OK, if you have been reading my work for any length of time, you have probably run across at least one of my posts objecting to the Libertarian ideal. Now, I am under no delusions here; I know that I have little chance of getting a dedicated Libertarian to change their world view. I don’t write to or for those people; I write against the Libertarian ideal for the benefit of those who I might still be able to convince. It is not that I think there is anything inherently evil about the people who adhere to the principles of Libertarianism. Quite the contrary: I believe many of them are sincerely seeking to live their lives freely and in peace with others. It’s just that I see a flaw in the foundation of Libertarianism. The whole ideology is based on a fallacious assumption which is, in reality, is the same self-deception at the heart of original sin. I’m just trying to help others see and understand that this self-deception undermines the rest of the philosophical foundation upon which the Libertarian ideal is built.
Liberty depends on morality. I doubt I will find many ‘disciplined’ Libertarians who will disagree with this assertion. For a person to be self-governing there must be some idea as to what is right and what is wrong. It is this ideal of right and wrong that then allows the individual to be self-governing. So long as the individual controls his/her own actions according to this ideal, the individual has little use or need of government because they encounter little or no conflict with other individuals. And, when they do, they can usually resolve that conflict between themselves. In fact, it was the self-governing Christian that built this nation. The principles and ideals written into our Declaration of Independence can trace a direct lineage to the example set by the self-governing Christian, as evidenced in the model of the early Pilgrim and Puritan settlements in Colonial America (among others). In fact, our foundering fathers said exactly this. So, one of the fundamental principles of liberty is that there must be a sense of morality at the center of any self-governing societies.
Again, I doubt I will find any ‘disciplined’ Libertarian who will offer too much of an objection to my argument so far. So far as most of the Libertarians I have known have been concerned, so long as you do not harm anyone else in the exercise of your rights and liberty, they would argue that you should not be restrained in those rights and liberty. In short: if you’re not hurting anyone, you should be left alone – especially by the government. And, in this sense, the Libertarian might even believe their idea of self-governing is the same as that of the Christian, just without the religious aspects. But there is the fallacy in the fundamental assumption of the Libertarian ideal. There can be no morality without ‘religion’ (where ‘religion’ is understood to mean a general belief in a Creator connected to the assumption of judgment by the Creator for our actions in this life). In this sense, the self-governing Christian is very different from that of the self-governing Libertarian.
The Libertarian would claim that, since religion is a ‘private’ matter, he/she should be free from any outside religious influences – even to the point of Atheism. In essence, the Libertarian will claim that the Natural Right of conscience imparts a right to not believe in God. On the surface, this seems reasonable, but there is an inherent fallacy in this assertion. If the Libertarian ideal is predicated on the individual’s right to be his or her own governor, then the individual asserting the Libertarian ideal is claiming to be his/her own governor. In other words, the Libertarian claims to be the ruler of himself or herself. And by logical extension, this then means the Libertarian must decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, as well as what constitutes ‘harm.’ But deciding what is right and what is wrong and what constitutes harm is the work of the Creator, not the creation. For, if the individual claims the right to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, is this not a claim to be God? It must be, as moral law cannot be established by man; it must be established by the Creator. This is what Voltaire was getting at when he penned words to the effect of:
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.”
The self-governing Christian does not create his or her own idea of right and wrong because the Christian does not claim to be their own Lord. The self-governing Christian is governed by God, and therefore, by God’s law. This is what creates an objective standard by which other self-governing Christians can determine what the right action in a given situation is. This is not to say that every self-governing Christian will always make the correct decision, nor that they will even all agree as to what God’s law demands. What it means is that there is a known ideal that is known to all and which can be examined and debated so that a common understanding can be reached. However, under the Libertarian ideal, there can be as many standards as there are Libertarians. By definition, this also means there can be no fixed ideal for – according to the Libertarian ideal — so long as no one ‘harms’ anyone else, no one can claim the authority to tell another what is right and what is wrong. The consequence of this is that I can decide certain people are not people. Thus, I am free to do what I will to them as – again, by definition – I cannot harm a ‘person’ if they are not people and no one else has the authority to tell me my definition of ‘person’ and ‘harm’ is any better than theirs. Now, before you object to this, do some research: you’ll find several leading ‘ethicists’ have already made the case that parents should be allowed to kill their children up to the age of three because ‘they are not human yet.’ In fact, ‘science’ has been used to justify Eugenics in America, the Holocaust in Germany and abortion, and in every case, the justification rests on the re-defining of who is and is not ‘human.’ So, this is not an absurd example; it has already happened!
Here is an illustration of the Libertarian problem:
Suppose one man kills an eats another man and when the police arrest him and he goes to trial, he says he has done nothing wrong because the other man wanted to be killed and eaten. Suppose the man on trial says he even ran an ad explaining what he wanted to do and the man he killed and ate answered that add? What is the Libertarian to do in this case? According to the Libertarian ideal, no one was harmed because neither party was forced to do anything against their will. Both acted voluntarily. Now, again, before you think this example is absurd, do a little research. The cannibal’s name was Armin Meiwes.
Now, the Christian answer to the same problem:
After WW II, when the Allies were getting ready to hold the Nuremberg Trials, the Charter of the Tribunal encountered a problem. They could not try many of the Germans charged with war crimes because they were claiming they were merely following orders and, under the laws of the governing bodies over them at the time, what they did was ‘legal.’ The problem is that – at their heart – all laws represent what a society considers to be right and wrong, so the Allies had to find another standard by which to charge and try the German war criminals. In the end, the Allies claimed a ‘transcended’ standard; they claimed the “the law beyond the law.” German war criminals were tried according to the law of God, the God of the Bible. (John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis, MN: Dimension Books/Bethany Fellowship, 1975), 24-25)
To end this post, I would refer you to:
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
So long as God is your King and you conduct yourself according to your best understanding of His law, there is nothing wrong with doing what is right in your own eyes:
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”
But this is not what the Libertarian ideal says. In fact, the very foundation of Libertarian philosophy is based in the ‘right’ to reject any and all notion of God. Therefore, the Libertarian model puts the individual in God’s seat, and that is original sin – and the reason why the Libertarian model does not work. It violates Natural Law; the very law by which individual rights and liberty are claimed.