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Why the hell would anybody want to be free?

That’s what I was going to call this post: Why the hell would anybody want to be free?

Yes, the question would have been rhetorical and no I don’t mean I’m thinking of taking up communism or nihilism instead of the freedomquest.

But seriously. You know from experience that being a freedomista often brings you grief. You get the sorrow of watching your country go to hell. The agony of knowing your children will have it worse than you do. You have to put up with the sneers or uncomprehending stares of people who don’t want to hear perfectly sensible ideas. You hear media morons who know nothing about economics dismiss real money as “weird.” You watch the Bill of Rights crumble to dust, day by day. You know that the policeman is not your friend. That public servants are cruel masters. You know so much that it hurts.

Your neighbors, who fit in better than you, don’t know or don’t care. And they’re happy.

So why the hell would anybody want to be free? And by that I don’t mean, “Why would anybody rather be free than live in a Soviet gulag?” Or, “Why would anybody rather be free than to be tied up and waterboarded by a neocon puppet?” That’s obvious.

I mean, “Why would anybody rather be truly free than to live semi-free as we live now?” Or, “Why would anybody rather be Bill-of-Rights type free than live in, say, a European welfare state?” Why isn’t it enough to be relatively free? Freer than people in, say, Kenya or Saudi Arabia or even the UK or Massachusetts (sorry, Taxachusettsians).

The chances of achieving the degree of personal and political freedom we desire are slim, so why do we bang our heads when things really aren’t that bad (unless of course you’re Bradley Manning or Cory Maye or somebody else who has had too close an encounter with AUTHORITAH)?

But of course that’s looking at the question backwards.

The real question that dogged me all last weekend, the question whose answer could totally change minds, open eyes, and set spirits soaring is this:

What is the One Great Thing?

So that’s the new name of this post: The One Great Thing. What one thing about freedom makes it worthwhile for those who seek it? What One Great Thing can make all the struggle worthwhile?

If you could convey to people just one simple thing that makes true freedom better than the alternative — one little thing that even a child could understand — what would it be?


  1. Pat
    Pat December 20, 2010 3:46 pm

    “—one little thing that even a child could understand—”

    The absolutely, light-hearted, breathtaking feeling that comes when “School’s out!”——when vacation starts, when there’s “No More Pencils, No More Books,…”, no more dressing up, no more having to get up and go to bed at a certain hour or live on schedule, when one’s life is carefree and FUN.

    Responsibilities? Sure. Chores? Absolutely. But bring ‘em on. They can be conquered——they can even be fun——when no one gets in the way, changes the rules on the fly, or we have to watch over our shoulder for the bully sneaking up on us.

  2. Kevin3%
    Kevin3% December 20, 2010 3:46 pm

    On this dark, and shortest day of the year I ponder why it is that I have that eternal yearning for freedom that so many others just don’t seem able to comprehend.

    We, here in America, were granted the promise of real freedom as our collective birthright yet we have squandered it.

    I often wonder what it must be like to be ignorant of the brutality of state oppression. To go blithely on my way believing I am free, that we live in the “freest country in the world”, that our government is good and “it can’t happen here”.

    Alas, for whatever reason, whatever compelled me to learn the truth of how we, as a nation, a people, have allowed this gift of freedom to be incrementally stolen from us and worse stolen from our progeny…for whatever reason I am aware. I was drawn toward the truth. Something innate made me seek truth.

    It is on these dark days that I become nearly despondent at our loss.

    I am not a religious person but I hold close to my heart an inner faith that somehow, someday my fellow countrymen will rise up and defeat the lies and tyranny that we now face.

    I cannot answer your question, Claire. I have tried to reason and show evidence to those in my circle of influence to get them to understand. I have failed in that regard. My failure has made me bitter and angry. I can only hold onto my faith that freedom will eventually win. Maybe not, probably not in my lifetime, but someday enough people will understand what was once America is worthy of regaining and those who understand will fight to make it real again.

    Peace to you, Claire. Thanks or all of your efforts to inform. Sorry I am not wise enough to know the answer to your question.

  3. Joachim
    Joachim December 20, 2010 4:17 pm

    The one greatest thing for me is the freedom to be left alone*.
    (*As long as I keep my word to others and do not encroach on anyone’s person or property.)

  4. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth December 20, 2010 5:03 pm

    “What One Great Thing can make all the struggle worthwhile?”

    I’m not sure it’s a choice.

    To use a metaphor riddled with irony but nonetheless precisely illustrative: once you have turned your head to the side, you cannot un-see your neighbor for who he is, rather than the shadow you “knew” him to be before.

    Once you turn around and see the fire and the cave entrance, you cannot simply un-see those things. They are neither good nor bad: they just are, and although many people seem to willfully delude themselves about this, it changes nothing. The lens through which you see the world is simply not what it was before.

    Once you walk out of the cave–actually get up and walk out–I’m not sure you could go back if you tried.

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, ultimately, but for me at least, the One Great Thing is simply clarity.

    You know, reality.

  5. Big Wooly
    Big Wooly December 20, 2010 5:16 pm

    I believe, in one word, it’s “choice”.
    Animals learn to survive by making correct choices because Mother Nature makes the rules. Men must make not only follow those rules, but also rules imposed on them by other men. They choose accordingly, and live with the penalties of making the wrong choice. This always restricts their choices, never expands them.
    As men, shouldn’t we strive to be more free than animals, not less?

  6. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal December 20, 2010 5:24 pm

    That “One Great Thing” is different for every individual- and that’s why it’s so great. You’ll know it when you find it.

    On another note, speaking of those neighbors who fit in better, don’t know, don’t care, and are happy made me think of one of the videos I just made:

  7. Sam
    Sam December 20, 2010 8:18 pm

    Discovery! Driving a car by yourself for the first time. Your first kiss. Mastering a skill. Accomplishing a goal. Starting a business. Harvesting your garden.

    These same wonderful things WITH government oversight, regulation, and taxation utterly destroy the joy.

  8. Winston
    Winston December 20, 2010 8:36 pm

    Simply put…if you don’t control your own life, somebody else will pick up the tab eventually.

    European welfare states, as mentioned, are a good example. Many people in this country think that massive taxes and regulations are a fair price to pay for cradle to the grave services…but as we’re seeing, when the money runs out and that facade starts to crumble…all you’re left with is the taxes and messed up laws. And it’s inevitable.

    To me though freedom mostly means being free to accomplish and enjoy things. I COULD just collect checks and play video games all day…but I’d rather meet my own goals than live a dull life of “utilizing available services”.

  9. Ellendra
    Ellendra December 20, 2010 9:27 pm

    “Your neighbors, who fit in better than you, don’t know or don’t care. And they’re happy.”

    Except, they’re not. They spend 90% (or more) of their energy trying to distract themselves FROM themselves. That’s why there’s a TV blaring in every room. That’s why one is a workaholic and the other drinks to excess. That’s why they snap and snarl at the slightest inconvenience, or the most minor difference in opinion.

    As for why freedom, that reminds me of a lesson learned in my youth. You see, I was the weird one, the one who didn’t always catch social cues, the one who always managed to say the most awkward things. And I tried to be normal, I really tried, but it was like everyone else had a copy of the guidebook, and I was trying to muddle through with my eyes closed. I didn’t know how to be normal. Still don’t. But it’s ok now, because I don’t pretend to be. I’m weird, take it or leave it. It’s not in me to live any other way.

    And that is why I choose freedom, because it’s not in me to live any other way. No doubt someday somebody is going to try and force me to change, people already have tried, but it doesn’t work that way. I will live the way I choose to live.

  10. cctyker
    cctyker December 20, 2010 10:00 pm

    Never have fear of police or authority. That is, speak your mind and fear not club to the head or a beating of body.

  11. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth December 20, 2010 11:02 pm

    I love this.

    To listen to the control freaks, a body would believe that “antigovernment types” (got your irony caps on?) are one and all of a singular, unreasoned, hive mentality that can be easily dismissed as both irrational and nothing more than theoretical utopian fantasy.

    Ha! Just look at the above.

    One could reasonably add “sheer amusement” as a potential answer to Claire’s question. 🙂

  12. cctyker
    cctyker December 20, 2010 11:14 pm

    Kevin Wilmeth, please clarify your post.

  13. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair December 20, 2010 11:37 pm

    Being free means being able to ask forgiveness instead of permission. Prior restraint sucks.

  14. Diogenes
    Diogenes December 21, 2010 6:02 am

    For me, being able to live my life in the open and not have to squirm around the rules of taxation. Being able to teach my granddaughter at home without having to explain to some dunderhead why she isn’t in his/her institution of ‘dumbing down’ with a straight face and suppressing the urge to shoot first.

    I don’t do anything illegal other than earn money under the table, but that is the essence of ‘illegal’ activity in a place that is no longer free.

  15. Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins December 21, 2010 9:17 am

    I’m with Kevin Wilmeth’s (first) post. It’s not a choice, it’s an awareness of reality. I appreciate freedom because I recognize that I am not free. There are times I have wished that I could unrecognize this fact. It’s not easy being Cassandra. Short of a lobotomy, however, you can’t unknow things (at least big truths. I constantly unknow where I set my work gloves down.)
    The answer to your original question then, Claire, is that nobody in their right mind would want to be free. It’s really anti-survival (at least in the short term) and often pretty uncomfortable. Those of us not in our right minds, though, recognize that freedom allows us to achieve our greatest heights. All of the advancements achieved by humanity have began as a thought in a free mind. Groupthink is safe and secure. It is stasis. Ultimately, though, it is stagnation. Free minds create and enhance life and point the way for others, who then take the enhancements and shackle them and fit them into the parameters of their groupmind (internet anybody?)
    The last thing out of Pandora’s box was hope. I sometimes despair of hope for the concept of freedom. It’s certainly the underdog in the philosophical fight for the soul of humanity. It’s online communities like this, though, that keep me believing in hope. As long as there are voices raised against and lights shining on the despots, then maybe we can take back some control of our lives. As long as freedom lovers know that they’re not alone, maybe they won’t give in to the collective mind. And maybe we’ll find that we’re stronger than we realize and our combined (not collective) voices have at least slowed the flood of totalitarianism.
    Regardless, I can’t help being free and, though I can’t say why, I wouldn’t choose to be. To paraphrase Descartes; I am, therefore I am free.

  16. Bulucanagria
    Bulucanagria December 21, 2010 9:37 am

    Regarding Taxachusetts. It’s only significantly less free if you try to play by the rules. There is nowhere in this country (or on the planet, for that matter) where the thugs can’t smash in your door and confiscate your life and property.
    If your intent is to fly under the radar and avoid the notice of the authoritarians, then sometimes their unwieldy bureaucracy can be a boon. They spend so much energy jumping through their own hoops that they miss much that’s going on. This is certainly no endorsement of the state. The MSP are as corrupt and evil a set of goons as you’ll find anywhere. But, they’re not real bright and easily predictable.
    Sure, if you live in Cambridge your liable to have your neighbors head up your arse trying to hear what you had for dinner last night, and whether it was raised organically, ethically and sustainably. But if you live in Cambridge, you’re probably OK with that. Cambridge (and Boston) are pretty much lost. It’s damn near impossible to be any kind of free in a major city.
    Are you free in the country? Hell no! But you at least have some room to work with and you don’t have 10,000 potential informers in your immediate vicinity. That’s a start.
    Now, having said that, would I rather be living in NH? Absolutely. Unfortunately it’s not an option for me (yet), but I’m not going to let that keep me from living free or dying.

  17. Scott
    Scott December 21, 2010 10:13 am

    An unfiltered sense of wonder-that the Universe really is a cool place,filled with..well, wonderful things, and nothing to dampen that spirit(like the fear of some idiot bureaucrat making a typo that makes your life miserable). Truthfully, I do think the future will be a better place..the fact that authoritah worldwide is slowly,but surely,is looked upon with less favor is encouraging. May the trend continue.

  18. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth December 21, 2010 10:44 am

    cctyker, hopefully this is what you were asking for:

    One of the skills Claire brings to the table is a knack for bringing people out, and I do love to see the diversity of opinion in commentary like this. Within the “choice” of living as free as possible, there is a universe of differentiation, and you can see some of that here.

    Again, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I suspect that others here may also have been taunted and reviled as one-track, reactionary, men-and-women-of-NO, unimaginative, utopian sycophants of…well, something. (I never can get a clear picture of who they really think I take my marching orders from–man, that’s odd, innit?–nor who I’m, you know, really stumping for, with the utopian fantasy thing.)

    Given that, I just have to smile when I see healthy differentiation among the folks that are supposed to be, simply, “antigovernment types”. (I certainly can attest that when confronted with this reality in person, most statists I have run across quickly descend the dignity ladder and make with the stock, “file-tape” epithets.) People here have some very different answers to Claire’s question, including a variety of non-answers.

    I love it. It makes all the right people go jittery and froth. 🙂

  19. Joel
    Joel December 21, 2010 2:22 pm

    What One Great Thing can make all the struggle worthwhile?

    Whatever I’m doing, the ability to do it without fear. Building a house, digging a well, cutting a tree or filling a low spot on your own property – hell, just the ability to drive down the road without fearing that somebody’s gonna come along and mess with you because you didn’t dot that I or pay for that permit. That’s all I want.

  20. naturegirl
    naturegirl December 21, 2010 9:15 pm

    A lot of good answers here, each with it’s own importance factor…..I think maybe the answer isn’t limited to one thing, since life in general is more complicated than “just one” facet……

    My favorite, so far, is Joel’s without fear reply….except that kids are naturally born without fear, fear is one of those “gifts” some adults give to them……Depending on your perspective, kids are either more free than adults or more stuck than adults; but it’s amazing how much children could teach adults about freedom (at least from the mental view of it)…..

    One little part (“a child could understand”) can completely change a potential answer…..

  21. Ellendra
    Ellendra December 21, 2010 9:29 pm

    Re: Dan’s “Those of us not in our right minds, though, recognize that freedom allows us to achieve our greatest heights. ”

    A friend on another forum has a tagline that sums that up nicely. “Blessed are the cracked, for it is they who let in the light.”

  22. capt gooch
    capt gooch December 21, 2010 9:59 pm

    I am going to second [third ?] the without fear reason of Joel’s.

    I am going to further define it as not having the fear that some petty bureaucrat will take one’s property for any reason.
    [don’t get me started on how much I dislike “Property Taxes” and “Eminent Domain” laws.]

    BTW – Kevin Wilmeth, I agree that there are as many reasons as there are people to have a reason.
    And …. that generalizations are bunkum.

    Happy Solstice and whatever other Holiday you folks celebrate.

    Liberty [Freedom] …. the work one grows to love and loves to grow.

    capt gooch

  23. Jim B.
    Jim B. December 21, 2010 10:13 pm

    Freedom is Choices. The ability to choose what you want, what you do. As long as such does not infringe on anyone elses’.


    And, Yes, it is that simple.

  24. Karen
    Karen December 22, 2010 5:50 am

    To offer my answer the second question, I’ll agree with those who have said that having choices is the marker of freedom. Why don’t most people outside these blogs and forums actually want freedom? Because choices have consequences and require taking of responsibility for those consequences.

    I think that as a society we’ve become so lazy or apathetic or indoctrinated that the idea of having to accept responsibility for ourselves is just too frightening to contemplate. There must be someone else to blame – someone else to depend on for our wellbeing – someone to sue if things go wrong.

    For the most part, I am free. On a day to day basis I make my choices and live with them or change them as situations suggest. I call that little f freedom. I am much more free than my parents, who lived thru a pandemic without vaccines, wars with drafts and depressions with rationing, prohibition, higher taxes, prior to the advent of credit cards and with limited access to news and information. I am less free than my parents because the tyranny of the majority has been constantly intruding into my behavioral choices with safety laws, smoking bans, permit requirements, and the codifications of what should be common sense.

    Will my grandchildren be more or less free? Probably less. Each generation makes changes they think will make life easier and more palatable for the next. Some of these changes are truly great advances, but some have the uninteded consequences of being ever tightening nooses around our necks.
    Is my conception of freedom valid for anyone else or is it just a different noose around their neck?

  25. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 22, 2010 6:03 am

    “What One Great Thing can make all the struggle worthwhile?”

    For myself, the empowerment of self ownership makes the struggle worthwhile. Once a person truly becomes a self owner and accepts responsibility for their own actions and choices, they lose the false guilt of the collectivist mind. They are then free to live, learn, grow, create, build, love and share as seems right and good to them.

    Freedom, to me, is owning and being responsible for myself, NOT responsible for anyone else against my will.

  26. Pat
    Pat December 22, 2010 6:19 am

    There are two kinds of freedom mentioned here: 1) the specific freedom from active coercion (at whatever level), and 2) the more subtle, but no less real, freedom that one derives from self-reliance and self-responsibility. What THAT freedom (in # 2) projects onto the human spirit is immeasurable in terms of self-confidence and the ability to fight off coercion.

  27. Terry Hulsey
    Terry Hulsey December 22, 2010 10:40 am

    Your answer was given 7 centuries ago by the Scots poet John Barbour ( when he said:
    “Freedom makes man to have liking […]
    Nor ellys nought that may him please,
    If freedom fail.”
    What he means is that the freedom to choose is the very basis of our happiness. This implies that even when we choose badly, a free choice is superior to a better outcome chosen for us by another. Why? Because our very identity depends on learning from our choices. Without this freedom there is no wisdom (since there are no consequences from free choice), no reason (since there is no learning from mistakes), no courage (since there is no need to risk pursuing one’s free choice); in short, there is no human identity.

  28. Terry Hulsey
    Terry Hulsey December 22, 2010 12:57 pm

    I must add that your devil’s advocacy was given in detail in 1971 when behaviorist B.F. Skinner published Beyond Freedom and Dignity. In that book he scorned “the literature of freedom” (such as Barbour’s poem) as an impediment to “good” outcomes chosen by experts, as opposed to free choices.
    But these “bad” free choices I see as being like the unused, “wasted,” genetic material that comes into use when some new environmental change calls it forth. In other words, these “mistakes” are a repository of information (phylogenetic, ontogenetic) that can be called upon (culturally, personally) to meet future challenges. This is in addition to the function of freedom in human identity, described earlier.

  29. L Tecolote
    L Tecolote December 22, 2010 1:44 pm

    Why do I want to be free? Because it’s MY life, dammit! If yours gives you so little challenge that you think you need to run other peoples’ lives, you’re not doing it right.

    Maybe the Buttinskis of the world DO know better … sometimes … once in a while. But I deserve the chance to find out for myself, if only to become as wise as they… maybe wiser.

  30. Victor Milan
    Victor Milan December 22, 2010 3:08 pm

    I guess I come at it from a different direction: if one allows other people – to say nothing of circumstances beyond one’s control – the power to determine whether or not one is happy, in what meaningful since can one be said to be free?

    Also, no matter the legal/political situation, doesn’t how free or unfree one really is depend on choice?

    One can always choose to disobey, after all, and take the consequences. What actions can we ever take that are free of consequence?

  31. Agony and Ecstasy | People v. State
    Agony and Ecstasy | People v. State December 22, 2010 6:24 pm

    […] Wolfe asks a couple great questions: “Why the hell would anybody want to be free? . . . What One Great […]

  32. Ragnar
    Ragnar December 22, 2010 7:44 pm

    “None are more enslaved than those who believe they are free” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  33. Ernie Hopkins
    Ernie Hopkins December 22, 2010 10:15 pm

    To solve any problems that come along without the burden of my neighbors handicapping my every move in their quest for the free lunch.

  34. Drain 52
    Drain 52 December 22, 2010 10:48 pm

    The one great thing about freedom that makes it worthwhile? Look at any dystopian novel such as 1984. The real point of freedom isn’t to be able to choose one cola over another, or one lifestyle over another, although that type of thing is valuable adjunct.

    The point of liberty is to be able to pursue truth and publish it if you wish. Truth is the one thing every real and imaginable tyranny wishes to squelch.

  35. John
    John December 22, 2010 11:16 pm

    Because life is short, we want it to mean something: to tell a story. What story does a bird in a cage tell? Every man has a conscience which precludes the need for others to make decisions for us. Conscience makes us hostile to slavery. Survival comes into play. I am most qualified to provide for my own survival. I don’t trust strangers with this responsibility. The decisions of others could well harm me. A stranger will save himself and sacrifice me, so a stranger has no moral authority to tell me what to do. He just wants to control me. I suspect it’s for his own amusement, which creates resentment. He’s not God. I’m not his play thing.

    Also, we always want more of a good thing. We innately understand that more freedom = better life. Every man is like this, it’s just that most are ignorant (happy). Most people haven’t been touched by the regulatory state and a lot of people fear knowledge. Some of them are evil: they just want to fulfill base desires, which they can do as long as they’re not in a literal cage. As Bastiat said, these people won’t wake up until they suffer a cruel retribution.

  36. Suckapump
    Suckapump December 22, 2010 11:30 pm

    Without freedom there is no hope.

    You assume (falsely) that we can freeze time in this “semi-free” existence we have right now (the one where we get the sorrow of watching our country go to hell, where our public servants are cruel masters, etc.). We can no more do that than freeze time in the middle of an avalanche. Look around you. Things are in a constant state of flux, and not for the better.

    Without freedom, we are merely on the road to authoritarianism or already there.

  37. clark
    clark December 22, 2010 11:53 pm

    “Your neighbors, who fit in better than you, don’t know or don’t

    care. And they’re happy.

    If you could convey to people just one simple thing that makes true

    freedom better than the alternative — one little thing that even a

    child could understand — what would it be?”

    Some people pretend that another person isn’t trying to be the boss of them.

    I don’t pretend.

    Sometimes though – but not always – I submit (I feel bad every time I do this, like when i wear my seatbelt) because I don’t want to be taken away from you, even for awhile, and I don’t want them to take money away that I could spend on you, or take away our things like our car and our home. Some people would love to do this to us, I feel sorry for them because that is an evil thing to want.

    Sometimes I feel like I should disobey and risk everything, but the only people who risk anything or suffers is us, and to no avail.

    The state uses what I love against me.

    The state takes some of our money to be able to do this to us, just like a bully.

    I don’t pretend, and I can’t forget, “they” do this and hold that over my head like a sword ready to fall, some people can forget that they do this (I don’t understand how or why) this is what i think it means to be a willing slave.

    I am not a willing slave, i don’t pretend. However; I am an unwilling slave of the state because it is more powerful than I.
    This is not how it should be.

    It’s like in a game, when cheaters don’t keep the right score, they keep a fake score and make it look like they are winning,… I know the real score.
    Some people, they don’t like to think about what the real score is, they think just like the cheaters.
    Some people want to be the cheaters, but they aren’t.

    I don’t want to be a cheater and I don’t pretend.

  38. Paul
    Paul December 22, 2010 11:56 pm

    Tongue in cheek, of course is satiates my ODD cravings (Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a new “diagnosis” that I embrace with enthusiasm.)

    But what it really does is relieves me of the necessity of denying disbelief. From my 65 years of life on this planet, it appears to me that people spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy feeding and caring for their ability to suspend disbelief.
    Most of this is masked by some sort of wacko “belief” but in reality this is a cover for refusing to embrace disbelief.

  39. SMath
    SMath December 23, 2010 12:22 am

    Why be totally free?

    Because it means each person can really be who they really are, without suffering the yoke and humiliation of being “molded” into something they’re not by some arrogant narcissistic goof or group who thinks they know what’s good for everybody else.

  40. Richard
    Richard December 23, 2010 1:00 am

    For the same reason a monkey would rather swing through the trees in a jungle rather than be locked in a small cage in a zoo.

  41. deb
    deb December 23, 2010 1:05 am

    Innately, we are free. But even unto death we cling to a mother’s breast for sustenance or a father’s authority for security.
    We leave home, and plug our umbilical cord into the next best thing that provides us those same “free” things: food, security… and we do not question from whence it came or where it leads.
    Without further ado, it is being weaned of childishness, while allowing a child’s wonder.
    Accept the freedom that Responsibility provides…. Grow Up! With responsibility, all authority fades away into nothingness.
    “Teach your children well…” or they will never understand Freedom.

  42. Janusz
    Janusz December 23, 2010 1:15 am

    Freedom does not come from outside,cannot be granted.
    It is Yours ,or not.
    Many levels,the greatest one is the freedom from thinking.
    Non restricted being.
    Impersonal, and fully aware.
    Others,lost, may only mislead you.
    Keep your compass away from junk.
    Your own curiosity may help,keep it alive.

  43. SteveW
    SteveW December 23, 2010 3:29 am

    I think it is inherant that all people want to be free. As a child at the zoo, when you saw the animals in their cages you had sympathy for them and thought how great it would be for them to free in the woods where they belong. Every kid thought that. No one thought how lucky they were to not have to work for their food. But after years of government schooling, government controlled media, and dominant social thought, some people – those who were too lazy and incompetent to “gather their own food” and too immoral to care if they stomped on the rights of others to “get their food” – changed their minds and wanted the life of the caged animal rathe than the free one. They work for the state.

  44. Jacob
    Jacob December 23, 2010 3:57 am

    Good post this. Reminds me of the many psych studies of those long incarcerated following their release. They all have difficulty adapting to the “freedom” of conducting their own lives again. Some actually miss their incarceration, while the rest struggle to adjust with varying degrees of success.

    As the saying goes, “Freedom ain’t free.” It never was, because freedom is a state of being that requires payment. Many don’t care much about it and hence don’t pay or steal payment from others, others want it but are unwilling to pay its price, and the lucky ones IMHO are those who are willing to pay its high price. The human condition is what it is.

  45. Daniel
    Daniel December 23, 2010 4:14 am

    The Cornerstone of our system of Justice which we all were proud of fifty years ago. (It doesn’t exist anymore) “Better one hundred guilty go free than one innocent be convicted.”

  46. Bob
    Bob December 23, 2010 4:46 am

    To forge my own destiny the way nature has intended, not the way some politician intended.

  47. Charles Aulds
    Charles Aulds December 23, 2010 5:02 am

    It seems to me that we’re being asked to choose between two unacceptable alternatives … the “European welfare state” mentioned, and a totalitarian security state. Personally, I’ll take the welfare state if I have not other choice.

    Just something to reflect on while you’re bending over for a body cavity search at the airline boarding gate. You will have become a creature unworthy of more dignity.

  48. RadioScotty
    RadioScotty December 23, 2010 5:04 am

    So I don’t have to worry about my kids. I want to leave them a world where people finally realize how evil and stupid government really is, and that we have outgrown our need for it.

  49. tesla921
    tesla921 December 23, 2010 5:07 am

    Volitional freedom will be attained when everyone has 100% control over their own property.

    Property being defined as your life and all non-pro-creative derivatives of your life.

    Quoted from A.J. Galambos “Sic Itur Ad Astra” (This is the way to the stars.)

  50. Milton F
    Milton F December 23, 2010 5:11 am


    If we didn’t pay HALF (or more) of what we earn to the state, we would have more *free time* to unhecticize our lives, then utilize that time to CHOOSE.

    “Choose wisely”

    Great thought provoking piece, Claire.

  51. Tony
    Tony December 23, 2010 5:13 am

    Many of these answeres reiterate the problem: confusing “Liberty” with “Freedom.” Mort Adler, by the way wrote an entire book on the types of “Freedom.” The free man is not liberated from all things. He still has obligations to family, friends and society. What fulfills a life is obedience to God’s Natuaral Law. It does not erase society to produce false individualism that is but collectivism in disguise. Without responsibility ,there is endless regulation.
    In short, an honest man does not need to be chained up by a bunch of egomaniacal socialists out to bring on The Millenium. .

  52. Kirk
    Kirk December 23, 2010 5:48 am

    Why would you want freedom? With freedom you have the chance to achieve your dream. Without freedom Chances are you will live in a nightmare.

    Many person dream of being rich or finding love or achieving something. In order to get rich and you are not a thieve or part of the government, you must get people to willingly pay you and pay you a lot. But business regulation means less money and less freedom and jail if you don’t follow their rules

    If you dream of love, at some place in some time, whatever you love was or is currently illegal. While yes, there are “loves” that many people question Gay come to mind, what is considered ordinary between husband and wife, parent and children is illegal. There are places where a man kissing his wife in public will land the couple in jail. Or where the parent has to discipline their child even non-physically, for instance, yelling at a child can get a visit from family services because of the child “self-esteem” issues.

    There are other things people dream of but many dream of escaping the nightmare of the state. You can find many examples, arrests, beating, forced into bankruptcy, torture murder war, not being able to believe as you like whether that is god, no god, or the tooth fairy, and many other horror.

    With freedom, you may not achieve your dream but you can try. Without freedom you die. It may be a quick death, a slow painful death or only the death of your dreams but you do die.

  53. LennyPaine
    LennyPaine December 23, 2010 6:22 am

    The one great thing. I believe that we are created beings, each with a unique soul, a unique identity. The one great thing about freedom is the acknowledgment that I am not owned by another, nor do I own my neighbor. Freedom is a pure concept. Anything that encroaches on it can be plainly seen in the light of truth. A claim on the fruit of another’s labor, a claim on a neighbor is not just a social choice, it is a denial of freedom at its root. The one great thing? I call no man, “master” apart from He who owns all, God.

  54. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    Tinsley Grey Sammons December 23, 2010 6:47 am


    America is infested with bad-law parasites.

    What matters most is what the agents of government can legally do to the Individual. When I can self-medicate and/or chemically self-pleasure at a competitive free-market price – without fear of arrest, fine or imprisonment – only then will I know that I am almost free.

    Following the repeal of Drug Prohibition, there is one more crucial step that must be taken if Americans are to be truly free. The IRS must be eliminated in favor of financing every level of government by way of a single sales tax. Taxing income is extremely complicated, ineffective, and just plain stupid.

    Unfortunately, elections alone will never salvage the American Ideal. But fortunately, there are tools that can , , , but only if a significant number of Individuals acquire the necessary knowledge and muster the resolve to use them.

    Tinsley Grey Sammons

  55. Richard
    Richard December 23, 2010 6:49 am

    The worst tyranny is “for our own good.” The kleptocrat or bigoted persecutor at least acknowledges us as adult opponents. The “nanny state” busybody treats us like children. Every school child knows how infuriating it is to be condescended to by stupid and ignorant “authority”. My favorite example: motocross (dirt bike racing) used to be popular in Sweden. No more; can’t risk the little crumb-crunchers getting hurt. In the USA, despite the occasional child abuse busybody, we see three year olds riding 50cc four-stroke bikes with automatic transmission. Yes, they get “road rash” and sometimes broken bones but they learn self-confidence and have some real fun, not just virtual fun on a screen. My son first cleared the “big triple” jump on a YZ-450F that was technically too big for him. He has never felt any desire for “hillbilly heroin” or other pills some of his friends resort to for excitement in their lazy lives. He believes in our “6P” principle for inherently dangerous activities: proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.

  56. Toni
    Toni December 23, 2010 6:52 am

    Freedom “for me” is coming up with ideas, possible businesses or raising home grown food, or home grown children. BUT, not first thinking and worrying about the government restrictions and licenses and liabilities, that would bring “them” to my door.
    Those fears have probably stiffled more wonderful ideas than we will ever know.

  57. John Sampson
    John Sampson December 23, 2010 7:09 am

    An excellent question, and one deserving of a most thoughtful answer. There are so many reasons, all reinforcing each other into a cohesive and compelling whole. Because it in accordance with our nature as sovereign and autonomous children of Divine Intelligence. Because it is our unalienable right to be free, meaning that we are free no matter what civil government does to attack or deny our freedom. Because liberty is that precious earthly blessing that makes all other earthly blessings possible. It is liberty that made America for a time the most prosperous and opportunity-filled country the world has ever seen, and the further we distance ourselves from the ideals of the original Founding Fathers, the further we sink into debt, scarcity, dependence and despair. Because once we realize our true nature as sovereign children of the Most High, the feeling is more intoxicating than any drink on earth. Because the flame of liberty is an ember in every human heart, and our hearts will never rest until that flame bursts into a blowtorch. Because the only real impediment to freedom is ignorance and fear, and the antidote to ignorance and fear is faith and love, attributes which are in accordance with our true nature and which alone can secure our happiness.

  58. CactusClef
    CactusClef December 23, 2010 7:11 am

    What is the one thing?

    Ownership of property. It’s kind of an abstract notion that we westerners have. The Indian culture that preceded us on this continent believed that they were an integral part of their environment, while we believe that we can actually own it.

    This concept has lost its meaning in recent years, as ownership has largely become an illusion. Through our tax laws, government regulations and monetary system, the powers that be have effectively leveraged first lien on all persons and property.

    What does this mean?

    When you come to this realization, that all the property that you “possess” is really just being lent to you, all the pride and motivation that comes with owning a thing suddenly becomes meaningless. And the freedom that you exchange in order to possess property becomes more valuable that the property itself.

    So when I drive by the guy that’s standing in the median with his cardboard sign I wonder if maybe he is the free man and I am the slave, trading my life to maintain the illusion of ownership of all of this property that could be taken from me at the point of a gun through the tax laws or other government regulations.

  59. Dave
    Dave December 23, 2010 7:13 am

    Free Will, would be that one small thing. It is true that life requires effort. Blocking those efforts and/or the confiscation of any successful results, destroys the motivation for further production or even to live. Life comes from the ground up. Death works from the top down. Life supports death. The more life, the more death. It is all balanced.

  60. liberty4u2
    liberty4u2 December 23, 2010 7:16 am

    The one thing? Dignity. In order to live free or die free one must have dignity.

  61. Jerry
    Jerry December 23, 2010 7:21 am

    Since I am a Traditional Catholic and not a libertarian, my contribution will seem somewhat restrictive to most here, including Claire. However St. Augustine advised, “Do not consider that you are constrained, but to what you are constrained, if it is to the good or to the evil.” Freedom is the right to be in the truth and to live it within the natural order, of the natural law, and of divine law. This fact intones responsibility and obligations (duties). Human beings have psychological liberty, that is free will, which makes us responsible for our acts. We also have moral liberty, which concerns the use of free will — it is essentially relative to the good and ultimately to the divine law. Therefore, moral liberty is not an absolute. Anything outside this framework is license, which is nothing more than the freedom indifferently to do good or evil, to adhere indifferently to the true or the false. This explains the moral, political, and economic mess in which we Americans now live.

  62. Joe Kelley
    Joe Kelley December 23, 2010 7:32 am

    Freedom is to be free from injury by people who cause injury to innocent people, on purpose – for profit, or just for fun.

    Freedom from the bad guys.

    Even a child can understand that much.

    Bad guys lie, and get away with it, so be careful, especially when someone is offering free things, things that are too good to be true.

  63. Godfrey
    Godfrey December 23, 2010 7:35 am

    At the heart of my desire for freedom I think I find pride. I could probably suffer the rule of a virtuous wise humble monarch, but I have great difficulty enduring the capricious rule of an arrogant ignorant fool. The former I would view as my superior because I am indeed a flawed man; however the later I would view with nothing but contempt because I would consider him my inferior. Unfortunately in our political system the least virtuous and most arrogant fools rise to the top.

    I think it must be that I yearn for justice; I yearn for the rational order of things. And in doing so, I leave the land of politics and enter the land of theology.

    Interesting question indeed.

  64. Jason Calley
    Jason Calley December 23, 2010 7:40 am

    Why desire freedom?

    Only a free person can know what is true and act on that knowledge.

    That’s what I want.

  65. steve
    steve December 23, 2010 7:50 am

    See, this is what happens when you think too long about the obvious i.e. you can’t see the forest for all the troublesome trees.

    The “one big thing” ? I guess we really are in desperate times if any man needs to puzzle over the merits of freedom. But for those who need some reminding:

    How about Life, Liberty & Pursuits of Happiness ? These were considered unalienable rights by the simple minds of the 18th century enlightenment.

    How about the Second Law of Thermodynamics which declares that all life and energy strives inexorably toward a state of maximum randomness, or stated another way, If thermodynamic work is to be done at a finite rate, free energy must be expended.

    How about the infant who after a year of blissful suckling finds teeth in his mouth and bites the breast repeatedly , though he knows his comfort will be thus taken away.

    How about the ability to think, to recognize oneself and one’s ideas as real, and in turn the ideas and existence of others?

    No there is no “ONE big thing”. It’s clear to me that without freedom there is, and we are – nothing.

  66. Rev. Fr. Vladimir Chominski
    Rev. Fr. Vladimir Chominski December 23, 2010 7:56 am

    It pleases God. It is what He does desire and always has desired for all human beings.

  67. tmb
    tmb December 23, 2010 8:07 am

    The human spirit is in creation to develop from unconsciousness to full self-consciousness. Without the level of freedom appropriate to the density of the sphere it inhabits at any given time, it ceases truly to develop through experiences and essentially wastes its time. On the material plane, or rather from the perspective of the material enforcement of LAW, the appropriate level of freedom is “freedom to do as one pleases within the limits of not harming others or their property”. This does not imply that the LAW as given by the Creator stops at this low threshold, but only that the earthly authority must.

  68. Helio
    Helio December 23, 2010 8:10 am

    Liberty is the action of hope and if you want hope, you want liberty.

  69. Richard
    Richard December 23, 2010 8:14 am

    The One Thing is truth. Truth is reality. Truth is reason, evidence and logic. Truth is material existence. Everything else is delusion. Freedom means accepting the truth for what it is.

    You can tell a lot about people by how they handle the truth. If they get angry when confronted with the truth; if they withdraw; if they lash out; if the try to change the subject; if they squirm; if they deny – you will know that this person does not want to be free. They only want the illusion of freedom. They want the illusion of truth. They will gladly accept enslavement for the comforting feeling of security.

  70. Doug Ritter
    Doug Ritter December 23, 2010 8:29 am

    Jason, you nailed it for me: I want to be free to find the Truth in all things. And as a great man once said, “Truth is treason in the empire of lies.

    Beyond that, I’m one contrary SOB … nothing makes me angrier than someone telling me what to do. Why? I dunno.

  71. Sic Semper Tyrannis
    Sic Semper Tyrannis December 23, 2010 8:39 am

    One word: WORK.

    We’re all ruined at an early age when it comes to work. We’re made to do things that we don’t see the point of from the minute we get into school.

    At some point some of us are lucky enough to grow up. That’s when we realize that we can work on things that both interest us AND better society. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to stop doing work that isn’t at all interesting and is of questionable benefit, and go do something which is enjoyable and has a tangible benefit.

    Freedom means having options available to do different work. There are thousands of different ways that we’re told not to do work that interests us, and this is in large part what makes us less free.

    I still live in the suburbs, and the reason is because I’m in a relatively free neighborhood. My neighbors don’t complain about my backyard welding, and I don’t complain about their home business that has FedEx trucks going back and forth all the time. The point is, we could both legally shut each other down: instead we let each other be free, and both get to do the work that interests us.

  72. Joyce
    Joyce December 23, 2010 8:43 am


    To choose an honest vocation.

    To be free from outside intervention.

    To do all that I agree to do.

    To not violate the rights of others nor have mine violated by others.

    To keep the fruits of my labor – all of them.

    To be able to choose what to do with the fruits of my labor.

    To be taxed the way the Constitution originally prescribed.

    To give charity on my terms – and God’s.

    To raise my children in the way I see fit.

    To be able to speak my mind – no matter what I say.

    To be able to worship my God according to the dictates of MY conscience.

    To have everyone around me also living free.

    There are none so hopelessly enslaved as they who FALSELY believe they are free.

    “The evils of tyranny are seldom seen but by him who resists it.” John Hay

  73. Rich in Ilinois
    Rich in Ilinois December 23, 2010 9:29 am

    Do the hard work now while we are still able. So, when the day comes when we have exhausted all of ours, we will be amazed by our replacements who are better prepared, educated, vigilant and determined to upgrade our beacon on the hill status into a new micro sun.

  74. ranger
    ranger December 23, 2010 9:54 am

    Gentlemen: I cringe when someone says “we” have squandered our liberty–by not voting, or voting for liberals, or failing to make our political wishes known. The fact is, government and its employees and benefactors are the enemy of liberty and they devote all their will to increasing their power every day. Americans made their opposition to Obamacare known, yet we were saddled with it anyway–because politicians do not want you to have liberty–they want your money, your property and your life–not necessarily in that order. We cannot win the fight without understanding the motivation of the enemy. Victory will not come by voting, but in spite of voting–as economic reality leads to collapse of the current house of cards.

  75. John Howard
    John Howard December 23, 2010 9:55 am

    At the root of both economics and ethics is the idea of property. Property represents our lives – the work that we have done, the efforts we have made, the tools we create with. Freedom means keeping our lives and not having them taken from us by parasites who buy themselves limoscenes and predator drones.

    Freedom is justice. And happiness requires justice. All those obese, tube viewing passives may not fight for their freedom, but they aren’t happy. They don’t have property. They are property.

  76. Juan Gigante
    Juan Gigante December 23, 2010 10:02 am

    The fear of the government espoused in this thread is interesting. I suspect that were you all “really free” you’d just find something else to be afraid of.

    Like it or not, you are products of the un-free society you are now complaining about. It is quite disingenuous to think that it’s OK to tear it all down after you’ve benefited from it.

    You practically admit it’s all about greed when you go on about “property”. Guess what? Without the government to enforce property laws, your property would be taken by gangs of well-armed raiders who would besiege your homes, potentially burning the whole place down rather than let you keep what you have.

    Your child-like dreams of a government-free world make me snicker. Sour grapes.

  77. Grant
    Grant December 23, 2010 10:03 am

    I think the great thing about it is that its right. Society will organize most efficiently under conditions of freedom and universal respect for property rights, so its just that freedom is correct, its what everyone would agree on if everyone understood human nature.

  78. Kirk
    Kirk December 23, 2010 10:22 am

    The one great thing about freedom is the freedom to succeed or fail, on one’s own, and either take the credit for the success, or learn from the failure.

    The corollaries to the above are that one is free to share, or not share, the fruits of one’s labor voluntarily, and to help those who are not successful see the reason(s) why this is the case, IF they allow such.

    In its essence, freedom is the ability to live one’s life, success or failure, without constraints from the tyrannies that arise to “remove” the choices and “make society better”.

  79. Michael Peirce
    Michael Peirce December 23, 2010 10:24 am

    Freedom for me was the last two years of the Rhodesian War – where I not only experienced freedom but fought for it.
    I hunkered out in the veldt (on sentry) one night as the full moon lit everything with a singular beauty while strange and wonderful animal noises echoed in the distance and thought, “this is something I will remember always – I’ll never experience a free-er or better moment”… Yeah, guys wanted to kill me, but I figured then (and now) so what? I’ll die a freeman.
    No one can take our freedom. But to paraphrase Breckenridge- our fellow citizens are throwing that freedom at the feet of the tyrannts faster than they can pick it up.
    My best to you all and Merry Christmas!

  80. John
    John December 23, 2010 10:25 am

    To be left alone

  81. Ernie
    Ernie December 23, 2010 10:43 am

    I am the sum of my experiences. I choose to live free because I have found it to be the purpose of my life. Freedom allows me the ability to grow and develop- to embellish my soul so that when it returns to the Creator- to the great one-ness- that it will have as much polish and grandness and as little baseness and tarnish as I am able to achieve.

    This has allowed me to not hate the most hateful of my neighbors. It has allowed me to cultivate the proper mindset in dealing with all the state’s cops (traffic, inspectors, bureaucrats of every stripe). It has allowed me to realize that there is no sin in stealing from a thief or misleading a liar. It has allowed me to become a force in local politics, doing what I can to preserve some freedom from the depredations of those who seek earthly power.

    It has allowed me to realize that the proper method of opposing dark forces is to envelop them with your light, rather than falling into recriminations and petty trading of injustices with them.
    Freedom will not bring you earthly happiness- but truth will truly make you free. And no cage, or threat, or evil act will permanently imped that.

    Merry Christmas to all- and may you find some happiness regardless of the darkness in our world!

  82. Dave Webb
    Dave Webb December 23, 2010 10:43 am

    Freedom is choice. We choose. Not government. Right now government wants to make all choices for us. Everything from smoking a cigarette to zoning laws against how we will keep our properties up are regulated. They all have one thing in common. “These laws are for your own good.”
    The other month, our wonderful blind city decided to fix the sidewalks and drives at our expense. Granted a lot of cement was cracked. But we are also having a foreclosure in every street in this city. Obviously a few hundred dollars is the difference between the person laid off down the street keeping their home or not.
    To be free, we need to take all the laws made for our own good and take them off the books.
    Everything you do is monitored by government. Every time you sign a check, use a credit card, or use a bank, it is dutifully reported to a government agency. I cannot help but think that costs an enormous amount of money.
    The best reason to be free is that free is less expensive for everyone. It also gets rid of the enormous number of non working parasites in civil service.

  83. Liberty Belle
    Liberty Belle December 23, 2010 10:52 am


    Home school.
    Home birth.
    Home church.
    Home based business.

    “For a mans house is his castle, for where shall a man be safe, if it be not in his house?” ~Sir Edward Coke

  84. Kevin
    Kevin December 23, 2010 11:01 am

    For me it all boils down to self respect. A willing serf has precious little of it.

    When I was a kid I was a frequent target of bullies, but I had a “no knuckling under” policy. Acknowledging any superiority of those junior thugs over me was inconceivable. I ended up with bruises and even bloody on one occasion, but I got to keep my self respect.

  85. Black Flag
    Black Flag December 23, 2010 11:26 am

    To act for one’s own desires requires the freedom to act.

    Therefore, without freedom, nothing else matters.

  86. Hugh Mannity
    Hugh Mannity December 23, 2010 12:00 pm

    Freedom is the ability to say “No”.

  87. Jacob
    Jacob December 23, 2010 12:05 pm

    Michael Rozeff, retired professor of finance and frequent contributor to Lew, introduced me to “panarchism” as a workable political philosophy. It suits me because, in theory, it grants me my freedom without needing the participation or consent of others. It differs from anarchism, which strives to dismantle the state. Panarchism pays no mind to how others organize themselves, so long as they refrain from imposing their constraints upon me (except when needing to protect themselves from me).

  88. Tony Pivetta
    Tony Pivetta December 23, 2010 12:16 pm

    More freedom means more order. Freedom fosters social peace and harmony, whereas statism does the opposite.

    Freedom is the mother of order, not its daughter. This is the One Great Thing. Most people have it backwards: they think freedom is something we trade off, collectively, for order. Nothing could be further from the truth. They should familiarize themselves with Mayor Richard J. Daley famous Freudian slip: “The police are not here to create disorder; they are here to preserve it.”

    The State makes a desert and calls it peace. It centralizes chaos and calls it order. It inflicts collateral damage and calls it nation building.

  89. Nick
    Nick December 23, 2010 12:33 pm

    I want to be free for the same reason a horse doesn’t want a bit in his mouth or a saddle on his back. It’s in my nature to want to be free. I think it’s the nature of all animals only some forget it or have it drummed out of them. I can never be completely happy unless my nature is satisfied.

  90. charlieb
    charlieb December 23, 2010 12:40 pm

    Ignorance is bliss…

  91. LibertyOrDeathtoTyrants!
    LibertyOrDeathtoTyrants! December 23, 2010 12:50 pm

    It is not a choice of being “relatively” free, as that is just a transitioning period between either complete freedom or complete tyranny, usually the latter. If you depend on government to give you your liberty, then you can always depend on the government taking your liberty from you as it suits them.

  92. Henry Bowman
    Henry Bowman December 23, 2010 1:02 pm

    A free man has no owner. God only made free men. Governments make/need slaves. Most people have become too lazy and stupid to care, and our government too corrupt.

  93. Shalinda Boneena
    Shalinda Boneena December 23, 2010 1:15 pm

    I think Joachim and Hugh Mannity (awesome!) summed it up best: freedom to be left alone and freedom to say, “No.” Nothing could be more basic.

    PARADOX December 23, 2010 3:20 pm

    The Zen master will tell you: You ARE free, you just don’t know it. I believe that when most people talk of freedom they mean they want others to not be free to oppress them. But if you want freedom it must be for all and would have to include the freedom for others to do things you don’t want them to do, such as tax you etc. Which is exactly what happens.
    You are in fact free to do anything you want. However others may not like what you do so you must be prepared to accept the consequences of exercising your freedom.

  95. Marianne
    Marianne December 23, 2010 3:41 pm

    Freedom is a great gamble. In a semi-free society, you can take a little risk — you’ll always get bailed out — play by their rules, and do okay. But with true freedom, one could fail entirely. And the sky’s the limit as to reward. You own your success. You had no help. And there’s not a better feeling. Even failing feels better with freedom, because the risk you took was your own.

  96. Doug Holdridge
    Doug Holdridge December 23, 2010 4:07 pm

    The dominant reason to be free seems to be choice. The Chinese have choices but do they have freedom? The Russians have choices but do they have freedom? In order to have choice and freedom you need a free market. It is the foundation of liberty.

  97. Todd Owens
    Todd Owens December 23, 2010 4:45 pm

    The “one great thing of being free” is that individuals can optimize their own experience, and that is the most moral and just way to live.

  98. Lysander
    Lysander December 23, 2010 5:25 pm

    It is better to be truly free because it is in our nature to be so. It is how we evolved and it is how we have survived. More than that, it is requisite for our greatest accomplishments. Without freedom, food tastes bland, air smells stale, and life has far less meaning and purpose.

  99. Kyle Davidson
    Kyle Davidson December 23, 2010 5:48 pm

    I am who I am because I am. I exist, and I don’t wish to forfeit that pleasure, or any subset or tiny little piece of it, to anybody for anything.

  100. Kyle Davidson
    Kyle Davidson December 23, 2010 5:51 pm

    @ PARADOX:

    what about my freedom to NOT be taxed? does the taxer’s wish automatically overwhelm my wish to live tax free? I think you would do well to read up on Zero Aggression Principle and what freedom really means to most.

  101. Tony
    Tony December 23, 2010 6:05 pm

    Many of these answers are well touight out and informative; but there is a fundamenal idea which is expressed a lot and is only one side of the coin. As such, it is impossible in practice.
    Lot’s of people see freedom as being free of all coersion. Hey that’s great so far; but remember that nobody will listen to you either. This results in a mob society of “all against all” which happens to be communism in case anyone bothers to wonder why it is such a powerful and apparantly unstoppable force in our own country.

  102. Kevin
    Kevin December 23, 2010 6:10 pm

    It’s easy! The liberty to own your property . . . and that doesn’t mean paying taxes to be a resident!

  103. Kevin
    Kevin December 23, 2010 6:13 pm

    If we don’t have private property than we’re just paying to lease it from the government as we are doing now with our land, and the vehicles we drive.

    It’s funny how we pay taxes, and they create the laws to control us and/or keep us rebels down? Thank you 14th article! It’s true! Read and study the 14th article!

    We vote the insurgents in so they can call us enemies of the state!

  104. Gordo
    Gordo December 23, 2010 7:20 pm

    Why the hell would anybody want to be free?

    Because anything you believe you can do, you can do.

    A free day is a day of challenges not problems, goals in place of burdens, and hope rather than discontent.

    A free day is a day with a dream to live, a star to reach for, a reason for living, and a purpose for being.

    For it is never enough to simply be. To be human is to want to be SOMETHING.

    A day in Liberty is a day full of living. A day in bondage is a precious day lost to purpose, a day spent dying.

    What more difference could there possibly be?

    Now you need only realize that joyous Liberty need not be taken.

    Liberty is already yours.

    Liberty need not be seized.

    It has never left you.

    It is your birthright, a gift from your creator, and an indivisible part of your being.

    Freedom is yours so long as you will have it, be it a lifetime, a generation, a year, or only a moment. The truest of friends, freedom will never leave you while you remain open to it, and will cling to your every action long after it is forsaken.

    And so long as you know this, you will understand that it is impossible to sacrifice for Liberty. The barest moment of freedom is a full life, and the barest surrender to bondage is a lingering death.

    Can a person be said to ‘sacrifice’ bondage to Liberty? I say that is no sacrifice.

    You need only to live free.

    In the end, the children of bondage will do as they will. So long as they do, they deny their own philosophy and affirm yours.

    Only the free have a will to express, after all.


  105. David
    David December 23, 2010 7:24 pm

    The greatest thing about freedom is it makes it possible for individuals to manifest their true spiritual potential on the earth if they choose and to discover who and what they truly are. Without freedom, we are reduced organic automatons or human bugs.

  106. goldhorder
    goldhorder December 23, 2010 9:18 pm

    So a child can understand it? Sure…you want to live free so you don’t have to go to a government indoctrication camp for the best years of your youth. You have a chance at doing something meaningful with your life rather than becoming a convict, a government parasite, or a fleeced sheep.

  107. Gerald Lane
    Gerald Lane December 23, 2010 10:25 pm

    For myself the “one great thing” is to be the captain of my own life,to experiance the joy of a good decision and a job well done and to learn from my mistakes ,painful as they may be. If an individual cannot or will not do this then he or she will never become an adult.

  108. BlackDak22
    BlackDak22 December 24, 2010 1:10 am

    Your positioning of the question betrays a lack of understanding of how truly enslaved you are today in “partially free” western society. Freedom is not simply a social measurement but is also an economic one. One cannot be free when one has no time to enjoy things they want to do because they can’t afford it. In the US the government takes 40% of your annual output in taxes and fees and then devalues the remainder by uncontrolled printing of money.

    The result is that you as a middle class worker in America are doomed to a life of continual hard work and scramble over some span of 50 years of 40+ hour weeks to achieve… nothing.

    A truly free American who was taxed at the 2% rate the colonists were at the time of their revolt in 1776 , who was paid in a wage backed by gold that could not be devalued, who was not subjected to a government backed banking/financial scam system, who was not sabotaged by a government colluding with industry to import labor to drive down wages, who was not discriminated against in entry and promotion in education and work WOULD BE WEALTHY.

    And not in any abstract or spiritual term, but in ACTUAL RAW MONEY. The productivity of the American worker is unmatched. A welder, for instance, who was free would be able to buy a big house in any neighborhood, would be able to buy a Mercedes and a Cadillac in cash, would be able to send his kids to the best universities, would be able to take a fine vacation to any spot on the planet annually, would be able to to retire in full comfort at age 50, and would still have great wealth to hand down to his heirs.

    That is the true meaning of freedom. It is why manywho cannot understand the liberation from continual endless labor is a part and parcel of freedom do not know what the big deal is about.

  109. ken
    ken December 24, 2010 6:52 am

    The one thing that helps me keep going. Easy, my kids and there kids. I see hope with the 15 – 20 year olds. Its like they get it. I think watching what has happened to there parents and grandparents. Over the last 3 or 4 years. has given them a new look, on how governments work in general. Like printing money out of thin air and selling the debt to other countries. They understand, inflation is a tax.
    This generation coming up. If we really want change. it has to start with them. To many people ages 25 – 70. Believe honestly, that our government can do no wrong and we should bomb anyone at anytime. for whatever reason we choose. Young people get it. that makes me happy. I talk and trade experiences and have dialogue. Every chance I get and Im encouraged each time. Its like once you explain it to them. They go and research it. The world is at there fingertips. So merry christmas, and God bless America.

  110. A Liberal in Lakeview
    A Liberal in Lakeview December 24, 2010 7:02 am

    @Tony (6:05p, Dec. 23),

    You beg questions. For example, why do you think “that nobody will listen to you”? Don’t you you really mean, “no one will listen to Tony”?

    Further, what logical argument gets you to, “this results in a mob society of ‘all against all’? Your cynicism and inability to persuade others won’t count a jot in favor of your hasty judgement.

    And how did you get to “which happens to be communism”? If everone is fighting everyone else, with the result that communists are unable to compel submission and to maintain it on the scale you have in mind, then you don’t have communism. In fact, you might not even have it on small scales, either. Rememer, in your world it’s “all against all”, no one excluded.

    Tony, you suffer from mental disorders common among conservatives, who can be right wing OR left wing, as we were reminded recently by those children who threw temper tantrums in the streets of England about plans to reduce subsidies to students, to make students pull more of their weight.

    Among your errors is your supposition that freedom from coercion means the freedom to coerce anyone you should care to coerce. In your pitiably small world there are only two options in life: to coerce or to be coerced.

    Never you mind communism. It’s not the worst problem that you face. Instead, you should strive for freedom from delusion and from the blackness of your heart.

    Make your favorite One Great Thing about freedom the freedom to purify your thinking.

  111. doug nusbaum
    doug nusbaum December 24, 2010 6:39 pm

    I am trying to see myself and the world according to the following quote from Feynman (look it up for an interesting story) Nature can not be fooled. To which I add, for any length of time.

    The question being asked is the wrong one. People do not want freedom. They want happiness and security and a sense of belonging. Freedom is absolutely not their number one choice, except for a very few. And even with freedom, there is always that dynamic tension between the group and individual. Each needs the other and neither can exist without the other. You want the ultimate in individual freedom and capitalism on a cellular level think HeLa (look it up) Very successful on an “individual” or cellular level. Unfortunately, the community (the body) died.

    If you wish to read more on this topic from me do a search on Orwells boot
    Depending on your search engine and the apostrophe in orwells I will be between 1 and 4. Look for dnusbaum or factotum666

  112. TheManintheGlass
    TheManintheGlass December 24, 2010 7:16 pm

    The one thing for me is to earn, live, and be judged as I deserve…not as my father deserved and not by the permission or at the pleasure of some elite, ruling class.

  113. Mike S
    Mike S December 24, 2010 8:31 pm

    “You practically admit it’s all about greed when you go on about ‘property’.”

    The enemy of freedom above who said that manifests his ENVY and his unquenchable desire for the goods of others by claiming that the production and exchange of free people who respect each other’s rights is “greed”. How perverse!

    Then he gives this absurd bit of statist propaganda which is supposed to make us subservient to the whims of whoever and whatever has power:

    “Without the government to enforce property laws, your property would be taken by gangs of well-armed raiders who would besiege your homes…”

    Several problems with this.

    First, the government IS a gang of well-armed raiders who besiege us and take whatever they want! They do *not* protect individual property rights, but only what is expedient at the moment to keep up appearances and visible (not real) “order.” Even the “supreme court” has said that police have no obligation to come to your aid.

    At whatever level of government, it is a monopolistic power which decides how or whether any “protection” is offered, and at what price. The price always goes up and the service always goes down. And we are forbidden to shop around for a better service. In fact, if we decide that the “service” is not worth it and refuse to pay, the so-called “protectors” will come and take what is supposedly our property and/or lock us in a cage! The “crime” on our part is refusing to pay for a “service” provided at the barrel of a gun. Since this is what crime IS in the first place, everything the state says is a lie and a misdirection from the get-go. It can’t even withstand the most basic analysis of its actions.

    It’s time we grow up and call things what they really are.

    We don’t need armed gangs of lying robbers to give us freedom or protect our property. We are free by nature, and we can hire people on a voluntary basis to defend our property. We can make pacts and agreements with networks of neighbors, and society at large. The state did not invent the idea of property or the idea of crime. Criminals willing to engage in risky violent behavior against their fellow men have always been a small minority, and they have always been hated and hunted and punished when found guilty.

    But such people could never have created the kind of control grid over masses of people for the purpose of looting and war-making that modern states have. It is precisely in claiming to have legitimacy that the really intelligent and crafty criminals can rise to positions of power within the rights-destroying violence-based organization known as the state.

    At some point in history, the smart thugs outsmarted the stupid ones and sold a bill of goods to the vast majority of normal hard-working decent people who make up the productive society (or rather, it was forced down their throats whether they liked it or not). They claimed that it was necessary for them to rule us lest the roving gangs come and burn down our houses, like that freedom hater said above in his comment.

    Or, more realistically, the state simply grew out of a combination of this kind of propaganda plus actual conquest. The conquerors eventually decided to become more businesslike and exact tribute from the conquered rather than destroy everything. Over time, the story they told was that they were the indispensable protectors and the guarantors of societal order – always without voluntary consent, of course.

    The state is just a particular institution of men. It is not God. It is not even composed of superior men. It is simply a gang of men who use violence and the threat of violence to get what they want.
    The lines that these gangs draw on maps is changing perpetually. The lines are drawn through bloody violence or the threat of such alone. There is no reason or argument or voluntary arrangement when it comes to the state. They pretend to offer services in order to justify their crimes. But good men do not provide services to others at the point of a gun. This very act is a renunciation of ethics and peaceful cooperation. It is a rejection of individual rights since the prospective “citizen” is clearly not a criminal if they refuse the “protection” of an organized group of criminals. If that were true, then anyone who stood up to the classic mob protection racket would be a criminal. The state is nothing but such a mob, a protection racket, a criminal gang “writ large,” as Murray Rothbard said.

    People who argue that protection of property rights can only be achieved through the violent seizure of property by a territorial monopolist of force are engaged in some incredibly fallacious reasoning.

    Read people like Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard, and Hans-Herman Hoppe, and learn to question the totally fallacious and self-serving propaganda we have all been indoctrinated with.

    Which one of us does not understand that the primary threat to everything we hold dear is the crushing hand of the modern centralized state and not the petty criminals and cave-dwelling men in turbans we are taught to give up all our liberties in order to supposedly be protected from?

    Time to grow up and move forward into a new century as adults with our eyes fully open. Perhaps the most cogent reason why most people don’t seem to want freedom is because they don’t yet know what it is. They are simply told they are free by their keepers, and so are slaves of the first order. Their property is something secondary and ephemeral to them because they are slaves in their minds and cannot distinguish between protection and stealing in the first place. All they know is that they have something left over, and consider this to be the blessing of liberty that they sing songs about at baseball games and on the 4th of July.

    All things great and small begin with a thought. We have no choice but to try to educate people as to the reality of their condition.

  114. Knewsom
    Knewsom December 24, 2010 10:59 pm

    That is an awesome question!

    For me, it’s this:


    Your only real obligation is between yourself and God (whatever your perception of that is). Then your family, then your community, then your state, then the world, then the universe which brings you back to God and you. 
    There is no circle in statism-no continuity just an artificial zigzag. 

  115. PARADOX
    PARADOX December 25, 2010 11:07 am

    @ Kyle Davidson

    Of course the taxer’s wish doesn’t “automatically” overwhelm your wish to live tax free. He just doesn’t agree with your wishes and will enforce his wish, by force if necessary. Your quoting of Zero Aggression Principle or anything else will not deter him. Do not confuse the way the world is with the way you think it ought to be.

  116. Jackie
    Jackie December 25, 2010 1:39 pm

    True Freedom to me is living according to the CHOICE that only God gave to all of us – to CHOOSE WHOM WE WOULD SERVE. I chose The Lord God and that makes me FREE – free of all that Satan tries to chain me with.
    Jackie Juntti

  117. Kyle Davidson
    Kyle Davidson December 25, 2010 8:09 pm


    granted. Force is the way of the world. A free man would also be free to defend himself, however slim the possibility of victory. Anybody who refuses to pay taxes today faces a similar fate, I suppose. The difference is this tax man has such a large base to draw resources from he is the definition of juggernaut. A local tyrant’s resources would be much, much smaller, and he wouldn’t be near the threat.

  118. PARADOX
    PARADOX December 26, 2010 9:30 am

    @ Kyle Davidson


  119. Pamela T Jensen
    Pamela T Jensen December 26, 2010 11:04 am

    What a wonderful stimulating discourse. I would like to offer this gem.
    From Virgil’s (Aeneid) book VI

  120. Michael
    Michael December 26, 2010 1:21 pm

    Without it, I cannot exist as an individual person, because I am not permitted to be myself through making my own choices. Freedom is not a component of individual humanity, it is individual humanity.

  121. Why the hell would anyone want to be free? | The Big Pitcher
    Why the hell would anyone want to be free? | The Big Pitcher January 6, 2011 12:11 am

    […] · by josh · Filed under Social Awakening & Sovereignty Share[ Originally posted by Claire Wolfe ] Why the hell would anyone want to be […]

  122. Clik
    Clik January 16, 2011 7:13 am

    There’s a great feeling of power and pride to know that as lowly peasant freedom fighters we make those who imprison us prisoners themselves. The tyrannical king must keep a taster at his side because he fears every bite of life. He becomes a prisoner in his castle. He lives in constant fear of the dagger in his back. The only time he can be away from his body guards is when he leaves his cushy throne to sit alone on a porcelain throne with the stink of his own.

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