What Is Independence?
  • Ama-gi: Sumerian symbol which many believe to be the first written expression of liberty.

    Independence is individual autonomy. It’s the freedom to govern yourself and to rely upon your own independent judgment.

    Independence is individual freedom.

    What is individual freedom?

    Freedom in its fundamental form has one and only one meaning: it is the omission of state force.

    Freedom is the absence state force and government compulsion.

    Freedom means that you are left alone.

    The thing that distinguishes the free person from the unfree person is voluntary, consensual action versus action that is coerced, compelled, or physically forced.

    Freedom is one of those things that virtually everyone believes in — that is, until everyone finds out what freedom actually means. At which point, almost no one believes in it.

    The difficult thing for so many people to accept about freedom is that it doesn’t actually guarantee much of anything. It doesn’t guarantee success or happiness, or shelter, or food, or healthcare, or education, or a universal basic income, or a level playing field, or a level training field, or anything else that must ultimately derive from the production or labor of others.

    Nature guarantees no creature automatic survival or prosperity — the human creature included.

    That which is required for life and prosperity comes about through work and the process of voluntary exchange.

    There is no type of freedom other than the type that voluntary exchange brings about.

    Freedom simply means that you are free to pursue all those things and that if you achieve them, including any and all wealth you may earn from the division of labor and the process of voluntary, consensual exchange, are yours unalienably — which means: these things cannot be taken, transferred, revoked, or made alien.

    “The legitimate functions of government extend only to such acts as are injurious to others,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, circa 1785, in his slender book Notes on the State of Virginia, and here Thomas Jefferson is speaking of — and against — the instigation of force.

    Around the same time Thomas Jefferson was writing those words, another erudite fellow, a German named Wilhelm von Humboldt, independently came to the same conclusion:

    “Any state interference into private affairs, where there is no reference to violence done to individual rights, should be absolutely condemned” (Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, 1791).

    That — the absence of violence, the omission of force — is finally what Independence Day is all about.

    Happy 4th of July!

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

6 Responses and Counting...

  • john 07.04.2012

    very interesting take Ray – i am inclined to agree with you. nearing the end of the novel, by the way. quite a thrill ride!

  • Hi John. It’s very good to see you. Thank you. Hope you enjoy the ending of my book.

    Thank you for reading, and thank you for dropping by.

    See you at Ace Gillett’s.

  • I didn’t know the Sumerians played golf.

  • Ha-ha!

    I thought something along those lines too, though nothing quite so specific.

  • My comment is inspired by what was written on the site for Independence Day.

    All too often seminal themes or ideas are taken on general scales or generalized within the relationship between the individual and the mass, including in this case, the generalization that “governs” the individual.

    Government ie, the control of the mind.

    In my point of view the issue is one of control which is not necessarily synonymous with force. For control and manipulation can be exquisitely subtle and much more effective then the boot stamping in the face of humanity.

    “People get the government they deserve” Or, in my estimation, people get the government that represents who they are and what they call for subconsciously. “A man will do anything, no matter how absurd to avoid facing his own soul.” Man fears freedom, that is the problem, not that freedom is trampled upon by government’s or some kind of outer force. Man refuses freedom, gives it away at each instant, it is anathema to him. Man is a slave. And not just to any government or outer power. He is a slave to most things that make up his existence. Man is in perpetual “escape from freedom. He simply refuses to take responsibility for himself and to Self govern himself. Man’s greatest fear is knowing and being himself, he seeks the comfort of trance, of rule by others, he does not want to think for himself, it is too difficult, requires too much effort and being himself leaves him vulnerable, outside of the pack.

    Freedom in my opinion is not the omission of force or the absence of compulsion, that is looking in the wrong direction, outside of oneself. Freedom is something akin to being a step back, above and inside, witnessing the movements both within oneself and without, what can be called nature and not being moved by either; but rather, being moved only by that essential element that resides within, one’s true individuality.

    What is it that can not be taken? What is it that freedom does guarantee?

    Who you authentically are, knowledge of the Truth and the actions demanded by it and their consequences. Dignity, Self Respect, Autonomy, Independence, Authenticity, Integrity, these “things” can never be taken, they are Self determined, and YES they do bring the highest happiness because they are Truth and Truth is synonymous with power and bliss, it needs nothing outside of itself to experience these things, they are the rasa, the sap of existance and even the faintest whiff of them is true intoxication.

    May we all, individually, have the courage to be Free.

  • Hello Eeshan. Thank you for the thoughtful comment. I agree with you that there are two manifestations of freedom: one is political (the subject of my first book, incidentally), and the other, which is what I think you’re discussing above and which is the subject of my other book, is psychological. Both of course are important. I focused on the political here because of the holiday we we’re celebrating when I wrote it.

    Thank you for dropping by.

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