Rothbardix - Technology for liberty and justice.

Technology for liberty and justice.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

policy objectives to secure lasting peace and prosperity, part one

We pray that [...] all who yearn for freedom may experience its few spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities [...] - Farewell Address, Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is a basic conflict in the world today between the power of organizations and the liberty of individuals. The greatest achievements of human societies have historically been linked to the freedom of individuals to pursue their unique course. Human liberty has a spiritual benefit for individuals that can easily be overlooked, but it also has a profoundly beneficial economic effect for societies. Ample historical evidence, supported by economic insights, demonstrates that the economic and cultural progress of free societies with secure property rights is unparalleled by that produced by other forms of government.

The progress of free individuals cooperating in a liberal society is inevitably uncertain, as it is determined by the autonomous choices of individuals coordinating primarily on the basis of market exchanges. Individuals have a very real desire for certainty in their lives and in their actions. By becoming part of organizations, such as those responsible for upholding the law or providing military security, individuals can perceive that their efforts are directly advancing ideals of justice under the law or security of person and property against powerful international threats, and thereby gain personal satisfaction and a sense of noble purpose that may not be enjoyed by the laborer or trader.

However, organizations are no less imperfect than the individuals that they are comprised of. In fact, governmental organizations (such as security and law enforcement bureaucracies) that utilize coercion to achieve their objectives create conditions that select individuals for leadership who are able to carry out their responsibilities despite the fact that the operation of the organization at times results in perceptible injustice and unfairness. In the best case, this selects for strong individuals with the capacity to faithfully and honestly serve others without being enfeebled by emotional responses to their duties. However, these selection mechanisms over time tend toward promoting the qualities of cruel indifference to suffering and injustice, and, worse, a willingness to create and exploit injustice for the benefit of the individuals that are in temporary positions of power, based on their leadership role in organizations.

As the governmental "race to the bottom" proceeds over time, the State gradually attempts to extend its control over society to a greater and greater degree. This process is the descent to tyranny and despotism that has been demonstrated in numerous societies throughout history.

Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. - Declaration of Independence

History does not teach fatalism. There are moments when the will of a handful of free men breaks through determinism and opens up new roads. - Charles de Gaulle

However, the descent toward tyranny is not inevitable. In the face of institutional efforts toward control and domination, conscious individuals can direct their efforts to advancing liberty and creating a lasting framework for the preservation of freedom and provision of security. In the United States, basic principles of human rights have been constitutionally recognized, with restrictions placed on the powers of the federal government and the state governments to abridge these rights.

Despite long-standing protections for the basic rights of (among others) justice before the law, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience, there are significant factors undermining these liberties. The inexorable growth of government capabilities is a key aspect of the erosion of liberty. As the government obtains powers in new circumstances and settings, those powers will, inevitably, be used to constrain and perhaps destroy the liberties of the people.

The most important source of power for modern governments is the political control of paper monetary systems. Governments are able to pursue destructive policies by taxing the users of government-controlled monetary systems. The tax of inflation is nearly imperceptible on a day-to-day basis, but provides enormous resources for those governments that utilize it.

Another central means used by modern governments to control societies is the control of telecommunications, using state-regulated or state-owned enterprises, or both. The control of the minds of subject individuals is subtly effected through the control of the sources of information available to those individuals.

Of paramount importance for the control of subject populations, however, is state ownership and control of education. The consequences of the current near-universal acceptance of state control of education are pernicious and far-reaching.

Several policy objectives that can identified and pursued in order to address these threats to liberty are as follows:

  • the transition to a asset-based monetary system not controlled by governments. The means of transition to such a monetary system from the current paper-ticket monetary system (which has been accomplished before) is a matter of considerable study and several proposals, and will be addressed here in forthcoming writings.
  • the denationalization of the means of communication, and in particular the elimination of government ownership of the electromagnetic spectrum. The premises supposedly justifying government control of telecommunication are technologically nonsensical and entirely specious, yet provide convenient rationales useful for masking the reality of brute-force control of the right of free expression.
  • the separation of school and state. Just as the beliefs of individuals in many societies is respected through the absence of state religion, so should the freedom of thought be respected by leaving the education of individuals to private organizations.
More will be written about each of these three areas in subsequent postings.

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