Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Failure of Liberty

The Temperance Movement, which was originally intended to limit itself to voluntary abstinence, moved to a legislatively oriented goal though the action of a majority of women. This first War on Drugs failed, of course. Most women are not ideological and simply look for answers that might work. When those answers are founded on collectivist principles the impact on the culture, and liberty, can be very, very bad.

Women dominated political groups have a strong history of accomplishing their political goals despite the irrationality of those goals. Therefore, it is unsafe to not address their concerns. Far from being unimportant they touch on the most visceral questions of liberty and equality and should always have been addressed first. Here, opportunity meets discretion and good sense.

Women dedicated to establishing rights for women in marriage, the right to vote, the right to own property and raise the children born of their own bodies were confounded in their attempts for decades. The Declaration of Sentiments, written at the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 mirroring the Declaration of Independence, was firmly founded on individualist principles. By the time their struggle reached its fifth decade the original proponents were dying and being replaced by women who accepted help from the only people willing to work with them. Most of these people were collectivists of one kind or another.

If women had been conceded the right to vote, own property, marry by contract without having their rights limited, monitored and controlled by government; been able to sue for abuse and other violations of their autonomy there would have been no Temperance Movement. There would have been no drug war today, most likely.

When the institutions and culture of a society disallows force, coercion and fraud there are no victims to use as a justification for legislative depredations on the rights of individuals. The continuing plight of women and children was and remains the moral high ground on which the State founds its invasions of individual rights.

Fix that and we create at one time a coalition between right and left and a demonstration of how individualist principles work. Further failures to act will leave us trying to hold back a wall of water with a copy of your favorite libertarian book.


Welfare, entitlements, and other regulatory interventions distort free markets. They exist today because of the failure to apply individualist principles to the problems that confront individuals.

The authors of these policies were wrong about how to create social justice. They were right about the need. Collectivism does not work. But those who applied the answers were doing their best. It is not their fault they failed. It is ours.

When we ignored the proper concerns for social justice expressed by compassionate and informed activists we allowed the foundations to be laid for the State as it is today. Any answer that works must answer all of the previous questions.

Liberty has a logic and a lineage. Liberty itself is a cultural strategy that has changed the world. If it is not achieved using one set of practices it will move over to another. Individualism, expressed by our Founders had the first shot. Now the collectivists have failed and we are again up to bat. What can freedom accomplish now while the bases are filled?

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