Living like a libertarian

Over time, I’ve become increasingly convinced that the best thing I can do as a libertarian is to live like one. That is, I need to live in a way that, as much as possible, doesn’t benefit from or support coercion. This is more important, and more satisfying, than political activity.

Governments offer carrots and sticks to bring people more closely under their influence. The purpose of the carrot is to get you to come within reach of the stick. Learning not to run after the carrots is the first step.

Some of the decisions are difficult. Medicare is pretty much forced on me, and I’ve been paying for it all my life. I’ve never applied for unemployment or welfare benefits. I do use public library Wi-Fi on a regular basis. I use public roads. It just isn’t possible to live completely disconnected from what’s taken from others by coercion. In a fully free society I would use the equivalent, and I’d pay for the privilege of using them. We don’t know yet how that would work in all cases. I have to live in the world that exists, even while aiming for the one I’d like to exist. At the same time, I can’t let that become a blanket excuse.

Connecting with like-minded people is important. I don’t need large amounts of company, but it’s hard to live free while being totally disconnected. I’ve become somewhat active with a local Libertarian Party group not so much for the purpose of electing candidates as for joining up with a community that values freedom. Currently I post a lot (but not all) of the items on the LPSeacoast account.

I posted remarks similar to these on Liberty.me and was mostly disappointed with the responses. One person advocated censorship in order to give censorship advocates a “taste of their own medicine.” Another talked about excluding people who didn’t practice libertarianism in the right way. Too often in libertarian circles, I’ve seen an emphasis on denunciation rather than building. It’s an understandable result of frustration, but it just leads to more frustration.

Speaking out is valuable when the purpose is to reach and persuade people, but the core has to be finding ways to live free.

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