Libertarianism - What is it?
Many people read about one Libertarian position or another, then after thinking "I agree with that so I must be Libertarian", decide to start describing themselves as Libertarian. Well, it's not that simple.
Although people describe themselves a conservative, liberal, socialist, communist, etc., Libertarians realize that people range across a single philosophical spectrum. At one end is maximum liberty for the individual, consistent with the rights of all other individuals, and limited only in that respect. That is Libertarianism. Libertarianism has philosophical limits based on the rights of others to their maximum liberty. At the opposite end is maximum control "for the good of society". That is Authoritarianism. With "the good of society" as a defining principle, there is no philosophical limit on Authoritarianism.
Advocates for Authoritarianism present their argument as morality vs. libertine behavior. Yet, to a Libertarian, it's all about morality. Libertarian philosophy is based on two moral principles - the Non-Aggression Principle, and the Self-Ownership Principle.
The Non-Aggression Principle states that no individual or group may initiate, or delegate, or advocate the initiation of force or violence against any other individual or group. In the rest of these dialogues, it is referred to as "the NAP". This is considered to be a sacred principle to Libertarians, right up there with "Thou shalt not commit murder".
The Self-Ownership Principle states that I own myself and the output of my labor and intellect; that insofar as I do not violate the NAP, no one and no group may tell me what I may not do or what I must do; that all legitimate associations are voluntary; and that all rights are inherent in an individual, not as part of a group. I will refer to this as the SOP in the rest of these dialogues.
Some of the most brutal acts, most horrible crimes, and the most deaths in history have been done in the name of authority "for the good of society", such as the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. In the last century alone, the efforts of just 2 authoritarian governments to remake society cost the lives of Protected content of their own people. (source: Protected content )
As a Libertarian, I know there's a better way. In the following dialogue, I'll explain how the NAP and the SOP apply to situations in our everyday lives.