Two Definitions of “Freedom” — Only One of Them Is Right

Freedom is a wonderful and inspiring word, full of hope and possibilities. But it has been manipulated to mean something that reduces general freedom—expanding some freedoms for some people, by taking away the equal freedom of others.
A Handbook for Ranch Managers Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualThe same thing can be said about “fabricated rights.” No one has a “right to NOT starve to death because, exercising  such a right requires a claim on the person or property of another.
And BTW, all human rights are also property rights. — jtl, 419

Combat Shooter's Handbook Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits January 6 marked the anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s famous 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, and January 11 marked the anniversary of his 1944 State of the Union address, where he expanded on what he saw as its meaning. That makes this an appropriate time to recognize the cognitive dissonance in FDR’s view of freedom, cited to this day as justification for expanding government power over Americans’ lives.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)    On the surface, an articulation of multiple freedoms would seem to be consistent with freedom for all. But FDR’s version was not.

The first two of FDR’s “four essential human freedoms”  — “freedom of speech and expression” and “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way”—are consistent with freedom for all. Both can be enjoyed universally, because the freedom of one person to speak or worship as he or she chooses does not take away from the same freedom for others. Government need only disallow intrusions on those rights, including by government, the agency with the greatest power to invade citizens’ rights.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewIn contrast, FDR’s third freedom–“freedom from want”— cannot be similarly general. It commits government to provide some people more goods and services than arise from their voluntary arrangements with others. However, in a world of inescapable scarcity, that commitment by an agency with no resources of its own, but only what it commandeers from its own citizens, must necessarily constrict others’ equal freedom to enjoy the fruits of their self-ownership and productive efforts through voluntary cooperation with others. That is, such a freedom is unavoidably at odds with freedom for all.

Similarly, FDR’s fourth freedom — “freedom from fear…that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor,” seems unobjectionable on the surface. After all, protecting citizens from foreign aggression is a central role of government. However, it ignores similar abuses at the hands of their own government, which history is replete with. In particular, since FDR’s third freedom requires government aggression against its citizens to get the required resources for its “benevolence,” his “freedom from fear” omits the most significant agency citizens need fear when it comes to their freedom. It also ignores any serious understanding of the Bill of Rights, the “Thou shalt nots” designed to disallow such violations by our government.

FDR’s “Four Freedoms” rhetoric dramatically changed the meaning of freedom into something inconsistent with freedom for all Americans. And that same distortion has continued to this day. Consequently, we must remember that the central, universally-held freedom our founders sought to guarantee was, as Ludwig von Mises summarized it, “freedom from the government…the restriction of the government’s interference.” It creates no positive claim on the beneficence of government (i.e., forced charity from others), but preserves freedom from government dictation, broadening the canvas for peaceful, voluntary arrangements that respect everyone’s rights. Unfortunately, those on whom such burdens are imposed are simply ignored when “freedoms” that are inconsistent with general freedom are declared.

Freedom is a wonderful and inspiring word, full of hope and possibilities. But it has been manipulated to mean something that reduces general freedom—expanding some freedoms for some people, by taking away the equal freedom of others. A host of abuses have found a foothold in that cognitive dissonance, diminishing the best hope and greatest possibilities for society. That is why improving our potential for mutual advancement depends on the rediscovery of a consistent understanding of freedom as universal freedom from government coercion, not something for nothing promises that force nothing for something onto others.

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. He is the author of The Apostle of Peace: The Radical Mind of Leonard Read.

 

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A Handbook for Ranch ManagersA Handbook for Ranch Managers.  In keeping with the “holistic” idea that the land, the livestock, the people and the money should be viewed as a single integrated whole: Part I deals with the management of the natural resources. Part II covers livestock production and Part III deals with the people and the money. Not only would this book make an excellent basic text for a university program in Ranch Management, no professional ranch manager’s reference bookshelf should be without it. It is a comprehensive reference manual for managing the working ranch. The information in the appendices and extensive bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.

You might also be interested in the supplement to this Handbook: Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual.

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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1 Response to Two Definitions of “Freedom” — Only One of Them Is Right

  1. Reblogged this on Flyover-Press.com and commented:

    The same thing can be said about “fabricated rights.” No one has a “right to NOT starve to death because, exercising such a right requires a claim on the person or property of another.
    And BTW, all human rights are also property rights. — jtl, 419

    Like

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