Sadder but Wiser? Maybe Not. But It’s Cool to Be a Libertarian.
As we move into a new year, it’s tempting to reflect on how far we’ve come, but equally tempting to look back and look forward — with hope for the potential for leaps and bounds. As far as we can tell so far, 2016 hasn’t been all that good or all that bad, but we can’t pretend that everything’s going to be smooth sailing every year. On the other hand, as we work through the year, we can certainly hope that things get better from here, because nothing lasts forever.
In case it’s not clear, in case you didn’t read that last sentence, that’s because this is a blog about personal freedom. It’s not a blog about libertarian philosophy, economics, or activism, although each of those topics is part of it.
You see, personal freedom itself is just one of these important political concepts. They are, in effect, a branch of political philosophy, but that’s not to say they have no place in libertarianism. We all know the basic principles, and they are the central pillars of libertarianism, and that’s what we will be talking about today.
So what is personal freedom?
Well, to begin with, it’s a way of life — a system of voluntary and decentralized interaction between individuals and groups. The freedom an individual has is the freedom that comes with their own will. The freedom they enjoy is the freedom an individual chooses to exercise at any time, by choosing whether to interact with another person or to avoid interacting at all.
This is about choice, and the core reason for being a libertarian. It’s also the reason why we can’t just give up on choice or be passive recipients of others’ choices. And it’s the reason why the people who make choices have to be responsible for them. It’s the reason why most choices involve tradeoffs between different desires and interests. It’s the reason why, at least in principle, we want to have a say about the choices we make.
On the other hand, to the extent that the freedom we enjoy is