A Native on Liberty
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its Officers, or its Participants.
A Native on Liberty
November 3, 2003
One's life needs no justification it is the justification. Life, each person's own life, is an end in itself. Every person on earth, from the day he or she is born, has the right to exist for his or her own sake, by virtue of being alive.
Every living being, by nature, has a method of sustaining its life a means of surviving and continuing to exist. The human method of survival is the mind. A human being can only live and flourish by identifying facts, choosing between alternatives, and picking the most productive course of action. Humans must sustain their survival through the production of food and practical tools to keep themselves alive. Thinking, not just the repetition of manual labor, is what makes production possible. The mind creates all wealth. All means of production, be it the growing of food or the making of electric power, had to be discovered for the first time by someone who chose to take up the responsibility of thinking. Our minds are our means of continuing to exist. To live by the use of one's mind, thinking and acting on one's independent conclusions, one must be free. One cannot be free from nature immutable facts such as the law of gravity or one's need of food to survive the only thing one can be free from is other people. Liberty is freedom from coercive interference in one's life by other human beings.
While a person can receive incalculable benefits by living in a society with others, he or she can also receive incalculable loss. To the extent that a society is rational and peaceful, a person may thrive in it. To the extent that it is irrational and brutal, a person will perish in it. It is the self-interest of all to live together freely and peacefully.
Voluntary trade unforced exchange resulting in mutual benefit whether in the material or the spiritual realm is how people must deal with one another if they are to achieve a civilized society. Trading money for goods, investing in friendships or romantic relationships, and the sharing of fruitful ideas are all forms of trade. Traders live freely and by voluntary association, not physical force.
It is only through physical violence against persons or property that a human being can coerce another against his or her will. The threat of physical harm makes it impossible for one to act on the judgment of one's independent mind to live one's life in accordance with one's nature as a thinking being. Freedom ends where force begins.
An honest person who produces his or her own value does not seek to gain from the use of force against others, but, if threatened or attacked, and in virtue of a living being's right to exist, must use retaliatory force in self defense: to defend one's life, or the lives of others whom one loves and values. It is the necessary condition of a just and civilized society that the initiation of physical coercion be formally banned.
All human beings have the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness which means the right to live free from physical force. But these rights cannot exist in a vacuum. Rights, while having their basis in human nature, are not guaranteed to a person simply because he or she exists, and a person's rights can be violated by others. Minimal governments, funded only by user fees, must be instituted among human beings to ban the initiation of force from society. Governments have the power to enforce laws that protect the liberty of citizens living in certain territories. The rights of individual citizens should be protected from criminals by a police force and from foreign invaders by a militia and military forces. Courts must be instituted to settle disputes between citizens peaceably.
But a government must be kept minimal, must not be allowed to levy taxes, and must be kept very strictly limited in its powers. Any government which takes away a person's right to exist for his or her own sake turns one into a slave and is a tyranny. Tyrannies such as Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Communist China-each responsible for murdering millions of people-must not be allowed to endure. Through political reform or armed rebellion unjust regimes must be removed from power. A state run by murderers, tyrants, and thieves has no right to exist. Government must remain just and perform only its proper function: defending the rights of individual citizens.
Most of the world is choked by societies that destroy liberty, not protect it, but this is not inevitable. Humans have free will, and the course of history is not set: liberty can be achieved. The human right to liberty may be stalled, it may be silenced, and it may be ignored, but liberty will never die. As long as humans exist, the ability to fight for liberty will remain. General John Stark of New Hampshire, a hero of the American Revolution, once said: "Live free or die; Death is not the worst of evils."
Those individuals who understand the meaning and value of liberty must take
up common cause. We must unite under the banner of individual rights. We must
unite against tyranny. We must unite in the name of LIBERTY, and in doing so
create a better world for ourselves, our children, and the ones we love.