Monday, February 23, 2009

Liberty Defined

In the last post of any substance, Junyo commented:

"What form does "liberty" take? Are we expecting to come out of some protests with an end to the Drug War, the full attainment of the right to keep and bear arms, decriminalization of whatever acts of commerce two adults consensually agree to (my personal definition)? Or are we defining liberty as how things were 100 days ago? Total replacement of the government? Recouping unspent "stimulus" funds, getting the government out of the real estate business, and providing real stimulus via tax relief for the responsible taxpayers/home owners/businesspeople? "If you're looking for the answer then you've gotta ask the question..." "Liberty" is a lofty goal, but for effective action, some vague agreement about what the deliverables and criteria are is a practical necessity."

This is what happens when we lose respect for the power of words. They become gibberish and malleable, able to mean whatever we want. Liberty has a meaning, and a very precise one at that.

The opposite of liberty is slavery. What ultimately defines slavery? It is not the lash of the whip or cruel torture. Slavery has existed in societies where the human chattel were treated very well. It didn't matter; they were still slaves. Slavery is the presence of a Master or Masters. Liberty, therefore, is the absence of a Master.

I know, I know. It's not like the spending bill is the first time that the Federal government has exerted power of us. We know the Federal government is in charge. That argument was decided back in 1787. And it's not like we can be without some form of government holding the position of ultimate authority. The men who created this nation knew that too. Here's Thomas Jefferson (with the authority of the full Continental Congress) on the reason why we have government:

We hold these truths to be self evident; That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,

Government exists to secure our rights. If we could secure them as individuals, we wouldn't have a need for government. But since we can't, we give the authority to the Federal government. We have our shackles, but they're pretty loose, or at least they were.

What we're protesting is the fact that that the shackles just got a lot tighter, and if we continue on our present course, they will become tighter still. We want our liberty back.

Of course, the corollary to wanting our liberty back is the fact that in order to get it, we're going to have to become a more virtuous society, but that's probably another post entirely.

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