Sunday, January 04, 2009
What Is A Libertarian, Anyway?
Over the years (over 40 of 'em, in my case), I've bumped into advocates of quite a number of varying opinions as to just what libertarianism is. I've run into even more opinions of what libertarianism is by non-libertarians. Particularly, by conservatives.
We're crazy, drug-addled ne'er do wells who only want drugs legalized.....and those individuals do, in fact, exist. We're anarchists, desiring to tear down all the country's institutions and traditions.....those exist, as well. There are conservatives, who have moved away from the GOP in favor of capitalism and less intrusion by government into our lives.....I've spoken to many. There are leftists who've studied a little economics and see the flaws in the Democrat welfare state......yes, indeed. There are would-be mountain men, who just don't want to be involved at all, and others who would disappear into the Rockies if they only dared. Perhaps there are some living that way, even as we meeker fellows contemplate how to minimize local, state and federal theft of an ever larger portion of our productivity.
Libertarianism doesn't necessarily embrace every one of these ways of life. If I may, allow me to direct you toward an essay that's going to be the first chapter of a book by L Neil Smith and his daughter Rylla Cathryn Smith. The essay, called What Libertarians Believe, can be found here.
Since Mr Smith is the individual who, with the exception of Ayn Rand, has influenced me more than anyone else with his work, I don't hesitate to make his ideas known, to the best of my ability.
Libertarian is very simple, really. It's an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the individual. It's a recognition that each of us owns his life and all the products thereof. It's simply an absence of initiated force.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is not a libertarian.
They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!
In my haste to finish this entry and hit the sack last night, I neglected to mention what Smith calls the Zero Aggression Principle, (ZAP) which was first (in Smith's recollection) penned by Thomas Jefferson, and in mine, by Ayn Rand. ZAP is central to any real definition of libertarianism and required for any kind of a rational society. See Smith's essay, in which he explains ZAP more fully.