Freedom Must Be Earned

Posted: September 7, 2011 in Epistemology, Politics
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No one can escape this undeniable truth: freedom must be earned—if not by you, then by the grace and generosity of your betters. To earn is to apply intelligent effort to achieve an outcome—which presupposes a mind able to think and use reason in order to distinguish truth from non-truth. The more valuable the goal then the more worthwhile the intelligent effort is in achieving it. Freedom being the most valuable thing an individual can earn, it is only fitting that it’s the hardest thing to obtain and maintain. Through all of recorded history, it wasn’t until the climax of the Enlightenment that a political system was designed and implemented to defend liberty—early attempts were made before, but none as successful as the U.S. Constitution. Our Constitution is a guard against tyranny; but just like its utter uselessness in the hands of mindless barbarians, who do not even know the reasons for their own traditions, so it is useless in the hands of mindless politicians elected by thoughtless constituents. It would almost take a mind as great as our framers—and just as thirsty for liberty—to preserve our political system that guards individual freedom. A mind that is simply acquiescent to the greatness of our framers’ design is not enough to secure liberty for he is defenseless against the senseless—how is he to know the difference?

“If it ain’t broken, then don’t fix it… but how do you go about maintaining it?” Just like a properly functioning motor needs maintenance from time to time, so does liberty—as Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” When a motor ceases to operate or ceases to operate well, it will take an understanding mind to ascertain a solution. When a man suggests adding water to the fuel tank or mulch to the engine, how would you know that to be wrong unless you know something about the essence and nature of motors? When a man tells you that the only way to secure liberty is to take it away, how would you know that to be an error unless you know something about the essence and nature of liberty? There may be a lot of good choices when it comes to properly maintaining a motor, but there are infinitely more bad choices—so it is with preserving liberty—how are you to know the difference?

The first step to maintain our system of liberty is to discover liberty’s true essence, nature and importance—aside from what others tell you. The second step is to learn the true essence, nature and importance of our constitutional republic’s inner workings—aside from what others tell you. If you have no interest in discovering the difference or you don’t think that you are capable of understanding it, then you have already surrendered the right to liberty long ago and whatever individual freedoms you do enjoy you owe to men better than yourself; but then again, how are you to know the difference?

To know the difference requires learning the truth and contrasting that knowledge from the thick fog of non-truth. That particular journey is quite long and perhaps it can never be fully completed; but once significant progress is made, the subsequent steps to preserving liberty and our system will come quite naturally. I suggest that you start now for your time to act is running out.

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.” — Judge Learned Hand

Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks — no form of government can render us secure. To suppose liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.” — James Madison, Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788

Suggested Reading to Understand Liberty and Our System:
Common Sense, by Thomas Paine
The U.S. Declaration of Independence
The U.S. Constitution
The Federalist papers
Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand
The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand
For the New Intellectual, by Ayn Rand
Men in Black, by Mark Levin
End the Fed, by Ron Paul
Meet the System, by Joseph Plummer
Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government, by Yaron Brook

Suggested Reading to Understand The Contrast
The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, by Ludwig Von Mises
The Road to Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek


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