My Own Pie

Libertarian Thoughts from Renaissance Guy

Libertarian Platform #1

with one comment

     This is part of a series on the platform of the Libertarian Party. I plan to post quotations from the platform and comment on them. I will explain where I agree, where I disagree, and perhaps share my personal thoughts on each item. The statements are from the platform adopted in May of 2008.


Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.

     The last statement is very important. I, for one, disapprove of the use of marijuana. I have never used it, and have no plans to start. I think anyone who does so is stupid. However, I support the decriminalization of it, since using marijuana, in and of itself, harms nobody but the user. It is no worse, as far as I can tell than alcohol or tobacco, and therefore should be treated the same way.

     On the other hand, I heartily approve of giving to those in need, and I practice it myself. However, nobody should be forced to support those in need against his or her own wishes. In fact, giving to others by force is not true charity. True charity must be given voluntarily and cheerfully. So, although I approve of helping the needy, I cannot condone the confiscation of other people’s wealth in order to provide for others. 

      The hallmark of libertarianism is that the only proper restriction on behavior is on behavior that is unjustly aggressive toward somebody else. I agree with that approach. I believe that it is both rational and biblically sound. It does not preclude defense, either self-defense by an individual or public defense if a territory is attacked. It does not preclude just punishment for crimes, since the person who committed the crime is the one who initiated force.

     I realize that this plank completely precludes our invasion of Iraq, which I supported at one time. I definitely am against Islamic terrorism, and I want to see it stopped, if possible. However, I no longer support the use of the military of the United States to interfere in another country’s affair’s through a pre-emptive invasion. There were many problems with the regime of Saddam Hussein, but it was the responsibility of the Iraqi people to deal with those problems.

     At first glance, the plank might seem to support so-called reporductive rights, which of course really means abortion, which of course I do not condone at all. Since I regard abortion as the initiation of force against an unborn baby, I think it is perfectly in keeping with libertarianism to oppose abortion. The official positon of the Libertarian Party is that the government should stay out of the matter of abortion completely. I hope that someday that position changes.

     Anyway, I like the way that this plank balances individual rights and individual responsibilities. Yes, you have many rights, but you do not have the right to violate any of my rights.  As my fifth grade teacher said, your right to use your fist stops at the tip of my nose.  I like the way the plank recognizes freedom but demands that people accept the consequences for their freedom. You can drop out of school, if you want, but don’t whine about not being able to get a job, and do not demand that somebody else provide you a living.

     If the people of our country were to adopt this plank wholesale, most, if not all, of our problems, as a country, would be solved. As for individual problems, well, those are for each person to solve for himself or herself (with the help of willing friends and family).


Written by ambrosianideas

December 29, 2009 at 8:38 am

Posted in Libertarian Party

One Response

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  1. Actually you can take almost any ideology and if the whole country adopted that way of viewing life as a whole you would get a good result. The problem is that people have real disagreements. I also think most libertarians are pro-choice, so there can be disagreements about what ‘initiation of force’ means. Left libertarians (what I am usually considered) agree with most of that, but recognize that force can be structural and can be economic. Also, pragmatically, I want to look at how the world works and problem solve, rather than theorize about how things ought to be.

    That said, I do agree with a lot of what you write. I think often market libertarians too openly embrace the “capitalist system” in which big money controls the show, manipulates people, and of course is good friends with big government. I think too often libertarians look only at the state as a violator of rights, but just as mafias and organized crime in stateless societies can initiate force and violate rights, so can powerful economic actors. In fact, many of the attacks by the left on capitalism are really attacks that could come from libertarians — it is an argument that powerful groups deny individuals freedom and liberty through economic manipulation.

    Left and right, the core values are similar. Most people really want freedom and liberty — that motivated Marx (whose favorite economist was Adam Smith) as well as Hayek.

    Scott Erb

    January 1, 2010 at 12:36 am

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