Social Liberty: Issues

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.

Social justice

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.

Social Liberty: Relations

A person does not exist in a vacuum, and neither can a government. We are all connected, whether in our relationships to each other or by the ways we interact with society at large—our society, as well as others. Thus, a proper system of government must recognize these relationships if it is to fulfill its purpose.

There are three main types of relation that are of interest to a governing body: those between two people, those between two governments, and those between a person and the government. We will look at each of these in turn.

Interpersonal relations, those between two members of the same society, are the simplest to handle under the Doctrine of Social Liberty. As the Doctrine’s principles of good government define only those aspects necessary for a stable state, Social Liberty effectively takes no sides. It is not entirely silent on the issue; rather, interpersonal relations are considered private matters, only becoming of importance to the government if and when natural or granted rights become an issue.

One case where this can happen is in contracts. Under most circumstances, Social Liberty considers a contract willingly entered and in good faith negotiated to be entirely outside the scope of government interference. A citizen may waive some of his rights to another, and it is of no consequence to the state. However, a contract may not be designed to break laws, so the government can be asked to intervene to determine if an agreement is unlawful. Similarly, contracts of adhesion—where one party is essentially forced into unfair terms, with no opportunity for negotiation—do become matters for a Social Liberty government, as they are an attack on the founding principles of the state, namely, the Principle of Purpose: onerous contracts affect the liberties and well-being of those parties bound by them.

Other obvious instances where government interference in interpersonal relations is acceptable to the Doctrine include cases of abusive behavior—whether to children or adults—injury through negligence, and most abuses of authority. In general, you may sign away your rights, but you may not take those of another.

International relations are at the other extreme. Here, as a government represents its populace, it has near total control over negotiations and agreements. Within the confines of the Principles, a state may agree on behalf of its people to any number of treaties, trade deals, international conventions, and offers or requests for aid. The populace decides whether these measures are appropriate through the mechanisms of representation, and it should be understood (via the Principle of Evolution) that these international agreements are always subject to renegotiation, should they no longer serve their stated purpose.

It is far easier to enumerate those international actions a Social Liberty government cannot take. It cannot, for example, declare a war for the sole purpose of obtaining land or resources. Nor can it impose sanctions on other nations or regions based on their race, religion, or even their own system of government. And it cannot work to overthrow regimes, as there is no possible explanation for such an act that does not conflict with the Principle of Necessity.

Finally, we must look at the interactions between a person and the government. These are subject to the Principles as well as the Rights, Laws, and Responsibilities of the nation-state. In fact, such interactions are entirely governed by them. Thus, there is little to be said about them here. A government must treat its citizens in accordance with its defining Principles and its code of Laws, while citizens must follow those Laws and uphold their own Responsibilities. Anything else is a violation of the social contract between governed and governing.

However, there are always corner cases, so-called gray areas. It is up to a specific state to clearly delineate these outliers. The Doctrine itself must remain silent on them, as they are often highly situational. For example, what are the intrinsic factors of the Principle of Equality? One can imagine a world in which science has provided the ability to alter skin color at will. Here, “race”, in the sense of color, is no longer an intrinsic factor. Therefore, it does not qualify for the Principle of Equality. Potentially, the same could be true of many other factors we would consider intrinsic, such as sex or other genetic indicators.

It is by relating to others that we experience more of the world. Thus, a government must respect those relations. It must understand them. Sometimes, it must make its own. The Doctrine of Social Liberty recognizes these necessities. Its Principles confine and constrain the government’s role in these relationships, defining that role as the minimum needed to function while upholding the rights of all.

Social Liberty: Rights and Responsibilities

The following are some of the founding rights of Social Liberty, as set out by the Principle of Initial Conditions. Each is then given its own commentary regarding how it fits within the system and why it was chosen.

Right of Free Expression — All persons have the right to express in spoken, written, and published forms any truthful or opinionated statement not intended to cause direct harm to another, whether alone or with others.

This is a restatement of part of the First Amendment, covering freedom of speech and the press together with the right to assemble. “Direct” harm is intentional: words have no power to physically hurt, but they can incite others to do so.

Right of Faith — All persons have the right to practice their own faith without interference from a citizen or government.

This one covers the Establishment Clause part of the First, as well as most other “freedom of religion” aspects. Note that something like a cult where members are poisoned, or the rape and slavery practiced by ISIS, are not protected under the Right of Faith; allowing those violates the higher Principle of Purpose, as a government must endeavor to keep its citizenry safe.

Right of Arms — All persons are permitted to own and bear personal arms intended for their own defense.

Your basic Second Amendment, but written more clearly. Also, there’s no room for a comma splice to change the meaning.

Right to Privacy — No agent of government may observe or search a person without a warrant obtained under reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, nor may an agent of government seize any of a person’s property unless that person has been charged with a crime.

Definition of Agent of Government — An agent of government, in regards to the Right to Privacy, is any person working directly subordinate to the state for purposes of defense, security, or law enforcement, or granted such status by another agent.

Here’s your Fourth, with the usual search-and-seizure stuff. “Observe” includes wiretaps, too, and you can see how it also covers the Third Amendment.

Right to Criminal Trial — A person charged with committing a crime must be allowed a fair trial, by a jury if that person so chooses, without undue delay, and the person must be given sufficient opportunity to present a defense of the charges.

Standard Sixth with this one, plus a requirement that the court allow a proper defense. No “freeze their assets so they can’t pay a lawyer” trickery here.

Right to Civil Trial — When two people are in dispute regarding a debt or infringement of rights, either party may request a judicial hearing or jury trial to settle that dispute.

This one’s the Seventh Amendment, often forgotten in our time of binding arbitration. Arbitration, as a private matter, is not part of Social Liberty. Only the use of it in place of a court is within the government’s purview.

Right to Petition — Any person may petition the government, through a trial by an impartial arbiter or jury of citizens, to redress a perceived violation of that person’s rights.

This one’s actually part of the First Amendment (“petition the government for a redress of grievances”), but it’s put here so it falls with the other “trial” Rights. Effectively, it is the right to sue the government if it is breaching your rights. As with the others, the wronged party has the right to choose a hearing or jury trial.

Right to Freedom of Person — No person may be forced by another to work without proper compensation.

Definition of Proper Compensation — Proper compensation, in regards to the Right to Freedom of Person, consists of monetary pay, tangible benefits, and status or rank as befits the work performed.

Slavery, technically, is forbidden by the Principle of Purpose, but this restates it as a Right, roughly equivalent to the Thirteenth Amendment. The definition also subtly invokes minimum wage, “wage gaps” (via the Principle of Equality), and things like insurance benefits.

Right to Vote — All able citizens are permitted to vote on matters of government representation and public petitions, and no action may be taken by another to deprive a person of this right.

Responsibility Of Voting — An able citizen must vote in representative elections or on balloted matters of local or state import, unless this would cause undue hardship or duress.

Definition of Able Citizen — Regarding the Right to Vote and the Responsibility of Voting, an able citizen is a person above the age of majority who is of sound mind.

Voting rights are mentioned in quite a few amendments to the US Constitution: the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th are all concerned with opening up the vote to more people. Social Liberty dispenses with all that; every adult who is capable of doing so not only can vote, but must vote. In other words, it’s more like Australia, where everyone is both automatically registered and required to vote in elections. Also, ballot measures are enshrined here as an important part of the political process.

These are not the only rights granted by the Doctrine of Social Liberty, but they are some of the most notable. For the most part, they flow logically from the Principle of Initial Conditions, sometimes affected by the other Principles. And they are rights that, when stated in this form, should be universally agreed upon. Nothing in them prefers or promotes a specific political agenda, except the general notion of greater liberty for all.

Social Liberty: Definitions

First, let us call the fundametnal properties of good government the Principles. These are so central to the idea of Social Liberty that they literally cannot be violated within its framework. A Principle is inviolate by definition, for changing it would change the nature of the space. Principles are thus axiomatic; the six I have chosen define the very concept of Social Liberty.

Second, a Right is a property taken to be inherent to the system. It cannot be abridged, violated, or removed except by another Right or as punishment. Rights in Social Liberty include many of those taken to be inalienable and self-evident, such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and the right to a trial. A new right can be created, as described by the Principle of Evolution, in a manner dependent upon the system of government.

Third, a Law may be defined as a requirement that must be followed by the citizens of a state. Laws may not be written to directly infringe Rights, but they may define the boundaries of those Rights, and violation of a Law may cause Rights to be lost temporarily. In addition, Laws may be used to clarify cases where two different Rights are in conflict. For example, a Law cannot revoke a Right of Free Speech, but it is allowed to spell out those instances where that Right is overruled by a Right of Privacy.

Fourth, a Responsibility is a duty impressed upon citizens as part of the social contract they form with their government. Laws may bring about Responsibilities, but these may not permanently deprive a citizen of a Right. Responsibilities may also arise logically from Principles; these Responsibilities may violate Laws and limit Rights.

Fifth, a Privilege is subordinate to a Law. It is a lesser right created by the interaction of Laws and Rights, and it may be removed by either. New Rights are rare, but new Privileges may be invented more rapidly, under the Principle of Evolution.

Finally, let us define a Definition as a clarification of the meaning of a word as it is used in the text of a Right, Responsibility, Law, or Privilege.

The Doctrine of Social Liberty is made up of these Principles, Rights, Responsibilities, Laws, and Definitions. They are written in plain language, because understanding the principles of one’s state is necessary for a citizen. Each is given a name for easier reference, as in this example:

Right of Arms — All persons are permitted to own and bear personal arms intended for their own defense.

In later Laws or other text, this can be referred to simply as “the Right of Arms”. For example:

Law of Disallowed Weapons — Any weapon capable of killing multiple people with a single shot, or requiring the operation of more than one person, shall not be considered a personal arm under the Right of Arms.

With these definitions, we are able to construct the structure necessary to create a nation-state that fulfills the goals of Social Liberty.

The alternative

No form of government is perfect. If one were, every nation-state would eventually gravitate towards it. Nor will I say that I have developed the perfect form of rule. In fact, I’m not sure such a thing is possible. However, I can present an alternative to the deeply flawed systems of the present day.

Guided by the principles of good government we have previously seen, and aided by logic, reason, and the wisdom of ages, we can derive a new method, a better method. It is not a fully-formed system. Rather, it is a framework with which we can tinker and adjust. It is a doctrine, what I call the Doctrine of Social Liberty.

I cannot accept the strictures of current political movements. In my eyes, they all fail at some point. That is the reason for stating my principles. Those are the core beliefs I hold, generalized into something that can apply to any nation, any state. A government that does not follow those principles is one that fails to represent me. I am a realist; as I said above, nothing is perfect. Yet we should strive for perfection, despite it being ever unattainable. The Doctrine of Social Liberty is my step in that direction.

More than ever, we need a sensible, rational government based on sound fundamentals. The answer does not lie in slavishly following the dogmatic manifestos of radical movements. It does not lie in constant partisan bickering. It can only be found by taking a step back, by asking ourselves what it is that we want from that which governs us.

Over the coming weeks, I hope to detail what I want from a government. I don’t normally post on Tuesdays, but the coming election presents a suitable reason to do so. In four posts, I will describe my doctrine in its broadest strokes, and I will show how our current ruling class violates the principles I have laid out. Afterward, following the start of next year, I want to go into greater detail, because I think these things will become even more relevant.


The six basic principles of responsible government don’t, by themselves, converge on a single system. Instead, it’s best to first look at those regimes they entirely eliminate.


Egalitarianism is, in essence, a lack of organized government. Anarchy is a repudiation of it. Neither is well-suited to the needs of a large, diverse state. Human nature is to be social, and that means forming relationships, whether romantic, platonic, friendly, or simply on the basis of mutual acquaintance. Those relationships can easily turn into alliances, recognitions of shared purpose. From there, it is a short step to self-organization, and then to government. Therefore, anarchy can never be more than merely a temporary state.


A government that does not protect the lives of its citizens is a failure. One that does not uphold those citizens’ rights is equally lacking, though the nature and quantity of those rights can be argued. It is clear, however, that some systems of rule are entirely unsuitable. Those predicated on the absence of individuality—Leninist communism, for instance—cannot be considered acceptable for governing a free people. Likewise, those which ignore fundamental human rights—theocracies being only the most familiar example—must not be seen as viable. But even democracy is not infallible, as the tyranny of the majority can be used to strip rights from the minority. Good government, in this sense, is far more than a question of who rules. It also must take into account how those who rule protect those who do not.


Nothing in this world is without change, and that includes society. Social mores shift over generations, but a rigid government can fail because it fails to adapt to these seismic shifts. To prevent this, a state must give some allowance to the possibility of radical changes to its structure, to its core tenets. Those that do not, those that remain fixed, are doomed to fall. Again, theocracy, with its strict insistence on dogma and received wisdom, is the perfect illustration. But a theocracy can adapt by reading and interpreting its scriptures in a new light, while a strongly segmented, highly conservative aristocracy may instead resist the natural evolution of culture, leading to failure.


Every human being is unique, but we all share many things in common. It is easy, common, and perfectly natural to separate humanity into groups based on the presence or absence of a specific factor. However, to institutionalize this separation is to create an imbalance between members of a preferred class and outsiders. Implementing this sort of segregation by intrinsic factors, those we are physically, mentally, or psychologically unable to change, sorts humanity into those who are—by definition—haves and have-nots. This leaves a segment of the population without political power, without the opportunity for redress, and that segment will only seek to find a new outlet for such. Legislative tribalism, in the form of laws motivated by race, religion, sex, or other factors, is a failure of a government to protect (as by the Principle of Purpose) a certain portion of its citizenry. Executive tribalism, as seen in caste systems, aristocracies, communism, and oligarchy, bars this same portion from using its political voice.


Once again, we return to egalitarianism, as it is a prime example of the nature of competition. When every man is for himself, he can accomplish only what is within his own means. A larger conglomeration, however, can achieve greater things. This is because of resource pooling, specialization, and leadership, among other factors, and it is an expected consequence of our social nature. The most striking examples are those grand projects requiring the cooperation of an entire state, but this sort of socialism is inherent in any system of government. That does not require a surrender of all free will, as in Hobbes’ Leviathan, nor is it a condemnation of capitalism. When we accept the role of government, we commit a portion of ourselves to it, hoping that we receive greater benefits in return. It is this equation, in its lack of balance, where the failure of neoliberal technocracy lies. Yet there is equal imbalance in pure objectivism and pure collectivism.

Initial Conditions

The final principle is the most culture-specific, and it is here that one government system—or the idealized notion thereof—is singled out. However, the Constitution itself does not uphold all the ideals stated above. In its original form, it embraced inequality. It made little space for grand-scale cooperation. In accordance with the Principle of Evolution, however, it has changed to reflect the times, the changing beliefs of those it represents. Other founding documents fail a different set of fundamental principles, and in differing ways. They may be suitable as a starting point for deriving a system of government, but few begin so close to the ideal. Wholly unusable, by contrast, are scriptural resources such as the Ten Commandments, as these are defined by their violation of the Principle of Equality.

None of this is to say that these forms of government are invalid. If a people chooses to create for itself a state based on a violation of the Principles, the choice is theirs alone, and it is not for us to assign fault or blame. Those regimes, however, may not endure.

The axioms

Let us consider the following statements as axiomatic:

  1. Principle of Necessity: Government, in some form, is a construct necessary for the creation and function of any collection of people larger than the tribe or village.

  2. Principle of Purpose: A government exists solely to protect the liberty, health, safety, and well-being of its constituents.

  3. Principle of Evolution: A form of government is not cast in stone, but it must have the potential for change.

  4. Principle of Equality: A system of rule that classifies, based on intrinsic factors, some people as greater or lesser in rights or in being is untenable.

  5. Principle of Cooperation: A society of any size is able to achieve greater feats by working in concert rather than in competition.

  6. Principle of Initial Conditions: The Constitution of the United States is not a perfect document, but it is the best available starting point for enumerating the rights of the people and the responsibilities of government.

This set of axioms should be considered a framework, a definition of the boundaries of a space. With logic and deductive reasoning—two qualities sadly lacking in modern politics—it is possible to derive a system of political thought and a model for governance, one which upholds the principles above while remaining rooted in the practicalities of the modern world.