Editor’s note: Chris has a sense of serendipity, and has supplied another insightful essay while Bill and I are occupied at Libertopia. If you’d like to contribute an essay, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We may edit your essay for mechanics, but never for content. -KL
“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
This essay is a follow-up to my last essay that was posted here at ZeroGov. I don’t think I properly got my point across, and I do not want to appear as a man who does not take freedom seriously enough to take the time to explain how it would work. Please allow me this opportunity to explain myself a little further.
I have read many books, essays, and such explaining how the people will have to be shown concrete alternatives to the state apparatus before they have the courage to abandon it. They will have to be shown how they would travel, and not just traveling by automobile, an explanation has to be given for air travel and air traffic control also. They need to be explained how they would receive justice in a free society, or shown examples of how justice has been handled in the past and present absent the state. Certainly the problem of pollution cannot be left up in the air when trying to explain why a free society would be better. These are only a few problems that exist now, and will undoubtedly exist in a voluntary society. Somehow we will have to show working alternatives to every one of these problems before the people throw off the shackles they have placed upon themselves. And this is the reason why we will fail at this monumental task of trying to explain freedom, although our minds are free, our bodies are not. We can build in our heads, but we lack the right to build with our hands.
The abolitionists of the past did not know of companies like, John Deere, Kubota, or International Harvester. They would never witness the invention of the tractor and all of the wonderful implements that can be attached to them that make life on a farm so much easier. They would never witness the fabulous invention known as the internal combustion engine, or the introduction of hydraulic systems that make all of this technology possible. They were not concerned with any of this, they did not care about what would replace the slave; they only fought to end the horrible institution of chattel slavery. This is the root I was trying to strike with my last essay. I only wish to abolish slavery. I see something as wrong, I should not have to devise a working model as an alternative to this wretched practice. Is it not enough to expose the slavery in the system to get my fellow humans to throw off their shackles? Do I have to tempt them with new systems? Chattel slavery, although practiced for many, many centuries, is now seen as a horribly immoral institution. Slave owners of the past were not presented with cost benefit analysis, or return on investment sheets. The moral argument was presented, and it was supported with the fact that man is a self-owner, no matter the color of his skin.
When comparing slavery and the state, some may think it’s a bit over the top, or is meant to invoke emotion. I assure you that the comparison is accurate and correct. To be a self-owner, one needs to believe in self-ownership. If one believes in ownership, then one also believes in possession. Let me give you an example: let’s say you find someone’s keys in a parking lot, and you pick them up. At this time, you are in possession of the keys, but they are not yours. The owner comes along and makes a claim on his property; he can stake an ownership claim. You being the good and helpful person you are gladly hand this man his keys, because he is the true and rightful owner. Let’s turn the tables, you have lost your keys, and you find a man in possession of them in a parking lot. As you approach this man you give him your gratitude for finding the lost set of keys, but instead the man runs away. He runs because he understands that you are the rightful owner, and he is merely in possession of the keys. It is not his property and he knows it. He is the wrongful owner.
Humans understand this concept with just about all property, except for their own bodies, and more specifically their labor. This principle also, and most importantly, applies to your body. Either you own it, or you are only in possession of it, and someone else can make an ownership claim on it. The law of the excluded middle works for ownership. Your labor would not exist without you, so it is only logical that it is yours. Either you own yourself and therefore your labor, or you don’t. There is no middle ground here. The difference between chattel slaves and 21st century slaves can be measured in degrees. Just as slave owners staked ownership claims on their slaves, the government stakes an ownership claim on you. The two masters are exactly the same in the fact that both wish to only extract your labor, the state just found a more efficient way of doing it. By claiming ownership of your labor the state has staked an ownership claim on to your own body.
Let’s go back to the guy running off with your keys. He now has to be on the look out because he is afraid that you will come looking to collect your property and violence may ensue. He still knows that he is only in possession of them and he is not the rightful owner. If you catch him, you will not accept only one key, or two keys, no you want the whole ring of keys, they are yours. The only way this man can keep your keys is through force, or the threat of force. He can pull out a gun to try and defend his possession, but the reason he has to pull the gun in the first place is because he is not the owner. This is the exact reason why the state has to employ the use of force to extract your property, they are not the rightful owners of it. The only rightful way property can be exchanged is through voluntary interaction; this is the only true way ownership can be transferred. Just as the chattel slave owners used shackles and chains, the state uses the same thing, but they have tricked us into putting them on ourselves and our neighbors. A happy slave is a more productive slave. The reason Marxism will never work is because it uses the negation of ownership as it’s principle; possession. The reason why capitalism does and forever will work is because it uses ownership as it’s principle. It’s time for us to abandon the middle, just like Marxism all of the lite flavors of it will also not work. It is false.
I’ll tell you the reason I do not feel the need to have to explain how freedom might work. Look back at the last couple of hundred years. Look at the explosion in technology. Look at the advances in the medical field. Look at the marvels taking place in the computing world. My goodness, look at the Internet itself. Everywhere we look we see human genius at work. This boom started to happen right around the same time chattel slavery was abolished in many countries. Do you think this is a coincidence? When men could no longer own other humans, and force those humans to labor, they had to come up with alternatives. Necessity is the mother of invention, and when you own slaves, there is no need for invention or innovation. This is the reason why I consider myself a 21st century abolitionist, I only have to look to the recent past to know that the abolition of slavery leads to amazing things. This is why I do not spend time explaining freedom, I spend my time explaining slavery. Along with being an abolitionist, I am also a capitalist. I have been fond of saying, “I have my ideas, but they are mine.” If you need some advise on how to live your life without the use of slaves, I’ll start a business called the “Freedom Consulting Firm”, and then you can pay me for my ideas.
When my son was very young, he would grab his toys from his cousins and say “MINE!”, we can grasp these concepts at a very young age. It’s time for us to look at the state and simply say, “MINE!”
“The labourers have the most enormous power in their hands, and, if they once became thoroughly conscious of it and used it, nothing would withstand them; they would only have to stop labour, regard the product of labour as theirs, and enjoy it. This is the sense of the labour disturbances which show themselves here and there. The State rests on the – slavery of labour. If labour becomes free. the State is lost.”