A Columbus Day Rant

I am a libertarian “directionalist”.

This means I believe individual liberty, associative freedom, and relatively unfettered commercial exchange are “North Stars” at which we should aim over time. It means I believe we should successively progress, through commercial innovations and societal evolutions, towards communities which operate peacefully with fewer and fewer areas of coercion and prohibition.

This “directional” focus (vs “destinational”) is what allows a libertarian like me to, for instance, acknowledge the shortcomings of Thomas Jefferson while seeing his politics and philosophy as a huge step forward in the world; a man to be praised for contributing to the progress of humanity’s welfare.

On the other hand, it also allows a libertarian like me to differentiate those who were enemies to the cause of liberty. Including those that originated the transatlantic slave trade like Christopher Columbus, and those who were hell bent on preserving American slavery in the 19c like the Southern secessionists and military leaders.

These are people who harmed the cause of freedom and human welfare. They should be remembered but not honored.

Generations to come should look back on us in the same way. As with technology, we should be judged not by the standards of the future, but by how much individuals contributed towards that future during the time we had.

So many figures from the “Great Men” school of history were actually horridly destructive to the liberty and well-being of their fellow mankind; they moved society in the wrong direction. However, we can use people like Columbus and his cohort, to see and understand the limits and norms of their time, in order to more clearly see those individuals who rose above, who did better, who moved us in the right direction.

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