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A spectre is haunting America- the spectre of Libertarianism. All the Powers of old America have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Bush, Pelosi, Obama, McCain, the NeoCons, the ACLU, the mainstream media.
No, wait. That's not right. What a lame way to start off an important manifesto. Better try again:
I won't tread on you. That's where libertarians need to start in the 21st century if they plan for their message and proposed form of government to take root and last longer than that of the libertarians of the 18th who started by saying "Don't tread on me." It worked for a while at least, but did not affect a lasting change in mindset and policy because it started and ended with the wrong premise, the premise of "my rights," the "me" premise. If libertarians in this century plan to make any headway in the global and respective national dialogues about politics and the proper role of government, they must turn this premise on its head. They must start thinking the other way around. And I'm not simply proposing a change in how libertarians present their views, as a mere marketing tool, but a fundamental change in our very views themselves so that they reflect more accurately the true nature of humanity. The result will not only be a more successful fight for our beliefs- we'll end up by fighting for something even better than what we were previously fighting for, a better way of thinking and a better way of living.
Libertarian thought often starts with "me" and says to others "you shouldn't violate my rights," which is certainly true, but somewhat off-putting because it's egocentric. Aside from being off-putting, it's the moral low-ground. It's moral and true, but it pushes the moral imperatives of libertarian thought off on someone else. The moral high-ground is to accept and practice the moral imperative for yourself. Libertarians would always do better to say, "I shouldn't violate your rights- I won't violate your rights." In practice this makes a world of difference. On the issue of welfare and property redistribution, for example, the first approach would sound like this: "Who are you to take my hard-earned money and give it away to the poor? Even if I should give it to them, you have no right to confiscate my property from me." The second approach is a sharp contrast to the first in both tone and content: "Who am I to take your hard-earned money and give it away to the poor when I'm likely not even giving enough myself? Even if you should give it to them, I have no right to force you to, especially when I'm not giving enough myself. How hypocritical of me would that be?" See how much more humble that is and sounds?
The first example is a challange. Its tone is antagonistic and its premise is egocentric. The second example is an invitation and a catalyst for conversation. Its tone is humble and its premise is philanthropic- motivated by love and concern for other human beings and their rights. The distinction here can ultimately boil down to these alternatives, egocentric libertarianism on the one hand, and philanthropic libertarianism on the other. It is encouraging to know that in some quarters of libertarian thought, I might be "preaching to the choir." For people who already implicitly share the premise I am advocating and who instinctively feel that it is correct, I hope that the value I offer here is to put this premise in its clearest and most explicit terms, to bring into focus and reveal to the world a new kind of libertarianism, a better kind.
Libertarians of the world, be nice!
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