On Libertarianism

Libertarianism is, as Laurence Vance wrote, “a political philosophy concerned with the permissible use of force or violence.” [1]. It is nothing more or less. It is a political philosophy based on the Non-Aggression Principle {NAP} which states that “any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal.” [2]. Libertarianism is not a moral theory, it not an economic theory, it is not think, it is not thin, it is not a lifestyle, it is not a social theory, it is not egalitarianism, libertarianism is nothing more that a political theory concerning the proper and improper use of force. As Murray Rothbard [3] wrote:

There are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of “bourgeois” conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.

Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end” – not necessarily the highest end on everyone’s personal scale of values.

If a libertarian holds other principles that is neither here nor there in the scheme of the political philosophy. Some “libertarians” believe that opposing the misuse of force is not enough, other actions (that do not involve the improper use of force) must be opposed. Libertarianism is simple. Simple. It is the opposition of the improper use of force. Period. It does not include any other principles. Any. Libertarians can be Catholic, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, free-market lovers, believers in a centrist economic theory, social conservatives, social liberals, etc. so long so long as they oppose the improper use of force they are libertarians.

Some may not like this statement of libertarianism, what they want is a coherent, fully thought-out, complete moral, social, and philosophical theory. Sadly, that is not what libertarianism is. Some libertarians may want wish to use other terms to describe themselves as well as libertarian. Some may not want any other label, some may want no labels at all.  Libertarianism is political philosophy concerning the proper and improper usage of force. There are many ways to libertarianism, none of which are invalid so long as they oppose the improper use of force.


Sources:

[1] Vance, L. (2014). “I Am a Libertarian.” Lewrockwell.com. Retrieved from http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/laurence-m-vance/i-am-a-libertarian/

[2] Murray N. Rothbard as cited in Vance, L. (2014) “I Am a Libertarian.” Lewrockwell.com Retrieved from http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/laurence-m-vance/i-am-a-libertarian/

[3] Murray N. Rothbard as cited in Rockwell, L. (2014). “The Future of Libertarianism.” Lewrockwell.com. Retrieved from http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/lew-rockwell/the-future-of-libertarianism/

Other sources:

Block, W. (2014). “Pure Libertarianism.” Lewrockwell.com. Retrieved from http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/walter-e-block/pure-libertarianism/

Rockwell, L. (2014). “The Future of Libertarianism.” Lewrockwell.com. Retrieved from http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/lew-rockwell/the-future-of-libertarianism/

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