CREED OF FREEDOM
Introduction by G. Edward Griffin
There is nothing more common in history than for oppressed people to rise up against their masters and, at great cost in treasure and blood, throw off the old regime, only to discover that they have replaced it with one that is just as bad or worse. That is because it is easy to know what we dislike about a political system but not so easy to agree on what would be better. For most of history, it has been the habit of men to focus on personalities rather than principles. They have thought that the problem was with the man who rules, not with the system that sustains him. So, they merely replace one despot for another, thinking that, somehow, the new one will be more wise and benevolent. Even if the new ruler has good intentions, he may be corrupted by the temptations of power; and, in those rare cases where he is not, he eventually is replaced by another who is not as self-restrained. As long as the system allows it, it is just a matter of time before a new despot will rise to power. To prevent that from happening, it is necessary to focus on the system itself, not on personalities. To do that, it is just as important to know what we are for as it is to know what we are against.
Even today, with so much talk about fighting to defend freedom, who can stand up and define what that means? For some, freedom means merely not being in jail. Who can define the essence of personal liberty? Who can look you in the eye and say: “This I believe, and I believe it for this reason and this reason and this reason also.” The world is dying for something to believe in, a statement of principles that leaves no room for misunderstanding; a creed that everyone of good faith toward their fellow human beings can accept with clarity of mind and strength of resolve. There is an old saying that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. The Creed of Freedom that you are about to read is the rock-solid ground that will allow us to stand firm against all the political nostrums of our day, and those in the future as well.
The Creed of Freedom expresses the core ideology that binds all members together. This is not like the platform of a political party that typically is a position statement on a long list of specific issues and which changes from year to year to accommodate the shifting winds of popular opinion. Instead, it is stated in terms of broad principles that do not change over time and that are not focused on specific issues at all. If these principles are followed, then most of the vexing political and social issues of the day can be quickly resolved in confidence that the resulting action will be consistent with justice and freedom.
Although I have authored the Creed, I cannot claim credit for it. Anyone familiar with the classical treatises on freedom will recognize that most of its concepts have been taken from the great thinkers and writers of the past. My role has been merely to read the literature, identify the concepts, organize them into logical sequence, and condense them into a single page.
When you read the Creed, please be aware that it is a summary of a much longer dissertation. It cannot be fully appreciated until after reading the explanations, definitions, and arguments to support it. Although the Creed appears here first, it is recommended that, after reading it, you follow the link at the bottom of this section that takes you to the more complete explanation.
THE CREED OF FREEDOM
INTRINSIC NATURE OF RIGHTS
I believe that only individuals have rights, not the collective group; that these rights are intrinsic to each individual, not granted by the state; for if the state has the power to grant them, it also has the power to deny them, and that is incompatible with personal liberty.
I believe that a just state derives its power solely from its citizens. Therefore, the state must never presume to do anything beyond what individual citizens also have the right to do. Otherwise, the state is a power unto itself and becomes the master instead of the servant of society.
SUPREMACY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
I believe that one of the greatest threats to freedom is to allow any group, no matter its numeric superiority, to deny the rights of the minority; and that one of the primary functions of a just state is to protect each individual from the greed and passion of the majority.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
I believe that desirable social and economic objectives are better achieved by voluntary action than by coercion of law. I believe that social tranquility and brotherhood are better achieved by tolerance, persuasion, and the power of good example than by coercion of law. I believe that those in need are better served by charity, which is the giving of one’s own money, than by welfare, which is the giving of other people’s money through coercion of law.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
I believe that all citizens should be equal under law, regardless of their national origin, race, religion, gender, education, economic status, life style, or political opinion. Likewise, no class should be given preferential treatment, regardless of the merit or popularity of its cause. To favor one class over another is not equality under law.
PROPER ROLE OF THE STATE
I believe that the proper role of the state is negative, not positive; defensive, not aggressive. It is to protect, not to provide; for if the state is granted the power to provide for some, it must also be able to take from others, and that always leads to legalized plunder and loss of freedom. If the state is powerful enough to give us everything we want, it also will be powerful enough to take from us everything we have. Therefore, the proper function of the state is to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, nothing more. That state is best which governs least.
THE THREE COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM
The Creed of Freedom is based on five principles. However, in day-to-day application, they can be reduced to just three codes of conduct. These are The Three Commandments of Freedom:
Only individuals have rights, not groups. Therefore, do not sacrifice the rights of any individual or minority for the alleged rights of groups.
EQUALITY UNDER LAW
To favor one class of citizens over others is not equality under law. Therefore, do not endorse any law that does not apply to all citizens equally.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE
The proper function of the state is to protect, not to provide. Therefore, do not approve coercion for any purpose except to protect human life, liberty, or property.
THE THREE PILLARS OF FREEDOM
Another way of viewing these principles is to consider them as the three pillars of freedom. They are concepts that underlie the ideology of individualism, and individualism is the indispensable foundation of freedom.
For the rational and historical support for The Creed of Freedom, see The Chasm in the Issues section of his site. This 21-page document will take 10 to 45 seconds to load depending on the speed of your Internet connection.