Posts tagged individualism
England’s Levellers: The World’s First Libertarian Movement
The first-ever libertarians were the Levellers, an English political movement active in the seventeenth century. The Levellers contributed to the elaboration of the methodological and political paradigm of individualism, and they are at the origin of the radical strand of classical liberalism. While the Levellers are often characterized as a quasi-socialist movement, closer examination shows that the Levellers had much more in common with advocates for free markets than with socialists.
This interpretation of the Levellers is supported, among others, by Murray N. Rothbard who considers them as “the world’s first self-consciously libertarian movement.” Rothbard notes that
[i]n a series of notable debates within the Republican Army — notably between the Cromwellians and the Levellers — the Levellers led by John Lilburne, Richard Overton and William Walwyn, worked out a remarkably consistent libertarian doctrine, upholding the rights of self-ownership, private property, religious freedom for the individual, and minimal government interference in society. The rights of each individual to his person and property, furthermore, were natural, that is, they were derived from the nature of man.
One of the most important of the Levellers’s contributions to the theoretical foundation of the libertarian doctrine was, according to Rothbard, that they, “transformed the rather vague and holistic notions of natural law into the clear cut, firmly individualistic concepts of natural rights of every individual human being,” including fundamental tenets of libertarianism. This included the right to self-ownership, methodological individualism, individual natural rights theory, sound property rights, and economic freedom.
Lilburne defended natural law as “Nature and reason” and “the grounds of all just laws” and that “therefore against this Law, prescriptions, statutes, nor customs may not prevail. And if any be brought in against it, they be no prescriptions, statutes nor customs, but things void, and against justice …”
In 1646 while Lilburne was imprisoned for high treason, Overton wrote A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens, and other Free-Born People of England, to their own House of Commons, urging that Lilburne be freed. The Remonstrance became a great Leveller manifesto.
“We are well assured, yet cannot forget, that the cause of our choosing you to be Parliament-men, was to deliver us from all kind of bondage, and to preserve the Commonwealth in peace and happiness,” Overton wrote. “But you are to remember, this was only of us but a power of trust, which is ever revokable. … We are your principals, and you our agents.”
Overton advocated religious tolerance, even for the much-reviled English Catholics, and also denounced the practice of impressing men into the army and navy as a form of enslavement.
Moreover, the Levellers advocated property rights and the freedom to contract and trade, as against monopolies and privileges guaranteed by the state. They celebrated the benefits of economic freedom to society and opposed the government taxes, customs, excises, and regulations that inhibited competition.
In May 1652, Walwyn presented to the Committee for Trade and Foreign Affairs a defense of free trade against the Levant Company, urging the abolition of monopolies and trade restrictions by the government. In Walwyns Conceptions; For a Free Trade, the author vindicates free trade as a common right conductive to common good. More than a century before Adam Smith, Walwyn directly linked freedom of trading to the public good. Exalting the benefits of competition, he holds that the results of free trade and competition are more and better goods, lower prices, more ships, plenty of men becoming useful members of the community, and more wealth for active and creative people.
Walwyn explored the question of whether leaving foreign trade “equally free to all Englishmen would be most profitable for the Common wealth,” and he concluded “that for foreign trade to be universally free to all English men alike, would be the most advantageous to the Common wealth.”
Walwyn criticized Parliament for carrying on the oppressions of the monarchy by maintaining all the monopolies and the privileges granted by the Crown in the field of trade. The right to trade freely, Walwyn maintained, is an ancient, natural, claimed right of all Englishmen and it is much more profitable than any government restrictions and privileges.
Continuing his analysis of competition, Walwyn notes that, “the numerousness of merchants will occasion a strife and emulation among them, who shall produce the best ordered goods.” And he underlines the advantages for the laborers, pointing out that the competition will produce, “greater price for work; whereas merchants in Companyes have noe need of such diligence … and workmen must worke at what rate they please.”
Walwyn, as well as Overton and Lilburne, attributed lamentably low wages to monopolies, hampered trade, and excise taxes.
The Levellers were concerned with economic rights and these economic rights were a direct consequence of the right to self-ownership and included individual property rights, freedom to produce, sell, buy, and trade, and to do all this without license, monopolies, regulations, and arbitrary taxation. That is to say, they advocated a free market economy. The right to trade freely was considered a natural right by Lilburne, or a “native liberty” as in Overton’s Remonstrance.
Arguing from the theoretical supremacy of natural rights, Lilburne rejects any form of regulation of trade.
Elizabeth I abolished some monopolies, but by the time the Levellers were writing, the old monopolies had been restored to support the economic and fiscal desires of the Crown. Lilburne considers such trade restrictions illegal from an ethical standpoint. Moreover they created state privileges for bankers, aristocrats, chartered companies, and corporations.
Charles I created new monopolies and privileged concessions under the name of licenses, and the Long Parliament, and subsequently Cromwell, confirmed the most relevant monopolies such as the right to export woolen cloth, the privileges of the Merchant Adventurers, and the privileges of chartered companies such as the Levant Company.
In turn, Lilburne protested against the monopolies of coal, soap, and woolen clothes. The economic concessions by public authorities paved the way to the creation of privileged positions of supremacy in public institutions and to the violation of the individual birth rights to equal opportunity to compete freely. Lilburne realized that the opposite of competition is privilege.
By the eighteenth century, what is now known as classical liberalism would draw heavily upon the work of the Levellers and their support for individual natural rights theory, property rights, economic freedom, and free trade, and the Levellers’ libertarian opposition to government privilege, government monopoly, and the suppression of free trade remains as instructive today and as it was in the seventeenth century.
About the Author
Roberta Modugno is professor history of political thought at the University of Roma TRE (Rome – Italy). A scholar of American libertarianism, she is the author of several works on Murray N. Rothbard and edited the collection of Rothbard’s papers, Rothbard versus the Philosophers: Unpublished Writings on Hayek, Mises, Strauss, and Polanyi.
Image credit: https://mises.org
Welcome to all patriots and thank you for stopping by to grab an update. The site has had an issue the last week of whenever a new post is entered the formatting changes, taking the right column to the bottom of the main column while retaining the right column white space. Any WordPress folks have suggestions, offering help, all is appreciated. Anyway, knowing this fact I have held off posting but have no time to fix and too much going on so heck with format, the info is what is important. If things look strange from this point on, no problem, just get the information
I received a email from Ron Paul earlier today stating that he would no longer actively campaign in states that have not yet voted. Examples that come to mind are Texas (I think a few folks already know him) and California. These states are massive and it would cost way more money on hand to compete. As a true fiscal conservative Ron Paul uses his resources to the best of ability and when the resources are used you quit spending. Much better than the old Gingrich campaign that spent beyond it’s means and ended up bouncing $500 checks and had to work out a pay for endorsement pledge with Romney to cover overdrawn and outstanding expenses.
Really discussed at the MSM POS people who did not broadcast Ron Paul crowds of 3,000 to 9,000+ as if he had vanished from the planet to now report he really does exist and is dropping out. Along with all the MSM jokes is Newsmax, self proclaiming to be independent. Anyone that has spent 5 minutes looking into Newsmax knows their background is anything but independent news reporting. The last title seem from them was:
Hmm, did this POS reporting come from Faux or CNN? Hard to tell where they did the investigative journalism research. My humble guess is somewhere between the bathroom and TV remote control?
In closing please let me say that in fact Ron Paul is still in the GOP race, despite all the violation of GOP chairs against their own party rules. A smart person would have gone to higher pasture. A smart dedicated patriot would have endured the BS to fight the good fight, and that is what we are seeing. As professed, the R3volution will not be broadcast, but that statement references the MSM (Lame Stream Media) but will be alive and well on sites such as UStream and many others. If you have a remote control for your TV in one hand and a community size box of Twinkies close to your other hand, you might need to WTFU! Last I checked, Twinkies are not on the “re-education” camp menus.
Parting thoughts, Ron Paul’s message is stronger than the wonderful messenger. It’s the message that gathers and drives us, with admiration for the messenger. 2012 is a target but not a goal or end game. Now is the time for those of you doing lip service to freedom, reading about our Republic, now is the time to stand up and make your voices heard, from statehouse to courthouse. Let Freedom ring, as now is the time to raise the bar a notch. Do you buy groceries, gas, etc.? Then you can take a second standing in line to wake another sleeping soul to the cause of Liberty. You choose, and despite you pulpit and TV driven thought process, this has nothing to do with left verses right. The battle at hand is collectivism verses individualism, as simple as that may seem most do not comprehend. Do you exist as an individual, having inalienable rights or does every right, or privilege (as you may not know the difference) come as a member of a collective group? Collectivism is on both sides, which is why most are pissed off at both main parties. Same puppet masters, no matter the puppet. No matter how you vote, I hope you choose principles over party. I will vote or what is best for me, my family and loved ones and best for my country.
Be well and continue the Freedom fight!
In this exclusive 80 minute video interview, legendary conspiracy author G. Edward Griffin explains how his research, which spans no less than 5 decades, has revealed a banking elite obsessed with enforcing a world government under a collectivist model that will crush individualism and eventually institute martial law as a response to the inevitable backlash that will be generated as a result of a fundamental re-shaping of society.
Griffin discusses the similarities between the extreme left and the extreme right in the false political paradigm and how this highlights a recurring theme – collectivism. Collectivism is the opposite of individualism and believes that the interests of the individual must be sacrificed for the greater good of the greater number, explains Griffin, uniting the doctrines of communism and fascism. Both the Republican and Democrat parties in the United States are committed to advancing collectivism and this is why the same policies are followed no matter who is voted in to the White House.
Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution & defender of Individual Liberty!
Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!
There are occasions that I like to look back at and share information that is basic and that I normally assume to be in the general knowledge. Sadly, I am reminded often through posts read and conversations that this is not the case. Life evolves in a circular fashion. and this is only visible if one can see the past to see the patterns.
Once again we see the potential for history to repeat. Nothing is a given as long as we have an opportunity to divert the natural flow of progress from one stage to the next. Consider what you see and know today, reflect back to earlier eras, then make educated decisions on that basis. Simplicity is the core, while confusion, distraction and division are the goals of the governmental controlled main stream media.
To my knowledge one Constitution was written by or founding fathers. Not a right verses left version, white verses black version or even a this religion verses that religion version.
We The People should appreciate our differences as that is what makes us all unique and focus on the similarities. That is a We The People focus that will join masses to collaborate forces for good verses focusing on differences to only alienate and divide us as a people.
Back to basics, the building blocks of knowledge needed to focus. Without knowledge of were we are, were we should be, the direction we are going and the potential of were we could most likely end up, how do we determine what action is needed?
(CNSNews.com) – In a speech delivered at Osawatomie High School in Osawatomie, Kansas, on Tuesday, President Barack Obama argued that while a limited government that preserves free markets “speaks to our rugged individualism” as Americans, such a system “doesn’t work” and “has never worked” and that Americans must look to a more activist government that taxes more, spends more and regulates more if they want to preserve the middle class.
“‘[T]here is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. ‘The market will take care of everything,’ they tell us,” said Obama. “If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger.
“Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers,” Obama continued. “But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.
“Now, it’s a simple theory,” said Obama. “And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked.
“It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression,” said Obama. “It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.
“Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history,” said Obama. “And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class==things like education and infrastructure, science and technology, Medicare and Social Security.
“Remember that in those same years, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running Congress, we had weak regulation, we had little oversight, and what did it get us?” said Obama. “Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.
“We simply cannot return to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country,” said Obama.
To read the full speech as transcribed by the White House click here.
[CIM Comment: I won't waste my time ranting about this Socialism loving scum bag, as the people pulling this puppets stings need to be cast into the light as well. With the well announced, repeatedly, plan they have for taking this country down, is this not the right time to make a challenge with the only Champion of the Constitution? We have a choice, follow the staus quo of Obama or the "Liberal Right" such as Romney and Gingrich and become another fallen empire in the history books, or turn this countries direction and fate around by supporting the Constitution and supporting Ron Paul. Your choice, serfdom and servitude or individual freedom and peace. Which will serve the next generation a better life? Time to think and decide.]
Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site and donate today!
THE CREED OF FREEDOM
INTRINSIC NATURE OF RIGHTS I believe that only individuals have rights, not the collective group; that these rights are intrinsic to each individual, not granted by the state; for if the state has the power to grant them, it also has the power to deny them, and that is incompatible with personal liberty. I believe that a just state derives its power solely from its citizens. Therefore, the state must never presume to do anything beyond what individual citizens also have the right to do. Otherwise, the state is a power unto itself and becomes the master instead of the servant of society.
SUPREMACY OF THE INDIVIDUAL I believe that one of the greatest threats to freedom is to allow any group, no matter its numeric superiority, to deny the rights of the minority; and that one of the primary functions of a just state is to protect each individual from the greed and passion of the majority.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE I believe that desirable social and economic objectives are better achieved by voluntary action than by coercion of law. I believe that social tranquility and brotherhood are better achieved by tolerance, persuasion, and the power of good example than by coercion of law. I believe that those in need are better served by charity, which is the giving of one’s own money, than by welfare, which is the giving of other people’s money through coercion of law.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW I believe that all citizens should be equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race, religion, gender, education, economic status, life style, or political opinion. Likewise, no class should be given preferential treatment, regardless of the merit or popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another is not equality under law.
PROPER ROLE OF THE STATE I believe that the proper role of the state is negative, not positive; defensive, not aggressive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for some, it must also be able to take from others, and that always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom. If the state is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it also will be powerful enough to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of the state is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, nothing more. That state is best which governs least.
THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM
The Creed of Freedom is based on five principles. However, in day-to-day application, they can be reduced to just three codes of conduct. These are The Three Commandments of Freedom:
Only individuals have rights, not groups. Therefore, do not sacrifice the rights of any individual or minority for the alleged rights of groups.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
To favor one class of citizens over others is not equality under law. Therefore, do not endorse any law that does not apply to all citizens equally.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
The proper function of the state is to protect, not to provide. Therefore, do not approve coercion for any purpose except to protect human life, liberty, or property.