Often times people are too quick to say others hate freedom but in the American political discussion everyone thinks they are for freedom and just believe certain conditions are necessary for freedom to survive.
A good summary of the American political discussion as I see it goes like this…
The left believes that a free society to exist and thrive needs the basics (healthcare, housing, education) so expects government to ensure the provision of these things.
The right believes that a free society to exist and thrive needs security and order which is done by aggressive proactive protection from everywhere else and strictly enforced laws which they expect government to ensure the provision of.
Libertarians believe that a free society to exist and thrive needs liberty and that people in a decentralized, voluntary and distributed manner can provide and improve the provision over time of education, healthcare, order, security and everything else.
What makes libertarians different is we see freedom and the knowledge creation of free exchange as the necessary condition for a sustainably free society.
I elaborate on this on the next episode of ”Nice Guys Finish Free”, my podcast on The Launchpad Media Network (subscribe to their podcast feed).
A lot of people confuse the views of those who are for a minimal state or those who want no state and are quick to label them naive. (This Post is not about what the right size of a state is just understanding different perspectives)
Those who want a minimal state (minarchist) believe smaller and limited government is better. They generally believe there are a few areas to which government provision is necessary (primarily defense and a legal system). Some believe limiting this state requires a fairly rigid and unchangeable contract to bind the government (a constitution), others believe it just takes constant engagement and vigilance with or without a constitution. Some moderates may extend government’s role to light environmental involvement and anti-trust (these would be the most moderate classical liberals). Regardless, they all agree less government, largely free markets and civil liberties make a better society. These people do understand the state has a propensity to grow but believe with the right checks it can be managed.
Those who want no state (ancaps/voluntaryists) believe there is no good or service that requires state provision so even defense and a legal system can be provided by one or many non-states actors. Since the state has a propensity to grow and use it’s unique aspects to prevent competition (a monopoly on the legitimate use of force which is used to tax and regulate) they think that the state should be eliminated as soon as practical. To do this a mix of using politics to dismantle the state and creating market alternatives to the state to reduce demand for the state existence . These people don’t believe no order should exist merely that it can be provided by a decentralized network of institutions like everything else in a market economy. There is a great varying of difference in the time frame in which they believe this can occur and whether certain institutions and cultural norms are required for it to work.
Point is, both groups largely in good faith support free markets, peace, and less government than we have now, so I believe they should be able to work together to those ends without quibbling about their differences.
I personally have views that depart from both of these in different ways but once again have a high conviction in free markets, peace and more individual power in society so let’s all get along.
Set an example of peace with Non-Intervention
End prohibition of goods and services and the violence it brings
Reduce barriers to individuals cooperating in enterprise, charity and community
Reduce barriers and costs to opportunities for empowerment
Allow people to enter the contracts they wish with consenting adults
Reduce the cost of living by reducing the costs of intervention
Encourage voluntary aid through charity, insurance and family/community
Decentralize governance to allow all people to have a voice
So when are you a Libertarian?
A question that is debated when people discuss the idea of ”thin” versus ”thick” libertarianism. Those in the thin camp argue that libertarianism is simply a rejection of the inititiation of violence. (you don’t think the worlds problems are solved by having someone else hurt others and take their stuff to force your ideals). While those in the ”thick” camp argue that libertarianism should go further into stronger advocacy for the oppressed, multiculturalism, essentially really advocating that people can and should make an effort not just coexist but thrive together.
I agree with both, I just feel they are answering very different questions.
The ”thin” crowd is arguing for a strict and clear definition of being libertarian as a view on the use of violence in governing society (violence is bad). They don’t want other virtues or social values to be added in because then it becomes unclear and drives people into a neverending fight on definitions. This bothers the ”thick” crowd because someone with social or cultural views they may abhor can fall within the libertarian banner as long as they don’t think violence and especially violence through government is the answer to bringing upon their worldview. Although we can’t redefine every aspect of ourselves to reduce commonalities with those we don’t like. I’m a male, and there are other males who’ve raped, murdered, etc. but I don’t suggest people redefine male to exclude those who do those things.
Although I do think the particular social virtues and values you promote play a role in building a world where Libertarianism can grow and thrive. One of the things that brings many to look into libertarianism is when they begin to see the effects that individual freedom has on general welfare. Many of these effects come from the network effects of markets, the exchange of good, services and ideas that create wealth and innovation. The smaller that network of interacting individuals the smaller these effects may become.
So to illustrate when I’m getting at I’ll make use of a rhetorical tool called a ”reductio” (taking things to their extreme). Let’s imagine a world where everyone rejects violence but their personal values and virtues still lead to isolated communities that voluntarily don’t trade, don’t travel, don’t talk. Many of the most positive effects of the market may not quite play out leading to less prosperous communities which can lead to an environment where the isolation and struggle leads to a reversal on the use of violence. (it’s easier to use violence on people you don’t know and especially when your struggling)
Throw in tolerance, forgiveness, empathy and pluralism in the virtues we promote, it may be beyond the scope of libertarianism but would contribute to an environment where libertarianism can sustainably be a value that travels generation to generation. The market network effects will create prosperity and non-violence that would reinforce continuing down that path. The interaction of individuals makes calls for violence that much more difficult.
Will the world hit either extreme, probably not. Although in the hopes of a sustainable libertarianism it seems valuable to want to push in the direction of the later extreme.
Most people believe people just behave the way they behave so they must be controlled and punished when out of line. Libertarians understand people respond to incentives and expectations. Market incentives and expecting self-responsibility makes us better. #amliberty #Libertarian