Freedom and The Seven Deadly Sins

If you knew you had half an hour left to live, how would you live it? Would you obey a humiliating command and run naked to your death, as the Nazis commanded their victims do?

Let’s get serious for a moment. Think about yourself. Your past. Your family. The choices you’ve made, your fate, your circumstances, the people you’ve come to know: Everything encapsulated in the person that you are today. Then, imagine, it’s war. A group of people escort you to your grave with guns pointing to your head. These are the last moments of your life.

How would you act?

Would you have the courage to say no, stop, look around, forgive, even? Would you risk dying sooner, so you can walk it your own way, because it’s your life, because in your heart you know that your conscience is truly free?

Most of us are mentally enslaved. We’ve been taught not to question, to learn what’s taught, to do what’s expected, to follow the herd because the majority is always right.

‘So, I run because they tell me to.
I run because everyone else is.
I’m scared of repercussions if I don’t obey’

The Nazis with guns, they too were enslaved. They’d forgotten they were free. Even if it meant death, they could have chosen to obey their own conscience. But no.

‘I kill because they tell me to.
I kill because everyone else is.
I’m scared of repercussions if I don’t obey’

Freedom takes courage.

My dad gave a lecture one time, the topic was genocide. ‘Would you do it?’, he asked. ‘Can you?’
A few students sheepishly raised their hands ‘yes’. Most shook their heads ‘no.’
When asked ‘why not?’ a student answered, ‘because I’m not that kind of a person’.

‘What if’, my dad asked. ‘What if you were given the power to do so. What if your friends admired you for it. What if your nation encouraged it? What if your family were compensated for it? Would you then, not commit mass murder?’ The classroom was silent.

‘Don’t forget your freedom’ he said. ‘Everybody has the capacity to commit evil, but don’t forget, you have a choice. Know your vices. Don’t be a slave. You have to take a leap and claim freedom for yourself, in every situation, in face of all challenges.’

“The cost of liberty is eternal vigilance” (Jefferson)

What I see at the heart of the Libertarian movement, is a quickening of the freedom inherent in every individual. In this sense, I see it is a spiritual battle.

What are we fighting against, exactly?

Seven Deadly Sins:

Sloth —> Let them (the state) take care of it
Envy —> It’s not fair, our outcomes should be equal
Gluttony –> I want more, more more!
Covetousness—> Let’s take what’s not ours
Lust —> Forgetting boundaries of private property
Anger —> Why don’t people see my view?
Pride —> I know best

It’s understood that with freedom, comes responsibility.

This is an ancient battle: Humanity has always fought against these sins. Yet, this time is different because of the sheer scale of things: We are the most populated, most networked, interdependent, international, militarised, and powerful (nuclear energy being the most powerful) population the world has ever seen. Are we not fighting a Leviathan of the greatest magnitude? Everywhere there’s chaos, anger, confusion, and still we fight the same battle! This message of freedom is paramount now, more than ever. It’s time to wake up, learn our lesson, evolve. Only we can save ourselves.

Libertarian Book Project

Friends of liberty, I humbly request your help!

I have decided to embark upon the exciting new challenge of writing a book on libertarianism, introducing the ideas of liberty and the errors of collectivism to a British audience through the medium of Austrian economics, conceptual explanation and historical illustration.

An extract from my proposed introduction reads:

The book’s approach is to take a topic of popular debate, make the case for freedom in that particular area before going on to address the most common objections. The format was inspired by my legal background and belief that it is only by overcoming objections in the popular mind can libertarians ever hope to affect real change in the political arena.

To set me on my way, I seek your collective wisdom in the matter of some important preliminary questions:

1. Who should the book be addressed to?

2. What topics most need addressing? (Money and banking is already high on the list!)

3. What should be left out?

These and other questions will be posed on Facebook all next week. Please take the time (if it can be spared) to visit the Libertarian Home Facebook page to vote and contribute suggestions. Questions about how to sell libertarianism in a book are also questions about how to sell libertarianism, so I hope you’ll find this discussion useful.

Should you wish to send me an e-mail, please do so at samswann@hotmail.com.

Thank you very much.

Sam

 

 

Video: Democracies, Republics and other unnecessary evils

Two hundred and thirty six years after a democratic republic called the United States of America was signed into existence by its founders we assembled to consider what our present systems really look like in practice, and discuss some alternatives. Jan C Lester provides his definition and commentary and sets out why he thinks we’re better off with nobody at all in charge.

As a good open minded objectivist (and “closed system” advocate) I should really register my disagreement at this point but I found Jan Lester’s argument for complete Anarchy quite persuasive. Rand’s main objection to anarchy was founded on the idea that, for an individual, having multiple Governments meant that they could not know how a dispute was to be adjudicated and any serious dispute would escalate to into a de facto war between private enforcement agencies.

One illustration will be sufficient: suppose Mr. Smith, a customer of Government A, suspects that his next-door neighbor, Mr. Jones, a customer of Government B, has robbed him; a squad of Police A proceeds to Mr. Jones’ house and is met at the door by a squad of Police B, who declare that they do not accept the validity of Mr. Smith’s complaint and do not recognize the authority of Government A. What happens then? You take it from there.

However, Frederick Cookinham seems to reconcile Anarchism to Objectivism in his book The Age of Rand, believing Rand to be labouring under a misunderstanding of the anarchic system. He points out that the competing sources of justice in the proposed system are not Governments have different powers and incentives and could not or would not fight such a war.

Rand also wrote:

even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.

During the Q&A on Thursday I was asked “so are you suddenly an anarchist?” Of course, anarchy is a political theory, not a metaphysical, epistemological, ethical or aesthetic theory so it is much narrower. If I were persuaded that anarchism was a better political theory than an objectivist minarchy then I would still be an objectivist, I would simply see myself as differing from other objectivists in the area of politics.

So, am I persuaded that anarchy is a better political theory than objectivist minarchy? No, for the reason that an individual is only free when he knows in advance where his freedom ends and the rights of others begin, and that is what laws should be set down to decide. I have no doubt at all that a company could produce a document containing such a set of laws, but how would they be circulated and enforced in an anarchic society such that every individual knew what choices were open to him and which closed?