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: