In a corrupt and decaying world, conventional wisdom demands that the answer to our problems is to choose which bitter flavor of government we should endure. Many look to libertarianism as the sweet flavor of change.
There seems to be a plethora of supporters and critics who wish to wax eloquent on this subject. Yet, the discussion always revolves around the utility of libertarianism. How would it work? Who would provide services like roads, schools, and protection? Who would help the needy? These discussions and critiques go on and on ad infinitum.
You see, there is a problem. Libertarianism is not a utilitarian theory. It’s not a political philosophy. Libertarianism is not a flavor or type of government. On the contrary, it is something distinctly and inherently different. It is not proactive. It’s not a way of organizing society. It’s not hierarchical. It’s not a plan. It’s not a direction.
The heart and soul of libertarianism is grounded in ethics and is the foundation of a personal code of conduct. Libertarianism is defined very simply as:
Free will within the parameters of property rights and non-aggression.
However, within those parameters, libertarian ethics does not define our actions as ethical or moral.
For those new to libertarianism and those who have forgotten, this means I cannot violate (use violence against) someone’s property or person. At the same time, I have to be tolerant to the personal choices, beliefs, etc., of others — even if I find them personally disagreeable.
For example, if my neighbor is a bisexual woman who practices pagan worship and pursues a sexually amorphous (more than one partner) lifestyle, along with a penchant for drinking moonshine while listening to heavy metal and country music, then I am ethically obligated to respect her and her property.
This doesn’t mean that I have to like her or engage her in conversation. I definitely don’t have to follow her beliefs, choice of beverage, or embrace her musical tastes. However, as a libertarian, I am ethically obligated to respect her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; thus, what she chooses to do on her property and her personal choices are no business of mine.
For some reason non-libertarians, as well as some libertarians, find the observation of moral ambiguity distressing. It is this revelation that makes non-libertarians close their eyes and cover their ears in cognitive dissonance. It’s why many Objectivists (Randians gone wild) berate us and is the origin of the ill-conceived and ill-fated Paleo-libertarian (no fun at parties) movement.
Though critics and weak-kneed libertarians may disdain our moral ambiguity, this ambiguity makes us the most ethical, moral, open-minded, and accepting philosophy surpassing even Christian inclusiveness. What I am suggesting is libertarianism and its ethical foundation has more in common with religion than politics.
We are the ultimate ethical standard. We accept everybody and exclude no one. You don’t have to ask for forgiveness to join us (as with Christianity) because within our ethical standard you haven’t done anything wrong.
What we worship is freedom. We grant free will to everyone, and our personal code of ethics is the principle of non-aggression (non-violence) towards others and their property. There is nothing more beautiful, pure, and virtuous then those ideals. In the simplest of terms, we believe in live and let live. A world based on these ideals would be the closest thing to heaven on earth.
Anarcho-brethren and libertarians of all stripes, when you get up each morning and look out at a world that is less free by the minute; in that moment of disillusion and despair remember, as a libertarian, you stand for something greater than a mere political idea. You stand for a way of life — a personal code of ethics.
You stand for the respect of people and their right to exist as they choose. You stand for peace. You stand for tolerance. You stand for so much more. You are a disciple of the most virtuous of ideals.
Stand-up and shout! Let the world know…what it is to be libertarian.