By Alan Mercer
Note as of 2014: There are some valuable points here in what I wrote in 2005, and I like some of my explanations, but nowadays I wouldn’t be so quick to label myself or to get caught up in dialectics and ideological movements that have been created for us–in order to contain us.
Here are some points I would like to make in order to help explain why Canadians need libertarianism and what it is all about.
In the current system, power is dangerously concentrated in the hands of a few institutions called States. In a libertarian system, power is dispersed to each individual through the recognition of that person’s rights to control his/her life and property, in other words, his domain. No institution – monarchy, plutocracy, democracy or dictatorship – has the authority to force its own decisions on that person as long as he is respecting the rights or the domain of others.
In a libertarian system, accountability will not be directed towards the State, but to your neighbour instead. Criminal acts, for instance, will be treated as crimes against persons rather than against “Society”. In that way it will be a more just and stable society where crime and pollution will be contained to a much greater degree.
[Accountability for actions is point to point and justice is restorative.]
[One of the abuses we experience in the current system is “collective guilt” and collective punishment. This is used to justify new laws and new wars.]
In a libertarian system, everyone will make their own choices about what they value and how they live. Every group will live with the expectation that their traditions and beliefs will not be interfered with by a central State.
We hear the words “liberal” and “conservative” so much. These terms are almost meaningless now. Myself, I am a libertarian. Take the word “liberal” for instance. A libertarian is a real – classical liberal who seeks to discourage war and encourage peaceful trade. Now take the word “conservative”. A libertarian is a real conservative who believes that nobody should force change on others and who accepts the realities of human nature.
Some think of libertarianism as a revolutionary movement, and that’s OK, but actually I think it is more of a reactionary movement. I think the word “revolution” can imply violence, but libertarianism is a peaceful movement. It is a reaction in a certain ultimate sense. It is not a reaction to preserve or re-establish old forms of the State, nor to preserve or re-establish ignorance or prejudice. It is a reaction against those forces who would force conformity of thought and custom, and who thus seek to destroy human freedom. Libertarianism is an assertion that we all must be free – to change or not change as we like. The message is: Leave human beings alone. Let us be who we are, think what we think and do what we do.
Libertarianism is a political philosophy, and it does not attempt to deal with all moral or philosophical questions. However, it is based on basic morality – on the necessary logic that you must not murder, steal or defraud your neighbour. [Do no harm. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.] In every other way you are free, except you are not free from reality. Peoples’ happiness and prosperity depend on the existence of peace and cooperation, on their ability to make their own choices. Virtue requires liberty.
[Note from 2014: Libertarianism contains a basic idea from common sense morality and people recognize it as the golden rule or as “do no harm”, etc. It presents part of the story but not the whole story. Libertarianism-as a movement or body of ideas-as with liberalism-or conservatism-may include a range of people and ideas that are flawed or incorrect or misleading also. So, I’m just trying to explain what I think the ideals should be using my own reasoning. And you should do the same. Ideals and morality are the common heritage of all of us, but what happens is that they are pooled together under various labels, so that people can divide themselves into camps that are skewed in one direction or another. As a metaphor, the colors belong to all of us, but some choose red and some choose blue. Why? Ideologies are used in order to divide people, to provide pressure valves sometimes, and also to take turns providing a temporary justification for the elites to engineer society in some particular policy direction. So we fail to see the bigger picture when we are divided in this way, when we are absorbed by propaganda and by dialectic trickery. Knowledge has been skewed deliberately and watered down. Concepts such as moral relativism have been invented in order to create a vacuum that sucks people into the turmoil that comes with not knowing the ABC’s and having to reinvent them from scratch. We’re all in the same boat. And we so “take sides” and adopt the positions that are laid out for us. See my notes about propaganda from Jacques Ellul’s book.]
H.L. Mencken and Libertarianism
Ayn Rand, Gun Rights, North American Security Integration, War on Drugs
Lew Rockwell, Mar 29 ’05: Which Way for Liberty?
Growing up in the 60’s, Statist Degradation of the Person, The Corporation
Libertarians Involvement in Electoral Politics
***Jan Narveson: Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice***
***Libertarianism in One Lesson by David Bergland***
***The Law by Frederic Bastiat***