State of Civilization
Science and Technology
Civilization in Space
Civilization and Cosmos
Equal Freedom book
Copyright © 2011 by Jerome L. Wright. All rights reserved.
The Principle of Equal Freedom
and Noncoercive Government
Jerome L. Wright
A Principled Basis
for Free Societies
The Concept of Equal Freedom
The Possibility of Freedom - The First Principle as a Foundation - Definitions of Terms - Background - Personal Freedom Shapes Society - The Principle as a Foundation for Social Theory - Equal Freedom is Not Restricted Freedom - Justification of the Principle - Natural Law - The State - The Nature of Man - Ends and Means - Live and Let Live, or Failure of the Golden Rule - Coercion and Fraud - The Basics of Properties - The Condition of Liberty - The Condition of Freedom - Theory of Freedom - A Principle of Social Freedom - A Statement of Freedom - Equality.
A stable and just society requires precepts and standards that its members accept, which become
the framework within which those members can live their lives in an honest and productive
manner. A fundamental principle was enunciated centuries ago by thoughtful men who were
concerned with the dignity and worth of the individual — a principle that can provide those very
precepts and standards. It is the Principle of Equal Freedom.
This book was written to help carry that principle forward, to expand upon the implications of
the principle, and hopefully to convince others to adopt the principle as the foundation of their
A free society needs a foundation on which to evaluate actions and expectations. A strong,
comprehensive principle makes the best foundation, a foundation that remains constant across the
years. With such a foundation, people can go about their lives knowing what is expected of them
and what they can reasonably expect of others. Where the foundation is a principle, a society and
its people have the greatest freedom and flexibility in adapting to the inevitable changes that life
In contrast, a coercive society is controlled by a massive set of arbitrary laws, most of which
are in place to favor certain factions in the society. These laws strongly constrain the lives of
people and rigidify the society, reducing their ability to adapt to changing conditions. The
arbitrary laws and social rigidity assure that freedom, justice, and peace are generally unobtainable
within the society.
Freedom requires no justification; no appeals to nature, deity, or other sources are needed.
People can have freedom whenever they establish it for themselves and defend it. In the world as
it is today, the moment that defense stops, freedom is lost. Once lost, it is very difficult to regain.
Societies can exist and function well without institutional coercion and fraud. They can
provide freedom for their people and well-being beyond any that can be achieved when liberty is
compromised. Free societies do not provide all of the features of contemporary life: they lack
empires and offensive wars, for example. Their people would have to learn how to get along
without those features of primitive civilization.
No society and no government now on Earth have a clear principle underlying their
functioning to fully protect the individual. Very few individuals have a clear principle to guide
their actions and define their ethics. Most of what guides individuals is what their parents,
teachers, and religious leaders told them when they were children, modified a bit by experience.
The premise of this book is that things sociological work better and provide more justice when a
clear, moral principle is in place.
The history of sociological work on the best form of society is filled with assumptions that
have not always stood up under close scrutiny. Those assumptions have included premises such
as: society should be the way that God decreed, society should provide the greatest good for the
greatest number, society should be directed by God's chosen ruler, society should be structured to
follow the will of the majority, and society should be based on individual freedom.
This work is concerned with the latter premise, that individual freedom should prevail. This is
in stark contrast with contemporary society where the State prevails while granting a few
protections to its subjects.
1. The Possibility of Freedom
Freedom is about liberty and property, but, moreover, it is the elimination of coercion and fraud
as social institutions. A free society cannot have coercion and fraud as social institutions.
Over three hundred years ago, John Locke wrote on equal freedom, property, and upholding
"Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled
enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man,
or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property,
that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to
judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others ..."
Locke also wrote that [political] government would be unnecessary except for the defense of
people and their properties. Gustave de Molinari showed in 1847 how private companies could
provide that protection of lives and properties.
Our knowledge of how free societies could be established and maintained has advanced
substantially since then. In particular, we know how free societies can be protected from assaults
ranging from street muggers to attacks by coercive government. Since these functions can be
provided by private companies, along with all other necessary services provided by the State,
there is no reason to have to endure the theft and control that come from the State. The State can
be shut down and freedom can take its rightful place in human society.
Civilized society can exist without institutional coercion and fraud, and without the
institutions that employ them.
2. The First Principle as a Foundation
The concept of a society under the Principle of Equal Freedom matured with the work of Herbert
Spencer in the mid-19th Century. He saw the principle as operating on a higher level of
organization than just that of individuals. As far as I have been able to determine, he was the first
to explicitly call the statement a principle and identify it as a foundation for a just society. More
than just individuals respecting each other's freedoms, he saw that society itself could, and should,
be characterized by the universal application of the principle throughout the society and extended
to the institutions that define a civilized society. He left no room for coercion in society, neither
by individuals nor organizations. In 1851, he presented as the First Principle:
"Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom
of any other man."
For the just regulation of a society, no additional restrictions or qualifications are necessary.
This is Spencer's position, and that taken in this work as well. All of the extensions and
applications described in this work are logical derivations from that principle, without restricting
it. My descriptions of how society would function under the principle are, to the best of my
ability, consistent with the principle without modification. Nowhere in this work is there a
statement to the effect that the principle is a fine idea, but here we must deviate from it to achieve
justice. Where I show corollaries, those are logical derivations that clarify, but do not constrain
or modify the principle.
Infringements of freedom can come in the forms of coercion and fraud, concepts that are
developed further in later chapters. A person who abides by the principle is deserving of
protection in the society, but one who violates the principle can lose his right to freedom and any
entitlement to protection.
3. Definitions of Terms
The following are the meanings of some of the key words as used in this book:
coercion: use, or threatened use, of force contrary to the Principle of Equal Freedom to interfere with the liberties or properties of a person
coercive government: governmental organizations that exercise coercion to control their
citizens; the State; political government
estate: the entirety of a person's possessions and entitlements, tangible and intangible,
(exclusive of his life and liberty) that properly belong to the person
force: applied, often physical, influence that compels action or prevents action
fraud: untruthful or misleading representations made to people to influence their actions
free society: a society following the Principle of Equal Freedom; a Stateless society; one
without institutional coercion and fraud
freedom: being in the condition of liberty and being in full ownership and control of the
entirety of one's own properties; uncompromised life, liberty, and estate
liberty: having an unconstrained ability to act by one's volitional self-direction; having full
control of one's own life and ability to act
moral action: action consistent with the Principle of Equal Freedom
noncoercive government: institutions, organizations, or agencies that provide protection and
assurance of freedom without use of coercion; entities that limit coercion and fraud in
ostracize: to exclude a person or organization from a group or society, or from participation
in social functions
ownership: holding proper, moral title to properties, whether or not in immediate possession
of the properties
perpetual: lasting indefinitely; continuing without specified time of termination
properties: life, liberty, and estate.
Note that force is morally neutral. Like a weapon, force is neither good nor bad of
itself — those characteristics are determined by the intent and circumstances of a person applying
some force. Hammers and guns apply force, while a wielder of those devices might use them in a
coercive manner or not. As an example, if A's home is invaded by B, a burglar, and they engage
in a fight, both are using force. B is clearly using coercive force, while A is using force in a moral manner in defending his home and self.
Moral action as used here is secular, without religious connotations.
Societal and social are used in different senses. Societal structure and organization refers to society in terms of its institutions, organizations, and general operating principles and rules.
Social structure refers to the associations and networks among people and the memberships of
people in groups.
A society is a social system without formal organization and without contracts between it and
others. It does not have the characteristics of individuals or organizations. A society has no
mind, no management, and no incorporated existence, so it cannot enter into contracts.
Definitions are arbitrary, neither true nor false, right nor wrong, but if one deviates from
common usage and meaning, then it is necessary for clarity to explicitly define the terms. Even if
usage is consistent with common usage, being explicit is helpful, especially for key concepts. A
characteristic of people who manipulate others is the alteration of common definitions without
making clear that nonstandard definitions are being used.
Societies are essential for the individual, and necessary for civilization. Molinari wrote in On the
Production of Security:
"Man experiences a multitude of needs, on whose satisfaction his happiness depends, and
whose non-satisfaction entails suffering. Alone and isolated, he could only provide in an
incomplete, insufficient manner for these incessant needs. The instinct of sociability brings
him together with similar persons, and drives him into communication with them.
Therefore, impelled by the self-interest of the individuals thus brought together, a certain
division of labor is established, necessarily followed by exchanges. In brief, we see an
organization emerge, by means of which man can more completely satisfy his needs than
he could living in isolation. This natural organization is called society."
Throughout the course of civilization to the present, essentially every society has been
controlled by State and Church, however primitive those institutions might have been. While the
institutions have varied in the degree of their control, the general rule has been that the subjects
have had little or no ability to determine the nature of the controlling institutions. Nearly 7000
years after the founding of civilization, no large-scale society has yet been established based on
full freedom for the individual.
An early form of the principle was given by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon in Letter 62
(1722) of their publication Cato's Letters:
"By Liberty I understand the Power which every Man has over his own Actions, and his Right
to enjoy the Fruits of his Labour, Art, and Industry, as far as by it he hurts not the Society, or
any Members of it, by taking from any Member, or by hindering him from enjoying what he
himself enjoys. The Fruits of a Man's honest Industry are the just Rewards of it, ascertained to
him by natural and eternal Equity, as is his Title to use them in the Manner which he thinks fit:
And thus, with the above Limitations, every Man is sole Lord and Arbitrer of his own private
Actions and Property."
The essays comprising Cato's Letters were widely available in the American colonies, and
were read by many of the founders of America. Unfortunately, nothing like the above was placed
into the US Constitution.
There is nothing more important to the individual than having the freedom to make what he
can and will of his life. To lack the freedom to make the most of one's existence, and thereby lose
the enjoyment of that existence, is the greatest evil that can be brought against intelligent life
outside of death itself.
We have had 7000 years of kings, priests, and armies all wearing the trappings of civilization.
Except for a few brief moments here and there, the kings, priests, and armies have not allowed
people to have freedom.
However, there is a long-term trend spanning millennia toward greater freedom for the
individual. It might eventually take us to a civilization based on full freedom and responsibility of
the individual. Progress has typically come initially as an intellectual effort showing that change is
needed, possible, and of benefit to people.
The Principle of Equal Freedom is one of those intellectual advances. It still resides only on
the pages of a few books and in the minds of a few freedom-seeking people. Many people like to
state their admiration of the principle. I think far too many spout the words and then return to
their convictions that coercion is the way things should be.
The fact that this principle, stated in various forms, has been held for centuries as both an ideal
and a principle to live by, yet has never been implemented, makes a strong and ominous statement
about human psychology. Those who want to see freedom implemented understand that they face
a most arduous task.
We can someday develop both the technology and the will to end the long list of tyrants, and
even the milder deniers of freedom. Of those two factors, the technology is by far the easiest to
come by. The foundation of that technology is the Principle of Equal Freedom.
5. Personal Freedom Shapes Society
The Principle of Equal Freedom is a specific concept of personal freedom that, taken in its fullest
implications, determines a social structure allowing the greatest possible expressions of individual
freedom. The implementation of such a social structure allows the greatest possible safety,
wealth, and personal development for the individual, along with the greatest potential for
development of the society itself. Stating it simply, without rigor, the principle says that every
person shall have the freedom to live his life as he wishes, as long as he respects that same right
for others. This does more than give every person the same degree of freedom — it gives total
freedom from coercion.
It is deceptively simple in this statement, for it leads to far-reaching implications. Few people
in contemporary society are willing to support those implications. This leaves the principle as one
widely admired and endorsed with the spoken word, but one that only a very small part of the
population really wants to support.
From its beginning, the principle has been a guide to the interactions between people.
Seemingly, most people want to control the lives of others, and it has been this way throughout
known history. Controlling others, on scales great and small, directly and indirectly, has been a
favorite activity throughout human civilization. Many who defiantly want to live according to
their own conscience are not also willing to allow others the same right and freedom, instead
wanting all others to live by the one's perceived best manner. This seems to come from
convictions arising from the belief of the correctness of one's own mode of existence: If one is
correct, then one is justified in seeing to it that everyone else also lives in that same correct
After centuries of horrors arising from this self-righteous certitude, we have taken most such
powers away from organized churchesbut not all. In the area of political governments, only
the most excessive impositions have been limited, but even then not always.
The individual should be the goal. Celebrate his existence; celebrate his freedom; allow him
his own life as he wishes to live itprovided he honors the same freedom for others.
Do not seek to control your neighbor, not through your direct action nor through an
intermediary agency such as church or government. Allow him to seek his own happiness while
he allows the same for you.
6. The Principle as a Foundation for Social Theory
The Principle of Equal Freedom is a code of conduct that can be used as the foundation of a free
society. It appears that the basis for any free society — that is, one that fully respects life, liberty,
and property — is necessarily equivalent to this principle.
The principle is also a foundation for a theoretical system of societal functioning and
organization. The principle, its corollaries, and all of its other derivatives form a theoretical
construct against which the structure and functioning of any free society must remain compatible.
7. Equal Freedom is Not Restricted Freedom
Some might like to interpret equal freedom to mean that freedom can be restricted as long as it is
restricted the same for all, so that every person has the same degree of freedom (or the same loss
of freedom). However, this cannot be compatible with the Principle of Equal Freedom, because,
first and foremost, it is a principle regarding the interaction among individuals. A person has a
right to his freedom provided he allows all other morally-acting people to have their freedom.
Anyone who wilfully compromises another's freedom is not acting morally and has lost his right
to his own freedom while he compromises others. Thus anyone, whether he is deemed a
government officer or not, who coerces another has no right to his own freedom and should suffer
reprobation and restrictions. It follows then that every member of a coercive government who is
acting coercively is in violation of the principle. It also follows that any government,
organization, or group that acts coercively has violated the principle even if the degree of
coercion is claimed to be equally and justly applied to all. Any and all coercion violates the
conditional clause of the Principle of Equal Freedom, whether coming from a person, an
organization, a government, or any other source.
Freedom exists when one has full, unabridged control of his life, liberty, and properties of
every kind. Any other condition is an absence of freedom.
8. Justification of the Principle
The philosophical basis that must be appealed to for the justification of freedom is this: none.
People can be free when they seize and hold their own freedom, without a justifying appeal to any
purported source for that freedom beyond their own want.
In summary, the Principle of Equal Freedom is:
- Invented by people for their use as an ideal principle
- A code of conduct that may be accepted for use in societies, rejected for use, or made illegal
- Not suitable for use as a constitution for coercive government
- Not a contract between people, nor between people and society
- Not a gift from a deity
- Not derivable from natural rights
- Not found in Nature, nor derivable from Nature.
9. Natural Law
Natural law and natural rights have been subjects of intellectual study and arguments for many
centuries. Until only a few centuries ago, natural law was taken as a self-evident subject. Natural
law was thought to be indistinguishable from the will of God, then it was thought it should be a
subject of rational thought, independent of religious concepts. More recently, some argue that the
concept is best discarded and ignored.
Lysander Spooner addressed the subject in his treatise Natural Law, where he discusses law,
justice, rights, liberty, and society. His concept of natural law is what humanity has almost
universally agreed upon as the source of justice and peace. He writes:
"Through all time, so far as history informs us, wherever mankind have attempted to live in
peace with each other, both the natural instincts, and the collective wisdom of the human
race, have acknowledged and prescribed, as an indispensable condition, obedience to this
one only universal obligation: viz., that each should live honestly towards every other."
This universal obligation, as he calls it, is the essential obligation that people must adhere to in
securing freedom for all. Stated in different words, with the same meaning, it is the conditional
clause of the Principle of Equal Freedom.
Physicists can discover fundamental laws of physics by peering deep into an atom. Biologists
can discover fundamental laws of biology by peering into a cell. There is no place in the cosmos
to find the concepts of natural laws and natural rights except in the minds of intelligent beings.
The human mind mixes its capacity for rational thought with prejudice and self-deception, making
it suspect as a source of fundamental knowledge, which is why scientists require evidence existing
outside of the mind in their search for truth.
The truth is that the cosmos, whether we call it nature or Nature, does not tell us how
societies of intelligent beings should be structured. This leaves it to the intelligent beings to
decide upon the form of society in which they want to live. Unfortunately, this opens the game to
opportunists and fools. People can choose to have their societies based upon coercion, fraud,
expediency, the greatest good for the greatest number (even though none are competent to make
those measurements), or upon principle.
We can make some qualitative observations of societies that have been created by humans.
What we can observe is that lack of freedom constrains the individual, leaving him unable to make
the most that he can of his life, and often forced into a miserable existence. We can observe that
when people have freedom, the individual tends to prosper and attain happiness, and society
benefits from the creativity and industriousness of the free individual. We can conclude:
The more freedom that a society has, the more it will prosper and the more the individual
can seek his own happiness.
This is an observable condition, and is perhaps the closest we can come at present to finding a
fundamental law of society.
10. The State
The State exists to control its domain and its people through coercion. Albert Jay Nock wrote in
Our Enemy, the State:
"It may now be easily seen how great the difference is between the institution of
government, as understood by Paine and the Declaration of Independence, and the
institution of the State. Government may quite conceivably have originated as Paine
thought it did, or Aristotle, or Hobbes, or Rousseau; whereas the State not only never did
originate in any of those ways, but never could have done so. The nature and intention of
government, as adduced by Parkman, Schoolcraft and Spencer, are social. Based on the
idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative
intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go.
The State, on the other hand, both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely
anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual
has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made
justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and
common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing."
To Nock, then, government is not the same as the State: Government is what secures rights,
including property, to the individual. Some governments, always including the State, are coercive
in nature, but there is no law of nature or society that says government must be coercive to secure
those rights for the individual — there can be noncoercive government.
11. The Nature of Man
Many have argued that man does or does not have an innate nature, and that, if it exists, it is or is
not theological. What is meant here by man's nature is what is scientific, that is, what is
observable and repeatable.
People respect their neighbor's property and right to exist, they defend him from thieves, and
they rob him when they can. Individuals fit into these behavioral categories, not necessarily into
all, and certainly not all people fit into all of those categories. Most people fit into one or both of
the first; only a few fit into the latter. This is an aspect of man's nature that can be observed
across nearly all cultures.
People are susceptible to indoctrination when young, which influences the rest of a person's
life and his values. This is an aspect of man's nature.
Most people historically and contemporarily believe in the supernatural and the existence of
some god(s). This is also an aspect of man's nature. This is not to say that God does or does not
exist, only that the prevalence of beliefs is there.
People can be generous and tolerant, and they can be callous and bigots. A particular
individual can exhibit the first pair of characteristics at times, and at other times exhibit the second
characteristics. This is also an aspect of man's nature.
People seek their own happiness; they often seek security and acceptance by others. These
are more aspects of man's nature.
When people aggregate into societies, these innate natures strongly influence the
characteristics of their societies. This influence is not a simple summation of the tendencies of the
individuals, because people in groups mutually influence one another, suppressing some behaviors
and enhancing others, yet another aspect of man's nature.
12. Ends and Means
The objective of the study of natural law has been to determine what is good, and therefore what
human laws and rules should be based upon. What is good is the subject of a multitude of
opinions, but those that are generally and broadly agreed upon do span nearly all human cultures.
No one, however, is likely to compose a list of the most fundamental good principles that all
people would agree upon. I offer a simple list of good ends and means which I think is consistent
with the Principle of Equal Freedom and which underlies this book:
- Continuance of our species and civilization
- Continuance of the individual
- Protection of the liberty and properties of the individual
- Keeping to one's agreements
Many might want to add continuance of one's tribe or nation. These can be admirable goals,
but are also ones that are used to justify many crimes against other peoples, so I do not include
them — they are too often coupled with intolerance and war.
Piety is notably absent from the list. Not too long ago, nearly all would have deemed this an
essential element to include — many today would agree. However, when society insists on piety,
injustice and intolerance are certain to follow.
It appears to me that in adopting a social principle, such as the Principle of Equal Freedom, as
a code of conduct and adhering to the principle and its corollaries, the need for a concept such as
natural law is weakened or simply goes away. My list of good ends and means is derived from
principle, but I think it is also compatible with what many would say they derive from rational
studies of ethics and natural law.
13. Live and Let Live, or Failure of the Golden Rule
The Golden Rule, or the Principle/Law of Reciprocity as it is also called, states that one should act
toward others as he would have them act toward him. This rule provides no guidance as to what
should be acceptable and what is not. Anyone willing to get hit in the face could go around
hitting others in the face at will. History has also shown the ineffectiveness of the rule among
people who profess to abide by it.
More importantly, the Golden Rule applies between people. It says nothing about the
relationship between people and government or society in general, a failure that is corrected by
the Principle of Equal Freedom. The rule does not explicitly protect life, liberty, or property,
which is an important shortcoming.
The Golden Rule is an inadequate guide for people and society because of its logical
limitations. While it could be used as a basis for a society, it would not be satisfactory by itself for
a free society. If a society were founded upon the rule, there could arise within the society
numerous people wanting to live under a political government. They could get together, create a
political government, and impose that government upon all who live within the society. It would
be pointed out to objectors that the implementors are willing to have a State over them, and so,
fully within the terms of the Golden Rule, they can impose a State upon all others — since they are
willing to have a State imposed upon themselves, they are logically allowed to impose a State
upon others. This is the fatal flaw of the rule with respect to a free society — the rule does not
assure freedom. Only the Principle of Equal Freedom as stated herein, or some logically
equivalent construct, can assure freedom when the principle is followed. It is only this principle
that implies that wherever it is the foundation for a society, that society will be a free society and
will have no State.
The Golden Rule does not exclude the tax collector who believes in what he is doing,
therefore it does not imply or require the existence of freedom. The Golden Rule allows one who
believes in the application of taxes to strive to implement taxes upon others — by taking away
property, he also takes away freedom. The Principle of Equal Freedom disallows this.
Logically, one has to conclude there can be no stable freedom found in following the Golden
Rule alone. Reciprocity is a natural part of civilized life, and should be widespread within a free
society, but it is not adequate by itself.
The Golden Rule is different from the principle. It can — and generally should — be interpreted
as a social rule to look after each other. Thus it is social in nature, while the principle is more
societal. Which is why the rule is not adequate for determining societal form and function.
The Golden Rule has a long history within religious teachings, and so has acquired many
people who espouse the rule, however poorly they might actually live by it or understand it. The
more complete Principle of Equal Freedom has not been included in religious teachings, at least
not in any substantial manner (few indeed are the religious leaders who believe in real freedom),
and it therefore has a much smaller following.
Condensing the principle does not result in anything like: Do toward others as you would
have them do toward you. If it must the condensed for assimilation, it would be much better done
as: Live and let live. It should be recognized that the let live part is a crucial part to be taken
14. Coercion and Fraud
Coercion and fraud are actions that limit or destroy freedom. The State, Church, various
organizations, groups, and individuals are sources of these acts. The acts can limit or remove the
individual's choices, control, and properties — the individual loses control of his own life under
these acts. The ultimate coercion is loss of life for the victim. Coercion and fraud exist
everywhere on Earth, in every society, as the dominant factors shaping contemporary social life.
15. The Basics of Properties
A person's properties, in their broadest definition, include life, liberty, health, intangible
properties, tangible properties, and estate. Life includes biological existence, body, name, social
identity, and reputation. Estate includes monies and equivalents, creations, land, land use, land
improvements, and contractual entitlements. Life and liberty are typically considered separate
from other properties because of their innate, generally nontransferable nature.
Coercion and fraud are the means by which property is improperly taken from a person, or by
which he is restrained from taking a moral action or forced to take an action against his wishes.
John Locke maintained that a person's life is his own property. He wrote, "Every man has a
property in his own person; this nobody has a right to but himself." A person's name, other
aspects of identity, reputation, and liberty are part of his life properties.
Tangible properties, including land holdings, have been recognized as a person's own, at least
until his death, by custom and common law. States, warlords, religious leaders, thieves, and many
others have transgressed these property rights for many millennia.
Herbert Spencer stated that a person's intellectual property is his own, to do with as he
wishes, not to be compromised by the States' patent laws. The States' patent laws enforce
coercive monopolies and deny independent inventors the right to use their own inventions.
Lysander Spooner held that a person's ownership and interest in his intellectual properties
continues without end, beyond his own life. The creator bears responsibility for the use of his
The totality of properties is life and the tangible and intangible things that properly belong to a
person. Locke summarized them as life, liberty, and estate. Ownership of non-life properties
means holding proper, moral title to properties, whether or not in immediate possession of the
properties, and whether or not title is formally recorded.
An estate is the entirety of a person's possessions and entitlements, tangible and intangible,
exclusive of his life and liberty. It is what a person accumulates during his life. The estate
continues on beyond the life of the person unless that person declares his estate dissolved, with
the properties then fully disposed of. An estate could be established as an incorporated entity by
the person prior to his death or interment into some form of suspended animation, including
cryopreservation. An incorporated estate could be established after a person's death as a vehicle
for royalty payments or other property transfers, provided the person has not specifically
forbidden the establishment of such an estate.
What holds for a person with respect to properties also generally holds for an incorporated
entity, as with a company or corporation. If artificial intelligence develops sufficiently, then
someday sapient, self-responsible machines should also have the same rights to properties as a
human person, including the ownership of their own lives. The same is true for biological beings
with artificially enhanced intelligence who become sapient and self-responsible.
16. The Condition of Liberty
Liberty is having the ability to act according to one's own wishes. This implies not having to act
against one's wishes. In a free society, each independent person can act, or not act, according to
his wishes. He also enjoys or suffers the consequences of his actions. If his actions are beneficial,
he does not have to distribute those benefits to others, except by any existing contracts that
require it. If the consequences are harmful or undesirable, he may not impose those consequences
on others, except where an existing contract might allow it.
In abiding by the principle, liberties are constrained to moral actions. Moral actions include
defense, but not harmful, unjustified offense.
In a free society, a person's liberty cannot morally be constrained or abridged while his
actions, which may be considered in total, are moral actions. Thus a person who aggresses one
day can have his liberty curtailed on another even though he is acting morally on that day.
A person's liberty cannot morally interfere with the liberty or properties of another. If a
person does not have permission to use another's property, that first person can be restrained
from using the property. He can also be restrained from interference with another's liberty. He
can be constrained to prevent harm to people or their properties.
17. The Condition of Freedom
Freedom is having liberty and being in full ownership and control of the entirety of one's own
properties. If a person is constrained in acting (outside of contract), his liberty is lost, as is his
freedom. If his property is taken or controlled by others (outside of contract), his freedom is lost.
Under the principle, it is only for the owner of properties, not others, to determine the usage
of those properties, except that moral uses be made.
18. Theory of Freedom
There is at this time no theory of freedom that meets conventional standards of scientific theory.
A valid scientific theory must meet certain standards of form and rigor. It must be falsifiable,
that is, it must be capable of being disproved if such evidence turns up. It must be supported by a
substantial body of evidence, otherwise a construct is hypothesis or speculation.
However, a body of theoretical, or logical, constructs can be derived from principle. In this manner, this work advances libertarian theory. If one accepts the principle, then by logical process one must accept validly-derived corollaries and other ancillary deductions.
Without principle for guidance in society, one can only have a body of laws, rules, and conventions,
each of which is arrived at as a matter of preference or consensus, and which are likely to conflict
with one another.
19. A Principle of Social Freedom
The Principle of Equal Freedom is the strongest statement of freedom and property rights that has
yet been uttered within human civilization. It can be used as the foundation for societies that
enjoy freedom. The explicit principle seems to have fallen into disuse with some friends of
freedom, yet their statements on the proper functioning of society typically are the logical
equivalents of the principle, but without its clarity and definitiveness.
Corollaries can be derived from the principle that clarify the meaning and implications of the
principle. These corollaries are, sadly, the point where many people, who like the sound of the
principle, will decide that they prefer to abandon the principle as a foundation for society. They
are unwilling to give up control of their neighbors through use of the State, and are fearful of
living without its coercive authority.
20. A Statement of Freedom
The Principle of Equal Freedom is the most complete principle for assuring freedom that I have
encountered in current or historical literature, and I doubt that a fundamentally better formulation
could be found. It obviously applies to liberty by its statement of legitimate action being
unconstrained except for equality. As the next chapter shows, liberty allows a person to acquire,
create, and hold properties in addition to those properties innate to his existence. Thus it is a
fully-encompassing principle of freedom because it applies to all of the properties of a person:
life, liberty, and estate properties.
Those people able to live without States and Churches, and by this principle alone, will be
truly free people.
Freedom is not obtained from mythical rights, and certainly not from constitutions, which are
the very antithesis of freedom because they imply a State with power over people. Freedom is
obtained by decision and declaration by people who choose to be free, and who are willing to
defend their freedom. Without a willingness to repulse thugs of all types and to reject the myriad
forms of fraud, their declaration will sooner or later be seen as a hollow gesture, and ultimately a
Freedom is simple, but not easy. If one can do as he wishes and has control of his properties,
he is free — simple. But since the beginning of civilization there has been a continuous presence of
people who would take away freedom through coercion, fraud, or both. Defending against them
is not easy, but it is necessary.
Equality in a free society arises from principle and from respect, in its several forms, between
people. The Principle of Equal Freedom applies equally to all, without abridgement. There can
be no interference with the life, liberty, and estate properties of any morally-acting adult, nor any
interference with his moral protection of those things.
Honest, ethical behavior is the necessary norm for the continuance of equality. The coercers
and the fraudsters, by their very acts, destroy equality as they seek to acquire something that is
not theirs or to control the actions of others. A free society remains such, withstanding events of
coercion or fraud through corrective mechanisms, provided such events are aberrations, and not