Freedom and Individualism Notes

Practical Freedom

"If you are waiting for the government to change, or society to change, or for some program or movement to be successful to find freedom, you will never be free."

By, "practical freedom," I mean identifying what it is you want to do and achieving the conditions in which you are free do it. Freedom means being able to do whatever you choose to do without the interference of any other individuals or human agencies, including government. If you are able to do whatever you choose, you are free.

[NOTE: I call this practical freedom to differentiate it from what I call "ideal" freedom which is what most people think they want and work for. Ideal freedom is freedom one just has because they live in an ideal "free" society. There is nothing wrong with the ideal as a goal or aspiration, but it is unlikely that kind of ideal freedom is possible. Real freedom can be realized by anyone in their lifetime, that is why it is practical. Ideal freedom has never and will likely never be realized, anywhere.]

The importance of determining exactly what you want to do cannot be overemphasized. It is very easy to get sidetracked into thinking freedom means being someplace where everyone is free to do what they choose, but there is no such place in the world. Every country in the world has some oppressive restrictions on some things.

The issue is not a country's government or laws, but whether you are able to do whatever you choose to do in that country. If there is a country that outlaws gambling and pornography, for example, but there are no legal restrictions on setting up and running a business, if you have no interest at all in gambling or pornography, and what you want to do is to run a business, those laws will be no restriction on your freedom.

[NOTE: There is a very bad idea some liberty-lovers believe that falls into the class of ideas originating in collectivism: "If everyone isn't free, none of us are free." It is the equivalent of "if everyone is not well we are all sick," and it is just as absurd. You do not have to free the world, or your country, or even your own community to be free yourself.]

The Free Today

If you know only those who accept the limits imposed on them by the various oppressive governments they live under, it may surprise you to know, there are millions of people in this world who are completely free, who live there lives as they choose. No one tells them what to do, or not to do, and they do whatever they choose whenever they choose, without getting anyone's permission or approval.

I tell you this, because one of the greatest barriers to achieving total freedom and independence is the belief that in the present world freedom is impossible. If it were impossible, no one would be free, but the millions that are free prove this is not true.

You actually know many of these free individuals, or at least about them. It probably does not occur to you that they are free, but being able to do whatever one chooses whenever they choose to is exactly what freedom is.

Most multimillionaires, for example, are totally free. Some millionaires and billionaires you've heard of, but most you will never know exist. Do you suppose millionaires worry about a TSA pat down, or other harassments when traveling to various countries in the world on their private jets?

If you are not aware of how many millionaires there are, the following figures may surprise, perhaps even shock you:

[2012 Statistics]

1. North America—3,730,000 millionaires
2. Europe—3,410,000 millionaires
3. Asia-Pacific—3,680,000 millionaires
4. Latin America—520,000 millionaires
5. Middle East—490,000 millionaires
6. Africa—140,000 millionaires

[NOTE: In 2015 there were also 1,826 billionaires worldwide.]

That means over 12,000,000 people can probably do just about anything they choose. How many of them choose to be free cannot be known, of course. The point is, there are that many that could live freely if they chose too.

In this inflationary day, perhaps just a million is not enough for one to be completely free. In 2012, 65,000 U.S. residents possess more than $30 million dollars each. They are no doubt free to live just about as they choose. Worldwide, in addition to the United States, there are over 130,000 individuals possessing $30 million or more.

In addition to the very rich, according to the UN there are more than 200 million people living outside their own country. Many, of course, are employees of companies with foreign contracts, but many more simply live where they can be most free. They are expatriates, or simply, "expats."

There are literally millions of people in the world who have already established their own freedom.

Paths To Freedom

Money is one path to freedom, and perhaps the most important one. In truth, only independent individualists truly want freedom and an independent individualist is always a creator and producer. Money should always be one path available to the independent individualist. The next article on Money will introduce some aspects of the money path to freedom.

An independent individualist will be a producer, but part of establishing one's freedom is ensuring one keeps the wealth one produces, which means both preserving and growing it. That is exactly what the Investing and Saving article following the Money article will be about—how to gain, keep, and grow your money.

Money is not the only route to one's personal freedom, and subsequent articles will discuss other methods with examples of those who have used them to make themselves free.

No matter what methods or routes to freedom one chooses to implement, all will require attention to one aspect of all oppression: the violation of individual privacy. Without that violation most, government oppression, such as taxes, would not be possible. The government could not tax your income if it did not know you had an income or how much it is. In order to tax you, the government must first violate your privacy to learn details about your private life which are none of its business. Privacy is one of the first steps in establishing one's personal freedom, whatever freedom means to any individual. Privacy will be the subject of another later article.

What's Essential

Whatever freedom means to you, and whatever path you must take to achieve that freedom, there are going to be many interesting attractions tempting you away from your main pursuit. They are not usually bad things in themselves, but they will divert your energy and resources away from your objective.

It is natural, for example, to be interested in the politics of one's own city, or state, or country and to some extent; the freedom seeking individualist must be aware of those aspects of the political terrain if it will affect his own pursuit of freedom. Politics is very alluring to some, however, and it is easy to get caught up in the political itself, perhaps even being convinced that political action is a means to one's own personal freedom. It isn't, and never can be.

There is certainly nothing wrong with political action, if that is what one is personally interested in, but if one expects any such action to contribute to their own freedom, the time and energy they waste on such action will actually stand in the way of their achieving their own personal freedom.