Constitutional Libertarianism

Constitutional Libertarianism

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spotting the libertarian

There's a lot of talk about what is a "real" libertarian or not.  Gary Johnson is alternately called a liberal or a conservative but even among so called libertarians, he gets told that he's not libertarian or not enough.

So how does one spot a real libertarian?  Is it all predicted on political policy?  I would venture to say no.  Here's why...

I've often maintained here that being libertarian is not necessarily the same thing as being a Libertarian.  The capital "L" Libertarian is a political animal, focused primarily on politics and policy.  A lowercase "l" libertarian is more often than not concerned with applying libertarian principles to their own life first then advocating for those principles both as a role model and by education.

A libertarian, or libertarian minded person, believes in individual liberty obviously.  That includes being a responsible person and being a person with integrity.  Being libertarian means that you look to yourself to do what's right, you don't"need" a third party authority to make you do the right things or follow agreed upon rules or abide by contracts and agreements you enter.

A libertarian is always making the effort to be self-sufficient, self-disciplined, and self-motivated.  A libertarian has ideals, goals and objectives they try to live up to.  A libertarian believes in the ability of people to be able to be all of those things.

Because libertarians believe that all people have the capacity to be all of those things, we tend to look at people as capable individuals first, essentially giving the benefit of the doubt until we have evidence otherwise.  A libertarian is not racist or sexist or most other "ists" because we don't judge people as part of a group but as individuals.

A libertarian does believe in order and rules and laws as long as those rules, etc... are agreed upon and/or are sensible and work to achieve the most individual liberty while minimizing negative impact up others liberty, well-being, etc...

A libertarian believes in science, the scientific process and using fact based evidence.  Being rational, logical and practical are usually very important to libertarians.  Because of this, most libertarians tend to try to interact with others rationally, calmly, even respectfully because to do otherwise is to not be in control of yourself very well.

You don't see most libertarians being unnecessarily rude or making personal insults or being an overall"jerk" for the most part.  This hails back to being rational, respectful and believing in being ethical and living up to certain values rather than engaging in undisciplined and generally not being in control of yourself.

When looking for a "real" libertarian, look for the person who is doing the things we expect of libertarians.  They are being self controlled, not forcing their ideas and beliefs on everyone else while not letting others walk all over their own at the same time.

They aren't engaging in name calling in a discussion or argument because they know that if you get to that point, you've already lost.  In fact, most "real" libertarians I have seen would rather "kill you with kindness" because again, it shows self-discipline and keeping one's mind focused rather than becoming overwhelmed by emotion.

As a matter of fact, most libertarians I know are usually pretty quiet people until you put them on the spot.  They are usually too busy and focused on getting on with their business and their lives to go meddling in other people's affairs.

They are usually the ones who help stranded motorists and help others pick up dropped bags, etc...   Why?  Because they have a degree of self respect and believe in being a good person in general.  They don't believe in going out of their way to get attention for helping when they do because again, attention and publicity isn't the goal.  Their own values and beliefs are what motivates them.

A "real" libertarian walks the walk more than they talk.  They are focused on doing, accomplishing, achieving.

Brow-beating, lecturing and being an emotional bully is usually not a libertarians style.

When I grow up, that's what I want to be.  A libertarian.  Someday I'll get there, until then, I'll keep practicing and working toward being that kind of person.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Much ado about rules

There are some basic truths in life.  Rail against them if they must, people need to understand that some aspects of life are as inevitable as gravity.

One of those things is rules or laws.  People don't always like laws.  It's not hard to understand why.  Rules inhibit us, especially when we don't want to be inhibited.

However, at their most basic purpose, rules serve an important role in helping groups of two or more people to avoid unnecessary endangerment and help maintain order.

Now, rules come in two flavors, authority enforcement or self enforcement.  Self enforcement is when two or more people voluntarily agree to rules to conduct actions and relationships.

Essentially, self enforcement is a contract in which everyone agrees to follow the agreed upon conditions.

Now, in a society, perhaps as few as two people or as many as two billion, we like to think people can be held to their agreements.  However, we then run into another truth of life, people are not perfect.  People can be corrupted, lazy, selfish, in denial, envious, etc...   These human conditions lead people to lying, cheating, sneaking and outright rebellion.  It happens.  It always has happened, it always will happen.

Not everyone, not all the time, but it could be anyone at any time.

What then when one or more people party to an agreement, subject to conditions, decides they do not want to abide by those rules anymore or at all?

If it happens enough or has negative enough ramifications to other parties, all to often an authority is established.  A person or body of people who are tasked with or assume the role of law enforcement.

These folks have power.  Whether given or taken.  Whether tacit or implied.  They have power in their authority to reconcile broken rules.

Let's toss out some platitudes.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Those in power never willingly give up that power.

What has human history taught us again and again about authorities?   It teaches us that in virtually every human society ever documented bodies of authority grow and bloat until society itself implodes and eliminates that authority.  Then they do it all again.

This is said to be the very definition of "stupid" to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results every time.  If not stupid, certainly naive.

Yet, it is one of those human conditions to seek out something, someone, to make things "fair".  Even when we should know how it's going to end up, we simply can't help ourselves.  It's built into us.

As humans, we seek safety and order.  We know that if everyone follows the rules, like drivers taking turns at a stop sign, everything can get done with the least amount of damage and in the best (relatively) amount of time.

That's what it all boils down to.  Let's do things so as not to unnecessarily endanger others or ourselves and do it in a way that is considered fair.

Two teenage guys, best friends since grade school.  They make a rule, an agreement with each other.  Don't let a girl come between us.  Purely voluntary, entirely self enforced.  Yet a rule all the same.

Essentially, this is the same thing as person one telling person two that they will do a certain service for them if person two gives person one something they find valuable in trade or compensation.  The basic contract.  It can cover exact details of the service provided, the exact price, the time frame, the consequences if things aren't performed as agreed or compensated as agreed.  It's still a contract.

It's not a libertarian ideal to have no rules.  No safety or no order.  Libertarians just seek self enforcement any and every time it's possible.  They wish to avoid authority enforcement if at all possible to prevent the inevitable power struggles that come with it.

If there is a need to bring someone else in, we want to be the ones who make that happen voluntarily.  This is why libertarian minded folks prefer arbitration over government courts.  We determine the authority figure specifically.  It is there to meet a limited and specific need then that authority is removed from the scenario.

We would rather hire a contractor to enforce basic conduct rules like traffic laws and crime prevention and intervention.    A contractor because then they too are bound by voluntary agreement to specific conditions and beyond that, their authority, on behalf of the other parties to the agreement, is null and void.

Can contractors be bribed or corrupted?  Can they abuse their position?  Only if they are human.  If they are human then they can be subject to the same emotions, desires, impulses, irregularities, defects and deficiencies and impairments that every other human is subject to.

This is why libertarian minded people are often optimistic yet cautious.  Hoping and working for the best but preparing for the worst.

We believe in concepts such as faith in our fellow people, but we keep a weather eye on them anyway.  We believe in trust and promises made but we don't take them for granted.  Trust must be earned.  Promises are observed tentatively.

We believe in rules because we know that rules are necessary if not inevitable to successfully living with each other.  But just because we know there must be rules doesn't mean we have to just shed the responsibility and expectations of self enforcement.  Self discipline, self esteem.

By holding ourselves to a higher standard, we expect the same of others.  But just because we have our heads in the clouds doesn't mean we can't watch our steps at the same time.