What's a Libertarian? (A MUST READ)

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 13:48
VIEWED: 2868
PAGE 1 of 1

Wednesday, October 13, 2004 12:21 PM


With the elections getting closer I want as many people as possible to know about the Best Candidate!

By now you've probably heard at least a little something about the Libertarian party. Libertarians have had a Presidential candidate on the ballot in all fifty states for the past three election cycles, and the Badnarik campaign is well on its way to making this year's election number four. We have candidates running for local and state level positions all across the country, and currently boast over 600 Libertarians in public office. It's difficult to find a place in America where you can pick up a ballot, and not find a Libertarian running for office.

In spite of this familiarity with the party, the one question that many people still seem to have is, "What exactly is a Libertarian?"

The ideas behind Libertarianism can be traced back over 400 years, to a period in history when the concepts of individual liberty & consensual government were first finding a foothold through the writings of people like John Locke and Algernon Sidney. The right to free one's self from tyrannical government was an infuriatingly-radical notion at a time when kings were thought to be divinely-ordained rulers. It was the bravery and clear-thinking of these early libertarian writers that served as the inspiration for the American Revolution, and the founding of our country as a free and independent nation. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Declaration of Independence, which makes the libertarian case perfectly, that government should exist to secure the life, liberty, and property of every one of its citizens.

Despite the historical connection behind the ideas of Libertarianism and the roots of our own nation, today's political pundits seem to have a difficult time figuring out how to label us: People with conservative beliefs see us as "liberals" because of our outspoken defense of personal freedoms—like the freedom of expression. On the other hand, people with liberal beliefs tend to see us as "conservatives" because of our staunch defense of economic freedoms, like the freedom for people to trade with one another in a way that they decide is in their own best interest. These misconceptions say more about the prejudices of the people who hold them, than they do about the Libertarian perspective.

Despite this confusion, the Libertarian philosophy is really very easy to understand. Libertarians are, quite simply, people who believe in "Self-Ownership": You own yourself, and no one else on Earth has a higher claim to your body or your labor than you do. So long as people act in a way that doesn't interfere with anyone else's freedom, Libertarians believe that they should be free to do what they please.

The idea of "Self-Ownership" is what distinguishes us from both liberals and conservatives. Every political position that Libertarians take can be traced back to this simple idea. For example, Libertarians are opposed to "liberal" attempts to use the government to regulate people's buying practices, by imposing tariffs on certain goods & industries. We oppose this kind of regulation not because we think that all goods & industries are equally wonderful, but because we believe that people own themselves, and should be allowed to buy what they like, based on their own beliefs and values. If for some people that means buying fair-trade coffee at the local co-op grocery store, then that's great—just as long as they don't use the government's power to force other people to do the same.

Likewise, Libertarians are opposed to "conservative" attempts to use the government to regulate people's morality, by imposing laws that restrict their behavior on the Sabbath, or at the pharmacy, or in the bedroom. We're opposed to these kinds of legal restrictions not because we think that all lifestyle choices are equally worth pursuing, but because we believe that people own themselves, and should be allowed to decide how to live their lives as they see fit, so long as they aren't hurting anyone else in the process.

Wait a second...If you're not conservative & you're not liberal, then where do you fit on the political spectrum?

The traditional left-right spectrum is one that political scholars have recognized is incomplete for some time. In fact, it's really only useful for tracking the answer to one question: "What part of your life do you think government should control?" On the left-hand side of the spectrum we find people who believe that it's the government's job to regulate our economic lives—that is, our interactions with one another that involve exchange. Democrats and Green party members tend to be on this end of the spectrum. On the right-hand side, we find people who believe that it's the government's job to regulate our social lives. Republicans and Constitution party members tend to be on this end of the spectrum. This one-dimensional view of politics as something for controlling one area of life or another, explains why Libertarians cringe when we hear politicians talk about passing "bi-partisan legislation"!

The closest you can come to charting Libertarians on a one-dimensional left/right spectrum is to plot us directly in the middle of the two extremes. This is the only place on the line where you can put people who don't believe in controlling each others lives either in an economic or a social sense. However, this fails to take into account that, like all other political groups, Libertarians come in varying degrees. It also makes it difficult to find a place to put people who believe that government should control both economic and social decisions.

When you think about it, it's easy to see that the simple left/right political spectrum fails to accurately describe the various mix of political opinions held today. Several ideas have been conceived about how to address this problem—the most prominent of which has resulted in something called the "Nolan Chart", which has been used as the basis for the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" mentioned in the sidebar on this page.

More important to notice, however, is the fact that the current "two-party" political system—with its major players fitting neatly along the left/right line—fails to accurately represent the range of political opinions held by voters today. Even when you include the other "third parties", without the Libertarian party, the system fails to provide a political home for people who value both economic and social freedom. Though they all still use the rhetoric, there is no other party that is willing to trust you to make all of your own decisions, or to respect all of your rights to life, liberty, and property. There is simply no other party that can truly say its policies will allow you all your freedoms, all the time.

Libertarian ideas are ideas that people still agree with in great numbers. Unfortunately, too often people are lead to believe that they don't have a choice—that they must give up something in order to have a just society—or worse, in order to elect "the lesser of two evils"...but how can being compelled to choose between your "social" freedoms and your "economic" freedoms be anything but unjust and evil?

There is another choice: If you think as we do, and if you want to send a clear message to Washington this November—a message that, if nothing else will force politicians in both major parties to think twice about passing laws that restrict your self-ownership, then vote for the candidate that you agree with most, instead of the candidate that you fear the least. Vote Libertarian!

To learn more about how the Libertarian philosophy and it's concept of Self-Ownership is being applied to specific political issues, click below.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004 4:49 PM


Mmm, Libertarian propaganda! Yum! You're still not going to win the election, nor are you likely to change anyone's affiliation here on the board. nice try, though.

-------------------------------------------------- Gamer Rigs, Budget Prices


Wednesday, October 13, 2004 5:24 PM


I honestly wish the Libertarians had a chance to win, but they don't. So if you want Bush out, the best thing you can do is vote for Kerry. Plain and simple.



Wednesday, October 13, 2004 6:11 PM


It's good to see the Libertarians are still active. There are several running for office here locally.

While I agree with nearly everything they say, I fear their cause is doomed. People in this country want to be controlled. It's as simple as that. They have been indocrinated from birth, by media, public education and consumerist culture to blindly accept what they are given. I don't see anything like a sane libertarian society developing without radical, broad changes in our values.

All that said, I'm glad they're fighting the good fight. If nothing else it's inspiring to know there are others who see things the way I do.


"Dream a little dream or you can live a little dream. I'd rather live it, cause dreamers always chase but never get it." Aesop Rock


Wednesday, October 13, 2004 8:06 PM


This is an excellent break-down of libertarian beliefs, Crevanreaver. I don't know enough about the Libertarians to add much, but there is one missing link that I think ought to be mentioned. If people are free to make their own economic and social choices, then that also implies a responsibility to do so. The government's responsibility to its people was central in tonight's presidential debate (or so I heard - I had class and forgot to tape it), but like you said, it implies that the government *should* be responsible for either economic or social decisions. I think the Libertarians would respond to the debate by saying the people should take responsibility for themselves.
Anyway, that's my two cents. Not very well thought out, though, because it's 2 am and it's way past my bed-time.

TheGreyJedi said you wouldn't convince anyone on this board? He may be right. But you're trying to correct a misunderstanding, and that's worth something. And besides, maybe you'll reach a swing voter or two.

One last thought - a couple of people have said that the Libertarian candidate will never be elected. That's almost certainly the case. After all, we're functioning in a two-party system. But historically, the two main parties have been known to take over platforms of the "third parties" if they're popular. We might not ever get a Libertarian president. But voting for the Libertarians will help convince our future presidents to value our freedom.



Thursday, October 14, 2004 5:43 PM


I have a vote and I'm not afraid to use it!

Out of curiosity, where does a Libertarian fit on the political compass?? (I think it's
What happens if a group of people get together and decide to control all the land? dam the river? shoot all the passenger pigeons? etc. Doesn't that impinge on the freedom of everyone else? How would a libertarian society of individuals deal with these organized rogues?


Thursday, October 14, 2004 7:07 PM


Hey Rue,

I checked out that political compass website. I'm not a hundred percent on the origin of this test, but it looks like a mutilation of the Nolan Chart developed by the founder of the Libertarian Party!

Anyway, I say it's a mutilation, not because of the axes that it lays out, which are essentially the same as the Nolan Chart, but because of the test they use to place people on the chart. I'm guessing that most American libertarians would find the test terribly frustrating. Primarily this is because of the assumptions implied by the propositions it presents.

A great many of the propositions on the Political Compass test are issues which Libertarians would not even consider to be valid governmental concerns. For example, the test asks a respondant to register relative approval of homosexual activity. Now, I know there are many gay Libertarians. There are also many Libertarians who think homosexuality is a sin. But both groups agree that someones personal sexuality should be absolutely no concern of the government.

Most of the questions on this test include the implicit assumption that the issue is one of concern to government and politics. There were questions on the test concerning personal sexual morality, abstract art, luck -- there was even one on astology! The test seems to be trying to make conclusions about ones political views based on personality and preferences. I suppose these are often related, but for many people, libertarians in particular, personal tastes in art or religion
have no bearing on the proper role of government.

The makers of the test seem to be part of the European version of libertarianism (that's only a guess). I've not studied it enought to make any definitive conclusions, but it seems to be closer to a type of anarchism that rejects property rights. The American version holds that property rights are essential to any stable state of liberty.


"Dream a little dream or you can live a little dream. I'd rather live it, cause dreamers always chase but never get it." Aesop Rock


Monday, June 20, 2016 8:56 PM


Poll Johnson up to 9% in poll that includesS Stein (


Tuesday, June 21, 2016 1:13 PM


I don't see a link to the poll.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018 1:48 PM


Daniel McAdams suspended from Twitter? Executive director of the Ron Paul Institute @ DanielLMcAdams has been suspended by Twitter, as has @ ScottHortonShow

Director of Ron Paul Institute banned from Twitter

The Crackdown Continues: Twitter Suspends Libertarian Accounts, Including Ron Paul Institute Director






To any new folk, I apologize for there being incels on this board.
Thu, January 23, 2020 20:02 - 16 posts
76th Independent Battalion Part 48
Thu, January 23, 2020 10:05 - 1977 posts
Anyone watching See from Apple?
Wed, January 22, 2020 09:29 - 1 posts
Can't Stop The Serenity 2020 Art Contest submission deadline of Sunday, January 19, 2020 (until midnight PST).
Sat, January 18, 2020 02:05 - 2 posts
Anyone gotten to the end of season 3 of The Expanse?
Tue, January 14, 2020 17:05 - 22 posts
Anyone watch Prospect?
Fri, January 10, 2020 10:43 - 3 posts
Blade Runner Visual Futurist Syd Mead Has Died
Mon, December 30, 2019 22:52 - 1 posts
One shot on Ma(ude) Reynolds
Sun, December 29, 2019 10:36 - 3 posts
Avengers Infinity & End Game
Sat, December 28, 2019 12:46 - 8 posts
"The Orville" is moving from FOX to Hulu
Sat, December 28, 2019 12:37 - 23 posts
The NEW newb Welcome Mat thread...
Sat, December 28, 2019 12:27 - 168 posts
Has the FDA been complicit in intentionally mutating us??
Sat, December 28, 2019 12:25 - 31 posts