Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Libertarianism in One Sentence

"Other people are not your property," writes Roderick Long:
In other words: They are not yours to boss around. Their lives are not yours to micromanage. The fruits of their labors are not yours to dispose of.

It doesn't matter how wise or marvelous or useful it would be for other people to do whatever it is you'd like them to do. It is none of your business whether they wear their seatbelts, worship the right god, have sex with the wrong people, or engage in market transactions that irritate you. Their choices are not yours to direct. They are human beings like yourself, your equals under Natural Law. You possess no legitimate authority over them. As long as they do not themselves step over the line and start treating other people as their property, you have no moral basis for initiating violence against them - or for authorizing anyone else to do so on your behalf.

[...]

I suggest that the phrase "Other people are not your property," and variations thereon, might be a more useful tool of intellectual debate than some of the other slogans we more commonly use. Why not meet every new proposal to force people to do this or that with the protest "But you don't own them," "But they're not your property"? At least this would reduce the issue to its essence.
I like the idea, except that I don't know if it slams the door -- once and for all -- on the pro-war "libertarians" who insist on using other people as property and other peoples' property to promote the idea that "others are not your property" in places like, say, Iraq (because Saddam was using other people as property).

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