Monday, July 21, 2014

Anarchist, Theist, A-hole

Chris Cantwell is a libertarian blogger who self styles himself as being “Anarchist, Atheist, Asshole”.  Save for the letter A in the second descriptor, we may be twins separated at birth.


Cantwell professes that his disdain for The State and his disbelief in a deity are mutually exclusive, that one set of beliefs does not inform or influence the other.  They are compartmentalized components of his psyche.  I’ll take his word for that.
In my case, however, acceptance of higher authority colors my libertarianism. 
It is my contention that libertarianism is, first and foremost, instinctive.  Libertarians are people who chafe at arbitrary man made rules, who are confounded by the contradictions of authoritarians who impose their illogic with force.
Our instinctive response leads many of us to seek intellectual justification and social reinforcement for our feelings.  As I see it, libertarians rest their philosophical case on  one of three distinct, but not entirely exclusive, traditions.  These are the:
1.       Objectivist moral philosophy Ayn Rand
2.       Economics based Anarcho-Capitalist of Murray Rothbard and most modern Austrian economists
3.       Classic liberalism of John Locke and fee market economics of Adam Smith which provided the intellectual grounding of the American Revolution and informs true American Conservatism

All three traditions share the concept of individual self ownership.  This radical notion was first articulated by John Locke the late Seventeenth Century:

“The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule “
“(E)very man has a property in his own person: this nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.”


Some 290 years later Rothbard concurred:
The most viable method of elaborating the natural-rights statement of the libertarian
position is to divide it into parts, and to begin with the basic axiom of the "right to self-ownership." The right to self-ownership asserts the absolute right of each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to "own" his or her own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference. Since each individual must think, learn, value, and choose his or her ends and means in order to survive and flourish, the right to self-ownership gives man the right to perform [p. 29] these vital activities without being hampered and restricted by coercive molestation.    (For a New Liberty)

Ayn Rand summarizes:
Individualism regards man -- every man -- as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being.  Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful co-existence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights -- and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.
Theist libertarians, such as I, must dissent from the theory of absolute self ownership in one very significant detail.  As Locke explains, we are not absolute owners.  Rather we endowed with a proprietary custodianship of our temporal bodies by “Nature’s God” who created us.

“But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license: though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for ours. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station willfully.”

And beyond our lives, neither are we free to forfeit our liberty, for to do so is tantamount to surrendering our humanity:

“This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man's preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases. Nobody can give more power than he has himself; and he that cannot take away his own life, cannot give another power over it.”

Thus a Theist libertarian, particularly a Catholic such as yours truly, must first and foremost insist upon the sanctity of life and all that that implies.  In our eyes, liberty is founded on the priceless value of each and every human being born and unborn, young or old, healthy or near death.  Death by drone, “preemptive” war, abortion, terrorism, euthanasia or heavy handed law enforcement is never the answer.

Secondly, we will insist on the full right to practice our Faith.  This means more than praying together in a room each weekend.  We demand freedom from State or majority coercion to accommodate those things that violate our conscience in the workplace and in our business dealings. 

Nonetheless theist, agnostic and atheist libertarians have plenty of common ground to share.  We all believe:

·         In the non aggression principle
·         That war is murder – of the people we kill and those that we sacrifice
·         Taxation is theft
·         Conscription is kidnapping
·         Monetary expansion is counterfeiting
·         Welfare destroys character, families and communities
·         Corporate cronyism destroys also destroys character, competition, inflates prices and kills innovation
·         The unfettered free market is the only just, fair and moral system for allocating the resources and the optimal method for meeting material wants and needs
·         Statism and collectivism is “the root cause of “conflict, disharmony, caste struggle, conquest and the war of all against all, and general poverty.”  (Rothbard)
·         Government corrupts and destroys every civil institution that it touches including the family, business, religion, education, marriage, agriculture, arts and sciences

We believe that voluntary charity is a natural reaction to those who are suffering through no fault of their own or are temporarily down on their luck.  However, we also stand with St. Paul who self supported his ministry with his tent making skills.  Paul admonished the Thessalonians that “when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

In the area of personal yet victimless “immorality” we find common cause.  The Church’s two preeminent philosophers did not believe that the civil authorities should prosecute victimless crime.  Such personal sins were evidence of man’s imperfection and were best left to be dealt with between him and his Maker.

As one might expect, many of us believing libertarians feel a knot in our stomachs when the conversation among our libertarian friends turns to abortion and euthanasia.  Remember that we, like Hebrew National, report to a higher authority.


So let’s agree to live by the adage of that masterful politician Ronald Reagan, “My eighty-percent friend is not my twenty-percent enemy”

Thank you, friend, for reading this.  We have of much work ahead to dismantle The State.  The rest can be sorted out later.

Related Posts:

Is Death The Answer?
The Separation of Marriage and State
Get Government Out of Marriage: An Austrian Perspective
The Diminished Value of Human Beings in the Dependency State

 

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