Which libertarians most agree with you?
This article has five brief sections...
Part 1: The moral case for libertarianism
Imagine that your neighbor thinks you're insufficiently charitable, or that you donate to the wrong things. He decides to fix your defect by burglarising $2,000 from you that he then distributes to people he considers needy. Is your neighbor's action moral?
Imagine that your neighbor threatens you with violence to make you eat, smoke, drink, love, or worship as he prefers. Is your neighbor's action moral?
What if a neighborhood majority agrees that it's okay to use violence to make you change how you live or how spend your money? Would that justify the aggression? What about a majority in your city, state, or country? In short...
How many people does it take to turn wrong into right?
Libertarians believe aggression against peaceful people is criminal, no matter how many voters agree to it. If it’s wrong for an individual to aggress against others, it’s also wrong for a group to do it. Factors such as group size, titles, uniforms, badges, or alleged authority, cannot justify aggression. Might does not make right, not even the might of a democratic majority. Libertarians enshrine this view in the Zero Aggression Principle…
Don’t aggress against others, personally or politically.
- Don’t impose your personal preferences on others using politics and government.
- Let every person live by their own conscience, provided they let others to do the same.
- Promote your personal values using peaceful persuasion and voluntary cooperation, not through state dictates enforced by threats of violence.
- Reserve violence for defensive purposes only. Governments lose legitimacy when they aggress against personal conscience on any issue.
- When politicians use threats of violence to impose their personal preferences on others, they are being criminals.
That's the moral case for libertarianism. But what are the practical consequences? Join to learn more or continue reading…
Part 2: The practical case for libertarianism
Libertarians think good results are best achieved using good means. Morality is practical, while immorality is impractical. But when it comes to politics and governance most people assume the opposite, that immoral threats of aggression are both necessary and justified. They think it’s okay to use legislation and violent law enforcement to impose their personal preferences on other people. It doesn’t matter to them that…
- Those who refuse to submit will be arrested and imprisoned.
- Dissenters who resist arrest will be killed.
Libertarians view this approach as immoral, arrogant, heartless, and unpragmatic. It assumes there’s one best way to do things, when there are usually hundreds of good ways to solve problems. Plus, state-imposed “solutions” don’t have to compete with other ideas to prove they’re best. This point is crucial. Consider…
- Tax-funded programs are monopolies that get funded whether they succeed or fail.
- Even worse, ineffective programs tend to be rewarded for their failure! They get biggerbudgets!
People normally think monopolies are bad. So why make an exception when it comes to state programs? Why favor monopoly government approaches that don’t have to compete, and that keep getting paid even when they do a poor job? This makes no practical sense to libertarians. It strikes us as being highly impractical. Said another way…
- The practical result of taxation is guaranteed funding for government
- But the impractical result of guaranteed funding is poor performance
But is it really possible to fund government voluntarily?. It’s on this question that libertarians begin to disagree with each other. Join to learn more or continue reading…
Part 3: The ways in which libertarians disagree with each other
All libertarians share one assumption: Don’t make legislation your first response to a social problem. Search for non-violent solutions instead. Libertarians want answers that use peaceful persuasion and voluntary cooperation, NOT state aggression. If you agree, then you could be a libertarian. But what kind of libertarian? We think there are three types…
- Small-government libertarians
- Limited-state libertarians
- Voluntaryist libertarians
Are you a small-government libertarian?
Small-government libertarians apply the Zero Aggression Principle to most political issues most of the time: don’t aggress against others! But they make modest exceptions for what they think are practical reasons. If you land somewhere in the libertarian section on a Nolan Chart quiz then you’re a small-government libertarian at the very least. Examples of small-government libertarians include people like Senator Rand Paul and Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico.
Are you a limited-state libertarian?
Limited-state libertarians are willing to allow state aggression in two broad ways…
- Police, courts, and national defense can be monopolized by The State so long as those agencies only use violence defensively
- These limited functions can be tax-supported
This version of libertarianism shrinks the Leviathan State to a minimal form. It’s sometimes called a “Night Watchman State.” Former Congressman Ron Paul is a good example of a limited-state libertarian.
Are you a voluntaryist libertarian?
- Make no exceptions to the Zero Aggression Principle.
- Think all human relationships should be voluntary.
- See no practical reason to forcefully monopolize anything, including police, courts, and defense.
- Think society will benefit from having competing versions of governmental institutions.
- See no practical reason to permit violence-based funding (taxation).
This last point is crucial. Voluntaryists think guaranteed funding is impractical because it encourages poor performance. Government funding should be determined by what people are willing to pay, not by what politicians want to impose. Voluntaryists think citizens should set the budget for governance, not politicians. The people who run this website are voluntaryists.
Surprisingly, the voluntaryist approach requires the elimination of almost nothing The State currently does. Only agencies that are inherently aggressive, like the DEA, would need to be abolished. All other agencies could continue to operate, provided they can find willing funders. For instance…
- HUD would have to compete with Habitat for Humanity and other, similar charities
- The FDA would have to compete with Underwriters Laboratory, NSF, BPS, and other certification companies.
- Social Security would have to compete with other forms of retirement income
- The current federal government could even grow larger, so long as it could persuade Americans to give it more funding!
Is such an approach really possible? Join to learn more, or keep reading…
Part 4: The prospects for a libertarian world
Has humanity already found the best ways to organize society? Is no further progress possible? Please consider that people once thought civilization couldn’t exist without…
- Human sacrifice
- Animal sacrifice
- Racial segregation
People even fought wars to preserve some of these things, but the result was always the same. Life got better when we dropped each of these supposedly essential practices! We think the same will be true when it comes to aggressive violence by The State. Plus…
The change we’re proposing is much simpler than those previous bouts of social evolution. We aren’t looking to impose a new concept on society. We just want to consistently apply a principle that everyone already obeys in their personal lives. That’s why we phrase the Zero Aggression Principle this way…
Don’t aggress against others, personally or politically.
You don’t aggress against people personally, so you should stop doing it politically too. Applying the Zero Aggression Principle to politics and government will…
- Foster social peace, because politics is simply warfare by other means
- End a major source of self-contradiction and hypocrisy (political debates are rife with both)
- Protect individual liberty and promote personal responsibility
- Enhance human happiness, by letting each person actualize his or her own values
Still, change can be scary. So we’re content to go slow. We don’t need to do it all at once. We’ll support any reform that moves society in the direction of Zero Aggression. So ask yourself this…
- Will you simply assume that aggression is necessary, or…
- Will you seek ways to solve problems using peaceful persuasion and voluntary cooperation?
This change of emphasis could begin a profound intellectual journey for you. Join to learn more, or continue reading…
Part 5: What the Zero Aggression Project can do for you
Our work has three parts…
- Share the Zero Aggression Principle (the ZAP) with every person on planet Earth.
- Find and activate people who self-identify as libertarians (so we can collaborate to reach more minds)
- Move people in a voluntaryist direction.
If that sounds good to you, please join us.