by Frederick Mann
Definitions of Freedom
"Full freedom is the absence of restraints, other than natural ones, on an individual's actions."
"The degree of a man's freedom decreases as the restraints on his actions, beyond those imposed by nature, increase in number or extent."
"Although the influences reducing a man's freedom can vary in form, the source of any and all such influences can only be the actions of other men."
"Freedom is a condition in which a person's ownership rights in his own body and his legitimate material property are not invaded, are not aggressed against."
"Freedom means self-control; no more, no less."
"It is not recognized in the full amplitude of the word that all freedom is essentially self-liberation - that I can have only so much freedom as I procure for myself by my owness."
"Freedom is living your life as you want to live it."
Definitions Have Consequences
Distinguish between two definitions at the extreme ends of a spectrum. At one end is the Randian definition which essentially says that your freedom can only be taken away by other humans. At the other end is the Stirnerite definition which says "all freedom is essentially self-liberation," which implies that only you yourself can prevent your freedom.
If as a freedom-activist, you adopt the Randian definition, then all your efforts to increase freedom are aimed at stopping others from taking away your freedom. You have to educate other people so they will change their behavior. You have to change any political system that violates your freedom. Only by changing the political system and the behavior of freedom-violators can you achieve freedom.
On the other hand, if as a freedom-activist, you adopt the Stirnerite definition, then all your efforts to increase freedom are aimed at improving yourself and how you handle your affairs. One of the principles advocated by Harry Browne is that you don't organize to change or oppose the government because they are likely to nail you. According to Browne, one of the greatest freedoms is freedom from the urge of wanting to control others.
Depending on which definition you adopt, your behavior will be fundamentally and radically different. Does the Randian definition lead to essentially self-sacrificial, altruistic behavior? Are Randians expected to sacrifice money, time, and effort to support organizations that will change the political system? Does the Stirnerite definition lead to "selfish" (in the commonly used sense) behavior that is ultimately self-defeating? Are Stirnerites expected to focus only on self-liberation, while in the long-term the political system will overwhelm them anyway?
Adopting which definition gives you most power?
The Build Freedom Strategy
"Freedom technology" consists of the knowledge, methods, and skills to live free. It includes the methods used to defend against aggression from "terrocrats" (coercive government agents or terrorist bureaucrats). It also includes the methods used to blow away the bogus power of terrocrats. The first assumption of the Build Freedom strategy is that individuals can greatly increase their freedom and power by acquiring and applying freedom technology.
The second assumption of the Build Freedom strategy is that the power of terrocrats is tenuous (fragile, of little substance). Their power rests on lies and naive victims believing those lies. Terrocrat power depends on support from victims. (Rand's "sanction of the victim.") Gandhi demonstrated the tenuous power of terrocrats when he defeated the British Empire and drove the British out of India without firing a shot. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a further demonstration. The East German armed might, supported by several hundred thousand Russian troops could not keep the Berlin Wall standing, once a critical mass of victims withdrew their sanction. Another demonstration was the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Again, when a critical mass of victims withdrew their sanction, the Soviet Empire disappeared overnight.
Build Freedom is a worldwide free country with no borders. Free Sovereign Citizens of Build Freedom cooperate on the basis of self-ownership, individual sovereignty, and voluntary exchange. Build Freedom is also a worldwide "free-enterprise zone" - for those who practice free enterprise. We advocate that individuals and groups acquire and implement freedom technology to increase their personal freedom and power, and to shift their assets and economic activities into the Build Freedom free market to whatever degree is appropriate for each individual. We further advocate that Build Freedomns create voluntary institutions (particularly regarding currencies and financial services).
The third assumption of the Build Freedom strategy is that when a critical mass of people, assets, and economic activities have shifted into the Build Freedom free market, coercive political systems will collapse like the British in India, the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet Empire.
Programs in the Mind
The definitions and descriptions of aspects of freedom are programs in the mind. They affect how we see the world. By implication, they include sets of operating instructions on how we deal with the world.
Freedom and Results
Build Freedom advocates a shift from being "right" to producing results. The issue isn't whether any of the definitions and descriptions of elements of freedom are "right" or "wrong." Of much more importance is whether or not I produce the results I want. Nothing is as frustrating as expending money, time, and effort for any purpose or "great cause" while producing no results or negative results year after year.
In order to produce the result I want, I need to define what I want and focus on that. I need to calculate what actions might produce the desired result. I need to test these actions and observe what result they produce. If they don't produce the desired result, I need to choose a different result and/or I must try different actions. I may also want to examine my mind for programs that prevent me from taking the necessary actions. If I find such programs, I could replace them with programs that enable me to produce the result I want.
The most important result I want is greater freedom for myself, my friends, and all humanity. I believe Build Freedom is the action to produce this result. By beginning to acquire and apply freedom technology, you can start enjoying the benefits of greater freedom immediately.
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