Category Archives: Theory and Ideas

Morning Thoughts

“True liberty cannot exist apart from the full rights of property, for property is the only crystallized form of free faculties… ”

— Auberon Herbert
(1838-1906) English author

Without property rights, everything becomes a privilege, granted you by a generous collective. If you are not able to own your property, defend it, be private within it, maintain it in a stable fashion, then your other inalienable rights are sophistries, with no value. As the municipal governments of this country, aided and abetted by the courts, continue to erode your property rights in their quest for increased revenues, they play right into the hands of the left. The left, whose socialist foundations calls for the individual to have no individual, inherent rights, but only collective privileges masquerading as rights, disguised as rights to allay your suspicions that they are, in truth, opposed to all that you believe in.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The New Libertarian

New articles are up at The New Libertarian. One of the better articles, by Anthony Woodlief, is Bringing Back The Lower Case: Re-examining Libertarianism. It is, in fact, an article that has much in common with the philosophies at the core of this blog.

The reason I will address this topic — and the reason you should care — is because libertarianism represents perhaps the best set of potential political solutions to America’s problems, and is the legacy of a truncated set of the Founders’ beliefs (subtract their belief in God and a strong central government, and you have libertarianism).

The only quibble I might have with this is that the strong central government advocated by the Founders is not at all what we think of today as a strong central government. In fact, what they wanted is what most lower case libertarians (classic liberals) today want. A central government that provides for the national defense, foreign policy and a solid foundation for economics (single currency, no import/export duties between states, etc).

The single best point in the essay, which really is introducing a series, is this:

In short, there is libertarianism, the philosophy of governance, and there is Libertarianism, the creed. The persistence of the latter interferes, I think, with the development of the former.

And this, truly, is the problem with Libertarians today. It is why I cannot call myself Libertarian, or join the Libertarian Party. They are dedicated to a set of beliefs that is carried to an extreme and allows for nothing that might contradict such beliefs. The difference between James Madison and Michael Badnarik is that Madison was willing to compromise if it moved him towards his goal. The point is to move towards the goal, not sit in coffee houses and talk about the beauty of the goal. And the goal is more freedom, more liberty, more prosperity. It is not perfection of those things. Perfection is not possible. Rather, it is the enemy of the good. Let’s work towards achieving the good.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Libertarianism: A Religion?

A new article at QandO’s The New Libertarian by Anthony Woodlief that criticizes what he calls the “religious aspects” of Libertarianism. Go check it out, it’s pretty interesting

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The Hayride.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Democracy and Tyranny

If you ask most people to compare democracy and tyranny, they will say that they are polar opposites, since no particular person can gain or abuse power without the consent of the majority. While even this is not true, as proven by Adolf Hitler’s rise to democratically-elected power, it is far from the end of the story. It is never considered whether the majority could oppress a minority, or even whether the majority could oppress itself.

First, let us address the majority oppressing the minority by looking at Social Security. Let me quote from my last article for this site:

With words like this FDR convinced an entire generation to trade away their liberty, and the liberty of their fellow citizens, in return for the promise of a brighter future. Roosevelt convinced a good part of the American population that the government could make better decisions for them than they could themselves. They saw the promise of mighty civic heroes acting to save them from the vagaries of circumstance.

The decision to give up control of one’s life to another, of course, is one every individual is free to make. The problem here is not that people are choosing to do this for themselves, but rather they are choosing to do it through the state, an institution that affects everyone. We all participate in and pay for FDR’s “great defense” program, even though a good number of us would rather not. Because FDR’s program is run through the state, a democracy, our preferences were ignored in favor of the majority.

Haughty equality vs. humble equality — posted 11/24/2005

How is Social Security tyranny? The issue is simple. I am oppressed by Social Security because I am forced to sacrifice some of my property by the state. I was never asked whether I would like to sacrifice some of my property to participate in the Social Security system. A majority, voting decades before I was born, made the decision that everyone should sacrifice some of their property to fund the Social Security system.

Many would argue that, since it was a democratic majority, it is not tyranny. From my vantage point as an individual, it makes no difference who decided I should give up property without my consent; I am oppressed because I am forced to do so. Simple, is it not?

Now, I can already hear some people saying that this Quincy fellow is just a selfish curmudgeon who doesn’t want to help his fellow Americans. While I am a generous person by choice, I resent being forced to do things without my consent. My perceived generosity, though, is neither here nor there in regards to the point of this essay.

Considering that most of the people who would raise the above objection have a certain view on another issue, let us examine that as our next case. Here’s the question: Would it be tyranny if the majority of people voted to ban abortion for everyone?

Ah, now the issue is not as clear cut, is it? If you believe that women should be able to get abortions, then such a vote would be horribly wrong in your mind. If you believe that they shouldn’t, such a vote would be a vindication. In this case, just as in the Social Security case, a majority voted to impose its will on a minority.

This brings us to another question: Does the size of a group that holds a position reflect the rightness of that position? While it should be clear from the last 5 millennia of human history that a majority can be terribly wrong, this is still a commonly held fallacy. Let us consider the case of the Catholic Church during the inquisition. It held the majority view that the earth was flat and everything rotated around it. As we know, from the work of Columbus, Galileo, Keppler, and Copernicus, these views were incorrect. Each of those four men contradicted the views held by millions, but these four were right and the millions were wrong.

If not democracy, then what? That is a good question. I’ve spent the last several paragraphs illustrating the problems of democracy, but I have not yet offered a better way. You may not believe this after reading the above, but democracy is part of the answer. The other part of the answer is the realization that certain things are so sacrosanct that they must never come up for a vote. First among these are the rights to life, liberty, and property. Second are those liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights. They are so important that, no matter what the majority wills, they cannot be abridged. This concept, that the law and natural rights are more important than the wills of men, is vital to ensuring that democracy does not become tyranny. It is something we must learn, or re-learn, before it is too late.

A Better Political Spectrum

Let’s talk about a better way to understand politics than the current conservative/center/liberal spectrum, which really is simplistic, contradictory and disguises some things that are very important in Western political thought. The current spectrum that most people accept looks something like this (this is almost exactly what my high school American Govt teacher drew on the board, IIRC):

Just about the first problem we see is that as you slide from the Center to either the Right or Left you start approaching totalitarian forms of government. And, unless you happen to be either a Fascist or a Communist, you can see fairly easily that there is very little difference in practical purposes between the two extremes. Either this is very cynical and pessimistic and we are doomed to extremism no matter what or it is not realistic. So, let’s quickly define a few terms and then start down the road of what a more realistic and understandable political spectrum would look like. » Read more

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

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