9.26.2010

Unnatural Relations IV

"Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains."

Is man naturally free? If freedom means absolute autonomy and independence then the answer is a resounding "No!" Man, upon birth, is immediately subject to the authority of nature and of his natural parents who nourish and raise him according to their customs. Hierarchies of authority are found at almost every level of human association from father and son or wife to king and subject. If this is the general history of humanity, then the modern concepts of freedom and individualism are nothing short of a revolution. There is a slight problem, though, with revolutions against nature: they must be maintained perpetually by forceful coercion lest nature take back her rightful place as that which properly orders man's actions.

These few observations are enough to explode the fantasy that libertarianism or classical liberalism are at war with the modern state. The libertarian needs the modern state as a man needs oxygen; without its ability to dilute or destroy the natural authority found within human relations, the ideology would simply die. In short, freedom as license requires what modern conservatives call "big government."

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