In a previous blog, I outlined the differences between republicans and democrats. I touched briefly in that blog on how they are both different from libertarianism. This time, I want to explain to people who think libertarians are conservatives who are just socially liberal why they are wrong. In fact, those people could not be more wrong. Let’s get to it.
I’m going to expand on the analogy I used in my previous blog. That analogy has to do with home insurance and how you are covered in the event of a loss. In my real life I have to answer questions about that all day long, so that’s probably why this analogy seems so fitting to me. If someone can use this to learn about freedom and insurance, so much the better. Anyone with a home and a mortgage knows that they have coverage for both the structure of their home and their personal property. What they might not know is that the coverage for each of those things is different. The physical structure of your home is generally covered on an “all-peril” basis. This means that everything is covered unless it is specifically excluded. Things that are generally excluded are things like flood and a few state specific things like sinkholes or collapse of underground mines for example. Personal property, on the other hand, is covered on a “named-peril” basis. This means that there is a list of specific things that your home policy would replace your personal property for. Most policies have a list of 16 perils that personal property would be covered for such as fire, theft, etc… If your loss was not a result of one of these 16 things, you have no coverage. It would seem obvious that the “all-peril” coverage is much better than the “named-peril”.
So how does this translate into the area of politics and its ideologies? Liberal’s believe in a powerful central government and less powerful state governments where everyone is treated exactly the same way. Historically, this ideology has been violently enforced through many laws, regulation and the military. It is a necessity with this philosophy to have a “named-peril” view of freedom. In this way, our elected officials can explain to us exactly what we can do, making everything else illegal. It has been supposed that each day, every adult American breaks an average of 3 laws without knowing it. What separates American liberalism from communist China or the old Soviet Union is that in general American liberals are anti-war/pacifists. They, at the same time, want a police state of rules, but no police. What I mean by that is that they want to make sure that everyone is equal, has equal stuff, equal rights, equal pay, equal healthcare, and has no problem using force through the government to achieve that supposed equality, but at the same time doesn’t want the state to interfere in their lives when it comes to social issues. This is “named-peril” because what you can do by law is named, everything else is illegal. This is an illusion of freedom, not freedom itself. Just because smoking weed and same sex marriage is on the approved list of things we are allowed to do does not make you free.
Liberals and libertarians both want to legalize weed and gay marriage, isn’t that the same? Libertarian’s believe in a very weak federal government, (or no government at all in some cases) where the majority of laws would be local/state in nature. Libertarianism is an “all-peril” philosophy where only the things that are illegal are named, like murder, theft, etc… In this way the government has no power to make laws pertaining to things like drug use or marriage. In other words, there is no list of what we can do, only a list of things we can’t. Since the libertarian political philosophy does not include a “social” aspect, only things that violate the non-aggression principle would be illegal. In short, things that would cause harm to others or their personal property would be illegal and things that have no effect on other people would not be named. That is a very brief description of the non-aggression principle, there is more detailed explanations online if you care to google it. Libertarianism, then, advocates for true freedom. It would be natural for some issues to overlap with differing philosophies, just like liberalism and conservatism overlap in a few areas. Both were against the bank bailouts for instance.
As you can see, there is a huge difference between the liberal position of “let me have another inch on my leash so I can smoke pot”, and the libertarian position of “you have no right to tell me I can’t smoke pot”. The truth is that in their never ending quest for sameness, the liberal must curtail freedom at every turn. Everything must be scored, not on the merit of an achievement, but on whether the achievement hurt anyone else’s feelings. They dice everyone up into groups. This is why you hear things like “the first woman to…”, “the first black man to…”, “the first Hispanic woman to…” If one group achieves something it’s only fair that every other group gets to achieve the same thing and it is a milestone when it happens and it’s some sort of ‘ism when it doesn’t. Libertarians view everyone the same.
In my opinion, the liberal view is a form of benign racism and demeaning to these “special” groups. They basically take each of these special groups, women, minorities, fat, old, gay and countless others and make them victims. Only the government can save them from not getting their fair share, what they deserve, what they are entitled to. The underlying premise is that without the help of these kind, white liberals, none of the people in any of these groups would survive. Of course, any opposition to these ideas are deemed racist, bigoted, sexist, ageist, weightist, homophobic and whatever else they can think of.
In short, do not call a libertarian socially liberal. It’s an insult.