The Video that Made Me A Libertarian

My journey politically went from anti-government in my youth, mainstream conservative in my teens, paleo-conservative/constitutionalist in my early twenties, and finally libertarian anarchist in my mid twenties.

I don’t really recall when I switched from mainstream conservative to constitutionalist. My views were somewhat disorganized and inconsistent. Aside from tossing aside the Lincoln Myth, American Exceptionalism the U.S. foreign policy took the longest for me reject and it did not happen in one moment.

I do remember in particular struggling over libertarian anarchy for several years despite reading sites like lewrockwell.com. The idea of a stateless society sounded logical, because it was, but my emotional reasoning prevented me from embracing it; I had all the knee-jerk reactions as most people do when they first hear of the idea. I thought of chaos instead of rules without rulers. I presumed circumstances created by the state would still be present in stateless situation.

And yes, to my shame, I also asked, to myself, “But who would run the roads?”

Yet trying to justify limited government, or articulate it, left me unsatisfied, because there was no concrete definition I could come up with that would also survive scrutiny. The concept of “limited” government is entirely subjective; what constitutes “limited” versus “unlimited?” Who gets to define these terms? What happens when the government steps out of those bounds, and who gets to determine when this has occurred and when violence is necessary? What about people who do not want to be ruled by the government their next door neighbor consents to?

As we’ve seen with the U.S. Constitution, which clearly gave the federal government limited powers, there’s no check on authority because tyranny does not happen overnight. Tyranny comes in tiny doses so small they in and of themselves are not worth the cost of a violent revolt.

So how would an ideal government avoid this?

I spent more hours on this than I can count, but it was something that I had to come to terms with before I could venture into other topics. I subconsciously knew I had to possess a sound, clearly defined philosophical belief to guide me or else I would get into trouble.

The catalyst for this change finally came when I viewed the following segment in this video featuring Tom Woods and investor Doug Casey of Casey Research.

As soon as the video was over, I had to get up and walk around my room as I came to terms with what Woods had said. There, he had offered the philosophical argument for libertarianism compared to minarchism.

In terms of aesthetic appearances, there’s not much difference between the two. Philosophically, however, they are akin to comparing a religion to atheism, because the premises are mutually exclusive. Minarchists can certainly defend themselves on grounds of practicality, meaning it’s the most realistic situation. In fact, in the short-term, it’s probably the best thing we can hope for.

But as a philosophy it falls victim to the same problem as all limited government beliefs in that it cannot specifically define the limitations of government because it has to accept the use of coercion and aggression in order to survive as a system. Therefore what constitutes a limitation is decided either by the government itself or the people who are willing to use violence to keep the government in check. As history has demonstrated again and again and again, the former happens much more frequently than the latter.

Libertarianism, as Woods has pointed out in other videos, is the most consistent political philosophy that has ever existed. The Non-Aggression Principle applies to everyone and on an individual level. It does not make exceptions for corporations, governments, police, militaries. No one has “privilege” over the other that makes it acceptable.

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9 Responses to The Video that Made Me A Libertarian

  1. Ouida Gabriel says:

    I have thought about leaving a response here several times but always close the tab before I click enter. I don’t know if you read my comment over at Dalrock’s a few weeks ago. Your comment there led to me reading you here. I usually have to read your posts several times to comprehend what you are saying. You simply amaze me. I sense that you are younger than myself (40 this year) but you are light years ahead of me in your understanding of liberty and thinking. Thank you for keeping up this blog. Our thinking is similar as a basis but you are challenging me to think through my beliefs. And that is a good thing.

    The one thing I am confused about. You are a anarchist with Libertarian foundation. Can you define a minarchrist and he they differ? You said it is like religion and atheists. Does that mean a minarchist simply does not believe in any order, only chaos? I have never heard of a monarchist before today.

    Thanks again. I check in everyday to see what you have shared!

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    • Unfortunately for some reason I don’t get updates on comments at Dalrock’s site but glad you discovered me over there! And yes, I am in my late twenties, though I might add I am still trying to figure things out myself.

      As to your question, the difference between minarchism and anarchism is that miniarchism accepts the premise that government can act as a legitimate entity, providing it sticks to a very narrow, limited category of authority/responsibility, such as enforcing laws, common defense, and providing basic services. Minarchism is another word for “limited” government, because the term “limited government” has become so broad in recent years it has little meaning.

      Libertarian anarchy, or libertarianism, does not accept government as a legitimate entity because the Non-Aggression Principle forbids coercion and aggression, and ultimately government relies on both to fund itself through taxation, which according to libertarianism is theft.

      A huge problem when debating the two is that people don’t fully articulate what is being argued. Many minarchists are actually arguing about which system is the most realistic to bring about anytime soon, even though they don’t realize it. They’re defending the most practical solution, where they have strong evidence to support themselves, whereas libertarians like myself are examining them as philosophies, where practicality is not considered, though it is relevant in the other discussion.

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  2. Ouida Gabriel says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. I have to ask – in your post you mentioned “what about the roads”. I too have thought that. How did you come to any conclusion? My husband has a job that is paid, indirectly, throughout government taxes. It is something I have thought long and hard about. I feel God blesses us with this job but I also don’t know how to reconcile my beliefs about taxation. Not that I have solidified everything yet.

    Also, something I have thought about is about self government. Libertarianism is about self governing but what about people who do not self govern? How do we come to a solution? In a world where Libertarianism is the norm, how is crime and punishment handled? When I see the average citizen of society I really don’t think most people want to be self governing. Society does their thinking for them.

    I don’t know if you have wrote about these subjects before, (roads being fixed, crime and punishment in a Libertarian society) if so, just point me to the right subject heading. These are subjects are things that have run through my head, especially lately, since I think society is headed for a change. I find I lean very heavily on what I understand Libertarianism to be but I still have not answered a lot of questions I have.

    Last question. Do you have a book list for recommended reading? Thanks again.

    Blessings to you and yours.

    Like

    • I highly recommend Gerard Casey’s Libertarian Anarchy Against the State. It is written for people who have never heard libertarianism before and addresses a lot of the things you mentioned. The roads question I compare to shopping malls, which are private, yet are run according to the market. Walter Block wrote an entire book on the subject, but it’s very heavy reading.

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  3. Ouida Gabriel says:

    Thanks for the recommended reading. I’m not sure I understood what you meant about malls and run according to the market but I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. You have been a gracious host. Thank you. And when I have time I will try to look into Walter Block as well. Thank you again.

    Like

  4. Ouida Gabriel says:

    Hi,

    I was reading the reviews on the Casey’s book. Someone commented and stated that libertarian anarchist believe in no property rights. Did you find that to be true? Off the top of my head, that seems impossible. If we own something then we are entitled to make something from that but if we never truly own anything then nothing will ever be ours, including our self. Now for the sake of transparency, I am not looking at this from a Christian aspect because I do,believe that all that I have is truly Gods, including my self.

    What do you think?

    Like

    • The person who wrote that clearly didn’t read the book. As Casey writes in there, libertarianism is based on private property rights. They’re thinking of the “anarchists” who throw Molotov cocktails, wear bandanas and Che Guevara clothes, and get into scuffles with cops on bicycles.

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  5. Pingback: The Video that Made Me A Libertarian | Freedom's Floodgates

  6. Pingback: What is Libertarianism Without the Non-Aggression Principle? | The Anarchist Notebook

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