What is freedom? How do we protect it? As a libertarian, anarchist, agorist, minarchist, collapsatarian, or whatever liberty-minded label your strut from this radical spectrum, it’s easy to get bogged down by the difference between human rights (civil rights/personal freedom), and property rights (economic freedom). I believe that anyone who is passionate about liberty and educating it to the masses should be comfortable articulating this. The truth is, you can’t have one freedom without the other. It’s a part of our creed of self-ownership, and property rights.
It is undeniable that the basis of the libertarian creed stems from the Non-Aggression Principle and property rights. To exert aggression on someone is a violation of their right of property: be it their car, laptop, or punching them square in the nose. In layman’s terms, “don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff.” The NAP implies the universal understanding and self evident recognition of inalienable rights; personal and economic liberty. How so? Let’s break this down real quick:
“Don’t hurt people”, naturally implies that inflicting harm on an individual is violating them on a personal level; their personal liberty. If I were to break your leg, I have therefore neglected the legitimacy of your civil/personal freedom through the use of coercive force.
“Don’t take their stuff”, naturally implies theft, which is infringing on one’s property rights. We all know that taxation is theft, but let’s remember that theft is still theft. Your property is yours alone. For me to steal your car, is straight up theft. I have therefore neglected the legitimacy of your economic freedom through the use of coercive force.
As libertarians, we should all understand that the number one threat and enemy of liberty is the state. Any act of force imposed by the state on an individual is ultimately a property rights violation. It may start as a hit against civil liberty, but state coercion is always an infringement on property rights, or invasion. Your body, your property. This implies that the state neglects your self-ownership, and therefore, the state owns you. You’re nothing but a slave to the state.
Therefore, to infringe on my personal liberty, or decision rather, to consume cocaine, is also violating the property that is my body. It’s my body. I should be able to consume whatever substance I want, be it beneficial or harmful, so long as I’m not infringing on anyone else’s property rights. Plus, making it illegal to buy cocaine then infringes on my economic freedom of purchasing power and automatically makes me a criminal.
Libertarians believe crime is defined as violent invasion on someone’s person or property. All liberties are vulnerable to state violence, and therefore subject of an attack on one’s person/property. Therefore, if my personal and property rights are vulnerable to danger by the state, my liberty is under attack. Thus, the difference between personal and economic liberty is irrelevant.
Any decision made by an individual, be it personal or economical, is done so under the assumption, and legitimacy of self ownership of the decider. Ergo, all aggression and coercion against the individual’s decision is an attack on one’s property. Self-ownership is having full responsibility of all actions performed by an individual.
Using force to prevent you from making a personal decision is to dismiss one’s free will. Coercion deprives people the freedom to choose the “correct” option, which the state thinks is for “their own good”. Therefore people are forced to doing something, whether they like it or not.
To quote the great Murray N. Rothbard in For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto,
“Coercion deprives man the freedom to choose, and therefore, is deprived to choose morally.”
Despite all attempts, the state cannot foresee, nor dictate an economy. That would be neglecting the personal liberties and subjective value of individuals (which are supposedly protected by a piece of paper…at least in America). Peace and prosperity is achieved by the private sector. Not the public sector.
The public sector, or the state, only survives by stealing from the productive private sector. The state is a parasite, and we are its host. Only voluntary interaction based on individual self-interest and subjective value, will provide a fruitful and self-sufficient society to supply all needed demands. Not government.
The inseparability of Personal and Economic Liberty is how a peaceful society works. Respecting the personal liberty of one another allows us to create the resources needed to survive, and then some; capital gains, and enjoying the fruits of our labor. Economic freedom allows for the personal liberty to choose what goods and services provide the most value to one’s subjective needs and standards. That demand of quality forces businesses to innovate and increase the standards of their operation. This is only achieved through true, free-market economics, and leads to a higher quality of life for everyone.
Economic liberty allows for free-market economics to be the natural law and order of man. It’s moral, and the natural law of man’s needs. Any intervention into this natural order is a violation and coercive aggressive violence of one’s self ownership and absolute right to be a human. Supply and demand. The only way this is achieved is by our obligation to not aggress against anyone. This should be self-evident. This beautiful equilibrium of Leonard Reed’s “Invisible Hand” in I, Pencil, or simply the free market being left untouched by state intervention, is what makes self-governance a reality. Without both personal, and economic liberty, this paradise is merely a dream.
As Libertarians, if we’re to follow the Non-Aggression Principle, both personal and economic liberty must be recognized. Liberty is preserved by accepting the legitimacy of these natural rights that we claim to be self-evident. Otherwise, we can’t claim to be the “most consistent” out of the political vending machine. A violation of any one of your liberties is a violation on all of them. Period. Nothing Personal…except your freedom, of course.