A Primer For Learning Liberty

A Definition:

Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians strive for the best of all worlds – a free, peaceful, abundant world where each individual has the maximum opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and to realize his full potential.

The core idea is simply stated, but profound and far-reaching in its implications. Libertarians believe that each person owns his or her own life and property, and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life – as long as he simply respects the same right of others to do the same.

Another way of saying this is that libertarians believe you should be free to do as you choose with your own life and property, as long as you don’t harm the person and property of others.

Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense), and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others). (From Libertarianism.org)

Unpacking Self Determination:

Different strains of the philosophy of freedom find root in other ideas, but for most (as we read above) the most basic virtue, foundation and tenant of liberty is this: Self-Ownership.

One of the first western thinkers to describe this philosophy was John Locke:

…every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. (Second Treatise of Government, 1689)

From this idea comes the conclusion that, if each man is his own “property”, then certain rights, authorities and responsibilities are granted to only the individual; no congregation or congress of men acting in unison, or by majority processes, may morally abrogate, repeal or do away with those most basic liberties. Continue reading