THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Pride comes before a fall

Juneteenth and reflections on slavery

This (republished from four years ago) article from The Cato Institute set me thinking. I was happy to be introduced to a word in ancient Sumerian — ama-gi.


This is the way the concept of freedom was first expressed in writing. Interestingly it connoted (amongst other things) release from slavery, which shows how deep rooted that concept is — despite charlatans attempting to characterise it as the vice of a particular modern race. 

Every step away from Liberty is a step towards slavery. Working most of each year to pay taxes for example, is a kind of time share slavery.  The slave masters here are not just the government enforcers but all those who say, as Lincoln the great Liberator put it

You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.

To work for government or otherwise live on its stolen bounty is — morally — to enslave your fellows. It should be as repugnant as working for a gangster. Anyone attracted to it as a means to make a living will be at best naive and at worst a moral degenerate.

Even if you don’t live on money taken by force from fellow citizens you need to consider the morality of your choices if — every time the conduct of your fellow humans offends you — you call on the state to constrain them.

A good friend of mine has a habit of leaping from a valid moral position to seeking its enforcement by “society”. That can of course be a thing. The most complicated technology we use every day — our language — was developed freely by society without any enforcement mechanism. It’s one of the best examples of spontaneous order. 

But that’s not what he (or other would-be society enhancers) means. In practice, he means enforcement by government. The very idea that the crooked timber of mankind can be shaped into something beautiful by the worst of us; people attracted to living as parasites on us while bossing us about is naive, given all the history on the subject. It would be funny if it were not so lethally wrong.

I am happy that Americans celebrate Juneteenth. Slavery is the absence of Liberty and therefore wrong. I just wish we could learn to celebrate — and trust — Liberty itself. 


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