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Is Liberty Only for Owners of Land/Websites?

I'm thinking a lot these days about the nature of Liberty, where it comes from and how someone can actually have it.

Some premises:

- every person who owns land (or a website, etc.) governs that land as essentially a private dictator

- if the entire world is subdivided into these lands, each a private dictatorship, then those who are visitors, renters or trespassers on that land must abide by the whims of the owner


Doesn't this mean that anyone who doesn't own land (or a website) has no true Liberty, since they can only exercise their religion, speech, etc. subject to the dictates of the 'lords' of the various lands? How is it an inalienable right, under natural law, if so?

Any thoughts? :)

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Liberty Defined

I know Dr. Paul already has that Title secured, but the shoe fit.

We have to recognize that Ownership of one's self is the key to Liberty. One can own some land but be in servitude to another. Liberty, as you allude to, is relative based upon where you are at the time. This is where the American 'Experiment' comes into play.

The American Experiment was not a Republic, it was Self Rule or Self Government. In order to have Self Rule, it was postulated that a Limited Governance of All would be required to maintain the ability to govern oneself without the fear of the Tyranny that still existed in the world, or the Tyranny that always seems to pop into existence. It was a set of Rules that All could agree upon and observe.

Liberty is at its root a near lack of Dependence upon others. Specialization and Division of Labor makes compete Independence impractical, but we can still enjoy Liberty as long as we are free to earn our own way to Pursue Happiness.

After reading Adam Smith's "Theory on Moral Sentiment' it became clear to me that Happiness, as Jefferson interpreted it, was the ability to be both Self Interested and Altruistic at the same time. Both required Free Will and having one without the other seems to always lead to unhappiness.

I think Liberty is the measure of one's ability to Pursue Happiness, which of course is a measure of Free Will.

can land really be owned?

I think not. Land is part of nature. People can claim to own it and get all territorial trying to defend that claim. But they don't really own it. You have just as much right to it as they do when you think about it. And in a practical sense, in most states you are paying taxes on it and thus just renting the land besides.

It used to be when I was younger people were much more open with their land and freedom of movement over it. But we live in a world of fear now and people are all territorial. Liabilities, etc. I find it very sad. My neighbor wanted me to put a fence across part of "my" property but I refused. Still I am mostly fenced in by my neighbors.

The liberty you have is mostly in your mind and spirit. A qigong teacher of mine moved here from China for freedom....and she did find our spirits are much more free here.

Rightful Liberty by TJ

In the words of Mr. Jefferson, who got some things very very wrong because he lacked the courage, he was succinct on what he viewed as part of the perfect republic.

"Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."
--Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany

True Liberty,

has no material bindings as you become a slave of the material.


Liberty does require some qaulification.

A person who's means are few... will not be at much Liberty.
this is just natural.

I am not sure I understand the context of your query.
is it about "original intent"?
organic (natural) law. was first promulgated in the age of Reason, or Enlightenment.


if your query is about true equality. then you need to understand that is a farce. the only way that two people can be equal, is under the law.
but how do we define the word "Law"?
and that... is where Nature comes into play.

This is...

...a bit frustrating, because I'm eager to reply to all the excellent responses below; but with work and holiday prep and driving and changing diapers, I'm lucky if I get two minutes at a keyboard. :) I am reading them as I can, though -- thanks!

I think the ownership of any space entails certain privileges

I remember reading a book called "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz", and there is a line from the book that really had an impact on me, "A man without land has nothing".

It's by Mordecai Richler.

I would say that Richler is commenting on the specific liberty and freedom that are granted to landowners.

For right or wrong, it is what it is. It's a very good question Micah.

From a moral standpoint I'm not sure. I do know that if the government were to grant everyone equal land ownership to balance equal freedoms regarding property rights, I think we would resemble a more communistic society so that would probably be a bad idea.

What do you think liberty means?

That you can do whatever you want whenever you want to?

That was NOT what the founding fathers found for.

Per the founding fathers and Spirit of the American Revolution, "liberty" meant freedom FROM GOVERNMENT.

That's it.

Digging into the roots,

it looks like the earliest definition of liberty is:
"free choice, freedom to do as one chooses"

A website owner can't fully do as they please. They are constrained by the available servers, software, etc., so their liberty only exists within a certain scope. Same with land owners really, unless you are in Alaska. I mentioned below, but I wonder if external liberty can ever be realized.

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.


an answer that I relate to. I'll save my thoughts about it for my own comment.

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

Common Law

Your question is a non starter, as it premises those without land can never obtain land.

Nevertheless, you have the natural Liberty to travel where ever your feet take you, and I have the right to set the Rules of Use on that which is my land through Common Law, to wit under such land tenancy I or my heirs or designee are the Sovereign Monarch.

Thus you have no authority to make or cause Legal waste to the property or benefit from the fruits thereof without my voluntary consent.

Ergo, if you ask for assistance to pick peaches from my peach tree and I concur, then you may pick the peaches.

However if you merely take without asking or I do not wish to offer you assistance, and you still persist in picking peaches, then as the Sovereign Monarch, I may repel your molestation of my peaches.

We see the same scenario in Nature, through animal dens, teritory et al.

I am in support of your peaches....


If you want to express yourself...

...who can stop you?
Property owners can only dictate as far as their ability to en[force] dictates exists.
They don't get some magical ability to suspend physical laws of the universe within the bounds of their property lines.
Short of putting a person in the ground, nobody can take away inalienable rights, except that one, whether being cowardly, observing respect for the interests of others, or for some other reason, might restrain one's self from asserting them.


The only thing you actually own with land is the liability associated with it.
Stop paying your taxes on it and see what you own.
States, Counties, Cities and Townships own the land. You just pay rent.


Somebody said that if you

Somebody said that if you want to help the poor, don't be poor.

So, if you don't want to be a slave save up and buy some land.

I'm pretty sure nobody handed me the land I live on

and 'rent' from the government. Everyone had the same chances we did when it came to saving and preparing to buy property. We saved up and bought the land, and now pay our yearly tax fee to be able to stay on the land we bought and paid for. We have looked all over the Florida coast for a place down there and can't find anything without a crazy HOA telling you how to live on the property that you supposedly own. So as of yet we are not investing in Florida and will refuse to do so as long as there is an HOA involved. Then it hit me..even though I don't have an HOA here in Oklahoma, the yearly tax that allows me to live on my land, is very similar. Only it's billed once a year rather than monthly. Either one can take my land if I am in arrears in my payment, even only a few cents. I can have 200k invested into land and a farm, and have it all taken away for only a few cents. Do any of us have true liberty? Me thinks not.

if there's an equal ability for all to own property

Labeling private property rights as dictatorial seems anti-liberty.

Liberty is being left alone by an authority. It's not the freedom to protest on someone else's private property.

If the whole world was divided into private property, as long as you had a right and reasonable chance of acquiring private property yourself, then liberty would exist. If you didn't because you were a serf, then you'd have some natural right to overthrow such a system by violating the property rights of the "first class" citizens.

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Michael Nystrom's picture

Noam Chomsky calls corporations "Private Tyrannies."

When you are on the clock at work, you basically have no rights. That is the origin of the term "wage slave." But unlike a real slave, wage slaves get paid. They have a few hours of free time - freedom each day.

It is an excellent question.

Related to yours: What does it mean that America is a "free country?" What is it that we're free to do?

What, in fact, is Liberty?

He's the man.

CEOs are slaves too

The owners of the corporation are slaves to the consumers.

They work for the consumer and if the consumer doesn't like their product, the owners lose money after all those hours of work -- they don't even get paid!

CEOs are slaves and they're not even guaranteed an income. They're in a worse situation than the wage slaves.

What kind of freedom is that?

I think of liberty as the

I think of liberty as the ability to contend for my needs and desires with the forces opposed to those needs/desires.

On the physics, laws of nature front, I'm still at liberty to contend with gravity and try to fly, despite the likelihood I'll fail. I'll still at liberty to contend with the owner of a website or land for my desires/needs in those spaces. The greater degree of authority they may have over those spaces does not separate me from my liberty to contend with that authority. Neither does my acceptance of a job. I'm at liberty to contend for my desires on the job, off the job, without a job.

Liberty, like equality, for me is more related to ability to pursue than it is to outcomes. Two people with the same degree of liberty may live with very different degrees of freedom.

Good question.. I'm wondering if

complete external liberty is even possible. Perhaps we all look for it where it can't be found, and ignore the domain of the mind where it could exist.

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.


but the comparison of "wage slaves" to real slaves isn't apt and isn't even close.

A wage slave/employee still has human rights, such as the right to be free from harm (or defend yourself). So for example your employer can't intentionally fill your work area with toxic gas/smoke etc. or put poison in the drinking water.

Actual slaves were treated as less than human since they could be harmed - whipped, raped, and even killed. Actual slaves got paid too - they received scraps from their master's table and were rewarded with less abuse when they performed well. Wage slaves can also quit and leave whenever they want - key difference.

Ahh, yes it is close

dig into our history a bit. Look at what the coal companies did to their employees in the coal strikes in the early 20th century in Pennsylvania. Employees were paid with company script, lived in company housing, and were not allowed to leave the premises. If more than 2 people gathered in the company town, they would be brutally beaten. When they striked, the Coal and Iron police or later, the PA State Police would come in with clubs and guns, torturing some and killing others. Not only were the companies brutal, but law enforcement was put in place to make sure "wage slaves" knew their place... and no they could not quit.

Today, while a company cannot directly stop an employee from leaving, debt is the deterent. Go to college, get a mortgage, have a bunch of kids, and then see if one feels like a wage slave. A company can fill an area with toxic gas or add poison to their water supply as long as it is within the threshold of what OSHA or the EPA deems "safe".

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.

Looking into this

briefly you seem to be misrepresenting what happened a bit.

It looks like coal and iron companies in PA were operating a bit "gangster" style. The feuding was over the issue of strikes/picketing. The companies didn't want any so working with govt. (probably corrupt) they established the Coal and Iron police which were not much other than hoodlums with badges. In 1911 one of these Iron policemen was shot and killed by a Z. Walker - Walker was then lynched.

I find it hard to believe employees couldn't leave of their free will. Otherwise that would be tantamount to white slavery, which I'm sure we would have heard about.

Black slaves OTOH certainly couldn't leave, and if they escaped (illegally) they could be killed and/or returned. Black slaves were property. If you ever wonder why dishes like "chitlins" (pig intestines) are popular in the South it's because slaves had to eat the scrap parts of the hog. I find it hard to believe there were white citizens that could be legally whipped, beaten, raped, and killed. I'm not talking about confrontations. We know those can get brutal. Apparently a Coal company paid compensation in the death of John Barkoski from a beating of the Iron/Coal police. I don't think you'll find many cases of compensation being paid for the death or beating of a slave.

Slavery was outlawed at the time,

so nothing done was "legal". I don't think anyone would argue that an 8 year old being forced to mine coal is anything other than a slave.


The term "slave" existed long before our nation's atrocities towards blacks. I'm not comparing black slaves to wage slaves because they certainly were treated more harshly. The miners were closer to the "slaves" which were freed during the year of jubilee.

I would have to do some digging to pull up the congressional testimony which showed workers at some mines needed company permission to leave the town. If you left the town without permission, you and your family were fired, evicted, and black-balled, which typically ended in starvation. I'm kind of bored tonight, so I'll look here in a bit a give a link if I can find it.

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.

Say what?

- In 1662, Virginia legally recognized slavery as a hereditary, lifelong condition. Even before this statute appeared, however, many blacks were being held as slaves for life ...

- When a slave named Dred Scott went before the Supreme Court in the 1850s, a significant ruling affirmed the sovereignty of slaveholders in America. Scott argued that his residence with his master in the free territories of Wisconsin and Illinois entitled him to freedom. The Court said differently. Its 1857 decision on DRED SCOTT v. SANFORD declared that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories. More importantly, it pronounced that blacks were not citizens and therefore were not guaranteed rights under the U.S. Constitution.


I'm not saying there haven't been instances of harsh working conditions in this country and throughout the world. However, I don't think that can be in any way equalized to the mental torment slaves faced. I read in one online discussion a Native American saying they faced essentially equal hostility from "white" American settlers, but I disagree. The opportunity to fight and go to war is one thing. That's a choice. If you happen to die well at least you went fighting for what you believe in. There can be honor in that. However, black slaves were often treated as less than human. They say some things are worse than death. If I had to imagine it, being stripped of all dignity with no hope for the future other than lifelong servitude might qualify, in other words actual human slavery.

The time I spoke of was

the late 19th and early 20th century which was more than apparent from the link I posted.

I guess I'll repeat: I wasn't at any time comparing wage slaves to black slaves. You didn't address anything that I stated.

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.


"I guess I'll repeat: I wasn't at any time comparing wage slaves to black slaves. You didn't address anything that I stated."

Yet the title of your very first response to me:

"Ahh, yes it was close"

I've encountered bosses that thought their employees were slaves

They end up with an unmotivated and largely unqualified workforce because the able folks tell them to shove it.

People are free to do whatever they want. Sometimes there are consequences - sometimes not. However, 99% of the time punishment comes after the fact and fails to prevent the original action.

In a technical sense, you have a point...

disregarding other types of property people acquire over time (including intellectual property).

However, if every landlord and every website administrator began practicing absolute tyranny, they would soon find their websites vacant, and in the case of landlords, someone would likely kill them.

For instance, imagine that your landlord comes to your house daily and punishes you and your children for not keeping the place up to his/her satisfaction. Further, suppose every landlord did this. How long would people put up with it? Would you put up with your landlord grounding you, for example?

So although this technical argument may exist, in a practical sense it is irrelevant.