(My Clovis News Journal column for October 31, 2014)
Walking down a lonely trail, with no one else around, do your politics matter? Even to yourself?
When shipwrecked on a deserted island, or sitting alone in your house, it doesn't matter how you believe you should relate to other people. Politics is hypothetical in isolation. Once you add one other person- or an entire society of individuals- to the mix, how you interact with them becomes critically important and displays your character in vivid detail for all to see.
There are healthy ways to deal with other people and there are unhealthy ways. Trying to find the pragmatic way to control others and their property is the unhealthy way. The belief that governing others is a legitimate way to relate to people is called statism, and The State is how the unhealthy method manifests itself on a large scale. Crime- real crime, such as theft and aggression- is nothing but statism on an individual scale; stripped bare of the veil of legitimacy a government may appear to give it.
Respecting the rights of everyone to live as they see fit, as long as they aren't violating the person or property of any other individual- while maintaining your absolute human right to defend your life, liberty, and property against all violators- is the only healthy way to deal with other people. It's the opposite of statism: libertarianism.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I have seen the argument that liberty only works in desert island scenarios, but as soon as you add more people you must find a way to control each other "for the good of your society"; a euphemism for finding an excuse to violate each other in some way, and usually appoint someone to do it on your behalf in order to maintain the illusion that you are still civilized. This is exactly backwards.
Like any principle lubricating the gears between yourself and others, libertarianism only matters when you are around another person. Unfortunately, it seems to require more thought and effort than simply passing arbitrary and harmful laws, and letting someone else- paid by taxation taken from you and your victims- enforce those laws against anyone who may annoy you.
Alone, you could be a homicidal dictator, and no one would be harmed. When around other people you had better drop that childishness and start respecting everyone's rights if you want to live an ethical life.
It's unfortunate that statism tends to shield violators from their victims, but this still doesn't make the violators right, nor does it make their victims wrong when one defends himself from the violations.