Essence of Liberty
- Delivered-To: brojim@infowestI received this today from Jim Lorenz and felt
compelled to forward it. I hope someone will see fit to add it to the
"files" section of the forum.
This was published in the Utah Liberator a few years ago. Perhaps its
<snip> Im proud to know Mr. Nolan and count him among my Libertarian
friends. Jim Lorenz
The Essence of Liberty
by David F. Nolan (Copyrighted)
As a founder of the Libertarian Party and Editor-in-Chief of California
Liberty, I am often asked how to tell if someone is "really" a libertarian.
There are probably as many different definitions of the word "libertarian"
as there are people who claim the label. These range from overly broad
("anyone who calls himself a libertarian is one") to impossibly doctrinaire
("only those who agree with every word in the party platform are truly
anointed"). My own definition is that in order to be considered a
libertarian, at least in the political context, an individual must adhere
without compromise to five key points.
Ideally, of course, we'd all be in agreement on everything. But we're not,
and probably never will be. Debate is likely to continue indefinitely on
such matters as abortion, foreign policy and whether, when and how various
government programs can be discontinued or privatized. But as far as I'm
concerned, if someone is sound on these five points, he/she is de facto a
libertarian; if he fails on even one of the five, he isn't.
What, then, are the "indispensable five" - the points of no compromise?
1. You Own Yourself-- First and foremost, libertarians believe in the
principle of self-ownership. You own your own body and mind; no external
power has the right to force you into the service of "society" or "mankind"
or any other individual or group for any purpose, however noble. Slavery is
Because you own yourself, you are responsible for your own well-being.
Others are not obligated to feed you, clothe you, or provide you with health
care. Most of us choose to help one another voluntarily, for a variety of
reasons - and that's as it should be - but "forced compassion" is an
oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
2. The Right to Self-Defense-- Self-ownership implies the right to
self-defense. Libertarians yield to no one in their support for our right as
individuals to keep and bear arms. We only wish that the Second Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution said "The right to self-defense being inalienable..."
instead of that stuff about a "well-regulated militia". Anyone who thinks
that any government has the right to disarm its citizens is NOT a
3. No "Criminal Possession" Laws-- In fact, libertarians believe that
individuals have the right to own and use anything--gold, guns, marijuana,
sexually explicit material--as long as they do not harm others through force
or the threat of force. Laws criminalizing the simple possession of anything
are tailor-made for police states; it is all too easy to plant a forbidden
substance in someone's home, car or pocket. Libertarians are as tough on
crime. . . real crime . . . as anyone. Criminal possession laws are an
affront to liberty, whatever the rhetoric used to defend them.
4. No Taxes on Productivity-- In an ideal world, there would be no taxation.
All services would be paid for on an as-used basis. But in a less-than-ideal
world, some services will be force-financed for the foreseeable future.
However, not all taxes are equally deleterious, and the worst form of
taxation is a tax on productivity (i.e. an "income" tax) and no libertarian
supports this type of taxation.
What kind of taxation is least harmful? This is a topic still open for
debate. My own preference is for a single tax on land. Is this "the"
libertarian position on taxes? No. But all libertarians oppose any form of
5. A Sound Money System-- The fifth and final key test of anyone's claim to
being a libertarian is their support for an honest money system (i.e., one
where the currency is backed by something of true value, usually gold or
silver). Fiat money (money with no backing, whose acceptance is mandated by
the State) is simply legalized counterfeiting and is one of the keys to
expanding government power.
The five points enumerated here are not a complete, comprehensive
prescription for freedom . . . but they would take us most of the way. A
government which cannot conscript, confiscate or counterfeit, and which
imposes no criminal penalties for the mere possession and peaceful use of
anything, is one that almost all libertarians would be comfortable with.
Copyright, 1995, 1996, David F. Nolan
Whats a Real Libertarian
by Jim Lorenz, LP Washington County Utah Chair Emeritus
First I agree with the honorable David Nolans five points. But I am
sometimes asked: what is a (big L) Libertarian compared to a (little l)
My answer is: Libertarians, are pledge-signing, card-carrying, dues-paying
libertarian members in good standing of their local, state and national
Honest Libertarians believe in and act out the Libertarian way of life by
saying what they mean and doing what they say they will do, without
initiating force or fraud on any fellow human being.
Well-read Libertarians make every effort to speak and write the truth, and
to discover the verifiable truth in every point at issue. Libertarians hold
honest scholarship and thorough research in the highest regard.
Thinking Libertarians, being human and fallible, are not always totally
correct, but they are not mentally lazy and rely on sweet reason and the
logical placement of facts to buttress their arguments, in place of
pandering, playing the race card or promising other peoples money in
exchange for votes.
Independent Libertarians reserve their right to change their opinions on
issues when new or better facts become apparent. Libertarians work always
from the principle of mutual respect, not from the merely popular side of
Focused Libertarians are implacably anti-racist, anti-slavery,
anti-fascist and anti-communist, especially, when the tendrils of these evil
schemes are found within opposing American parties.
Fearless Libertarians are members of the only political party that
requires a Pledge, as a condition of membership, to disavow the initiation
of force and fraud by a single person or a mob as large as Congress, or even
as many as the non-Libertarian majority of their fellow beings.
Forthright Libertarians respect the rights of others as they expect their
rights to be respected.
Active Libertarians pay their modest party dues in advance and proudly
carry their proof of membership on their persons.
My thanks to the honorable David Nolan for stepping up to the plate and not
only helping to found the Libertarian Party, but for inventing the Nolan
which has proven to be invaluable in introducing libertarianism to hundreds
of thousands of the politically confused.
(Publish with attribution.)
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