Attorney Steve Grow
March 27, 2012
Let’s say there are just two of us in the world. Even though there are billions of us on the planet, the things I hope to illustrate can be thought of, most simply, as between me and each other person on the planet—considered 2 by 2.
Now, I have needs for food, shelter, clothing, friendship and other things, and so do you. I have certain things I do well (some better than you), and you likewise have certain things you do well (some better than I), and we both have things we know we need to do that neither of us very much likes doing, as well as things each or both of us really enjoy doing. Some things I don’t enjoy and/or am not too good at, just happen to be some of the very things you enjoy and/or are good at. We are, of course, surrounded by an abundant nature, but not one that just drops each thing in our lap without any effort or ingenuity on our part. And neither of us has infinite time in a day.
Even to live directly from nature, you and I soon realize that in order to become a consumer, we must first become a producer. Even if I live alone in a jungle rich in bananas and coconuts available for the picking, I need to collect them before I can eat them. Most natural situations require more or other types of effort or cleverness than merely gathering from nearby, but even that requires some effort and cleverness. Now let’s say you and I both live in the jungle and both like bananas and coconuts, and that bananas and coconuts grow in different places in the jungle.
It would not take the two of us very long (you’d probably catch on sooner than I) to realize that if I go for enough bananas for both of us, and you go for enough coconuts for both of us, neither of us has to go both places to meet our needs—thus saving us both considerable time. Each of us can exchange some of what he or she collected for some of what the other collected, and each will have time available for other things—such as, perhaps, inventing Tic Tac Toe or wondering what makes stars glow, or how bananas or coconuts grow.
The ultimate producer or source of everything is Nature, and Nature’s God. Even your energy and ingenuity spring ultimately from your nature, including your ability to enhance your skills and understanding throughout your life, and the natures of other people or things that have helped you develop and refine your skills and abilities. Life itself springs from nature. Nature, and Nature’s God, are the ultimate source of everything. And what nature plants in a human being is planted directly by nature into that human individual—including not only one’s talents and abilities, but also the ability to further develop and enhance them. You do not (and cannot) buy it at Wal-Mart.
You do not (and cannot) get it as a government handout. You do not (and cannot) get it from your church, parent, doctor, or anyone else. At root, it is a direct gift from Nature and Nature’s God to each individual, including you. And along with those gifts come also the inalienable rights of all human individuals to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with which each of us was endowed by our creator. These rights were not given to us by a local Al Capone or politician or religious official or our parents, and none of them has any right to interfere with them or curtail them. (Though, of course, they must be wisely understood—many have sought their “freedom” in a way that dooms them to enslavement.) My right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not entitle me to enslave you or curtail your similar rights, or, believe it or not, to enslave myself or my children or family to you.
But Nature places you and me in a reality where we must produce in order to consume. And, so long as you are to remain in a society of free people who have the protected freedom to choose to deal with you or not, and to decide how many bananas they are willing to exchange with you for how many coconuts—on a voluntary basis, that is how it must be. At base, the fact that each of us has real needs we must satisfy to survive and thrive means that none of us can easily just become an island unwilling to deal with anyone else, nor is it in any of our interests to deal unjustly with others, lest they become unwilling to deal with us again for something we will need.
Even if we are purely motivated by what could be called self-interest, that self interest, if enlightened, includes some wish to have friends, and will surely disincline us to purely selfish acts harmful or unjust to others, or to our prospects for friendly interaction with them or their willing assistance in an emergency. As Aristotle once pointed out, where there is no justice there is no friendship.
Which brings us, abruptly, up against the unjust and unfriendly mess of inhuman predation that people have managed to turn our world into throughout all recorded history—with few and fleeting exceptions. It did not take long at all for it to occur to someone that life would be grand if he or she could get someone else to exert all or most of the ingenuity or effort necessary to collect bananas or coconuts for him or her, without him or her having to produce anything of comparable value for voluntary exchange for those bananas or coconuts. He or she could enjoy life entirely at the expense of other people’s effort and ingenuity. Much misguided human ingenuity has been directed toward that goal ever since. The correct name for that goal is the enslavement of others.
In a free society where individual rights are adequately protected, you can’t get anything from another person’s labor or ingenuity unless you first produce something that they are willing to voluntarily exchange for it, either directly with you or indirectly through others. Any sane and honest adult in such a society realizes that before he or she can become a consumer, he or she must first become a producer—and that he or she must consume only by exchanging a portion of his own present or past production for what he wishes to consume.
who believes (under any pretext whatever) that the fruits of another’s
labor or ingenuity are there for his or her taking, without his or her
having to produce something in return to exchange for it in a voluntary
exchange, believes in slavery—slavery of someone else to him or
There is absolutely no way around that. None. If you think otherwise, you are kidding yourself, and everyone you share the view with, regardless of the words or phrases you use or don’t use.
When you live off another’s enslavement, you are also missing some of life’s best satisfactions, including developing the ability to protect your own freedom from enslavement. There is a deep satisfaction from developing and practicing your own skills to produce something useful to yourself and other. You develop the ability to take care of yourself, and make yourself much less vulnerable to others who might make inappropriate demands on you. If you live your life so that you do not develop and practice your abilities to produce something of use to yourself and others, you may easily decay into a state of unnecessary, learned helplessness—and become very easy prey to others who would enslave you while pretending to help you. Your lack of productivity also reduces the total store of the fruits of productivity that can be shared or exchanged in the world.
Consuming without producing is not a sustainable strategy. Locusts are excellent consumers, but when they swarm, they will eat the current crop, all the plants, all the stored food and all the seed necessary to plant a new crop (if given access). After the feast they, as well as the humans living off the land and crops, almost all die. Organizers of swarms have passed under various euphemisms thoughout past and present history. Every generation of wolves dresses in a form of sheep’s clothing, including the words they use, thought likely to fool the present generation.
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One phrase under which some modern swarm organizers have attempted to pass is “community organizer.” Under whatever name they pass, their effort to organize a swarm of enslavers, if they are unlucky enough to succeed, ultimately dooms the swarm, as well as others living off the land or system being plundered, to starvation--or weakens them all to the point where they are easily enslaved by the swarm organizer or by outsiders. Very, very often, the real end object of the swarm organizer’s end game is weakening you so he or she can enslave you. History is full of such examples.
There is no fairness in any form of “fairness” that violates any of these principles, and no freedom in any form of “freedom” that depends on the enslavement of any other person, or that is willing to enslave oneself or others, such as one’s children.
To Be Continued in Part II.
© 2012 Steve Grow - All Rights Reserved
Steve Grow holds degrees in physics, law and philosophy. He is a retired lawyer who practiced business law for many years. He studied philosophy and cognitive psychology at the graduate level, including working with one of the world’s leading scholars on the work of Aristotle. He was co-editor in chief of his college newspaper. He has observed and wondered about history, psychology, religion, politics, journalism and good (and bad) government since childhood.
He believes that, now and always, the central problem in politics is monitoring and governing those in political positions—so that ordinary people are the ultimate governors and can hold those in office fully accountable. Ordinary people deserve, and need, full legal protection of their privacy. In contrast, all activities of those in government should be open to full scrutiny at all times. In a certain sense, ordinary people should be “ungovernable” and accorded a broad measure of privacy – on the other hand, politicians and their actions should be open to monitoring, closely watched and constrained. Anyone with a contrary view, he believes, is an enemy of freedom—wittingly or unwittingly.