“Freedom is not a public-policy option and it is not a plan. It is the end of politics itself. It is time for us to take that next step and call for precisely that.” – Lew Rockwell (The Left, The Right and The State)
At the turn of the 20th century, Sir Wilfred Laurier, Canada’s seventh Prime Minster, wrote that “the role of government is not to force action in any one direction but to remove barriers to man’s own efforts to undertake personal and social improvement”. Laurier understood that individual freedom is necessary for man to better his life and the lives of those around him. Furthermore, most people reading this would agree with Lew Rockwell that freedom is not only a means to an end, but rather an end in itself. After all, no one appreciates being told what to do and when to do it.
How many laws are needed to protect our freedoms and to ensure a civil society? Not that many. A free and civil society requires its members to be cognizant of, and adhere to, a few well known and necessary moral rules. For example, “thou shalt not steal” is a good rule as are rules prohibiting murder and physical assault. The Non-Aggression Principle is also an excellent rule that prohibits aggression against anyone or their property even if the aggression is committed by those who call themselves the government. Anyone who breaks these basic moral rules is subject to punishment and the victims are provided restitution where possible.
Unfortunately, the past century has not been kind to individual freedom and civil society. Western politicians have adopted a stance that is directly at odds with Laurier: Rather than seeing government as a means to protect man’s freedoms, they view government as a means of transforming society into some sort of Utopia and man into some sort of perfect human. The rise of science has not helped. Man’s infatuation with science and his general adoration of anything technological have given license to government leaders to treat society as a science experiment.
The forced transforming of man and society does not happen easily because man desires to be free. In a previous article I wrote, “…the techno-utopianist must manage through force to get the job done. This is why technocratic societies tend towards less, rather than more, freedom. Human choice is purposefully suppressed because it only serves to mess-up the elite’s best laid plans.” Therefore, the few simple and necessary rules needed to ensure a civil society have been lost in a sea of thousands of laws, regulations, licenses, codes, prohibitions and fines.
Many violations against individual freedoms and the undermining of civil society have occurred at the levels of local government. Consider the recent case of Mayor Jim Watson of the City of Ottawa who proclaimed dissatisfaction over the early installation of lane markers by local snow clearing companies. (Lane markers are used by such companies to identify the limits of their customers’ driveways.) Local companies were confused over a poorly worded law as to when the markers could be installed. After some companies had already installed the markers, Watson declared that all markers installed prior to November 1st would be forcibly removed by his bylaw officers. This occurred one week before Halloween. And, sure enough, in a blatant display of bureaucratic power, many signs were removed (i.e. stolen) in the dead of night. Companies were forced to replace the signs one week later.
Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo wrote, “The exercise of arbitrary or dictatorial power is, of course, the whole purpose and function of all those agencies, commissions, and czars.” The regulation and micromanagement of the snow clearing industry demonstrates how immoral law – law that violates the protections of personal property against unwarranted aggression – serves not only czars and dictators but also city mayors and bylaw officers. It also demonstrates how repulsive and criminal politicians can be.
Politicians like Watson believe that they have the authority to micromanage property that is rightfully owned by other people. They are wrong because no man has the right to violate another man’s property rights. They claim that their laws are necessary for a well-functioning civil society. Again, they are wrong because the myriad laws and nonsensical rules invented and enforced by their organizations are exactly the opposite of what a civil society needs. Such attacks on the freedoms of men are never legitimate. (Not to mention that fact that only a small subset of eligible voters bother to vote in modern day elections thereby making most governments entirely illegitimate even by democratic standards. Only 40% of eligible voters bothered to turn-out to vote for Watson and his compatriots in the last election.)
It is for these reasons that there are increasing secessionist movements around the world. People have had it with the corruption, ineptitude and criminality being foisted upon them by central planners and techno-Utopians. In March, 2014, 89% of Venetians voted to separate from the powers in Rome. In September, 48% of Scottish voters cast their ballot for separation from the UK. In November, 81% of Catalans voted for separation from Spain. Quebec came close to separating from Canada – twice. In fact, secessionist movements are taking place on all continents. From the Coptics of Egypt to the Flemish of Belgium, people are recognizing that the artificial constructs we call states exist only for as long as we allow them to.
Regardless of the form of government, be it dictatorship, monarchy or democracy, people will seek to be free. They will seek to be free of the horror of murderous regimes like those of Mao Tse-tung and “Uncle Joe” Stalin. They will seek to be free of the petty tyranny exercised by the likes of Jim Watson. As more people realize that democracy and its infatuation with the scientific method leads only to great tyranny, the tide is turning towards freedom, particularly the freedom brought about by regional and local secession.
Let us celebrate the creative invention called the lane marker. Let us discredit the criminal behaviour of the political class that pretends to exercise power over its use. Let us work towards a time when cities, neighborhoods and rural communities decide to make better lives for themselves and their families – separate from the tentacles of techno-planners and the multitude of duplicitous prime ministers, premiers and mayors and all of the self-serving bureaucrats that feed off of man’s productive labour.