The Passion of Liberty: Part Three - Goodwill to All

An individual who sacrifices his time, energy, service or life for the sake of the tribe is considered noble in this effort by the tribe.

Well, of course. This reflects the group's most highly proclaimed virtues: duty and altruism.

Nineteenth-century French sociologist Auguste Comte gave us the term 'altruism' as a theory of selfless conduct that aspires to the good of others as the ultimate end for any moral action.

Eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant refashioned the rubric 'duty' such that all acts of generosity, goodwill or benevolence were, by his definition, inherent obligations of society, and, hence, a sacrifice of our preferences and values for the sake of benefiting others.

Both of these terms include the concept of sacrificing oneself or one's values for the sake of the group, or for the welfare of others. 'A loss suffered or incurred without return,' sacrifice is not a trade-off or exchange, but giving up something for no personal benefit whatsoever. It is a negation of one's personal values, and one's personal sense of valuation; a subordination of self to others or to a group.

The root concept of benevolence has been intentionally muddled in people's programming, such that they confuse it with altruism, thinking that these are related or similar ideas. But they are very different concepts.

Benevolence comes from within as a reflection of our personal, individual sense of well-being. To force it, externally ' through moral intimidation (altruism), social intimidation (duty), or at the point of a gun (legislation) ' debilitates our personal sense of well-being and negates the source of benevolence.

Altruism and duty are, effectively, the premises of group bondage and servitude. These formulations negate the actual condition of goodwill, as they eliminate the necessary link that benevolence has to our sense of personal well-being: our health, security and personal bounty.

These enforcements also disconnect people from accountability for their actions. People are taught to mechanically do 'good' to others according to group priorities, values and definitions of 'the good,' rather than, empathetically and humanely, from their personal sense of what is good, appropriate ' or even respectful.

Kant's rationalization of duty provided the group ' social, religious, racial, governmental ' with justification for forcibly extracting acts of charity, goodwill or benevolence. It gave an intellectual gloss to their guns and whips. But any justification of the forcible violation of individual sovereignty is built on faulty reasoning. Both altruism and duty fail to acknowledge that benevolence is volitional, and that when volition is overridden (forced) it ceases to possess any of the qualities of benevolence and becomes bare-bones extortion.

Those who disconnect acts of goodwill from the condition of the actor, proclaim that, 'It would be a better world if people took care of one another. Therefore, we fill force people to take care of one another, and this will result in a better world.' Failing to acknowledge that the means do not justify (but destroy) such ends ' actually achieving the opposite.

It is through such mental erasures of identity and consequence, that people repeatedly return to the notion of altruism. That if benevolence is good, and that if more of it would be better, then we must force it or legislate it into existence. But it is not benevolent acts that have any value in themselves. It is the self-possessed, volitional quality of benevolence that has value, and only that. The acts are irrelevant in causing things to be better in the world, they are only byproducts, side-effects, symptoms and consequences. To focus on the 'good deeds' is to miss the whole thing.

And that's just what altruism and duty do. They miss the whole thing.

Some of this has absolutely nothing to do with liberty, except in the sense of obscuring its source, and in denying its productive role in well-being, benevolence, goodwill, generosity, charity and brotherhood. The group says we must force these things into existence; liberty says that's a good way to kill them.

Through the ages, the evidence of people giving their 'all' for some rough elements of political liberty is misinterpreted by the group as civic duty or altruism, equating such efforts to a sacrifice of self for values that do not benefit oneself, and/or, by implication, for the good of the group, and/or, by only looking at the surface, for the values of some poor soul whose rights were being violated.

However, political liberty does not work in a sacrificial fashion. The cause of liberty ' everyone's liberty; i.e., the effectiveness of the boundaries and the system to ensure them ' is to each person's individual self-interest. And, uniquely in human affairs, it is simultaneously to the benefit of everyone else.

The only value that individual human beings hold in common universally is the value of individual sovereignty. The cause of liberty serves one's own interests and the interests of others, equally and universally. No other personal, social, religious, or cultural values are, by extension, of equal weight to this fundamental political value. It is a value that makes every other benefit of society (of association) accessible. Effecting boundaries for this value is our single common cause; and this activity is our sole bond of universal brotherhood.

The use of one's time, energy, resources, and even one's well-being, health or life in pursuit of this goal is not a 'sacrifice'; it is an expenditure of one's resources upon one's personal security ' and upon a base which enables one's humanity in all further human associations. It has nothing to do with patriotism. It has nothing to do with 'the poor.' It has nothing to do with any of the class terms that exist within a collectivized power structure, except to eradicate their political enforcement ' for the benefit of all.

The source of 'rights' is the rightful exercise of sovereign control over one's existence possessed by every individual human being, without exception. When I am fighting for the security of anyone's political boundaries, I am also defending, upholding and securing my own political boundaries by that action. Their boundaries are mine own. There is no difference in the boundaries themselves, only in our individually chosen values, beliefs and actions, which form the substance of that which is protected and for which the boundaries exist.

The only 'limitation' on those boundaries derives from the reciprocal nature of boundaries ' such that the individual's sovereign control does not extend into the affairs of anyone else; i.e., does not violate the boundaries.

It will not benefit me more than you if we achieve liberty. Nor vice versa. I stand to gain exactly as much from your respect of my sovereignty, as you stand to gain from my respect of yours. There is, uniquely, no conflict of interests in this arena.

Institutional groups promote altruism in order to sacrifice individuals to the group, in the first instance by their indoctrination and subordination, and in later stages by extortions of money, energy, service, property, or their very life-blood in military defense of the institutional master.

The institutional promulgation of altruism is repudiated by all the prophets, and, in most instances, the practice of this doctrine ' sacrificing individual sovereignty to the authority of the group ' is what drove them to speak out, leading, in the case of one prophet, to crucifixion (for the 'crime' of practicing respect and humanity).

'Goodwill to all' is the leitmotif of liberty. It cannot be forced, imposed, coaxed or demanded. It is a consequence. The healing effect of respecting boundaries enhances our individual sense of well-being, such that benevolence, generosity and goodwill are irrepressible ' albeit respectful, still, and freely, if unpredictably, volitional.

A proponent or upholder of liberty has no interest, as such, in the welfare of any one or any group, but, rather, in the respect for individual boundaries; his own the same as anyone else's; to the equal benefit of himself and others. No conflicts; no sacrifices.

Liberty is born of self-interest. It effects goodwill to all through its practice, and it generates goodwill in everyone as a consequence.

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Richard Rieben's picture
Columns on STR: 14

Richard Rieben was a world traveler, house remodeler, and sometime author and philosopher. The thesis of his manifesto, Reciprocia, is, briefly: “Sovereignty is the base; reciprocity defines how to make it work.” Aside from harping incessantly on the theme of liberty, he led a fairly normal life in middle America, where he scouted for silver-linings. His internet articles are featured at  He passed away sometime after 2005.