Slavery is widely recognized as a degrading and immoral institution. Civilized society universally rejects this sordid enterprise and employs law enforcement officials to seek out and disrupt markets that encourage it, and individuals who engage in it.

But truth be told, the overwhelming majority of people are slaves. Unlike the form of slavery understood by most, where one individual coercively places another in bondage, this other form is one which has voluntarily (if unknowingly) been self-imposed.

A recent study by George Mason University ranked Utah as the 20th freest state in the Union. Despite being known for its heavy conservatism and relatively friendly business environment, the state of Utah hardly is the beacon of freedom and limited government some might suggest. Indeed, slavery is alive and well in Utah.

The slavery of which I speak relates not to physical bondage or human trafficking, but to intellectual bondage and trafficking in destructive political philosophies. It deals not with chains and abuse, but with bad ideas and fear.

As Sinclair Lewis is claimed to have once said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Under the guise of patriotism and Christianity, a whole host of immoral mandates are constantly flowing out of the nation’s legislative bodies. Utah is not exempt from this trend.

But it’s important to clarify that elected officials are merely—in theory if not in fact—a reflection of the will of the people. That onerous mandates are imposed upon the people speaks more about the people’s willing acquiescence to them than it does the aggressive tyranny of the government. We the people collectively clamor for the forged fetters that increasingly tighten around us. We welcome our slavery.

Frankly, we fear being free. Utahns would rather ban a whole host of natural and synthetic substances than think of a society in which somebody might ingest bath salts without being hauled off to jail. We would rather cheer on “Click it or Ticket” campaigns than imagine a world where individuals might have the ability to choose whether or not they will wear a seat belt while driving. We look with skepticism and opposition to federal welfare programs while cheering on and expanding social welfare within the state. We cannot imagine a world where individuals are able to retain and use the fruits of their labors.

The list of such examples is unfortunately extremely long. A free society is something that today seems so far-fetched to so many, that the status quo has become an acceptable fantasy in which people support and comply with anti-liberty policies while simultaneously thinking, in Orwellian fashion, that they are free. But as Goethe once wrote, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Liberating those who are enslaved to statism requires demonstrating that their fear is irrational, and their bad ideas harmful. It is a monumental task, for statism and central planning have become so entrenched, so pervasive, that an unadulterated vision of liberty seems like a threat to them. Like a sick child ardently refusing the very medicine which would restore his health, those who have enslaved themselves by embracing false political philosophies attack or disregard the ideas which would make them free.

In his written orders on August 23, 1776, General George Washington wrote:

[T]he hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.

That slavery has indisputably become the portion of our forefathers’ posterity. Fortunately, there is yet time to acquit ourselves and throw off the chains of self-imposed servitude to the state.

Are you one of the Freemen?


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