Libertarianism welcomes non violent Socialists, Islamic Fundamentalists and Fascists!

Libertarianism is the logical outcome of a single core belief, the Non Aggression Principle or NAP. In its simplest form the NAP says that people should be allowed to live their life as they see fit as long as it does not involve the initiation of force against the life of another or their legitimately owned property.

The ONLY things that Libertarianism is fundamentally against are the initiation of violence and coercion under threat of violence.

The left claim that Libertarians are against taxes, welfare, state services, etc, etc, but that is not actually true, what Libertarians are against is the use of force to impose these things on people.

As Nozick pointed out in, the much neglected, final part of Anarchy, State & Utopia, a Libertarian society is the most tolerant and accommodating of any conceivable society.

If a group of people wish to establish their socialist utopia (or a fascist one) they are welcome to. They may legitimately assert that a certain area of land that they collectively acquire is socialist (or fascist) and that the rules of socialism (fascism) apply in that territory. Anyone who wants to live under these rules is free to do so. The only things that a Libertarian society would prohibit are, forcing people to live in this area (under those rules), or preventing people from leaving the area (and the rules) if they decided that they no longer want to live that way.

Likewise if a group of people wish to establish a Christian (Or Jewish or Islamic) fundamentalist state, they are welcome to. People who want to live by that code are free to do so. The only thing that Libertarianism insists on is that they force nobody to do so against their will and that they do not force anybody to stay who wishes to leave.

The essence of Libertarianism is voluntarism.

Libertarians are not against Socialism, or any other political or religious belief system, they are simply against forcing people, under threat of violence, to live in a way that they don’t want to.

The same cannot be said for Socialism, which is a set of beliefs that require people to live in a certain way.  Socialism is not the voluntary choice to adopt progressive taxation, univeral welfare provision, egalitarianism, etc. It is the imposition of these beliefs under threat of State violence.

Socialism does not allow people to own areas of land and chose different rules by which they will live their lives. In a socialist society nobody can choose to keep all their earnings and pay for the services they want, to take out insurance (or not) against misfortune and to give to charity what their conscience tells them is a fair amount.

If socialists believed that people would live by their beliefs without being forced, then they would have no problem with Libertarians or a Libertarian society, it would welcome them.

The problem they face is that, when given the choice, very few free people actually choose socialism. Nozick examined this in the essay “Who Would Choose Socialism”  published in his book Socratic Puzzles.

He asks “Approximately how many people would choose, under highly conducive conditions, to live under socialism?” He bases the figure on the percentage of people in Israel who have chosen to live in a kibbutz and explains why this is the optimal scenario for voluntary socialism. He concludes that the figure is “about six percent”.

The Libertarians are very happy if 6% (or more) of people want to live this way, as long as they don’t force anybody.

The socialists on the other hand want the 94% of us who wouldn’t choose to live that way, to be forced to ! (it’s for our own good you know, we are just too stupid to see it!)

The same arguments can be applied to Fascism, Islamic Fundamentalism and any other political or religious doctrine that demands that everyone live in a certain way.

If you object to Libertarianism, the ONLY thing you are objecting to is the freedom for people to choose for themselves how to live their lives AND you are accepting that whatever alternative political view you propose, it would fail without the use of force.

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  • getreal

    I have thought that Libertarianism upholds free trade among people (not countries as much as people or their businesses) whatever the ideology of the group. That said, there are ideologies, like Communism, that do not value free trade. Free trade supports the individual’s freedom and it’s capitalistic, a fundamental contradiction to some ideals, like a strict Theocracy, for another example.

    I agree that Libertarianism does not have any part in wanting to dictate moral choice, but it does have  economic principles and therein are values lke the individual and free trade.

    • Of course this is true. My point is that in a Libertarian society if a group wanted to live in an area and not engage in free trade, then Libertarians wouldn’t use force to make them, they would respect their right to voluntarily choose how they live their life. In a communist state the opposite applies and force would be used to prevent people engaging in free trade

  • Taking Murray Rothbard as the precept of Libertarianism, really is taking the piss. Anarcho-Capitalism and Libertarianism, whilst similar in vein are hugely different in construct.

    If I were a libertarian I would be pretty miffed to read your construct, as their vision includes Government.

    Make a decision, you are a free market capitalist (anarcho-capitalism) or you are a libertarian and never shall the two fuse.

    As for non-proliferation of violence, whilst coercion sits in the beating heart of those who are unable to fathom between anarchism and Libertarianism, but want to appear ‘cool’.

    Freedom includes the right to commit violence.

    If you wish for a Police State (Libertarianism), where coercion of ‘moral’ rights is predicated in principal, don’t even step in to the realms of anarcho-capitalism. Rothbard ended his days as an agent of the US Government, probably because of his desire for ‘order’. He was and remains a discredited racist, not an anarcho-capitalist, but a believer in the very coercion he proclaimed to decry.

    I happen to believe there is a code of moral justice and this is where the balance lies. Moral justice can only function where violent response is an option.

    If we take the Icelandic  example, here we have a Libertarian construct, which followers of Rothbard proclaim to be anarcho-capitalism, it isn’t and never was intended that way, but it is an interesting insight in to the possibilities of anarcho-capitalism, which I guess your site isn’t actually interested in exploring.

    • You’re definition of Libertarianism appears to be your own, rather than any generally accepted one.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism

      Libertarianism spans a range of opinions from anarcho-capitalism to Randian minarchism. The belief they share is that state power should be minimized as far as possible. Anarcho capitalists believe that individual rights can be upheld by private means and therefore the state can be abolished altogether. Minarchists believe that a minimal night watchman state is required to protect individual rights and that is as far as the reduction of the State can go.

      Personally I believe that the anarcho-capitalist view is correct, but I would gladly swap the current invasive state for a minarchist one, as a step in the right direction.

      “Freedom includes the right to commit violence” – I agree that freedom includes the right to commit defensive violence to protect person and property, it does not include the freedom to randomly shoot people for kicks.

      The non aggression principle is about not INITIATING violence, it is not pacifism. All strains of Libertarianism believe in the right to use violence in response to aggression.

      To refer to a minarchist Libertarian state as a police state is an equivocation fallacy. Such a state would have a police force but would not be what is generally considered a “police state”.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_state

      Murray Rothbard’s economic works” Man, Economy & State” and “Power and Market” are a blistering logical destruction of the economic arguments for the state. His political philosophical work “The Ethics of Liberty” does the same for the ethical arguments for a state. I have read more political philosophy than most and Rothbards arguments are the most logical and convincing I have come across.

      Ad Hominem arguments that he was not a perfect example of a human being or did not live his beliefs 100% does not weaken the intellectual power of his work. Show me a great thinker who was without fault in his personal life. Aristotle believed that slavery was natural, but his work on syllogisms is still the cornerstone of logic, Isaac Newton was a mystic and an alchemist yet his laws of motion still put a man on the moon.

      Rothbard may not have been a perfect example of a human being, he may even have been a racist and an agent of the state, I don’t know and frankly I am not interested in Rothbard as a man.

      His work stands in its own right as the most solid intellectual justification for anarcho-capitalism ever written.

      The differences between Minarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism exist, but believers in either would be advised to spend their time and energy fighting the socialist state nightmare we find ourselves living in rather than bickering over which flavour of Libertarianism would give the best utopia!

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  • Saiful Islam

    Interesting article. It is only fair to say that non-violence is probably the preferred option for all if not most of people in society wherever they may be from. Its all very well saying  “If a group of people wish to establish their socialist utopia (or a fascist one) they are welcome to. They may legitimately assert that a certain area of land that they collectively acquire is socialist (or fascist) and that the rules of socialism (fascism) apply in that territory. Anyone who wants to live under these rules is free to do so. The only things that a Libertarian society would prohibit are, forcing people to live in this area (under those rules), or preventing people from leaving the area (and the rules) if they decided that they no longer want to live that way.” But what if someone wants to live in that land but under his own personal rule and he doesn’t want to leave either? What is the libertarian view of what should happen when people do not voluntarily pay their taxes nor do they wish to leave the land? Should force (i.e. imprisonment) be imposed in those circumstances?

    What is the libertarian definition of force? Surely, the risk of facing punishments is necessary for some people to get them to comply with their obligations to others in any sensible and orderly society, is it not? What is the libertarian solution to non-compliant people who are also a risk to people around them?

    I suggest that the writer reads up a little on Islam (and I don’t mean the Islamophobic press writings) but the actual texts (i.e. the Qur’an and the traditions – English translations available) before labelling its legitimate followers as ‘fundamentalists’. Anything can sound ‘fundamental’ or ‘extreme’ when one does not know enough.   

    • Force, including lethal violence in some circumstances, is legitimate in defence of person and property rights.

      I did not mean to imply that followers of Islam are by definition extremist. As you correctly point out what is extreme to one may be everyday to another and I personally hold no negative views towards Islam. (I am as ignorant and non-judgemental of Islam as I am Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Budhism) 

      My only point is that no matter what people believe they should be free to follow their beliefs without interference. Unless they interfere with the right of others to do the same

      • Quote: “Force, including lethal violence in some circumstances, is legitimate in defence of person and property rights. ”

        Force is only legitimate in defence of freedom.
        Person is clear, you must defend your person to defend your freedom.
        Property is an anti freedom right, your right to exclude others from something = a lot less clear; defending property with force is justified to protect the fruit of your labour, however this should not restrict freedom of others unnecessary.

  • Very interesting and provokes much thinking.

  • Ryan Scott

    This is why I’m a libertarian, and a Christian theocrat.