The following is a loose overview of my personal “Philosophy of Liberty” which I have developed up to the present time. It warrants further refinement and I’m sure I will continue to modify it as I continue my studies of economics and liberty. Those champions of individual liberty that have contributed to my personal philosophy are too numerous to list here but I have provided links below to sources where you will find many of their works. I hope that my philosophical observations may be of benefit to you and give you some ideas in the development of your own “Philosophy of Liberty”.
Liberty: the ability to live one’s life as one wishes while respecting the lives of others.
Property: the goods that man produces or acquires through voluntary exchange and/or gift. Claims of land ownership are included here as well.
Murder: the taking of man’s life without his voluntary consent. This deprives him of his future (and future productivity). Excluded from this definition is the taking of another person’s life in the act of self-defense against an aggressor (when one believes one’s life is threatened) or in the defense of others when the lives of these others are threatened.
Slavery: the taking of man’s liberty without his voluntary consent. This deprives him of his present.
Theft: the taking of man’s property without his voluntary consent. This deprives him of his past (the time energy and talent that he used to produce this property).
Plunder: The ill-gotten gains from theft.
Man occupies space and consumes energy.
Man seeks happiness (and seeks to remove uneasiness).
In order to live man must consume those things that sustain his life (food, shelter, etc.).
In order for the necessities of life to be consumed they must first be produced.
An infant cannot produce for himself so he must rely on the production of others through charity.
As a child matures he must continue to rely on the charitable production of others until he learns to produce for himself.
In the process of producing for oneself man usually develops a specialization resulting in a surplus that can be traded for the specialized products of others (comparative advantage/specialization of labor). This process of production results in what is often referred to as “the fruits of his labor”.
These products are an extension of man because they are the direct result of his expended time and energy (life).
Based upon the propositions set forth, anyone who seeks to take another man’s life, liberty or property against that man’s voluntary consent is an enemy to human life. With this understanding I propose to label my philosophy of liberty as “pro-life” as I am vehemently opposed to murder, slavery, and theft. This is not to be confused with the label of “pro-life” as it relates to abortion although abortion is certainly an issue to be considered within this broader philosophy (the issues regarding abortion will not be addressed in this missive).
There are some men who seek to take away the property and liberty of others in order to use this production for personal profit. These men choose this path as they find it preferable to producing for themselves.
This short-term benefit is not only dangerous to the thief but it is detrimental to his long-term well-being because his victims must divert a portion of their resources toward protection services instead of to production. This loss of production reduces the overall societal standard of living as there are less products and services available for trade.
Despite this, the thief is not concerned with the detrimental, long-term effects of plunder as he only cares about the immediate benefit. Therefore, the rest of society must take protective measures if they wish to safeguard their life, liberty and property. It follows then that the degree of man’s freedom is proportionate to the level of protection he has secured.
The Ignorant Plunderers
These are the individuals that participate in plunder as they have not thought through the consequences of their actions. Those in this category are the majority of all plunderers and, unfortunately, a large percentage of society.
The Purposeful Plunderers
These are the individuals who know that their actions are contrary to human well-being and they continue in their plunder anyway. They can be thought of as “anti-life” or “evil”. Those in this category are in the minority of all plunderers.
On Advancing Liberty
It appears then that there are three worthy endeavors that must be undertaken if one wants to enhance life (freedom):
First: One must work to master himself. Self-mastery. Self-control. He must work to adjust his actions so that he is no longer a participator in plunder. Robert LeFevre referred to this as Autarchy or “self-rule”. Freedom is self-control, not license to impose on others.
Second: One must work to educate those individuals that are Ignorant Plunderers so that they can recognize the negative consequences of their actions and then, hopefully, change those actions.
Third: One must invest a portion of his resources toward the protection of his life, liberty and property from both types of Plunderers. Harry Browne recognized this when he said that “freedom is self-defense” in his fantastic Rule Your World seminar.
There many strategies for defending one’s life, liberty and property which will not be addressed in detail here. Instead I direct you to resources that can easily be found on the internet.
One strategy for dealing with the Purposeful Plunderers that I will call your attention to is the one put forth by Marc Stevens in his book Adventures in Legal Land. His key observation is that the Purposeful Plunderers must maintain a veneer of legitimacy or moral authority in order to continue their plunder. Marc’s techniques for destroying that veneer are powerful and they warrant further study, analysis and practice.
Thankfully for the internet there are now numerous resources where people can learn the ideas of liberty. My favorite book is Fundamentals of Liberty by Robert LeFevre.
On this wise I will refer you to two, short discourses that explain this principle better than I ever could. The first is Robert LeFevre’s Autarchy. The second is A Way To Be Free – Epilogue which I feel are some of the finest words ever written concerning the cause of liberty.
With my personal philosophy I can easily be referred to by any of the popular labels: Libertarian, Liberal, Classical Liberal, Voluntaryist, Autarchist, Capitalist, Free-Market Capitalist, Anarcho-Capitalist, Anarchist, Agorist, Counter-Economist, Idealist, Realist and so on but when you really get to the heart of the matter I am ultimately “Pro-Life”.