The Philosophical Origin of Liberty

The principle of human equality, the idea that all humans are equal in their individual rights to exert their will, provides the foundation for property rights. The concept of equal human rights came about during the Enlightenment Era when people realized that kings were not inherently superior to their peasants. Before that, kings decided all the rules of ownership and conduct. But when you accept the principle of human equality, then anyone may exert their will, so long as they do not infringe on another’s right to do the same.

This is the principle that we call “Liberty.”

Ownership comes from the idea that your will has physical manifestations in the world. Your own body is one of those physical manifestations, so you own yourself. Furthermore, you own any other physical manifestation of your will, so long as your are not infringing on the same right of anyone else.

Hence, “Private Property Rights” are the practical manifestation of the principle of Liberty.

But ultimately, in order to secure that principle of human equality, which necessarily implies Liberty, those principles must be encoded in law. That law must be superior to the will of any human. Otherwise, any human can overturn that principle.

This concept has historically been called the “Rule of Law.”

The Rule of Law is necessary to secure Liberty, and implies a specific body of law with jurisdictional enforcement powers. Hence, a system of Liberty necessarily requires a government. Anarchy precludes the Rule of Law, because in anarchy, there are no rulers, not even by those who seek to enforce the Rule of Law.

The Rule of Law alone is not sufficient to guarantee Liberty. The content of that body of laws matters, and must absolutely reflect the principles of human equal rights and Liberty, or tyranny will result.

So, beware of those who seek Anarchy, beware of those who pursue the Rule of Law without those laws being guided by the principles of Liberty, and beware of those who invoke equality while rejecting property rights. Each of these groups would destroy the protections that we seek from tyrannical leaders.


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