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Libertarianism is More than a Political Philosophy

From a political perspective, the ideal which drove me to libertarianism was that positions taken by libertarian candidates seemed to be rooted in how I lived my everyday life.  I don’t use force or the threat of force to control the actions of others.

The two major parties’ sole pitch to earn my vote was the promise that they would be better at controlling my life than the other candidates. In the marketplace of political ideas, the libertarian candidates were the only ones advocating freedom and publicly stating they didn’t want to control my life.

However the libertarian philosophy is not merely a political philosophy, it’s a social philosophy. This focus on maximizing human happiness forces the philosophy to deal with modern politics. Libertarians believe the best way to maximize societal harmony and prosperity is through the advancement of human respect. To the extent that we all refrain from initiating physical force against one another, each of us and therefore all of us will be better off as the foundation to maximize human happiness will be in place.

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We all learn while playing in the sandbox that in order to have friends and maximize our happiness, we can’t beat-up others and steal their stuff.   The personal values children use to guide their cooperative and peaceful social interactions are the same personal values we all use in our everyday lives. When desiring a good or services, I doubt there is a person reading this that resorts to force and violence to get the desired good or service. Instead, we use the sandbox principles of persuasion and trade to acquire what we desire. Whether it’s convincing a friend on where to grab dinner or trading for a desired product or service, we all inherently understand that our well-being and the welfare of others is maximized when we do not resort to violence and coercion to get the things we want.

Human respect is the foundation which most use to guide their everyday actions and is the bedrock of the Libertarian philosophy. While libertarianism has much to say on the current political affairs of this country, it’s a social philosophy first. Libertarianism is the study of human relations and how those relations should evolve to maximize human happiness, well being, and prosperity.  I believe that in order to achieve a prosperous and harmonious civilization we must use persuasion and voluntary trade in dealing with others (which is how 99% of persons are currently conducting their everyday lives), not brute strength or the force of government.

In our everyday lives, we do not use the barrel of a gun to force our personal values on others yet when we decide to vote for a politician we are in essence doing just that. Voting for a politician to use the gun of the state to force your beliefs on the opposing voters in society is a destructive recipe for effective human relationships. The very act of voting is an attempt to control the actions of others, voting contradicts one’s daily (libertarian) social values of persuasion and tolerance. This contradiction creates acrimony in society as everyone scrambles to control the power of the state and force their personal values on the losing members of opposing political parties. With everyone trying to use the gun of the state to force their personal values on others it’s a miracle that society stays calm and peaceful to the extent that it does.

Libertarianism is about recognizing that human respect leads to peace and prosperity and that human respect does not end where government begins. Voting does not change how coercion, guns or oppression works it simply legalizes it. Legalizing compulsion does not ensure freedom for the masses, on the contrary, the consensus of democracy has been used many times to suppress free people and free markets. Pointing a gun and forcing your values upon someone else, or voting for a politician to point a gun and force your values on someone else are not actions of a culture which is maximizing human respect and promoting human flourishing.

Interacting with others in a peaceful and voluntary manner is the foundation of the libertarianism social philosophy and the underpinning of our standard of living.  Every aspect of one’s personal and work life is usually handled from a voluntary and persuasive position. The free market of human interactions demands one treat others with cordial behavior and persuasion as no one would shop, do business with, or hire an individual who uses guns and force to achieve their goals. If individuals conducted their personal relationships in concert with governmental principles they would find success difficult as no one wants to be friends with or employ violent human beings. Civilization would quickly crumble if Americans substituted their personal values for their political values.

Everyone on a personal level is a libertarian, you cannot live a successful life hurting others and stealing their things. Government is not consistent with the ideals that lead to a peaceful and voluntary society, it needs to be decreased and eventually shut down.  We all inherently realize civilization can only flourish when we use persuasion and trade to interact with one another, not guns and coercion. If we want to maximize human happiness and prosperity we should all extend our (libertarian) social values to our political decisions and start the process of liberating society from the coercion of government.