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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10575/the-essence-of-freedom/

The Essence of Freedom

September 2, 2009 by

When the news of young America’s novel design for living in freedom reached it, the Old World shook its head with profound skepticism. It would never work, they said. The idea was too “revolutionary,” too “progressive,” too “radical,” and certainly too “liberal.” The prevailing sentiment was that this newfangled system would promptly fall apart, that the Americans were too immature for self-government, and that political anarchy and social chaos would soon engulf them.

Yet today, though we are still youthful as a nation, we have one of the oldest continuous governments in existence. In spite of this conspicuous success it seems to have been a disappointment to some of our modern critics and skeptics. It seems to have fallen short of what they believe it should have accomplished. One of the most baffling of historical mysteries is how the reactionary of 1787 — the man who said it could not be done, the advocate of all-powerful government, the believer in absolutism — could be the “liberal” of today. FULL ARTICLE by Robert Montgomery (1904-1981)

{ 37 comments }

Brad September 2, 2009 at 8:22 am

A rather bewitching article to say the least.

Too bad it didn’t stay in the family.

A succint epistle for freedom. Unfortunately the drive to do Good offsets the ability to see the actual results of the broadcast use of Force. They are trying to do Good, and the Bad that results from their unfocused actions is pinned to someone else, motivating them to do even more Good works. The slow road to absolutism is just that formula.

Barry Loberfeld September 2, 2009 at 8:26 am

From LIBERALISM: HISTORY AND FUTURE:

The “end of ideology” truly has arrived. Laws are passed, not with reference to philosophic principles, but only with an eye on the polls; “social democracy” devolves into majoritarian democracy — a one-party democracy, where Republicans and Democrats “run towards the center” as closely as possible. Realizing James Madison’s great fear in Federalist No. 10, the country has come to that stage where “measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party; but by the superior force of an interested and over-bearing majority.”

There is, of course, another conceivable direction for the mixed economy: the opposite one, i.e., a move towards ideological consistency, be it capitalist or socialist….

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

“”A liberal is one who believes in utilizing the full force of government for the advancement of social, political, and economic justice at the municipal, state, national, and international levels.”"

So liberals believe that “justice” comes from FORCE.
So liberals believe that might is right.
So liberals believe that the one with power makes the rules.

Liberals think that force = justice.

If tomorrow, someone has more power than the governement, will he become the new “justice” ?

So, no one is above the law, until they are.

Since the law is backed by force, one only needs more force than the law to become above the law.

Such appeals to force in regards to justice and law really makes me despise the law and see it for what it really is, an arbitrary set of rules that favors those with the greatest force and has nothing to do with justice.

I cannot see how justice can come from force.

Liberals want equality for all, their vision of “justice” is a world where everybody enjoys the same economic and social outcome.

But there is one thing that liberals don’t want to share equally and that is FORCE !

Liberals want to keep force for themselves. If they were truly honest about their vision of justice as equality, then they would be the first ones to redistribute force equally among men and they would be the staunchest upholders of the 2nd Amendment.

Given that liberals are the biggest opponents against the 2nd Amendments demonstrates that those people are not for “justice” nor equality.

They just want to rule us all with force. For a liberal, “justice” means using force to deprive a republican from his earnings in order to give it to democrat partisans.

So, no wonder Obama is the gun salesman of the year. People understand that the democratic and liberal agenda is FORCE and they want to prepare themselves by packing heat.

I think that liberals are the greatest threat to peace worldwide.

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 9:23 am

Barry Loberfield,

“but by the superior force of an interested and over-bearing majority.”"

Just what do votes represent ?

Do they represent the outcome of a hypothetical war between political opponents should we decide to settle this on the battle field instead of the ballot box ?

In this case, why don’t we take this to the ultimate test and see if the majority really wins on the battle field.

In the battle field everything is possible, a well equipped, trained and balsy minority could take down a wimpy majority anytime, even a large one.

I bet a small hoplophillic minority of conservatives, republicans and libertarians would win against a large majority of hoplophobic liberals. In fact, I bet liberals would not show up on the battle field, cowards they are. Since they don’t have the stomach to work for a living, they surely must not have it to fight.

The more I think of it, the more I see voting as a sham that has nothing to do with reality.

We should settle our political differences like in ancient greece. In that time, there was no voting booth, they settled their right vs left differences on the phalanx battlefield.

I bet a lot of angry republicans and conservatives and libertarians would be delighted to go in first line to fight liberals and claim back their wages, profits, freedoms and just plain dignity.

And I bet a lot of liberals who voted would not show up at the battle field, conceding defeat.

The more I see the damages that democracy does, the more I see the dishonest foundations on which it stands and the more I despise it.

I no longer vote, I vote by abstinence. The less people will vote and the less legitimate will become the government.

It’s incredible that we are exporting this monstruosity to other nations and imposing democracy and elections to barbarous nations like Afghanistan and Irak.

We are giving them the message that democracy roots by force. Because we fought wars against their countries, wars of aggression and force to then impose democracy.

Really, I think democracy is the biggest tyranny and sham there ever was, because it muddies the water and hides it’s true despotic nature.

Under monarchy or dictatorship, you know that the regime in place is evil and repressive. But under democracy, it is given a false aura of legitimacy, yet it is still a killing and looting machine.

What was obviously wrong under dictatorial regimes becomes muddily right under democracy because it has a narcotic aura of legitimacy.

Religion is the opium of the people and democracy is a religion. Democracy is the opium of the people.

And it’s completely a disgrace the way we turned a very serious job like the president of the USA into a popularity rock star contest.

People voted for Obama because he looks good, smiles, because he was soo cool and good looking, because Oprah endorsed him, because he dances good with his wife, because he is black and most blacks voted for Obama.

I don’t see any intelligent reason to vote for him, but then again, I don’t see any intelligent reason to vote at all. Surely John McCain was not a better choice.

There was Bob Barr but I guess Hydrogen and Stupidity is in too great supply for the masses to consider Bob Barr.

We have turned our country into one stupid and disgraceful international “reality” show.

It’s high-school mentality all over again, nobody wanted to associate with this “nerd” Ron Paul. Everybody flocked to that cool “jock” Obama.

There is no hope for mankind.

In this case, I vote my conscience by NOT voting at all. I boycott the system.

gazzali September 2, 2009 at 9:50 am

I prefer happiness rather than freedom.

gazzali September 2, 2009 at 9:51 am

I prefer happiness rather than freedom.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 10:03 am

Damn, “USA Today”. “Dignity”, I don’t know if it’s in the cards for us, buddy. There may be, I don’t know, totally guessing here, 50,000, 100,000 men like you and me who would rather join an army than stand in line at corporatist welfare offices (or probably Obama’s breadlines soon. Funny, you idolize someone, FDR in this case, you tend to walk in their footsteps). We can’t go out in a field, we’d probably get nailed by Obama’s troops of conservatives. If not, no one would come to meet us, we’d quickly be reduced to going “Spartacus” on the towns and farms. I don’t think that’s very dignified, I guess I’m over-civilized. We’d have to go French Resistance style, but we’re surrounded by the Nazis; they are us, they aren’t boorish Germans, “The Other” as portrayed in the new Tarantino fever dream. If you want dignity, I think you can find the way in the writings of Dr. Viktor Frankl; I’m trying to. Anyone else with any ideas, I’d love to hear them.

I like what you said about high-school, btw. Exactly. Either high school or an idiotic horse race.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 10:14 am

Ha ha, see, there’s probably one thousand “gazzalis” for every one of you. Orwell didn’t really understand human nature, Huxley did. I’ll probably be made fun of for suggesting we’re in Frankl’s position; I think Frankl would understand.

newson September 2, 2009 at 10:21 am

gazzali is a gimp, so handirons are a plus.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

newson,

Very nasty. I like it. Kudos.

“The man who asks of freedom anything other than itself is born to be a slave.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

(Probably also “tautologous” to Paul Samuelson)

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

mpolzkill,

I want freedom and nothing else but freedom !

Michael A. Clem September 2, 2009 at 10:59 am

I prefer happiness rather than freedom.
I think almost everybody would prefer to have happiness, but happiness is an elusive state that is difficult to achieve and maintain. Your best bet for having happiness is to have the freedom to pursue happiness. It is much harder to have happiness without freedom.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 11:04 am

USA Today,

And that’s enough.

“Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 11:18 am

M. A. Clem said: “happiness is an elusive state that is difficult to achieve and maintain. Your best bet for having happiness is to have the freedom to pursue happiness. It is much harder to have happiness without freedom.”

Michael, I know you’re going to get mad at me, but harsh truths are, well, harsh. None of what you say is true for an idiot. Why do you think the State created the schools?

We’re up against something elemental. I don’t believe cold reasoning can ever overcome it. Have you ever read Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor”?

fundamentalist September 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm

“I prefer happiness rather than freedom.”

Happiness is far easier to attain than freedom. Happiness is nothing more than the state of mind in which you accept you choose to accept you circumstances and be content. A prisoner in solitary confinement can choose to be happy, and a rich man flying in his personal jet can choose to be unhappy. In fact, many rich people choose to be unhappy.

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Fundamentalist,

I find it to be lacking empathy to dissociate happiness with material circumstances and to place happiness above needs.

So if you can be happy dying and starving in a pile of your own feces in solitary confinement, eaten up alive by maggots…

Why do you wakeup every morning and work for a living and embettering your conditions ?

Why do you study to earn an education ?

If the solution is to “choose” to be happy, let’s all die a slow and painful but “happy” death in a pile of our own feces in solitary confinement while being eaten up alive by a swarm of maggots.

Come on ! Ask any wild animal if he’s “happy”.

He probably won’t know what you’re talking about, all he cares is to find his next meal.

People who say: “Don’t worry, be happy” are incapable of empathy towards fellow human being.

When another person would file a complaint, they could not offer him any help nor even recognize his situation, they would say it’s all in his head and to simply “choose” to be “happy” and all his problems will magically disappear.

I will be happy when all the happiness preachers burn in hell where they all deserve to be.

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Fundamentalist,

“Happiness is far easier to attain than freedom.”

America did not become a powerful country by going to easy route and by accepting it’s fate.

Mankind finds it’s dignity by it’s refusal to accept it’s fate and finds it’s happiness by fighting to embetter it’s fate.

All those who preach happiness through surrender and acceptance are retards and losers.

Money can’t bring happiness to those who don’t have it !

I’d rather be rich and healthy than poor and sick.

I’ll be happy when I get to kick a happiness preacher’s butt and send them to hell !

You guys have no empathy whatsoever, it’s all in our “minds” !

Whenever I see someone in need, I will first ask him if he’s happy. If he says yes then I will ask him why he asked me for my help.

As long as the asshole won’t admit that he’s unhappy and that his current situation is what causes his unhappiness, he will not get my help.

Ask somebody starving if he’s happy. If he is, then let him starve, his stomach pain has got to be in his “head” !

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Fundamentalist,

Let’s trash the US dollar and start a new currency and call it the Happy.

Let’s print trillions of Happies and send a check worth 1 Million Happies to each of the 300,000,000 Americans.

Why do we need food when we can “choose” to be happy. I’m sure happiness can be eaten.

We do we need money when we can “choose” to be happy. I’m sure that being happy means all our debts will get to be erased.

Let’s start a government department of happiness which will monitor each and everyone of us and forcefully psychiatrize us all into happiness for our own good should we fall into sadness.

Oh wait, it already exists. It’s called the National Institute of Mental Health.

Millions of children are forced into “happiness” every year thanks to school psychiatrists.

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Fundamentalist,

“A prisoner in solitary confinement can choose to be happy,”

Why don’t you practice what you preach and prove your statements.

Tell me where you live and I will make sure you never see the sun again, your only friends will be the insects that eat on your flesh.

Then, you can tell us all how happy you are ! LOL !

The fact that you decline my offer shows me that you are a hypocrite and dishonest.

You’re a piece of shit who does not deserve to breathe ! You are incapable of acknowledging the human needs of others.

What would make me happy is to see you suffer !

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Mpolzkill,

“”Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon”

Liberty is the supreme God of order !

But remember, life is a constant struggle, if you’re not fighting for freedom, if everything seems to be in it’s place, if everything is calm, nice and peaceful, if you’re comfortable and have no enemies, if everything is predictable, regulated, accounted for, repetitive, you’re probably a complete slave without knowing it !

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Mpolzkill,

Freedom has a very short lifespan.

Freedom is born in the battle-field, grows and matures as the fight progresses, but freedom quickly dies when the war is over, no matter who wins the war.

If you are not fighting, you are not free !

If you are not free to fight, you cannot fight for freedom !

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm

USA Today,

Would you do something for me? Would you look into Harry Browne’s “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World”?

Yes, you’re right, you have to be free to be happy, “fundamentalist” is talking about contentedness; any imbecile can be contented, that’s what the State banks on. You CAN be free though. We may never achieve full liberty, but they can’t get in your mind and make you miserable if you don’t let them.

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Mpolzkill,

“Orwell didn’t really understand human nature, Huxley did.”

I wonder if people who would rather be happy than free are really worth living ? I wonder if we should respect their life ?

Those people don’t make any sense, they cannot realize that mankind is made of atoms and biology and that we have basic biological, social and emotional needs before we can strive to “happiness”.

Those people who claim that miserable people can “choose” to be happy have no empathy for their fellow human beings.

They are the kind of wretches who would lecture them with happiness instead of offering them a hand-up !

I will never ever help someone who is a happiness preacher. If one of those not-worth-living person would suffer misfortune and ask for my help, I would reply to them that their miseries are in their “head” and that therefore they don’t need my help.

I would tell them: “Don’t worry, be happy and get off my property or else !”

Only when they would admit the fallacy of their happiness religion would I even considering helping those human pieces of garbage.

Happy or not, we human beings have basic needs and it takes materialistic humanitarians to display empathy towards fellow human beings and offer a hand-up when needed.

Those happy-preachers would only offer lectures and nothing of value to persons in needs. Therefore, should any misfortune hit them, they deserve no help whatsoever.

I would mail them a copy of the song “Don’t worry, be happy” and I would sleep well at night with a clear conscience.

Michael A. Clem September 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Fundamentalist makes some good points. Happiness IS a state of mind, and thus is potentially achievable in practically any circumstances. Nonetheless, I still think it is easier to attain happiness with freedom. The more freedom one has, the more opportunities there are for finding happiness.

USA Today September 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Michael A. Clem,

Next time you go to the grocery store or fill up your car, try to pay those purchases with happiness.

Next time you get a flat tire, try to fix it by thinking hard in your head about happiness.

You live in a fantasy world with your nonesense.

Next time you’re hungry, eat some happiness.

Michael A. Clem September 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm

USA Today,
You’re being absurd. Nobody said anything about paying for goods and services with happiness. Nobody said anything about accomplishing anything with happiness. Happiness is an end, not a means. Freedom, on the other hand, is usually both an end and a means to other ends, like, I dunno, happiness!

K Ackermann September 2, 2009 at 4:22 pm

I just watched Dr. Robert Higgs and I liked him immensely. His editing skills need some help… I’m not sure putting the most Hitler-like photo of von Mises on the cover of Independent Review was smart from a marketing perspective. Anyway…

He explained the nature of the problems he discussed in lucid terms, and all his assertion were correct, IMO. Where he fell short, for me, was some of the glossing he did on certain issues. I am looking for solutions to our problems. I don’t care one bit about perfection – it’s not possible. This desire has led me to take a look at the Libertarian ideas (among others). My first experience was not so well. It was at a small blog that had primarily hard-right Libertarians who were also unabashed racists. They were internally inconsistent, which meant they hadn’t developed their views very well.

This site shows me an almost overwhelming level of information, and that is encouraging. I will read, but the material is static, so it’s natural for me to ask questions here on things I don’t understand, or comment on things I don’t agree with. If I disagree, it will always be with an explanation of exactly why from a pragmatic perspective, and not from an ideological perspective.

In all honesty, that is a problem I encounter when conversing with Libertarians on some views. There are too many blanket assertions, and too much rejection of ideas on ideological grounds.

I agree; government, as I know it, has to go.

But it doesn’t just go. Things replace it. I think it would be helpful to have a frank discussions on these things to make sure they are fully developed. They don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be addressed. This article ends with the hope that I become more learned.

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll ask just one question that I just thought of…

A common defense makes sense. I hope we are on the same page so far.

What is the scope of a common defense? It obviously is an armed force, but who controls it?

Is the armed force augmented by a diplomatic corps, or is war the only response to potential conflict? Specifically, if a foreign power seizes American assets, or interferes with the operations of an American company, is there a national policy for response?

I’ll stop there, and I really appreciate any responses.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Acky (may I call you Acky? I like it, please tell me to knock it off if you don’t)

Well, they were both born in the same decade in the same country. And Mises and old Schickelgruber were both Jewish (just kidding about Hitler’s grandma’s boyfriend). Anyway, I know that picture, my mind doesn’t quite associate like yours. That’s fine.

Sounds to me like you were talking to Birchers. A lot of racist wack-jobs want to be free, too. I’m glad you know there are many different flavours of libertarianism and I’m very glad you found Higgs.

That was a pretty damning indictment of the Military Industrial complex you posted on that other blogpost. Everything that you can see that stinks about the State goes for their performance on defense as well.

I’m really not big on theorizing about what a totally free world would be like. We can’t know what free people will come up with and I agree with you there is about a 99.999% chance we will never reach full political emancipation. But that doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to tyranny. Just one look at what we’ve paid for in Iraq should convince us that something is horribly and fundamentally wrong.

I’m sure there are others here that will engage you in conversation on your questions, I can’t right now. Until then, Hans Herman Hoppe edited a book on the subject. You could check out his intro to it, I haven’t read the book, but I thought the intro was pretty thought-provoking:

http://mises.org/daily/1356

Take care.

whittaker September 2, 2009 at 6:41 pm

“The special pleaders for statism constantly insist that while all-powerful government might be inherently bad under a despot or dictator, it can be a perfectly wholesome thing under democratic auspices where the principle of majority rule prevails. This ignores the fact that even under self-government the people must be protected against themselves. It makes the dangerous assumption that the majority is infallible and can do no wrong.”

It’s worse than that, because actually, under democratic auspices, the principle of majority rule does NOT prevail.

Very few laws are ever put to a popular vote, or would be approved if they were. We routinely pass laws that no one has ever even READ in their entirety, with sections whose authorship cannot even be determined. How then can it be said that a majority of the public rules?

Real-life “democracies” are really socialist dictatorships that claim to derive their power from popular support.

K Ackermann September 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Thanks again, mpolzkill.

I was kidding about the photo. Hitler did for that mustache what Colin Powell did for the airial photo and laser pointer.

I agree with you there is about a 99.999% chance we will never reach full political emancipation…

You never know. A window of opertunity may open up here, but something is going to fly through that open window. It would be nice to have a detailed plan to hand over similar to the way some of the Chicago boys did in South America. One that is good, though.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Acky,

You bet. Yep, that was the end of that fashion statement.

One of the myths cultivated by the State and its court intellectuals is that power derives vertically: from the top down. Political power operates that way. It is an artificial, ill-informed order that requires all below to stand around generally confused and the further from the top the more powerless, all awaiting direction. When citizens aren’t vigilant, political power slowly destroys social power. Social power is horizontal, it has no plan, it is chaos; but every actor is optimally motivated and very well informed about what they need. In conjunction with a shared tradition of rule of law (Natural Law) it is the human equivalent of the chaos of Nature. Civilization was built by social power. All the works of civilization have come from social power. Civilization had just begun to truly flourish precisely during the ascendancy of Classical Liberalism. Political power, the parasite, has made a roaring comeback, stamping out true liberalism, beguiling or befuddling nearly all, and is reaching a terminal stage for its host.

Artificial order vs Living chaos.

Anyway, my point was there can never be any ONE good plan for every one, haha.

mpolzkill September 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Here’s the “plan”, Acky:

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.

The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.

Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.

- Lao Tzu

USA Today September 3, 2009 at 8:57 am

Michael A. Clem,

You’re the one who’s absurd if you think that happiness is more important than eating.

You’re the one who’s absurd if you think that a starving man or a man in a miserable condition or a man in need only needs to decide to be happy and all his miseries will go away.

You’re the one who’s absurd if you think you don’t need favorable material and social conditions to be happy.

You’re the one who’s absurd if you think you can be happy in a pile of your own feces, locked in solitary confinement while being eaten alive by a swarm of maggots.

Come on. We are HUMAN BEINGS, we are made of FLESH and BLOOD.

We need air, food, clothes, money, a house and social support to be happy.

If you say you don’t need those things to be happy, then if one day you suffer any kinds of misfortune, then I will not give you my help since you “don’t” need it.

We are not spiritual beings, we have basic biological, physiological and social needs in order to be happy and if you can’t acknowledge this then you are incapable of empathy towards another human being, you are a monster.

If people search for food, it is because they are unhappy with the pain in their stomach called hunger. Eating food makes them happy when they are hungry.

If you can’t acknowledge this, then you are the most despicable human piece of garbage I know.

This is how I see it.

USA Today September 3, 2009 at 9:01 am

Michael A. Clem,

At least you acknowledge that mankind needs freedom in order to be happy.

Freedom gives them the freedom to pursue happiness.

At least you acknowledge that happiness needs freedom and is not just some stupid state of mind.

MIchael A. Clem September 3, 2009 at 10:54 am

I suspect that you are defining “happiness” differently than Fundamentalist, and thus no meaningful comment can be made.

Luther Mendin September 11, 2009 at 11:57 am

My name is luther Mendin and i am a Liberian.
Currently i am engaged in media related works,i would like to throw this question to the rest of my colleagues on this web site,Is it necessary to start the training of Goverance at the high School level,if your answer is yes/no please give me a vivid answer,besides, i would like for you to give me an expert opinion on the roles of the Governance Commission in any country?

Luther Mendin September 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm

My name is luther Mendin and i am a Liberian.
Currently i am engaged in media related works,i would like to throw this question to the rest of my colleagues on this web site,Is it necessary to start the training of Goverance at the high School level,if your answer is yes/no please give me a vivid answer,besides, i would like for you to give me an expert opinion on the roles of the Governance Commission in any country?

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