Monday, July 4, 2016

A libertarian look at the fourth of July

What to a Libertarian is the Fourth of July? | Bleeding Heart Libertarians - Matt Zwolinski:

July 4,204 - "Most libertarians have a special place in their heart for the Declaration of Independence. With its ringing endorsement of natural, inalienable rights, its insistence of the right of the people to 'alter or abolish' those governments that trample upon those rights, and the stirring commitment of its signatories to pledge their 'Lives…Fortunes…and Sacred Honor' to defending those rights, the Declaration still stands as a masterfully inspirational document to lovers of liberty all around the world....

"Thomas Jefferson produced in the Declaration a brilliant synthesis, summation, and application of 17th and 18th century natural law theory to the particular situation of the United States, drawing not merely (if most obviously) on the work of John Locke, but also on a variety of lesser-known figures such as Frances Hutcheson, Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, and Algernon Sydney....

"The Declaration, to us, represents a statement of hope and promise. But it is a promise, we recognize, that has gone largely unfulfilled. Our rights to 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness' have not been well-secured by the institutions our founders created. And we, like they, have suffered 'a long train of abuses and usurpations' against our liberty: an expensive, destructive, and ineffective war on drugs; a surveillance state that operates without any hint of respect for privacy, due process, or the rule of law; and a government that continually privileges the interests of large corporations over the rights of ordinary citizens....

"The Declaration of Independence is a promise of liberty. But libertarians recognize better than most that it is a frustrated promise.... It was frustrated, of course, right from the start. At the same time that Jefferson was declaring all men to have been endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, almost 20% of the American population was suffering the most egregious violation of those rights imaginable under the institution of slavery...

"There have been numerous commentaries on the contradictions between the Declaration’s ideals of equal liberty and the monstrosity of American slavery. But none, I think, are so eloquent, or so appropriate to the day, as the words Frederick Douglass delivered on July 4th, 1852, in a speech that has come to be known as 'What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?.... in one of the speech’s most memorable passages, Douglass makes the following impassioned plea:
Fellow-citizens! I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a by word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!
Slavery, as Douglass experienced it, is gone. But the promise of the Declaration remains unfulfilled. Our government daily tramples upon our liberty and the liberty of those abroad. The reptile is still coiled. Let us lend our weight to Douglass’ effort and continue to work until it is destroyed forever."

Read more: http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2014/07/what-to-a-libertarian-is-the-fourth-of-july/
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