Libertarian meat eater, right wing in the sense of conservative with a small c.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Basic principles of Libertarianism 101

Libertarianism is grounded in the belief that Negative Liberty is paramount. You are free to do as you wish, use and dispose of your property as you wish, (including your body), provided that you do not interfere with the Liberties of others in the process.

The result of this is that you are both free to act and responsible for those actions. You are free to get drunk for instance but if you hit someone while inebriated you are just as guilty as if you had done so while sober.

Libertarianism, almost by definition, requires a small government. Large enough to enforce justice and defend against those who would interfere with your rights but not so large as to spend its time interfering itself.

Given that Negative Liberty has usually been associated with the Empiricists, (mostly British philosophers such as Lock, Hume and Hobbes), it is interesting to note that Libertarianism fits well with the Common Law system, (you are free to do anything that is not illegal). Those who based their beliefs on Positive Liberty, (the "freedom" to interfere with others), are more associated with the Roman Law system, (a simplification of which is that actions are legal if specifically permitted), including such luminaries as Hegel, Rousseau and Marx.

This leads us to such basics as:

You own yourself.
You have every right to your property.
Authoritarianism, Paternalism and the banning of things other than acts harmful to a third party will always decrease Liberty.

And people wonder why Libertarians are so opposed to the current government, (sticks head in bucket and screams).


Vindico said...

Yes, yes, yes. Say it loud, say it proud. I am a libertarian.

The Nameless One said...

Yes - you own yourself; and therefore you own your successes and have to account for your failures. To yourself. I can't think of anything more liberating - actually being free to live your own life.

Of course, this government doesn't think you (or anyone other than those in Nu Labour) are capable of making choices. So the people have to be controlled. In ever more invasive and ludicrous ways.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Cough. Locke, not Lock.

Heaver said...

I couldn't agree more. You really set out the clear, sensible principles of libertarian values, within a sensible system of government, there.

Jeeves said...

I have real trouble understanding why a libertarian party isn't in government right now. I can only hope it's because people haven't been exposed to these ideas, and not because they're all mindless.

Trooper Thompson said...


the answer is because libertarians want to be left alone, and don't want to interfer with other people, whereas authoritarians desire to do just this, therefore it is the latter who gravitate to positions of power within a state. Also, not everyone desires freedom. There is comfort in letting others take decisions for you.

Soho said...

This is something really important I'm really agree with this because as the wise philosopher Sildenafil said, "We have to learn new and basic Libertarianism in order to increase our knowledge, in that way we'll free."