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[P&R] Freedom
What nation on Earth has the most freedom? Somalia?
"Save inches for the bathroom; we're using feet here." ~ Rob Kuntz (2014)

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If you've been following the news out of Ferguson, MO, you know it sure as shit isn't the USA. Any nation that thinks it has to militarize its police force can't make any claims of freedom.
Maybe I got it rite this time.


Join the scorn.
Does pure freedom generate a survival of the strongest or just the charismatic?
"Save inches for the bathroom; we're using feet here." ~ Rob Kuntz (2014)

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I think it's important to first understand freedom at its micro-level. It's fairly simple. Any interaction between two people can either be mutually voluntary or coercive, with at least one side attempting to dominate the other. (For the sticklers, my intent here is to create a tautological statement that is both associative and commutative, so it is an effective dichotomy of all human interaction. To debate the point would be a long, boring side-bar.)

If both parties agree to the exchange or transaction, then both parties benefit. (This is one of those all-elusive a priori synthetic statements, meaning it can be known definitively without observation but simultaneously it is not simply abstract mathematics or logic--it says something about the real world. A discussion on a priori synthetics as well as altruism viewed through this lens could also be side-bars).

By contrast, in coercive interaction, only one side benefits--at best.

Because "utility" or "benefit" is almost entirely subjective, there are no common units to allow aggregation or comparison of inter-personal utility. One cannot simply point to an arbitrary measure, such as dollars, and observe that in some cases, the one side that benefits in a coercive act does so to a greater degree than two sides reaping lesser benefits of a voluntary exchange.

In other words, when transitioning to macro analysis, it is important to be mindful that it is illegitimate to just go and add up a bunch of numbers as ways of measuring which society is "better" or "worse". The only correct measure on a macro scale derives directly by definition from the micro-interactions. Hence, a free society is always "better" than an unfree one. For it to be otherwise is absolutely inconceivable without a serious error in logic.

Once these principles are understood, then they can be applied to the real world. Somalia the most free? I would say no. Pirates and warlords engage in plenty of coercive acts. Are such things inevitable in the absence of government? Hardly. Keep in mind, the entire region is plagued with violence, Somalia HAD a government, and an entire society does not transform overnight. The relevant comparison is not Somalia vs US, but Somalia vs its neighbors. In a relative sense, Somalia is fairing better without an officially recognized government.

Similarly, the US may have some appallingly oppressive laws and law enforcement organizations nowadays, but that doesn't mean people have all forgotten that we're supposed to be a free country. Many of them still have the audacity to act as if they are free, and many respect each others freedom and take a live-and-let-live attitude. To be sure, the oppression that does exist make us all worse off than we otherwise would have been, but contrary to what politicians and even many academics seem to believe, you do not alter reality with the stroke of a pen.

Finally, does pure freedom generate a survival of the fittest, be it strength or charisma? Just the opposite. I refer you to Leonard Reed's essay "I, Pencil" to illustrate the power of free association--a pencil can only be created by freedom, never by strength or charisma.

And then think of how many people in modern society would not have a chance at survival two or three hundred years ago. In the cases of the severely disabled, yes some may rely on coercive government while others rely on voluntary contributions of family or charity, but regardless of mechanism by which they are delivered the aid, the aid only exists because people enjoy a standard of living beyond mere survival. They enjoy excess which can be re-directed towards helping those who cannot self-sustain.

But the anti-Darwinist effects of freedom are more profound yet. Among those people you know who are more than capable of generating for themselves a comfortable income, how many of them, who may lack in strength and charisma, do you think would not survive in a hunter-gatherer society? Understand, they only survive and even thrive now because of the efficiency and leverage of capital accumulation (properly understood as large scale use of better and better tools) and division of labor. Not through domination at the point of a sword or the quill of a pen.
Good to have you back Lunamancer!
"Save inches for the bathroom; we're using feet here." ~ Rob Kuntz (2014)

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