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The article was originally published on Christopher Cook’s Freedom Scale.
All Forms of Redistribution Are Slavery And every leftist is a kind of slave-owner.
Do I have your attention? Good. It’s time for people on the right to wake up.
At this point, I suspect that a majority of Republicans and conservatives have accepted that the welfare state is okay, but that it should be a lot smaller…
It’s okay to have welfare and Social Security and Medicaid and transfer payments of all sorts—we should just have less of them. They should be managed better. We should tailor them to reduce dependence.
No. No no no no no.
If this describes you, then I am talking to you. And though I will sound intense, I am doing this in solidarity with you, in the hopes of waking you up.
You are wrong. You have accepted a fundamentally evil premise.
You have allowed socialism to colonize your mind, just as it has colonized all of Western civilization.
You have lost the wisdom of our forefathers—as immortalized in the argument of Horatio Bunce to Davy Crockett.
For a modern day illustration, begin by watching this short video from Dinesh D’Souza. Note the two premises of the left:
- The original creator of the property, wealth, income, etc. is not the sole claimant upon it.
- They (the left, and government) have the authority to control the property and adjudicate between competing claims.
Both claims are not just wrong—they’re moral crimes. In order to explain why, I am going to have to hit you with some philosophy. Don’t tune out! Philosophy—good philosophy—is what made this country. It’s what undergirds the founding documents that you love and the protections they seek to enshrine. If you do not understand the philosophy, then you won’t know why the left is wrong, and why you are wrong to go along with these premies even a little bit.
Start by asking yourself why slavery is morally impermissible. Really think about it. Write your thoughts down. Chances are, you’ll come up with things like this:
Slavery is wrong because it…
- forces people to labor against their will,
- forces people into an arrangement they did not choose,
- forcibly compels a person’s actions and choices,
- creates a condition wherein one person is legally “owned” by another,
- imposes punishments for resistance or attempts to escape.
You know, intuitively, that those things are morally forbidden. And yet you accept, to one degree or another, practices that, though they may differ by degree, do these exact same things. And you need to stop. Our whole civilization needs to stop.
So why are these things morally impermissible? Here’s where the philosophy really kicks in. Fortunately, it’s easy. It may sound fancy, but it really is just an expression of things that even toddlers know intuitively.
We begin with the reality of free will. Every individual has personal control over his thoughts, choices, and actions.
An individual may be subjected to forcible compulsion, but no external party can actually think, choose, or act for him. Free will is thus naturally exclusive. Free will is a consequence of personhood, and since no one’s personhood can be unmade, it is naturally inalienable.
This leads to a simple argument in which we demonstrate that free will lies at the heart of human self-ownership:
1. Exclusive, inalienable personal control over thoughts, choices, and actions (free will) grants to each individual exclusive, dispositive decision-making power over his own body and life.
2. The primary characteristic of property rights is exclusive, dispositive decision-making power.
.˙. Free will grants to each individual property rights over his own body and life.
Self-ownership is thus an outgrowth of free will. It is the quality of being the exclusive owner of one’s own body and being—of having a property in one’s own person. Let us then define self-ownership as Dispositive decision-making power over one’s body and life (with all the concomitant rights and responsibilities), rooted in (naturally and morally) exclusive, inalienable personal control over thoughts, choices, and actions.
Dispositive decision-making power over one’s body and life, for short.
Here again, just about everyone knows that their self-ownership is real. Savvy lefties understand that self-ownership stands in the way of their primary objective—taking the property of others by force—and thus may use sophistry to try to deny its reality. But they will react just the same as anyone else when their self-ownership is directly violated—because even they know it’s real!
Now let us return to Dinesh D’Souza’s discussion of the flute. It was created by one person: the girl who used her mind and her labor to take a previously unowned thing and convert it. This process is an outgrowth of her free will and self-ownership. Her property rights in her own person have extended to property rights in the thing she made. It is hers…and hers alone. Her property right is grounded in a natural and moral reality.
Where would any other claim come from? The utilitarian claim (the flute should go to the person who would play it the best) and the leftist claim (the flute should go to the person who “needs” it the most) have no such grounding. They are opinions. And actuating those opinions (in the context of a society) requires two things:
- The violence required to take the flute from the owner, and
- A “legitimate” entity empowered to deploy that violence, i.e., government.
Why do you think the left likes big government so much? They want to use violence to take people’s stuff, and government allows them to do so “legally” and “legitimately.” It also gives them jobs and power, which requires that more stuff be taken by force to fund those jobs and create that power.
Are you catching on yet?
It’s a racket. The racket provides money and power to the left’s operatives and feeds the bottomless narcissism of its virtue-signaling rank-and-filers. It’s not noble. It’s just a modernized and legitimized iteration of the age-old human strategy of taking, by force, that which has been produced by another. It’s nothing more than that, and you should not be supporting it in any form.
So as to keep the main text of this article short, I will put into the footnotes
the arguments for why the initiation of coercive force against self-ownership is itself morally impermissible. We will take those as understood.
Now, return to our list of reasons why slavery is morally impermissible. They all are demonstrably wrong because they all violate one’s dispositive decision-making power over one’s body and life. They all violate self-ownership.
Our system of “legitimized” forced redistribution does the same thing It…
- forces you to labor for the benefit of others, against your will;
- forces you into an arrangement you did not choose;
- forcibly compels your actions and choices;
- imposes punishment if you resist or try to escape.
These are all clear. The last one—the concept of “ownership” of the “slave” may seem like more of a stretch, but wargame it out just a little bit…
A slave is kept in his condition by force. So are you. A slave is punished if he resists. So are you. (Try not paying your taxes for a while and watch what happens.) The slave has been forced into an arrangement he did not choose, and so have you. The slave cannot opt out and neither can you. You may enjoy dispositive decision-making power over your body and life in some areas, but not in this one. When it comes to the redistributive state, you are, in essence, a slave. If there is a difference, it is one of degree, not of kind.
Do not fool yourself into believing that “voting” gives you some sort of choice. Voting is nothing but a wish, cast into the wind, and all the incentives of democracy are a gale pushing the whole of society towards more redistribution. Never less. (Search your feelings, Luke—you know this is true.)
The people who run the redistributive state, and those who support it and fuel its continuance, believe that your stuff does not belong to you. They believe that they have a license to forcibly violate your self-ownership—the foundation of your rights as a human person. They believe that they, and their agents in government, have the legitimate right to determine what stuff of yours they steal, and how much, and when, and to whom it will be given, and what punishment you will suffer if you resist.
EVERY kind of redistribution is a species of slavery. (Even when the intended recipient is the most sympathetic of characters.) And EVERY person who actively engages in redistribution, or who empowers those who do, is a kind of slave owner.
Do not mince words. Do not dither about on the margins, wondering exactly how much moral crime is allowable.
Take a stand.
We can acknowledge the impact of biology, upbringing, circumstances, external influences, and even luck, but the reality of free will remains. Biology and upbringing can be analogized to the earth beneath our feet, and our external circumstances to the sky above—yet in spite of these, each of us still chooses how we move upon that ground and weather life’s storms. Free will is real!
Ontological/automatic/birthright authority does not exist. All authority must either be granted or imposed upon the unwilling by means of coercive force. Any attempt to refute this claim produces a performative contradiction: Anyone who asserts automatic authority MUST use force to impose it upon anyone unwilling to grant that authority. The same applies when asserting a claim of authority on behalf of another.
The unavoidable use of the claim in the attempted refutation raises the claim to the level of an axiom. The absence of ontological authority is a natural fact. Authority is, in essence, the license to compel the actions and choices of others, and no one has this license as a mere fact of his existence. So…
1. Authority is imposed upon the unwilling by means of the initiation of coercive force.
2. No one has ontological authority (automatic authority as a mere fact of his existence) over any other.
.˙. No one has the ontological authority to initiate coercive force upon the unwilling.
The ontological authority to initiate coercive force against another does not exist, and the initiation of any such force is morally impermissible. As shorthand, then, we will say that the initiation of coercive force is ontologically and morally impermissible.
Relating this back to self-ownership…
The natural facts of reality confer upon the individual a property right—that is, exclusive, dispositive decision-making power—in his own person. Such a right constitutes a just moral claim; it came about as the result of an organic process (birth and life), and its exercise does not inherently coerce any other (save for the natural, temporary, and generally welcomed period during which parents must care for their children). Thus,
1. A naturally exclusive, inalienable property right in one’s own person (self-ownership) constitutes a just moral claim.
2. Violation of a just moral claim is morally impermissible.
3. The just moral claim of self-ownership is violated by the initiation of coercive force.
.˙. The initiation of coercive force against self-ownership is morally impermissible.
Of course, we’ve just dealt with redistribution and welfare here. Later, we’ll have to tackle taxation and government in general. But just focus on this for now. Baby steps!