Justin Buell

More About: Philosophy of Liberty

On Liberty and Equality

I have been thinking much lately about the health insurance crisis. People are without quality medical care all across the nation. Serious illness and diseases are not paid for by HMO’s, and some find themselves without any insurance whatsoever. Now, due to President Obama’s pressuring, there are arguments in Congress and the media on exactly what path to take in order to solve this dearth of health care for poor and middle-class Americans. The Democrats are calling for a Universal Plan that would cover all citizens, while the Republicans are offering alternative “tax-incentives” and “private medical accounts” as an alternative “small government” solution.
I could go into detail on the whole concept of private vs. public medical care, the pros and cons of each, and come to a conclusion on the most efficient program to ensure America’s health problems are taken care of in the most equal and fair fashion. However, I think the central dilemma surrounding this debate is one of much deeper implications.
Both sides seem to endorse the idea that the more equal the system, the better it will be. Both sides manage to pay credence to the principle that whatever agenda the Federal Government undertakes, the point is to ensure that everyone has medical insurance and have equal health care. This points to an underlying philosophy that has taken hold of, not only our political system, but also our educational, religious, and entertainment cultures of society.

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, which I assume is a legitimate source, Equality means: the state or instance of being equal. So, what does equal mean… let’s look a little farther back on the page.
Equal: level, even flat 1 of the same quantity, size, number, value, degree, intensity, quality, etc. 2 having the same rights, privileges, ability, rank, etc. 3 evenly proportioned; balanced or uniform in effect or operation 4 having the necessary ability, strength, power, capacity, or courage.
So, with all these things considered, let us address the philosophy of Human Equality, otherwise known as Egalitarianism. We can quickly see the absurdity of this notion. Are all humans, by nature, equal in quantity, size, number, value, degree, intensity, or quality? Do they, by nature, have the same abilities, strength, power, capacity, or courage? Are they balanced, evenly proportioned, or uniform in effect or operation?
Humans, by nature, are not uniform or equal in any sense of the definition. There is diversity of individual identity, cultures, languages, religions, philosophies, families, race, gender, sexual orientation, food, dialect, behaviorisms, taboos, mores, legal systems, governments, specialties in skills, division of labor, abilities, physical appearance, dieting habits, location, clothing, time-preference, entertainment, and on, and on.
For sure, as members of the same species, sharing the same environment, we have much in common. But similarity is not the same as uniformity. In fact, any movement in the way of Human Equality, is a movement away from the natural state of man. Radical Conformity is as much a danger to humanity as is Radical Isolationism.
And yet, in our modern intellectual culture, we have put Equality on a pedestal. We have made equity the highest form of morality. We have made Egalitarianism into a heavenly vision, a goal to be strived for, if not reached in it’s entirety. But on what ground does this principle stand? I have never heard a good argument for why we should all be equal, it is merely accepted as an automatic moral good. Any attack, or perceived attack, on egalitarian ideology, is swiftly labeled as “uncompassionate” and “anti-human”. This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, for it is the egalitarian who has put himself at odds with humanity and human nature.
The most common egalitarian purpose is to bring about equality of property, or at least more equity in income. This springs directly from Marxian thought. While the Communists have generally been shown a failure, the Progressive Socialists still retain political influence and power. The central belief is that man should be equal in his means of survival and happiness. This utopian ideal is not always followed to it’s extremes, but the advocates of equality tend to move closer and closer in the direction of complete uniformity in the ownership of property.
Of course there’s only one way to do this… to take from those who have and give to those who have not.
However, it is not only wealth equality that has been advanced by the New Left. Other sectors of social status and behavior has been targeted as victims of the egalitarians. Affirmative Action, Hate Crimes, and Political Correctness have taken the place of Freedom of Choice, Freedom of Association, and Freedom of Speech. The first part of the movement is the advent of Group Identity, the second part is the replacement of Individual Identity with Social Identity.
Now the former, cloaked in the same guise of compassion that has been hijacked and monopolized by leftists, is the factioning of individuals into groups. In many cases these diverse group interests, put into an unnecessary and unnatural competition with one another, overlap with each individual. This is bound to happen as each individual cannot be simplified into one definition… but the egalitarians must rid society of the individualism harrowed by the free-man, and instead introduce a mentality of group identification. Rather than be defined by your individuality, your actions, and your character… you are now merely the part of something “bigger than yourself”. To the Egalitarian, I am no longer Justin Buell of Livonia, Michigan, a Writer, thinker, son, brother, uncle, and devout advocate of Liberty. I am instead a Lower Middle-Class White Teenage Male. I am no longer defined by who I am and what I do, but by who I resemble, and who share particular similarities.
The point of these groups (whether they be divided by religious, racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, gender, or sexual preference) is to create a victim and an oppressor. “The Blacks“, therefore, have been unjustly treated by “The Whites”, thus deserve recompense as a victim from the victimizer. Responsibility is no longer put on the individual (or group of individuals) for his actions, to repay any criminal act performed on the individual (or group of individuals) victim. The point is that each person is responsible for their behavior, and each individual is to be repaid according to the crime committed against them.
The Egalitarians, however, see things a little differently. Not only are you guilty by association… but you are guilty by resemblance and similarity. Now all men that are of the White race are made responsible for the crime of slavery by other men of the White race. And all men of the Black race are held as victims for crimes committed against other members of the Black race. This is a shredding of basic logic and proper language.
This makes the identity with the group all the more important to the individual. For when the group benefits, he now benefits. And when the group suffers, he is now made to suffer. This sectioning off of humanity into diverse factions is now seen as normal. You are either Black, White, Asian, Latino, Indian, Middle-Eastern, etc. You are either Gay, Bi, or Straight. You are either Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Athiest, Agnostic, or Wicca. You are either Northern or Southern, East Coast or West Coast. You are either a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent.
Not that these groups would not exist in nature… indeed they would. But it is the advent of group identity that has made us no more than cells in a greater body of organization. When you are seen as part of the group, your individuality ceases and stereotypes become normal assumptions. These groups now compete for official recognition by the State, and strive for more equity within society at large. Affirmative Action programs are used to aide the “victim” groups against the dominant “oppressor” groups (again skewing the actual meaning of words for political expediency).  Hate Crimes are utilized as a way to stifle dissent against these programs, and to ensure respect for their manufactured diversity. Real individual diversity is sacrificed for synthetic collective diversity.
As well, political correctness serves it’s designated purpose. Jealousy and envy are powerful allies of the Egalitarian. Even in the Universities, which are supposed to be centers of learning and the untamed pursuit of the truth, are now mere propaganda machines for the lies of the egalitarians. Equality is taught as the greatest of virtues. Not only is discrimination decried by the leftist intellectuals, but the very act of discerning the difference is seen as an unholy act. No one is physically handicapped or disabled, only “differently abled”. No one is allowed to be better off than anyone else, that would be unfair. Justice is no longer about blind adherence to fact and evidence, but simply blindness to reality, and the realization of everyone’s subjective ideas of “fairness”.
To discriminate is evil, to see the difference is unjust, to be better off and achieve more is unfair… to be your own individual is to be irresponsible to everyone else.
The ultimate goal, however, is to combine these groups into the social whole. The decimation of the individual has already been achieved by lessening the diversity, and categorizing identities into fewer (and therefore easier managed) groups. But eventually the second part of this movement comes into focus… Collective Social Identity. All racial, regional, cultural, religious, sexual, and other groups will be dissolved into the responsibility to the community as a whole. No more is it merely about Black vs. White, Gay vs. Straight, America vs. China. It’s about all of us, under one central authority, all responsible to everyone else. It is the ultimate extreme of the group mentality, and the final goal of the egalitarian collectivists.
No more diversity of wealth, no more diversity of race, no more diversity of thought, no more diversity of behavior. No more individualism, no more group factioning… only humanity is seen as supreme. And as dreamy as this may sound, it comes at a great price. This utopian society is not for the purpose of preserving humanity by uniting it, as it appears. The real end is the mutilation of humanity, the distortion of it’s nature to suit the egalitarian vision. Rather than save humanity from separation, it has destroyed it with unity. Egalitarian “Justice” met out against the rigid facts of nature.
Put in the most sarcastic and biting of terms, Kurt Vonnegut’s piece “Harrison Bergeron” begins as follows:
“The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”
In another part of the writing, it is revealed how the egalitarian future worked:
“Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty minutes or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.”
Though it is certainly used ad absurdum, the likelihood of this happening seems all the more possible the more the Egalitarians continue to get their way.

Liberty: freedom or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity, or any other form of arbitrary control.
Human Nature is not something conjured up in the minds of some political scientist, nor was it put into motion by a beauracrat or ruler. Whether by divine mandate, or the natural order of the Universe, Human Nature is something that cannot be changed, avoided, or abdicated. It is something to be studied, accepted, and worked around in whatever cases it may be.
By nature, we are not equal. In fact we are radically different. No, we are not so different as to be isolated from society. In fact we are similar enough to form society and the advent of civilization. We trade with one another, we talk, we travel, we work together, and we each share the same basic nature as members of the same species… individuality. It is the individuality that makes us human. Conflicts arise in interest, and are dealt with. Actions taken in pure freedom can be averse to other’s liberty, but self-defense is necessitated in such cases. This liberty can no doubt be infringed upon, but that it exists and is part of our nature is a fact nonetheless.
What is Liberty? Liberty is the state of freedom, the state of total self-control. That we each have individual brains, individual wishes, preferences, dreams, behaviors, and goals is no accident. We feel as individuals, we live and die as individuals, and we exist as individuals. This does not mean interaction with others is barred, in fact it is also necessitated by our nature. Empathy, mutual interests, love… all are part of the human experience with each other. Yet that we are individuals in the end cannot be debated.
When we, as individuals, are in the state that we can decide over our own destiny, pursue our own happiness, and sustain our own existence… that is Freedom. When we need to answer to no one but ourselves and (depending on your beliefs) God… that is Liberty. The only bars that cage us are those of nature and nature’s laws. (i.e. No matter how much you might like to walk all the way to Moon, there are certain physical barriers to that goal)
And so, in order to live according to our nature, we must also obey the rest of nature around us, in order to continue our survival as beings of a volitional consciousness, and to strive for our happiness in the short time we have to exist in, and to observe and interact with, the world around us. This is the purpose of man’s life, the answer to all the questions. No matter your beliefs and inclinations, Liberty is man’s proper, natural, and moral state. And he will fight for it.
The Liberty that each of us enjoys, along with the naturally given body that sustains our consciousness, and that which we take from nature to sustain it, leads us in divergent paths. Though we may interact with one another, our different livelihoods and interests makes our world a beautiful and colorful place to live. Just as with all of nature, diversity is part of life.
When our Liberty is contracted, however, our choices are no longer made by us, but by others… we then are forced to live in a state of slavery. Whether by direct force, or by the threat of force, we are made to act against our will, or prevented from acting in the interests of our own happiness. This is the greatest evil to ever plague mankind. That for some to live comfortably, others must suffer. That a few would live parasitically off of everyone else. Rather than sustain his own existence, he must rely on the coerced toil of others to do so.

The defenders of Liberty, the advocates of Freedom, and the decriers of Tyranny and Slavery, are properly called ‘Libertarians’. Unlike the Egalitarian, the Libertarian recognizes the nature of man, he does not try to alter it to his opinions and preferences, or to his ideal of utopia. Unlike the Egalitarian, the Libertarian defends the individual (all individuals) against all forms of aggression, he does not attempt to aggress against some to benefit others. Unlike the Egalitarian, the Libertarian vies for a world freed from oppression (real oppression), he does not advocate oppression to rid the world of natural diversity and separation.
The truth of the matter is, Equality and Liberty are not only different from one another, they are in fact ideological enemies. For Equality equals Conformity, and Liberty equals Diversity. Whenever one is implemented, it comes to the detriment of the other. Where there is Liberty, Equality is lost. Where there is Equality, Liberty is lessened.
There are still many self-professed Libertarians who advocate, in some form or another, the principles of Egalitarianism. While the vast majority of Libertarians are against any form of wealth-redistribution, or any other form of forced social and cultural conformity, there are some who advocate limited forms of Egalitarian systems.
The main example of this: The Minarchist.
I do not wish to attack the integrity or pro-liberty qualities of any Minarchist, only refute the underlying ideology on which it stands. For the Minarchist, what I have just stated in previous paragraphs probably make sense, yet what they may not understand is that their very reasoning for retaining a central State rests in the Egalitarian ideal of “Justice” and “Fairness”.
The Minarchist believes in Liberty in all walks of life (again this does not apply to all Minarchists) and refutes the positivist liberty advocated by the Left. They strongly agree that negative liberty is the only true form of liberty, and that no “liberty” or “right” can come at the expense of someone else’s liberty or rights. Yet, their very reasoning for continuing the State is that everyone, if they are to be free, must be guaranteed EQUAL protection.
That is, everyone must have equal access and opportunity to the defense of their rights and liberty. Unlike every other service/commodity offered on the free market, the service of defense is held to a different standard. It is no longer important that people have free choice, and pay voluntarily (along with the utilitarian arguments concerning efficiency and cheapness)… it is seen of more importance that everyone is equal in it’s distribution. Anything less is seen as “unfair” and “unjust”.
Of course, as all egalitarian moves, it comes at the cost of Liberty. For in order to guarantee conformity in defense services, all competition must be either eradicated or held subject to the monopolistic final arbiter, which comes at the expense of the freedom to choose (and allows for the corruption and tyrannical abuses any monopoly brings). And, as usual, all State programs are paid for by involuntary confiscation (taxation) which comes at the expense of property rights. Rather than trust the free market to provide this service in the cheapest and most efficient manner, rather than allow people to choose and pay voluntarily for the service… it is seen as “unjust” that the rich might gain “unfair” advantage of defense services. A very Libertarian position indeed.
The argument mounted in it’s defense consists of unfounded plights of “common good” and “necessary good/service”. Both subjective and essentially non-existent. Yet if a good or service is truly necessary, all the more reason to leave it to Liberty and the Free Market… it is a sad day when the sole advocates of human liberty think it is best to leave the “necessary” functions of society to the State and the “unnecessary” functions to the free-market.
But isn’t social contract and government really voluntary in the end? If this is true then any infringement by Government on our rights is mandated by the masses. Not only isn’t this true, as the Iron Law of Oligarchy cannot be ignored, but it would not be a moral reasoning to begin with. Can the majority take the minorities’ rights away at their whim? Are not our rights individual and inalienable?
Neither are the social contracts of written Constitutions truly legitimate. Only voluntary contracts made by direct consenters, and involving only those who have directly consented, can be a legitimate contract. As well, only voluntary Governments (not the State advocated by Statists and Minarchists alike) is consistent with Human Liberty.
To expound, I give you a writing by Lysander Spooner:
“To say, as the advocates of our government do, that a man must give up some of his natural rights, to a government, in order to have the rest of them protected the government being all the while the sole and irresponsible judge as to what rights he does give up, and what he retains, and what are to be protected — is to say that he gives up all the rights that the government chooses, at any time, to assume that he has given up; and that he retains none, and is to be protected in none, except such as the government shall, at all times, see fit to protect, and to permit him to retain. This is to suppose that he has retained no rights at all, that he can, at any time, claim as his own, as against the government. It is to say that he has really given up every right, and reserved none. . . .
It is especially noticeable that those persons, who are so impatient to protect other men in their rights that they cannot wait until they are requested to do so, have a somewhat inveterate habit of killing all who do not voluntarily accept their protection; or do not consent to give up to them all their rights in exchange for it.
If A were to go to B, a merchant, and say to him, "Sir, I am a night-watchman, and I insist upon your employing me as such in protecting your property against burglars; and to enable me to do so more effectually, I insist upon your letting me tie your own hands and feet, so that you cannot interfere with me; and also upon your delivering up to me all your keys to your store, your safe, and to all your valuables; and that you authorize me to act solely and fully according to my own will, pleasure, and discretion in the matter; and I demand still further, that you shall give me an absolute guaranty that you will not hold me to any accountability whatever for anything I may do, or for anything that may happen to your goods while they are under my protection; and unless you comply with this proposal, I will now kill you on the spot," — if A were to say all this to B, B would naturally conclude that A himself was the most impudent and dangerous burglar that he (B) had to fear; and that if he (B) wished to secure his property against burglars, his best way would be to kill A in the first place, and then take his chances against all such other burglars as might come afterwards.
Our government constantly acts the part that is here supposed to be acted by A. And it is just as impudent a scoundrel as A is here supposed to be. It insists that every man shall give up all his rights unreservedly into its custody, and then hold it wholly irresponsible for any disposal it may make of them. And it gives him no alternative but death.
If by putting a bayonet to a man's breast, and giving him his choice, to die, or be "protected in his rights," it secures his consent to the latter alternative, it then proclaims itself a free government, — a government resting on consent!”

The dichotomy of both Liberty and Equality, the Libertarian and the Egalitarian schools of thought, are shown not only to be radically different from one another, but to be altogether at odds. The question then arises, which is most consistent with human nature, which is most consistent with logic and morality, and which brings the most happiness?
I hold that the sovereign individual is supreme, that Liberty is his nature, that diversity is the end result. Libertarianism is then the ideology that supports, defends, and advocates this central theorem. Equality, and the doctrine of Egalitarianism, has then put itself at odds with humanity and it’s nature. It is the enemy of the individual, the advocate of the collective, the defender of the State and it’s aggressions.
Though you may hear Equality heralded by the Media, Politicians, and Intellectuals, do not be fooled. Shout more for Liberty, the forgotten word. I know which side I am on, I know which ideal I must stand with, which morality and philosophy matches my own.
I do not want to be equal… I want to be free.

- Justin T. Buell

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Bob Podolsky
Entered on:

You say you're a teenager?
Wow! I wish I'd had your awareness when I was that young.

You would probably enjoy the articles at www.titanians.org/file.htm">link text.

Comment by Brock Lorber
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Outstanding stuff, Justin!  It's just not fair to the rest of us, so your headset is in the mail.