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Libertarians adhere to one rule

link Kent McManigal

Local columnist

Contrary to what many seem to believe, libertarians are not against rules. In fact, they are defined by adherence to one rule in particular: the zero aggression principle.

It simply states: “No human being has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to advocate or delegate its initiation.” This basically means, “Don’t start violence by throwing the first punch, or by sending someone else to throw the first punch.”

Live by that rule, and you are a libertarian whether you know it or not; don’t live by it, and you aren’t libertarian, no matter what you say.

Natural law aligns flawlessly with the zero aggression principle, including the necessity of respecting the property rights of others.

Other rules are helpful for self preservation.

Following the dosage rules for medication is smart. Rules for proper food preparation or keeping your water safe to drink are necessary. Following rules for safe gun handling helps you survive. Some people don’t obey good rules and suffer the consequences.

Still other rules have evolved concerning customary behavior. Pausing at intersections and driving on the right side of the road (where this is the custom) are examples of this. These would be smart things to do regardless of laws dictating them, simply because everyone has come to expect this, and refusing to cooperate will needlessly endanger your life and the lives of innocent people.

Of course, these rules vary from place to place, so don’t fall into the trap of believing they are universal like natural law.

The legitimate rules, which are sometimes reflected in invented, statutory law, are the ones that would survive and be followed by most people without being enforced, or even written down. If you don’t follow them, you’ll probably suffer.

Most libertarians are fine with these rules, and are simply against arbitrary, unnecessary, or harmful rules.

Bad rules would soon die out without armed enforcement keeping them propped up.

Farwell’s Kent McManigal champions liberty. Contact him at:

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