What is Liberty and where does it come from?
John Locke wrote in part -“…we must consider what sate all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of all their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man.”
Liberty is the freedom for individuals to act in their own self interests as they determine them. It is the ability to possess property and dispose of it without interference from others provided they act within the law of nature.
This idea found its way into our Declaration of Independence. In the preamble of the Declaration it states: “[when one people] assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Liberty is an unalienable right according to this founding document. We are free to pursue what we will and this is a right that cannot be taken from us.
How is Capitalism compatible with Liberty?
Capitalism is an economic system that is based on the private ownership of the means of production. This system, even as imperfectly as it has been implemented here in the U.S., has proven itself capable of providing high living standards and great wealth. Our country’s history demonstrates the benefits provided to all individuals by this Capitalist system is unparalleled in human history. Why?
It is due to our system of government being based on the principle of individual liberty. This has allowed people the freedom to pursue what they wanted to. Entrepreneurs worked to improve the quality of their own lives by utilizing the private ownership of the means of production and in doing so, they improved everyone’s lives.
Railroads, telephones, electricity, cars, food, clothing, shoes and every other imaginable good and service was developed by someone that thought they had a better idea and had the freedom, the Liberty, to create it.
Attacks on Capitalism are Attacks on Liberty
Capitalism and Liberty have become inexorably intertwined. Private ownership of the means of production is tied to the unalienable right to Liberty and the natural right to possess property unfettered.
When Capitalism is attacked, as it relentlessly is, what are the remedies sought? Regulations and government oversight. Restrictions on an individual’s ability to possess property is an attack on Liberty.
And as we continually see, government intervention becomes plunder.