Libertarianism and tolerance

I was reading Robert Wenzel and he referenced a great essay by Murray Rothbard on myths about libertarianism. In that essay we see the following:

 “The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral, or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life. . . . Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that 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.”  ~Murray Rothbard

There is a point in that quote that is lost on many libertarians. Those of us who are in the liberty movement or who are libertarians do not agree on all things. We don’t have a unifying moral code. What we do have is the non-aggression principle and a strong belief in private property.

Some people try to broaden libertarianism into much more than adherence to the non-aggression principle and all that the principle implies. They seek to claim that libertarians must accept, and even applaud, all manner of deviant behavior from others. They claim we are not allowed to voice disapproval of various life-style choices that we find repugnant or deviant. But these “cosmopolitan libertarians” are dead wrong. I can despise most beliefs and actions of my fellow humans and still be libertarian as long as I do not aggress against them. Heck, I not only will not aggress against them; I try not to associate with the some of the deviant scum at all. I can despise any or all manner of people’s “life-style choices” and remain perfectly tolerant and peaceful toward them.

Libertarianism is not a lifestyle and libertarianism is not libertinism. I remain perfectly libertarian if I choose to not associate with people who cover their bodies with repulsive tattoos. I remain perfectly libertarian if I refuse to associate with people who drone on and on about race in every conversation. I am still libertarian if I choose not to associate with those that I find to be boorish or ignorant — regardless of my reasons for thinking such.

As an example, I don’t care for people who bring children into this world outside of the bonds of marriage. While there are some examples of that working out for the child, I have four decades of work experience that demonstrates to me how utterly terrible single parenthood is for the children. I also know that many times it is not the woman’s fault at all that this happened, but rather the dad who was a real jerk. Regardless, I often will try to avoid conversations with them in any social gathering —  especially that parasite niece in my own family. But under no circumstances would I initiate any kind of aggression against these people. I favor no laws that would punish them in any way. (of course, I don’t favor laws much anyway as many of you might already know)

Libertarians should be “tolerant” if you mean that we should believe in “live and let live”, but we are not “tolerant” if you mean by that we must accept deviant, boorish, thuggish behavior without comment. Heck, in the modern age the “Politically Correct” crowd has gone so far as to label many of us criminal if we do not cheer and applaud outrageous and repulsive behavior.

The right to free association and the right to speak one’s mind were important to the Classical Liberals who fought the American Revolutionary War. We have reached the point where the crazed PC lefties (and others) in the U.S. think that we should all believe as they believe and love or even cheer the deviance and thuggery we see all around us. Frack that! The PC crowd now goes even further these days with claims that I can’t even politely voice my opinions about the latest mindless social fads of the day. I refuse to pretend that a bunch of tattoos on a woman is anything but off-putting. I also refuse to keep my mouth shut about it simply because some would say such thoughts are “intolerant”. Perhaps the should read a classic Rothbard post on “tolerance”.

Mutual and voluntary cooperation does not mean that we have to accept and applaud immoral or stupid behavior from others. It only means that we voluntarily cooperate without coercion with other people at times and places that we choose to do so. If we don’t choose to cooperate with someone, then that is our choice. We are not slaves to “tolerance”.


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