Our Guest Comment today is by John Pugsley, Chairman of the Sovereign
Society, noted author & founder of The Bio-Rational Institute.
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COMMENT: The Evolution of Freedom.

Dear A-Letter Reader:
John Stuart Mill, the famous 19th century philosopher, in his essay,
'On Liberty', posed three questions:
* What is the rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over
  himself?
* Where does the authority of society begin?
* How much of human life should be assigned to individuality, and how
  much to society?

I have long puzzled over the mystery of why the vast majority of people,
including those who are intelligent, educated, and successful, accept
without question the idea that 'society', i.e., government, should be
assigned authority over their lives and actions. This near universal
acceptance of the authority of the state is especially baffling in
light of world history in which we see that the State is consistently
the source of human misery, and government 'solutions' invariably
worsen every problem that they propose to solve.

In our quest for safety and security, mankind has experimented with a
wide variety of social contracts. To date, all experiments, from
monarchy to democracy, and from fascism to communism, grant society
the authority over individual members.

Since biological evolution has programmed each of us to be self-
interested, individuals entrusted with political power tend to be
corrupted by that power, a point famously made by Lord Acton.

Unfortunately, the evolution of social contract technology has not yet
arrived at a design that doesn't hand power to corruptible individuals.
If our species is to survive, I believe experimentation will eventually
lead to the evolution of a new social system in which the belief that
society must have authority over the individual will change and a new
status quo will be created. The majority will still accept the customs
and traditions of the society into which they are born.

However, those customs and traditions will no longer grant society
arbitrary powers over individuals. Rather, all individuals will be
sovereign unto themselves. Not only is a world in which individuals
have sovereignty over themselves the optimal social system, it is the
only possible system that takes into account the evolutionary nature
of Homo sapiens.

The scientific evidence is mounting that the only social contract that
can insure our species' survival is one that leaves each of us sovereign
over our own lives.

Thomas Paine, whose remarkable pamphlet 'Common Sense' catalyzed the
American Revolution, reminded the colonists that  '...a long habit of
not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being
right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.'

The belief that you and I and others must be governed is deeply
imbedded in our beliefs, our history, our education and indoctrination.
Mankind's long habit of not thinking it wrong for society to have
authority over the individual gives the concept the appearance of being
right. The near universal belief that a society couldn't work if
government isn't in control is simply wrong.
 
The answer to Mill's question has grown out of the evolution of mankind.
It is freedom -- a world in which every individual is sovereign.

John Pugsley, Chairman, The Sovereign Society
San Diego, California

PS: For insights on the evolutionary roots of freedom, sign up for The
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