This is part 2 of a series on Freedom, following yesterday’s piece. While yesterday’s focus was more theoretical, today I am beginning to etch the outlines of what a program aimed to maximize true freedom would look like.
Yesterday, I discussed how the ideology of Libertarianism doesn’t work. It is incoherent. The Harm Principle (and everything built off it) makes no sense. There is no Negative-Positive rights distinction. And you can’t rescue it using property rights.
HOWEVER, I noted that Libertarian values can still be important and valuable. I will argue that Libertarian values are on the right track, but are led astray by ideologues: Ultimately, people will realize that things like the “free market” don’t exist (and wouldn’t work even if they did) and that freedom is not about doing whatever you want but rather about not living at the mercy of others.
This principle, that I should not live at the mercy of others, should be a major guide for us. For example, I should be able to speak my mind without retribution from my boss (or the harpies in HR). Ultimately, freedom is about material power dynamics far more than formal structures or “rights”.
So where does that leave us? Clearly, we need to look at power dynamics and figure out what individuals and institutions have significant power imbalances over us. The end goal must be to rebalance power dynamics to bring as much power back to the individual level as possible.
How might we do this? Allow me to present a few ideas.
“40 Acres and a Mule”
I strongly endorse plans, like Jefferson’s, where every citizen owns their own home property. Jefferson had proposed, in a draft constitution for Virginia in 1776, that every free man have at least 50 acres of land. I believe that having property that you are responsible for taking care of, especially a home, is an important part of maturity and growth for a person.
Beyond the positive effects on responsibility and personal growth, we should not be at the mercy of banks. It is absurd that banks (and other lenders) are able to own so much of this country.
But wait…if everyone owns their own home, doesn’t that mean that there would be no more landlords? Yes. Yes it does. And this is a good thing. Landlords do provide services, but they take far more than they provide. Should they really be allowed to kick out businesses because some Liberal blue check mark on Twitter threw a pathetic tantrum? Landlords are in the same category of corporations and government. You’re still a bootlicker.
And I am not alone in this. Adam Smith, the father of capitalism himself, was no fan of Landlords. From his Wealth of Nations, he states that with landlords,
“[their] indolence, which is the natural effect of the ease and security of their situation, renders them too often, not only ignorant, but incapable of that application of mind which is necessary to foresee and understand the consequences of any public regulation.”
Adam Smith goes further in stating:
As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce. The wood of the forest, the grass of the field, and all the natural fruits of the earth, which, when land was in common, cost the labourer only the trouble of gathering them, come, even to him, to have an additional price fixed upon them. He must then pay for the licence to gather them; and must give up to the landlord a portion of what his labour either collects or produces.
I follow in the footsteps of Jefferson and Smith to argue that we should unite ownership of one’s own labour and one’s own land into The Independent Workman. But their definition goes beyond what I have stated… So how do we make sure that our workplaces are not sites of tyranny?
No More HR Harpies
Let’s be honest here: our workplaces are tyrannies. They are. No one who genuinely holds freedom as a core value can defend the tyrannical nature of our jobs. We need to be able to have a say in our lives. In the same way that “No taxation without representation!” was a rallying cry during the revolution, we should apply the same principle to our workplaces. No longer should we suffer under the tyrannical reign of bosses and HR ladies.
I should not be concerned about being fired because I said the wrong thing on Facebook. My concerns should not get lost in a bureaucracy that rivals the DMV in dysfunction. I should not be forced to sit through programs that don’t make anyone less likely to rape or use slurs, and instead simply piss people off. Maybe we should treat the fact that so many people are unsatisfied with their jobs more seriously. In the same way that we must refuse to suffer under the tyranny of kafkaesque bureaucracies in government, we also should refuse to suffer under them in the corporate world.
Money Creation Back to the People
My most radical idea: tie money creation directly to production by people, not by fiat from banks. Inflation is not directly a measure of money supply. The money supply can go up without inflation going up but only if the money supply stays in a constant ratio with the value of actual goods and services in the economy. We must remove the ability to print money from the banks. So far as there may be a central bank, that bank should be controlled by the People, not private interests. Either nationalize the Fed or abolish it entirely. The middle ground is far, far worse.
Beyond removing the domination of the banking system from our lives, such a proposal would improve freedom of association. No longer would we suffer the friction of “You can associate with whoever you want in order to fulfill a sufficient demand…assuming that the people you associate with already have money.” We must eliminate the frictions of production that have been implemented to serve the already-wealthy Elite and we must let loose the power of the people. It is time for a Supercapitalism. And Jefferson, Smith, and Jackson can begin to guide us down the correct path to get there. (Yes there are many feasibility concerns with this kind of idea. That is why I am reviving my political economy project and bringing it, in more digestible chunks, over to substack).
Reject Tyranny in All Facets of Life
It is time we stop being beholden to ideology constructed by Elites in order to keep us down. It is time we take our values seriously, and call for an ideology that actually fulfills them. The rhetorical tricks that the Elites play should no longer be considered significant. True freedom is when material power dynamics are balanced so that individuals, not corporations or banks or landlords or the government, are not beholden to others. True freedom occurs when I am not living at the mercy of others.