Saturday, June 13, 2015

Libertarianism--For Libertarians....Can We Talk

Lately there is a rise in the number of people that refer to themselves as libertarians.  While this is generally a good thing, as it heralds a rise in the awareness of liberty--the down side is added mud in the water.  There are some basic terms that are associated with mere libertarianism that warrant fundamental understanding--these are ( in no particular order ) aggression, coercion, force, thinness, and thickness. So let's start, shall we.

I know of no well-grounded libertarian that objects or denounces the use of coercion; for coercion is a type of force. Aggression on the other hand is the so called initiation of force and this what I suspect most libertarians have trouble with; the difference between aggression and coercion.  It is never wrong to use coercion to repel an aggressor.

Thin and thick labeling in libertarianism, I believe, is a bit dramatized especially by people attempting to create a niche in the movement for themselves. Thickness has nothing to do with whether someone must believe in additional values or views in order to be a libertarian. Thickness states, simplified, that you hold additional values qua libertarian. That is to say being a libertarian, in that capacity, necessitates additional values. 
---note: Interestingly, while I do not agree with the thickist application I do believe that it is not enough to merely hold to thin libertarianism.

One more area that needs to be cleared up for many new or not-yet-well-read libertarians has to do with economics. Strictly speaking libertarianism is a political philosophy that is concerned only with the proper use of force and the proper assignment of property rights. It does not deal with economics in a direct sense. Specifically, most 'right' libertarians follow either the Austrian or Chicago school of economics while most 'left' libertarians follow some form of left wing economics. Theoretically you do not even need to follow economics in order to hold libertarian views; however, it's much better as a libertarian to have a strong foundation in good economics.

Further reading:
The Problem with “Coercion”

Libertarianism through Thick and Thin

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