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Liberty

Liberty

Liberty

I try very hard to keep myself from posting pure political opinion or emotionally charged content. We all have opinions and so many other websites are there for you if you wish to get your heart strings tugged on. I mostly like to post things that I feel are pressing matters of the environment or its people, as well as some stuff about my own efforts in sustainability. But I also am a philosopher, and what is politics if not a bastardization of philosophy? I like to stay even keeled, I like to try and be objective, but when it comes to freedom, I am not very compromising. Of course it is this pensiveness that is my reservation about making a post titled liberty, but if I am to be honest with my reaaders then I should continue. 

There seems to me to be a great misconception about liberty. I don't think the issue is particular to our time, but I think the misconceptions are perpetuaded by the media, among others (politicians and stooges). In fact I think our forefathers in America were the exception and far from the rule in their appreciation for liberty while in power, and yet even they ultimately failed on multiple accounts. Obviously, there is their belief in liberty only for primarily rich white males, but also, as is growing quite clear, they seem to have failed to make their documentation of our country fool proof enough (we are the fools) to avoid the slow slide to tyranny. As we redefine liberty in the modern era, what seems to myself to be apparent is that we are leaving behind their successes, changing around their failures, and are largely placing ourselves in the same boat as our forefathers' forefathers. 

There are two main types of liberty. One type is a personal form of liberty, which is liberty from ourselves and our own weaknesses. This form of liberty is a personal issue and each person must confront it on their own. It is a whole other post on its own. If there is one thing I know about my own shortcomings it is that personal flaws are best if not only surmountable through meditation, although I suspect there are a couple of other methods. 

But what I am concerned with here is external liberty. The freedom from oppression is fundamental to my philosophy in Accord with Nature, and I believe, fundamental to the constitution of the United States. Most people are on the spectrum of love for liberty, and yet most people fall short of the ideal. This could be due to their nature and weaknesses, but it could also be to succumbing to misinformation about what liberty is. Liberty is not an excuse for oppression or a license for anarchy.

Liberty is freedom. It is not selective to what you believe and disbelieve others should do with their bodies and their time. It is absolute in that it does not require anything from anyone except their respect of the autonomy of others. Perhaps this strikes you as anarchy, and this as far as I can tell is the most common misunderstanding of liberty. Liberty is not anarchy. Liberty is the social contract where those who support the automony of others protect and defend that very autonomy. When someone commits an act of violence (action impeding the freedom of others to be safe in their mind, body, and property,) on another they have broken the contract and are no longer free from the oppression (prosecution but NOT persecution) of others. Persecution is an attack on someone who has done nothing to harm anyone else, while prosecution is what is done to people who restrict the liberty of others without just reason (just reason being their attack on autonomy, liberty, freedom, body, mind, or property.)

So most of us in the modern era think that if you sat down at dinner and cracked open a beer, it would be in the wrong for someone to burst in the door and beat you until you couldn't move, throw you into the back of a van, and lock you in their basement. This seems obvious, but soon the freedom lovers generally fall short. Since that freedom lover has deemed alcohol ok, and may be on the fence about marijuana, they still believe that meth is evil and wrong, and anyone using meth has forsaken all of their right to liberty. But this is an act of violence that occurs daily in a myriad of forms. The deeming by society, or authority, that certain personal actions by private individuals are the business of anyone else, is violence (anti-liberty/autonomy).

I don't think anyone should do meth. Methamphetamine is a horrible drug that destroys probably half or more of the people that touch it, but it is also not my responsibility to oppress someone for using meth. Addicted people should always have help available, but never forced into a horrid life behind bars, that is, if you believe in freedom, and liberty for all. 

You can find all sorts of examples of this if you think about it. I encourage you to think outside the box. What about cars? Cars kill giant swathes of our population, but because of the relatively minor judgement that "cars are good" we don't oppress people for driving cars, or really even for speeding. We ignore the pollution created by cars, and the 'accidental deaths' derived from cars. Cars are not a requirement for the continued existence of hummanity, they are a luxury, but cars have been without a question accepted due to what we consider mitigating factors. On the other hand something with little to no mitigating factors can turn an otherwise autonomous being (user of meth) into a restrained and incarcerated individual. 

I don't mean to turn this into a drug debate. But another greaat example is the pharmaceutical industry. A relatively minor distinction of who you get your opioid from, and whether your permission to use that opiod is pre-approved by an authority figure, is the difference between a couple (to many) years in prison, or a normal life. This is NOT liberty, it is the exact opposite. For America and other industrialized nations to continue to pretend that they 'love liberty and freedom' is ludicrous.

Liberty is such that if someone acts against their own body, mind, or possessions, it is not the business of anyone else (save those that love that person and wish to help them) what that person is doing. Perhaps via an emotional bond with another human, a user on a destructive course will enable their own restraint (to save themselves and spare their family suffering), but otherwise there is no justification to destroy the life of someone by force of restraint (let alone true violent action, (shooting them due to resistance)) simply because they are destroying their own life.

It is easy to get into exremely complicated examples of where the lines blur between impacting self and other. One common example is the seatbelt. While the case may be kind of weak, the justification for mandating people use seatbelts, is at least in part that when you don't wear a seatbelt you become a danger to others (the other reason I believe is economic if you discont the moral 'I'm mandating you be safe'). True or not, it is a reasonable question. Going a step farther is the consumption of alcohol during or just prior to driving. When you drive while intoxicated, our society has taken the harsh stance where you will be incarcerated (for a short or medium time). If you drive while intoxicated and a child runs in front of your car, and you kill that child? Then in that case you will be lucky to ever get out of prison, (unless you can afford extremely good lawyers). Of course this is a very complicated issue, but it is also a justification used by authority to usurp more authority (by which I mean the demand for arbitrary distinctions based on reality rather than motive... etc). 

So what is liberty, is it the right to drive intoxicated? Is it the right to drive? Is it the right to get intoxicated? If it is the latter two, then what inherent law of the universe is it that restricts the right to combine driving with intoxication, and how can we really pretend there is a difference when one person drives intoxicated arriving safely home, another gets a day in jail having gotten pulled over, and the other has an unfortunate occurance in which someone dies while driving intoxicated, even if it was truly not their own fault?

Look at another example, vaccination. There can be no real attempt to justify the madate of vaccination without the presumption that to not vaccinate is dangerous to others. (Not at least if you have any sensibility for liberty). So if we pretend there is some sort of proof that unvaccinated individuals are dangerous (there is not, nor are they), is it possible that freedom could be the forcing of others to inject themselves with something, anything produced by a pharmaceutical company?

These two examples epitomize where people tend to get tripped up when it comes to liberty and freedom. They end up taking the sides of where their predispositions lie rather than make a categorical assertion of what they want, liberty and freedom. You see it is in the authorities best interest to make you think liberty is anarchy, and that if meth, or driving under intoxication, is illegal, it will suddenly stop. That if vaccines are mandated then no one will get sick, and if people are allowed to choose not to vaccinate, then no one will and everyone will get sick. The issues pull at our hearts because they are tied to life and death. But people still do meth, still drive under the influence, and do not vaccinate. Life is inherently unsafe and legislation is not going to change that, what it will do is restrict liberty more and more until it is ultimately gone. This is the nature of authority.

To get any further, I think we need to differentiate what is a action and what is inaction. To get behind the wheel of a car, and drink 12 beers while driving down the highway is an action, and it can easily lead to the death of another. Sitting at home in front of a television and putting methamphetamine up your nose is an action but it can hurt no one but oneself and those who choose to be around you (lets ignore here, for the sake of brevity, when a user is also a parent). Driving a car without buckling a safety belt is an inaction, and primarily can only hurt oneself. And in my example on vaccination, the lack of vaccination is an inaction, that could harm someone else (which is extremely unlikely, compared to the chance a vaccinated individual harms someone, but I digress).

What we are left with are four potentialities and a qualification, action, inaction, self-harm, and other-harm. It is my contention here that the only category which is reprimandable under a truly liberty loving society is an action which is likely/able to harm others. If we add in the other wrinkle there is the question of whether an action, with the potential to harm others, actually does. Does driving under the influence have the same penalty, whether or not there is an accident? 

Can you handle liberty? In the end liberty is not likely to be endorsed by authority (except new authority of people formely under tyranny), and people are easily swayed by their emotions regarding partcular issues. Liberty is about overcoming our fears; our belief that reality will ever be controllable is not tenable. There is no trading of liberty for security, because it is always temporal. There is no liberty that is given back without massive effort (read illegal or tireless lobbying), and so when you trade liberty for some false security you only decrease the chances that any ensuing generation has any liberty at all. We all love freedom, but we aren't all willing to accept that freedom is for everyone who respects freedom. That temporary sadnesses, and atrocities are temporary and will always happen regadless of what any politician tries to sell you. Liberty is paramount, the opposite is horrific, there is no compromise. It is hard for many people to understand that inaction, is not a crime, and if it was we would all be guilty all day of our inaction for one issue or another. Liberty is for everyone who respects the autonomy of others, and no one who does not.

People who believe in most liberties need to take a close look at which ones they deny, and flip sides. And all who believe in liberty then must stand together and demand liberty and justice for all.

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I wanted to write this post because if I make posts in the future defending some issue of liberty, I don't want to be compelled to explain my beliefs about liberty. 

I am about what is natural. Autonomy is one of the most basic things to all beings (not going to get into free will now!). Just as restricting the autonomy of others comes nearly just as natural to humans. If you have any opinions on the naturalness of liberty you may take it here: Naturalness of Liberty

Image:

"Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple" by Eugène Delacroix - This page from this gallery.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

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