Why be libertarian, anyway? By this we mean, what’s the point of the whole thing? Why engage in a deep and lifelong commitment to the principle and the goal of individual liberty? For such a commitment, in our largely unfree world, means inevitably a radical disagreement with, and alienation from, the status quo, an alienation which equally inevitably imposes many sacrifices in money and prestige. When life is short and the moment of victory far in the future, why go through all this? ~ Murray Rothbard
What a great question Rothbard asked. Why fight for liberty at all? After all, given the shape of the world today it does not look like we are going to see liberty in our lifetime. I think that the answer to that is deeply personal. Some might fight for liberty for purely philosophic reasons, believing that to know the truth and tell it is a moral imperative. Others, perhaps, fight for liberty out of a religious perspective thinking that the god they worship demands it or that they need freedom to follow their religion. Still others just want to be left alone to seek maximum profit in the laissez-faire market. I am sure there are a host of other reasons that people have for wanting to fight for liberty and freedom that I am leaving out here.
For me, it has always been the social justice aspect of the issue. Or maybe I should say that it is just about “what is fair”. When we were very small children our mothers and our teachers taught us all about being fair to one another and not doing to others what we did not want them doing to us. Don’t like to get hit? Don’t do that to someone else! Rothbard said that some liberty lovers had a “passion for justice” and that was what made them libertarians, radical libertarians even. The justice part is a piece that confuses a lot of people. I interact with so-called liberals of the American variety who want government to level the playing field and spread misery equally among all the people. They would rather burn it all down than see a prosperous people if that prosperity meant that some folks would grow very, very wealthy while most would just be well off. The radical egalitarianism of the “modern American left” forces them to be against the laissez-faire market system that kicked off the industrial revolution and freed mankind from the drudgery of medieval life.
The age-old record of inequality seems to indicate that this variability and diversity is rooted in the biological nature of man. But it is precisely such a conclusion about biology and human nature that is the most galling of all possible irritants to our egalitarians. Even egalitarians would be hard put to deny the historical record, but their answer is that “culture” has been to blame; and since they obviously hold that culture is a pure act of the will, then the goal of changing the culture and inculcating society with equality seems to be attainable. In this area, the egalitarians slough off any pretense to scientific caution; they are scarcely content with acknowledging biology and culture as mutually interacting influences. Biology must be read out of court quickly and totally. ~Murray N. Rothbard
If only we can find a way to explain to the modern egalitarians that record of the old USSR provides us with plenty of data that tells us that leveling society into utter misery and poverty is not very welcome to the masses, then perhaps we can win them over to our views. We all want a “good life” even if by having the freedom to struggle for a “good life” we see others do far better than ourselves. We must fight off the odious sin of envy and seek to cooperate with others without any violence, force, intimidation, or aggression being involved. We must seek market anarchy in other words.
I find that those with a passion for justice will have to reject the State and all its works. We have to reject the state totally and absolutely. To abolish this font of evil we must show as many as we can that the state is a parasite feeding off of good people and destroying lives and ruining families across the world. Once upon a time people said you could not end slavery since the slaves would not know how to take care of themselves. Looking back from modern times we can see how stupid that idea was, but many voiced that opinion in this country once upon a time. It is the same with government by the nation-state: it has enslaved us and yet many say we can not live without a state to rule us. Rule us? It dominates and brutalizes us.
“The storm center of lawlessness in every American State is the State Capitol. It is there that the worst crimes are committed; it is there that lawbreaking attains to the estate and dignity of a learned profession; it is there that contempt for the laws is engendered, fostered, and spread broadcast.” ~H.L. Mencken
And of course the central government in D.C. makes the state governments look like amateurs.
There are two ways that you can earn your living and there aways has been. One can live by being a predator and stealing from others as all state employees do; or one can live as a producer and provide some of the wants and needs of his fellow man. The radical libertarian is an abolitionist who fights the predators and wants to end the state today. We will take whatever small victories we can along the way, but our only real goal is ending the vicious state. We don’t think in 5 year plans like the communists of the old USSR, nor do we think of gradually getting a little better by reducing some atrocious state program by 3 percent. A radical regards the State as our mortal enemy, which must be hacked away root an branch wherever and whenever we can.
I am a libertarian because I see the state as the evil enemy of mankind. I am a radical because you can not accept a gradualist approach with evil; you must fight it with whatever you can.