Monday, July 13, 2009

A look at Libertarianism

Some libertarian bloggers in the UK is writing about and trying to explain libertarianism so I thought I should give my opinion on this subject. As a Swedish refugee in an country (UK) that is going fast downhill with NeuArbeit at the helm I can, in a way, give a perspective as an outsider regardless of being, for the most part, a convinced libertarian. I am, however, no spokesperson for this ideology and as usual I have no intention of convincing anyone about anything. I just see the truth about things and the truth is that there is only one way of really having a free and fair civilization built on justice and that is through the notion of “free from” others.

I started out as a conservative and to a certain extent I still am. I still think that monarchy has its positive attributes; I still think that school uniform is a great idea; I still believe that acknowledging our history and culture together with an in-house spoken language is great building blocks for a society. To some extent I also agree with the conservative (religious) opinion about abortion and general conduct. But – and this to me is the very essence of libertarianism – I would never ever impose my opinions on others. I would never use the law to force people to wear school uniforms. I would never use armed police to steal people’s money to pay for monarchy. These “conservative” opinions are mine, not yours, not everyone’s, just mine. I have no right whatsoever to use the government or the cohesive power of the law to make anyone do anything against their will. This is what libertarianism is to me; free will and the right to choice. No one, no matter how many or how good their arguments are, have the right to force anyone else to do something against their will. In a libertarian society you are your own king, you decide over your life. If you want to believe in Santa, start a rock band or have matching socks it does not matter, your choice. If you are a communist and want to live in a small commune with others like you and live within the confines of the pink shimmering happiness of socialism, go ahead, just don’t force anyone to obey your or your friend’s opinions.

I could also go on about how economy and production increases with a free society, since I’m an economist that would be a good way to go, but that is actually beside the point. The point is that libertarianism means that people are “equal” in the sense that they all have the same rights and that they all are free from others. Libertarianism also means that the law is limited hence easy to understand so the general public actually knows the Do and Don’ts. But perhaps the main point, and the most frightening for those in power, is that libertarianism also means that you are free from the state. A government consists of people, they have no rights that excide those of others in the country and consequently have no right to use force to impose their views. This is why the libertarian movement is so detested by virtually everyone; if they can’t use the mighty armed forces of the government to rule, how can they rule? For those that is reading this and do not have the libertarian persuasion, think really hard about what ideology that is most hated of them all - it is not socialism or fascism - it is libertarianism because this idea challenges the very notion of a ruler.

Some believe (mainly “conservatives” and “liberals”) that what I just said means that libertarianism is same as anarchy, it does not. A libertarian society still have laws, still has a government, still have armed forces, but those are very restricted and have only one basic chore; to protect the individual right to choice. Because even if you have the right to make your own choices, so does everyone else. You have an absolute right to do anything you want until you run into someone with the same absolute right. This means you can never use force, never intimidate or bully another human into accepting your merchandise or your political standpoint. If you do, you are committing a crime and this is when the government steps in. The government’s only legitimate reason to exist is to protect the basic human right of making own decisions.

Another popular attitude towards the basic idea of libertarianism is the socialist standpoint of “We live together and we are a flock animal” – meaning that we need to help out, support our fellow man, assist the needy. Firstly there is nothing in libertarianism that contradicts this, if people want to help each other, go ahead, that’s your choice. If you want to give away all your money to charity, do it, nothing is stopping you. However, this most be each and everyone’s free choice. If you, however, use the almighty state to force people to “help” it is not true philanthropy, it is not solidarity, it is only people under duress getting forced to “help”. When the socialist say “we need to show solidarity” what he/she really means is “We need to force people to help other people” never telling you who is who. One always need to ask the question “why?”. Why should we help only this group? Why do my neighbour need government support but not I? And who is really “poor”? Who is rich? What do people really need? What can people actually do? These questions needs to be answered for socialism to have the slightest chance of working, but they can’t be answered which is one reason why socialism never have and never will work. Libertarianism, however, does nothing of the sort, this ideology do not judge people. You can be white, black, old, young, male, female, “rich” or “poor”, it has no relevance. The only thing that matters in the basic concept; the idea of making your own choices. In this sense libertarianism is also the only none-judgemental and only none-racist ideology that exists. All other political views take a stand for environmentalist groups, bankers, the workers, the industry, farmers, white people, black people or anything else that might suit a particular view in order to win votes.

The last thing I want to comment on, and the main reason why libertarianism do not attract the large masses, is the consequence of making your own choice. Because this also means you are liable for what happens. There is no scapegoat. You cannot blame the Jews, the rich, the society or your neighbour for your failures; the failures are yours and nobody else’s. You are your own king, but you are also your own biggest adversary. And since we all know we all make bad decisions, this is a big stone to carry. If your business goes down, you were not good enough, simple as that. Most people don’t like this, they do not want to blame themselves; they want to blame someone else. Also people like to have someone else to make decision for them, people think it is easier or that those elected might know better. So called “experts” thrives everywhere around us telling us everything from what to eat to what to think. The hardest obstacle for libertarians is - according to me - how to teach people to think, act and do things by, for and off themselves. I also would argue that this is the main reason why so many believe in stateism and/or socialism, because spokespersons of the lefties promise everything and say they will make things “easier”. Why choice a phone company when a politician can do it for you? Why choice where to live when governments obviously knows best? People have been fooled to believe that the smuggest best-spoken voice trying to get their vote is the best one to make choices for them. We do not go to the most articulate doctor when our leg is broken, we do not go to the best speaking dentist to fix our teethes, but somehow we think that a well dressed person with a name on a ballot that can talk bureaucratic can fix our lives.

The economic argument is completely on libertarians side, so is the moral one, but until this ideology can convince people that making their own choices is not only the most beneficial for themselves, but also for society as a whole, and as long as people think they can get something for free without paying for it several times over, the libertarian movement will never triumph. This struggle is hard and is made even harder by journalists, “thinkers” and indoctrinating schools. I don’t think we will ever see a truly free society, people are too stupid or to occupied with their useless lives to even consider it, but maybe there is a chance in the aftermath of the current depression. Maybe more people will see through the smoke and realize that bail-out money, stimulus money and every government program for the people is all paid for by the people. Maybe citizens will realize that every time a politician promises them something, the people themselves are the ones paying for it. I hope so, I don’t think so, but I hope.


  1. Can just say that I agree with what you have written. But I also think that you are correct when you don't think that these ideas will prevail in todays politics.


  2. It's easy to be a libertarian and advocate personal responsibility when you have grown up in a country where others have helped pay for everything. In Sweden we have the term "Salongsradikal" which I think is appropriate here.

    The one and only reason the avarage swede is still enjoying a pretty high standard of living is that wealth has been redistributed. The market is always given credit for the development of poor countries while the social reforms of society in the same places are left out.