Individual Human Freedom

My main political motivation is individual human freedom.

Individual human: I don’t care, at all, about states rights or corporations’ rights. I don’t accept the legal fiction that corporations are people in all respects (sorry, Mitt!), and don’t care much about them (I understand that they are a useful economic tool, but don’t believe that treating them as human in all respects is helpful or even rational).

Freedom: means you can live your life as you want, as long as you don’t keep me from doing the same. Do things that I don’t approve of! Just don’t try to stop me from doing the same.

Now, this is where people ask, “Isn’t that what Libertarians believe?”


Libertarianism (the political philosophy) is based on the ‘non-aggression principle’ – it’s never morally acceptable to initiate violence.  One results of this is that they don’t believe in taxation, because trying enforce taxes against someone’s will would necessitate the initiation of violence, thus violating the NAP. The Libertarian Party tends to simplify this into “government: bad”.

But I can’t see that a person mired in poverty is particularly free. I think a sick person who can’t obtain healthcare isn’t free. I think allowing businesses to discriminate against minorities is bad for freedom. As is allowing a corporation to destroy the air we breathe. Libertarianism overlooks the harsh reality that we don’t all have equal initial conditions – and for some people, the initial conditions they are given preclude many freedoms that others of us take for granted.  The government can play an important role in bringing freedom into these and other situations.

So, unlike libertarians (both little ‘l’ and big ‘L’), I am not specifically anti-government. I realize that governments are often the enemy of freedom, but so are corporations, so are plutocrats and aristocrats, so are other social institutions.  And frankly, I’m okay with initiating aggression against someone who is benefiting from the system, but doesn’t want to contribute their fair share.  I want to use government as a servant of freedom, all the while acknowledging and guarding against the ways it can also be a danger to freedom.

So when I write or talk about politics, when I decide how to vote, when I post political stuff on Facebook, this is the underlying political philosophy for me: increasing the total amount of individual human freedom, as defined above, is the main good I seek from politics.