For philosophic success, a person must examine the fundamental assumptions that underlie their beliefs.
There is no universal morality – my morality centres upon consent and contract. This is concordant with common moral systems, shown through concerns of children inflaming many moral crusades, as children are considered unable to consent. Our relationships and bonds with family and friends are capable of annulment, and their visible obligations should be upheld. I view it as immoral to deliberately harm these relationships. This description echoes ‘social contract’ theory, but the crucial difference is that we broadly know how to end these contracts, and can actually ask what the terms are; whilst social contracts, whether explicit or implicit, are unknowable, with the ‘terms’ unilaterally changing according to political whims. ‘Society’ is just the label for the abundant collection of complex relationships interwoven by citizens. Society has no views, no spokesperson and cannot enter contracts.
Human nature is flawed. The potent concoction of love, hate, fear, hubris, lust, wrath, sloth and pain still plagues us today, as it did in ancient civilisations. The fallen state of human beings means we are easily capable of violence towards one another, and all of our endeavours and constructions will be imperfect. Minimising coercion is the measure of my politics, with liberty – the freedom from coercion – being its highest goal.
Currently, a government establishing a rule of law, where all citizens are equal before laws overseen by open courts and these laws bind both the citizenry and its government, is the most plausible way of achieving this. The threshold for illegality should be high, such as actions that deliver a severe, deleterious and demonstrable harm to another human being. I believe self-ownership means actions we consider foolish mistakes that harm ourselves should not be illegal. The plethora of modern law, often complicated, gives the impression that what is legal is expressly encouraged. Freedoms of speech, press, association, assembly, protest, production, trade and contract makes people happier and creates wealth.
The powers of government are usually unified and centralised, whereas knowledge is fragmented and dispersed throughout the citizenry. The transmission of fragmented knowledge is vital for political debate, social rest and economic interaction – meaning effective governments, deprived of this knowledge, must be constrained in their interventions. Coercion undermines our voluntary associations, establishing perverse and confused incentives that ultimately render us more dismal and poorer.
Abstract notions must be tempered by political realism. Even when varnished by history, culture and debate, one person cannot design all laws and all governmental structures from their own intellectual capacities. Isolated thought experiments should be suspected, as our mind can build skeuomorphic humans who do not act like their real counterparts. The actual effect of laws should be monitored, rather than gilded promises, political inertia and symbolic postures. The precise arrangement of government I desire does not need full delineation, as the larger task is controlling the cascade of law and regulation that saturates our societies, and winning the case for limited government.
PS: There are three causes for celebration. Firstly, this is the 100th post on In Defence of Liberty. Secondly, this blog has had over 9,000 views. Thirdly, it is my birthday tomorrow. I would like to thank you, dear reader – I am truly happy and grateful that you have taken the time to visit my blog, and I hope you do so in the future.