FREEDOM AND LIBERTARIANS
Liberty, like light, dazes the denizens of darkness.
Liberty is to the individual what the sun is to the plant.
Right action is the result of correct thought.
A declaration of independence is a bulwark against the army of despotism.
Individuality is too complex a thing to conform to rigid rules.
An Authoritarian believes in suppression; a Libertarian believes in expression.
Liberty is a conquest, not a gift. It is won by courage and love of justice.
There is no security for liberty until it is understood and upheld by the many.
Only the reactionary believes that liberty has accomplished its mission.
In granting freedom to others, we extend the boundaries of our own freedom.
Let those who argue against liberty because it is sometimes abused mention something that cannot be abused.
It was for a reality, and not a dream, that men sacrificed their lives for liberty.
Speaking generally, mankind can be divided into two groups, Authoritarians and Libertarians. * The first believe in making people be good, the second believe in letting people be good. The first believes in compelling others to conform to their wishes, the second thinks it better to convince than to compel.
The Libertarians believe that if an idea is good, it is not necessary to force its acceptance, and if it is bad it should not be imposed. This is the crime of authority; it forces its decrees upon unconverted people. Libertarians are opposed to forcing even a good thing on an unwilling mind.
Libertarians are persons who accept equal liberty as the fundamental principle of society and of the individual.
* Libertarian: One who upholds the principle of liberty, especially individual liberty of thought and action.-Webster’s New International Dictionary.
They maintain that, with it as a guiding principle, society and the individual can reach a harmonious relationship. They claim that, if it is adopted and applied, it will solve social and economic problems. Therefore Libertarians consider it the most important subject that can engage the mind.
The principle of equal liberty has been formulated by two great philosophers, Immanuel Kant and Herbert Spencer. Kant said, “Everyone may seek his own happiness in the way that seems good to himself, provided that he infringe not such freedom of others to strive after a similar end as is consistent with the freedom of all according to a possible general law.” Spencer states the principle thus, “That every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberty by every other man.”
This gives us a fundamental principle as a basis. Libertarians believe in equal liberty, and not absolute liberty. “Absolute liberty” disregards the liberty of others, and is unsocial in character, because it is unrelated. If there is an absolute, it is not a social law, for all social laws are relative. Equal liberty is bounded by the like liberty of all.
Mere equality does not imply equal liberty. Slaves are equal in their slavery. Equal opportunity to rob others is not equal liberty, but its violation; it abridges “liberty to possess,” and “liberty to produce and to own the product.” These liberties are implied by equality of liberty, just as is equal opportunity. So equal robbery or equal slavery is not equal liberty. It is not the greatest amount of slavery compatible with equality of slavery that Libertarians want, but the greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality of liberty. There are but two positions from which to choose. One must choose equal liberty or unequal liberty. Which shall it be? Most persons believe in liberty for themselves, but not for others. Libertarians demand the same liberty for others that they ask for themselves.
Libertarians are opposed to invasions of every kind. Invasion is the opposite of liberty. One who violates the principle of equal liberty or abridges equal rights is an invader, and such acts are invasive, whether they be done by an individual or a band of individuals; whether by an official group or an unofficial group. They way to avoid invasions is to teach justice, and justice is derived from the principle of equal freedom, not from custom, as it is now taught. This principle leading to justice is the one for society to adopt as a guide. It has proven to be a great benefit to many individuals and some institutions, and it will prove to be so for society. As this principle makes for the greater well being of all, and as society is interested in the common welfare, it should hasten its adoption. Many people think that equal freedom is today the fundamental basis of society, but such is not the case. Law or the state has no such basis. Most people mistake law for justice and authority for liberty. You will hear them talk of “liberty under law,” and they are content to see it so deep under the law that it is completely obliterated.
Liberty is not something we had and lost, for we find in history that man was a serf and not a free man, that further back he was a slave having still less liberty. Liberty is something we are going towards) not something we are coming from. As we have more now than in the past, so we shall have more in the future than we now possess. Slavery was the result of ignorance. Liberty is the product of intelligence.
Every possible excuse is seized upon by people for abandoning principle. They think every little event that occurs justifies them in suspending it. If there is the slightest advantage to be gained by it, away it goes, and then they complain about others not being persons of principle. Some who pretend to believe in the principle of free speech will say, “Well, it is all right to suppress that fellow, as his ideas are all wrong.” Another will say, “Well, it is all right to suppress that organization, for I don’t believe anything they teach.” That is a departure from principle. You will often hear it said, “Well, liberty won’t work in this or that field, as I have tried it and it failed.” This may be true. The reason is that the one applying liberty knew nothing of it, or its workings-not loving it as a principle, or understanding it as a theory. It is to be expected that in such hands it would prove a failure. It is not an uncommon thing for some to make a failure of things that in the hands of others prove a great success. There may be nothing wrong with the principle, but everything wrong with the appliers. Most people think they know all about liberty, but it would be strange if they did, as they have not been taught it.
Enemies of liberty point to instances where restraint was removed and individuals failed to restrain them themselves. But this results from the restraint and not from the liberty; Having never been taught self-restraint or liberty, men have not known how to use either. The remedy is more liberty, more responsibility, and the result will be satisfactory.
Its enemies deride liberty as an abstraction. It is abstract, but so are most of the sciences. Mathematics, for instance, is abstract, but we find that this abstraction fits every concrete fact in the universe. So it is with abstract liberty. It will fit every concrete social fact; it will solve every social ill.
Liberty applied in one field will not cure all of the social evils. It must be applied to all fields in order to eliminate all troubles. If a little liberty in one case would suffice to cure all other troubles, we would have no trouble now, as we have liberty in some things. It is like the Irishman, who heard that a feather bed was the softest possible bed. He secured a feather and laid it on a board for his bed. He said, “Begorrah, I would as soon have slept on the board without the feather as with it.” So with liberty; one small part will not be sufficient to meet all social requirements, but in large amounts it will.
To prevent the hermit or recluse from living his individual life in his own way would be to violate the principle of liberty. To give as a reason for such interference that social or co-operative ways are more beneficial is not to help the case, for if co-operation is more beneficial than individual effort, bringing a greater reward, then this extra reward should satisfy those who co-operate, and the recluse should be permitted to have less, if he chose less with his individual liberty. Any social system that does not provide liberty (which implies equal opportunity) for both these kinds of individuals will not be founded on liberty, but on tyranny.
Authoritarians’ real objection to liberty is not, as they pretend, that it will not cure enough of the social ills, but that it cures too many. Some men do not like to be deprived of all their miseries at one fell swoop; they prefer to get rid of them one at a time. If you offer them a cure for one social ill they will mildly oppose you, but if you offer them a cure for all social ills you will be received as their greatest enemy. Such persons will neither accept the cure nor permit others to do so. If the intelligent individual attempts it, he meets every possible opposition.
Liberty must be tested by its friends, not by its enemies. When so tried it has proven a great success. When understood and trusted it cannot fail. It has worked individually, it will work collectively. It has worked in some social relations, it will work in all social relations. It has been beneficial to the individual, it will prove so to all mankind.
Liberty is not a dogma, not a creed, but a sociological principle applicable to society and the individual, and will free them both. That equal freedom will be ultimately adopted as the guiding principle in social affairs is evident to advanced thinkers. It is a social necessity, just as it is an individual necessity.
Just as individuals have found it to be highly beneficial, so society will learn its worth and adopt it. That there is a development in this direction history testifies. One liberty after another has been adopted, and one tyranny after another has fallen. Authority prevailed in the past; liberty will prevail in the future. It must be applied in all social affairs in order to cure all social ills. A partial trial is not a fair test, and yet with little opportunity it has produced wonderful results, and the people must never yield a bit of what they have gained, because of the difficulty of retrieving such loss.
Authority is like a queen who wished to reign for a day, but in that day caused the king, her husband, to be slain and usurped the throne. Liberty must not be surrendered for anything. There is no recompense equal to its loss. It would be better for mankind to surrender every material advantage than to give up liberty. It is the most precious thing that man has developed, and without it man would be a savage again, and the hope of civilization would be blotted out. The world would plunge back into mental darkness.
Liberty is the dream of the Libertarian and the hope of the race.