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The material luxuries and basic civil liberties we enjoy as Americans did not always exist in abundance (and still do not exist for most people in the world today). The freedoms we take for granted and the copious wealth to which many of us now feel a strong sense of entitlement are the direct results of a society that held great respect for property rights and the rule of law. The basic concept is the idea that men and women do not exist for the purpose of serving as tools for other people to use as they see fit. This seems to be a very simple concept, but I will repeat it again for emphasis. Men and women do not exist to serve as tools for other people.

Let's think about it another way. Is the purpose of any one man's existence - his reason for having life on earth - is it to be a servant for another man? Does he live only by the permission of other men. I like to think most Americans would say, NO! 

Sometimes it is a useful exercise to step outside of yourself and imagine life in another country...or even a past century. Imagine how people in North Korea might answer. Imagine how someone living 250 years ago (anywhere in the world) might have answered that question. In those societies it was and is accepted as inevitable that the purpose of certain human life is to serve the will of the ruling class. Many of these people may not even be able to imagine what it is like to be free.

Today we all agree that slavery is evil. The thought of forcing someone to work under threat of physical harm is outrageous, but the concept of individual human rights is actually a very recent development in the span of human history. It is so new that it is still not widely understood.

What can we learn about the abolition of slavery? We learn that it didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen until the ideological foundation was sufficient to support such a drastic societal change. For thousands of years, slavery was an accepted institution in most all cultures. It was only with the discovery of the concept of human rights that the ideological shift began to allow for the permanent abolishing of this gruesome practice from civil society.

In thinking about slavery, and why it is bad, people also start thinking about liberty, and why it is good. By working to end slavery, the classical liberal thinkers began to make the positive case for liberty.

Below is an excerpt from a recent article by Edward Stringham and Jeffrey Rogers Hummel titled First, Ideological Change; Second, Social Change

"Perhaps one of the most stunning historical changes to result from an underlying ideological change in people's preferences was the abolition of chattel slavery. Slavery had been a source of forced labor since the dawn of civilization. People had owned slaves on every continent and for every conceivable task. Slavery, along with such other forms of unfree or quasifree labor as serfdom, debt bondage, involuntary apprenticeship, and indentured servitude, was the unenviable status of most humans prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Although no one liked being a slave, the institution was universally accepted as inevitable if not desirable until the first stirrings of antislavery fervor emerged in the late 18th century. Today, in contrast, we live in a world where the freedom to quit a job at will has become the accepted standard. Slavery may still persist clandestinely, but no ruler, no matter how vile or ruthless, would dare get up and publicly endorse owning another human being.

The abolitionist movement, despite beginning as a minuscule minority in most countries, eliminated in a little over a century a labor system that had been ubiquitous for millennia....The abolition of chattel slavery thus stands as the most impressive and enduring of all of classical liberalism's triumphs."

Read more of from this article, First, Ideological Change; Second, Social Change at Mises.org

For centuries, chattel slavery was popularly accepted in most all societies as inevitable. Similarly, in our society today, we accept the violations of a coercive central government as inevitable. We accept income tax as inevitable. We accept a despotic Federal government that passes new legislation that diminishes individual liberty and encroaches on individual human rights on a daily basis as inevitable.

Rule by a coercive, despotic central government is not inevitable. For the same reason slavery is wrong, our current system of government is wrong. People do not live by permission of government or society. It is immoral to use the force of a central agency to make people work for the benefit of another group. Yet, this is the system most people in the US accept and promote today. We don't like to think of it that way, but that is exactly what it is.

All too often we repeat the slogans and catchphrases of the past without a second thought. It is sometimes helpful to step back and break the bonds of limited thinking. It is then that the real issues and the real solutions become much clearer. Just look at any of the legislation that has come out of Washington in the past 80 years. Most all of it is a strict violation of the principle of human rights. Identify things as they are.

In short, every man and woman has a right to live their life. When this concept is fully understood we can begin to restore America. And it is then, when the ideological shift occurs, the necessary societal changes will become as obvious to future generations as the rejection of slavery is to us today.

I am optimistic liberty will prevail because liberty is right. It is moral. It is good.


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Yes, that is really important. i like that you've started the talk about this. Ethical question are important.

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