Let’s begin with a question rarely asked – and almost never answered. Probably because of the answer:
Who owns you?
This is the fundamental moral – and political – question. Because everything that follows depends on how it is answered. Here is how libertarians – uncapitalized, to differentiate the more/political philosophy from the political party – answer it:
No one else owns anyone else, as that would be an affirmation of slavery, to whatever degree.
Slavery is a moral outrage, to whatever degree.
Those who advocate for it are immoral – are criminals, if they practice it.
Some hold that there is a creator God who owns everything, being the author of all of it. This may be so. But if so, his ownership does not convey title over his creations to some of his creations – to lord it over them. If there is a creator God then our relationship to him is individual – entre nous – and cannot be conveyed to other individuals.
Nonetheless, the claim to title is regularly asserted. Originally in the form of what was styled the “divine right of kings,” who claimed their sovereign right to lord it over over others, having been “anointed” by god.
Or so they said.
This claim to title was rejected, most eloquently by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. But without sufficient clarity. Which is why the “divine right” of individual sovereigns over sovereign individuals became the “divine right” of some individuals, who asserted their collective sovereignty over all other individuals.
This form of “divine right” has been called many other things, such as democracy, for instance.
But it amounts to the same thing as the individual is no less a slave if he is enslaved by several rather than one. If anything, it is a worse form of slavery since it is harder to recognize it – and easier to disguise it. Give the slave a vote over who his master is to be and he may think he is free. Grant him the power to enslave his fellow man by voting to do so and you have used a slave to enslave – and degraded the condition of both.
If self-ownership is acknowledged – Jefferson styled this all men are created equal (he meant before God and the law, not in terms of their endowments or their gumption) then it follows that we have an inalienable right to not be owned.
That we have the right to not be enslaved, to whatever degree.
And a slave is not merely owned.
He is controlled.
His freedom to act – even to think – is chained by whomever has the power to prevent him from acting, or to punish his actions or thoughts (as expressed by words) when his actions and thoughts have caused no harm to another person. This is the soft slavery of “laws” without harms.
Of “crimes” without victims.
It has become the bedrock basis of a criminal system which enslaves everyone, materially as well as functionally.
The fact that many do not see their chains does not alter the fact of their condition.
That they are controlled – and thereby, owned.
A slave is not free to leave the plantation – or even to select the kind of clothing he wears, or his family and other personal relationships. It is not merely that the fruit of his labor is stolen from him. Something even more intrinsically necessary to his humanity is also taken from him – by those who control him.
The same masters who assert ownership over their slaves materially, by claiming the right to take whatever arbitrarily decided portion of the slave’s property – his labor – it is claimed the slave “owes,” as via the euphemized theft styled taxes.
The worst of these “taxes” obviate the concept of property itself by rendering ownership itself an impossibility.
By hiding the fact of enslavement.
If you are only permitted to possess a thing – land, for instance – for so long as you continue to pay whatever “taxes” it is claimed you “owe” as the condition of the land not being seized from you, then it is self-evident you do not own it.
Those who “tax” it do.
You are their slave, for it is their property – and so, by dint of that are you.
These masters are the same people who control how you may use their property – which you are permitted to conditionally possess, for as long as you continue to use it as they direct – and pay the “taxes” they say you “owe.”
But how is it that one “owes” a sum of money – or any other material thing – to someone else, who was not a party to its creation?
Who has no rightful claim to it?
Which raises another question: What constitutes a rightful claim?
There can be only one morally unimpeachable answer to that question. The only rightful claimant to property is he who used himself to create it. The property being the work product of his body – of his mind. If he did not use the body or the mind of another person to cause the property to come into existence, then no other person has the slightest rightful claim to any portion of it, or its value.
Which is to assert ownership – slavery – to exactly that degree.
Inevitably, such an assertion leads to slavery in every degree.
If you abhor slavery in principle, is the practice of it in any degree less loathsome? If you would not be owned, would you assert ownership over another? And if you do assert it, then by what right would you deny the similar claims of others, over you?
Many have never considered these questions, which those who would be masters understand must never be asked – in order to prevent them from being answered.
Which might raise questions about these masters – and their claims to title in fief over us.
. . .
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