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The Libertarian Blank Check
by   Richard   Rieben
First Posted – 1 January 2004
Consider this – Libertarians champion a great number of behaviors that are now illegal in the cause for "liberty."

Consider this – they do not make a point of championing normal, healthy, decent human values, because most of these are not illegal.

By their emphasis, they make it seem that liberty equals libertine behavior and degenerate values, and has only passing acquaintance with decency.

At libertarian gatherings, you will often find the well-meaning liberty lover in a crowd that is mixed with degenerates (of many stripes: economic, moral, sexual, or spiritual). Decent people at these gatherings are expected to "tolerate and accept" the degenerate comments of others (and moderately degenerate behavior) on the basis that "we all value liberty and are in this together. Anything goes. Anything is acceptable."

But aren't these things legal under liberty? I mean, after all, that is what liberty advocates, isn't it?

No, liberty does NOT offer any protection to degenerate human beings from social censure and the righteous condemnation of other people. And THAT is what this crowd of libertarian degenerates gets their rocks off on – that they can be as scummy as they please, and continue to mix in and be accepted by decent human beings. (It used to be deluded "Christians" who were trying to do what they thought was a Christian-thing of "toleration"; now it is deluded liberty lovers).

Liberty does not grant, allow, condone or give permission to anything. It guarantees individual sovereignty. That is, you are guaranteed the right to do anything which does not violate the rights of anyone else, upon responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

Bounded by the equal rights of others, and without a governmental safety net for stupidity, miscalculations or poor judgment, you CAN do anything you are capable of doing, from the sublime to the foolish.

The philosophy of political liberty – and the advocacy of same – does not say that drug-taking is perfectly acceptable, for example. The acceptability of it, the sanity of it, the morality of it, is not a legal or political issue. The philosophy of liberty is focused upon boundaries, not upon neurosis. It is premised on the observation that neurosis, sin or sociopathic behavior is undoubtedly subhuman, unhealthy and insane, but also that it is self-limiting when governmental force is not brought to bear.

This is not to say that other people are to accept or tolerate such behavior. They may shun and condemn it with as much compassion and/or vitriol as the situation allows and merits. But they may not, therewith or otherwise, violate the sovereign rights of the degenerate. Cast him out, yeah, for he has no sovereign right to your association in the first place.

The point of liberty is not that it is a safe-house for degenerate behavior and/or values, but the opposite: it provides individuals absolute security in their sovereign rights, but it does not provide any security from any number of social or economic reprisals, including refusals to do business with you, to talk to you, to employ you, to sell you food, or to rent you a dwelling. You can, under liberty, and without any "safeguards" whatsoever, be cast out from all social interaction by the choices of other individuals, upon their own judgment ... whether your behavior is truly degenerate or is only degenerate in their perception.

There is no guarantee of social justice possible under any system of belief or politics. Under liberty, without the violation of rights, social reprisals may, more often than not, be just. But that's a probability outcome rather than a guarantee. You may be an innovator who is ostracized for an invention that is later acclaimed. No power on earth can guarantee that life will be fair.

In regard to other people, in regard to the judgment by other individuals, and in regard to your judgment of other individuals, liberty offers no guidance, no protection, and no comment.

The idea that because some stupid, degenerate behavior would be legal under a system of political liberty, it is incumbent upon libertarians to praise, tolerate or accept such behavior is ludicrous. As decent human beings, they should condemn it with all their power, while simultaneously fighting to their last breath and their last drop of blood to protect the sovereignty of all individuals, including, especially, those whose behavior is despicable.

Such is the condition of liberty. It ain't easy. It ain't purdy. But it's brutally honest and clear on priorities, human and political.

When I note the priority of protecting the sovereignty "especially those whose behavior is despicable," it is to underscore that liberty is a political condition of principle. The person who is defending his friend, or someone who shares his values, has an easy task, and may be less engaged in defending liberty (the principles of rights) than in defending his own personal values (which are, under liberty, politically irrelevant choices).

We have reached the stage today, where, except for the ACLU and a few other organizations dedicated to principle (rightly or wrongly in individual cases), most people prioritize values rather than the principles of liberty and individual rights. This is the premise of shared, common values, imposed by the clan upon everyone by force; it is the premise of collectivism; it is the premise of totalitarianism.

Thence, I say, especially those whose behavior is despicable, because – in the political/legal arena – that small difference between giving priority to the principles of polity or giving priority to shared personal/social values is the pivotal difference between liberty and despotism.


copyright © 2005 by Richard G. Rieben

Date: Wed 03/17/04 10:06 PM

Dear Kelly,

I just read the Libertarian Blank Check by Richard Rieben. Are all Libertarians so judgmental about degenerates as Rieben. How do we know that he isn't also a degenerate of some sort? You know, when he points his finger, he's got three fingers pointing back at himself (or up his butt). I wouldn't give out my email address either if I was him, nor will I refer the Take Liberty website. No, no thanks.


Dear Mr. S.A.,

Thank you for your response to one of Mr. Rieben's articles at takeliberty.com.

I re-read the article in question to see where Mr. Rieben was pointing fingers, but all I got from the article was that if you don't like a certain behavior (rightly or wrongly) don't pretend otherwise. Have some integrity. And at the same time be willing to defend people's right to engage in any sort of behavior that doesn't violate the rights of anyone else. The message I got had to do with having integrity.

You, obviously, got a different message.

As to bad habits or indulgences, I'm relatively sure Mr. Rieben has some, as do I, myself. Not really the point, is it? The defense of rights is different from the defense of bad habits (or of good habits, for that matter). Keeping them separate is an issue of personal honor (and of political hygiene).

In the words of Ayn Rand, "Judge, and be prepared to be judged." However, don't let that stop you from defending the rights of anyone.

By all means, do not "refer" Take Liberty if you don't like what you find on it. I support your right to make and stand by that decision, even though I would personally disagree with it :-)

Kelly Ross