By Gracie Hunt: Period 6
The Constitution of the United States guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all Americans. Such founding principles were instituted to ensure that every person has the opportunity to build a life they love and pursue whatever they define as the American Dream. Aristotle describes people as “political animals,” meaning that we all have an innate need to participate in determining how we conduct life on a daily basis in society. He questions what the purpose of the state is, while considering how it contributes to achieving an ultimate good; he determines that “mankind meet together and maintain a political community…[for] men cling to life even at the cost of enduring great misfortune, seeming to find in life a natural sweetness and happiness” . Ludwig Von Mises argues in Liberty and Property that “as long as individuals have the opportunity to choose, they are free,” leading the reader to believe that “a slave is unfree precisely because the master assigns him his tasks and determines what he has to receive if he fulfills it” . Since we are far from the status of servitude, we can pursue harmony within society, achieving one’s full potential, and a multitude of innovations and careers. In Liberty and Property, Von Mises establishes capitalism and the ability to own private property as essential elements in human liberty and therefore happiness. The environment of individuality that capitalism and America’s free-market economy breed allows people to achieve whatever they consider most essential in living the good life, as it gives everyone the right to utilize their own unique ideas and talents in the pursuit of their dreams.
While liberty is an essential component of the Western social philosophy, Von Mises argues that “individualism” is the “distinctive principal” which “aims at the creation of a sphere in which the individual is free to think, to choose, and to act without being restrained by the interference of the social coercion and oppression, the State,” displaying the necessity to limit government control to achieve an ultimate good . Capitalism stemmed from the rise of individualism—“capitalism as an economic system emphasizes the individual both as the holder of self-interest and as the foundation of all legal rights” . Without legal rights, like those guaranteed to Americans in the Constitution, the fundamental identity of people, which is rooted in each person’s unique traits and abilities, would be lost through the oppression of the state, therefore hindering all in achieving their full potential.
Individuality and the ability to choose prove the ultimate determinants in true liberty and in the amount of opportunity to live a good life. Therefore, capitalism emerges as the superior economic system as it allows the most people to participate in political exchange, while furthering both themselves and the state as a result. In order to move forward stronger as a unit-as a state, each person must be allowed an environment where he or she can grow into their full potential.
- The Polotics. Book III: Chapter 6. Dallas, TX; Bernardo Aparicio: Ursuline Academy. Print.
- Von Mises, Ludwig. Liberty and Property. Section V. Dallas, TX; Bernardo Aparicio: Ursuline Academy. Print.
- Von Mises, Ludwig. Liberty and Property. Section VII. Dallas, TX; Bernardo Aparicio: Ursuline Academy. Print.
- Individualism And Modern Society.” Liberty, Social, Equality, and Mill – JRank Articles. Accessed April 27, 2017. http://science.jrank.org/pages/9786/Individualism-Individualism-Modern-Society.html
- Image Citation: “Individual Strengths.” Google Search. Accessed April 30, 2017. https://www.google.com/search?q=individual%2Bstrengths&rlz=1C1CHWA_enUS596US664&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjx5PvAvM3TAhVL_4MKHZz5AUAQ_AUICigB&biw=439&bih=442#imgrc=NgBlMf27m6g0IM:.