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News Link • Philosophy of Liberty

Karen Kwiatkowski: Can We Live Free in an Unfree World

Liberty-minded people are extremely hard for the state to control. They make terrible soldiers and impolitic generals. They ask a lot of questions, and they listen carefully to the answers, attuned to falsehood and fallacies. I spoke earlier about ageism and the state. Liberty minded people are a bit like teenagers, and like teenagers, they tend to feel things a bit more powerfully, and to imagine things a bit more colorfully, and love truth a bit more fearlessly than their parents. It is often said that teenagers don’t really understand mortality, and they take risks that other sectors of society don’t take – emotional and physical risks. They challenge authority. If we are only slightly liberty-minded, we will do all these things, and we will refuse and resent vertical organization and control. The state – like an angry parent – will be upset, but we will cope with that anger, brush it off, and do it our way. Perhaps Kling was correct after all in his assessment that libertarians are "low on agreeableness." If we develop liberty-loving minds, we will certainly be seen by the state as disagreeable. Is there a cost involved? We could be harassed, economically punished, and condemned. We will be asked hard questions, by both the apparatus of the state, and by our society and community. But for the liberty-loving mind, these are not roadblocks. The questions are opportunities to practice our tactics, improve our strategies and our effectiveness, and strengthen our resolve. We wonder, "How can we live free when the state is a massive powerful enemy of freedom, and the only effective political mechanism is not rule of law, but an iron triangle between lawmakers, the bureaucracy of state, and favored industries or groups?" But, as with so many other questions we could ask, there is an answer we want to hear, and then there is the honest answer. We want to hear that we could live free if only we could eliminate the state, or make it more "libertarian." Eliminating the state when most of our neighbors believe in it and rely upon it would only lead to the rise of a subsequent state, possibly one that is even worse and less free. Making the state "libertarian" while most of our neighbors believe in and obey state power would corrupt both libertarians, and the very concept of liberty.

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