Liberty versus Crime   Leave a comment

To a statist, the concept of voluntarism looks like a lot like chaos. We’d have people just doing what they want with absolutely no regard for the people around them. Robbings, looting, murder … it would be horrible!

Image result for image voluntaryismExcept that’s not what voluntaryists are talking about when they say they want liberty. Maybe getting some definitions in order would be helpful.

Crimes are actions that produce victims, which in popular usage can mean almost anything undesirable under the sun. A more principled approach to understanding crime and victim-hood is to narrow the definition to a state in which somebody has been forcefully or fraudulently deprived of life, liberty, or property.

Crime includes such obvious actions like murder, battery, rape, assault, and theft. How particular people define particular instances of these types of action may differ, but for the most part, physically hurting people or taking their stuff is viewed as criminal behavior.

Liberties, on the other hand, are actions that do not produce an identifiable victim. They are actions that people should be free to perform as they do not victimize, in the criminal sense, other people.

Liberty includes a much broader spectrum of actions than does crime. I think we can confidently say that any action that is not criminal is a liberty. Liberties typically comprise 100% of people’s actions day-to-day. Think of anything you do: does it physically hurt somebody or take/damage their stuff? Then it’s a liberty and not a crime.

Liberties may be offensive in the sensibilities sense, but so long as they are not criminal, they should not be prohibited by political authorities. While every property owner may prohibit the liberties enjoyed within their private domain, they may not call upon third parties with guns to prohibit them in other domains.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. Restricting liberties makes up most of the actions that political authorities engage in today. Politicians, eager to get and remain elected, pander to sensibilities and push through laws that not only prohibit crime but, in too many ways, prohibit liberties.

Image result for image voluntaryismWhy? Because people start with the idea that you need government to control crime, but then they feel that they really need to curb the behaviors of others they don’t like. It starts out small, but grows over time and each success at controlling others’ undesirable behaviors emboldens the next attempt. And because liberty-minded people are often busy being free and exercising the benefits of that state, they don’t notice for a good long time that liberty is being lost. So when they finally get around to protesting, they’re told “Well, you never said anything the last dozen times, so you should have nothing to say this time around … or ever. We’re doing this for the good of everyone. You just want chaos.”

But there wasn’t chaos back when the US government was small and mostly powerless, so why would there be chaos now?

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