Should (this) Be Allowed?

How dare you run your life without my permission!
How dare you run your life without my permission!

We live during a time when public opinion is given enough gravity to become rule of law. You can scarcely open a daily newspaper (do people still read those?) – okay, you can hardly read an online news aggregator without seeing an article examining whether or not a group of individuals “should be allowed” to do one thing or another.

Should gays be allowed to marry?
Should people be allowed to smoke pot for medical reasons?
Should people be allowed to drink raw milk?
Should a dying person be allowed to take his own life?

The inherent premise underlying all of these “debates” is that individuals must live their lives by the permission of other people. That somehow a referendum must take place in order to legally establish what a person can do in the privacy of his own life. Only after enough people discuss the issue on Huffington Post, Slate and Facebook and after millions of dollars have been donated to political campaigns via lobby groups that assemble coalitions of special interests to pressure key votes will the right vs. wrong morality of the matter be decided definitively.

Many think this is a fair and just way to determine how society should live and evolve. If you are one of them let me ask you some questions from only a few decades ago:

Should a black person be allowed to marry a white person?
Should a Jew be allowed to attend medical school?
Should a woman be allowed to own real estate?
Should an unmarried couple be allowed to have sex?

How many blacks, Jews and women had to go to prison or spend their lives doing battle with the “rights givers” just to take possession of their own lives? At the very least, how many had to sit on the sidelines waiting for the battle to end so they could productively go on with their lives? What is the cost to humanity for this ongoing system of determining rights? What is the cost to our economy in money and man-hours debating, politicizing and adjudicating this ridiculous assumption that the rights of the individual are derived from the collective consent of his neighbors?

What a sickness it is to reflexively believe that individuals cannot conduct their lives as they see fit until they have the permission of their neighbors. And see how this poison ethic spills into international affairs? Should Mexico be allowed to legalize soft drugs? Should Iran be allowed to develop atomic power? Should China be allowed to buy oil from Saudi Arabia without using U.S. dollars? Sorry, not until the rest of us talk it over and give our permission.

There are only two ways for individuals to interact with each other’s property; contractually or coercively. In all of the above examples there are parties that can come to mutual agreement thus forming a contract. All that matters is that the contract is agreeable to the parties involved, beyond that it is nobody else’s business. Outside interference in that contract is coercion. The only way – the only way! – to eliminate coercion in this world is to supplant it with contract. When that is done we will have True Freedom and True Peace. It will be a long road but it is achievable. As huge as the task may seem the path is clearly visible, we begin by looking at every place coercion exists and asking how it can be replaced by contractual agreement and, most importantly, we only offer our support to those who act contractually.

Toward Freedom



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11 responses to “Should (this) Be Allowed?”

  1. My thoughts:

    The most problematic aspect of what you’ve written, for me, is this sentence: “There are only two ways for individuals to interact; contractually or coercively.” I’m not sure I’m qualified to assess the truth value of that statement, especially since you’ve not defined the key words “individuals,” “interact,” “contractually,” and “coercively,” and, thus, we have to assume we both mean the same things by those words. But if we agree that a conversation, such as we’re having here, is an interaction between individuals and if we agree that, in this instance, it is neither contractual nor coercive, then what does this do to the absolute “only two ways” of your statement?

    Beyond that you speak of supplanting coercion with contract and you make it sound like that is an achievable aim. I personally doubt that. We do not come into this world having a contractual relationship with those upon whom we depend for survival. On the contrary, it is an unequal partnership where we are educated, acculturated, programmed — whatever you want to call it — by parents, teachers and figures of authority who subject us to and demand that we accept coercive strategies from them on a regular basis from our earliest moments on Earth. It is a fundamental part of our social conditioning and is, therefore, very difficult to change. Perhaps if people responded well to reason and logic, yes, perhaps it could be done. I seen little evidence of this, however.

    • Thanks for commenting. Your critique is valid and I have amended the sentence to put a sharper point on what I meant. It now reads, “There are only two ways for individuals to interact with each other’s property; contractually or coercively.” In time this blog will provide definitions of the terms used, but even if we use Mr. Webster’s definitions would you take the position that unless there is 100% compliance with contractual control of property it is justified to determine whether, say, blacks and whites can marry by popular referendum? Or that it is justified to take Peter’s money by force in order to curry favor with Paul?

      My position is that if there is mutual voluntary agreement between the parties* that is all that is required to be a moral transaction. (*Adults of sound mind, not clinical morons and children.) In a moral society this formal concept will grow in use until eventually (perhaps in a century) it supplants the use of coercion almost completely. (There will always be short lived exceptions but they will diminish asymptotically as it is widely recognized that coercion always results in more being lost than gained. i.e. cheat the baker and butcher won’t contract with you either.)

      • Thank you, Pete, for clearing that up a bit. I’ll be interested to see you define these terms, especially “property”.

        I’m certainly not going to take issue with you regarding “popular referendums” as a means for dictating the behaviors of others. I’ve often found myself “on the wrong side” of established social attitude and, occasionally, the law. For example, I first smoked pot when I was 19 years old and that was a LONG time ago (1967). To this day I prefer it to alcohol as my evening “martini” and I thoroughly believe what I ingest in the privacy of my own home should not be of anyone else’s concern.

        However, the fact that this particular behavior IS illegal (despite a lot of research indicating there is no just cause for it to be so and despite the fact that there are millions of pot smokers in this country) begs a much bigger question: Who controls what is and is not “allowable” behavior? I am no longer so naïve as to believe that decisions regarding the actual structures of power behind the illusion of our so-called “Democracy” (or “Republic”) are left up to voters. Put differently, wars (for example) will end when they are no longer profitable. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  2. Exactly. 1. The current situation with pot use is one of the sharpest examples of telling people they do not own their bodies and that anything can be arbitrarily criminalized without recourse to logic. The financial and social toll of beer compared to pot is staggering, yet people are encouraged to “grab a six pack before the big game” as if it was the most American thing a good citizen could do. But the guy smoking ‘bud’ instead of drinking ‘a Bud’ is jailed at great personal and taxpayer expense.
    2. Taking the profit out of war (and every other form of coercion) is the modest goal of this blog and yours truly. And a better word is plunder. The definitions I use mean that profit is always moral (i.e. absent of coercion) and plunder is always immoral.

  3. Very well written Pete. 99% of the masses don’t even know they are pawns. One would assume, this is caused by the lack of information available to them. However we both know this is not the case. Rational thought is FREE and available to every human around the world. I suspect that FEAR is what prevents people from pursuing the truth in life. Not fear from violence (although this is sometimes the case) but fear from the unknown. Humans are creatures of habit and you know, as well as I do, that people love their “comfort zone.” But to quote something I read many years ago…”The comfort zone is quite possibly the most uncomfortable place you will ever be.” Unfortunately,this is where most people exist …and this is the exact reason that prevents most people from LEARNING.
    Keep fighting the good fight my friend. I’m with you.


    •  Most people are a product of their conditioning. If you tell them 1,000 times that voting for what they want at the expense of others is good, proper and most of all – patriotic – they will die for the belief. They are conditioned from early school age to not question what they are told. It’s a nice little racket for the people running it.

  4. Indeed, we live our lives at the permission of the state. And a majority of westerners have said that’s just fine with them. They want a nanny to tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. But more specifically, they want a nanny to tell YOU how to do everything. It makes them feel better knowing some collectivist in the sky is making sure you don’t make them uncomfortable.

    • Yes, it’s disheartening how some people want to live. Harriet Tubman said she freed thousands of slaves and could have freed thousands more if they’d known they were slaves. That’s pretty chilling. But there they are today waving the flag and talking with tears in their eyes about how free they are – while bound by law to support the State with every hour of their labor.

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