Before you rejoice that the government has seized an alleged terrorist in Libya who was indicted for planning the notorious 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, before you join the House of Representatives in a standing ovation for the Capitol Hill Police who killed a woman whose car struck a White House fence and who then drove away at a high speed, and before you commend the New York Police Department for quickly getting to the bottom of an alleged assault by a motorcycle gang that tormented a young family on a city street, please give some thought to the rule of law.
. . .
What’s going on here?
What’s going on is the flow of government lawlessness down from the feds to the cops in the streets. Like children observing and imitating their parents’ unsanctioned, inappropriate, yet repeated behavior, when cops see the use of the military today to pull off government crimes, to shortcut the law and to evade the Constitution, they arm themselves with military-grade hardware and do the same.
In America today, to paraphrase Voltaire, criminals are punished for their crimes, except when they commit them to the sounds of official rejoicing.
Lord Acton is generally acknowledged to be the first Catholic libertarian.
In 1932, the Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton expressed concern that many people were according the government with a trust and reverence that ought to be reserved only for God. Chesterton’s admonition was not only prophetic, but rooted in the deepest mainspring of Christianity’s past; he was echoing words spoken by the prophet Samuel nearly two thousand years ago.
. . .
A well-established body of Christian scripture and tradition rejects the rule of limited human beings in favor of God’s majesty. In the words of F.A. Hayek, “Individualism, in contrast to socialism and all other forms of totalitarianism, is based on the respect of Christianity for the individual man.” Christians are, for the reasons I’ll explore here, especially predisposed to becoming passionate libertarians – and libertarians would do well do bear this in mind in their outreach.
Worship of the state is statolatry, and it is idolatry, the worship of a false idol. Statists are idol worshipers who desire mastery and domination over other people.
Piers Morgan is not a libertarian, and he is not a Catholic – he is a Protestant. Penn Jillette is a libertarian and has a much better grasp of Catholicism than nominal “Catholic” Morgan. And most Catholic libertarians are big fans of Penn.
But radical libertarians do not assume that humans are wired only to be selfish, nor do they reject cooperation. The opposite is the case. In fact, one of those radical libertarians — me — just this summer published a book arguing that (see if this sounds familiar) “cooperation is the height of human evolution.”
. . .
The idea that the libertarian tendency is identical to the sophomoric cult of egotism found in Ayn Rand novels is more than outdated — it was never true in the first place. Miss Rand’s fiction is part of the libertarian intellectual universe, to be sure, but so are Henry David Thoreau and Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Jesus. Citing as examples of libertarian extremism Ted Cruz, the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, and Rand Paul, [Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu] argue: “It assumes that societies are efficient mechanisms requiring no rules or enforcers, when, in fact, they are fragile ecosystems prone to collapse and easily overwhelmed by free-riders.” Of course societies are complex — that is one reason why you want multiple, competing centers of power and influence rather than a single overgrown Leviathan blundering around your fragile ecosystem. As for the claim of “no rules or enforcers,” I have spent a fair amount of time around Senators Cruz and Paul, have debated Mr. Norquist, and have observed the elusive Koch in its natural habitat, and I have not yet heard one of them make the case for anarchism, which is what is meant by “no rules or enforcers.” Senator Cruz, like most of those with a Tea Party orientation, is intellectually devoted to the Constitution, which is many things but is not a covenant of anarchy. Senator Paul is an admirer of Grover Cleveland. Mr. Norquist believes that our taxes should be reduced. Anarchy should be made of more disorderly stuff.
If we are to have a nation of laws to guide ourselves, how do we draw these vague, fuzzy lines where the law ceases to apply, where it’s a free for all, where there is no longer a fixed right and wrong and everything becomes a matter of feelings, assumptions and personal perspective? Yankah may be write that race and law cannot be cleanly separated in our collective consciousness, but then we cease to be a nation of laws when we ignore one for the other.
Libertarians believe in individual liberty, persuasion not coercion, nonaggression. Libertarians are leery of all forms of concentrated power, whether that power is wielded by the state, big business, big religion, a mob, big wheels, big political parties, big nonprofits, etc. As Lord Acton wrote: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The real conflict in political theory … is not between individualism and community. It’s between voluntary association and coerced association.
Libertarianism is the fastest growing political creed in America today. Before judging and evaluating libertarianism, it is vitally important to find out precisely what that doctrine is, and, more particularly, what it is not. It is especially important to clear up a number of misconceptions about libertarianism that are held by most people, and particularly by conservatives. In this essay I shall enumerate and critically analyze the most common myths that are held about libertarianism. When these are cleared away, people will then be able to discuss libertarianism free of egregious myths and misconceptions, and to deal with it as it should be on its very own merits or demerits.
. . .
Myth #1: Libertarians believe that each individual is an isolated, hermetically sealed atom, acting in a vacuum without influencing each other.
. . .
Myth #2: Libertarians are libertines: they are hedonists who hanker after “alternative” lifestyles.
. . .
Myth #3: Libertarians do not believe in moral principles; they limit themselves to cost-benefit analysis on the assumption that man is always rational.
. . .
Myth #4: Libertarianism is atheistic and materialist, and neglects the spiritual side of life.
. . .
Myth #5: Libertarians are utopians who believe that all people are good, and that therefore state control is not necessary.
. . .
Myth #6: Libertarians believe that every person knows his own interests best.
. . .
Conservatives and everyone else should politely be put on notice that libertarians do not believe that everyone is good, nor that everyone is an all-wise expert on his own interest, nor that every individual is an isolated and hermetically sealed atom. Libertarians are not necessarily libertines or hedonists, nor are they necessarily atheists; and libertarians emphatically do believe in moral principles.
Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians strive for a free, peaceful, abundant world where each individual has the maximum opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and to realize his full potential.
The core idea is simply stated, but profound and far-reaching in its implications. Libertarians believe that each person owns his own life and property, and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life – as long as he simply respects the same right of others to do the same.
Another way of saying this is that libertarians believe you should be free to do as you choose with your own life and property, as long as you don’t harm the person and property of others.
Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense), and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others).
In my experience, many pro-life conservatives would consider themselves ‘libertarian’ were it not for the abortion issue. Once they learn that there are pro-life libertarians, they are happy calling themselves ‘libertarians’ rather than ‘conservatives.’ Many ‘conservatives’ realize that there are serious problems with their ideology, but do not realize that there is an alternative.
The first problem with conservatism is that it has been hypocritical in power. Under unified Republican control of the federal government, discretionary non-defense federal spending has risen faster than it did under Clinton (and such spending actually fell under Reagan).
. . .
The second problem with modern conservatism is that it is internally incoherent. Modern conservatism comes out of the 1950’s anticommunist movement. On the one hand, it proclaims respect for the Constitution and for the system of limited government devised by the Founders; on the other hand, it celebrates an aggressive U.S. foreign policy and a powerful bureaucracy that gives the federal government the resources to intervene, through aid or invasion, in any part of the world.
People who say they are socially liberal often call themselves libertarians and many libertarians call themselves socially liberal. But libertarianism and liberalism on social issues are not the same thing.
Your typical liberal Democrat says she’s liberal on social issues but that doesn’t make her in any meaningful way a libertarian. For instance, the vast majority of the libertarians I know hate things like speech codes, smoking bans, racial quotas, and the vast swaths of political indoctrination that pass for “education” today. They tend to oppose gun control, think fondly of homeschooling (if not always homeschoolers) and are generally split on the question of abortion. They do not, however, think that the government should be steamrolling religious institutions with Obamacare or subsidizing birth control. Liberals tend to loathe federalism or states’ rights (though there’s been some movement there) libertarians usually love the idea. The liberals who don’t like it fear that states or local communities might use their autonomy to live in ways liberals don’t approve of. Libertarians couldn’t care less.
Libertarians are not liberals, although most libertarians would agree they are are “classical liberals”.
Libertarianism is a political philosophy concerned with the justified use of force. Libertarian law is guided by the non-aggression axiom, which stipulates that it ought to be legal for adults to do whatever they please provided they do not aggress against the person or property of another.
To all of you who think that Ayn Rand is the dominant, or even one of the dominant voices in libertarianism right now, please feel free to leave the 1970s behind and join us in the 21st century. Indeed, even when Rand was at the height of her powers, she was still only one of several important voices in the movement. During the days of Rand’s greatest popularity, [Murray] Rothbard could certainly lay claim to being a far more important theorist within the movement, although he was certainly far less famous. Indeed, Rand was a novelist, so to keep referring back to Rand in an attempt to score points against libertarianism for its alleged devotion to egoism, only displays a lack of knowledge about the intellectual history of the movement.
Something has changed, even as our society has become wealthier. Sure businesses have to comply with regulations and millionaires need to pay taxes, but somewhere we’ve shifted from honoring success to envying it, from viewing government as a limited tool to achieve a few necessary things (infrastructure, enforcing the rule of law) to seeing it as the be-all and end-all of our society.
Why is it assumed by these moralistic Affluence Police that the rich are mainly greedy people who spend their money on luxury goods? Charities and non-profits are funded by wealthy people. Real capitalists invest millions of dollars into ideas and often create good jobs in the process. I have no idea what Mickelson does with his money, but it isn’t any of my business. Given California governmental attitudes, one can’t blame him for looking elsewhere.
For instance, during a recent Capitol press conference, the Orange County Register’s Sacramento reporter asked Gov. Jerry Brown about the spending increases in his supposedly austere budget. Brown joked about there being no hope for Orange County readers, according to a Register editorial. Then he mocked “this doctrine that government is the problem,” which he said is promoted by the “Orange County Register or whoever all these people are.”
At the Capitol, the free market is viewed as an arcane joke. Yet I look at everything government does—at all those programs and bureaucracies and entitlements that Brown and Obama prefer. I see enormous debt, corruption, abuses of power, union-enrichment schemes, shoddy services, terrible attitudes, and an endless sea of scandal and greed. Just read the newspapers.
They are two of America’s most celebrated presidents. One, a Republican who had a storied military career, created the American conservation movement and once gave a speech after being shot by a would-be assassin; the other, a Democrat who overcame dyslexia as a child only to lead America to victory in World War I and formulate the idea of an international body of nations dedicated to the preservation of peace. These are the tales all American schoolchildren are taught about Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. However, they are also a whitewashed view of two U.S. presidents who, more than any other, set the United States on a path of expansionist government that has given us anti-liberty policies like Obamacare.