The Genealogy of Liberty: Positive Liberty, Negative Liberty, and Republican Liberty

"To raise the question, what is freedom? seems to be a hopeless enterprise. It is as though age-old contradictions and antinomies were lying in wait to force the mind into dilemmas of logical impossibility so that, depending which horn of the dilemma you are holding on to, it becomes as impossible to conceive of freedom or its opposite as it is to realize the notion of a square circle.”—Hannah Arendt (What Is Freedom?)

The word liberty has a long and complicated genealogy. The first written reference to the concept of freedom is in the form of a cuneiform inscription of the Sumerian word ama-gi. The term, which means freedom, literally translates as "returning to mother," indicating the release of a person from debt slavery or the freeing of one from an obligation or debt. Liberty came to mean freedom from debt and legal obligations. Over time, the term liberty has come to mean different things in different contexts.

The life of Amputees in Syria

The life of Amputees in Syria
Written By : Om Amran
Interview and Edited by: Joanne Roberts

In 2014 the Syrian Network for Human Rights stated that no less than 1.1 million people have been injured in Syria since March 2011. At least 45% of them are women and children, and 10 – 15% of these cases have turned into permanent disability or amputations.

Today we speak with a Syrian lady Om Amran who has witnessed firsthand the effects of these disabilities and amputations on her own people and their children and what their future holds.

She has seen the effects on the households of Syria. She has seen the effects on the working men of the family and the husbands to many. She has seen the effects on the women who are trying to care for the house and their children. She has seen the effects on the innocent children and
babies. She has also seen the effects on the one million Syrian orphans and the approximate 6 million IDP's.

Below is a list of 10 questions I put to her:-

When Taxation is Not Theft

Anarchists and libertarians are fond of asserting that "taxation is theft." However, I am of the conviction that only some forms of taxation constitute theft. A person is entitled to the product of their own labor, not to positive externalities generated by other people's labor. Not only are some forms of taxation not theft, but some taxes may be good in themselves.

Land Value Taxes

In a state of nature, there are no systems of property. There are no monetary systems, nor courts and police to enforce contracts. With the introduction of government (courts, law-enforcement, monetary systems), we get money and feudalistic/capitalistic property arrangements and we see the opportunity arise for one person to profit off of the labor of another. In a state of nature, any person can homestead any vacant piece of land, build upon it, plant and harvest crops upon it, and raise livestock thereon. With the emergence of "property rights" (really a set of legal privileges conferred by government), we see that things change significantly. Now, one person has the ability to monopolize land and charge another person for use. Previously, land-ownership was basically a matter of fact: I occupy this land and use it. Now, land-ownership is linked to a legal document or "title." This allows one person to own land that another person is using. We see the rise of rent, where one person taxes another person for the use of land. The proprietor is effectively a little monarch or king. The little monarchy of the private proprietor is predicated on the bigger monarchy of the king. It was the government that created this system of property which allowed the private-owners to monopolize land and tax others for its use.

Anarchy Means 'No Rulers'

No Rulers
Let's start with the one thing that we can all (apparently) agree on:

"Anarchy means no rulers"

What does this mean? Let's apply some straightforward reason and logic to this premise in order to extrapolate the depth of information encapsulated by those four words:

No rulers implies no one ruling over anyone else, which is a scenario termed "individual sovereignty", meaning everyone has exclusive control over their own self. This in turn implies that no one can wield political power over anyone else. Political power is therefore fully decentralised, resulting in an equality of power. This doesn't mean that everyone is equally powerful per se, but simply that political power is evenly distributed throughout society. It intimates that no one possesses any special powers, entitlements, or exemptions that are not also afforded to everyone else. In this manner together we experience an equality of freedom. The same level of freedom is by default afforded to everyone. This is not absolute freedom; only a supreme tyrant can attain absolute freedom to do anything they want (within the confines of physics). Instead it is a level of freedom that does not mitigate anyone else from experiencing that same level of freedom. It is optimal freedom for everyone.

It's A Wonderful Life

Born of the European mid-winter festivals, the countries of historic Christendom and those they colonised, will celebrate the very nominal birth of their founder today. A large portion of those will engage in truly gluttonous levels of feasting and inebriation, and engage in the ritualised and comercialised exchange of mass produced gifts that carry a hefty price-tag, working on the selfish principle that charity begins at home. A few perhaps, in more private moments, may have thoughts of gratitude at their good fortune in life. But gratitude by itself is not enough; recognition of one's own beneficial circumstances is merely a metaphysical prayer unless combined with an altruistic resolve for transformative justice; the peace, security, and wealth of the few must become the same for the many. With such thoughts in mind, a survey of the sufferings of 2017 and their trajectory is an apt reminder.

Delegative Democracy, Land Value Tax, and Universal Basic Income

I refer to myself as a libertarian social democrat, by which I mean that my views combine elements of libertarian socialist and social democratic thought. My political views fall within the radical republican tradition. A republican is someone who advocates representative democracy and, usually, a constitutional government. A radical republican is someone who tries to carry the principles of republican theory through to their logical conclusion. As such, the radical republican tradition contains a diverse set of members. The radical republican tradition claims members from American founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine to abolitionists and civil rights advocates like Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, and Ulysses S. Grant; but it also includes single-taxers, social democrats, and reformers like Henry George, Eduard Bernstein, Louis Blanc, and Annie Besant; even a large number of libertarian socialists or anarchists, such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Murray Bookchin, and Abdullah Öcalan, fall within the radical republican tradition. Many classical socialists and anarchists were republican insofar as they advocated a form of representative democracy, usually emphasizing elected delegates subject to representative recall and bottom-up confederalism with the local commune (municipality) as the heart of political activity. Personally, I draw inspiration from this whole broad spectrum of radical republican thought. I am not entirely an anarchist insofar as I do not think that absolute "free association" and consensus are either attainable or really desirable. I'm not quite a single-taxer, even though I do advocate land value tax, because I think that additional Pigouvian taxes like carbon tax and pollution tax may be beneficial and just.

The Rise of Australian Far-Right Politics

Milo Yianoppolous has imported his performance politics to our shores. Meanwhile six hundred men on Manus Island are kept out, and pushed into shipping containers with a wall of guards wielding batons.

But Australia can’t possibly be sucked into the chaos that engulfs Donald Trump’s presidency, can it? Nah, we’re the fellas who take it easy and sink piss, not the type who vote to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.

And while we laugh at Youtube compilations of ‘Trump’s stupidest moments’, we ignore that our government keeps 1,351 refugees up in offshore detention centres in countries like Papua New Guinea, whom we pressure to pay for and resettle our refugees on their land.

The 1917 October Revolution

This is the first of a series of articles reviewing this history of the Soviet Union, a state which has been subject to a great deal of political mythology from both its advocates and detractors. However in order to develop a correct political opinion analysis must be based on facts and with a sense of proportionality, and context. These are issues that are often overlooked by political partisans who are under the influence of selection and confirmation biases according to their ideology. Such errors are almost certain (except by luck) if one starts with ideological position and then seeks facts that support their position, and ignores those that don't. Inevitably such approaches will result in terrible errors if their advocates ever achieve power. History should be a resource for learning the benefits of previous actions and preventing the mistakes of failed policies.

It is inevitable that one hundred years are the October Revolution (7 November, New Style) that there has been numerous reviews of that event and all that followed, although perhaps not as one may expect. The relative dearth of public debate of course comes down to the fact that the Soviet Union has not been on the world political map since December 1991. There is now more than an entire generation of people who have no living memory of the country. let alone the context of the country's existence, and memorial rallies in Russia itself were modest. A worthy historical effort was provided by Project 1917 which gives a good account of the revolution combining direct information from historical events in a modern style. From the classics it is hard to go past Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution for being an eye-witness and thorough account, and the eye-witness account of Menshevik Nikolai Sukhanov whose The Russian Revolution was originally published in seven-volumes. It is interesting to note that Sukhanov and Trotsky both share the honour of both being subject to show trails in the Soviet Union, and both were killed by agents of that State only a couple of months apart.

The Etymology of Anarchy

The Greek prefix "a" literally applies the meaning "not". Contextually this can be taken to mean "no", "without", "against", or "in the absence of". The prefix "an" is derivatives of the prefix "a", with the "n" appended for phonetical reasons, the same as we say "an apple" instead of "a apple", because it rolls off the tongue more easily, sounding less stilted.

The literal translation of "archos" is "chief", which depending on the context can be interpreted as "boss", "ruler", "King", "commander" etc. What it doesn't literally translate to is "state" or "government": the word for that is "cracy".

The word anarchy isn't spelled "anarchos" though, which would literally mean "no chiefs", instead it's derived separately from the root "arch" meaning "structure. This is the same root used in words such as "hierARCHYy", "monARCH", and "oligARCHY". Contextually it means "an-ARCHy": "no command structure". Literally it means "no rulers".

Anarchy represents personal sovereignty and the autonomy of the individual. Anarchism is a political theory of how to eliminate command structures from society... Because that's what individual autonomy really is, the absence of an imposed or coercive authority structure. The absence of arbitrary hierarchy. A society organised horizontally instead of vertically, wherever possible and practical.

The Non-Aggression Principle: Failures of Subjective Deontology

It should go without saying that most people are intuitively opposed to violence. In most cases, people would like nothing less than to go about their daily business without interruption. It is from this principle that various "libertarian capitalists" developed an ethical system called "the non-aggression principle", whereby all "aggression" is defined as a unethical. "Aggression" is defined in this context as the initiation of force against persons or property, and allows for protective self-defense under these circumstances. It is explicitly deontological in its orientation, that is, arguing that all aggression, so-defined, is wrong [1]. As an attempt to shore-up the position, similar historical references from classical liberalism are often invoked [2].

There are plentiful arguments against the NAP which will be outlined here. Firstly, is issue of subjective property and personal space assertions. Secondly, there is the issues that arise from a lack of proportionality in the "self-defense" clause. Thirdly, there is consequentialist issues which make the de-ontological approach ethically absurd. In addition to these there are ethical situations which make NAP impossible. In addition to these, there is similar pacifistic approaches which also also subject to similar criticisms and by which comparison is worthwhile. In recognising these issues, an inital sketch of an alternative is posited which incorporates consequentialist and utilitan ethics.


Subscribe to The Isocracy Network RSS