Friday, June 24, 2011

Does "Free" mean "Self Sufficient?"

I have been listening to and reading some stuff by libertarians who seem to think that in order to be truly free, one must be self sufficient. For example, many suggest growing one's own garden. I remember one especially silly reason for doing so was the great fragility of our food supply chain.

Now, put aside all the logistical reasons that one really can't be self sufficient (you'd need a lot of land per person, for one thing), and focus on the logical relationship between freedom and self sufficiency. I don't see how one follows from the other. Freedom, from the libertarian perspective, is a negative concept. It means that you are not coerced in any way; no one is invading your person or your property. It is a peaceful concept.

As freedom is a concept and philosophy of peaceful interaction, it is unrelated to isolationism. Of course, a person is free to try and be a hermit; no problem with that. You aren't free to take other peoples' stuff, though. But peaceful exchange is a fundamental part of freedom, and so to equate freedom with self sufficiency is to completely miss the point.


  1. Can we libertarians consider ourselves free, as you define it, in America? And I'm really referring to economic freedom, not Constitutional freedoms (speech, search and seizure, etc).

    It seems everyday, the state is intruding into our lives, depriving us of economic freedom.

    What is a man to do!?

  2. I'm glad I'm not (reliant upon) self sufficiency. I don't want to sew my own clothes, kill my dinner, and build my own house. This would be the opposite of free. That I can contract with others to provide these services makes me more free, no?

  3. Still thinking on the first comment, but the second comment is exactly my point.