Drugs, Libertarianism, and Ross Ulbricht

Does facilitating the buying and selling of drugs make one a libertarian?

Of course it doesn’t. But that hasn’t stopped some libertarians from making Ross Ulbricht a libertarian hero.

Ulbricht was the creator of the Silk Road website, an online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs. As all libertarians are painfully aware, Ulbricht, was earlier this year found guilty by a federal court of narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and other dubious federal crimes, and was recently sentenced to life in prison without parole.

This is an outrageous and unjust sentence for a victimless crime. Too bad he just didn’t commit rape or murder. Even Charles Manson comes up for parole every so often.

Libertarians have focused on whether Ulbricht is a hero (see, for example, here, here, and here). This is all well and good. What I want to focus on is whether he was a libertarian. Libertarianism Today Jacob H. Huebert Best Price: $1.48 Buy New $12.00 (as of 12:55 EDT - Details)

There is no doubt whatsoever, at least in the minds of libertarians, that Ulbricht or anyone else should be perfectly free to buy drugs, sell drugs, “traffick” in drugs, manufacture drugs, cultivate drugs, use drugs, abuse drugs, and/or facilitate the doing of any of these things.

But doing these things doesn’t make one a libertarian.

The only evidence I have ever come across that Ulbricht was a libertarian is the fact that he operated the Silk Road website that facilitated the sale of illegal drugs.

But this does not make him a libertarian.

Perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps Ulbricht is/was a libertarian in every sense of the word. Fine. That doesn’t negate the point of this article since what I have to say relates to libertarianism and drugs in general.

For years I have noticed a disturbing trend among libertarians, and especially as it relates to drugs. I think some libertarians are too quick to identify certain individuals as libertarians based on one thing that said individuals say or do. For example, just because some liberal Hollywood actor gets caught with marijuana at an airport or says that pot smoking should be legal doesn’t mean that he is a libertarian. I have observed the same thing when it comes to politics. Just because a Republican candidate for office says that marijuana legislation should be left up to the states because of the Tenth Amendment doesn’t mean that he is “libertarian-leaning.” He is more than likely just dodging the issue of the drug war and would never say that cocaine and heroin should be legal, not just because it would be political suicide to make such a statement, but also because he believes the government should lock people in cages for possessing substances the government doesn’t approve of. The Making of the King... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $12.97 Buy New $16.95 (as of 06:55 EDT - Details)

Growing your own marijuana does not make you a libertarian; it makes you an entrepreneur. Snorting coke does not make you a libertarian; it makes you a coke addict. Injecting heroin does not make you a libertarian; it makes you high. Smoking crack does not make you a libertarian; it makes you a crackhead. Manufacturing crystal meth does not make you a libertarian; it makes you an idiot. Drug trafficking does not make you a libertarian; it makes you a criminal. Facilitating the buying and selling of drugs does not make you a libertarian; it makes you a facilitator of the buying and selling of drugs.

Many people, some libertarians included, have other erroneous ideas about what it means to be a libertarian. Just as using or selling drugs does not make one a libertarian, so

  • being a pimp does not make one a libertarian,
  • being an exotic dancer does not make one a libertarian,
  • being a prostitute does not make one a libertarian,
  • engaging in illegal gambling does not make one a libertarian,
  • engaging in premarital sex does not make one a libertarian,
  • cohabiting does not make one a libertarian,
  • having an affair does not make one a libertarian,
  • watching porn does not make one a libertarian,
  • making porn does not make one a libertarian,
  • getting drunk as a skunk does not make one a libertarian,
  • living an alternative lifestyle does not make one a libertarian,
  • practicing discrimination does not make one a libertarian,
  • buying alcohol for minors does not make one a libertarian, War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $62.25 Buy New $9.95 (as of 06:55 EDT - Details)
  • giving alcohol to one’s minor children does not make one a libertarian,
  • breastfeeding in public does not make one a libertarian,
  • listening to alternative rock does not make one a libertarian,
  • not paying one’s taxes does not make one a libertarian,
  • criticizing the government does not make one a libertarian,
  • criticizing the police does not make one a libertarian,
  • criticizing the NSA does not make one a libertarian,
  • violating bad laws does not make one a libertarian,
  • committing victimless crimes does not make one a libertarian,
  • being a hedonist does not make one a libertarian,
  • being a libertine does not make one a libertarian,
  • engaging in civil disobedience does not make one a libertarian,
  • working in the underground economy does not make one a libertarian,
  • living off the grid does not make one a libertarian,
  • owning a lot of guns does not make one a libertarian,
  • paying with Bitcoin does not make one a libertarian,
  • being eccentric does not make one a libertarian,
  • owning an “illegal” gun does not make one a libertarian,
  • voting Libertarian does not make one a libertarian, and War, Christianity, and... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $5.95 Buy New $9.95 (as of 06:55 EDT - Details)
  • saying one is a libertarian does not make one a libertarian.

I am waiting for some libertarian to say that Bruce Jenner is “heroic,” and that it is “libertarian” to change one’s gender.

No one is a libertarian because of something he does. Libertarianism celebrates individual liberty, private property, peaceful activity, voluntary interaction, laissez faire, personal freedom, financial privacy, individual responsibility, free markets, free thought, and a free society. This, of course, includes the freedom to buy, sell, and use drugs. But doing so does not make one a libertarian.

In addition to my writings on libertarianism, let me recommend to you two things: an article by Murray Rothbard titled “Six Myths about Libertarianism,” and Jacob Huebert’s book Libertarianism Today, which I reviewed here and recommended as “the best introduction to libertarianism.”