Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Libertarians lead invisible life

Libertarians lead invisible life

(My Clovis News Journal column for August 18, 2011. As written, not as published.)

In day-to-day life, being a libertarian really doesn't attract any attention. We are pretty much invisible.

We are the neighbors who mind our own business. We probably don't have noisy parties but won't call the cops about yours. We are the people who pick up the dropped keys for the person struggling with grocery bags. We are the person who picks up, and returns without comment, the baggie of marijuana that inadvertently fell out of the pocket of the guy in front of us in the checkout line. We are the ones who will hold the door open for you, or give you a ride if you run out of gas. We are remarkable only in our unremarkable behavior.

In day-to-day life we aren't out there shouting our philosophy. Libertarians are not screaming in your face, demanding that you worship our symbols or historical figures. We are not threatening to cage you if your lifestyle differs from ours. We are simply going about our business without attacking or stealing. This illustrates how "libertarian" most people are in their daily lives. People behaving decently are indistinguishable from libertarians.

It is only when confronted with acts of aggression or theft that we find it difficult to remain silent. In the face of wrongdoing we speak up and rise to the challenge. And we will defend ourselves. We refuse to equivocate and make excuses, but will call a spade "a spade". This is when we are noticed. And, strangely, this is when we are vilified and ridiculed.

Those who oppose libertarians at this point seem to do so because they to wish to keep open the option to attack someone, somewhere, for some reason. They want to be able to do things "as a society" that they know to be wrong on a personal level. You can't give anyone, nor any group of people, a right that you don't individually possess. If it is wrong to steal, you can't authorize government to steal, under any euphemism, on your behalf. If it is wrong to kick in your neighbor's door, you can't authorize The State to kick in your neighbor's door for you.

This consistency distinguishes libertarians from those who are not. Fortunately, except in unusual circumstances, it doesn't show up much in daily life. Which is why libertarians are mostly invisible.



  1. Hi Kent,

    That was cool! Good article.


  2. Thanks. I used incidents from my own life to illustrate the point.

  3. Yep.

    Libertarianism is the political philosophy of people who know what civility is and practice it in their daily lives.

    The problem is that there are so many people today who don't want to be civil. They're willing to step on anyone who gets in their way, or have the state do it for them.