What Is A Libertarian?
Friday, July 28, 2006
It has been said that if you take four libertarians, put them in a room and then ask them what a libertarian is you'll get five different answers. This is true to an extent, too. Some libertarians are very political animals, others are philosophically inclined and eschew politics as a nasty habit. Other libertarians believe in small government and low taxes, while another segment believe in no government and no taxes. All of the various groups, tho have common ground in that they are firm believers in liberty and the rights of the individual as the cornerstone of the libertarian edifice and this nation.
While there are numerous schools of thought where libertarians are concerned and within which libertarians work to fulfill their goals, the over-riding philosophy which guides libertarians is one which we call "The Non-Aggression Principle" (NAP)or "Zero Aggression Principle" (ZAP).
No human being has the right -- under any circumstances -- to initiate force against another human being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation.Libertarians joining the National Party as a member sign a pledge which affirms this core belief and it is the guiding principle which Libertarians hold in common. This is not a pledge of pacifism by any stretch of the imagination. It is a statement that libertarian individuals will not initiate force or use delegated force to achieve their goals. Acting in defence of self, country, family and others is not precluded in any way. Libertarians extend this to the political realm, as well. Using the power and force of government to coerce obedience is repugnant and something political libertarians would be unlikely to engage in.
Smoking bans, weapon bans, eminent domain, these are all things which libertarians are against and the libertarian opposition to these stems from the ZAP. Each of these issues uses the force of government against individuals at the behest of other individuals who either disapprove of a specific behaviour or who wish to take something which another possesses for their own gain.
Libertarians believe that property rights are sacrosanct and are one of the few areas in which any government should intervene. Such intervention, when necessary should be only to protect the rights of the property holder. "Life, Liberty and Property", as proposed by John Locke is yet another guiding principle for libertarians, who believe that that which you justly acquire is yours and no-one, king, politician or thief has any right to that which belongs to you without your permission. Eminent domain is not something which libertarians are likely to adhere to as a "necessary evil". It's use, when absolutely necessary must be only for the greater good and restitution must be commensurate with the desires of the property holder, not an arbitrary "market value". Libertarians also understand that no means no.
Libertarians are many things. They are your neighbours, your family and friends and they believe that "We the People" are better suited to determine our destiny than absentee landlords in Washington, D.C. whom we have chosen by ballot. Libertarians believe that individuals and communities are in a better position to decide matters of grave importance than any bureaucracy. This was never more evident than in the days after Hurricane Katrina when aid poured in from individuals, communities and private concerns long before government even began to move in any substantive fashion. While politicians were talking, people were doing.
Libertarians believe that the fruits of your labour belong to you and should not be subject to the whims of fiscally irresponsible politicians, unelected bureaucrats or anyone other than yourself. People spend significant portions of their lives working and gathering the resources which they use to sustain and better their lives, these resources should not be subject to confiscation by anyone. Libertarians believe that no-one should be forced to pay for the right to own property, as is the case with various types of property taxes. This is no less than a form of indentured servitude to politicians who cannot control their spending habits.
Libertarians believe that business owners are best suited to determine the relationships they will have with their customers and the public. A truly free marketplace is the best guide for good business practices, not bureaucracies,politicians or "citizens groups" looking out for the common good. Libertarians know that bad business practices are repaid in kind via the free market and that politicians only manage to complicate things and take away fundamental rights, liberties and freedom when they take the decision to involve themselves in it. This is something which libertarians of all stripes are in agreement on.
So, what is a libertarian? They're an individual who believes in your right to live in peace and prosperity as you choose. They're your neighbour, your family and your friends.