Individual Responsibility 
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Individual Responsibility

Individual Responsibility

By: Pete Eyre

You’re an individual. You have rights regardless of your skin color, your gender, your place of birth, or any other arbitrary characteristic. They are inherent. You have the freedom to act so long as you don’t aggress upon another person or their property. This is complete liberty " individual freedom coupled with personal responsibility.

If you don't have the right to do something you cannot be “granted” the right by text on paper or an order from your boss. Justifications of “just doing your job” don’t exonerate ones actions. If I steal from you I’m in the wrong whether I work for a cause you believe in or for the internal revenue service. The morality does not hinge on the actor but on the action. It's pretty commonsensical.

Most of us in the broad freedom movement have been exposed to such views and many of us claim to live them. Yet many of us continue to pay homage to the bad idea of the state. Almost 150 years ago Lysander Spooner penned that:

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit " Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do " He does not keep “protecting” you by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that.

Why, with this insight and that of countless individuals before and since, do we sometimes act as our own biggest hurdle? Why say that "the government did X" or "the police did Y" or "the military did Z" and not name names? The government is made up of individuals, and individuals are responsible for their actions after all, right? When we use the label "the government" or "the police" or "the military" we give it legitimacy and eliminate the responsibility of the individual actors.

If we truly want to bring about a freer society we shouldn't absolve anyone of their responsibility due to claimed authority - it's not "government" itself that causes the rights-violation but the individual who acts according to the bad ideas that support that violent institution. It's not "government" that presses the button to drop the bomb or stamps the letter demanding your money but an individual.

We must work to erode the faith some grant to that arbitrary authority. We must proactively and peacefully reach out to those participating in and supporting the bad ideas that allow some (politicians, bureaucrats, rent-seekers, etc.) to subsist off the labor of others. Sure, it won't happen overnight, but real change never does. Individuals also have a conscience and the ability to reason. It'll happen one mind at a time. 



 
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