THE HUMBLE LIBERTARIAN

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Every Man Is An Island

















A commonly raised objection to the sovereignty of the individual is the cliche saying,

"No man is an island."

Or so they say, having read such out of a text book or annotated from a statist professor's mouth. This objection is raised to say that no one is completely isolated from society, and is part of some larger whole like the community and thus is not sovereign but rather a cog in the machine of civil society.

But I will contend that every man is an island, and that the metaphor is incomplete without the water that distinguishes a mountain from an island.

Imagine these islands connected by a vast ocean. Let there be trade and commerce amongst the islands. Let the islands not be invaded by another.

Do any one of the islands have a right to dictate what happens on another? Or a right to occupy another island? To destroy another island? No! Each individual is sovereign, as these islands are.

But let us recognize the community between them, the ocean that allows seafaring and trade. The islands are free to associate with each other, give or trade resources, to enrich destitute islands with mutual consent, but let us be reminded that no one island has a right anymore than another to force any of these activities.

Does this change if a group of islands band together, draw up a federation, and declare arbitrary authority over the other islands? No. They still are but specs of dirt in the ocean, whatever name they choose to go by.

Now, deconstruct the metaphor. People own themselves, and a collection of people has no right of authority over any other person or persons.


Eric Sharp
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Regular Columnist, THL
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