This philosophy is based on the principle of self-ownership.
You own your life. To deny this is to imply that another person
has a higher claim on your life than you have. No other person,
or group of persons, owns your life nor do you own the lives of
You exist in time: future, present, and past. This is
manifest in life, liberty, and the product of your life and
liberty. The exercise of choices over life and liberty is your
prosperity. To lose your life is to lose your future. To lose
your liberty is to lose your present. And to lose the product of
your life and liberty is to lose that portion of your past that
A product of your life and liberty is your property. Property
is the fruit of your labor, the product of your time, energy,
and talents. Property is that part of nature which you turn to
valuable use. Property is the property of others that is given
to you by voluntary exchange and mutual consent. Two people who
exchange property voluntarily are both better off or they
wouldn’t do it. Only they may rightfully make that decision for
At times some people use force or fraud to take from others
without willful, voluntary consent. The initiation of force or
fraud to take life is murder, to take liberty is slavery, and to
take property is theft. It is the same whether these actions are
done by one person acting alone, by the many acting against the
few, or even by officials with fine hats.
You have the right to protect your own life, liberty, and
justly acquired property from the forceful aggression of others.
And you may ask others to help defend you. But you do not have a
right to initiate force against the life, liberty, or property
of others. Thus, you have no right to designate some person to
initiate force against others on your behalf.
You have a right to seek leaders for yourself, but you have
no right to impose rulers on others. No matter how officials are
selected, they are only human beings and they have no rights or
claims that are higher than those of any other human beings.
Regardless of the imaginative labels for their behavior or the
numbers of people encouraging them, officials have no right to
murder, to enslave, or to steal. You cannot give them any rights
that you do not have yourself.
Since you own your life, you are responsible for your life.
You do not rent your life from others who demand your obedience.
Nor are you a slave to others who demand your sacrifice.
You choose your own goals based on your own values. Success
and failure are both the necessary incentives to learn and to
Your action on behalf of others, or their action on behalf of
you, is only virtuous when it is derived from voluntary, mutual
consent. For virtue can only exist when there is free choice.
This is the basis of a truly free society. It is not only the
most practical and humanitarian foundation for human action; it
is also the most ethical.
Problems in the world that arise from the initiation of force
by government have a solution. The solution is for people of the
world to STOP asking officials to initiate force on their
behalf. Evil does not arise only from evil people, but also from
good people who tolerate the initiation of force as a means to
their own ends. In this manner, good people have empowered evil
Having confidence in a free society is to focus on the
process of discovery in the marketplace of values rather than to
focus on some imposed vision or goal. Using governmental force
to impose a vision on others is intellectual sloth and typically
results in unintended, perverse consequences. Achieving the free
society requires courage to think, to talk, and to act —
especially when it is easier to do nothing.
Watch the animated illustration of The Philosophy of Liberty