Government is the Holy Temple of Statism. Its statutes and decrees are the ever-editable Commandments of the social engineers who sit behind desks, protected by the impenetrable wall of government bureaucracy. It is with great pride and honour that these men and women fight over the right to be able to design society as they please. It is also no mystery why this is the case. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best; its psychoactive drug – which is that of control – incessantly hacks away at the little bit of humanity left at the upper echelons of the system.
What freedom means to people these days – the laymen’s version of it – is twisted to make room for unjust infringements on individual rights; rights we all benefit from, even you as you are reading this. Society must reconsider what it means to be truly free. We should revise all that we know about concepts such as human rights, and what it means to be an individual human being.
Human beings are extremely complex creatures driven by an almost infinite amount of forces. Being such complex creatures implies that we are all unique by default. It is what evolution and natural selection is all about. We all have a unique contribution to society, as we all have a unique set of skills that we can make use of. We are, by nature, endowed with the right to make use of our uniqueness. We have the right to be free in pursuit of our goals.
When we think of freedom, we tend to immediately jump to the part where we limit it. It is what the modern welfare state is all about: how many rights and liberties can we forcefully take from people before it is considered slavery? We seem to be immensely apathetic to the fact that no one asked to be born into the society they were born into. The state is literally a central body of force that demands control over individuals from the day that they are born. To make matters even more ludicrous, people seem to simply not care about the fact that individuals are born within the jurisdiction of a certain collective by pure chance. That human being had no say to whom he or she wants to be bound to. That person did not consent to whichever government they’re “born to”. Period.
Now, I should point out at this stage that my abovementioned statement is usually countered with rebuttals such as “that’s life, get over it”. It’s a shallow argument that only serves as an attempt to refrain from debating the issue at hand: when are people going to get back their right to decide for themselves? It may be an inescapable truth that all humans are going to be born into a predefined collective, but the problem lies with what happens after they are born: why aren’t they allowed to disassociate from government at free will? They were never given a choice. What underlying natural right does a predefined body of power have to force association onto people? What happened to human beings’ natural rights?
When you have a right to something, you have claim to it. We can all claim to have the final say when it comes to whether we live or die; we have the inherent right to life. It is bestowed upon us not by arbitrary human authority, but by the laws of nature. It places nobody else under a positive obligation; that is, an obligation to do something. It merely imposes a negative obligation on other individuals: refrain from taking a human life and yours will be spared. It is the Golden Rule of ethics: treat others as you would want to be treated.
The same principles apply to two other rights we all share by nature as well: the right to be free to pursue our goals, and the right to own what we rightfully own. All of these rights place people under the obligation to refrain from infringing those rights. Human rights, by their very nature alone, do not depend on the actions of others to be fulfilled. It only depends on the absence of certain conduct on other people’s part. Your claims to your life, liberty and property merely demands reciprocal respect from those around you, the obvious exception being when you can only refrain from doing something by physically doing something In such circumstances though, you are not obliged by any man-made law to act positively; the duty is imposed on you by the mere nature of the negative obligation. The logical question that any sane person will ask at this point is: when can these rights be limited? Also, on what authority does the limitation rest?
The inherent nature of a person’s natural rights automatically makes provision for limitations thereof: your rights do not entail the right to infringe on others’ rights. It is not by arbitrary man-made laws that you are obliged to refrain from harming others’ natural rights. You are obliged by the logical necessity of the situation. You do not have an automatic claim to someone else, their abilities and what they own, and neither does someone else have a claim to you, your abilities or what you own. It is the natural state of order between human beings.
That is what the state is supposed to represent: the natural state of order in society. The state’s only function should be to protect your individual rights. The state should not place duties on others to fulfil man-made “rights” authorised by government and government alone. Such so-called rights rest on no fundamental principle other than the rule of the majority. No person has the inherent claim to the services of another.
After considering all this, we should ask ourselves, is it really fair and just towards individuals if we force upon them obligations based on the odd coincidence that they happened to be born in a certain jurisdiction? People seem to conflate the concept of freedom from government with a society where anarchy reigns because there is no order. Involuntary government does not represent order. Voluntary government does. A free society is not a society with no central forces of power, but a society where collectives are formed, joined and left voluntarily. We as humans share the innate drive to band together, therefore there will always be some form of central power. The crucial distinction that we need to make is that such a body of power cannot arbitrarily impose authority on an innocent person.
Now, emphasis should be put on arbitrary authority. It is not arbitrary for a collective to impose force on a person when they are doing so to protect members of the collectives’ natural rights from being infringed. In such an instance, force is demanded to protect innocent people’s rights. It is, however, arbitrary to impose government force on an individual in order to fulfill another person’s man-made rights. It destroys the principle of rights only demanding negative obligations. Unfortunately, such an argument is usually countered with “but without government, a person wouldn’t have achieved what they did so therefore they owe society a part of their freedom”. Since when is it morally justifiable to deem a person as liable and in debt to a party who “helped” him or her, if he or she was forced to accept the help in the first place? A person can’t even leave the country and revoke their citizenship as they please, because they apparently owe government their lives.
No single human being on earth has the power to create new rights and infringe on the natural rights of others. It is irrelevant what the desired ends are. Individuals are never to be treated as a mere means to an end that is defined by the majority. Social welfare is not a justifiable reason to place an obligation upon another person to pay for it. It is terrible that we live in a world where there are people living in dire poverty and despair, which is why we need to encourage ourselves and others to be more philanthropic towards our fellow human beings. It is not, however, philanthropic to extort money from another person via government force merely because you want to help others and merely because the person you’re stealing from may be stolen from, because they form part of your collective by mere chance and no will of their own. Government authority that rests merely on the voice of the majority is asinine. A collective that isn’t based on voluntarism is a prison.
Have we as a society really sunk to the level where we deem a person’s freedom as being expungable so as to serve an apparent collective good defined by those in power? Is it really just to deem a person as a simple cog in the bigger machine, when the only purpose of that machine is supposed to be to protect all individuals to the fullest extent possible? Who are we to change that extent’s boundaries to our mere will? I leave you with the following quote:
“If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organisers are always good. Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?” – Frederic Bastiat