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.
Is controlled the same thing as owned? Although we can choose not to participate in some fashion. Our lives are governed by credit scores, credit cards, mortgage payments, health insurance, conduct, or travel.
When we have to seek, then be granted permission for the basics in life. Traveling back and forth to work. We must meet certain preconditions to work, credit scores, employment history, criminal records, appropriate social media activities, and mental stability. Are all factors potential employers evaluate.
Owning firearms requires permission. Buying a firearm is no longer a in and out affair.
Soon, there’ll be mandatory direct deposits and cash will become a thing of the past. In many ways are owned, but not to the extent that a cashless society will usher in.
Perhaps the freest people are living in a rain forest untouched, concerned, or physiological manipulated into compliance.
BK, I think that there is a difference: especially if there are work-arounds or ways to avoid these things. A free society is a loose society in which everyone (or at least the very broad middle of the bell curve) had ways of living and working without having to submit to controls. Whether it is the hobos of lore, or the desert hermits or the Galt’s Gulchers, or the people sailing the high seas. Yes, there are trade-offs, and some are really nasty, but still options.
As you point out, those are being more and more narrowed. It is a frequent theme of both libertarian thought and science fiction.
Remember, too, that some restrictions are based entirely on our voluntary willingness to abide by the laws – even unjust ones. Owning firearms does NOT require permission in many states – purchasing them through “normal channels” (like gun shops) does. But I can buy one or trade for one, or be given one in many states (SD, WY, UT, to name a few) without having to have government (or anyone else’s) permission. If I am willing to be lawless, there is no place in the Fifty States I cannot own (or buy, or steal) a weapon. With risks, of course.
It comes down, perhaps, to a matter of what we value more: liberty or conformance.
the direct answer to the posed question: WE OWN OURSELVES and all that statement implies. as is sometime the case, ‘theory’ and ‘reality’ do not coincide so one, or both, must change.
in America become amerika, the ‘theory’ of ‘free men’ has been pitted against the ‘reality’ of ‘free men’ and the theory has been changed at all levels of power. now, ‘free men’ are only so at the pleasure of their betters…their overseers…their masters…with many of the ‘citizenry’ accepting of their ‘place’. all others are demonized as ‘extremists’, ‘racists’, ‘homophobes’, ‘deplorables’, etc.
the demonization ramping up hatred is in full swing. historically, such events are followed by destruction of those demonized. is this the future coming toward us?
Beau, great points.
Too many people here in the Fifty States (and the rest of the world) either say (or act like) someone else owns them.
Yes, demonization often DOES lead to those demonized being destroyed. BUT… not always. We can and do find examples throughout history where the despicables and the deplorables DO survive and prosper, while those who would have destroyed them have failed and fallen. I pray that 21st Century America might be such a place.
We are all self owned, problem is that we are all controlled by the government in many ways. We must question that control all the time and where we can fight it.
Too many people refuse to admit this truth, or fail to understand that their actions do not match their claims of self-ownership.