The Philosophy of Liberalism
Everybody loves Liberty. From Bernie Sanders and Carl Marx, to Aristotle, Confucius, and Adam Smith, one thing most intellectual thinkers agree on is Liberty. Politicians, Economists, Philosophers, Artists, they all at some point like to think and to talk about Liberty, but what does it mean?
For Libertarians, Liberty is at the core of what we believe. It defines as “the freedom to pursue your own good, in your own way, without limitations from other”. From a political point of view, it concedes that we need to respect the boundaries of others, as your own boundaries should be respected and nobody is allowed to impose their ideas and beliefs to others. But why Libertarians focus on Political and Economic Liberty, rather them other liberties? Because in this perception of Liberty resides what allows us to pursue all the other libertarian values. Without liberty we cannot achieve things that matter the most to us, but libertarians argues either liberty oath to be everyone’s primary political value, or starting with political liberty is the path to achieve all the other individual values. Liberty permit us to, as different from each other as we are, to pursue in our own way our own good and be happy.
Finally, Why to be a Libertarian? Because nobody knows what is best for you than yourself, and it is your own judgement and path that will take you to the place you want to be in life. It is shortsighted to think that your happiness should be defined by other people’s expectation. It might be frightening to take control of your life and the responsibility of deciding your future, but I promise it is worth it.
Individualism has been extremely trivialized and often associated with being selfish, thoughtless and not caring about others, when in fact Individualism is the basis of our human existence. Before being members of a society, we oath to think about us as individual cells, with different cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, knowledge, and therefore unique to the world. The special thing we bring to the world, is our uniqueness, in other words, our individual being. From this point, we can understand that we as individuals are placed in a social environment to mutually contribute and live together under a set of agreed rules - that is a Society.
Libertarians are concerned not only with general Liberty, but particularly with Individual Liberty. We believe everything individual is unique and under liberty to choose its own path he/she can flourish to be the best it can in our society, applying their uniqueness to our world. Nobody is more valuable than anybody else, and that dignity appear when we are free and equal to chose. Individualism tells us that the rules we set up and the laws we are to follow, they shouldn’t address or conceive from us as members of a collective. They should address us as individual agents, responsible for our own actions and not the actions and choices of others, and accountable for what we do.
Furthermore, Individualism isn’t the view that we are all just islands, isolated and unconnected to the continent and other people. In fact, it is perfectly consistent to be an individualist, but to believe who we are and what we do is deeply influenced by others, our families, friends and the society we live in. It is not an opposition to community but rather a way of thinking of communities that treasures our purposes’ and uniqueness’s to the world.
One of the most important foundations of Liberalism is Toleration. As I mentioned before, Liberty is the freedom to chose and not to be imposed by anyone else, and therefore it would be foolish and hypocrite trying to impose your views and beliefs to others. Rather, Libertarians believe in constructive dialogue, in argumentation and persuasion thru logic and in respecting other people’s options.
The English philosopher, John Locke wrote his “A Letter concerning Toleration” in 1689 and was one of the first Libertarians to discuss Toleration, mentioning religious toleration and the separation of powers between the Church and the State. He argued that the state of a citizen’s soul is absolutely none of the government business’s and we should all have liberty to chose and to believe in whatever we wanted, even if we strongly disagreed with their views for eternal salvation. That doesn’t mean you have to agree or endorse a different view from yours, but toleration is the basis of western dialogue
Finally, Toleration is not only limited to the government, but should be present in the fields of education, the media, culture and our private lives. Libertarians believe we should allow even the most controversial ideas to be expressed, partially because we believe not to have the right to silence other people’s opinions and partially because we believe bad ideas make great ideas in a fair context. Toleration means we Live and we Let Live.
War, What is it good for? Creating peace? Spreading democracy or boasting the economy? The answer is NOTHING.
Libertarians often say that War is the Health of the State. What they mean by that is that war makes governments stronger at the expense of everyone’s individual freedom. It empowers politicians, government agents, military staff instead of the ordinary people.
War is not a policy option that a politician has in order to solve a problem. They are horrible, traumatic events that only leaves death and destruction on its way. It makes the citizens afraid, and scared citizens are more inclined to abdicated their individual rights and liberties to the government, and once you give this power away it is very hard to have it again.
Lastly, peace generate long lasting economic prosperity. War’s economic growth due to government expenditure is short and misleading and we should never justify military intervention from an economic perspective, because even just war may have unjust consequences. War is an enemy of individual liberties and prosperity. It’s rhetoric may seem noble and make us feel safe, but should be a last resort not decided by political agenda.