Reply to Bruno Marquis on Libertarianism
Bruno Marquis says there can be no liberty in a society that is not egalitarian. To me, the worth of a society is not based on how equal people are but on how free they are to develop their potential, in the exercise of their natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Liberty means the freedom to try, not a guarantee of equal outcome. Property is what we’ve earned as a result of our effort and honest trade with others. And the right to property means we decide how to share that property. The state did not grant us those rights; they are ours by virtue of the fact that we are human beings.
The equality of which Mr Marquis speaks is one of wealth. The saying from each according to his means, for each according to his needs (Karl Marx) comes to mind. Unfortunately, as history records, communism, nazism, fascism, socialisms of all kinds have been tried, most often with disastrous consequences. Why? Because they sacrificed life, individual freedom, and the right to private property, in their eagerness to establish an egalitarian society. People don’t appreciate being treated like cattle and most want the best possible for those for whom life is a greater struggle. That’s obvious when disaster strikes an individual, family, or community. Citizens don’t need government to tell them what’s right and appropriate. Mr Marquis’ manifest loathing for libertarians, I can only ascribe to a wilful ignorance. Libertarianism is modern-day classical liberalism. It’s a conviction that an economic system based on free enterprise, free trade, and competition and a personal ethic based on responsibility, industry, self-respect, self-reliance, pride and justice are better vehicles for the creation of prosperity and an improving lifestyle for all. It’s a system that has worked without the need for a wholesale quashing of individual rights, in the process. But we must be ever vigilant for always there will be people seeking some sort of advantage for themselves, at the expense of others .... crony capitalists, pleading for government to save them from competition or bankruptcy, are examples that come readily to mind.
Classical liberalism is not appreciated by people who wish to control others. But, because it fosters the direct contact of trade and the need to satisfy the wants of others, it does end up serving society rather well.
Ronald Lefebvre, Aylmer