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Ron Paul has entered the US presidential race for the third time as a Republican. But he's not really a Republican - he's a Libertarian. Ron Paul, like all Libertarians, is always talking about limiting government, shutting down government programs, and strictly reading the Constitution (i.e., interpreting it in terms of its original meaning - not as the "living document" that it is now considered). Yet Libertarians continue to use the benefits of these programs. (After all, they walk down public streets. They drive on public highways. They use the post office to mail letters. They collect unemployment. They check out books from public libraries. They take their kids to public parks.)

what libertarians are saying what retards think it meansIt's certainly hard to disagree with Libertarians who claim that government is out of control and continues to get worse. Anyplace you look in government (e.g., finances, war, civil liberties), the trend is clearly negative. Even the liberal Huffington Post acknowledges that:

Left and right are not the two paradigms of American politics. They are the two flavors of only one.

America has been brought to its knees by a Left that has empowered the state and a Right that has subsidized big business...

None of this is Constitutional. And none of it is conducive to liberty or the honest pursuit of happiness.

The Left never had all the answers, but they were for a long time damned sure the Right were evil. And the Right never had all the answers, but they were damned sure that the Left were stupid. And most people who are interested in politics have for the longest time chosen one of those two teams...

Indeed, it will soon be time to coin the term "Constitutional liberal," and that can only be a good thing...

Progressive liberals on the one hand, and neocons on the other, have between them done plenty of harm to the USA. Most of the lives and treasure that have been lost by America would not have been lost if the Constitution had been followed more closely by both groups.

Libertarians' firm stance against the initiation of force (aka the non-aggression principle) has much to be said for it. Their ideals stem from their belief that each individual owns himself - that you are your own property. From that, all of their other principles follow (e.g., self-responsibility, property rights, limited government, free markets).

Libertarians want a non-coercive society. What's so wrong about that? On which points do you agree or disagree with Libertarians? Are you being a hypocrite when you are philosophically against government programs yet use those programs? Social contract theory notwithstanding, how do you argue with the claim that "other people are not your property?" How do your political convictions compare? What are the principals of your political belief system?

David Bergland once offered Libertarianism in One Lesson. I would like to offer libertarianism in one sentence.

The most succinct formulation of libertarianism I can think of is this:

Other people are not your property.

In other words: They are not yours to boss around. Their lives are not yours to micromanage. The fruits of their labour are not yours to dispose of.

It doesn't matter how wise or marvelous or useful it would be for other people to do whatever it is you'd like them to do. It is none of your business whether they wear their seatbelts, worship the right god, have sex with the wrong people, or engage in market transactions that irritate you. Their choices are not yours to direct. They are human beings like yourself, your equals under Natural Law. You possess no legitimate authority over them. As long as they do not themselves step over the line and start treating other people as their property, you have no moral basis for initiating violence against them - nor for authorising anyone else to do so on your behalf.

The basic principle of civilised social intercourse was stated in 1646 by Richard Overton:

To every individual in nature is given an individual property by nature not to be invaded or usurped by any. For every one, as he is himself, so he has a self-propriety, else could he not be himself; and of this no second may presume to deprive any of without manifest violation and affront to the very principles of nature and of the rules of equity and justice between man and man. .... No man has power over my rights and liberties, and I over no man's. I may be but an individual, enjoy my self and my self-propriety and may write myself no more than my self, or presume any further; if I do, I am an encroacher and an invader upon another man's right .... every man by nature being a king, priest and prophet in his own natural circuit and compass, whereof no second may partake but by deputation, commission, and free consent from him whose natural right and freedom it is.

Nor is this requirement lifted merely because you happen to be a police officer, or an elected legislator, or a member of a majority of citizens casting their votes. As Voltairine de Cleyre pointed out in 1890:

[A] body of voters can not give into your charge any rights but their own; by no possible jugglery of logic can they delegate the exercise of any function which they themselves do not control. If any individual on earth has a right to delegate his powers to whomsoever he chooses, then every other individual has an equal right; and if each has an equal right, then none can choose an agent for another, without that other's consent. Therefore, if the power of government resides in the whole people, and out of that whole all but one elected you as their agent, you would still have no authority whatever to act for the one. The individuals composing the minority who did not appoint you have just the same rights and powers as those composing the majority who did; and if they prefer not to delegate them at all, then neither you, nor any one, has any authority whatever to coerce them into accepting you, or any one, as their agent ....

I suggest that the phrase "Other people are not your property," and variations thereon, might be a more useful tool of intellectual debate than some of the other slogans we more commonly use. Why not meet every new proposal to force people to do this or that with the protest "But you don't own them," "But they're not your property"? At least this would reduce the issue to its essence.

Libertarianism in One Sentence (reposting permission)


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on May 16, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=555

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