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The Meaning of Memorial Day and Freedom

Memorial Day gives the political elite a plethora of possibilities to sabotage an otherwise wonderful vacation weekend.

Memorial Day gives the political elite a plethora of possibilities to sabotage an otherwise wonderful vacation weekend. Local congressman, mayors, city council members, and others appear at parades, picnics, and churches like clockwork to offer lectures about "freedom."

But, really, what does freedom entail?

We should expect precision when it comes to the language of political posturing, just as we should reject Junk English in economics! To put it another way, we should demand that politicians utilize specified terminology (don't hold your breath).

Freedom is defined as the lack of state coercion. There isn't much more to say, but there isn't much less to say.

Dr. Ron Paul shows how those who invoke freedom while demanding state action are really enforcing it:
Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn't be called taxes, they'd be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.

Taking this definition a step further, Hans-Hermann Hoppe describes a free society as the absence of aggression against one's body and property:

A society is free, if every person is recognized as the exclusive owner of his own (scarce) physical body, if everyone is free to appropriate or "homestead" previously un-owned things as private property, if everyone is free to use his body and his homesteaded goods to produce whatever he wants to produce (without thereby damaging the physical integrity of other peoples' property), and if everyone is free to contract with others regarding their respective properties in any way deemed mutually beneficial. Any interference with this constitutes an act of aggression, and a society is un-free to the extent of such aggressions.

In The Ethics of Liberty, Murray Rothbard similarly defined freedom as the "absence of invasion by another man of any man's person or property" (italics in original).

This encapsulates the critical libertarian concept of negative liberty, as opposed to the "progressive" view of positive liberty as mastery over one's own person and surroundings.

This is a crucial definition of liberty. It means that free people should be able to use their minds, bodies, and talents to further their own well-being (whether material, intellectual, or spiritual). It does not imply that they have the right to be free of material need, scarcity, illness, unhappiness, or unpleasantness in general. It does not imply that they are owed housing, medical care, food, or a "living wage" by anyone. In a nutshell, it entails the ability to be left alone. And this is precisely what the political establishment, regardless of party, cannot stand.

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