Many people even today live under the yoke of very direct and brutal slavery. We have recently heard the horror stories.
But this is not the only way slavery is happening.
No – this time, I will not go on a long rant about how coercive taxation is, in a very real sense, the state making an ownership claim over our bodies, but it hits close.
Different societies are built on different principles – and, depending on these foundational ‘truths’, the governance of the society evolves. All societies evolve over time. But, those societies which build their governance on things other than the principles they were founded on soon run into serious trouble;
After all, in order for a society to function in a healthy way, for the citizenry to be able to anticipate, understand and guide themselves by the rules of the society, it is important for every new law, for every rule that is enforced, to be grounded in this foundation. I’m not sure if I am explaining this clearly, so, if I am making a mess of it, please, let me know and I’ll try to clarify.
What I mean by this is that in a very practical sense, for a new rule to ‘work’ in a society, one must be able to reason to it by starting with the foundational principles.
In other words, if laws are passed which are arbitrary – cannot be arrived at by reasoning from ‘first principles’, sooner or later, the governance will not form a seamless body but the laws and regulations will become a mess, some may even contradict each other and it will be upon the whim of the police and the judiciary as to which rules are enforced when…
Our politicians – in all levels of government – are busy passing laws and regulations. If every citizen were to memorize every new law and regulation as they are passed, they would have little time to actually be productive…and the society would begin to stagnate.
If, however, each and every law and regulation passed could be reasoned out from ‘first principles’ (the ‘foundational truths’ on which the society is built), then the citizen needs not memorize every new rule and regulation: these will simply be a natural extension of the foundations upon which the society is built.
One of the core – if not THE core – ‘foundational truths’ on which our society is built is the principle of self-ownership.
So far, so good – yes?
I own my body and you own yours. You cannot sell your children into slavery or for body organs, because while a parent may be a child’s guardian, the parent does not own their child. Each and every human being owns her or him self.
So, what are our bodies made up of?
Lots of stuff.
Some of our ‘stuff’ shares common things with other humans, some with all living things – and some of our ‘stuff’ is uniquely our own and defines us as an individual.
Let’s look at some examples of ‘stuff’ that makes us up – but which we share with some others.
Blood, for example.
We can, within certain defined parameters, switch blood from one person to another: from one who has enough and chooses to share to the ones who need it.
Same with, say, kidneys and corneas and lots of other ‘stuff’.
Our brilliant scientists have, for example, found a way to take a pig’s heart, keep the ‘infrastructure’ but wash away the DNA containing tissues, graft a human being’s own personal stem cells over this pig’s hear infrastructure – and then implant it into that human!!! Most brilliant, since all the DNA-bearing ‘stuff’ is that owner’s very own DNA, so the body recognizes it as part of itself and the immune system does not try to ‘kill this invader’: something which, when using another human’s heart, had to be fought with anti-rejection drugs that had considerable and unpleasant side effects.
And there’s all these new cancer treatments and chronic illness treatments based on gene therapies! It’s enough to make one feel like we’re living in the science fiction future!
Makes sense that we will expect more and more gene-based therapies for our ills.
But, there is a problem with this.
The problem is that, in their wisdom, the bureaucrats who award patents have agreed with deep-pocketed corporaions to grant them patents on genes. Both human and non-human…
Please, consider this very, very carefully.
For decades, the MD’s and medical researchers have warned that the greatest obstacle to more gene therapies being developed and used in the practice of medicine are – you guessed it – patents granted on genes.
Oh, it crept in gradually, like all the greatest villains in history.
First it was a human-modified gene in one creature or another which made it more suitable for medical studies – human-altered gene, it was argued, intellectual property rights…
Then it was ‘unraveling’ genes – doing the lab work to identify them and the role they played. The corporations argued – quite truthfully – that they invested money up front to make this possible. And they did, that is true.
But we must remember why patents were ‘brought about’: it was a trade off. The ‘inventor/thinker’ would share the information with everyone else about all aspects in return for ‘exclusive rights’ on the item for a period of time that would let them make back their investment plus a modest profit. But, it was argued, one could only patent ‘products’ – not naturally occurring ‘stuff’.
So – how come patents were granted to companies on naturally-occurring ‘stuff’ like genes?
A bit of ignorance and a bit of corruption, I guess…
But, we now find ourselves in a situation where multinational corporations own the patents on certain human genes.
Aside: this issue is explored very, very well in a most excellent Canadian Netflix show, ‘Orphan Black’. Not only is the show brilliantly written and generally awesomely executed, it tackles this very question: if a corporation ‘owns’ a ‘gene and all its derivatives’, and that gene is inside of you, do they ‘own’ you? Do they have a legal claim on your children? Your child is, after all, a derivative of your genes….
Please, indulge me in the following speculation.
A corporation owns a specific gene which is, say, introduced into asthma sufferers using a specific virus (as the genetic material carrier). This engineered DNA (patented by, say, Corporation ‘C’) is successfully integrated into your cells, so that all the cells of your body have replaced the old, ‘faulty asthma-causing gene’ with the newly engineered ‘C’ gene.
Then you have kids.
Your children will have inherited the ‘C’ gene.
Do you have to seek permission to ‘create a derivative of the ‘ C’ gene through reproduction’ before you have said child?
Do you owe the Corporation ‘C’ royalties?
Do they have an ownership claim on your offspring?
As the laws stand, these questions have not been answered very well.
For example, courts have ruled that if a genetically modified pollen accidentally pollinates your non genetically modified crops, you DO owe the pollen’s patent holder royalties.
Really, do think about where this is heading….
After all, if somebody owns your gene – something which is in every cell of your body – do they not have an actual claim of ownership over you?
This is why I am so thrilled that CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) has initiated a lawsuit challenging the patenting of a specific gene-test. OK – a baby step, but a very, very important one!!!
Let’s keep our eyes on this one!
Oh, my, where to start!
Something that seems so self evident to me appears to be beyond even consideration by the majority of people in today’s society….to the point that people who hold the same convictions as I are presumed not to exist any longer.
That is sad, very sad…
So, please, do let me present to you my reasoning for why ‘Freedom of Speech’ ought to be unfettered and absolute.
If you indulge me, I would like to present several completely different lines of reasoning – all from ‘first principles’, all logical, and all leading to the inevitable conclusion that speech MUST indeed be absolutely unfettered.
First line of reasoning: from the principle of self-ownership.
Each and every person owns his or her self.
Body, mind and soul.
This is the core principle on which our civilization is built – to reject this core principle is to reject our society, our form of civilization. And, since this argument is being made for conduct within this civilization, it is ‘core’ – a fundamental and irrevocable ‘starting point’ for our logical journey.
It is immoral and wrong for one person to own another, which is why we have abolished slavery.
With the principle of self ownership comes the responsibility for absolute accountability for one’s actions.
What this means is that an individual is 100% responsible for one’s own actions.
Regardless of what an individual is exposed to, he or she is absolutely responsible for their conduct as a response to it.
This means that no matter how much somebody else may incite you or lies to you, you and you alone are responsible for acting – or not – on that incitement or on those lies.
Yet, our current laws are written so as to put partial blame for ‘incitement’ or ‘lie’ on the speaker, rather than on the ‘actor’. This is extremely dangerous because it fails to build into our citizens an appropriate sense of self-responsibility, it infantilizes our citizenry – and we must fight against this most vigorously.
For an infantilized citizen is no longer capable of being self-responsible and rejects the self accountability and independence of self-ownership…
In other words, failing to be accountable for one’s actions without blaming others for ‘incitement’ or ‘lies’ (or, indeed, ‘hate speech’) surrenders one’s mind and soul to another: in violation of the principle of self-ownership.
Which will necessarily mean the end of our civilization, since our civilization, as stated at the beginning of this argument, is founded on self-ownership.
I have presented this argument first because it is the most ‘theoretical’ and principle based, in my never-humble-opinion. I would welcome you, my dear reader, to try to find flaws in the logic of this reasoning and present them to me for discussion because I really cannot see how this particular line of reasoning could be faulted.
Many of you might accept this particular argument ‘in theory’ – something that might be wonderful to implement in a utopian society, but impossible to implement in a real-life society of blood-sweat-and-tears humanity. That is indeed a fair objection, to which my only retort would be that this is what we ought to be aiming, that this ideal ought to be what we strive for – and not start out from the very beginning by lowering the standards to such an extreme low that the very existence of those of us who hold this principled point of view is doubted or denied.
This I lament as even many ‘free speechers’ start out the debate by saying ‘nobody thinks freedom of speech ought to be absolute, so let’s start talking about where to draw the lines’…
Freedom of speech MUST be absolute and any and all ‘lines’ limiting it MUST BE ERASED!!! Anything less is an existential threat to our very civilization and the abdication of the principle of self-ownership!!!
* * *
There are less theoretical and more practical reasons – yet all principled – for why freedom of speech ought to be absolute. I shall attempt to present just a few of them (as an exhaustive listing would take a lifetime to compile!) over the next few weeks and hopefully we can engage in a vigorous discussion.
For now, I’d like to start here, from the core principle of self ownership.
This is a little long, but true and important.
From first principles, there can be no other conclusion that non-voluntary taxation/deprivation of any individual of the fruits of their labour (i.e. violating their property rights) is, in fact, a form of slavery.
Let’s not forget that under the feudal system of serfdom, at the beginning, the workload required of the serf was relatively light: for example, in Poland, it was 1/2 day per week of labour per adult serf. But, as time went on, this amount kept creeping up and up, until, between the work required of the serfs for their lord and the Church, all adults and children laboured 6 days a week, from sundown to sunset.
With the growth of our government, forced taxation will inevitably lead to the same level of oppression!
Oh, you say, but we have more personal freedom than serfs ever did.
Perhaps, for now.
After all, the lord could control who may or may not travel (no fly list, anyone? … try to cross a border without a passport), the guilds controlled strictly who may or may not practice which trade (try practicing a trade without a license now – under Ontario’s new regulations, you may not even cut another person’s hair without first being accredited by and paying license fees to the government) and you could only live where your lord permitted you to (try building a house on your own property in Ontario – good luck!)
Worth a thought, isn’t it…
Of course, Mauritania is not the only place where slavery is still practiced.
After all, Muhammad was a slave holder and a slave trader, so it is not surprising that pious Muslims consider slavery to be ‘sunna’, or ‘in the way of Muhammad’ – whom their religion requires they emulate.
An integral part of Islam over the centuries – and even now.
If you think this could only happen in backward places and never in ‘Western’ countries, please, remember the case of the Muslim in the US who was charged with keeping a sex-slave: he argued that his arrest and prosecution was ‘religious discrimination’, because it is an integral part of his religious practices. (Sorry – I looked for 2 hours or the link to the few newspaper articles about this case from when it happened a few years ago – it seems to have dropped off the search engines…if you find it, please let me know and I will update the post!)
What we often don’t hear about is the nasty element of racism that permeates the Islamic practice of slavery: just like the English word for ‘slavery’ is based on the word ‘Slav’, the Atabic word for a black person also means ‘a slave’. (Arabic has more than one word for ‘slave’.)
What is happening in Africa right now is as much about religious persecution of non-Muslims (Christians included – but it is by no means limited to Christians) as it is about racial clensing: the large-scale slaughter of black Africans by Arab Africans. (Yes, we got a tiny glimpse into this when some reports leaked through during the Arab Spring about Libyans massacring black workers – but the context was usually lacking in the reports so people could not really understnd the significance of this.
We are often told by Islamist apologists that Muhammad did not like slavery – that one of his very first followers was a man whom he freed from slavery because he could not stand to watch this travesty…
Sure, he did do that: he freed an Arab who had been a slave to another slaver by trading him a black man in exchange for the Arab!!!
Because what outraged Muhammad was not that a man should be enslaved – but that an Arab should be! He had no difficulty with blacks being slaves, or Jews, or, for that matter, Slavs: he is said to have kept a Christian Slavic girl as a sex-slave: which prompted the centuries of hunting young Slavic girls as slaves for Muslim men, so they could emulate Muhammad.
Make no mistake: Islam not only sanctions slavery, it actively promotes it .