century, Real Liberals would be Libertariansnot Marxists.
Only change for the better qualifies as Real Progress, but Marxism is a throwback to the some of the worst behavior ever seen in human history. Marxism is the all-time world championsecond to nonewhen it comes to Genocide and Oppression, having outright murdered dozens of millions of people, and Enslaved billions. That's quite a track record! (And one Marxists never, ever admit to. What's up with thataren't they proud of it?)
Marxist politicians must know something's wrong with their program, since they can't bring themselves to be honest about it. The real story of Marxism is reflected not in the bogus, one-party elections, but in what might be called the "inner tube" vote. People don't risk their lives in shark-infested waters to get to communist Cuba (that alleged "worker's paradise"), but to escape from it. The Berlin Wall wasn't built to keep enemies out, but to keep Slaves in.
It's common in politics to use the word "liar" for anyone who says whatever we don't particularly want to hear. But of course, real liars must not only speak falsely, they must know that they do so. And therein lies the rub, because Marxists actually come in 2 varieties: Thugs and Dupes. The Thugs know Marxism for the scam it isthe Dupes don't.
It's one of the great tragedies of the human condition that good intentions alone are not enough to get good results. If people of good will and compassion are going to make a difference, they need to learn how to spot a political con-job, and they need to understand the true nature of Power Accumulation and its proponents.
But don't we need at least some Marxism (AKA Socialism) in order to have a humane society?
No. The trouble with trying to do "Marxism Lite" is that Marxism is corrupt at its core. Joe Stalin as "Robin Hood" is myth. Robbery is a job for Thugs, and Thugs are not only NOT nice people, they're ultimately uncontrollable. So any notion that Robbery is a fit means to a Socially Just end doesn't square with Reality. Marxist Dupes are full of good intentionsMarxist Thugs are not!
Trying to harness Marxism for a good purpose is like riding a tiger. The beast has another agenda. What's worse, the very thing that might keep it on a short leashhealthy suspicion and vigilanceis the first thing to disappear under the assault of all that "we're the friends of the downtrodden" propaganda.
The real friends of the helpless wouldn't be all about perpetuating helplessness, and good designers know that no amount of after-the-fact tinkering can rescue a fundamentally flawed design. Marxism is hopeless because it doesn't understand the first thing about Realitynot that it needs to, since its real goal is Power Accumulation anyway. All it has to do is fool most of the people most of the time.
But some of the problems for which Marxists recommend Slavery as their "solution" are real enough. Take environmental devastation, for example. Isn't that the kind of thing that only Joe Stalin can cure, and aren't any unfortunate political side-effects well worth it?
First of all, the only thing Tyrants are really dedicated to is their own hold on Power. That is the limit of their concern. Lip service guarantees nothing in the way of ultimate performance.
Moreover, Persuasion is as helpful to any cause as Coercion is unhelpful. People who can advance their program at gunpoint don't have to be right about the particularswhich immediately decreases the chances that they actually will be.
In fact, there's reason to believe that Marxism's adoption of the environment as one of its "wedge" issues has done more to discredit environmentalism than to help it. That's unfortunate, because an appropriate regard for the state of the environment is perfectly sensible, and actually has nothing whatever to do with Karl Marx.
No society that embraced self-determination would lack for environmental concern or ways to do something about it, since too many individuals will care about that. Freedom and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive, and neither are Freedom and any of the other legitimate causes that Marxism pretends to care about.
Contrary to the claims of Marxists, Slavery isn't the solution to all of humanity's problems, because humanity has no problems that are caused by an absence of Slavery. In truth, humanity has no problems that are not caused by an absence of Understanding. The cure for an absence of Understanding is Enlightenment, not Slavery.
The struggle between Freedom and Slavery has been going on for a very long time, but it has become simplified with the arrival of Marxism. Marxism represents the way forward for Aristocratic Power Accumulators of all stripeswhich makes it the clear Enemy of Freedom.
But while Marxist Thugs are the conscious, avowed Enemies of Freedom, Marxist Dupes are not. They're actually decent, well-motivated people who're more akin to the character in the TV show "Alias" who thought she was working for the good guys and ultimately found out otherwise.
If Social Justice is your goal, then you owe it to yourself to consider the proposition that Real Freedom, if it ever happens, can mean Real Social Justice for the first time in human history. There will be no shortage of people in a Free Society who care about Social Justice and can make a good case for the real thing. Coercion may seem like a way to expedite matters, but it isn't. Persuasion begets ExcellenceCoercion begets garbage.
Under Freedom, there will definitely be some people who care nothing about Social Justice. But if their plans include force or fraud, they won't get very far because that's what Defensive institutions will be in place to prevent.
Don't look now, but under Statism there are also people who care nothing about Social Justice. Unfortunately, they include the Statist Tyrants themselves because there's nothing Socially Just about Slavery. That puts people with the minimum sincere interest in Social Justice in the position of being able to perpetrate the maximum Social Injustice.
Marxism is just "Let them eat cake!" with a makeover. It's poseur politicsbrutality posing as compassion, evil posing as good. Lip service does not a champion of Social Justice make. Statist Power Accumulators would be more accurately viewed not as Defenders, but as competing Exploiters. If the eradication of Exploitation is the goal, then Marxism is a giant leap in the wrong direction.
The future of human politics reduces to a life-and-death struggle between Slavery and Freedom. There can't be much excuse for not being able to choose, because Slavery is as manifestly evil as Freedom is manifestly good. However, neutrality is not an option in any case, since acquiescence to Slavery is all that's required from Slaves. In effect, not to oppose Slavery is to support it.
And Slavery can only produce what's in its nature to produce. To choose Slavery as some hypothetical route to Social Justice is nuts. To choose Slavery for its own sake is worse.