Much is made in conservative political discussions, of our inalienable natural rights to Life, Liberty, and Property. The right to Property is central to our conflict with the Politically Correct altruists on the Left, over their egalitarian ‘social justice’ agenda. They claim the moral authority to employ coercive government agents, to confiscate what they regard as ‘excessive’ earnings of producers, for redistribution among their celebrated victim class mooches. The right to Life, of course, underpins and defines the anti-abortion issue, central to the Piously Correct altruists on the Right. They regard the unborn as the more compelling class of victimhood, and claim the moral authority to employ coercive government agents, to compel a woman to give birth to an unwanted child.
Yet, in the strident Left/Right culture war raging across our land, one finds little discussion of our natural right to Liberty. Is this because few among these authoritarian-minded combatants understand what Liberty actually means, or because it so fundamentally conflicts with their political agendas? Either way, they effectively reject the premise that Liberty is an inalienable natural right, common sense and our Founders assertion notwithstanding. One cannot coherently, at the same time champion Liberty, and advocate employing the coercive powers of government, to regulate the wealth OR social mores of its individual citizens.
Liberty is essentially the antithesis of coercive government. To our arguably libertarian Founders, the primary purpose of our experiment with self-government, was to defend the natural rights of free sovereign individuals, from the threat of tyranny of any sort. They dismissed as incompatible with their thesis of individual sovereignty, any statist form of government lacking the consent of the governed. Not just despotic monarchy, dictatorship, oligarchy, et al, failed that test; they also specifically rejected the tyranny of what they called ‘mob rule’ democracy.
Faulty modern political rhetoric notwithstanding, the United States is NOT a democracy; we live in a Constitutional republic. ‘The will of the people,’ which is another way to say ‘the whim of the majority,’ must never be permitted to trump the individual natural rights of a minority. In the ‘Land of the Free,’ Americans are independent sovereign citizens, not subjects, serfs, or slaves. Our Constitution, as originally written and amended with the Bill of Rights, conferred no power on the Federal Government to interfere in the private lives of citizens in any manner. Under the principle of federalism, crime and punishment were left to the jurisdictions of the individual States. The Tenth Amendment made it abundantly clear that any powers not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, were reserved to the States and their citizens.
Freedom can be defined as having the unfettered opportunity to live one’s life as one chooses to live it, unmolested by busybodies trying to impose their worldview on others. Liberty is the condition of enjoying such freedom of action, unconstrained by coercive agents acting under the color of law. It should be obvious that one cannot have such opportunity and enjoy such a condition, unless one is willing to acknowledge that the same applies equally to all others. Thus, in natural law, one’s freedom and Liberty are limited naturally and ONLY, by the necessity of not encroaching on those of one’s neighbors.
Thomas Jefferson espoused the concept of ‘Rightful Liberty,’ which he defined as “unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
I find Jefferson’s quote profound and compelling. It is obvious that the Left’s Politically Correct activists have abandoned our founding principles, and totally dismiss our natural rights as irrelevant to their altruistic worldview. They are statists, wedded to the collectivist notion that the welfare of the amorphous ‘society’ is more important than that of any individual. Thus, they are de facto enemies of our Constitution and the individual’s natural right to Liberty, which it was designed to defend.
When pressed, most Leftists don’t even deny this. They speak not of natural rights, but of political rights, by which they mean privileges, licenses, and ‘benefits’ conferred by an authoritarian government on a subservient and grateful population. They speak of society’s ‘progress’ and view our Constitution as merely a flexible outline of the structure of our political institutions, akin to the bylaws of an organization. To them it is a ‘living document,’ which can be easily reinterpreted and modified by judicial fiat, to conform to the current ‘needs’ of ‘modern’ society.
For the most part, these misguided Americans are not operating from nefarious motives. They honestly believe the authoritarian collectivist’s altruistic dogma, which they perhaps carelessly swallowed without first chewing. Those under 50 often have no other frame of reference. They were thoroughly indoctrinated during their innocent youth, in their homes, churches, and schools. They were encouraged to ‘feel,’ and deliberately not taught how to ‘think’ critically. This was constantly reinforced all their lives, by their music, TV programing, and movies, etc. They cannot grasp how anyone could ‘feel’ otherwise, unless they are some combination of unbelievably selfish, woefully uneducated, or shamefully bigoted.
Yet, what about the Piously Correct activists on the Right, who frequently claim to be Liberty loving staunch Constitutionalists? Are they, really? Isn’t their religious dogma just as authoritarian, collectivist, and altruistic as Marxist ‘Progressive’ dogma? Don’t they too, decry those nonconformist individuals, unwilling to sacrifice their personal Liberty ‘for the good of society,’ as selfish, bad, and perhaps even evil? Isn’t it they who champion legislation creating victimless crimes? I cannot square their efforts to employ the coercive powers of the state to advance their social agenda, with our natural right to Liberty; how, pray tell, do they? ◄Dave►