I must hasten to point out that Rand places these words in the mouth of her novel's villain, and they most certainly do not represent Rand's views on freedom. However, the quotation emphasizes that the words "free" and "freedom" can be very confusing.
The type of freedom U.S. citizens have, and which they usually mistake for complete freedom, is a system of privileges enshrined in law. It is "freedom under the law" if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms. Most libertarians and anarchists want freedom from laws, and do not accept the U.S. Constitution version of freedom as the true meaning of freedom.
Anarchists and libertarians generally believe that freedom is lessened by the necessity of complying with laws human laws. Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor of this newsletter, has made a useful distinction between two kinds of laws the laws that men discover and the laws that men enact. According to Mr. Milam, compliance with physical laws is a legitimate and unavoidable restriction, but forced compliance with laws that men enact is tyranny.
Based on my reading and my experiences as a libertarian activist, I have adopted a working definition of freedom which may be useful to most anarchists and libertarians: Being free means being able to be, do, and have what you want, limited only by physical conditions, and the intention to refrain from initiating physical force or fraud.
There are several reasons why I believe that this definition is especially useful.
In the first place, it takes into account that an individual's freedom will always be limited in some way by the individual's physical context. Secondly, it recognizes that a person's freedom is likely to be infringed by other people, and that the individual has the right to use physical force or fraud to defend against physical force or fraud. Thirdly, this formula makes no statement about solitary or group living, but is compatible with either context.
Thinking about freedom reveals that freedom cannot be usefully discussed without carefully defining what one means by one's use of the term. The aforementioned definition will hopefully provide the basis for practical, fruitful discussions.
The difference between freedom and permission is usually overlooked.
October 20, 1978, Milam's Notes
Sam Aurelius Milam III
For years now, thugs in the US gestapo have conducted outrageous forced entries into the homes of Americans under the "authority" of no-knock search warrants. Now, the police in Wisconsin are asking the Supreme Court to approve of such violent entries without any warrant at all.2 They're not asking if they can do it. They've already done it. They're asking the court to say, after the fact, that it's acceptable.
Watch for the US gestapo, coming soon to a front door near you.
|The End (Of Liberty) Is Near
The millennium is upon us. And of course the crazies are out in full force. Some seem to actually look forward to the fulfillment of their own predictions of doom and gloom. But whether they favor Devine retribution, black helicopters, or natural cataclysm as the ecstatic source of civilization's end, they usually ignore the more empirical 18-wheelers bearing down on our middle-of-the-road picnic. Herewith I believe are the Top 5 :
1. Social Security collapse around the year 2025. This will follow the Medicare crisis which will be averted by slashing benefits, raising fees, and eliminating "heroic" medical procedures. However, Social Security cannot be "saved" by raising the SS tax or retirement age somewhat. It will become what many non-pensioned people prided themselves on never being part of a "needs based" transfer payment program. The effect on their spirit and those close to them will be crushing, especially since the deductions of those still working will continue.
2. Debt Service. Years ago it was 16 per cent of the entire Federal Budget. The percentage was going up each year. This is the biggest budget category if you don't count a couple of lumped together ones. Extrapolate 20 years. Do you really think a society will pay taxes that just go to pay interest without a gun to its head?
3. Deflation. Yup, you heard it right. Deflation, not inflation will do us in. All those economies that required a wheelbarrow of currency to buy a loaf of bread were run by amateurs. Look what can happen with deflation. The population is manipulated into going in hock up to their eyeballs. Then the currency is limited by the Federal Reserve so that it becomes dearer. For those who have currency it's heaven. But what about all those people with huge numerical debts that do not take into account that the money is now worth more? They can just kiss their net worth good-by. Note: This is what happened in America's Great Depression. The elite made fortunes buying people's lifework for pennies on the dollar. Look for a change in the bankruptcy law first.
4. Famine. No, you are not likely to miss any meals in this country, although you will pay a much higher percentage of your net income for food to outbid the teaming masses. The problem is that with most of the world starving due to cyclical climatic changes and stupid agricultural practices, the well fed few will tolerate a no-nonsense government with absolute power. Interest in abstractions such as "rights" and "the proper role of government" will vanish. In a world of hungry people all that matters is being able to control food and guns. Anything else is an obstruction.1
5. Class Division. This is nothing new, historically speaking. What is new is that it's happening to America where the bulk of wage earners once hovered around the 3rd quintile, saw upward mobility as likely, and a rising standard of living as given.
Technology has opened many opportunities for the highly skilled while eliminating good paying, low skill niches no problem if most of the low skilled become high skilled. Unfortunately no civilization can be composed of only rocket scientists. Those who are not will be relegated to unemployment or a low-paid lifestyle. As government and its allied institutions snuff out the means of existence for the "have nots" for both income (home work, street vending) and housing (dormitories, "granny flats"), expect to see the desperate and hopeless underclass expand. The result will be more jails and curtailing of civil liberties. Well isn't that special. America would then be the same as Europe except we will also have the previous liberty killers upon us. The whining of high-paid techies not being able to keep enough of their pre-tax income will be lost in the screaming.
So there you are. While people are looking at the ground waiting for the earth to open up, someone has let go of the piano on the 10th floor above them.
The reason "obstruction" is used over "abstraction" is that we are talking about a future time where abstractions are not seen as merely irrelevant battling that can be simply ignored or dealt with in a perfunctory manner.
We are talking about a government that is all action toward a purpose and anyone who raises issues that keep the machinery from doing its job even to the extent of only listening to or filing the papers filed by malcontents, is compromising the priorities of the masses so is therefore an "obstruction" because effort has expended to remove them.
Reaction of abstractions: Borrrrring
Reaction to obstructions: Good riddance.
See the difference?
|Teach Your Child About Politics
by Joseph Sobran
Because I write about politics, people are forever asking me the best way to teach children how our system of government works. I tell them that they can give their own children a basic civics course right in their own homes.
In my own experience as a father, I have discovered several simple devices that can illustrate to a child's mind the principles on which the modern state deals with its citizens. You may find them helpful, too.
For example, I used to play the simple card game WAR with my son. After a while, when he thoroughly understood that the higher ranking cards beat the lower ranking ones, I created a new game I called GOVERNMENT. In this game, I was Government, and I won every trick, regardless of who had the better card. My boy soon lost interest in my new game, but I like to think it taught him a valuable lesson for later in life.
When your child is a little older, you can teach him about our tax system in a way that is easy to grasp. Offer him, say, $10 to mow the lawn. When he has mowed it and asks to be paid, withhold $5 and explain that this is income tax. Give $1 to his younger brother, and tell him that this is "fair." Also, explain that you need the other $4 yourself to cover the administrative costs of dividing the money. When he cries, tell him he is being "selfish" and "greedy." Later in life he will thank you.
Make as many rules as possible. Leave the reasons for them obscure. Enforce them arbitrarily. Accuse your child of breaking rules you have never told him about. Keep him anxious that he may be violating commands you haven't yet issued. Instill in him the feeling that rules are utterly irrational. This will prepare him for living under democratic government.
When your child has matured sufficiently to understand how the judicial system works, set a bedtime for him and then send him to bed an hour early. When he tearfully accuses you of breaking the rules, explain that you made the rules and you can interpret them in any way that seems appropriate to you, according to changing conditions. This will prepare him for the Supreme Court's concept of the U.S. Constitution as a "living document."
Promise often to take him to the movies or the zoo, and then, at the appointed hour, recline in an easy chair with a newspaper and tell him you have changed your plans. When he screams, "But you promised!" explain to him that it was a campaign promise.
Every now and then, without warning, slap your child. Then explain that this is defense. Tell him that you must be vigilant at all times to stop any potential enemy before he gets big enough to hurt you. This, too, your child will appreciate, not right at that moment, maybe, but later in life.
At times your child will naturally express discontent with your methods. He may even give voice to a petulant wish that he lived with another family. To forestall and minimize this reaction, tell him how lucky he is to be with you the most loving and indulgent parent in the world, and recount lurid stories of the cruelties of other parents. This will make him loyal to you and, later, receptive to schoolroom claims that the America of the post-modern welfare state is still the best and freest country on Earth.
This brings me to the most important child-rearing technique of all: lying. Lie to your child constantly. Teach him that words mean nothing or rather that the meanings of words are continually "evolving," and may be tomorrow the opposite of what they are today.
Some readers may object that this is a poor way to raise a child. A few may even call it child abuse. But that's the whole point: child abuse is the best preparation for adult life under our form of GOVERNMENT.
Letter to the Editor
Just two points: 1. After all your ranting about wanting semantic clarity, it doesn't surprise me that you wouldn't print Rousseau's or my definitions of freedom. That's why I didn't bother, when answering the specific points in the article in Frontiersman, in the previous letter. 2. After a century & a half (a millennium if you count the guilds) the unions, if weakened, are still around. "Terrorism" is still quite fashionable. But the 80's are already deader than a dodo bird.
Elliot; N. Merrick, New York
Concerning Elliot's first point, he previously sent me some hand-written summaries of the philosophies of Rousseau, Bakunin, and Kropotkin. They were too long to print in this newsletter so I didn't print them. However, I'll send copies to anyone who requests them. I'm afraid I don't know what he's trying to say in his second point.
My thanks to Sir Donald the Elusive for paying the production costs of this newsletter.
On the Road with Buffalo Hunter
Buff was traveling in the Pacific Northwest recently and happened to attend the opening of a new medical mall, at which a variety of different medical services were to be available in one convenient location. He was one of a number of people present at the opening ceremony for the new office of a local ophthalmologist. About a year earlier, this particular surgeon had performed a nearly miraculous operation which had saved the sight of the patient, who happened to be the wife of a local artist. As a gesture of gratitude, the artist had offered to do a wall-sized mural for the doctor's new waiting room, and that was the very mural that was to be unveiled at the ceremony that Buff was attending.
The crowd consisted of various local officials and dignitaries, and a few wealthy local residents. Buff was present as the guest of one of these well-to-do locals.
When the speeches were done and the mural was at last unveiled, there was a stunned silence. The mural was an incredibly accurate depiction of a human eye, complete in every detail. The artist must have studied long hours to achieve such remarkable fidelity. Positioned exactly in the center of the pupil of this large eye was a full figure portrait of the artist's wife.
Buff happened to be standing near the surgeon and so was probably the only one present who heard what the surgeon muttered under his breath. During the following reception, various people asked the surgeon for his reaction to the piece, but he never repeated his initial response. Only Buff knew that he had originally said, with feeling, "Thank God I'm not a gynecologist!"
Buck Hunter Shoots Off His Mouth
Heard Mommy Talking
Dear Heard Mommy Talking
Whatever it's interested in, I suppose.
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Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor