Politics is generally one of those things passed on to children from their parents. As it was in my case, I learned a limited questioning and disgust for government from my father. He would often point out the many oppressive features of government to my brother and me as we were growing up and since he was a Republican we were Republicans. As I began to mature and develop my life philosophy I started noticing various issues which just didn’t sit well on my mind. And so began my political exploration which has brought me to this point.
My first “gee whiz” moment came with the Clinton presidency. As a “Republican” I knew that I should dislike him but some of his policies truly had me wondering why. Certainly the arbitrary conflicts in the Balkans were suspect and his administration’s attacks on personal liberties were more than deserving of disgust but he was running a balanced budget and even turned a surplus towards the end. This was a good thing so why all the hatred?
It took all of about a week to dislike Bush Jr. and looking back I have a difficult time determining if he really ever did anything at all without botching it. From the extreme secrecy in the 9/11 investigations to the tyrannical Patriot Act to the gargantuan Medicare increases to the outrageous bailout schemes, George W. Bush solidified my realization that the Republican party was harmful to my liberties. Being a former Republican it wasn’t difficult to recognize the harm caused by the Democratic Party either, so I became an independent and started an exhaustive exploration into the politics of freedom.
I must admit that I never really considered the Libertarian party as an option because they generally seemed rather loony and very much on the fringe. It wasn’t until I read Ron Paul’s Manifesto that I really gave that party a chance. After doing a great deal of research into the works of the great Austrian economists such as Mises, Hayak and Rothbard I decided that in fact maybe I was a Libertarian. The pro-liberty message of the Libertarian Party seemed to be too ideal to have anything inherently wrong with it. Ultimately I discovered that it was this extreme pro-individualism which was the downfall of the Party and the reason why it would never become a major contender in American politics – at least not in our current atmosphere. It is truly difficult to organize people into an orderly group who so strongly believe in their personal freedoms. (Ed. Note: Though these meetings are very entertaining to attend!)
Eventually I stumbled upon an article written by Walter Block entitled “Anarchism & Minarchism.” In it, he essentially argues that the differences between the anarcho-capitalist (or free-market anarchist) and the limited government (or minarchist) wings of the libertarian movement are “logically incompatible.” While he makes some very valid and compelling points I am forced to disagree with his conclusion. The unfortunate reality of the world as we live in it today requires the coercive forces of government – if but only on a limited basis. I am all for a complete freedom which entails cooperative agreements, property rights, freedom of association and liberal contract rights but I don’t feel that the rest of the world is in such a like mind. Therefore, for the sole reason of defense on a large-scale (i.e. national) level we are still in need of government.
So here I find myself as an anarcho-capitalist who is forced to be a minarchist for the foreseeable future. My philosophy can ultimately be broken down into a simple statement: coercion in whatever form is a mode of slavery. The final point of all freedom must center on the individual. If an entity coerces an individual for any reason then he is not truly free. Ask yourself if you believe to be free and then ask yourself how often you must submit to the “authority” of another by threat of violence or penalty. If a person contends to defend a policy for the “benefit of others,” put it to the coercion test. Whenever a person is forced by decree to perform or avoid any item, action or event he is no better than a slave. So long as we sit idly by and allow governments to utilize coercive methods to shape our activities we will never be truly free.