By Nathan Barton
Liberty, for Americans, and for most of the rest of the world, didn’t fare too well in the last few years. A few places, here and there, lost everything. Most places got liberty nibbled at, in large or small bites. In a very few places, liberty increased for the people who are there. (Despite the terrific efforts of tyrants and would-be tyrants.)
What IS liberty, though? There can obviously be degrees of liberty: some people, some societies, some communities can have more liberty, be more free than others. Google defines liberty in two ways: 1. the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views, and 2. the power or scope to act as one pleases.
I frankly don’t care for either of these definitions, but the second is preferable: who defines “oppressive” restrictions (as contrasted to “nonoppressive” restrictions)? And what does it mean to be “free within society” – if we refuse to participate in society, can we not have liberty?
Of course, definitions do not and cannot explain that liberty cannot work if an individual does not accept responsibility for their acts.
There are two concepts:
“Non-Aggression Principle:” (It is popular today to call this the “Zero-Aggression Principle” because ZAP is neater or cooler sounding than NAP.) I know it as a corollary to The Golden Rule.
“Mind Your Own Business” (Which is yet another corollary to The Golden Rule, and was once found on American coins.) It was not the quasi-insult many consider it today. It was (and is) a positive “command” (or piece of advice) even though we today treat it as a negative comment.
It is the second (MYOB) that ties to the essential for liberty: responsibility. A person is not free who does not have and accept responsibility for their own actions. Liberty does indeed have limits, but they are not imposed externally: they must be internal.
If it is truly necessary for someone’s liberty to be controlled from the outside, that control is likely being imposed by someone who would otherwise be a victim of the person, or acting on behalf of a victim/would-be victim. And the reason that external control is necessary to protect OTHER people is because the person is rejecting BOTH the basic concepts of liberty: they are using (or planning to use) force against others in an aggressive manner, AND they are trying to mind someone else’s business. The control from the outside is ONLY justified if it is truly defending yourself (and others) against this amoral or immoral person.
But it is important to remember that we have NO moral obligation or freedom to prevent someone from making themselves a victim: we are NOT responsible for their actions. They are. All of us are responsible both for our actions and the consequences of our actions. Unless we understand that, we truly have no liberty.
Today, even though the media and politicians claim that we have more liberty than ever before, too much of their idea of liberty is “do anything you want within these very carefully (and strictly) defined limits.” Not my idea at all.
More on this matter later.
Mama’s Note: Excellent!