In the course of an election year, its very easy to get caught up in the minutia of the various campaigns and election year issues. This is not to say that these issues are trivial; there were very many issues this election cycle which deserved the attention they received.
That said, I tend to think that immediately after an election is a perfect time for reflection. What is it we believe and why? What are our first principles and are we communicating these principles effectively?
I’ve read from various places that we are coming close to a “libertarian moment” or perhaps one is already underway. I do not know one way or the other to what extent this is true but I find that because outlets like Salon, Slate, and Alternet of the Left and a few anti-libertarian outlets on the Right are spending so much energy trying to convince their readers that such a moment isn’t happening quite encouraging. If libertarian ideas were not gaining at least some momentum these outlets would ignore us as in years past.
Of course these outlets do not make any effort to portray our ideas accurately. Its almost as if they go down the list of logical fallacies and hope their readers won’t do any independent research.
So what are the first principles of libertarianism then? This is a very big question, one which libertarians will often disagree. My view is that the first principles are self-ownership, voluntaryism, and the non-aggression principle (fellow TLP contributor Chris Byrne has a slightly different take worthy of consideration).
The videos embedded in this post do an excellent job illustrating these principles, especially for people who are not very familiar with them. The first video, which I have shared on various other occasions, is called “The Philosophy of Liberty.”
Pretty simple right? Share that video with your friends who get their information from Salon. They may still disagree and say that individuals should be
looted taxed to promote social justice and egalitarianism but at least they will be exposed to these ideas.
This second video by Stefan Molyneux called “Voluntaryism: The Non-aggression Principle (NAP)” is slightly more advanced taking NAP to its idealistic conclusion (Molyneux is an outright anarchist and makes no bones about it on his podcasts).
Is this all Utopian pie in the sky? Perhaps. Humanity has a long way to go before we can begin to think about beating swords into plowshares. But this does not mean that we can’t each do our part to move in this direction. Upon closer examination, what it really boils down to is following the Golden Rule, only resorting to violence defensively and as a last resort. This principle remains true whether the issue is foreign policy, local policing, or your own home.