Liberty is the Foundation of all other Values
Libertarians value liberty above all other values – to the exclusion of all other values! Libertarian don’t care about a darned thing other than their own liberty. Screw brotherhood, forget about mutual aid, never mind this nonsense talk of caring for fellow human beings. It’s liberty, rock and roll and free drugs, dude. That’s libertarianism in a nutshell.
No, I haven’t been brainwashed by the CIA. I read Jeffrey Sachs’ column called Libertarian Illusions at the Huffington Post. Sachs is a university professor and he has this column at HuffPo, so he must be right … right?!
In fact, libertarians value our liberty so dearly precisely so that we may exercise the freedom to value all these other things Sachs mentions, namely: “compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable.”
Without the freedom to choose, I am not allowed to have values. If my life is disposed of by someone else, what do I have to donate to the Red Cross? Where do I find the time to distribute fully informed jury pamphlets in pursuit of greater justice? Without my liberty, I am responsible for nothing as they are simply two sides of the same coin. Honesty has no relevance to a slave, who rightfully deceives his oppressors to regain the birthright that is his freedom. How can I care for the “poor, weak and vulnerable” if I am one of them?
Here are some hard, concrete examples:
- Compassion. Libertarian friends of mine in at least Philadelphia (see video at right) and New Hampshire distributed food for free for Thanksgiving to families who needed it.
- Justice. Julian Heicklen and many other libertarians I know (including myself) risk jail to inform jurors about their right to judge not just the facts of a case, but also the law in question – and to acquit people accused of unjust laws. Cop Block is a libertarian group that documents police misdeeds and encourages activists to keep cops in check. Libertarians are actually leading the way on seeking greater justice in the US.
- Civic responsibility. Libertarians are huge on responsibility. We encourage people to serve on juries. We do open carry park cleanups. We support people who are caged by the state with advocacy, visits and gifts.
- Honesty. Libertarians are so brutally honest that it gets us in trouble. But we continue to be brutally honest anyway. Consider Ron Paul who stands up in congress on a regular basis to tell one inconvenient truth after another. From the Federal Reserve, to the TSA, to militarism and the police state.
- Decency. Consider these Philadelphia libertarians who set up a warming station at Occupy Philadelphia in winter. They distributed 7,000 pounds of organic food in 7 weeks as well as 700 cups of hot tea to occupiers (see video below at right). Also consider the Fr33 Aid group who provide free medical care at certain events. With funding, I don’t doubt that they could expand their very valuable work.
- Humility. Consider entertainer Penn Jillette. He’s a libertarian, too. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers. He doesn’t pretend to know what is best for everyone. How should society fix poverty? He doesn’t know. He only does his share. He is too humble to propose one-size-fits-all solutions. He thinks everyone should be free to define their own path through life. This attitude is central to libertarianism and I can’t imagine a humbler one in the political arena.
- Respect. Respect is where libertarians are strongest! The foundation of our philosophy is respect for each and every individual. We absolutely and unconditionally demand that each and every individual’s choices and integrity be respected. We put ourselves on the line for causes like respecting people’s dignity in airports and respecting the sanctity of individuals’ homes.
- Survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable. But we’re repeating ourselves now. See above.
Libertarians don’t just drone on about these values from comfortable podiums in well-funded Ivy League universities. We go out and do it. We put our freedom on the line for it. We risk poverty and oppression for our beliefs. We often suffer for it. But we keep on going. Even when people with HuffPo columns can’t be bothered to actually have a conversation before strawmanning us. I personally expect a higher level of scholarship from an academic.
Photo Credit: unnamed CC-BY-SA