What Freedom Requires

The following is an article by Elliot Hill, contributor to The Galtline. 

Many today see government as a weapon to wield against others in society to get what they need, this comes from the fact that our freedom isn’t guaranteed and the view of man that says he doesn’t deserve or require freedom, what is required is that everyone must serve each other.

In this article I shall go through the requirements for freedom, starting from philosophy with a proper view of man and government, as well as what is required to get across to others to satisfy their doubts about a free society.

In philosophy, we need to start with an objective view of reality, and when talking about government we start with the individual and an objective view of man. This view of man recognises him as a conceptual being, a being who requires that he use his mind to understand the universe to come to an independent decision about what is best for him and his life. If his thinking is rational, he will not come into a disagreement with another man that cannot be settled by referring to reality. If he is irrational and believes that force is his means of interaction, a use of force in retaliation is justifiable by the government.

From this it is important to understand that man acts to gain and keep a value, therefore an objective view of value is important, and a rebuttal against the subjective and intrinsic views of value is necessary. If value is intrinsic and independent from the individual, there is no problem in forcing someone to act for said value. If value is subjective, it is a battle between my feelings and the feelings of others. An objective view of values first states that value presupposes a valuer, so to talk about value one must answer the question: to whom and for what? Secondly, it presupposes a standard and a need to act in such a way in the face of an alternative. Without alternatives, valuing isn’t possible.

With this understanding, it shows the importance of an objective view of reality in ensuring that the individual is free. This is down to that fact that, to be free, reason and reality must be the means of interacting and communicating with one another, any other standard requires force.

From the objective view of value we understand that there is no standard that one should live up to that is outside of oneself and one’s own judgement. That one cannot force someone to do for them, one must do for oneself. This means that man must live by trade, not by sacrifice, and the purpose of one’s life is to pursue one’s life.

Now we have finally come to a proper view of man, lets talk government. To ensure freedom we must first see each individual as being equal under the law, this means that government should be run on the basis of protecting objective, universal, inalienable, individual rights. Objective when held to the standard of what man needs to live, that is to be free to use one’s mind to come to an understanding of what is best for him and then act on that judgement. This principle is that one may not use physical means to obtain a value from someone without that person’s consent. Universal as they must be applicable to everyone. Inalienable in the understanding that man requires such a right to be protected to be able to survive on his own judgement as an independent being. And finally, individual in the recognition that all conceptual beings are individuals and gain nothing from government by deciding to partake in a group.

From the current state of affairs we find ourselves in, how do we get to a stage of the recognition and protection of individual rights that will guarantee our freedom? It starts with spreading an optimistic vision of the future in every respect, from the new opportunities for the lowest in society to the ability for the most well off to rapidly progress from which all benefit from.

It is also through the spread of an understanding of human nature and what we need as explained earlier in this article, as well as an understanding of human epistemology that makes the statists own solutions ineffective and counter-productive. Let’s take for example a stubborn group who wish not to associate with certain people based upon arbitrary characteristics, a law enforcing that they do means they will associate with them but that doesn’t deal with the problem of this group thinking irrationally. It takes an act of integration on the part of every member of this group to deal with the issue, a law enforcing them to associate fosters resentment within this group instead of tackling the problem of irrationality with reason and an appeal to reality.

From all of this information, we can come to a conclusion about what a moral government looks like: this is a government that is a servant to the people in protecting their individual rights. Of course there are things that are irrational that don’t involve force, but to tackle the issue isn’t to enforce the rational in these scenarios, it’s to understand the importance of integration in human epistemology to tackle such issues and how the use of force simply hinders those rational to be effective and feeds the resentment of those irrational as being a targeted people. To give the government such ability to use Let’s in such scenarios only hands them more avenues to control your own life using the same justifications. To ensure reality, reason, and trade are man’s means of interaction and cooperation, we must ensure that we have the freedom gained from the protection of life, liberty, and property through the implementation of individual rights.

I hope that over the coming months, both in my personal life and through these articles, I can help promote this optimistic view of a future in a free society. If you’d like to learn more, make sure to read “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, “The Virtue of Selfishness”, and “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal”, all of which are by Ayn Rand.

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