My journey to libertarianism didn’t start until I graduated high school, spent 4 years in the Army, and was on the final year of my BS in Criminal Justice. When the economy crashed in 2007, I found myself in awe and searching for answers. It started me on a journey of self-education that focused heavily in areas of political science, philosophy, and economics. It is a journey that has helped to define who I am and what my values in life really are. I would not trade any of it for the world; however, what I find most interesting about libertarians is we are very much the same in these respects.
What makes this article necessary is how libertarians are portrayed by the media. Here are a few article titles to demonstrate:
Rather than go through every article I can find and refute every false claim about libertarianism, I have decided simply to lay out the basics of what we think.
Libertarians, in my experience, take two approaches to politics. The first approach is the economic approach. This is why so many libertarians offer entrepreneurship as a replacement for government provided services when questioned. Austrian economics provides the key to understanding basic economics and how economic growth occurs. An entrepreneur recognizes demand for a product and obtains capital either through savings or investors and implements a business plan to provide the said service. All very simple, and an accurate way of understanding economics. When governments interfere with this process, they distort real demand, make certain products no-longer feasible due to taxation and regulations, making less desirable substitutes available in lieu; a fancy way of saying they make society as a whole poorer. Since governments operate through the power of law, classes of winners and losers are always created, whereas free exchanges benefit all parties involved.
The second approach to politics is a firm belief in justice. Libertarians recognize that all human beings possess the same basic characteristics: self-ownership, consciousness, and the need for property to survive. This need to own property in order to survive gives all of us the right to self-defense. Without property we can’t meet our basic needs for food, water, or shelter; a species without the ability to defend their property is an endangered species, as others throughout the animal kingdom will swoop in and deprive them of their food. Hence it follows that the individual has the right to repel any encroachments, from the animal kingdom or from other people, on the rights to their property. The libertarian, knowing they have the right to self-defense, also recognizes that if they themself attempt to encroach on another’s property, that person also has the right to defend from their attack. This creates a principle that libertarians live by: The Non-Aggression principle. This approach to politics is not much concerned with what will provide the strongest economic or social outcome; it is simply a matter of whether or not someone’s property rights were violated.
What both classes have in common; what separates libertarianism from all other ideologies, is the refutation of delusion and respect for truth. Libertarians do not pretend, for example, that our material problems will be solved if we simply pass a new law. Passing a law does nothing to add to the amount of goods and services available to us all; only production can do that, and only production of things people demand (not government directed production such as ‘digging holes and filling them back up’). The justice-oriented libertarian does not pretend that passing a law and sending policemen to enforce said law with guns and other weapons and endless backup is what defines justice. Justice; natural rights, whatever you want to call it, is everyone’s birthright.
It is my sincere hope that the reader considers what has NOT been said here at least as much as what has been said. Libertarianism does not mean we cannot have a commune… It does not mean we cannot have charities… It does not mean we believe in state capitalism (that really does benefit the rich)… There is room for anything and everything in a libertarian society. What concerns libertarians is the means, not the ends. As long as coercive means are not being used, libertarians will not oppose it, even if they don’t necessarily agree. We don’t ask “Who is going to benefit from this?” or “How will this benefit rich white people?” We ask: Is one party using force against another?
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The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.