There are a plethora of different views and opinions about Libertarianism and what it is. Some believe, “Libertarianism is a long, clunky word for a simple, elegant idea: that government should do as little as possible” (Beam). For these theorists and philosophers, a fair culture would be one accurately grounded and thriving in a sense of individual liberty. Something most valued and cherished by libertarians alike, whether they have a tendency to be more conservative or liberal. Most libertarians operate by the view that each person ‘has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others’(Boaz 2). So, what is Libertarianism?
According to Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boaz, Free Press,
Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property-rights that people have naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force-actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud (2).
Libertarians can hold different views, some often extremist, but they all have one general characteristic in common—they do not believe in violence. Violence is not a means to solving any sort of problem in the Libertarian view. However, they do view violence as acceptable in terms of retribution. Libertarians believe no man, government or organization should use violence, but if attacked in a violent manner retaliating in a violent manner is okay. Non-violence then introduces the concept that no person in a Libertarian world can be violated; therefore, if a man uses violence against another the man who is attacked has the absolute right to a defence using violence. Some call this anarchy. However, anarchy also comes with a state of disorder in being individual. Libertarianism is based on the concept of private property in individualism.
That being said, there are also massive amounts of people who are quite uneducated in terms of Libertarianism. Politics often becomes tainted with extremists and people who thing libertarians are violent, anarchists and militia members. The common public have regarded libertarians as people who have no common respect for government, people who want to destroy the government and abolish conservatives. About one in ten Americans self-identifies as libertarian, and even fewer consider themselves “movement” libertarians (Beam).
The modern libertarian, however, believes in minarchy—the implementation of a partial government. The partial government operates an army, security on a residential level and a court system—that’s it. Therefore, in the world today, the real question lies not in if a libertarian minarchy would be easier or a slice of heaven? The question then becomes: Will a libertarianism influence have beneficial impact on the justice system in terms of incarceration, certain judicial laws possibly seen as violent, current wars, or say, national security in times of imminent threats?
There are think-tanks in place to help develop answers to these types of questions in Washington, D.C. Libertarians, like every other political party, must come to an eventual resolve on their personal stance on subjects like national security, the death penalty, abortion and so on. Most of these are clear, but debates develop every day between The Libertarian Party and other political parties. Libertarians must be prepared to share their views. The think-tanks use an instrumentalist methodology in this two-party organization. Ideals of The Libertarian Party are shared through educational resources, blogs, scholarly articles and magazine features. For instance, Reason Magazine defines libertarianism in an academic, yet cultural aspect.
Although, they seem to have crazy ideals there is not really a more underlying notion to what ideals our country was founded on. Libertarians have more claims over who founded the United States over any other political party. For instance, The American Revolution was a straight denial of a pompous government making it libertarian. Another libertarian moment, the drafting and signing of The Constitution which restricted society to a judicial system that enforces laws, interprets them and protects them. Arguably, the United States is a descendent of libertarianism views, so why are some people so afraid of this party?
Most people who do not understand the ideals of Libertarianism call it “the weird, Magic-card-collecting, twelve-sided-die-wielding outcast of American political philosophy” (Beam). This is due to their wide dis-agreement over ideals within their party system. If people don’t see them as weird, the see them as consistently arguing over which is the ‘real’ libertarian. One can also admit, that they do all concur they should be permitted to purchase a gun in order to shoot each other in the face over who is the real libertarian. Some libertarian’s still think they are independent in political thought, voting and party. This is due to their empathy with fiscal conservatives and social liberals. They identify with both; therefore they think they are ‘independent’ when they are actually libertarian.
Libertarianism is often side-lined and bashed in American politics, seeing that it is not a two-party system. The Libertarian Party falls on the conservative side with Republicans and their views on state and local government’s interference in the economy. However, they also fall into the democratic side with the fact that they don’t believe the government should have any say over social choices. A once popular slogan: “I want the government out of your pocketbook and your bedroom,” by Massachusetts governor, William Weld puts this concept into great perspective. One-sided people cannot fathom this concept. This is why people think most libertarians are ‘independent’, because they often fluctuate between leaning toward the left and right side of various political issues.
While libertarians may not, themselves be constant, because of the lack of party affiliation when voting, it is more constant as a whole when compared to the Democratic or Republican party-platforms. Libertarians believe there is one theory of dominant power, a place where free-markets social conservatism is linked together—in the house of the Republican agenda. This is why the party particularly attracts a vast amount of young people. It’s a simple idea, but it’s also the linchpin of a complex system of values and practices: justice, prosperity, responsibility, toleration, cooperation, and peace (Libertarinism.org). While different, it holds an air of free-thinking, free-will and gives one and ‘outsider’ persona. Simply put, they think it’s cool. The libertarian is one who discards power in terms of government, and gives young people the ability to treat one’s self in a very self-loving manner.
The communication of a libertarian and republican is very much the same. Especially today, both speak on decreased government spending, and cutting government as a whole. These comments are never followed with action, and if they are the public, as well as other politicians reject the idea; almost as if they do so without thinking about what the libertarian is saying. Case in point, Paul Ryan was called-out last year in a debate on health care reform after he did not give a proper substitute to the liberal plan of reducing growth of long-term costs. The ‘Roadmap for America’s Future’ presented by Ryan was almost like a farce, because he didn’t go into great detail about the actual cuts that he made. He claimed it simplified taxes, privatized government healthcare systems, and gave those who receive Social Security private accounts.
The plan was bold, and could have worked, but it would have crippled the social safety net. Matt Miller of the Washington Post stated, “Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget ‘roadmap’ doesn't balance the budget until the 2060s and, adds an unthinkable $62 trillion to the national debt between now and then." While his ideas were libertarian, and solid they were not specific, which in turn has caused the Republican Party evade details when talking about decreasing the deficit; and that is how the Republicans play the political game. Is it fair to say that the libertarians will be like this, as well?
No, these two party standards are exactly what make libertarians avoid this sort of two-face political game. This can also explain the reason behind the fact that Libertarian candidates are seldom elected. Bickering is something Libertarians stray from, as well. The concept of libertarianism is very much: teamwork. Of course you have some that do not believe in teamwork. They believe in working against the system. They investigate a problematic area occurring at the boundary of ethics and normative political theory (Gordon).
Take for instance, 800 libertarian activists who currently reside in New Hampshire. They operate as what they call the ‘free state project’. It all began in 2001, when a Yale graduate student caused uproar amongst libertarian activists in a paper claiming they could change society if they all packed up and moved to a small state in the union. These ‘free state project’ followers have been successful and unsuccessful. For instance, some are currently appointed to State Legislature; others have resorted to public acts that are illegal, and well, they are arrested. There is no way to say, that a group of libertarians all residing alone will actually change society, but the sentiment, in the style of true libertarian beliefs, is quite poetic.
In Conclusion, the libertarian voice will be well understood and perceived by academic and educated people with a like mindedness. The ideas of libertarianism will change politics in terms of the way we see and carry out political disputes. While this will not be an immediate change, people will begin to reach conclusions as a result of their own free-will and thinking. Not to say that they did not do that before, but it will follow and flow into a libertarian ideal and direction. Then, the more prominent political process, historic in nature, can help clarify issues in small conversations; something the libertarians embrace, a political norm of the past, much like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or the discussion on what would be listed in The Constitution. These are these types of situations in which legislature should be brought down to a libertarian level and it takes one person in these small groups to take the conversation in a different direction. The dangerous political range of libertarianism then becomes no involuntary hazard to society.
Through the political philosophy of libertarians we find that they do indeed defend each person's right to life and liberty. They view a world in which every citizen has the birth right to property without the government telling them whether they can or cannot own that property. While the libertarian discards power in terms of government, it also gives people the capability to indulge in pleasure, and not feel guilty for it. The libertarian values in terms of relationships exist in the sense that: you should not have to be friends with people if you don’t want to. You don’t ‘have’ to be friends with someone. You ‘choose’ to be. Relationships should be deliberate. Initiating violence is the only thing that should not be inflicted upon others. Murder, rape and kidnapping all warrant the retaliation of violence.
Political philosophy, after being consigned to a premature burial by the logical positivists in the 1930s and 1940s, has revived and, during the past decade, has enjoyed a dramatic rebirth (Gordon). Our world is filled with amazingly different views and ideals, from people of science, ethics and philosophy—deep-thinkers who ponder the universe and life, and get along quite tranquilly. Often the acceptance of artificial, shallow thinking of the two-party system is what stands in the way of a truly free-thinking society within the boundaries of libertarianism. Soon, many will find themselves leaning more toward libertarianism when it comes to their rights within speaking their own mind and sharing their most prized ideas, for submitting to the idea of libertarianism may be the only way to keep the freedom we so freely boast of having.
Beam, Christopher. The Trouble With Liberty. New York Magazine. 3 Jan. 2011. Web. 7
Boaz, David. Libertarianism: A Primer. New York: The Free Press, 1997. Print.
Douthat, Ross. The Specter of Minarchy. The New York Times. 3 Jan. 2011. Web. 7 April
Gordon, David. Libertarian Political Philosophy: A Bibliographical Essay. The Online
Library of Liberty. Web. 7 April 2013.
Libertarianism. Web. 7 April 2013.
Miller, Matt. “Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget”. The Washington Post. 24 Feb 2011. Web. 7 April
“What is Libertarian?” Institute for Humane Studies. George Mason University. Web.
7 April 2013.