Before the common man gained the freedoms to own land, keep (most) of what he produced and to dispose of his property how he wished he could only live to serve his master’s needs and desires. This system greatly restricted the creative use of human energy and the productivity of humanity for thousands of years.
As a result, humanity could not sustain growing populations; people lead short lives and large numbers died of starvation or disease. Until only a few centuries ago, the common man’s existence has been nothing but servitude and survival, and the power of Man’s mind has remained largely untapped.
The establishing of the institute of private property and the emergence of the economic system of capitalism a few centuries ago changed this. It released the shackles on Man’s mind and body, and allowed the creative and productive power of humanity to flow (much more) freely.
Progressing from living to serve to serving to live has enabled Man to raise himself, and thus humanity, out of the dirt. The common man’s freedom to own property and far greater freedom to think and act according to his own will has enabled him to create a world of abundance, pleasure and peace utterly unimaginable to his Old World ancestors; one that easily sustains growing populations.
This is the world as we have the good fortune to know it. A world that is, in the context of the history of civilisation, a new human experience resulting from a new discovery: that peace and prosperity is correlated with freedom from Authority, not the quality or quantity of Authority.
Without property rights and economic freedom, Man would still have little time, energy or incentive to dedicate the power of his mind to anything other than his own daily survival and serving his master. The astounding progress of humanity over the last few centuries simply could not have happened without private property or capitalism; without the moral principle that individuals had the right to keep what they produced and to exchange it or dispose of it as they wished.
Today, the product of this progress, our amazing world of abundance and technological wonders, is under threat. Our elected leaders are continuously creating new laws that further erode the foundations of the institute of private property.
Government controlled money and banking continue to inhibit and corrupt the functioning of capitalism. The vast bodies of government regulations and legislation that exist in the developed world today do nothing but restrict peaceful action by peaceful people, restrict wealth creation and impede progress.
These giant tomes of government edicts are man-made obstacles to Man’s prosperity and progress. They are enlarged by government officials who falsely believe that forcing everyone to act according to their own plans/choices makes everyone better off, and that they have the moral authority to do so.
If State power in the west continues to expand and the removal of freedoms continues, then we and future generations could find ourselves constricted to a standard of living that should be confined to history; and most likely would be if enough of us had managed to keep faith in each other’s freedom as we met the many challenges of humanity’s rapid progress.
Perhaps this was too much to expect. After all, by allowing the State to monopolise education we gave flawed, illiberal theories that serve the purposes of the State (as conceived by those in power) every chance of being accepted as true by the masses; and the sound theories that serve the ends of peace and prosperity almost no chance of being heard above the din of State-subsidized intellectuals and the mainstream media.
Putting the providing of education in the hands of government was like closing our eyes and covering our ears to identify an approaching danger. In hindsight, this much is obvious.
The incoherent but power-serving theories of interventionism, modern liberalism and progressivism haven’t blocked progress to the degree that thick communism and socialism did, but as offshoots of the same intellectual weed they have steered the western world down a path that leads to totalitarianism by States built with the wealth created in state-controlled capitalist economies.
Totalitarianism has descended upon the greatest societies of the past with devastating effects, but the unique technology of the 21st century affords us the unprecedented ability to evade its harm to some degree. The Internet and web technologies are our best means of circumventing not only the State’s control over our wealth but also its monopoly over education and ideas. Free society can take refuge in the digital darkness. The dark web may be our brightest hope.
Through the web, the peer-to-peer economy and blockchain applications like Bitcoin, and by being shrouded by encryption, people will likely be able to continue to buy and sell what they want, and read and say what they want – away from the otherwise all-seeing eyes of totalitarian States. The Internet is a multi-headed beast of peaceful and productive anarchy that no one government can kill. And cryptocurrencies may just be money that no government can control the supply of and destroy the value of.
Perhaps enduring a period of social and economic regression is the only way to convince most of us that the threat to peace and prosperity posed by individual liberty is far less than we imagine, and the threat posed by the power of States is many times greater than we imagine – and only too real.
Maybe the painful and disturbing experience of losing much of our freedom and our standard of living for a period is the only way most of us will come to accept that far from individual liberty being unrealistic as our highest political ideal, it’s the only realistic one.
It’s taken civilised Man two thousand years to increase the degree of his freedom from men; from total control of his body and its product by Authority, then to control of all his product, and then to control of a portion of his product – which is where we are today.
The last stage of the liberation process, the absence of legal coercive control of any part of an individual’s property by Authority, can only be completed through societies built on the rational foundation of the libertarian ethic of the non-aggression principle.
Man still isn’t free of men and yet look at the incredible world of abundance we have created. Not politicians, not governments, but us. The world Man will create when his freedom within the sphere of his own rights is total will be beyond anything even we can conceive.