THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 487, October 5, 2008
"What makes genocide and other kinds of
government-sanctioned violence possible?"
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Morals come in two flavors, morality and moralism.
Morality is that which some people practices in their own life to achieve freedom. Moralism is what some people try to impose on others to enslave them.
For example,let us consider alcohol. A person may choose to refrain from (or at least limit) consuming whiskey and beer to maintain his judgement and to avoid addiction. This is a moral decision to maintain control of his own life. He may be guided by religious precepts but it is ultimately an exercise in determining his own destiny.
Others decide that no one should be allowed to drink. they seek to use the power of the state to stop others from enjoying wine and rum even if they do so responsibly. They may seek to bolster their arguments by pointing to the role of drunk drivers in fatal accidents (like the bitch who ran over my old man, and yeah I'm not setting an example of Christian forgiveness. Deal.) and alcohol in general on homicide and other acts of violence. However, their goal is not to solve these problems but rather to prevent anyone from drinking, even the vast majority who use alcoholic beverages responsibly.
Practitioners of moralism are often hypocrites. Carrie Nation is famous for recovering from breaking barrels in saloons by drinking 80 or so proof medicinal bitters. Criminals are great moralists. They expect their victims play by rules they disregard (what was that drunk doing trying to do walking home plastered with people like me on the road!).
That is not to say there are common morals we should all share. Murder, rape, theft, lying, enslavement and recklessly endangering the lives, property, and liberty of others are unjust and we should discourage these behaviors (hey, I like extreme understatement.).
This concession to the need for a shared set of morals however does not excuse trying to bind others to your will instead of leaving them free to determine their own fate. Perhaps I am engaging in moralism instead of morality, so be it. However between morality and moralism one encourages freedom and one destroys it. Guess which one I am pushing?