By Nathan Barton
For those of us who advocate and practice (to the best of our abilities) the principle of self-government, the answer is obvious.
Whether we are proponents, or even comfortable with, the philosophy of Ayn Rand or Harry Browne, or not. Whether we are believers in God the Creator, some other deity, or reject theism. Whether we are of Anglo or Irish, AmerInd or Moorish, Akan or Bantu, Hmong or Korean. Regardless of our ancestry. Whether we are dot.com millionaires or motel housekeepers, business owners or students.
As lovers of liberty, we know that we own ourselves. Whether it is because God made us that way or the Universe and humanity evolved to make us that way. Or because we are just too bloody-minded to be anything else.
We know that billions of people think that they are owned in some way, whether it is body and/or soul, or time, or labor, or whatever, by some other human.
And a few people – perhaps just a few million out of Earth’s billions – think that they own other humans. (Assuming we can call those who believe that “people” or “human” except by the strict definition of biology.) Admittedly, a lot of those who think that they are owned in turn think that they can own other humans. Even though they pay lip service to ideas of equality and liberty and the brotherhood of humankind.
Sadly, most people don’t really think about it. And many who do think about it, have twisted their minds so badly that they can believe that what they are doing (or having done to them, or both) is NOT being owned or owning other humans. Newspeak.
Can we try to think about this, cut through the indoctrination and propaganda and what our teachers and priests and politicians have told us for so long? Who owns ME?
I think it is important.
Is it some member of my family? My spouse, perhaps? My parent(s)? My children? Is it my boss, or the organization I work for? My clients or customers? Is it my creditors? Is it a government? Is it a religious leader? A celebrity? Or is it even our passions and our lusts?
By own, I mean nothing so simple and straightforward as being a branded slave in chains, my life controlled for nearly every hour and every minute of everyday by a slave owner and master. I mean who controls my time, my energy to do work (and other things). Who controls my finances, and can deny or take or give what I need to sustain my life. Who tells me what to say (or at least what NOT to say). And not all the time. Maybe just six or eight hours per working day. Or maybe 24-7. Who controls me? Who owns me?
It could be that you (or I) have a lot of owners: that we have allowed ourselves to be controlled by a bunch of people. Maybe without even realizing it. IF (and it is a big if) we do that voluntarily and understand what we have done, then maybe that is acceptable. If I freely decide, and pretty much understand what it means, to let my wife own me, that is fine. If I am a believer and submit myself to Jesus, or even to Allah, as His slave, and do it voluntarily and comprehending what is involved, that is something I can respect and accept (even if I think it is wrong).
But how can we do that (give ourselves to our spouse or our God) if someone else – some other humans or entities – really own us? Really control some or all of our actions, our time, our resources? (Including our minds and bodies.)
We must ask ourselves that, and objectively figure out if that is the case.
For lovers of liberty, I think it is clear that the only sort of ownership of ourselves (body or time or mind), by someone else, is the kind that is both voluntary and can be revoked. (Again, even the revocation must be strictly voluntary: I’m not saying that we HAVE to revoke it.)
But that is not how government, and most of the people in this world, view it. Which is why it is necessary for lovers of liberty to reject control by others.
That is why we must reject government, and any other organization or entity, which claims otherwise. I am not saying that we will not have to pay consequences if we do sever the bonds between us and others, whether the voluntary controls over us are economic or social or emotional or religious.
But if we think that we cannot voluntarily separate ourselves, we are not free. Someone else owns us.
Unless we are honest and understand just how we may be owned by someone else, or how someone claims or acts as if they own us, we cannot be fully free. Especially not when much of society and the world agree with them, and not us.
Think about it.