On the Blessings of Liberty

Representative Steve King (R-IA) put out a tweet the other day claiming “our” civilization cannot be restored “by other people’s babies.”  To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite philosophers and writers, Johan Norberg, Rep. King is dead wrong.  Our civilization rests upon liberal* values, values such as:

“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” (Declaration of Independence)

Or:

It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property, since they pre-exist, and his work is only to secure them from injury (The Law, Frederic Bastiat)

Or:

Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.

Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions. (Second Treatise of Government, John Locke)

These, and many more represent the values of our liberal civilization.  These blessings of liberty, therefore, fall not upon any one group of people, but all groups of people.  Liberty, like her dear sister Justice, is blind and she loves those who love her.  The guardians of Liberty and Justice are not the white man, or even Western Civilization.  Indeed, if they were, they’d be terrible guardians (as early as 1850 Bastiat was warning about the legalization of plunder perverting the law).  Further, Western Civilization no more created Liberty and Justice or liberalism than did they invent fire.

If we look at the above quotes, we see there are no demarcations between who gets natural rights and who does not, who have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and who do not.  Locke said “all men,” not “only Englishmen” or “only men” or “only Christians.”  The US Constitution promises, though the Bill of Rights, protection from government for all people, not just citizens (citizens get certain other political rights, yes, but that is not the topic of discussion here).  Bastiat discusses that the blessings of liberty pre-exist for all people and come not from the legislator.

My message to Rep. King of Iowa is simple: liberty is the birthright of all people, and liberty will bless all people who love and protect her, regardless of their gender, their skin color, their intelligence level, their national origin (or that of their parents), etc.  Those who would deny a person their blessings for reasons of characteristics are no friend to liberty.

Our civilization belongs to all those who love the ideals of Liberty and Justice, who support the rule of law, free markets, and freedom.  Those who seek to destroy those values, including those within the civilization itself, have no claim to the civilization.  Liberty is not inherited by skin color or national heritage.

*Standard disclaimer about meaning “liberal” here in the classical sense

One thought on “On the Blessings of Liberty

  1. Excellent post! It is good to see someone quoting the Declaration of Independence, Bastiat’s “The Law,” and Locke’s “Second Treatise of Government.” The ideas contained in these documents are often forgotten by those claiming to be “progressive.”

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