Larry Barnhart
August 1994

  How can we know whether or not we are free? Do we, like innocent children in Sunday school, sing, "I have freedom yes I know, for my politicians tell me so?" Or do we use the great computer great nature has loaned to us to figure it our for ourselves?

  Believe it or not, the debate over the nature and merits of freedom is far from concluded. America's forefathers, while wise in many respects, were overly optimistic when they declared, "We hold these truths to be self-evident." The "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was never evident throughout the thousands of years preceding the American revolution, and today they are not evident throughout most of the world. Even in 20th Century America, they are becoming ever less evident. Time Magazine, dated August 12, 1991, had an article in it which described two new American character types: "Busybodies" and "crybabies." These people also demand the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and they don't care who will have to pay for it.

  This article will explore two types of freedom, three types of capitalism, two types of democracy and two types of anarchy. Hopefully, this will help clear up some of the current confusion built into our current language usage. Since the Tower of Babel, it has been discovered that modern intellectuals can create enough confusion with one language, making additional languages unnecessary.

  Considering the different definitions of freedom that fuel the fires of debate in the hallowed halls of higher education, we can declare that everyone on the planet is "free." In the interest of being politically correct, we will simply say that people living under different political systems are "differently-freedomed."

  When the founder of America wrote the Constitution, they were guided by the words of people like the brave Frenchman who told Colbert, "laissez faire." In other words, "keep your hands off." Freedom was defined as the right to be left alone as long as one left others alone too. Less that one-hundred years later, a man named Karl Marx was destined to conclude that the founding fathers' concept of freedom was "negative." To allow people the freedom to compete for survival in nature without interference from fellow humans was considered cruel and uncaring. In place of "negative freedom" he offered "positive freedom" -- the right to consume a minimum of goods without regard to one's production. Needless to say, self-sufficient people will generally find "negative freedom" to be positive, while those who prefer to live off the labor of others will think old Karl was a clever chap.

  "Capitalism" is a term used daily by politicians and the media. Generally, they are referring to our present political system while inferring a different political system. Even Paul Craig Roberts, a conservative economist and newspaper column writer, fell into this trap when he suggested that if government intervention in the marketplace keeps causing dislocations in the economy, it will prove the the world that "free-market capitalism" is a failure. How can free-market capitalism fail when it is not even being tried?

  First, let's consider, what is capital? Stripped of ideology, and laid to its bare essentials, "capital" is simply tools. (In terms of money, capital is that money not spent on consumption, and is therefore available for the purchase of tools.) With this in mind, every culture in the world is capitalist, as even the Aborigines use sticks and stones in lieu of fingernails and teeth. Therefore, the real issue is how the tools are controlled. There are three potential ways to control tools, and consequently, there are three types of capitalism:

  1) Free-market Capitalism -- tools owned and controlled by private citizens

  2) Government-Owned Capitalism -- tools owned by government [Socialism and Communism]

  3) Government-Controlled Capitalism -- tools controlled by government [Fascism]

  In the land of the brave and the free, all-wise public "servants" correct perceived inequities in the market through the use of lawful coercion. Popular mythology might call America a free-market economy, but 1500-plus government agencies and millions of regulations suggest something different. One might even suspect that America is becoming very positive in its orientation toward freedom.

  Since World War I, America has been fighting wars "to end all wars" to "make the world safe for Democracy." No one has asked, "is Democracy safe for the world?" When Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention someone asked him, "what have you given us?" To which he replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." John Adams, our second President, declared that "democracies are usually as violent in their deaths as they are short in their lives." The death of a democracy is said to begin when "the average person discovers they can vote themselves largess from the public trough." In other words, special interest warfare is not a new phenomenon in history.

  The type of democracy referred to above is "political democracy." where "crybabies" seek to live at the expense of others, and where "Busybodies" seek to force everyone to march in lock-step. However, there is also "economic democracy" where people guide the production of goods and services by casting "dollar votes" in a free market.

  The next term to be considered is "anarchy." Commonly, people shudder at the thought of anarchy. However, anarchy is the true nature of our reality. When we think of anarchy, we generally think of undisciplined individuals preying on one another. If groups of people prey on one another, that somehow is considered to be a proper social order. For instance, it is acceptable for nations to go to war, and for organized groups to wage special interest warfare in State and National Capitols. Apparently, if we commit crimes on a grand enough scale, we become heroes instead of criminals.

  Were everyone to have been born on the planet at the same time, the natural state of anarchy would become immediately apparent. As it is, we are born into a ready-made social system, and most of us are totally swallowed up by that system before we reach the age where critical thinking is possible. Consequently, we share en masse the brand of anarchy our culture so happens to call order.

  Anarchy is inescapable. However, we do have the choice between rational and irrational anarchy. We have the choice between voluntary and coercive relationships. We can either relate to our fellow humans through the medium of voluntary exchange, or we can use force and fraud in an attempt to live at the expense of others. Having a government doesn't automatically change things. If citizens suffer the same ills from a government that would would expect from a society without a government, what have they gained? When the most powerful gang of thugs gets to call itself a government, anarchy is not eliminated&endash;most likely it becomes intensified.

  Ultimately, as humans we are always free. We are free to to anything we want -- all we have to do is pay the consequences. Nature cares little whether we opt for individual rights or tyranny; prosperity or poverty. Nature respects our wishes and gives us the consequences of our choices.

  In conclusion, given the above arguments, humanity is guaranteed freedom in the coming 21st Century. The questions remains, however, which type of freedom? That, my dear reader, is freedom's challenge for the 21st Century!


"NEGATIVE": 1) The approach favored by the founder's of this nation. All they wanted was to be left alone.

"POSITIVE": 1) Karl Marx set the framework for this debate. 2) Freedom to consume regardless of who will get the bill.

CAPITALISM, FREE-MARKET: 1) Capital is nothing more than tools. 2) WHO CONTROLS the means of production? 3) Free-market means private citizens control the tools.

CAPITALISM, GOVERNMENT OWNED: (Communism & Socialism) CAPITALISM, GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED: (Fascism) 1) Concept of "beneficial ownership."

DEMOCRACY, ECONOMIC: 1) Economic vs. Political power. 2) Money vs. guns = dollar votes vs. political votes.

DEMOCRACY, POLITICAL: 1) Two wolves and a lamb once voted on what to have for dinner. 2) "America will survive until politicians discover they can bribe people with their own money." -- de Tocqueville

"RULE OF LAW": 1) "A republic - if you can keep it." -Benjamin Franklin.

"RULE OF MEN": 1) Laws are based on the whims of those in power. 2) Facilitates parasitism rather than production.

LAW BY PRINCIPLE: 1) Laws are binding on all - including those in power. 2) Laws are basic with it's only intent to make conditions favorable for productive work.

LAW BY PRECEDENT: 1) Snidely Slickster -- "I can accomplish through law what can only be done otherwise through crime." 2) Creeping precedent often stands logic on its head. 3)

ANARCHY, RATIONAL: 1) Anarchy is our basic reality. Being born into an established culture give us the illusion of intrinsic order. 2) Choosing voluntary transactions. 3)

ANARCHY, IRRATIONAL: 1) Choosing coercive relationships.


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