On Human Liberation
Before a revolution takes place, there must be a change in the ideas circulated in the public arena. Rather than allow the hard left to corrupt the public sphere unopposed with false conceptions of freedom, we must liberate the minds of our fellow citizens by enlightening them as to the true nature of freedom.
Freedom must be rightly understood by members of society in order for it to exist in a political order. Those societies that offer people meaningful choices as to how to direct their own lives, what to buy or not to buy, what ideas to believe, and what religion to practice or not to practice cannot be oppressive; while those that constrain people’s choices are oppressive. A free state uses coercion to punish harmful behavior, not to shield politicians from accountability or to protect people from themselves.
As a movement, we conservatarian radicals demand social freedom, which is the absence of coercion in society; economic freedom, which is the right to freely exercise our labor and our market decisions and to reap the fruits of our own labor through the aegis of private property; and political freedom, which is the right to live without the state seeking arbitrary control over our lives. We demand no more, and no less.
The clashing conceptions of freedom in America have led to the formation of two broad based ideological movements: the Tea Party and the New Left. Their views of freedom could not be more drastically different.
The Tea Party movement believes in freedom of choice, and the upholding of the Constitutional order that has clearly led to the most materially, socially, and ideologically diverse polity in world history, and thus the one with the most freedom of choice for individuals.
The New Left seeks, through its “freedom of choice” to deviate from the Constitutional order, to: socially constrain through political correctness, economically constrain through the doctrines of sustainability and equality of results, and politically constrain through bureaucratization, legalization, and executive fiat.
An outstanding test for freedom thus becomes, “Does this action or policy enable or constrain my freedom of choice?”
When governments become oppressive, the seeds of liberation movements must be sown. Liberation is the cause of human beings who perceive themselves to be enslaved, exploited, or dominated by fellow human beings or by some inhuman or alien force.
Being a subjective cause, liberation is bound to human identity, and the perception of justice. Liberation is a deep-seated motivation for human action, and under certain conditions, drives men to fanatical and potentially violent behavior. Therefore, it is imperative that men have conceptual clarity about what they are being liberated from.
Being able to objectively evaluate whether one is liberated or oppressed turns on the definition of freedom. Freedom is the state of human existence when a man is able to exercise free will, in accordance with his rational mind, and to make decisions among real world choices that generally determine the outcomes in his own life.
What is crucial for people to understand is what freedom is not. Freedom is not a state of being free from economic reality; specifically, work, scarcity, or opportunity costs; or free from accident and tragedy, as influential neomarxist theorist John Rawls implies; or free from intellectual or ideological challenge; or free from the presence of people in any way different than you.
The two majors sources of misunderstanding on the left is a lack of appreciation for the constraints of objective reality and the eternal inconstancies of human nature. Freedom is a matter of allowing necessarily self-interested individuals to exercise free will based on rational choice within real world constraints. It is the nature of a human to seek to live his own life.
While classical Marxists fail to understand economic reality, neomarxists fail to understand the nature of social oppression. For perhaps psychological reasons, neomarxists often associate social freedom as social acceptance. Because they believe their opposition to be laboring under “false consciousness” as a reflection of “forces” within the capitalist economy, they believe capitalism to be hierarchical and and thus society reflects and reinforces that hierarchy.
But it is not a crime against one’s fellow man to pursue success, in accordance with one’s nature as a self-interested being, so long as one does not violate others’ rights. In fact, while The Declaration of Independence is a guide for understanding freedom, The Constitution is the attempt to provide the conditions for freedom by recognizing and counterpoising self-interest within a plan of government. But this plan of freedom will not last if society continues to misunderstand its nature.
The Tea Party movement seeks to fiscally restrain the government, limit its scope to the defense of our rights, and to push back the oppressive drive of government through winning the hearts and minds of the public. We seek liberation from arbitrary state coercion and the freedom to live our lives as we so choose.