Who Owns Your Life?

One of the most important and far reaching questions in moral philosophy is: Who is the proper beneficiary of an individual’s actions? There are only two possible answers to the question: The individual taking the action, or others. “Others” may mean the community, the race, the nation, or any number of groups.

Your answer to that question will ultimately determine whether you are an advocate of liberty, or whether you will support government controls and regulations.

If you are the proper beneficiary of your actions, then you must be free to take the actions you judge best. If your life belongs to you, then you must be free to live it as you think proper, so long as you respect the mutual rights of others.

However, if others are the proper beneficiaries of your actions, then you must place the needs, desires, and welfare of others before your own. Your life does not belong to you, but must be lived in servitude to the demands of others. The only issue is: Which others, and who will decide?

Whether such decisions are made by a king, a tribal chief, or the “will of the people,” your life is disposed of by others. You will be forced to serve others, no matter your own desires and judgment. Your property will be taken to serve the poor and the needy. Your actions will be restricted to serve the “common good” and polar bears.

If you object to forced servitude, do not quibble over the details. Do not argue that you are willing to serve the truly needy, but you object to helping the lazy. You have no obligation to help anyone–your life is yours to live as you choose. Defend your right to do so.

  • mkkevitt

    If we don’t like forced servitude, we shouldn’t even discuss details. But, there are Objectivists who’ll say, since we want our rights instead of servitude, we must sometimes explain what rights are, what their nature is and where they come from. They point out that this is a major part of the crucial process of educating the culture about limited government. We can always exercise our rights, but we want everybody to respect & recognize them, so they won’t keep trying to stop us, and maybe they’ll exercise them for themselves. Education of the culture is the first requirement of that. If, in this way, we can make them quit stopping us, it’ll be better than doing it some other way.

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