Lew Rockwell gets it right on libertarianism

Lew Rockwell , a libertarian writer and former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises, writes at lewrockwell.com about how the libertarian movement must avoid attracting people for the wrong reasons. He wisely separates libertarianism from the various niches one can create for themselves, such as Christian libertarianism or libertine libertarianism. Most importantly, he correctly points out the danger when libertarians create their own brand or version and try to pass it off as the only legitimate version which all must submit to – something I’ve written on before here and here.

He writes:

There are several ways a young libertarian can distinguish himself. He can be an effective communicator of libertarian ideas as a writer or speaker. He can employ his unique talents — as an artist, animator, interviewer, or whatever — to convey the libertarian message in new and compelling ways. He can become a specialist in some area of scholarly inquiry relevant to libertarianism. Or he can add to the edifice of libertarian thought by solving a longstanding problem, critically reexamining an old question, or applying libertarian theory to new areas as technology develops and civilization evolves.

I can think of people who fit all these descriptions. What distinguishes them all is that they worked very hard to establish their well-deserved niche within the community of libertarian thinkers.

By contrast, people might establish niches for themselves by devising their own peculiar version of libertarianism, and claiming that their discovery alone is the real thing. Not only is this method easier than the ones I described above, but it also allows the creator the pleasure of rendering sanctimonious judgment on those benighted souls who cling to plain old libertarianism, with no labels, no caveats, and no apologies.

As a libertarian with a strong passion for writing, I seek to promote the political philosophy in the form of commentary, as well as art through my fictional writing. In my novels, most of the protagonists cherish independence as one of their highest values. Their personalities and other values, however, vary greatly from the hopelessly cynical and psychologically disturbed to the undauntedly idealistic and morally upright. Yet the theme of freedom is at the heart of their desires, which propel the narrative. My art also promotes the inclusiveness of libertarianism and freedom. Everyone should have the freedom to do as they please as long as they conform to the Non-Aggression Principle. This leaves a very large gap for people to fill in other desires, wishes, values and beliefs.

Every person who believes in freedom and liberty can do the same when they discover their talents, skills and passions.

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7 Responses to Lew Rockwell gets it right on libertarianism

  1. Pingback: Libertarianism stands or falls on the Non-Aggression Principle | The Anarchist Notebook | Libertarian Anarchy

  2. D says:

    I love your blog, you have some very original ideas, however…I used to be a huge fan of lew rockwell and ron paul but i really feel like they are hurting the spreading of ideas at this point. How am I supposed to change someones mind on libertarianism when you have people like them spewing out all this conspiracy theory crap? And even worse, they start talking about how the bible is more violent than the koran or how islam is compatible with freedom. Or how putins russia is somehow more free than the US? I could go on. Thoughts?

    Like

    • The Question says:

      Thanks! I appreciate the feedback. As for Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell, one think to keep in mind is that Rockwell publishes things on his site he doesn’t necessarily agree with, but he does consider worth reading. For example, he published the one article you mentioned on the Bible, but also published a response by a Christian libertarian who I felt did a commendable job rebutting many of the points made.

      When it comes to other libertarian writers, I am willing to entertain or consider their opinions, but I do not feel compelled to embrace any views simply because someone I admire or respect happened to say it. I would tell potential converts to libertarianism that there is no pope, so to speak, who can make ex cathedra pronouncements on issues beyond the NAP or who has final authority. It is about a philosophy, not people, so it should be judged by what it teaches.

      Additionally, when it comes to practical applications there are varying perspectives. A pacifist libertarian, for example, will act differently than a libertarian who considers violence a necessary tool for enforcing the NAP.

      I could elaborate on foreign policy, which is where a lot of libertarians differ, but to keep it short, I simply refuse to “take” a side because any side involves a government acting illegitimately in its own interests.

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