March 25, 2013 by Liberty
Fighting for freedom?
Freedom is something that is always being taken from us. Many interactions in life are effected in some way by coercion. Fighting for freedom is not something that the majority of people understand. People often think that soldiers (in good countries) are fighting for freedom. People sometimes view politicians with this label. Others think about political movements fighting for freedom.
I just don’t view fighting for freedom in the same way. To me, fighting for freedom is a personal battle that one needs to undertake daily.
Everyone Takes Freedom (or tries)
Most people see freedom as something that government provides or takes. People think that the American government provides freedom and the North Korean government takes freedom but when it comes down to it, both governments take freedom. The freedoms that the American government take are just closer to in-line with what people want taken from them. People don’t want people to have the right to kill. The government tries to restrict that freedom.
But freedom goes to more levels than that…
A business owner will throw you out of their business if they don’t want you in it. That is a right that they would maintain with, or without, the government enforcement. For example, malls don’t call the cops to kick you out. They have their own security that may or may not call the government law enforcement. The mall’s rules are restricting your freedom.
On the positive end, the mall is a voluntary transaction. That means you can choose not to go to the mall if you don’t want them taking your freedoms while you’re there. Government uses artificial borders and insists ownership of everyone born within those border. Then it gets a little hypocritical claiming you’re free and that you can own property.
Fighting for freedom requires another level though. This is the point that most people are willing to give up every bit of freedom that they have for virtually nothing in return.
Families and personal interactions are usually the most coercive interactions in someones life. For example, a parent might make their child go to school. They might spank their child for disobeying. They might pull a kids arm as the child is reaching with a paperclip towards the electrical outlet (not all coercive behaviors are equally bad.) All of these are methods of control.
It doesn’t only occur with parents though. Friends might choose to use “peer pressure” to assert their will onto you. Spouses can threaten with divorce or other emotional means. These are not all bad in all situations. It often comes down to the force being used compared to the relevance of another person’s freedom.
Fighting For Freedom is not…
There is no way to simplify freedom into any particular category. A militant fighting against their government is not necessarily fighting for freedom in their personal life. A person that leaves an abusive spouse may be leaving for freedom but may completely support government restrictions on freedom. These are both ways to fight for freedom but they’re both wildly different.
No one wants everyone and everything to be free. Even anarchists support some basic and implied rules of interaction. For example, not even an anarchist believes that someone should have the right to kill them without them being able to fight back. Oftentimes, freedom for one person is not always freedom for another. (Freedom to have sex with whoever you wanted would restrict the freedom to not have sex with anyone you didn’t want to.) They key is balancing freedoms.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be aggressive in protecting freedoms…
Militant For Freedom
I feel that there is only one thing in the world that is ethical to be militant about. That is personal freedom (note the word personal. I’ll go over that later.) You have the right to use self-defense against direct restrictions upon your freedom.
I may not support the right of people to shoot people but if someone is going to shoot me, I believe in the right to shoot back. I don’t consider the application of equal force against someone applying force against you to be immoral or even violent. Violence is not the responsive act of coercion. Only the first qualifies. Imagine this scenario:
A man goes to the police. He say, “This woman kicked me in the nuts.” The police laugh it off a little but the law is clear, if he really wanted to charge her with something, he could. The police go to pick the woman up and ask her side of the story. The woman says, “He’s was trying to rape me!” The police then say, “That’s horrible!” The woman nods. The police then say, “that’s no excuse for violence!” Then they lock her up and let the man go free.
That doesn’t make sense to any of us but it’s exactly what we do with many of our freedoms. A clear example of this is taxation. Tax is something that is rape financially. If you do not pay then you will be locked in prison (if you try to protect yourself from kidnapping they’ll kill you.) and take the money anyway. But… for some reason, the majority of the population thinks people that don’t pay taxes are being unethical.
The common excuse would be that freedom needs to go to everyone and, through some absurd combination of immoral acts, we can create morality and freedom for all. Perhaps there is some alchemy of unethical behavior to create ethics but freedom cannot be fought for by a third party.
Third-Party Freedom Is Not Freedom
It’s impossible to fight for someone else’s freedom. That’s because freedom is not something that can be given. Freedom can only be taken, or better yet decided. There will always be coercive forces in a person’s life and it’s their personal responsibility to decide which of these responsibilities they will resist and which don’t bother them all that much.
People do not have the right (or the ability) to make these decisions for other people. Consider the “liberation” of Iraq. We went into the country. We blew up their coercive forces. Then, everything wasn’t suddenly peaceful, our country had to “rebuild” because some other coercive regime would just take over.
It doesn’t matter how many times we murder millions of coercive people. If the remaining people don’t choose that it’s unethical to manipulate people then they evil will come right back.
On top of that, fighting for the American government provided more freedoms but not every freedom was granted. The government concluded, “All men are created equal,” excluding, of course, women, blacks, and certainly excluding the natives of the land. At the time though, this was a breakthrough of freedom. More freedom than ever before was provided but it still was not even close to freedom.
Freedom Is A Decision
I choose to not be free in a number of areas of my life. I pay my taxes. I make some decisions to keep my family happy. I don’t wear a pink Mohawk to keep my girlfriend happy (but I would look absolutely awesome.) These are my decisions to not be free.
What you decide to be free in life with cannot be decided for you. No one can grant you freedom. Freedom needs to be made despite the coercive forces because they’re always going to be there. While it may help to try and spread less violent forms of coercion, it’s not something we can ever expect to go away completely.
Freedom won’t come with the end of government, or the right government, or any particular cause. It will come with a decision. Fighting for freedom is not all that hard. Fighting for freedom is as simple as making the choice.