Rothbardix - Technology for liberty and justice.

Technology for liberty and justice.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Directions to Freedom, Part One

Here is the first installment in what is expected to be a series of podcasts:
Directions to Freedom, part one
  (direct download)

  (Internet Archive listing).

Text as prepared for delivery follows:

Hello. Thank you for listening. I have an intense personal desire for freedom, and I need your help so that we can, together, continue to enjoy the benefits of freedom and work toward the more-perfect realization of liberty and justice in our society. My effort to realize greater freedom in our world is a long-term effort, and this message is a first step to begin a dialogue with you that, I expect, will enable us to take action in the future to have more secure, more prosperous, and happier lives.

My desire for freedom is inevitably centered on the role of government in society. From a practical perspective, my desire is to see the cost of governmental services reduced and the quality of those services increased. On a philosophical level, I, personally, perceive a responsibility to do what I can to continue the admirable legacy of justice, prosperity, and tranquility that has been established in the United States, and directly confront the forces that undermine that legacy.

There are many sound reasons for optimism in our modern world. Our ever-accelerating scientific and technical progress is daily creating new wonders. Our scientific understanding of the basis of life makes it possible to reduce disease and lengthen life. Our communications technology enables individuals to create, collect, store, and share information in ways that were unavailable to the most powerful governments within the recent past, with far-reaching benefits and consequences that have only yet begun to be perceived.

These and many other developments are part of the economic growth that is an essential aspect of modern society. Economic growth is necessary for individuals to continue to have ever-improving lives. The belief that life can be better for future generations is one of the greatest contributions of the American spirit to the world, and we cannot allow that tradition to be undermined or destroyed.

The most basic factor in economic growth is secure private property and the freedom to use and exchange that property as the owner sees fit. Security of property was a basic principle at the founding of the United States, and has been essential to the ability of individuals to provide for their loved ones, their associates, and those in need. Private property is the most successful basis for structuring society that humanity has ever known. Where property rights have been protected, societies have prospered and thrived, and where private property has been undermined or abolished, some of the worst terrors known to man have taken place. The United States government was founded with great respect for private property, and the society of the United States has consequently flourished, but communist and socialist governments that abolished or disregarded private property created poverty, repression, and murder on a truly enormous scale.

Even in the United States, however, there has been a continual erosion of protection for private property, justified by the belief that government is an efficient instrument for the positive direction of society. The belief that government, freed of the limits imposed by private property, can utilize resources more efficiently than their current owners is strongly contradicted by experience and history. Governments lack the profit and loss incentives that individuals and private organizations must use to determine whether their efforts are successful and should be continued. Instead, governments judge the success of their actions through public opinion, which can be manipulated in very effective ways, creating irresistible incentives for governments to use deception as a standard operating procedure. When governments are able to confiscate the resources of their citizens to fund schemes that need only be justified by lies and deception, enormous disasters can result. As government policies create disasters - whether economic, social, or military - there is an ever-greater motivation to use deception to justify those policies, leading to a systematic subversion of truth, honesty, and morality in society.

The problems confronting the world today are made more intractable by the sophisticated processes used to obscure and conceal the truth of the difficulties facing us. We are right to recognize the blessings of freedom, but there are those, even in positions of great power and responsibility, who usurp the banner of freedom in order to justify their wicked schemes of theft, murder, and enslavement. One of the greatest problems facing humanity today is the deliberate creation of conflict in order to extend the control of a tiny elite, who seek to rule the world from the shadows. Their primary tools are subtle - deceit, deception, and subversion - but they are by no means harmless. Indeed, their drive to control and dominate the world has motivated some of the greatest tragedies and crimes of our time.

However, this drive for control is an inevitable development when the government recognizes few practical limits on its power. When the government can control how private property is used, and especially when the government controls the monetary system that is used to exchange private property, the government has the mechanisms and the motivation to control individuals to the smallest detail. To prevent themselves from being enslaved, the powerful masters of our existing governments use every means at their disposal, including bribery, theft, and murder, to control those governments, which are imperfect institutions operated by imperfect individuals.

In order to properly address these very serious matters, it is necessary to recognize the importance of enduring principles for setting a positive direction that we can pursue, mindful of the real threats that we must overcome.

As a practical matter, security of property is a critical aspect of a functioning modern society. Without the ability to hold, control, and exchange private property, individuals will inevitably use violence and deceit to obtain the resources they need and desire. As well, it is not adequately recognized that our existing monetary system undermines the security of private property in a powerful, subtle, and far-reaching way. As the power of the government increases through encroachments on private property, the moral values of individuals and communities are increasingly attacked by a political system where deceit is routine and accepted, and the only standard is power. This inexorable attack on morality and conscience must be opposed and overcome.

Another basic principle that must guide our course is respect for the freedom of thought. This means that individuals must consistently repudiate the efforts of governments to control the beliefs of their citizens. In the United States, the establishment of an official church is recognized as illegitimate and is constitutionally prohibited. However, government control of the schools that shape minds is pervasive in today's world. The imperative to defend the freedom of conscience must lead us to eliminate the role of the government in education, and leave parents and communities free to raise their children as they see fit. We must come to recognize that a government-run school for universal education is no more legitimate than a government-run church for universal religious training.

In future messages, I will describe how these principles can be applied in practical ways to build a better future for ourselves, by building upon opportunities and confronting problems that we perceive in the world around us. I would welcome your feedback and support. Thank you for listening.


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