The mission of the FreeCapitalist Project is: To advance freedom and prosperity through civic service, ushering forth a moral revolution to sanction and complete the political achievement of the American Revolution.
Freedom & Prosperity: Today, the world tends to give lip service only to the virtues of freedom and prosperity. Few laymen can define either term meaningfully. In order to understand the mission of the Project it is essential that the meaning of these two terms be clearly understood.
Freedom begins with what the American Founders referred to as “liberty of conscience.” All men are born with the inalienable right to a free mind. This means that men are free, by right, to choose what they value and what they prefer in relation to other things. No government, and no group of men, has any just authority to enforce value judgments on other men. The freedom to decide for oneself how important certain decisions are, and the consequence of this freedom – choosing for oneself how to live life, is at the core of all definitions of freedom. While the most dramatic visual representations of freedom being challenged include men and women unjustly imprisoned, or tyrants ruling by the force of weapons and physical intimidation, the much more subtle and powerful battlefield for freedom exists in protecting the liberty of conscience of all men. Long before society is ruled by thugs and tyrants wielding oppressive physical force, government programs such as compulsory taxation, price regulation, business licensing, professional limitations through government sanction, and government hand-outs, stimulus, and bailouts are all much more destructive forms of destroying freedom. For new students of the Project, it is important to be able to clearly understand how these not so obvious forms of tyranny violate the sanctity of man’s fundamental rights and how they in turn lead to a breakdown in free society and the institutions charged with its safeguard and protection.
Prosperity means much more than having money. Prosperity means finding satisfaction through progress. Or in simpler terms, all men are working to better their quality of life. As they successfully realize higher standards of living, better living conditions, and greater opportunity through this success – this is prosperity. Men are born free to pursue prosperity. In the language of the Founders, prosperity is achieved through the “pursuit of happiness.” There is no such thing as “collective prosperity” without individual prosperity. The opposite of prosperity, which is so often trumpeted as a virtue today is the notion of the “common good.” While the meaning of this term has changed over time, today it is generally used to justify violating individual rights, including the individual right to prosper and pursue happiness, for the “sake” of the “group.” The fallacy in this logic is that all groups are comprised of individuals. If individual rights are not held sacred, there is no meaning to the term prosperity or happiness and there is no “good” achieved for a group. Tyrants love to use the term “common good” while they seek to accumulate more power – pretending to be acting on behalf of some group or class of men, while destroying the foundation of individual rights. The American Founders established a revolutionary form of “self-government” predicated upon “individual rights.” This philosophy, which they called “republicanism” changed the face of the planet in the course of decades. Yet today, as small groups of elite power mongers try to re-establish “rulers law” against the foundation established by the Founders, few Americans have been trained, taught, or educated – to defend the basic principles of freedom. To quote Dr. W. Cleon Skousen,
The entire American concept of “freedom to prosper” was based upon the belief that man’s instinctive will to succeed in a climate of liberty would result in the whole people prospering together. It was thought that even the poor could lift themselves through education and individual effort to become independent and self-sufficient. The idea was to maximize prosperity, minimize poverty and make the whole nation rich…Hard work, frugality, thrift, and compassion became the key words in the American ethic…if people are allowed economic freedom it will tend to gradually open up the channels for political freedom in the years to come. This is why the message of freedom-both economic and political-should become America’s greatest export. (W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America. (USA: NCCS, 1985), 220.)
Civic Service: the “American Way,” at its core, is centered on voluntary civic service. Over the last two centuries, America has convincingly demonstrated to the world that civic service forms the bedrock of what it means to live in a civilized society. If the vision and hope of America is to survive, its important for all Americans—and freedom lovers everywhere—to understand exactly what civic service is, because it is not what many people believe.
Civic, the word, comes from the Latin “civicus” (root “civis”) meaning “of, relating to, or befitting citizens as individuals.”
Service, in its most relevant context has reference to the idea of “creating value for another.” The concept of civic service can therefore be broken down into two key components.
- First and foremost, civic service has to do with helping improve citizens as individuals.
- Second, it has to do with citizens working in concert, in a voluntary capacity, to create value for their community.
Unfortunately, in modern times the concept is often mistakenly limited to the second of the above-described components. In addition, the concept of “volunteerism” (as used in ‘volunteer service’ and in ‘voluntary activity’) has become severely misunderstood. Volunteerism comes from the term “voluntary,” which means, “from one’s free will” or “to act without being forced.” Yet, the contemporary conceptualization of volunteerism has the term largely redefined so as to have the words “without monetary gain” unnecessarily appended to the definition.
Both of these conceptual errors are tragic indictments of our modern culture. Both neglect a basic truth. An uncivilized individual; meaning, “one who is not acting in a way befitting a citizen” (e.g. rational, moral, and self-interested) can never engage in legitimate civic service aimed at the community. Or, to put the matter more simply, a person, no matter how well intentioned, cannot rightly provide for others that which is not theirs to give in the first place.
Identifying what we, as free men and citizens of a free world, are uniquely suited to accomplish in our own individual lives and then learning how to accomplish this through voluntary means, among our fellow citizens, is the first act of life that can properly be called civic service. When rationally self-interested individuals are frugal, thrifty, self-reliant and enterprising, this is civic service. Because all free exchange between citizens creates mutual value for the participants and therefore, for the public in general, all principle based market activity is best viewed as being facilitated by this, the most basic form of civic service.
When free citizens, whose own lifestyle enables them to have surplus time and resources, voluntarily contributing these resources to the marketplace, one consumer at a time or through coordinated enterprise, this is the noble expression of civic service. Adam Smith observed,
In civilized society [man] stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons . . .Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favor, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them… Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest . . .Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens.
Charitable service or other activity where no physical remuneration is given (monetary or otherwise) is often worthy and desirable and it should not be concluded from the Project’s position on “volunteerism” that charitable service is somehow discouraged or undesirable. The opposite is true. The best way to understand the Project’s position on volunteerism is that “volunteer” activity may include but is not rightly limited to charitable service. Principle centered, for profit activity, necessarily creates more value in our society, for rich and poor alike, than all charitable services combined.
Failure to adhere to this true nature of civic service, while embracing these two tragic conceptual errors centered on collectivism and the misguided notion of volunteerism has resulted heretofore in the marginalization and stifling of many otherwise noble and well-intentioned efforts to advocate for liberty and prosperity. Therefore, a defining characteristic of the FreeCapitalist Project is its steadfast commitment to assisting individuals in their own personal efforts to live a principle centered life, established upon a sound economic foundation, as a necessary prerequisite to meaningful citizenship.
Moral Revolution: Capitalism, which is the only integrated philosophy that eschews, as absolutely immoral, the initiation of force—is the basis for the moral revolution referenced in the Project’s mission statement. The mistake over the last century, committed almost universally by the so-called “conservatives,” was to battle socialism and collectivism by defending free markets and capitalism as the system which “produces the greatest results.” While it is true that capitalism is the most productive philosophy, it is not “good” because it is productive. There are many evil ways to produce. Capitalism is good because of its morality. The morality of capitalism is the morality of a free society. Under capitalism no man or group of men can rightfully initiate the use of force against another. In this context force means both physical force (sometimes called brute force) and force against the mind (which is usually referred to as deceit and/or fraud). This moral foundation of capitalism is the reason it is advocated by the FreeCapitalist Project, and it is only this moral basis that will empower free men to overcome the inherent immorality of socialism and all other forms of collectivism/tribalism. In time, no intelligent lover of freedom can morally justify socialism, nor can he or she escape the inevitable, self-evident conclusion that the morality of capitalism is an absolute prerequisite for the ultimate triumph of free society.
Political Achievement of the American Revolution: The American Founders established two fundamental, timeless, standards by which they advanced their experiment in freedom. The first is the Declaration of Independence. The second is the Constitution of the United States. In these two documents, what the Founders accomplished politically was the establishment of the means to protect liberty, and confine the delegated use of force to its proper role. This political achievement created the context for the greatest explosion of talent, creativity, innovation, and advancement of the human condition, ever before recorded in modern history. But the Founder’s political achievement did not complete their experiment for advancing the cause of human liberty. All social, economic and political institutions must ultimately have their foundations rooted in the same philosophy as that expressed in the Declaration of Independence and as manifest in the Constitution of the United States. Republicanism, in the days of the American Founders, was established but it was not finished. Even more relevant, over the last century, the very foundation of self-government and individual rights has been under constant attack by those who advocate a return to rulers law – whether by socialism, communism, liberal democracy, or any other tribalist notion. At the beginning of this new millennium, the cause of liberty languishes underneath the dominant, but naive criticisms of so-called capitalism and free markets. With very rare exception today’s leaders, political, economic and social—generally fall into two classes. The deceived and the deceivers. By far, most are simply deceived because they lack a fundamental philosophical understanding of the basic concepts of self-government and individual freedom. The Founders were not revolutionary because they advocated “democracy”, for the most part they loathed democracy as a form of tyranny. They were not revolutionary because they established a new, independent nation – many new nations have been formed over the last several centuries. The Founders were revolutionaries because they established a moral foundation for self-government and individual freedom. The mission of the Project is to sanction (i.e., to advocate for it’s general approval) and complete (i.e., the scope of the project is not limited to the political sphere) what the Founders first accomplished.