Freedom in an Unfree World
Written by Winter Trabex from her new book The Substance of Liberty: Freedom in an Unfree World.
As various countries around the world spiral down into socialist misery, people are discovering that government is a rapacious, cruel entity whose only interest lies in theft, murder, and obedience. The government steals primarily by taxation, itself a public menace, but also steals through the use of police officers writing up citations for people who have done nothing wrong- such as parking a car without putting coins into a machine. Theft occurs through the use of public forfeiture for imaginary drug-related crimes. The drug addict, or drug distributor, is not only burdened with the cost of finding a lawyer and paying fines, after he serves his prison sentence, he has to start over from scratch. He has no property, for all has been taken from him. He has no wealth, for his bank accounts have been frozen or looted. All he has is his knowledge of the drug trade, the only thing he’s ever been good at. The money and property that police officers take from ordinary people only makes crime more likely, which means that, rather than reforming the behavior of lawbreakers, law enforcement serves to create more crime than before. It is impossible to generate respect for the law when those sworn to uphold the law make it ever more difficult to remain in compliance.
The government murders people, for force and intimidation are the only arguments it knows. Punishment is so readily and so easily handed out for the smallest infraction that bureaucrats, politicians, and police officers now are armed as a matter of course. Though gun control advocates despair over the deaths of innocent children, they do not often focus upon children being arrested at school, flash grenades being thrown into the cribs of infants, children being taken away from their parents by force because the parents did not comply with arbitrary, changing laws. That a man who shoots people in a movie theater gets more attention than a police officer who, in the normal course of his duties, creates an atmosphere of fear rather than trust, does not change the reality that government agents are far more dangerous than the worst serial killers who have ever been, or ever will be. Government agents act with official sanction, often supported through the use of propaganda; they use different phraseology to describe their activities. Dropping bombs on civilian non-combatants in foreign countries becomes “a limited tactical engagement.” Supported by trillions of dollars in tax revenue every year and billion dollar militaries, there is no doubt that one of the primary purposes of government is to murder people who don’t get behind the current chosen ideology of a select few who have so little regard for human life that they end such life whenever it pleases them.
The government wishes for obedience to all its dictates, whether that dictate comes from a police officer himself, or from a lawmaker on high. Those who try to express their own individuality are perceived as a threat against the state. Today’s terrorists are not Muslims who wear cloth over their faces, but civilians who wish to make their own choices on their own terms. That government agents feel threatened at every turn, exposing an innate cowardice, only serves to indicate the power that civilians have. A man with a gun and a badge has far less influence than the man with an idea and a voice. The violent man’s influence is only limited to those people whom he can directly threaten. Everyone else, perceiving that an encounter with such a man would result in violence, avoid him or disobey him as much as possible. The non-violent man, who does not carry weapons as a matter of course, is not concerned with forcing everyone to live as he thinks they should; he expresses his opinion wherever and whenever it suits him with the understanding that people can either accept his notions or reject them. The introduction of voluntary acceptance proves to be all the difference here: people naturally gravitate more towards a man who is willing to live peacefully in cooperation with his neighbors, rather than a man who makes a living out of ruining the lives of others.
Thus it is that everywhere all over the world, individuals are declaring their individuality through protests, through YouTube videos, through online articles, through books, through speeches, though comic strips, through movies, through television shows, through games, and a myriad other ways. A true capitalist economy, an economy of opportunity, not exploitation, allows consumers to vote for the world they want to see with each purchase they make. This has historically proven far more effective at removing from the world businesses people did not like, as opposed to politicians people did not like. Businesses must of necessity survive on the consumer’s good will, lest they engage in the self-destructive practice of accepting corporate subsidies. Politicians may stay in office for two years, four years, six years, or longer. The public has little chance of unseating a man who has proven so odious to the public that he is mocked and ridiculed at every turn even while he puffs out his chest with self-aggrandizing self-importance.
For much of history, these were the only two methods of voting people had. Vote for or against a business, or vote for or against a politician- if voting was even allowed, or done fairly. Today, with the emergence of the online economy, people now can vote for business, or for government. People can consciously choose to reject the systems of theft, murder, and obedience in which they find themselves, using cryptocurrency instead of government fiat money. They can choose to use an app to call a taxi driver, instead of having to rely on a taxi company given a monopoly through the creation of extraordinarily expensive medallions, items which serve no other purpose but to decrease competition. The invention of the automobile, though now over one hundred years old, still provides what it has always provided: an opportunity for people to drive to the homes of other people, to other places of business, to choose where their money goes, and for what. It is no mistake that in the Soviet Union, only top party officials were allowed to own automobiles.
A proliferation of free choice is a rejection of government. Government only ever gives people the choices that it wants to give. In a socialist society, workers aren’t allowed to work for the pay they choose. In a free market society, workers can learn new skills in order to advance themselves in life. In a socialist society, the government rewards those who make irresponsible choices, such as women who deliberately choose to become impregnated in order to receive welfare. In a free market society, welfare is not needed; a community enriched by hard work has enough money to spend on the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disenfranchised. It should be- but is not- well understood by socialists that the welfare systems are co-opted by the people who run them for their own benefit. The greatest subsidies go not to the people who really need them, but to the people who are connected to those in power. In other words, socialism is a gigantic circle jerk of people bribing each other; free market capitalism is a chaotic, energetic, exciting system where people get to keep the money they earn in order to spend it on what they choose. That people are today concerned for the welfare of the poor means that, were the government to be removed from society at any point in the future, those people would engage their wealth and their energies to helping those who needed help. Socialism is simply not needed.
If it were, people would choose it much more frequently than they are doing today. If socialism were a successful system, human nature would have to be something other than what it is. People would have to be unconcerned with the acquisition of wealth, careless of how much power and prestige they could acquire, and above all, consider their neighbor to be more important than themselves. If human nature were founded upon such conditions, socialism would work. Even a cursory study proves that human nature is not constructed this way. People are greedy- they want money. People are egotistical- they are concerned with what others think and say about themselves. People are selfish- they put themselves before anyone else. Capitalism is the only system in which natural market forces funnel human nature into productive, beneficial channels. A capitalist who cannot rely on government soon discovers that he must rely on himself. In order to rely on himself, he must provide value to someone willing to pay for what he provides- either an employer or a customer. Most often, self-reliance eliminates corrupting influences; or, if it does not, employers and customers can reject the man’s behavior by not giving him any more money, thus providing a warning to anyone else who would emulate his actions.
Much of this is not readily understood either by socialists who advocate theft out of compassion, nor by people who are halfway on the side of a free market. The rejection of socialism comes from both historical and personal consequences. The historical consequences of socialism largely have to do with rapid currency inflation, whether that inflation occurs with the German Weimar’s mark, which were so worthless that people burned them in the fireplace, or the American dollar, which has depreciated in value by over two thousand percent over the course of the last century. When one day a five-dollar bill can buy a loaf of bread and the next day it takes six thousand dollars to buy that same loaf of bread, people will starve, or resort to crime. There is currently no fiat currency ever known to exist which has not, at one point or another, experienced either a severe collapse or a severe crisis. People all over the world, observing these collapses, whether personally or from abroad, soon find out that absent of all theory and all understanding of how government works, the government itself manages its affairs very poorly indeed. People reject the government for this very reason; the remainder of their lives, disengaged from politics, are spent working and paying their bills. Consciously or not, those who reject the government, no matter what their personal sentiments may be, are living examples of the success of capitalism.
Given that people who perceive themselves to be above the law shall never act within the confines of it, there is no indication that the governments of the world will turn their countries around, move away from their austerity measures, abolish the central banks, and let people live free. The opposite appears to be happening: like a gambler losing constantly losing money at a blackjack table, governments don’t know how to do anything else besides double down, put more money on the table, even if it means the money must be printed out of thin air. There is no discussion of walking away from the table to stop the financial bleeding-out. Rationality simply does not exist where politicians and bureaucrats are concerned. Their primary objective is to obey orders. If the orders they receive tell them to stay at the table in the hopes that one day something good will come of debasing national currency, they will sit at the table and continue to squander their resources.
When people choose to live their lives outside of systems of obedience, such scenarios become less likely. It has been shown that non-inflationary- though far from stable- money can be invented. That money, existing only online, can be modified in order to meet current market conditions. Because cryptocurrency is not centrally planned, it operates upon the consensus of all the people who use it, be they of fair minds, or of rapacious minds only concerned with profit at the expense of the currency’s value. A system such as this, wherein mistakes are allowed to occur, has more stability in the long run; people who tire of seeing fraudsters take advantage of a non-regulated market will protect themselves, rather than wait for protectionary laws to be passed (which are themselves enforced arbitrarily by the state’s agents).
The difference can be observed in the following example: rather than wait for the police department to answer a distress call in a home burglary, the homeowner instead takes it upon himself to find his shotgun and shoot the thief. Criminals, who by and large seek maximum opportunity with minimum personal risk, would find home invasion to be far too risky an undertaking if they expect to be shot every time they enter a house without permission. The only people involved are the thief, who must live or die by the consequences of his choices, and the homeowner, who engages his resources in defending what he has earned. The expenses of police officers, police cars, courts, lawyers, prisons, all don’t enter into it. Protection of one’s self through increased personal agency is far less expensive than governmental third-party policing, however much safety it may appear to inculcate.
The desire for self-agency can be observed by comparing two landmark days in the American calendar: Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) and Election Day (November Fourth). People form endless lines in front of shopping centers in order to get the best deal. Consumers rush into stores, looking for televisions at remarkably low prices. The competition for the best deal sometimes become violent, so impassioned are the shoppers for what they are purchasing. On Election Day, people stay home, regardless of how often they find voter registration forms put in front of them. They may register, but no one can force a person to vote for a candidate whom it is well understood will break his word, flout the law, and make everything worse. The only change that ever comes from the ballot box is change for the worse. If voting offered people something tangibly good, even exceptional, people would be willing to camp out overnight just to be the first in line to have their vote cast. All the candidates would be appear good, one better than the next, instead of all of them appearing worse than the other. That mandatory voting laws are so despised where they exist in Australia provides a clue as to how much people actually want the government they have.
Instead, people want freedom and autonomy. People want productive lives where the end of life is better than the beginning of life. People want their wishes to be taken into account while they go about their daily lives. They want a fair, honest, and just system in which, though crime may yet exist, criminals are far fewer in number. They want the balance of their lives to be decided by the sum total of their actions, rather than a momentary split-second decision, one for which a lifetime of punishment might ensue. People want children to be able to run free, happy and playful, not consigned to work to help out a poor family. Capitalism is the only system that can generate all of these outcomes. It is, in essence, the substance of liberty.
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