Chapter II
The Universal Desire For Freedom

2.1 The Need To Establish A Common Purpose For Government

      We have seen that the first and most fundamental lesson man can learn is that of obedience to natural law. Until he does this it is impossible for him to knowingly accomplish any purpose whatsoever. This basic truth is the starting point for the acquisition of knowledge in every discipline and applies with as much force to the study of government as to other fields. In view of this fact, we are commencing our study of this subject by seeking to identify those natural laws which must be obeyed to achieve the purposes we seek through the agency of government.

      However, before proceeding to this task, it will be necessary to agree upon the purpose or purposes to be accomplished. Unless all men are willing to give priority to a single objective, or unless the various goals set for government are harmonious, it will be impossible to find a set of natural laws, obedience to which will accommodate everyone. An antagonism in purposes would require a sacrifice of one goal to accomplish another — a violation of the natural laws which lead to one result in order to obey those which lead to results inconsistent therewith.

      But is there one goal for government which all men agree is transcendent and takes precedence over all others? Or, in lieu thereof, is there a single set of goals which are fully compatible upon which similar agreement may be reached? If not, we face an insuperable obstacle in our attempt to discover a set of natural moral laws which will serve as an unerring guide in the conduct of political affairs. If the services which governments perform do not provide something which all men need and desire — if they do not protect the rights of all men equally — then the dream of “liberty and justice for [p. 10] all” is unattainable.

      Men are so diverse in their interests and aims that it may appear impossible to pass a set of civil laws demanding uniformity of conduct which will serve the needs and desires of all people equally. While some are religious, others deny the existence of God; while some are devoted to much learning, others are content to remain uneducated; while some love art, music and the theatre, others prefer science, engineering or sports; while some desire palatial homes, rich food and expensive clothing, others are content with the simpler things of life. Furthermore any one person is subject to constant change so that his objectives and values at one point in life may be replaced by a very different set later on. Do these infinitely diverse and ever-changing purposes and interests make it impossible for the members of society to reach agreement upon a single and controlling purpose for government?

2.2 The Transcendent Purpose Of Government — Individual Freedom

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. (D&C 101: 78)

And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land. (Mosiah 29:32)

I refer to the fundamental principle of the gospel, free agency. References in the scriptures show that this principle is (1) essential to man’s salvation; and (2) may become a measuring rod by which the actions of men, or organizations, of nations may be judged. (President David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 299-300)

      Fortunately there is a common need and desire which all men share and which takes precedence over all other considerations: this is the need and desire to be free. Every person, no matter in what age or country he lives desires his own liberty of action. While men may [p. 11] differ widely in their individual goals, every person wants the freedom to carry out his own purposes whatever they may be. Thus, everyone with a goal will have an accompanying desire to be free to achieve it.

      Not only does every person desire freedom for himself but this desire takes precedence over every other consideration. To become and remain free is paramount because when a person is in bondage, he must first free himself before he can pursue any other purpose. This truism applies to partial as well as total restraints. If servitude in any degree makes impossible the attainment of an objective, the removal of the restraint must occur before the goal can be reached.

      Assuming that a state of freedom is transcendent above all other needs, it should constitute the supreme and controlling objective of government. No other purpose can be allowed to take precedence over it, and if any other goal is found to be in conflict therewith or to diminish in any degree the freedom of the individual, it must be abandoned as being opposed to the paramount need and desire of all men. So considered, we may establish freedom not only as the supreme but the exclusive purpose of government. If freedom exists, any achievement within the power of man is made possible while without it every other goal is beyond reach.

2.3 The Elements Of Freedom

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life. (D&C 134:2)

Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of thus land, by the hands of wise men whom I have up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (D&C 101:79, 80)

Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief.

And they durst not steal, for fear of the law, for such were [p. 12] punished; neither durst they rob, nor murder, for he that murdered was punished unto death. (Alma 1:17, 18)

But Ammon said unto him: It is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should be any slaves among them; therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of our brethren (Alma 27:9)

But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished.

For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds. (Alma 30:10, 11)

      Since every person desires freedom, every person desires those possessions without which the exercise of freedom is impossible. They are:

(1)       Life and some degree of physical and mental health and strength;

(2)       The absence of restraint and coercion by others;

(3)       Knowledge of those laws which must be obeyed to achieve one’s goals;

(4)       The right and control of property.

      Let us observe that each of these four possessions is indispensable to the exercise of freedom and that each person wants his own protected against injury and loss in order that he may accomplish his own purposes whatever they may be.

2.4 Life

      To strive toward any goal one must have some degree of physical and mental health and strength. Therefore, the desire for life is at least as strong as the desire to accomplish goals. Every rational person wants bodily health not only because of the freedom from pain and suffering which it brings but also because the greater the vigor of mind and body the more able one is to accomplish his purposes or exercise his freedom.

      Of course, there are those abnormal individuals who intentionally [p. 13] abuse and injure their bodies and some even take measures to bring their existence to an end. But even such people want to determine for themselves when and by what means they shall experience suffering or terminate their lives. They would strenuously object if others undertook to make these decisions for them.

      Also, since every person desires to be born with a disease-free body and wants the care, support and protection during infancy and childhood which only the family organization can properly provide, every rational person knows that illicit sex relations are evil and harmful. They are primarily responsible for destroying the family unit and transmitting disease and misery to unborn generations.

      And so throughout history moral man has recognized that such crimes as murder, mayhem, assault, battery and adultery are evil and should be punished. They are so regarded because they destroy and injure life — an element of freedom which every person desires and wants protected.

2.5 Restraint and Coercion

      Another desire which all share is freedom from control and regimentation. When a person is restrained or coerced he is compelled to fulfill the purposes of those using the compulsion rather than his own and consequently is unable to exercise his own freedom. Admittedly there are those who prefer to have others direct their lives in some areas, thus saving them the trouble of thinking and making decisions. But even such people want to choose their masters and determine which of their activities are subject to supervision. Thus, while all may not desire the same amount of freedom with its accompanying responsibilities, no one will willingly forego the amount he does want and to this extent the desire to be free from coercion and restraint is universal. Everyone objects to being enslaved and wants protection against those who would place him in bondage or prevent him from accomplishing his purposes.

2 6 Knowledge

      The third element of freedom listed is knowledge—sufficient [p. 14] knowledge of facts and natural laws to accomplish one’s purposes. It will be remembered that natural law reigns supreme in every area in which intelligence can be used and that no goal can be reached without complying with that law upon which the desired result depends. But one cannot knowingly obey a law of which he is ignorant; therefore, a knowledge of law is indispensable to the exercise of freedom and the desire for it is in proportion to the desire for freedom.

      That this desire varies from person to person is admitted, but everyone objects to being deceived and having the knowledge he does possess corrupted by falsehood. If one bases his actions on false principles and erroneous information, his efforts are futile, his failure certain and the exercise of freedom is frustrated. Therefore, every person wants to be protected against deception.

2.7 The Right and Control of Property

      The fourth element of freedom, the right and control of property, requires a more extensive discussion than the other three because the need for it is not as easily recognized. However, an accurate understanding of this right and its relationship to the other three elements will demonstrate that without it freedom is impossible.

      Property consists of raw materials and energy which have been organized into consumable products such as food, clothing and shelter. Unless one is free to acquire and utilize these forms of wealth, his existence ceases, and it is of the greatest importance to recognize that if he must depend upon others for sustenance he is not free. He is subject to the direction and control of those who support him and will do nearly anything they command merely to stay alive. And it matters not whether it be an individual or an organization such as government which feeds him, his subservience is as certain as his desire for life. When this fact is recognized it is plainly seen that private ownership and control of property is as essential to the exercise of freedom as life itself.

      Not only must one own and control his own sustenance to live and labor without domination by others, but he must have the right and control of property to accomplish his every purpose. Property is the means to all ends because no goal of any consequence can be achieved unless one is free to use property to aid him in reaching it. [p. 15] With property we build our homes and support families; we acquire a farm, an office, a factory, machinery and tools and enter the occupation of our choice; we construct churches and exercise freedom of religion; obtain a printing press, a lecture hall, a radio or television station and exercise freedom of press and speech. We gain an education by using property to pay for instruction and to support ourselves while we learn. Not one of these freedoms can be exercised without the right and control of property. Let us also recognize that it is with property that we purchase the skill, experience and labor of others by which we accomplish objectives which are utterly beyond our individual strength and ability.

      A man’s property is his life. It is what he spends his productive life to obtain and he uses it to sustain life. It is also his liberty because he uses it to achieve his every goal. It is the limiting factor in his dreams and ambitions. Property is the fruit of labor and naturally belongs to that person whose labor created it. When you take from a person his property, you take from him his life — that part of his life he spent acquiring it. You also deprive him of his liberty — that portion of his liberty he would exercise if permitted to retain it. It is beyond dispute that without the right of private property the other elements of freedom — life, liberty and knowledge — could not exist or would be useless. There are those who try to distinguish between “property rights” and what they term “human rights.” But such a distinction does not exist because a property right is a human right and there is no other human right of any value without it.

      While men may differ widely in the amount of property they desire to own and control, everyone wants enough to sustain life and enable him to achieve his purposes. Therefore everyone wants his property protected from theft and destruction. This desire is as strong as the desire for life and liberty and is common to every rational person.

2.8 The Interrelationship and Mutual Dependence of the Freedom Elements

For the earth is full and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. (D&C 104:17) [p. 16]

The fostering of full economic freedom lies at the base of our liberties. Only in perpetuating economic freedom can our social, political and religious liberties be preserved. (President David O. McKay, Church News, 3/12/52)

      In the foregoing discussion it has been observed that the freedom elements are closely interrelated and mutually dependent one upon another. This fact seems sufficiently important to merit special attention. If it be true that not one of these four possessions is usable unless the other three are present, the necessity of protecting them all becomes most apparent. Viewed in this light, each possession is equally important. No three of them is of value unless the fourth is present. They are mutually dependent.

      There is no difficulty in recognizing that the other three elements are valueless without life; and it is also plain that without liberty or knowledge the other elements would be unusable. But the right and control of property is equally necessary for without it life cannot be sustained, liberty exercised, nor knowledge utilized. Let it also be recognized that a partial denial of the right and control of property diminishes the value of the others accordingly. Since a loss of property reduces one’s ability to carry out his purposes, the utility of life, liberty and knowledge is reduced in like manner.

2.9 The Need And Desire For Freedom Common To All

      The foregoing analysis confirms the conclusion that the need and desire for freedom is common to all and is paramount above every other consideration. Every person, regardless of how he may differ otherwise, wants his life, liberty of movement, knowledge and property protected from injury and destruction. This being true, if we make the protection of freedom the overriding purpose of government, we serve the transcendent need and desire of every man, woman and child. As long as government is engaged exclusively in the protection of freedom, no one is compelled to purchase with his tax money a service that he does not want and use. There is a unity and harmony of purpose among all members of society with respect to this government function. Everyone receives that which he values above all else. [p. 17]

2.10 The Universal Standard Of Morality

And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. (D&C 98:4-8)

According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; (D&C 101:77)

      Since each person desires to possess the four elements of freedom, each is acutely aware of those acts and intents which injure or destroy them. He considers as harmful and wrong any act which harms his body, circumscribes his liberty, corrupts his knowledge and deprives him of his property. He regards as evil an intent to commit these acts. No one needs to be taught these feelings and attitudes. We are born with them. They are evident even during infancy and childhood and never change throughout life. The desire for freedom and for those possessions which make its exercise possible is the most fundamental and common characteristic of intelligent life. It is the very nature of man to want to be free.

      This common awareness of what is harmful to oneself makes everyone aware of what harms others and this same knowledge is possessed by people in every age and nation. Murder, mayhem, assault and battery are universally condemned whether committed with a bow and arrow or a gun; human bondage consists of the forcible deprivation of liberty and is recognized as such by all people; deceit consists of the intentional misrepresentation of what one believes to be true whether undertaken by an educated man or an illiterate; and theft is regarded as such whether the object taken is a string of beads or an aeroplane.

      It is also true that those motives which prompt men to take and [p. 18] injure the elements of freedom — hate, envy, pride, lust, revenge, etc. are the same whether found in the civilized man or the savage.

      In this universal desire for freedom and the common knowledge of those acts and intentions which destroy its elements, we have a moral standard to which all men can be expected to conform. Anyone who deviates from this standard and, without justification, intentionally deprives another of some freedom element, has violated his own standard of right conduct. He has done to another that which the actor knows would be wrong and harmful if done to him. One who commits such an act realizes that he deserves to be punished. He knows that it would be a miscarriage of justice if he were not made to suffer for his intentional wrongdoing. Man’s intelligence tells him that if there is a rule or a law of right conduct, there must be a punishment for violation of that law for by very definition there can be no law unless there is a penalty or loss for disobedience.

      It will be our principal objective throughout the remainder of this book to determine what government should and should not do to enforce but not violate this universal standard of morality. We shall first undertake to specifically identify those laws of nature which must be obeyed by government in order to protect freedom. Since, as has been noted, the need and desire for freedom is common to all people; and since those possessions essential to its exercise are identical for every person; and finally since those acts and intentions which destroy these possessions never vary, then those man-made laws necessary for their protection should be the same in every age and nation. Once identified they may be adopted and relied upon to serve the needs of people in every country. [p. 19]

Previous pageNext Page