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Libertarians: None of the Above

Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012, at 12:50 PM

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There have been countless words written attempting to describe what it means to declare oneself "libertarian". Some of these treatises were composed by deep thinking philosophers who possessed such great intellect and knowledge on the subject that newcomers approaching libertarianism are left feeling frustrated in their honest attempt to grapple what is a foreign concept: the rights of the autonomous individual. Other formal works authored by "experts" are so contradictory to libertarianism that the student reverts back to supporting the duopoly establishment, or apathy.

By no means am I going to attempt to grab the mantle of expert libertarian leader. While I have embraced and studied libertarianism for almost two decades, I am just beginning my journey. However, there comes a time when philosophy must be put into political action. That is the reason that I joined the Libertarian Party, and have once again declared my candidacy for US Representative (MO-8) on the Libertarian Party ticket. The title of "candidate" affords me unique opportunities to advance the cause of individual liberty in ways that a civilian cannot. That is an unfortunate reflection of a society which places undeserved significance on those who hold titles, but is also reality.

An excellent reference as to the nature of the Libertarian Party can be found in our Statement of Principles...

"We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market."

In summary, the Libertarian Party believes that every person should live their life however they want, so long as that person doesn't harm anybody else, and that they extend that right to all other individuals if we want to live in a truly free society. In my opinion the last part of that sentence is the most important and deserves repeating: all individuals should extend the right to live their lives peacefully to all other individuals. It is that extension of individual rights to all that differentiates the Libertarian Party from the duopoly political parties. We believe that no person or group of persons has the right to forcibly prevent other people from peacefully living their lives.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a free society, and the State, through the establishment of social and corporate welfare programs, has forced our consideration of the behaviors and actions of others. American style democracy is such that personal vices such as using too much salt, not wearing a seatbelt, or ingesting a banned plant, or the participation of a business in the marketplace have a negative effect on our property. If a driver who was not wearing his seatbelt gets into an accident and is horribly maimed, society may have to support the driver for life. If a corporation makes a bad business decision, or loses money producing a product that is rejected by the market, society may have to provide a bailout to that corporation to prevent it from failing. I use the word "may" because Congress choses the winners and losers in each of these scenarios based on political connections and voter bloc membership.

In order to maintain and fund these expensive welfare programs, the State must confiscate the property of the citizenry through a myriad of complicated tax codes that leave experienced professional accountants scratching their heads in confusion. The State enforces the tax code through a police force, and the threat of violence. This threat is usually enough to compel compliance. It is interesting that debtors' prisons are a relic of a barbaric past, yet the existence of prisons for those who do not hand the prescribed amount of the product of their lives' energies over the State is considered normal.

The "welfare/warfare state" that I described in the previous two paragraphs is the root cause of the conflict that the State has introduced into our lives. It is at direct +odds with the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. Libertarians do not believe that anyone has the right to initiate force against anybody else; regardless if that force is instigated upon you by your neighbor, a mob, a uniformed policeman, or what the great anarcho-capitalist teacher Murray Rothbard called "a gang of thieves writ large": Congress.

In the weeks to come I hope to explain the libertarian philosophy in greater detail, and promote the Libertarian Party to those of you who are feeling let down by the duopoly parties, or have dropped out of the political process altogether. You do have a choice, and we can build a more free society in which our lives will be immediately improved. Thank you for your consideration.

Links of interest:

http://www.lp.org/

http://www.lpmo.org/

http://c4ss.org/

http://www.strike-the-root.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VandevenForCong...


Comments
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One thing I've never quite understood about the Libertarian Party is the paradox of it. A political Party based on People who want to be left alone and leave others alone. Sounds great on paper to me but almost unworkable in a society or even by the very nature of some people's desire to do the complete opposite. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I find it to be more of a utopian ideal than a workable system.

How would you address that Mr. Vandeven and how would a complete "stateless" society function? What would happen to those who choose not to "play along"? Just what would a "stateless" society look like?

-- Posted by ddshea on Sun, Jun 24, 2012, at 5:33 PM

ddshea,

While I and plenty of other members of the LP lean anarchist, and believe that the nation-state experiment is a complete failure that has had terrible consequencs for the human race and the health of our planet, there are also plenty of LP'ers who believe that smaller government is a lofty goal. We have legendary philosophical discussions, sometimes nasty, but ultimately we agree that getting government out of the way to allow people to live their lives in peace is ideal. Our difference of opinion is what society should look like when that goal is accomplished.

The leviathan, one-size-fits-all, top down vertically structured pyramidial central government would not exist in a stateless society. I believe that forcing people to live under the State is the definition of utopia. People should be free to choose whatever form of social structure they want to live in; consent of the governed.

-- Posted by Simon Jester on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 5:45 AM

So what makes that different from the "rule of the Jungle"?

What happens to the "rule of Law"?

-- Posted by ddshea on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 7:16 AM

A stateless society means "no rulers", not "no rules".

Every child, with rare exception, is born with an innate sense of right and wrong. Basically it all boils down to one rule "do not trespass". In order to follow that one simple rule one has to understand the concept of property. As a society, we have forgotten what property is. When one realizes what property is then one also realizes that most of the millions of laws in this country exist to perpetuate our common enemy: the State.

-- Posted by Simon Jester on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 11:32 AM

rvandeven: "The leviathan, one-size-fits-all, top down vertically structured pyramidial central government would not exist in a stateless society"

Could our huge government go away and be replaced by a stateless society. Sure, but what prevents a different huge government from growing up in its place almost immediately thereafter? In the real world whenever their is a power void groups of people seek to quickly fill it. Historically the true stateless societies that have existed only seem to be a brief transitional stages before some new group takes over. So if we ever achieved your ideal stateless society how would you prevent an intrusive nation-state from forming anew?

If you don't have a mechanism for preventing a new "gang of thieves" from replacing the old "gang of thieves" then most people will prefer predictability over the unknown and the possibility of an even worse outcome.

-- Posted by Nil on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 11:36 AM

Nil,

This is Rick BTW. I have two handles on here.

I think the human race is slowly advancing towards the recognition of the individual as the sovereign as opposed to the sovereign State. All of the best things in my life have nothing to do with the State. More and more people are becoming aware that this holds true in their lives also. By no means are we even a blip on the radar, but at least we are all aware of the existence of each other.

The mechanism for the prevention of violence against me exists now - self defense. I have zero faith in the agents that are employed by the State to supposedly protect me. The abuse of power by the police forces against the citizenry in this country occurs on a daily basis.

Thanks for responding. I would rather talk philosophy than policy anyday. I might be off base, but the fact that you and ddshea are more interested in a stateless society than the central government is a good sign. I encourage you to visit the C4SS website link. Those guys are the teachers. Like i said, I am still a student.

-- Posted by Lumpy on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 8:30 PM

Again, sorry Rick I'm just not seeing how this "stateless" society can exist with out resulting in complete anarchy. People want to be able to work and raise their families with as little government or "state" interference" as possible but still enjoy the protections from those that would steal the fruits of their labors.

I'll grant you, more and more it is evident that our "state" is doing just that (removing incentive by stealing more of our labor's fruits) and we need to stand up against that assault and restore a proper balance.

What you are describing as near as I can place came closest in existence in tribal societies not unlike our native americans prior to the Colonization of what would become the US. These societies that governed by councils led by chiefs did in fact stake out territories and fought when those territories were encroached upon. They fought wars of aggression when resources were scarce and food stores for winter weren't in proper quantities.

I've noticed this type of tribalism around the world, especially in Iraq when I was there. When we invaded and disbanded their police and military tribalism ruled. We had more tribal chiefs to deal with that all wanted payoffs, resources, access to resources etc.

To me again, if I am way off the mark here let me know, I just don't see this type of system or no system as a practical way to live especially in a society as large as the United States. I tend to agree with Nil that a Stateless society is more representative of a power vacuum and will be taken over by the first more organized gang that comes along how ever they are philosophically organized and will slowly or quickly absorb those who are living unto themselves.

-- Posted by ddshea on Tue, Jun 26, 2012, at 12:02 PM

ddshea,

There is a saying that I always admired made by Randolph Bourne - War is the health of the state.

States engage in war. Only the strongest of states invade other states. The people don't want war. They can be forced or duped into participating in the states' wars, but it is the people that suffer the consequences of war, never the State. The State always grows stronger as a result of war, which is why states engage in war.

Comparing the society in Iraq with American society is not a good comparision. We produce goods and services for trade. The market is the key to peace and prosperity, not a strong central government.

Most of us get along with each other, and are content carrying on the business of producing and trading. Yes, there are criminals in society who trespass against us. However, thanks to the myriad of laws and regulations perpetrated by the State, and enforced on society through the police, we are all criminals living on borrowed time. It is estimated that the average American commits three felonies a day unknowingly.

I know that the original question as to what a stateless society would look like has not been answered. That is because it cannot be answered. All I can refer to is the failure of strong central governments. Everything from tyranny to communism to democracy has been tried. All have failed.

-- Posted by Simon Jester on Tue, Jun 26, 2012, at 4:39 PM


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None of the Above
Rick Vandeven - Libertarian For US Representative (MO-8)
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I was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1972, and grew up in the Chaffee area where I still reside with my lovely wife and three beautiful and talented daughters. I have been employed in the paper industry for the past 14 years and am a member of St. Ambrose Catholic Church. In my spare time I support my local parochial school, listen to and perform music, and read. This is my second run for U.S. Congress as the Libertarian Party candidate. In 2010 I was endorsed by the Boston Tea Party and received an "A" rating from the Gun Owners of America. Since my last campaign I supported the opposition to the smoking ban in Cape Girardeau, gathered signatures for the Show-Me Cannabis initiative, was elected to the Missouri State Libertarian Party Executive Committee, and recently won the Champion of Freedom Award. I hope that my candidacy helps to advance the cause of individual liberty. I welcome your questions and comments. Thank you for reading!