In February, 2014, I was invited to present the keynote address to the annual Clouds Over America conference in Oklahoma City, OK. Part of the program that evening was the presentation of awards to members of the Oklahoma state legislature who had distinguished themselves as defenders of freedom during the legislative session. I then had the privilege of speaking to this esteemed audience. Though some of this material has been published in a recent issue of the DeWeese Report, many in that audience asked for copies of this presentation. So I decided to reprint it here in its entirety. TAD
“Freedom.” We use that word a lot. Do we all really know what that word means? It’s used in so many different ways. Do we understand how it is attained? Most importantly, do we understand how it is used by some to actually take freedom away?
Simply put, freedom is the ability to act without hindrance or restraint. Freedom is owning your life, your actions, your labor. We say we support the “principles” of freedom. But what are those principles and where did they come from?
First of all, we must understand principles are not legislated or invented. Principles are discovered. Someone doesn’t just come up with an idea and start to sell it as a principle. A principle exists and you are subject to it, whether or not you know it.
For example, for centuries men were ignorant of the laws of physics but they were subject to them nonetheless. Man couldn’t fly or fit two objects in the same space, no matter how hard he tried because the laws (or principles) of physics are fact, whether known or unknown.
The same is true with the principles of freedom. The basic principles of freedom are consistent with man’s nature and that’s why they work. When the principles of freedom are recognized and adhered to, there is prosperity, justice, and happiness. When the principles have been ignored or rejected, men have suffered poverty, stagnation, and political tyranny.
So to obtain freedom it’s vital that we know what the principles are. There are three, actually. Individualism, private property, and free enterprise. They are all necessary for freedom to exist. Leave just one out, and freedom is eroded.
Individualism — your personal choices — the ability to pursue your own rational self-interest. Choices such as the religion you choose, the size home you build, the car you drive, the type of spouse you select. In short, individualism is fulfilling a life of one’s own.
Private Property. We start with the concept of the right to own and control private property. Your own body is the most important property you will ever own.
So private property is not just land. It is your thoughts, your possessions, and the fruits of your own labor. Without the right to own and dispose of the products of ones own life, the individual is dependent upon the State (or someone) for his very existence. So, it is obvious that one can’t be individualistic without the ability to own and control private property.
It can be argued that one can have no other rights without property rights. George Washington said, “Private property and freedom are inseparable.” Property rights activist and rancher Wayne Hage said, “Either you have the right to own property or you are property.”
And that brings us to the third principle of freedom — Free Enterprise. Free markets. Capitalism. The process whereby free men buy and sell and trade the products of their own lives free from interference.
These are the three principles of freedom and these are what we are fighting for.
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