Libertarianism in One Lesson
by David Bergland
Perhaps the most common question put to Libertarian Party (LP)
candidates is: "What is Libertarianism?" Or, "What does the LP stand
First, let's avoid some common errors and confusion by stating that
is is not a combination of left and right positions. It does not fit
on the traditional political spectrum. That spectrum does not admit
the idea that all people have the right to control their own lives, in
all respects, and the obligation to take responsibility for themselves
and their own actions. Liberals and conservatives agree that the rest
of us are evil or incompetent or both and must therefore be controlled
by government. They differ only on which aspects of our lives should
be controlled most.
By contrast, Libertarians hold that each person has the absolute right
of self-ownership over his or her life, body, speech, action and
honestly acquired property. Each has the obligation to respect those
same rights in mutual respect for each other's right of self-ownership.
Anything that is peaceful, voluntary and honest violates no rights and
thus is not a proper subject for governmental intervention.
Law enforcement's only proper function is to assist us in defending our
rights. The only proper laws are those which penalize such conduct as
murder, rape, kidnaping, robbery, burglary, arson, trespass, pollution
and fraud. On an international scale, the U.S. armed forces should be
confined to providing security against foreign attack on American
shores. They should not be used in foreign wars.
Libertarianism is the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and
the American Revolution. Most people, most of the time, deal with each
other on the libertarian basis of mutual respect. Two groups don't:
criminals and government. Libertarians challenge the notion that
government can legitimately coerce the rest of us through taxation,
regulation, conscription and criminal penalties imposed upon peaceful,
voluntary conduct. We demand that laws be limited to their proper
functions and that government personnel be held to the same standard of
respect for our rights that the rest of us follow.
The Libertarian Party is for all people who do not want to be
controlled and who do not want to control others. On all issues we will
support increased personal liberty and reduced government control. We
know that a free society is possible and that it is practical. We are
committed to work for as long as it may take to achieve it.
2nd. ed., 2/10/84