Thursday, February 24, 2011

Principles cannot be compromised

Principles cannot be compromised

It is often necessary to compromise face-to-face, but to compromise when stating principles means you have none.

Something I read a few days ago had someone referring to themselves as "ideologically extreme, behaviorally moderate". I liked that phrase.

I am serious about libertarianism. I also know that as long as someone is not attacking anyone, either physically or economically, no one has the right to try to force them to stop whatever they are doing. In that case there is always room for compromise if the other person will agree to keep their hands off your body, your property, and your life, both personally and legislatively, as long as you are not harming any innocent person. Remember that being offended is NOT the same as being harmed since harm must involve actual physical or economic damage.

Unfortunately, this proves to be difficult when people believe they have the right or the authority to control the non-aggressive, consensual behavior of those around them. But there is no such right and the authority is never real.

That is why compromise seems so difficult when a libertarian is trying to deal with a person who believes it is right to use force against someone who is not using force or stealing. All the "compromise" that such a person proposes is about how much the liberty of the other will be violated. That is not "compromise", it is losing ground that can't be regained; it is standing aside while someone harms you.

Principles can not be compromised or they are not principles. Principles are a line in the sand. Whether you defend them or not is up to you, but they don't shift around like shadows. If I am laying out the principles of libertarianism, I do no service to anyone by being wishy-washy or a "nerf libertarian". Compromise can come when you decide whether or not to defend that particular principle from this specific violator at this exact moment. Your choice may affect your life, but it doesn't change the facts of the principles one iota.