What is a libertarian?
Libertarians vary. They differ on…
- why they’re libertarians.
- how fast change should be made or how far it should go.
- what will achieve those changes.
But virtually all libertarians agree that the focus should be on REDUCING (even to zero) the level of initiated violence that is legally and socially permissible.
When presented with a social problem, the libertarian’s FIRST and primary question is…
Will the proposed solution involve threats or the initiation of force, or will it rely on persuasion and perhaps even reduce the present level of initiated violence?
This is because libertarians, more than any other political philosophy, are concerned about the means that are used to achieve an end.
The libertarian has a Mental Lever in mind, that tells him or her…
- it’s wrong to initiate force to achieve social goals; persuasion and voluntary cooperation are better.
- acts of coercion are very likely to cause more harm than good.
- threats and actual, initiated violence violate the conscience and happiness of individuals.
Libertarians can share your social concerns! Libertarians include pornographers and pastors, Wiccans, Christians, and atheists, feminists or pro-lifers, environmentalists or corporate titans. They can be intensely concerned about health care, education, homelessness, terrorism, and violence on the streets.
In other words, while the libertarian is critical of statist programs — because these schemes initiate force — he or she can and often does agree, that there is indeed a social problem. And problems need solutions!
A libertarian will often be ready to join you in creating those solutions. But the libertarian will be just as concerned about the means you propose to use.
The libertarian will want to take direct, peaceful, voluntary action to solve the problem. They will not want to wait while you lobby Congress. It’s both inefficient and rude to pass a law compelling submission to one master plan. To enlist libertarian support, you’ll need a more empathetic, cooperative solution, that still leaves room for other people to try their preferred solutions.