Monday, October 31, 2005

Maybe There is Hope for Tomorrow

The Freedom Party dinner my wife and I attended on Saturday showed me that there is still hope for the future. As long as people are free to gather and discuss our natural rights to life, liberty and property, there is still hope. As long as at least some people still understand that these rights are indeed 'natural' rights (they don't have to be created by government, but may need to be protected by government,) there is still hope. As long as people want to discuss these rights, there is still hope.

There were many people my age (60) or older at the function. It is no surprise to me to see my peers at a function like this because they are old enough to remember a time when self-sufficiency, self-respect and self-restraint were the norm and they would, like me, wonder where the hell these values went. There were also quite a few younger people there, from the early 20s on up. These would all be individuals who have never 'lived' the life some of us still remember and who perhaps seek a life of freedom on purely philosophical grounds. I found that encouraging. It tells me that at least some people are still able to think critically.

In his speech, Freedom Party president Robert Metz specifically stressed that life, liberty and property were the focus of the Freedom Party. Let's reflect on this a bit. Anyone who can read knows that the vaunted American constitution speaks of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Property rights were not enshrined in the constitution itself, but were mentioned, almost as an afterthought, in Amendment V to the Constitution: "... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." I believe that it is critical to understand these rights and why they should be protected. To save myself a lot of typing, I hope you will forgive me for copying below what I have written elsewhere on the subject:

"The right to life simply means that no-one else has the right to kill you. It doesn’t mean that everyone else has to support you, entertain you, educate your children, and give you a place to live.

"The right to liberty simply means that no-one has the right to detain you, to force you to do things you don’t wish to do, to keep you from doing things you want to do, or to restrain you from speaking freely or assembling with others. It doesn’t mean that you can escape responsibility or consequence if you have caused harm to others.

"The right to pursue happiness is your guarantee that no-one can reasonably interfere with you as you go about your life unless, and this is very important, your actions interfere with the similar rights of others."

As far as I know, only the Freedom Party and the various Libertarian Parties acknowledge the importance of the right to own property and that it is necessarily a natural right which exists as a direct consequence of the right to life. If we have a right to life, then it follows that we should have a right to keep what we produce or acquire as a result of our efforts.

I was chatting with one young gentleman before we sat down to dinner and he asked me how long I thought it would take to elect a government that would promote these rights and the responsibilities that come with them. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry in response.

It wasn't a silly question. It is just that, from my perspective, I have seen much and have attempted to do much in this direction. I've been at it for decades. I am only one of many, all of us attempting to bring about a truly free society. Yet, our combined efforts, in various organizations and political parties, have resulted in barely measurable results. That is a fact. That is also depressing.

When under the guidance and leadership of Marshall Bruce Evoy a group of us brought the Libertarian Party of Canada to life in 1973, I was excited. I could hardly wait for rapid changes for the better in our governments. As others became aware of the Libertarian movement, I thought, and all the benefits that would accrue to the population from the rights of individuals to interact socially and economically without unnecessarily meddling by government, they would vote Libertarian. Wouldn't they? No, they wouldn't. I was optimistic. I was naive. I was wrong.

We are, unfortunately, a long, long way from a Libertarian or Freedom Party government. People, generally speaking, don't want freedom. Freedom means responsibility and few of us want to take responsibility for our actions . Freedom means making informed decisions. That means thinking. Most people don't want to think. They want to do as they are told. Freedom means taking action. That sometimes means leading the way. Most people don't want to lead. They want to follow. Why else is the populace always braying collectively for 'strong' leaders. People don't simply wish to be told what to do, they wish to be told what to do authoritatively, without ambiguity.

I have been part of the Libertarian movement since 1973. What has happened in the 32 years since then? Libertarian rhetoric has become mainstream. The mainstream political parties use the terminology, but we are nevertheless less free now than we have ever been. Liberal, Conservative, Democratic and Republican political parties all talk about fiscal responsibility but none of them practice what they preach. They all speak of human rights, but really mean, privilege enjoyed by some at the expense of others. Beyond the natural rights to life, liberty and property, any sort of benefit, the cost of which exceeds an individual's own tax contributions, is privilege.

The people at the Freedom Party dinner get it. It was a pleasure to interact with them and I hope to do so again.

Here are a few links to other lovers of freedom:

Freedom Party International
Libertarian Party of Canada
National Libertarian Party (USA)
International Society for Individual Liberty

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