Friday, February 4, 2011

Liberty or License?

As a Libertarian, I often encounter those who suspect that we want no rules, respect no convention and endorse anarchy. Admittedly, there are some Libertarians who believe that total anarchy is the ultimate expression of freedom, but they’re difficult to find because true anarchists can’t have meetings…much too organized. For many observers unfettered living is the equivalent of license…no restraints, no inhibitions, and no rules. They view the anarchistic lifestyle as chaotic.
There is a demarcation between the rule of law and excessive law. So too, there is a line between true individual liberty within a nation state and chaotic license. Anarchy can function effectively in isolation, but is severely limited in the context of a society. The very nature of a society requires standards and rules for peaceful interaction. The trick or the challenge is to devise a system of rules or laws that respects individuals but allows for some element of social cooperation. If we were 310 million anarchists living in the United States, then it seems that the ideal organizational structure would be for 310 million islands of property scattered across the fruited plain. Clearly, that is not a viable plan. The anarchist’s impulse, however, nurtures the seed of freedom. If we didn’t have the desire to follow our individual pathways, then we would all be contented members of the pack….or more appropriately the flock.
The lust for liberty is the driving force for explorers, pioneers and innovators. Their unquenchable yearning to escape the commonplace incites them to seek the extraordinary or to go beyond recognizable limits. Self expression and self determination are powerful. Most of us suppress those sentiments to some degree, but true societal advancement comes from those who harness their desires for freedom. The innovators channel their thirst for freedom toward pursuits that lift others while, at the same time, satisfying their passion for individuality and personal liberty. It is not an easy balancing act, and many give up trying because the reality is so difficult to achieve.
The final analysis, as I see it, is that each of us is born with a God-breathed desire for liberty. For some of us that impetus for freedom is so compelling that we prefer to isolate ourselves and follow our anarchist drummer. One could argue that anarchists are selfish and anti-social, but nevertheless, the impulse is a self-reliant one. Others nourish the spark of freedom but direct their energies toward a society that values the individual but recognizes the necessity of working in a structured society. The third group has extinguished the flame of freedom, succumbs to whatever government or society proposes, and lives a life of quiet and puzzled desperation. Personally, I believe that the third group, the compliant ones, is far more threatening than the wild and crazy anarchists. The compliant ones will lull us into servitude.
In my humble opinion we must possess an internal anarchist for liberty to prevail. Certainly, the anarchism must be tempered by reason and limited by self responsibility and accountability. For freedom to work, for liberty to be effective, each of us must yearn for it. Liberty must be more than an intriguing concept. It must be an unstoppable force.
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1 comment:

  1. The Toledo Anarchist's Lucas County United Movement (TALCUM) will not meet again this month.

    The group's President-for-Life (name withheld because "it's none of your damned business) said: "No one is going to tell US when to meet or where - even if you're a member."