Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
Many people come to libertarianism with preconceived ideas of what libertarianism is and what they want from it only to discover that it isn’t what they expected. Then they leave in disappointment, blaming all libertarians for failing to be their personal “huckleberry.”
"'I’m your huckleberry' — is to be just the right person for a given job, or a willing executor of some commission.” — worldwidewords.org
Book Break: Your Libertarian Opinionizer’s Pick
The Never Libertarian
John Craig is a good example of this kind of “former” libertarian. He admits in his opening sentence that he originally came to libertarianism expecting it to be nothing more than a political thing:
“For a long time, libertarianism seemed to me the political outlook which most closely matched a live-and-let-live view of the world.”
And, yes, he does get that the philosophical underpinning of libertarian politics is a “live and let live” perspective but then ignores his own understanding of that reality throughout the rest of his article. He never seems to get that “live and let live” is a direct reference to the moral/ethical concept of libertarianism’s non-aggression principle against coercion, intimidation and fraud.
His article goes on at length to establish his supposedly anti-government pro-freedom worldview until he suddenly blurts out this almost unexpected sentence:
“Among the more extreme libertarian positions is the legalization of prostitution.”
Really? In this single sentence, Craig disgorges two extraordinarily un-libertarian opinions in which he gives his game away.
“If someone or something gives the game away, they reveal a secret or reveal their feelings, and this puts them at a disadvantage.” – collinsdictionary.com
Some Just Don’t Get It
First, “legalizing prostitution” is not a libertarian position. The libertarian position is very specifically “decriminalizing prostitution.” This is not a nit-picky point. The difference is between regulating what peaceful non-violent people do and simply leaving such people the hell alone. Here’s how procon.org very succinctly explains it:
"Legalization would mean the regulation of prostitution with laws regarding where, when, and how prostitution could take place. Decriminalization eliminates all laws and prohibits the state and law-enforcement officials from intervening in any prostitution-related activities or transactions, unless other laws apply."
This is where John Craig seems to be totally oblivious to the live and let live concept he seemed to explicitly champion in his opening sentence.
Legalization requires a government bureaucracy to write regulatory acts, laws, rules, procedures, controls and other stipulations regarding prostitution, another bureaucracy to impose and enforce those decisions and a third bureaucracy to adjudicate and then to exonerate or punish individuals who don’t live in a way that John Craig and the ruling classes dictate.
Decriminalization simply means delegitimizing every politicized pretext that turns normal peaceful human activity into a fake “crime.” It’s long been noted that when people choose to exchange dinner and a date—or dancing and drinks—for sex it's okay, but when the exchange involves Federal Reserve Notes for sex it somehow magically becomes a “crime.”
The second oddity in Craig’s statement is that this is somehow an “extreme libertarian position.” But there’s nothing “extreme” about it; this is simply that live and let live libertarian non-aggression principle in which all individuals own their own lives and are responsible for their own actions.
Libertarianism Is More Than Just Politics
But Craig just keeps punching Swiss cheese sized holes in his own supposed libertarian beliefs. He says:
“But the official Libertarian Party in this country now advocates, among other things, open borders, and anyone with the foggiest sense of human biodiversity can see how that harms the country.”
What most libertarians in this country understand is that open borders are impossible as long as “this country” is a welfare state. It’s only in a post-statist society in which traditional geographical governments and their territorial borders have been replaced by consumer-controlled governance that all borders become personal borders.
When all property is privately owned it means each individual decides whether their own properties are open to the public and which properties are not. One’s house may be open to invited guests and other visitors but never to the public but one’s business will most certainly be open to the public.
Many will call this arrangement a propertarian system.
"Propertarianism (also proprietarianism) is an ethical discipline within libertarian philosophy that advocates contractual relationships as replacements for monopolistic bureaucracies organized as states. Propertarian ideals are most commonly cited to advocate for a state or other governance body whose main or only job is to enforce contracts and private property." – Wikipedia.org.
Others such as statists and communalists will be scandalized by such a concept and quickly brand it as some form of libertarian anarchism or anarcho-capitalism or whatever. By any name, it’s nowhere on any libertarian’s immediate reality horizon but it’s almost certainly not even in range of John Craig’s long-range imagination telescope. This is obvious from his next observation:
“More importantly, libertarianism only works well when everyone else is libertarian as well.”
Live and Let Live Is for Everyone
He’s forgetting his own live and let live observation again. Everyone doesn’t have to be a libertarian to live and let live. Everyone just has to literally live and let live. Period. Libertarian? Socialist? Communist? Rastafarian? Wiccan? Your neighbor? In a free, voluntary, non-coercive post-statist laissez-faire society everyone can simply live and let live with one another.
The only truly legitimate crimes are those committed by people against people through initiated force, intimidation and fraud. By working together good, intelligent, thoughtful people should be able to come up with a better way of organizing society than constantly reinventing governments, the one human institution that absolutely cannot exist without committing coercion, intimidation and fraud against people, usually on a grand, massive scale in which the human body count is numbered in the hundreds of millions.
Don’t believe in private property? Don’t own any. Don’t believe in hierarchical structures? Don’t create or join any. Don’t believe in renting? Don’t rent or be a renter. Believe in a worker-owned and operated business? Help create and work in one. Want to live in a commune, a co-op, a kibbutz, a group home, a barracks? Get together with others who want the same thing and create them.
But in every single case leave everyone else alone to do as they peaceably choose to do.
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” – The Golden Rule, created in ancient times and adopted by every major world religion in various forms but almost universally ignored in practice except by libertarians.
Others might want to live in a single-family home, or rent an apartment, or simply work for a boss for wages and then go home. If they do it’s nobody’s business. Live and let live.
That’s what the libertarian non-aggression principle is all about; live as you wish without forcing others to live your way and don’t accept others forcing their life choices on you.
Thoughtful libertarians advocate not a closed one-size-fits-all lock-step “libertarian state” (an oxymoron if ever there was one) but an open, peaceful, non-coercive, mutually voluntary laissez-faire free marketplace of goods, services and ideas in all things.
Which clearly means that if you want and believe in a “commons” then get together with other like-minded folks, pool your resources and create a commons, a park, a square, a green, a plaza, a courtyard, an open space in which all can peacefully meet and mingle.
Even libertarians, in spite of small-minded people who think “libertarians” belong in a superficially simplistic catchphrase-labeled box that’s easy to remember and repeat on cue, libertarians believe in voluntarily held common property. It’s just a matter of where and when and how.
Can’t Be “Former” if You Never Were
Craig’s closing sentence is just as lacking in self-awareness as his opening sentence:
“Not sure what all that makes me now, but it’s not a libertarian.”
What it makes John Craig now and during his failed fling with libertarianism is very likely what he was in the beginning; a hardheaded thin-skinned right-conformist conservative Republican, just as other “former libertarians” never really rose above anything other than being hardheaded thin-skinned left-conformist liberal Democrats.
Ultimately all “former libertarians” have one thing in common: They never were libertarians. They never purged the fake left-versus-right political tumor from their brains. No one who instinctively thinks in terms of left versus right or left libertarianism versus right libertarianism or left anything versus right anything will ever understand libertarianism.
Both left and right are the same, just different afflictions of authoritarianism. They are as “different” as a left and a right jackboot on your neck. Those who continue to think in terms of left and right, even after calling themselves libertarians, will never be libertarians.
They will never grasp that the only “versus” that matters and makes sense is libertarianism versus authoritarianism.
References and Links
Post-Statism is the libertarian concept of a future voluntaryist society in which “All relationships should be voluntarily chosen and mutually maintained.”
LP keeps growing in spite of the quitters
A recent (August, 2017) Rasmussen Poll reports that the Libertarian Party keeps growing even as the two Old Line Party numbers keep shrinking. There must be more joiners than quitters.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2018 Garry Reed
MamaLiberty on January 05, 2018:
Great stuff, as always! I've come to see the bottom line as this: The desire/compulsion/lust to control the lives and property of others is the ROOT of all evil. No matter what they call themselves.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on January 04, 2018:
Good hub. Although I worked in a nonpartisian political position for 30 years, I never really understood what a Libertarian is. You are giving us a better understanding of them.