Number 188, August 26, 2002


Libertarian Politics: An Oxymoron
by John Lopez

Exclusive to TLE

Libertarians recognize as self-evident the rights of life, liberty, and property. No one who calls himself a libertarian can advocate theft or murder. So why do so many "libertarians" do just that?

When someone advocates government, they are advocating theft and murder. No matter what they may say, politicians always steal from A at pistol-point and give (with the best of intentions, of course) to B. Any "government", by definition has control over the people within its jurisdiction. Even a "good" government would have "necessary functions" to carry out. To accomplish this, it must have the ways and means to enforce it's edicts. But how does such an organization accomplish this?

The moral way, consistent with the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), would perhaps be through voluntary support: donations, auctions, private payments, etc. However, such an organization could not be properly called a government. After all, the prime definition of a government is its ability to govern, that is to control. And through this control, we can then see how the question of ways and means is settled. Since the government in question has control over the people in it's reach, it simply takes what it wants by force, and kills anyone who gets in the way. No organization that is a "government" can truly operate in accordance with the NAP. Political power is nothing more than who holds the whip.

That is what we have, after all: a whip. The invisible gun. That unspoken threat behind every law, regulation, or demand. What the iron fist of control produces is not the spontaneous cooperation of the free market, but the sullen acquiescence of a slave-pen. Why do "libertarians" want to be slave-masters?

The Libertarian Party (LP) is a case in point: what are they doing, advocating "liberty" with the one hand, yet trying to gain political power over their fellow man with the other? How can these two opposites be reconciled? They can't be rationally explained -- they can only be rationalized away. How would a LP politician's will be enforced? At gunpoint. Who would pay him? You, whether you wanted to or not. And what happens if the LP'er doesn't win election next time? He proudly hands the whip over to someone else, to be used as that person desires. Only now, it's handle is a bit more polished, and we are more accustomed to it's lash. Even a "successful" politician can not truly be said to accomplish more through politics than to perpetuate and legitimize the system that binds us all. But politicians and political operatives always have an excuse for doing what they do.

Most of the arguments for participation in politics center around its "practicality". But what could be more "practical" (and immoral) than dictatorship? Get some goons with guns, take over some backwater, shoot a few people, and set yourself up like a king. Now that's practicality, brother! And come to think of it, that's electoral politics, too. On the other hand, what could be more idealistic than the Non-Aggressionn Principle? The two are opposites that cannot be reconciled -- no compromise is possible. Morality and immorality cannot be combined and the result be anything but immoral. Can water and poison make water, or just slow poison? Which would you prefer: slow enslavement, or freedom?

A good portion of the remaining arguments in favor of politics involve the idea embodied by the cry "Well, what else can we do?", or the sneer "Whadd'ya suggest instead? Just start shooting people?". These people want desperately to do something, but they really don't know what. In their desperation, they will try anything. Just like a "physician" of long ago who would bleed a patient to death in order to "cure" him, the "libertarian" politician's first act is to surrender his Principle ( and start chasing electoral power. He should remember the adage, "First, do no harm". First, don't abandon your principles.

For how can we gain freedom by self-enslavement? What does surrendering our moral and intellectual defense of our basic rights gain us? Nothing. In fact, by admitting the majority's "right" to dominate us, we lose everything. Once we have made that statement we cannot stand on principle, for we just demonstrated that we have none! We cannot claim to be different, for we are not. All that we can do is attempt to sell ourselves as cheaply as possible. We become the North Wing of the Statist Party.

So, what do we do? Well, which is worse, really -- Roosevelt, or the system that produces thousands of aspiring FDR's every year? Our continuing slide into fascism, or the process that enables it? In terms of "practicality", should we stop termites one at a time, or kill the queen? Defeating the statist-of-the-moment (Ashcroft, Bush, Clinton, Nixon, Lincoln, King George, Caesar, etc.) gains us nothing, because ten more are ready to replace him. We have to defeat the source. Politics itself, not the politician, is the enemy.

We must repudiate the fundamental idea of politics: that our lives are not our own, but belong instead to whoever gains political power. We have to defeat the means, not the man. Refusing to participate in politics denies our enemies a powerful weapon -- our own moral sanction of our enslavement and murder. It is a first step, but a necessary one.


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