One of the biggest problems libertarians have is explaining what exactly in means to be a libertarian. There are many (too many) people that have a complete and total misunderstanding as to what it means to be a libertarian. Well, a libertarian is one who believes in liberty; but what exactly does that mean? We hear the word liberty, and we think we know what it means, but do we really know its meaning? Well, below is a video that puts forth the concept of liberty in simple terms, and pictures. While it is far from the supreme definitive explanation, and by no means encompasses the entirety of what libertarians are and believe, I think it is a good primer:
Obviously I do believe in the concept of self ownership, personal responsibility, and conducting oneself in a moral, non-forceful manner towards others. What I do find perplexing is that there are those who either don’t believe in any of those things, or believe in each in a conditional manner; which really becomes quite extraordinary when you consider that by hedging, or putting conditions on any and all of those things, particularly the self ownership, then those who wish to hedge and make them conditional are essentially saying that they themselves do not have full ownership of their life, and body – let alone to anything else. Essentially they are saying that someone else is entitled to dictate some amount of control over their lives and bodies, as well as everyone elses. To me, that is really quite a sad and pointless existence to live, if the vessel of that existence (your body) is subject to the whims and control (force) of another, or others. To put it simply, and bluntly, to live such an existence is to live in slavery.
The other thing that the above video illustrates is the importance of volunteerism, and its converse, coercion, or force. Again, there are many people who cannot wrap their heads around that notion, that certain, many, if not all, acts performed should be conducted in a voluntary fashion. One of the arguments made by those who are skeptical of volunteerism is that people are inherently bad, and as such we need a government made up of people to ensure that people behave and act good. Does anyone see the obvious failure in logic in that statement? People are bad, so we need a group of people to make and do good … umm, okay, so the grouping of people somehow makes them good? Yeah, I don’t think anyone can logically solve that statement – though I am willing to listen to those who wish to try. Personally, I believe that the majority of individual people are good, not bad. Philosophers have long tried to answer the question of whether or not we are born good or bad; so I guess that is up to personal beliefs. Regardless though, if you think people are inherently bad, then I doubt putting a group of people in charge of others makes that group less bad than the individual; and using my belief of people being good, I don’t think that putting a group of people in charge of others makes them more good.
That brings me to the morality that comes with the no force, or non-aggression principle that libertarians subscribe to; and is illustrated in the above video too. Libertarianism; a real liberal, in the classical sense, does not wish, nor do they believe in forcing another individual or group of individuals into obeying their wishes, taking of their property, subjugating their lives, or doing them any harm whatsoever. I think the vast majority (I hope) of people realize that murder is wrong, rape is wrong, theft is wrong, assault is wrong, and so on, and so forth. Why? Because each is an act of force against another persons property (remember you own your body and your life, so that is your property).
So that video is what liberty means in a nutshell; and I would hope that once more and more people come to the realization as to what it means, then maybe they will come to realize that currently each and everyone of us don’t have as much liberty as we might think we have; and the amount we do have is continuing to be diminished.
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people … They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. (Thomas Jefferson).
The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression. (W.E.B. Du Bois)
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. (Frederick Douglass)