The view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he pleases so long as equal rights are respected for happier and prosperous society is one of the principles of Libertarianism. Right to life, liberty and property ownership existed naturally before the Government came into force. As Frederic Bastiat undoubtedly put it “Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws’’. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed before hand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” In the same vein, John Lock also posited rightly that; “All men by nature are equal in that equal right that every man hath to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any man; being that equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” Libertarianism is what your parent taught you at home; don’t hit or kick anybody who has done you no wrong, don’t steal your fellow’s stuffs and don’t hurt the emotions of others so far as his actions may cause no harm, or even defraud others. Dr. Tom G. Palmer and the editor of “Why Liberty” aptly put it that “You respect other people. You respect their rights.
You might sometimes feel like smacking someone in the face for saying something really offensive, but your better judgment prevails and you walk away or answer words with words. You are a civilized person.” Individuals are moral beings and are able to make right choices and judgments to create harmony in society. Your choice to turn away from hitting your fellow was not granted by the government but by the nature of your being. In one way or the other everyone exhibits the character of being a Libertarian. Am not sure one would slap the other when the fellow has done no wrong or trespassed. This is what is termed non – aggression principles and Libertarians like me uphold this tenet for a free society.
RULE OF LAW
To be a libertarian means you highly respect the rule of Justice, that, individuals are free to pursue their own life so long as the right of equality is respected. According to David Boaz of Cato Institute, “the rule of law means individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands and that those rules should protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways rather than aiming at any particular result or outcome.” A core principle of libertarianism is that we are all equal before the law, from the mightiest to the poorest - The Libertarian party of UK. When the laws of Justice benefit a small class because of their social standard or status in society, it is not a society worth living in.
Again Frederic Bastiat in his book “The Law” state that “see if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and give it to other person whom it does not belong, see if the law benefit one citizen at the expense of another by doing what other citizen himself cannot do without crime,” This, Libertarianism abhors. A right requires the rule of law and must be fair to providing justice for all.
YOU OWN YOURSELF
I am a self – government. I don’t need a third person to mediate the self of mine and my freedom of choice. You know yourself better than the other. Again, you own yourself and not any other. May I ask who owns you or yourself? Your hair, eyes, skin color, limps, hips, voice and head all belongs to you or the self. Self- ownership makes slavery immoral and force unpleasant. You can best explain how the pain feels in your knees, or even describe the taste of a sumptuous delicacy cooked by your cook. One has the freedom to make choices that look best and oppositely inducing benefit for himself. When you are forced to do something against your will and choice, the happiness and morale to put in diminishes unless you already opted for it willingly as a choice.
Self – ownership gives you the right to do anything in so far as it does not pose a threat or harm to others . You and you alone own your body, life and property. No one else is entitled to your life, your body and productivity that stems from it. Likewise you cannot be forced to labor for the other person, even when the other person need your services. Each person is the possessor of his own body. Self may be ambiguous here with ownership of oneself. Owning yourself means you have the right to do everything but not everything is right for you to do to yourself because of Law.
For instance, because of government artificial laws, you cannot cut your life short by killing self through suicide because you are a property to the other and that your suicide may lead to family shock and emotional sentiments. However, no one must threaten murdering you or take your life. This is equally natural. Even though Self is not a property to the other we consider the effect of killing yourself that may affect emotions of a love one or the family and the cost to the state in legal instruments. I will treat this in my next piece.
One has the right to choose what moral employment to be engaged in, what academic institution to attend, the type of woman to marry, but the one responsible must take full responsibility of choices made. Your plans to manage your own resource are by your own choice to either invest in anything profitable or not .
Peter Bismark Kwofie
Founder of ILAPI and a Free Market Advocate in Ghana
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