By Chris Rossini
Liberty is all about the proper relationship between individuals. Our world is populated by 7+ billion exquisitely unique persons. There are no carbon copies. The primary concern for the ideas of Liberty is how unique individuals relate to one another.
Since we are all free to choose how to relate to others, we are constantly faced with options on how to get the things that we want. We can violate another person's life and property, or we can voluntarily cooperate with them. We can choose force, or peace; theft or exchange.
The ideas of Liberty are simple, and they are taught to us as babies and toddlers: "Don't take that. It belongs to him." This simple saying from our parents taught us not to steal. Another person's private property is absolute.
"Don't hit him. That's not nice." This is another lesson in respecting the life and personal domain of others. Another person's sovereignty over their body is absolute.
This is basic stuff; first principles.
But alas, what was once taught to us as toddlers is gradually drilled out of us as we "grow up."
The insidious ideas of collectivism are "taught" to you by people that are not your parents.
Abstractions are introduced in order to muddy the waters of voluntary and peaceful interactions.
"Society," the "community," and "mankind" are said to be above an individual's life and property. The individual's life, sovereignty over their body and property are not absolute.
You can use force. You can steal and harm others. Just say that you're doing it for "society," or "mankind."
Oh, what a deadly door this rhetorical trick opens up.
The principles of Liberty that you learned as a toddler have now been compromised.
But how are you supposed to shove the teachings that you learned growing up down the drain?
Well, a layer is introduced to soften the blow for you.
Don't worry, it's still wrong for you to personally take from others, and a vast majority of people never do it. The percentage of people who directly steal or harm others is always very small. You don't have to do the dirty work.
Instead, a proxy is introduced -- government employees. These are the people who will do the dirty work for you (or at least you're led to believe that it's for you).
These people will use force, steal and harm others, on your behalf, in the name of "society" and "mankind."
You don't have to do it. They'll do it.
In fact, you can close your eyes to what is happening. You just have to agree that this is OK. That's your only job. Don't object, and maybe you'll get some of the spoils.
Now, as the great economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out: "Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts."
"Society" isn't a concrete thing.
"Society" doesn't think or reason. It doesn't have a brain!
"Society" doesn't act. It doesn't have a body!
So the entire concept of collectivism is pure smoke and mirrors.
As time goes on, you start to notice that the dirty work isn't being done for you after all. You're not getting any spoils. You're just getting heartache. You're just getting increases in taxes and an always growing list of restrictions. All the bad stuff that is being done in the name of "society," isn't benefitting you at all!
In fact, as "society" spirals down into the abyss, you're going with it!
That's not how this supposed loophole for doing the wrong things was sold. This is turning out to be a bad deal all around!
Slowly, the ideas that your parents taught you start to look attractive again. "Don't take that, it's his." ... "Don't hit him. Leave him alone."
Leaving others alone, and being left alone is looking like a slice of heaven. Peacefully and voluntarily interacting with others is a light at the end of this dark collectivist tunnel.
Liberty really is absolute, after all.
Collectivism really is a lie.
These truths go back to Biblical times. Jesus said that one of the two greatest Commandments is: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Notice the word "neighbor."
It's not plural. It's not "neighbors."
Who is your "neighbor" at any given moment in time?
Who is the individual that is near you at any given moment?
The individual in front of you, perhaps right now. The individual that you speak to later on today. The individual that you pass at the supermarket. The individual that rings you up at the supermarket.
Love each individual that you come across during your day as you do yourself.
The Commandment is not "Love Mankind as thyself," or "Love the Community as thyself."
Those are abstractions.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with loving "Mankind," in your imagination, there is no concrete way to actually do so, other than by loving each individual (i.e., neighbor) that you come across throughout the day.
That's how you show love for "Mankind;" by showing love for each individual neighbor.
The dirty trick of collectivism is that the individual is worthless and expendable. If the individual must be stripped of his freedom, his property, or even his life, then it is worth it "for the good of society."
Are we not seeing the darkness of collectivism once again today?
We've read about it in the history books so many times.
In fact, the 1900's was the deadliest century in the history of mankind. The dominant ideas were all collectivist: Socialism, Communism and Fascism.
No other set of ideas have produced so many dead bodies.
Are we not seeing individuals being stripped of their livelihoods, their freedoms, their jobs, their ability to travel?
Are we not seeing "destroy your neighbor, for the good of society"?
We're seeing it again, on a very big scale.
The way out is always available. It's always an option. But it must be chosen. Liberty is never imposed.
Liberty is the only way out of the collectivist abyss.
Our parents were right.
Let us get back to first principles once again.