Monday, July 05, 2004

Defining Libertarianism

Marshall Bruce Evoy, the official founder of the Libertarian Party of Canada and eight other misfits, me included, met in 1973 to try and change Canada for the better. It's not that Canada was then or is now a bad place. Far from it. It's just that we all felt that slowly but surely Canada, like its neighbour to the south, was becoming more and more socialistic. More and more government, providing more and more 'services,' means more and more taxes. It also means less and less freedom.

I was the first elected leader of the Libertarian Party Of Canada. I wrote the first domestic platform of the party. I gave speeches, campaigned, proselytized, did everything I could to tell others about the new party and how we offered the only true alternative to the various other pro-state Canadian political parties.

Where did that get us? Not far. I failed in my mission to inform. The Libertarian Party has failed as a political force. We did not fail due to lack of effort, a lack of ideas, a lack of commitment, a lack of anything -- except perhaps lack of a true understanding of human nature and a surfeit of naïveté.

We did not realize the pathological need of people to feel secure, to be led, even if down the proverbial garden path. We did not realize the extent to which people refuse to take reponsibility for themselves, the compulsion to blame someone (or anyone) else for every ill, every mistake, everything. By abrogating their own responsibility and delegating it to political 'leaders,' people are free to blame others for anything and everything. Since most people revere big government and 'strong' leaders, they tend not to blame a government itself as much as the political party that they didn't vote for. Conservatives blame Liberals, Liberals blame Conservatives.

Libertarians, true to form, blame individuals. Many, many individuals, voting to enslave many, many other individuals.

Did we accomplish anything at all? Sure. Both in the United States and in Canada, Libertarian rhetoric has been appropriated by both liberals and conservatives alike. The liberals (political left) have seized on the individual rights parts of our platform (to act in any way we choose, as long as we do not thereby curtail the rights of others to act as they choose,) the conservatives (political right) our economic platform (the right to trade amongst ourselves withoput government intervention.) While that is flattering, it changes nothing. Although the rhetoric is virtually intact, it has become almost meaningless. How can that happen? Have you read '1984' by George Orwell? If yes, you will understand. If no, then what are you waiting for?

Libertarians believe that the only proper fuction of government is to protect the rights of the individual to life, liberty and property. That means a police force only large enough to protect us from criminals, a judicial system just sufficient to adjudicate disputes, an army just large eniough to protect us from invasion by others. That's it. Any other 'service' can be provided more efficiently by cutting out the government as middleman. Sort of, 'I can get it for you wholesale...'

There are variants of libertarianism. For a more detailed look, see a previous article of mine here.


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