Friday, July 08, 2005

A few thoughts on ‘l’ibertarian(ism)

From my perspective, political philosophy is a leading indicator of individual identity. This seems to be true for all strata of ideologies, as no one exists beyond the scope of political power. The only variable is how one views and responds to the political dynamic, as it affects and effects them personally.

Even the politically oblivious cannot escape political pull. Actually, the “unaware” are the most vulnerable among us, as they are the easiest prey for duly elected predators. Beyond the Young and the Clueless, there are partisans. Partisans are a particular breed of herd animal that, blindly or otherwise, tend to dutifully follow the leader(s) du jure.

Another political philosophy, the one that most closely aligns with my view, is ‘l’ibertarian(ism). Although, libertarianism is, paradoxically, a rather diffuse distinction. At its core is the philosophy known as Classical Liberalism, which both overlaps, and militates against, both the Left and the Right. In short, Classical Liberalism emphasizes the hierarchy of economic, political and civil Liberty for the individual. The inherent rights of the individual trumps the group…society and state alike.

Moving from the thumbnail sketch, it should be noted again that libertarian philosophy is not monolithic. On one hand, there are mainstream Libertarians and on another there are Individualist Anarchists. Then again, there are Minarchists like me, Rational Anarchists like Eric and many more. Regardless of our differences, all manner of libertarians share one thing in common…unfounded criticism by ‘non-libertarians’. On a blog that is gathering support for the Lost Liberty Hotel, a commenter called Emma B. expressed her displeasure.
[capitalist greed] is what i cannot support about the Libertarian Party- or any party that currently exists- it's all about self- rather than 'others'- and until we care as much about others as we do 'ourselves' we will live in chaos, fear, continual war- and never ending discontent.
First of all, an accurate definition of greed would be nice, but I doubt such a definition exists. Also, the irrational and emotional hyperbole is sadly not atypical of the criticism I alluded to above. In any event, Al, the Old Whig, dispassionately responded to Emma B. in this way:
Libertarianism is based on the non-Aggression principle, which I'll define with the clause from the Fourth Amendment, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..." We would like to see this clause raised to a higher status in American jurisprudence.
I’ll second that! But while Emma is decidedly “on the Left”, how do ‘conservatives’, whether pragmatic moderates or Theo-Cons, view libertarians in general? Liberteaser has a few ideas:
One criticism libertarians often face is that we are not sophisticated. Some charge that we "see the world in black and white," and fail to understand the nuances of the real world. Others say that while our theories are good, in practice they wouldn't work. Even others say we're crackpots.
What’s my point in all of this? Well, primarily I’m concerned with enjoying the greatest degree of Liberty that is possible in a pluralistic society. To achieve that end, I must engage in political discourse, as the game will be played whether I participate or not. Furthermore, the ‘l’ibertarian ideal ultimately benefits everyone, without choosing sides or arbitrarily picking winners and losers in society. In fact, in a free market economy, there are winners and winners…except, of course, for those who fail to be self-responsible.