What Libertarianism isn’t . . .

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Just when you think you’ve heard (and read) it all, something like this falls into your lap. It’s a Bloomberg News critique of Libertarianism that equates it with – of all things! – communism.

It dances on – at great length – without ever once mentioning the defining ethical principle of Libertarianism, the non-aggression principle (NAP for short). The idea that it’s never right to use force first.

The reason for not mentioning the NAP, of course, is that the article – and its ridiculous assertions – falls on its face if the NAP is acknowledged.

Consider some snippets from this epic work of evasion and slander:

“Let’s start with some definitions. By radical libertarianism, we mean the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values. ”

This is the “do anything you please” shibboleth Libertarians constantly encounter when dealing with Libertarian critics, who are invariably authoritarian collectivists of one stripe or the other. When the Libertarian points out the fallacy – that Libertarians believe individuals have every right to do as they please, provided they cause no harm to others – the authoritarian collectivist will then pretend not to have heard or understood. And give you something like this:

“Radical libertarians would be great at destroying.“

Which conveniently overlooks that bit about not harming others, the Libertarian Golden Rule.

The authors of the Bloomberg piece must argue something that Libertarians aren’t – setting up the proverbial straw man before knocking him down.

Ironically, these critics are always the aggressively violent ones.

For example:

“The alternative to this extremism is an evolving blend of freedom and cooperation.”

Italics added.

Libertarian readers are surely groaning along with me right about now. We favor voluntary cooperation. People such as the authors of Bloomberg rant always insist on cooperation – at gunpoint. Their “cooperation” is of a piece with Social Security “contributions,” Obamacare “markets” and DMV “customers.” What they cannot abide – but will never state honestly and openly – is the idea that people ought to be free to say no. To cooperate – or not. It is this freedom to choose that drives anti-Libertarians up the wall. The horrid, insufferable notion that their “plans” be contingent on the consent of those they wish to enlist.

But wait, there’s more. How about this one?

“Radical libertarianism assumes that humans are wired only to be selfish… ”

Ah, the “selfish” smear. It’s as effective as calling someone a racist. Shuts ‘em right up, most of the time. But Libertarians aren’t afraid of it – nor will it shut them up.  What the collectivists really mean when they use the term is –  someone who would say no if he were free to do so. As in the case of taxation. It is “selfish” to object to being strong-armed into handing over one’s money for the benefit of random strangers, who are themselves not regarded as selfish for using violence (if only by proxy) to take the property of other people. It’s ok, apparently, to selflessly do others violence – but Libertarians are bad selfish for daring to object to the violence done them and for wanting only to be left in peace and to leave others in peace.

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