Liberty and Authority

By Nathan Barton

I’ve forgotten who said this:

“And here is the difference between the Libertarians and the Authoritarians: the latter have no confidence in liberty; they believe in compelling people to be good, assuming that people are totally depraved; the former believe in letting people be good, and maintain that humanity grows better and better as it gains more and more liberty. If Libertarians were merely to ask that liberty be tried in any one of the other fields of human expression they would meet the same opposition as their pioneer predecessors; but such is their confidence in the advantages of liberty that they demand, not that it be tried in one more instance only, but that it be universally adopted.”

It is a frequent topic of discussion on-line, and in various political venues. It is a matter which crosses over into religious questions as well, and into parenting and business management. Let’s discuss at least one part of this.

Mama Liberty called the Authoritarians “Controllers” for such they are.  They are those “who have no confidence in liberty; they believe in compelling people to be good, assuming that people are totally depraved.”  They are the Statists. Lovers of the State, even worshipers of it.  What I call Tranzis (Transnational Progressives) are just one faction within the group. Both Democrats and Republicans, National Socialists and Communists (International Socialists), conservatives and liberals, are all Authoritarians: Controllers.

Sadly, too many who CALL themselves “Libertarian” are numbered with them. Although they preach liberty, they do not live it.  Nor do they want others to live in liberty.  Maybe just a little bit more freedom than we have now, but not unbridled liberty.  They reject self-government for “State-Lite.”  In certain things, they believe, people must be compelled to do good, demonstrating that these “Libertarians” have no confidence in the stuff (liberty, society, markets, etc.).  It might be traffic laws, or in defense of the community.  It might be markets during natural disasters. It might be courts or benevolence of last resort, but they want government.  They need government.  They might not go so far as to say that people are “totally depraved,” but that people are depraved to some degree. And as a result, they still must have human Authority and therefore humans (even if based on the principle of “unanimous consent”) to exercise that Authority: Controllers. Even if just a little bit.

As the quote states, this is not a good idea.  It may even be impossible, or so unstable that quickly, we are back on that long slide down from (some) liberty to totalitarian tyranny.

We lovers of liberty reject this idea of human Authority, and obligatory obedience to it.  (Some may also reject any idea of Divine Authority, and others accept God’s Authority – again, a religious issue.) We reject the idea that we MUST have someone to control us, our actions, our lives. Other than ourselves.

If we truly voluntarily accept the Authority of someone else – even God – we retain liberty, for we may revoke that acceptance at will, and have it recognized.  (And admittedly, pay whatever penalty results. Whether it be monetary damages for cancelling an employment contract or a purchase agreement, or other damages denying God.) But we do not accept the idea that once we voluntarily agree to submit (to Authority; to being controlled), we can never again be free. And certainly not the idea that because our ancestors (distant or not) accepted some Authority to control them, that we are automatically subject to that same Authority.

Yet that is exactly what the Authoritarians, the Controllers, the State (and others, such as some churches) expect and demand, in practice. Whether they admit it or not.  Especially not if the rejection of governmental (or any other) Authority does not involve merely changing from one to another. (“I give up my status as a subject of the British Crown to become an American citizen,” for example.)

We, as lovers of liberty, must understand that we should not pick and choose which “mandatory” Authority (or part, thereof) we can accept and which we cannot. I think it must be all or nothing.  Liberty must be the standard in all aspects of life and society, not just in some parts.

We are, of course, unlikely to achieve that all at once, but it must be our goal.  We cannot have the Authoritarians, the Controllers, dictate some part of our lives and count on them to leave the rest of our lives alone.  They may, for a while, but sooner or later, they WILL try to take control.  Just as has happened in the Fifty States, and in countless societies and civilizations before ours.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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