Wednesday, March 10, 2010

...and Liberty for All

To have liberty, one must respect the liberty of others.

One who obtains property, position, or power by violating the liberty of other men has, by his depredations, renounced liberty, even his own. In liberty’s place he has put power, stealth, or whatever he used.

By sanctioning conquest, the conquer admits people, including himself, are legitimately subject to conquest. While gaining wealth and power, the conquer cannot enjoy liberty for he must devote much of his efforts to averting being conquered himself. Rather than being at liberty to do whatever he wishes within his own personal sphere, he must remain vigilant and prepared for defense. By his conquest, he has denied the legitimacy of any personal sphere of activity, even his own.

Similarly the thief, cheat, or fraud.

Only by recognizing the liberty of others, and being willing to help others defend their liberty (which includes their rights to own and control their property), can a man expect liberty for himself.

I wrote earlier that all men are islands, contrary to the drippy romanticism of John Donne (or rather, the drippy romanticism of how Donne is popularly interpreted). When the bell tolls, it tolls for somebody but, if I can hear the bell, not for me. I am born, live, die, saved or damned alone, never in communion with the inner life of any other human. But none of us live on an island: others surround us. Others just as primarily alone as are we, yet liberty is, fundamentally, a characteristic of how we interact with others. Liberty cannot be solitary.

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