2014-01-22

Liberty Today

Note: This is another "random thought" post. Forgive me if it is not as well-written or well-defended as my other posts.

Mungowitz has a good post on something Jeffrey Tucker once wrote about, during the good old days of the Ludwig von Mises Institute's old blog. (Funny that I had to resort to a Google cache to find that post. Thank goodness for Art Carden's follow-up.)

I think the democrats and republicans - the political class, really - have done a good job of caricaturing libertarianism and forcing libertarians into the classic dilemma. Whenever a policy issue comes up, libertarians argue for the liberal option, whatever it is. If it's crime, we say repeal laws and imprison fewer people; if it's business, we say regulate less and engage in more commerce; if it's war, we say shrink the military and bring the troops home; and so on. There are tens of millions of Americans who agree with any one of these points in isolation. One need not buy into a complete and all-consuming libertarianism in order to believe in a smaller military, the repeal of drug laws, the scaling back of regulations, and so on.

Establishment politicians know this, so rather than address the point, they deflect with the caricature. They say, "Of course you'd say that! If it were up to you, we'd have no government at all!" Before you know it, libertarians are forced to defend a complete absence of government rather than discuss a point of actual policy. And it works every time. Even now, most people have it in their heads that the average libertarian wants to nuke the fire department and leave babies to the wolves.

The worst kind of libertarian is the one that plays right into the hands of the establishment. The worst kind of libertarian is the one that proudly declares himself an anarchist and rages against any and every part of the machine they see. One drop of statism, and the whole brew is worthless. It's unfortunate that so many people buy into this rhetorical strategy, because it undermines the simple obviousness of libertarianism in general.

We all want more power over our own lives. We all want to feel safe and secure in our own homes as masters of our own domain. We all want to be left alone to raise our children how we personally see fit, without the overbearing intrusions of the state's spying and regulating. As the world continues to globalize under the force of the technological explosion that continues to revolutionize our lives despite the largest economic recession in a century, we are all feeling the love of liberty.

We all want fewer laws and intrusions. This isn't an abstract feeling, it's concrete. We care about access to unbiased information. We care about corrupt political systems. We care about living our lives however we deem appropriate.

Well, folks, that's all libertarianism really is. If you like the fire department, I'm not here to take it away from you. Whatever it is that makes you feel you have less control over your life that you believe to be fair - that's what I want to improve on.