Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some Paul Supporters Violate the Libertarian Maxim

The general libertarian maxim is that any action is acceptable as long as you don't use force or fraud. I've always interpreted this to include the threat of force, including emotional force.

My recent posts explaining why I can no longer support the Paul candidacy have been met with a number of comments amounting to: if you do not support Ron Paul, then you are not a libertarian. Indeed, one commenter stated that if I support anyone other than Ron Paul, then I am a "stain on libertarianism." Moreover, there have been innumerable attempts by individuals of this nature to "shout down" any blogger who expresses an opinion unfavorable to Ron Paul.

All this is, in my mind, a blatant violation of the force or fraud principle. It carries an implicit threat of "support Ron Paul....or else." In the case of the commenter noted above, the implied threat was "support Ron Paul....or you are kicked out of the libertarian movement." Whether or not the commenter has the actual authority to decide whether I'm a libertarian is irrelevant- the commenter clearly believed he had such authority. It was an attempt to make me support Ron Paul not because I think doing so is the right thing to do, but out of an irrational fear that I could no longer call myself a libertarian.

Attempts to force people to act irrationally against their perceived interests are completely and utterly antithetical to the core libertarian philosophy. On the other hand, explaining to someone the flaws in their perception is perfectly acceptable. There is a big difference between the two.

I would suggest that Paul supporters keep this in mind if they wish to appear more ideologically consistent and persuasive in future comments, both here and at other sites.