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This Thing Called Life

Simplified Definitions

Life: our biological existence in space and time.

Liberty: the ability to live one’s life as one wishes while respecting the lives of others.

Property: one’s self (physical body) and, by extension, the goods that he/she produces or acquires through voluntary exchange and/or gift. Claims of land ownership are included here as well.

Murder: the taking of man’s life without his voluntary consent. This deprives him of his future (and future productivity).  Excluded from this definition is the taking of another person’s life in the act of self-defense against an aggressor (when one believes one’s life is threatened) or in the defense of others when the lives of these others are threatened.

Slavery: the taking of man’s liberty without his voluntary consent. This deprives him of his present.

Theft: the taking of man’s property without his voluntary consent. This deprives him of his past (the time, energy, and talent that he used to produce this property).

Plunder: The ill-gotten gains from theft.

On The Nature of Human Life

  • Man seeks happiness (and seeks to remove uneasiness or discomfort).
  • Man seeks life for if there is no life there is no man.
  • In order to live man must consume those things that sustain his life (food, shelter, etc.).
  • In order for the necessities of life to be consumed they must first be produced.
  • An infant cannot produce for himself so he must rely on the production of others through charity.
  • As a child matures he must continue to rely on the charitable production of others until he learns to produce for himself.
  • In the process of producing for oneself man usually develops a specialization resulting in a surplus that can be traded for the products of the specialized skills of others.
  • This process of production results in what is often referred to as “the fruits of his labor”.
  • These products are an extension of man because they are the direct result of his invested time and life energy.

First Conclusion

Based upon the propositions set forth, anyone who seeks to take another man’s life, liberty or property against that man’s voluntary consent is an enemy to human life.

Further Observations

There are some men who seek to take away the property and liberty of others in order to use this production for personal profit. These men choose this path as they find it preferable to producing for themselves.

This short-term benefit is not only dangerous to the thief but it is detrimental to his long-term well-being as well. This is because his victims must divert a portion of their resources toward protection services instead of toward production. This loss of production reduces the overall societal standard of living as there are less products and services available for trade.

Nevertheless, the thief is not concerned with the negative, long-term effects of plunder as he only cares about the immediate benefit. Therefore, the rest of society must take protective measures if they wish to safeguard their life, liberty and property. It follows then that the degree of man’s freedom can be enhanced by the level of protection that he has secured.

The Ignorant Plunderers

These are the individuals that unintentionally participate in plunder as they have not thought through the consequences of their actions. Those in this category are the majority of all plunderers and, unfortunately, a large percentage of society.

The Purposeful Plunderers

These are the individuals who know that their actions are contrary to human well-being and they continue in their plunder anyway. They can be thought of as “anti-life”. Those in this category are in the minority of all plunderers.

On Advancing Life

It appears then that there are three worthy endeavors that must be undertaken if one wishes to enhance life (freedom being an essential element):

First: One must work to master himself. Self-mastery. Self-control. Self-rule. He must work to adjust his actions so that he is no longer a participator in plunder. Freedom is self-control, not license to impose on others.

Second: One must work to educate those individuals that are Ignorant Plunderers so that they can recognize the negative consequences of their actions and then, hopefully, change those actions.

Third: One must invest a portion of his resources toward the protection of his life, liberty and property from both types of Plunderers. In a very real sense, freedom is self-defense.


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