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Libertarianism can and does work

 

October 18, 2017



From time to time someone will tell me they really like the idea of libertarianism; they only wish it could work in the real world.

This reminds me of someone confessing they like the idea of electricity, if only it could actually work. Because not only can it work, it does.

Libertarianism doesn’t just work; you are surrounded by it all the time. In fact, you practice libertarianism yourself, even if you never realized it. And so does everyone else — other than the noticeably rare, unpleasant monsters. If this weren’t the case, civilization would be impossible, and society would collapse into relentless chaos and death.

Every time you buy something instead of stealing it, you’ve put libertarianism to work. Each time you choose to not punch someone who annoys you, you’ve made the libertarian choice. If you recognize the right of self-defense against people who would injure, kidnap, steal, or vandalize — or threaten to do those things — you’ve joined the ranks of libertarian thinkers.

How does it feel to successfully use something people claim “can’t work?”

Libertarianism is nothing more than accepting that you don’t have the right to attack people or take their stuff. You probably learned this as a child. When people say they don’t see how libertarianism can work in the real world, it’s often because they desperately want to allow some exceptions, either for themselves or for others. Especially where certain jobs are concerned.

Any exception is imaginary — right and wrong don’t change depending on your job.

Everyone says they are against bullying, but almost everyone supports the bully they believe is on their side. They dream up excuses to rationalize how this bully isn’t a bully, even as he attacks people. They fantasize that the bully’s gang isn’t a gang, or that his victims deserve it. They claim society couldn’t function without these exceptions.

Almost everyone knows stealing is wrong, but most people try to find ways around this when they want something badly enough. They use dishonest words to make it sound different. So, instead of “theft,” they call it a tax or a fine, a property code or a license fee.

This lack of consistency is the trap that leads people to conclude libertarianism “can’t work,” even as they live the vast majority of their lives by its principles.

Welcome to libertarianism. Feel free to drop the exceptions you’ve been trying to justify, because they are only holding you down. Libertarianism works for everyone.

Farwell’s Kent McManigal champions liberty. Contact him at: [email protected]

 

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