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Libertarianism: Overview of the Libertarian System

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Libertarianism is described as an extreme Laissez-Faire political philosophy with little government intervention within the lives of the citizens. Laissez-Faire originates from a French term which translates to, “let do.” It is described as letting things take its own course and this political ideal specifically aims to prevent the government from interfering with day-to-day life. Usually, a strong preference towards private ownership and individual economic decisions is practiced. The primary political value is individual liberty, hence the prefix of the name. These civil liberties may include but are not limited to: freedom of thought, speech, religion, the right to assemble, and the right to one’s privacy. It’s meaning, uses, and interpretations have changed drastically throughout time but it is now commonly practiced as a capitalistic government with strong private property rights such as land, infrastructure, and natural resources. Libertarianism is often associated with Social-Anarchism, and in some places it was actually synonymous to an Anarchy, or a completely free society. It has now been distinguished into two different sides, left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism. People on the left-libertarianism side are more skeptical to the capitalistic view, and lean more towards Communism, Socialism, and Anarchism. They believe that even through mixing one’s labor and natural resources, private property will be weak. They also believe that all humans are equal in fundamental worth, giving them equal social, economic, political, and civil rights. Right-libertarians, however, strongly support the private property rights which contrasts the left-libertarians egalitarian point of view. Their political systems are more closely related to those beliefs of Anarcho-Capitalism, Laissez-Faire, Minarchism, and Liberalism. The purpose of government should be to enhance and protect the individual liberties of the citizens. Force used against them should be minimal and only to further benefit the interest of the general public. Libertarianism is the best at protecting those liberties and creating peace within the population because it limits any sort of government intervention that may infringe upon them.

An early interpretation of this philosophy was associated with Colonial Americans such as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. They focused on being governed through consent by the people, and establishing our rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and other key pieces explicitly stated in the Bill of Rights. These freedoms were established in direct response to the British control they had just overcame. During the American Revolution, the colonists fought the imperial British government with all they had to resist the invasion of their fortunes and their natural rights. After they succeeded in protecting their freedoms, the Revolutionaries knew they needed some form of guidance to keep the new colony from becoming complete chaos, but they did not want to turn back to the overpowering government that previously took away their natural rights. The purpose of this new ideology was to protect their individual rights and pursue their own conception of “happiness” through their personal successes. This is how our country came to be and began to thrive. Why would we want to change something so iconic and successful? We still practice the list of guaranteed rights they created several years ago, which are recorded in the Bill of Rights. In response to these rights, specific personal freedoms and civil liberties are guaranteed without risk of attack from a King or his minions. Religion is set free of all State imposition or interference. Now, all religions (or non-religions) can coexist peacefully, even after it has been the center of bloody wars for centuries while battling the controls of the State. If getting rid of just one overly-controlled aspect of society can terminate an abundance of brawls and create peace, imagine how many more in the past and in the future could be avoided or improve our current situation even further.

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Religion is not the only freedom provided through the Libertarian society. The “Separation of Church and the State,” is not only practiced, but it can also then be translated to “Separation of Economy and the State,” “Separation of Property and the State,” and all other interrelated aspects. In the economy, taxes are drastically reduced or even potentially eliminated. One may argue that a reduction of taxes will decrease government revenue, and consequently make them less able to provide services. However, the boost of economy offsets the lower taxes and then, in turn, increases the government’s revenue and its ability to provide useful services. The current United States corporate tax rates are beyond its global industrialized countries, whom we are competing with. The inefficiency in our tax system is created by a combination of high statutory rates and numerous deductions which then leads to a distorted corporate behavior. This high rate reduces the return to investments which discourages savings and reduces the composite amount of investments. Lower taxes promote greater long-term economic growth, improve the United States competitiveness, create higher wages/living standards, attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and boosts entrepreneurship, investment, and productivity. Also with libertarian economy, controls and regulations are eliminated, and human energy, enterprise, and markets are set free to create and produce exchanges that would benefit the whole community and the mass of consumers. The control would be lifted off of land, labor, and capital, while the purpose of government is strictly limited to protecting the rights.

The libertarian system is often shaped around the Non-Aggression Principle, or the NAP. The Non-Aggression Principle states that ethically, using any sort of aggression against a person or their property is wrong. This aggression is defined as asserting any forcible interference that may threaten an individual, their property, or their rights. Not only is this a common principle in Libertarianism, it is also a prominent idea in Anarcho-Capitalism, Classical Liberalism, and Minarchism. This idea can once again be traced back to John Locke and Thomas Jefferson with the British-American movement. They said that rightful liberty has no strings attached and that the only limits were the lines drawn by the equal rights of others. Every man has the right to their own property or to give away or exchange with the property of others. This is extreme right-libertarianism or Laissez-Faire capitalism. This not only assures the freedoms to speech, assemble, and engage in such “victimless crimes” such as pornography, paraphilia, and prostitution, which ironically would not be considered crimes at all according to Libertarian philosophy. All drugs are legal for someone to use even while knowing the risks they may be imposing on themselves, but it will not drag down or harm others. One can marry whoever they want, and do whatever they want with their own body or property with very few limitations.

There is a lot of criticism about the morality and inconsistency of the Non-Aggression Principle. One minor act of aggression is wrong, even if it brings major benefits for the rest of the general public. For example, according to the NAP, any sort of taxation is considered unethical and forcible. Theoretically, there is a possibility that by using the revenue raised from a very small, decimal-sized tax on the income of billionaires, one could come up with and provide a vaccine that saves the lives of a million other people. How could that act of aggression (the tax) be declared wrong if it produces such tremendous benefits? Who would make the determinations on what crosses the line as aggression or non-aggression if everyone is equal? Both the left and right-wing Libertarians have clashing viewpoints involving their inconsistency. However, their differing point of views is defended and enhanced by a shared focal point of this Non-Aggression philosophy. Since their main goal is opposing all aggression against the rights of people and property, the dominant and overriding aggressor that they are attempting to limit is the State. They refuse to give the State their powers, in which are deemed immoral. War is considered mass murder, conscription in war is slavery, and taxation is robbery which all in all is considered aggression and immoral.

Obviously these aggression crimes such as robbery, murder, slavery, are always going to be deemed illegal. The argument, however, is focused on the dangers proposed with the crimes, in which are no longer crimes. Some of these “crimes” include drugs, prostitution, and gambling. Unless these things impose harm or threaten anyone else, you can participate at your own free will. The strongest argument against this thinking is that although doing drugs may only inflict harm upon yourself initially, it may lead that person to commit crimes against others. However, alcohol is the most likely to lead to crimes such as homicidal auto accidents, domestic violence, and sexual assaults. There are, however, no arguments in support of prohibition since the 18th amendment, which was the repealed with the 21st amendment because it failed. Most of the crimes with narcotics are committed by addicts who are driven towards theft. If the narcotics are legal, the supply would increase, while the costs of the black market would disappear making the price low enough to eliminate this crime caused by addicts.

All political philosophies come with flaws and imperfections, but there is not one of them that saviors the personal freedoms of citizens quite like Libertarianism. Government intervention should be minimal and if there is any, it should be to further protect the natural rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. This form of Laissez-Faire is most beneficial because it promotes free-market, lower taxes, and a society in which people can make their own decisions, and trade as they wish. This is the most advantageous because it stimulates productivity as well as investments, which increases the money flow within our country, making us more competitive to other countries. Overall, Libertarianism would make our country more successful overall, and our citizens would be much happier.  

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