A theory of government is useless unless it has a connection to the real world. If it does not make practical suggestions and predictions, if it does not yield practical advice, then it is nothing more than a thought experiment. To alleviate such concerns, this post will explore some of the ways a government founded on the Doctrine of Social Liberty would handle some of the most pressing issues of today. The format will be different than usual, with each issue given its own section. Also, while the government described in this piece is theoretical, it is not implausible.
Social Liberty, with the Principles of Cooperation and Equality, sees immigration as a good thing, on the whole. A nation should not isolate itself from all the others. However, it also recognizes that some immigrants are bad actors. Under the Principle of Purpose, therefore, it must take steps to ensure that its citizens’ safety is not compromised by incoming persons.
A Social Liberty government is not allowed to perform racial profiling for the purpose of immigration control—or, indeed, for any purpose at all. And the Right of Faith, something that all states following the Doctrine would observe, also bars profiling based on religion. Instead, this government is required to perform more rigorous tests, including behavioral, background, and psychological checks on all immigrants. For most, these are, at worst, a mild inconvenience; in many cases, they can be done automatically, before the immigration process even begins. It is only when the more basic tests show an anomaly that more serious scrutiny is warranted.
Illegal immigration, on the other hand, can be taken one of two ways. First, it can be seen as an attack on sovereignty. Under the Principle of Purpose, it would be the role of government to respond swiftly at this threat to safety. A contrasting view would see it instead as a violation of the Principle of Cooperation: such immigrants are working against the system chosen by the citizens of the state. The result is the same in either case. Although Social Liberty respects the rights of all mankind, it does not give carte blanche to those seeking to enter a state by subterfuge. By creating a fair, just means of legal immigration, instead of the security theater common today, it would eliminate a major cause of illegal immigration, limiting it only to those who have ulterior motives and thus making harsher punishment socially acceptable.
With the Principles of Purpose and Cooperation, it is easy to envision Social Liberty as a recipe for socialism. This is by design. A representative government is free to implement whatever economic measures its people are willing to approve, but there will always be a sizable segment of the populace without access or ability to work for a living. Whether through injury, handicap, situation, or lifestyle, a portion of the state will be unemployed. It is then up to the government to provide for that segment’s health needs.
Social Liberty, then, is fully compatible with a large welfare state, including universal health care, a universal basic income, and many other measures. However, it can also be reconciled with a more capitalistic approach. The Principle of Purpose only states that a government protects the health and well-being of its constituents. It need not provide for them, if private interests can do so more cheaply and efficiently. Rather, its purpose would then be to ensure that these private means remain in place, and that they do not infringe upon the Rights of the populace. This last part is necessary because, although Social Liberty largely refrains from interference in interpersonal relations, the object here is a function of government. Thus, government must not, by its own inaction, allow for its Principles to be violated within its own sphere.
A Social Liberty government must have a means of defense. It does not, however, require an outsized military-industrial complex, massive expenditures for research and development, or an arsenal capable of destroying the entire world many times over. In short, such a state needs only as much military might as to fulfill its obligations under the Principle of Purpose and those it creates under international agreements.
In addition, as a government following the Doctrine is expected to refrain from offensive, imperialistic warfare, its military actions will be more limited in their scope. Once the primary objectives are achieved, there is no need to continue fighting. Thus, further engagement becomes more and more likely to fall outside the dictates of the Principle of Purpose. When a state is fighting not for its own defense—or that of its allies—then it is no longer serving the needs of its citizenry.
Although the phrases are similar, Social Liberty is not intended to advance the cause of social justice. True justice is a matter for government—one of the instances where it is allowed to interfere with interpersonal relations. If rights are being violated, that is a matter for the state to judge. The people are allowed and encouraged to speak their minds, to not associate with those they deem unacceptable; this is simply a restatement of the Right of Free Expression that any Social Liberty government is expected to uphold.
People are not, however, allowed to restrict the same right for another. A concerted effort to deny free expression to an individual or group is a case where government intervention is both required and welcome. The Doctrine of Social Liberty is blind to “privilege”; it treats all such cases equally, because to do otherwise would run afoul of the Principle of Equality.
This concludes the brief look at the Doctrine of Social Liberty, a new vision for a government of, by, and for the people. Founded on the principles of logic and reason, it is intended to be a guiding focus for change, whether evolutionary or revolutionary. It is also an ideal, one that may never truly be achieved. If it is, then I believe that the resulting system of government would be one better suited for today’s world than any that has been tried before. We must all work together, though, always keeping our ultimate goal in mind. To stray from the path is to invite tyranny, inequality, and infighting that will destroy us. But by cooperating, we can reach greater heights, perhaps even the greatest.