“As you go through life, chances are almost 100 percent that you act like a libertarian. You might ask what it means to “act like a libertarian.” It’s not that complicated. You don’t hit other people when their behavior displeases you. You don’t take their stuff. You don’t lie to them to trick them into letting you take their stuff, or defraud them, or knowingly give them directions that cause them to drive off of a bridge. You’re just not that kind of a person.
You respect other people. You respect their rights. You might sometimes feel like smacking someone in the face for saying something really offensive, but your better judgment prevails and you walk away, or answer words with words. You’re a civilized person.
Congratulations. You’ve internalized the basic principles of libertarianism. You live your life and exercise your own freedom with respect for the freedom and rights of others. You behave like a libertarian.”
-Tom Palmer (“Why Be Libertarian?”)
Professor Don Broudreau also has an added thought – and so do I.
Indeed so. And the libertarian correctly understands that an act that is morally unacceptable when performed by an individual doesn’t become morally acceptable merely because individuals as a group possess the physical power to perform that act without their suffering much risk of resistance or retaliation. The burden of proof of justifying coercive actions against peaceful others is on those people who propose such coercive actions, and this burden is a heavy one. The burden is not met simply by counting heads or hands and discovering that a majority endorses the coercive actions.
As I explained to someone this morning, most people think of politics in just one axis (think X axis from your early days of Cartesian coordinate graphing) – On the Left (or negative numbers) are Democrats and on the Right are Republicans (positive numbers) – the X-axis.
Unfortunately, politics isn’t that simple. To complicate things, add another axis, the Y-axis, where Liberty is on “top” (again, the positive numbers) and Statism/Totalitarian is on the bottom (again, negative numbers). For most people, especially Libertarians, this is the most important axis as often even the Republicans retain much more than a whiff of Statism. In many things, this is also very quite important to me although I am a Conservative with SMALL “L” libertarian leanings.
What confounds many Rs and Ds, as well as Libertarians who make their decisions strictly by the X and Y axes, many of us have a third – the Y-axis that is orthogonal to the first two. Label each extreme Right vs Wrong – a measure of the morality of our faith beliefs that often are in opposition to the other two. For instance, I am against gay marriage – according to my Biblical beliefs, it is wrong (note: this is not a secret if you’ve been reading GraniteGrok for a long time). I’m also against gambling. Drugs (to the point of being a teetotaler), too. Adultery, lying, false witness, open borders, and abortion to add a few more. Some lie on the X-axis and some on the X & Y-axis; and some, as you see, are justified by the Y-axis.
So while Palmer and Boudreau are correct insofar as the X & Y-axis is concerned, there are a number of issues that cannot be fit in gently into them – but are easy to defend on the Z axis.
This puts me at odds with both my Republican and (Big “L”) Libertarian friends; so be it. If they truly are my friends, they understand this. If they don’t and blast me for it, well, then they never took the time to understand what my moral underpinnings are. These are non-negotiable and there are a lot of folks out there just like me.
(H/T: Cafe Hayek)