Sunday, July 18, 2004

Liberty or Anarchy?

I recently remarked flippantly to a friend that I wouldn't wear a certain brand of footwear in public because doing so might brand me "liberal". His retort:
Probably a large percentage of the wearers of Brand X are true libertarians, whereas you are a control libertarian. These folks moved to the mountains, work "off the formal economy" and thus don’t pay any taxes, ignore all forms of government, and don’t really care about anyone’s political or personal views.
I think I like being a "control libertarian" -- whatever that is. Perhaps it means that I have good personal hygeine and save my tax returns for three years. I know that I care about others' personal or political views only to the extent that those views might affect my taxes or my physical security. (Oh, and sometimes those views are good fodder for this blog.) In fact, I spend as much time as possible reading novels and ignoring others' personal and political views.

Those "true libertarians" who don't pay taxes and ignore all forms of government aren't libertarians, they're neo-anarchists (that's a fancy term for hippie drop-out). Libertarians aren't anarchists, because libertarians understand that liberty is impossible without just enough government to protect us from each other and from our enemies. As Wikipedia
puts it (emphasis added by me):
Libertarianism is a political philosophy which advocates individual rights and a limited government. Libertarians believe individuals should be free to do anything they want, so long as they do not infringe upon what they believe to be the equal rights of others. In this respect they agree with many other modern political ideologies. The difference arises from the definition of "rights". For libertarians, there are no "positive rights" (such as to food or shelter or health care), only "negative rights" (such as to not be assaulted, abused, robbed or censored). They further believe that the only legitimate use of force, whether public or private, is to protect those rights.
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