Odd title, no? Some countries are just emerging from brutal, draconian lockdowns (implemented under the pretext of fighting COVID-19), and over the past week the United States has been reeling under mass protests and riots, the spark of which was the inhumane, sickening murder of George Floyd. As of writing, Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
For many in the US, now is the
time for resistance and protest, for pure rage and emotion. It is hard not to
empathize, to not understand the frustration that comes with centuries of
injustice. In the midst of all the economic and emotional turmoil, I would like
to point to some modicum of hope, perhaps: For many of us, we will never get a
better chance in our lifetimes than right now, to fight for the liberty of the
It breaks your heart to see what human beings are capable of doing to each other. But through the heart-rending pain, we have to understand that the ever-increasing control and power of the state must be resisted. Not just because of what has happened up to this point, which is infuriating in itself, but because much of the brutality meted out by police is indicative of the larger role the state has taken on – when, through its representatives, it assumes we have done something wrong, it will instruct us to act as it wishes. If we even lift our hands, indicating we will cooperate, this ‘resistance’ is met with deadly force. This cannot, and must not, be allowed to continue.
The indiscriminate force
currently being meted out by all manner of government forces makes one of the
strongest arguments yet for citizens to be armed. When protests turn into
violent riots, the private property of everyone, regardless of their race, is
under threat. And very often the very police, whose proper role is to protect
people, are too far away. That’s precisely
when you would rather people are armed in the responsible use of their
firearms, that they may defend themselves, their families, and their property
(both homes and businesses).
For decades now, the progression has been toward more statism and more collectivism. When the government grows as big and powerful as it has (in various forms all around the world), the chances of abuse and atrocities becomes exponentially higher. The more regulations on people’s ability to create wealth, the more societal tensions will increase. The COVID-19 lockdowns have pushed many into financial hardship, with little certainty of when things may return to ‘normal.’ Perhaps those who want to increase government control realized the opportunity the virus presented, to slow growth, and to increase dependence upon the government itself.
Inequality becomes a moral problem when a government places barriers to entry and trade in front of new players in the market. The concentration of wealth becomes a weight on society. Liberty is something truly robust, and meaningful. Liberty means each individual is respected by others as a human being, and most crucially by those who wield political power. The more power concentrated in the hands of the state, the less chance anyone has to create prosperity for themselves, and the worse the consequences when it sets its sights on those it views as problematic.
It will not do to simply talk about the need for wide-ranging, deep reforms in police behaviour, if the very relationship between government and citizen is also not understood. The government is supposed to be the servant of the people, not the master of the people, not the enlightened one who should decide all manner of things on behalf of people. Through imposing lockdowns, virtually overnight, governments stripped away people’s civil liberties, and they enjoyed support among many parts of the population. When you cede this level of presumed control to a government, you cede your position in the relationship between state and individual. It only takes a few pushes for the ball to roll down the hill, and to snowball with devastating consequences.
I implore anyone and everyone, on whatever side of the political spectrum you may be, as part of whichever community or group that is important to you; now is the time to push back, to subvert the direction in which elements on the left and the right have been pushing the world. The more control and power the state has, the more it will pit people against each other, and always seek scapegoats and targets, when its consistent interventions and restrictions have made it as difficult as possible for people to improve their own lives.
Imagine your worst enemy in control of the levers of power, and what they could do to you and yours with unchecked state power.
The right to your own body, to your mind; the right to think; to move and to act, the right to own property, and to be protected in what you make and earn – these are part of the human way of living, the right way of living within the context of a broader society. We must get back to the absolute sanctity of individual agency, dignity, and action.
We have to adopt the right of relating to each other, of respecting each other as ends, not just as means or tools for whatever vision we have for society, because wethink we know best for others how they should live. The philosophy of liberty, of treating each other as individuals and not just as part of groups, is the answer to the pain and anger we see now. As difficult as things are right now, I want to hold onto this line, that, through all the struggles each person is facing right now, there has been no better time to fight for liberty.
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