A Christmas Carol: A Demonstration of Libertarian Values

Eric Villarreal | United States

Every year around this time I re-watch the 1984 film A Christmas Carol to remind myself of the importance of treating others with kindness and generosity. While watching this year, though, I realized that the film demonstrates an ideal common in libertarian philosophy. The film shows a man becoming more compassionate and charitable voluntarily. This Reddit post inspired to write this short piece.

A Christmas Carol

The story begins on Christmas Eve in 1840’s London. It shows Ebenezer Scrooge as a cold-hearted and miserly banker. Scrooge has a great love of money at the expense of all other pursuits, including his fiancé. But on Christmas Eve, he is visited by manifestations of his subconscious represented by the spirits of Christmas Past and Present. They show him his errors and who he could have been as a better man.

Next, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come leads Scrooge through scenes showing an unnamed man’s recent death. Scrooge sees his colleagues discussing the dead man, a fence trading his property for money, and others expressing relief at his passing. Scrooge then finds himself in a cemetery with the spirit pointing at a headstone with his own name.

Following this, Scrooge implores the spirit to alter his fate and swears to change his ways and always honor Christmas. The following morning, Christmas morning, Scrooge donates generously to all he can. For the rest of his days, he comes to embody the Christmas Spirit.

Libertarian Values and Private Charity

Now, we can’t all have a supernatural epiphany on the virtue of generosity, of course. Nonetheless, the film serves to demonstrate an important point. People can and do become more generous voluntarily, without the action of the state. Charity exists and does not require the State to do great things for others.

With that in mind, I encourage all my fellow lovers of liberty to live by their principles and give generously this holiday season. Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen or food bank, or give money to the charity of your choice. Above all else, be generous. From mine to you and yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

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