Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Libertarianism in One Sentence: A Collection

In light of the continuing lack of understanding of libertarianism as a philosophy, I decided to make this post. I've said before that I believe libertarianism can be boiled down to one essential sentence which can be expressed in an unbelievable amount of ways. To be sure, there will be exceptions to any such statement where a given libertarian may reach a different result. But any such exceptions amount to acknowledged deviations from "pure" libertarianism. Importantly, libertarianism to me works as well or better as a personal philosophy about life as it does as a philosophy about government. Generally speaking, I think simply living life with relatively libertarian values in your day to day affairs is a valuable way of being a happy, calm, and decent human being.

Anyhow, below is my list, which is comprised of sentences I've come up with as well as many sentences from truly noteworthy individuals. I should also add that some of these are normative statements about the way one should act, some are positive statements about human nature, and some are a mixture of both. Feel free to add your own in the comments section or to let me know of any with which you disagree. There are sure to be plenty I leave out. I'm sure this will come off as pretentious to some people. If that is the case, I apologize, and feel free to skip this post.

"I shall not live for the sake of any (hu)man, nor shall I ask any (hu)man to live for my sake." -Ayn Rand (the italicized part is forgotten far too often by people seeking to pigeonhole libertarians....it's also forgotten by libertarians who reside in the fever swamps).

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." - The Golden Rule.

Everything is permissible except for the use of force or fraud (or coercion). - General libertarian maxim

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (this quote having the most meaning in my life for a long time)

"No human has greater natural rights than any other human, nor should any human have greater legal rights than any other human." -Me

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

All relationships ought to be consensual. - General libertarian maxim.

"To believe that humans are perfectable is to believe there is a limit to what humans can achieve." -Me (I like this one because it has a lot of applicability in day-to-day life. It amounts to saying that intolerance limits individual and human growth).

"Utopia is neither achievable nor desirable." -Me (this is similar to the above quote but is my way of saying that Orwell (Utopia is not achievable) and Huxley (Utopia is not desirable) were right).

"Give me liberty or give me death." -Patrick Henry

Nothing is ever right just because someone else says so. - My way of summing up Socrates' Euthyphro argument.