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There’s not a single aspect of your life that’s not affected, either directly or indirectly, by politics. So, the purpose of this book is to provide you with a clear understanding of modern politics and the proper response to it—complete liberty. My first book on the general subject, The Psychology of Liberty, was a wide-ranging philosophical treatise and was considerably longer than this one. In contrast, you’ll find that Complete Liberty has a non-scholarly, conversational style. It’s designed for that special person in your life you want to persuade, which includes yourself. This person, for some good reason or another, isn’t interested in perusing long volumes on the fine details of libertarianism or vast tomes about the workings of free market economics. While those types of books certainly have their merits, here I aim to cut to the chase.
We’ll discover what’s so special about the liberty that we humans have been missing all these years. “All these years” basically means since the time we began uttering words alongside our unfortunate Neanderthal cousins. Indeed, we’ve never experienced complete liberty as a species. Rather, we’ve continually experienced some form of oppression by groups of individuals who are interested in running our lives, making it seem as if no one has the right to live for one’s own sake. In modern times, these groups of people take the form of the State.
As noted in the first chapter, totalitarian governments aren’t what specifically concern us here. Be they monarchies or dictatorships, they’re way too easy to criticise. Without at least semi-free speech, press, due process, and trial by jury, all bets are off. Seriously. Run for your life. Save yourself and your loved ones.
Instead of dealing with the insanities of outright autocracy, we’re going to examine the inherent problems of the traditionally esteemed democratic Republic, a government of, by, and for the People. This is the stuff of high school US history and government classes—stars and stripes, hand-over-your-heart, national anthem, apple pie goodness. We’ll explore the major, irreconcilable flaws in this political system (although apple pie will remain beyond reproach).
Of course, when the People aren’t aware of more enlightened political, economic, and ethical ideas, any type of government they sanction remains a big problem. Without a principled understanding of how to peacefully live alongside others, we simply can’t overcome the permanent difficulties of politics. The essential problem is this: The State—government in all its facets—coercively controls aspects of the economy, which means aspects of people’s lives and property. This is the furthest from a good thing.
Nearly all intellectuals today, such as professors, talk show hosts, political pundits, and reporters, approve of the State’s involuntary nature. Why? There are many reasons, but mainly because those who claim the right to use coercive power, as well as those who support them, have not morally integrated the benefits of completely respectful human interaction. Sure, they may engage in respectful social interaction on many levels and in many contexts, but respectful political interaction is like an unknown foreign language to them. Anyone speak Neanderthalian?
Legislation, log-rolling, pork barrels, earmarks, politicians, lobbyists, regulators, taxes, law- enforcement, and judges. All go hand in hand, or more aptly, fist in hand. These iron fists are adept at ruining our lives, our self-respect, and our respect for others—all while severely crippling our economy. If you find that hard to believe, well, it’s my intention to firmly convince you of it in the ensuing pages.
I also intend to convince you of the excellent alternative of complete liberty. Imagine a world in which your own choices and voluntary associations with other people in the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas are treated with dignity. Imagine a world without “politics.” That’s what I’m talking about.
The ideas in this book are not new; most have been around for centuries. I’ve endeavoured to steer clear of accusations or arguments that can’t be validated with sound evidence and logic. In addition to understanding what complete liberty is all about, we’ll investigate how in the world we can ever achieve it. After all, these ideas must compete not only with present politics and institutions, but also with our vibrant culture filled with many enjoyable activities to occupy our precious time. Yet, a distracted society soon becomes an unaware and complacent one. Without mastery of these ideas, we face a future of many more lost opportunities and much less fun. That’s for certain. A big picture book of the former USSR or even of the Great Depression illustrates just how bad it can get for humans—or rather, how bad they can make it for themselves, courtesy of the State.
What’s happening on the political front in America today might lead us back to such dismal times, especially if we don’t pay close attention to a variety of nasty political magic tricks. So, let’s inspect the things being pulled out of the statist hat, and proceed to get our money back from this bad world of illusion. We all deserve better—much, much better.