Liberty is a precious thing. It cannot be redeemed without great cost. It must be defended — sometimes the ultimate price must be paid in this defense. Jefferson wrote “must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants“. The Law is something that is a necessary evil. The more we have it, the more evil it becomes. Conversely, the less law we live under, the more necessary each law becomes. Societies that do not respect either one, or both, tend to be hellish places.
There are two essential elements to liberty, Physical and Economic. Physical liberty requires freedom of movement, association, and privacy. Economic liberty requires the freedom to choose ones vocation, and to have control over ones property and income. Legislation that curtails the individuals Physical or Economic liberty is always a reduction of their liberty. The more legislation that is created, the larger the state becomes. As the state accumulates power, through continuous passage of ever more legislation, the liberty of the individual is proportionally, evermore diminished.
The question that concerns all political and economic philosophy, “What is the correct balance between individual liberty and the authority of the state?” How much legislation is required for a civil society to be able to exist peaceably that still maximizes liberty? How much legislation is required in order to provide for the general welfare and yet not stifle the ability to pursue happiness?
Most of us, born in the United States in the 20th Century, and living in the early 21st have been blessed and spoiled by our circumstances. Living in the the United States we take our liberty for granted; as such we do not value it because we have never really been without it. What many here do not realize is that American liberty is an historical aberration. Sadly, we are loosing our liberty in small incremental steps. We were a freer society 40 years ago, and freer still 40 years before that. Tragically, people are losing sight of what it means to be free, and how freedom is yoked to individual responsibility, not security.
The number of laws we pass each year, be it through the legislative process, or by executive fiat, is staggering. The sheer number of laws alone has made it near impossible to not break the law. What constitutes a felony today would amaze the general public. We all are felons now. So how can we really respect the law? Prohibition of alcohol or drugs has proven to be problematic in this regard, as can be seen by the vigorous debate that erupted regarding the later issue.
Zero legislation will lead to the law of the jungle. Such is the unfortunate nature of man. Therefore the state is needed to curtail violence from being committed by the strong upon the weak. When the law of the jungle persists, and men do not come together to govern themselves, then there arises the self anointed state — the robber baron, and his henchmen. However, even when the state ‘lawfully’ gathers up too much power, the individual is again crushed by it. The state run amok, has proven to be more dangerous to the individual than the law of the jungle. This has been born out by savage legacies of all the tyrannies in history from Babylon, to the Caliphate to Communist China, and all the petty despots, and Socialist dictators that are with us today.
Liberty has always required vigilance, and the force of arms in order to survive. The state must be held in check by its very citizenry. The would-be kings and their henchmen — whatever their titles — have proven themselves to be violent lot who are willing to commit theft, rape and murder, in order to either attain or maintain power throughout history; they continue to do so today.
UPDATE Freedom of expression is most definitely a personal right. I missed it. Please forgive the oversight. This is what happens when Mrs. J, is not asked to proof read.