Saturday, January 01, 2005

Practical Libertarianism for Americans: Part I


This is a brief excerpt of Part I of a nine-part work in progress. I welcome constructive criticisms and suggestions. Please send an e-mail to: libertycorner-at-sbcglobal-dot-net .

This essay is an explanation and examination of libertarianism by a libertarian who comes to his "faith" from experience, rather than from the precincts of philosophy or law. Die-hard libertarians will find nothing new here but my particular interpretation of libertarianism. I am writing for neophyte libertarians and curious non-libertarians who seek a practical guide to the origins, principles, and policy implications of libertarianism.

My focus is on American libertarianism because the Constitution of the United States of America holds the promise of liberty. Building on that promise, Americans can strive to perfect liberty in the United States. But the rest of the world isn't bound by our Constitution, and it is foolish to think that the rest of the world prizes America's liberty....

As you read what follows, please keep these points in mind:
  • Equality before the law is a noble ideal, as long as the law serves everyone's liberty.
  • Liberty is indivisible; to restrict economic liberty is to restrict social and political liberty.
  • Prosperity is a concomitant of liberty, not its enemy.
  • Prosperity isn't a zero-sum game. Absent corporate welfare and protective regulation (both of which are anti-libertarian), the wealthy get that way not by robbing others but by providing jobs, products, and services for them.
  • Liberty comes from the people -- or the liberty-minded among them -- not from the state. Yet, the state -- properly governed by the people's representatives -- can serve as a bulwark of liberty.
  • The American state's first and foremost obligation is to protect the lives and liberty of American citizens; the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
Finally, there are many paths to libertarianism, as I'll discuss. But there are libertarian purists who put great stock in following the "right" path. I'm not of that ilk. What matters, in the end, is whether you believe that life would be better with a much smaller, far less intrusive, and far less costly government -- one that's focused on defending your liberty -- and whether you act accordingly.

Click here for the full text of Part I.