June 16th, 2011

Self-Imposed Servitude to the State

Slavery is widely recognized as a degrading and immoral institution. Civilized society universally rejects this sordid enterprise and employs law enforcement officials to seek out and disrupt markets that encourage it, and individuals who engage in it.

But truth be told, the overwhelming majority of people are slaves. Unlike the form of slavery understood by most, where one individual coercively places another in bondage, this other form is one which has voluntarily (if unknowingly) been self-imposed.

A recent study by George Mason University ranked Utah as the 20th freest state in the Union. Despite being known for its heavy conservatism and relatively friendly business environment, the state of Utah hardly is the beacon of freedom and limited government some might suggest. Indeed, slavery is alive and well in Utah.

The slavery of which I speak relates not to physical bondage or human trafficking, but to intellectual bondage and trafficking in destructive political philosophies. It deals not with chains and abuse, but with bad ideas and fear.

As Sinclair Lewis is claimed to have once said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Under the guise of patriotism and Christianity, a whole host of immoral mandates are constantly flowing out of the nation’s legislative bodies. Utah is not exempt from this trend.

But it’s important to clarify that elected officials are merely—in theory if not in fact—a reflection of the will of the people. That onerous mandates are imposed upon the people speaks more about the people’s willing acquiescence to them than it does the aggressive tyranny of the government. We the people collectively clamor for the forged fetters that increasingly tighten around us. We welcome our slavery.

Frankly, we fear being free. Utahns would rather ban a whole host of natural and synthetic substances than think of a society in which somebody might ingest bath salts without being hauled off to jail. We would rather cheer on “Click it or Ticket” campaigns than imagine a world where individuals might have the ability to choose whether or not they will wear a seat belt while driving. We look with skepticism and opposition to federal welfare programs while cheering on and expanding social welfare within the state. We cannot imagine a world where individuals are able to retain and use the fruits of their labors.

The list of such examples is unfortunately extremely long. A free society is something that today seems so far-fetched to so many, that the status quo has become an acceptable fantasy in which people support and comply with anti-liberty policies while simultaneously thinking, in Orwellian fashion, that they are free. But as Goethe once wrote, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Liberating those who are enslaved to statism requires demonstrating that their fear is irrational, and their bad ideas harmful. It is a monumental task, for statism and central planning have become so entrenched, so pervasive, that an unadulterated vision of liberty seems like a threat to them. Like a sick child ardently refusing the very medicine which would restore his health, those who have enslaved themselves by embracing false political philosophies attack or disregard the ideas which would make them free.

In his written orders on August 23, 1776, General George Washington wrote:

[T]he hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.

That slavery has indisputably become the portion of our forefathers’ posterity. Fortunately, there is yet time to acquit ourselves and throw off the chains of self-imposed servitude to the state.

Are you one of the Freemen?

12 Responses to “Self-Imposed Servitude to the State”

  1. Clif
    June 17, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    I would argue that if our laws are brought about by democratic means, then ipso facto it is not slavery.

    You might not like how the majority votes – but that’s just how it goes. Unanimity is impossible so on any given issue there will always be people that don’t get their way. Does that mean their freedom has been violated? Or is that simply the price that one must pay so as to not live in a dysfunctional society?

    To be blunt, I find it very amusing that those who proclaim themselves to be the champions of liberty so often resort to the very same rhetoric that we heard 150 years ago about States’ rights, tyranny, nullification, etc. And the people who used those arguments back then were defending….oh yeah….slavery!

  2. Clif
    June 17, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    When the Confederates were defending their freedom, they were really only defending their freedom to violate the freedom of others.

    It has been my experience that when Libertarians, like Confederates, speak of liberty, they are speaking about their own personal liberties rather than “liberty and justice for all.”

  3. Edward
    June 17, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Clif, I’m sure Connor can remind you that nullification was used by the northern states against slavery.

    I don’t know what kind of bubble you live in, so maybe everything is ok for you. But I would bet that you don’t own your own business, you aren’t a farmer, and you don’t have any problem with the way we educate, eat, or medicate in America. If you don’t find yourself in any of those categories, then I guess all must be sitting pretty well with you. However if you were like me, and owned your own business, were a farmer, and had issues with your own and your family’s education, eating, and health, then you might have a better perspective about what is not right with an overbearing government.

  4. Brian
    June 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Clif, you mentioned “democratic means”. I hear the word “democracy” thrown about a lot by liberals. The thing they need to understand is that this is NOT a democracy, nor did the founders intend it to be. This is a republic. There is a difference. Why do liberals always speak of democracy as if it was a good thing? It blows my mind. See http://angrier.net/what_form_of_government/

    So, what you really mean is, “I would argue that if our laws are brought about by our duly elected representitives, then ipso facto it is not slavery.”

    But let’s suppose this really was a democracy, and the KKK convinced 51% of the people to vote to enslave African Americans again. Majority rules! The 51% enslaves the African Amercians, therefore you can then say, “I would argue that if our laws are brought about by democratic means, then ipso facto it is not slavery.”

    The point is, copied from the above link, “A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good).”

    When Connor discusses slavery in this article, he is arguing about what is right (republic form of government), not what most people think (by voting) is right (think democracy).

  5. Eric
    June 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    Also, Clif, you may do well to study the Civil War a little more deeply – and not out of a 21st century high school textbook. The Civil War was NOT ABOUT SLAVERY. It was about a state’s right to secede. Slavery was very much a secondary issue.

  6. Brian
    June 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    I should have said that this is a _constitutional_ republic. :)

  7. Clif
    June 18, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    @Eric

    I guess I would give the same advice to you.

    I have read many volumes over the years on the subject of the Civil War (and the antebellum period). Much of what I have read has been the original documents and speeches pertaining to that period.

    I have found it rather amusing to see apologists try to spin the causes of the Civil War into something other than slavery. One need not go any further than to the various declarations of separation of each Confederate state – every one of which mentions slavery quite prominently. Add to that an enormous quantity of speeches and writings from southern lawmakers and one simply cannot escape the conclusion that slavery was at the very heart of succession and civil war.

    Attempts to explain otherwise is merely a weak attempt at defending the indefensible.

  8. Eric
    June 18, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    I’m not arguing against the fact that the South was determined to continue the practice of slavery. And obviously I’m not arguing against the fact that slavery is reprehensible in every way.

    What I am saying, is that the Union didn’t initiate war against the Confederacy because of the South’s love for human bondage. In fact, if I remember correctly, there were Union states which, at the time of the war, were still involved in slavery themselves.

    I assume this is an issue on which we will have to agree to disagree. But, I’m passionate in my belief that the Civil War set a dangerous and unworthy precedent. Namely, that when a union is formed by individual members, no member may then remove itself from that union. HOW IS THAT ACCEPTABLE? How is it acceptable that, for example, if five guys form a group, four of the guys forcefully prevent the fifth guy from leaving the group? Why should the fifth guy NOT be able to leave the group?

    Taken to the grander scale of millions of people and dozens of states, the analogy is no different. The southern states SHOULD have been allowed to remove themselves from the union.

  9. Clif
    June 20, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    You bring up some good points that I would like to respond to.

    If someone says that the south succeeded for any reason other than to protect slavery, they are arguing bogus history. Slavery and succession were so closely intertwined that one simply looks stupid trying to argue otherwise (although sadly, that doesn’t prevent people from trying to do so).

    However, as you correctly mention, the north did not invade the south in some righteous crusade to abolish slavery – at least, not at the outset. Indeed, Lincoln was very careful to not portray the war’s objective as emancipation – knowing that if did, he would very quickly lose support.

    As you said, on the legality of succession, we will probably never agree. Personally, I think Lincoln phrased my own position perfectly in his first inaugural address:

    If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.

    Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed secession?

    Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

    This really sums up my issues with the libertarian philosophy. Government, by its very nature, compels people to do things that they don’t want to do (pay taxes, register for the draft, drive the speed limit, not dump pollutants in the cheapest manner possible, etc, etc.) What is the alternative to this system? Anarchy. I might not like everything the government does, but it beats the hell out of the alternative.

  10. Clif
    June 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    secession – not succession – forgive the grammatical error please.

  11. JJL9
    June 22, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Perhaps Clif’s arguments would hold more merit if in fact government was restrained from violating a man’s inherent (natural/God-given) rights. In actuality, government at every level in the United States (federal, state, county, local) is not effectively restrained from violating those rights, even the ones supposedly protected explicitly by the Constitution. As such, his argument holds no more merit than it would have had he used the same argument to dissuade the founding fathers from separating themselves from the mother country across the pond.
    The Declaration of Independence states this explicitly. “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…”
    Lincoln’s quote about the potential for setting a precedent which would lead to one secession after another is hardly a boogey man that I would run from. I believe we are each perfectly capable of managing our own lives and those of our families. There are obvious benefits to collectively delegating rights that we each inherently have (namely the right to defend ourselves against those that would violate our rights) to a government body, but in my humble opinion the only benefit is the strengthening of our ability to protect our rights, so giving them up to the government in the name of democracy is in direct and unequivocal opposition to that purpose, and as such, anarchy would be preferred. But Clif’s (or Lincoln’s) supposition that there are only two options, one in which all political ties must be kept tight or the only alternative is anarchy is nonsense. By creating a false dichotomy, it is easy to defeat the straw man, but it is intellectually dishonest at best and ads nothing to a rational debate on the topic.

  12. Velska
    July 4, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Liberty = me getting money from someone.

    Slavery = someone else getting money from me, without me immediately seeing the returns.

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