Over the past several months [in 2009], I’ve watched conservatives awaken, rally to action, and coalesce into groups, only to see them fragment and fight over issues that dissolved their bond.
I’ve searched for insight that would facilitate group aggregation and prevent the cycle of formation / fragmentation. ‘Strength of numbers’ and ‘unity of message’ are necessary to defeat the agenda of the progressives.
What makes us more alike than different? We could define ourselves by what we are not, like the progressives in 2006 and 2008. Their “change” did not tell us what they stood for, however, and we’re pretty certain we don’t like the changes we’ve received post election.
What are the essential threads of philosophy that bind us in common cause? What do we believe and how do we make our belief explicit? Can we state our beliefs so clearly and concisely that they function as a beacon to attract and retain conservative patriots in our cause?
After discussion within our local group, I decided to articulate my personal beliefs, to identify the threads of philosophy that brought me to the group, and hopefully will sustain our bond despite our many differences.
I am alive… human… an individual… and hold beliefs. I presume you are the same. Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully. As you read this, I infer some bond connects us across our disparate life experiences. Only if our group shares an explicit set of beliefs can we act purposefully in a coordinated fashion.
I began with a blank paper titled “I believe…” (I have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of…) and spent several hours crafting a few declarations:
1. An individual is the fundamental unit of human value, an individual owns himself without precondition, and social structure must respect the sovereignty of each individual.
2. The moral basis necessary for sovereign individuals to prosper together, in social structures, in peace, is completely defined by the “ideal laws for a civil society”:
- Do not encroach upon others or their property
- Do all that you agreed to do.
3. Negative rights (rules against coercion) are consistent with 1 and 2, and form the appropriate basis for establishment of relationships among sovereign individuals.
4. Natural rights derive from 1, 2 and 3. Natural rights exist prior to any establishment of law or government and describe an individual’s liberty, or freedoms, to:
- Own, develop and dispose of property (products of labor)
- Bear arms for defense of self, family and property
- Establish associations, contracts and self-government
- Assemble, speak and petition to redress encroachments or breaches.
5. Capitalism is the only economic system compatible with liberty. Any attempt to incorporate altruism or collectivism is a violation of 1, 2, 3, and 4.
6. Liberty can remain secure only if government is so limited that it cannot infringe upon the natural rights of sovereign individuals or intrude into free exchange in capital markets.
7. These United States should be restored from the encroachment of National government to a limited government as defined in the US Constitution and its first Ten Amendments.
8. Once restoration has been achieved, the US Constitution should be reviewed and edited, to eliminate ambiguities of language and make structural corrections to prevent the re-growth of National government. Attention is required in, but not limited to, the following:
- Explicit definitions for “common good” and “commerce” clause
- Limits on the scope and authority of the Supreme Court
- Establishment of term limits; prohibition of political parties.
I reflected on the consequences of these statements. What I found was very encouraging.
Traditional conservative principles clearly derive from beliefs 1 through 6.
- Dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored…
- Equal rights, justice and opportunity, but with no guarantee of equal outcomes…
- Individuals must be allowed to keep the money they earn…
- The best government is that which governs least…
- The most effective and efficient government is local government… etc.
Beliefs 7 and 8 describe tactics to recover Liberty but are insufficient to sustain and protect Liberty. A program of education on beliefs 1 through 6 will be necessary to explain why we seek to accomplish 7 and 8. We need a concise set of talking-points to:
- Speak about the role of the individual as the fundamental unit of human value; oppose all dogma about the supremacy of society or state.
- Educate individuals about the moral basis for human interaction, and the role of negative rights in formation of productive human relationships.
- Explain how capitalism is the only politico-economic system that is compatible with natural rights and individual liberty.
- Describe the Founders vision to maximize individual Liberty through local governance with limited Federal oversight.
Nothing in my beliefs and conclusions is an original thought. I invested the intellectual labor needed to articulate these ideas as MY beliefs. The investment of my labor gives me ownership of these beliefs. They are now my property.
I claim this “property right” as a consequence of belief 4, connected intimately to “rights” described in our Declaration of Independence. The second sentence of our Declaration reads:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
In his recent address to Continental Congress 2009, Michael Badnarik explained the etymology of the adjective “unalienable” which he carefully pronounced “un-a-lien-able”. His pronunciation startled me as I had been taught the word as un-alien-able and it always seemed an odd term.
Mr. Badnarik explained the root of the adjective was not “alien” (differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility) but rather was “lien” from the legal and financial lexicon:
- Lien – a claim to property for the satisfaction of a debt; a right given to another by the owner of property to secure a debt, or one created by law in favor of certain creditors
- Alienable – the character of property that makes it capable of sale or transfer; capable of being taken away
- Unalienable – incapable of sale or transfer; a right which cannot be given to another
My beliefs confirm certain “rights” exist simply because we are human. Mr. Badnarik explains these rights are “un-a-lien-able” and cannot be transferred or taken away without making us less than human. Our belief structure determines whether we are sovereign or serf.
One bond which holds us together must be our belief in the sovereignty of an individual. Another must be our recognition that rights of individuals exist prior to establishment of law and government.
What other beliefs do we share?
Who are we? What holds us together?