Tag: personal responsibility

Libertarianism is not Self-Destructive or Unsustainable

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

A recent article by an unknown guest contributor on the Bilan Report suggested that a libertarian society is unsustainable for various reasons. Among these are the ideas that all personal freedom leads to libertinism, individualism is incompatible with the NAP (non-aggression principle), and the supposed libertarian assumption that all governance is bad. The author makes many misconceptions about libertarianism in their article. In response, this piece attempts to set the record straight on libertarian philosophy.

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Agency is Libertarian. Marijuana and Alcohol Aren’t.

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

The time is ten past three, and John Doe is enjoying himself. A college student, some older friends invited him to a massive party for the first time. However, John is not likely to remember many of the events of the night, for at that party, he consumed a rather unsafe amount of alcohol. He also ingested some edibles and, without realizing a thing, fought his best friend.

A fictional character, of course, John represents the loss of agency that a mind-altering substance commonly brings. Too many in the real world fall victim to John’s same situations, whether at parties, at a formal social gathering, or crying alone at night. The many Johns of the world are victims of lost agency.

Naturally, agency in this sense of the word is considerably different than its common use. Essentially, agency is the capacity of an actor to act consciously in a certain situation. In other words, agency is a form of personal responsibility, a trait essential to libertarianism. Drugs and other mind-altering substances, on the other hand, are antithetical to the same doctrine. As they rob people of their sense of agency, they are detriments to a free society.

Commonly, supporters of libertarianism state that the movement is about doing what so ever makes you happy. They often attack the state, saying that it robs that people of their right to live freely. In a broad sense, they are not wrong. However, they miss what is perhaps the most essential part of this message, the thing that makes freedom a sustainable goal: agency.

A world without agency will quickly dissolve into pure chaos, and there is no denying this. In modern society, the vast majority of people know that it is wrong to kill and steal from others. Also, they recognize the various social norms that we as a world adopt. These range from things as simple as wearing proper clothing, to situations as complex as how to behave in a romantic relationship. All such cases require a clear head and a sense of responsibility.

When people abandon this sense, they are often no longer aware of their own actions. In a sense, they are acting on the terms of something else besides themselves. Without a doubt, society condemns forced action between individuals. When one person holds a lethal weapon to the head of another and says to act, we know that is wrong, as it robs someone of their agency, and ability to freely act on their own terms.

Yet, we seldom are able to apply this logic beyond the confines of humans. Simply put, a human is not the only thing capable of robbing someone of their agency. An alcoholic or drug addict has little more say over their actions than does the person with a gun to his or her head. In fact, the situations are, in many ways, nearly identical.

When someone is addicted to a drug, it of course is quite hard to quit. The hardships range from physical to mental, and both can be viciously strong. Many people hooked on hard drugs need them to live their normal, day to day lives. By giving in to this power, they lose their sense of agency. Mental struggles can be nearly as difficult. Though no physical addiction exists for some drugs, such as marijuana, this does not mean a mental dependency cannot form. When it does, it can be incredibly difficult to break.

As a result, people using these substances often act much differently than they otherwise would. It is no secret that alcohol, for example, can cause severe anger. All addictions cause a compulsion to continue feeding them. In many cases, this leads to lying, sneaking, or even stealing to continue the path. Stealing does not occur in a truly free world.

Now, some may argue that these actions are extreme measures, and that moderation is the key in order to avoid them. While one can safely use in moderation, the fact of the matter is that most people simply will not do so. Yes, one can wisely stick to a drink or two and preserve agency.

However, it is better to say that none at all is the best approach, rather than condoning small amounts. With the latter, it is inevitable that people with different levels of will and tolerance will become addicted. Obviously, substance abuse has caused the destruction of countless families and lives. But, it is still important to note that a lack of agency, rather than the drugs themselves, are the real issues. Just as some can safely use in moderation, others can dangerously become addicted to other things besides drugs or alcohol.

Society should not draw the line at alcohol or marijuana or hard drugs. Instead, it should focus on eradicating addiction through recovery programs. All such programs should make clear that a clean life involves living with proper agency.

Thus, it is imperative that we recognize agency as a central tenet of freedom. Without it, freedom has little meaning, and will not last. Without legal pressure, another force must exist to maintain order in society. That force is agency. With it, we can truly set up a model of lasting freedom.


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Two Practical Tips For Every Libertarian

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Read, Read, Read

One of the first things I learned along the way of political science and philosophy has been to read as much as possible. I began with many of the classics such as Bastiat’s The Law and Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. I also read works by Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Thomas Sowell, Mises, Hayek, both Milton and David Friedman, Tocqueville, C.S. Lewis, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Bertrand Russell, George H. Smith, Ron Paul, Lawrence Reed, Anscombe, David Boaz, Kant, Grotius, Pufendorf, Francis Hutcheson, Hume, Robert Nozick, Jefferson, Douglass, John Searle, and more. Not only did I find it necessary to read people that would help to shape my ideas and point me in various directions to where I would end up today, but I have also read and continue to read people that I disagree with, for the most part, such as Marx, Engels, Hobbes, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Piketty, Rawls, Baldwin, Keynes, Machiavelli, Hegel, Heidegger, Peter Singer, Putnam, Quine, etc. I am sure I will think of other authors on both sides that I wish I put, but to save space I shall leave it at that.

Interestingly, even with those that I adore and those that I dislike, I still find things I agree and disagree with each of them. The only way to fairly judge their ideas is by reading them and finding what best works for you and reality. It strengthens your ideas and mind to think critically about everything you read, and to know the opposing views. The best way to understand your own views is to question them and to hear out those of opposing views.

Another reason to read is to lessen your frustration when in discussions or debates with people. I found that if I was getting heated in the discussion over the topic, I should instead of arguing go and read more on the topic. The more we know of a subject, the less frustrated we should be when discussing that particular subject. In the end, however, some people will still disagree with you even if you show all the evidence and carry out a sophisticated discussion. That is okay. Learn to be okay with that. Continue to read current ideas and philosophical ideas for future experiences and thoughts in order to see if your ideas will change any further. Be sure to annotate and keep a journal of what you learn along with other ideas. Don’t stop learning. Be open to discussion and exchanging ideas, have an active ideologue, and take nothing for granted.

  • Read to learn from those similar.
  • Read to learn from those opposing.
  • Read in order to be a more critical thinker.
  • Read in order to help maintain your calm and your relationships.
  • Keep copious notes.

Maintain Relationships

When we are politically and philosophically minded, we can tend to become argumentative at times and then sever relationships with people, whether acquaintances, friends, potential friends, lovers, family, etc. The first step in this article was to continue reading and learning more about your subjects of interest. I also recommend reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People because it gives an introductory approach to dealing with people, lessening conflict, and handling difficult situations of communication. It is not the only book out there for this, but it is one of the best.

Learn to adjust your anger and calm your tongue. I have struggled with this at various times of my life, I have destroyed friendships and argued with strangers, I have had social media debates, I have gone through it all. The best thing I have learned in the end is that people can and will disagree, they may carry themselves rather poorly even if you are being extremely diplomatic. Realize that they have their own weaknesses just like we do, and they are just as human as we. The more often we respond in anger, we are creating a neurological habit for ourselves that is difficult to overcome. This causes us to learn to be justified in our anger and make every excuse as to why it is okay, even when it is not.

Instead, we should do everything we can to be both realistic and understanding. We do not need to give excuses for others’ poor behavior, but we surely can control our own. We will win by having more friends than enemies, not by bending on our position, but by learning to agree to disagree. If we make enemies with people based on our ideas, philosophy, economics, history, or whatever, those that become our foes will also resent our messages even more sternly.

Lastly, just as important as it is to not have heated arguments with those outside of our beliefs, it is also most beneficial not to have internal quarrels with others that do share our beliefs in front of those that do not. The outsider will not feel welcome to be involved if they, for instance, see Minarchists and AnCaps fighting. Not everything needs to be argued, a point to be made, thoughts resisted, or a system being bucked at every given point. Like neurosurgeons, it may take time, patience, and skill to be able to change the minds of those around us. Your first test subjects should be those closest to you. If you are unable to change any of the minds around you, it may be something you can work on. This is not to say that all minds need to be changed, rather it is most practical to be able to change the minds of those that already know you and like you.

  • Personal responsibility and self-control are both essential and primary.
  • Pursue ways to establish and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Learn to agree to disagree and to be fine with that.
  • You will not win every mental battle, but with more people on your side, it is easier to win the war of minds.
  • You cannot change everyone’s mind, and that is okay.
  • Heated arguments tend to hurt more than help, and those that are watching can be put off by it.
  • Learn to realize when it is an appropriate time to debate, challenge, or question. Not every moment is appropriate.
  • Practice with friends and family.

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Victimless Crime Laws Have No Place in a Free Society

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

When our great founding fathers fought to create this great nation, they envisioned a land where every man, woman, and child would be free to pursue whatever path in life they wished. They had just rid themselves of a tyrant in King George III, and many settlers who emigrated out of Europe saw the beautiful young nation of America as a bastion of personal liberty.

People of all backgrounds traveled thousands of miles across open ocean to flee persecution of all sorts because they knew that the newly established country was a safe haven for the oppressed. The first settlers of the New World would be very disappointed to find out that less than 250 years after it was founded, America has become the same type of nation that they left those many years ago. We, much like the 18th Century Brits, are clear victims of victimless crime laws.

Countless people are convicted of victimless crimes each day, at the local, state, and federal level. Taxpayers spend millions of dollars each year to imprison those who have done something that the state has deemed wrong, yet has not directly violated anyone’s rights or harmed them in any way.

Beyond being simply not pragmatic, victimless crime laws are immoral. They suggest that the State has supreme knowledge and jurisdiction over our bodies. This is most clearly seen in laws regarding the personal, small scale possession and use of drugs. When the state controls what substances we are permitted to consume, it assumes the role of “nanny” and pretends to know what is best for us. The use of a harmful substance is a personal decision, and one that, unless it becomes an extreme addiction, is unlikely to affect others in the user’s life.

In fact, incarcerating someone for a non violent drug offence introduces them to a world of crime. Once incarcerated, new prisoners are encouraged to join gangs by other inmates and are often pushed to commit worse crimes upon their release. They are eventually caught and sentenced to even longer in prison, continuing the cycle on indefinitely. Between 2005-2010, about two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years. Cutting down on the many victimless crime laws will ensure that those convicted on minor charges are not thrust into a cycle of incarceration.

Government only has three legitimate roles- to protect life, liberty, and property. Rather than restrict the actions of citizens via legislation, the State should prosecute people once they have infringed on any of the aforementioned three characteristics of our lives. Instead of posting a speed limit and preventing me from driving at whatever speed I feel that I possess the skill to drive at and be safe, government should prosecute those whose unsafe speed caused damage to someone’s property or resulted in the loss of life or liberty. This approach allows for the maximum amount of liberty to be ensured to each individual, while punishing those who cause harm to others and their livelihoods.

Although much more free than other countries, America and her citizens have not had a taste of true personal freedom in over 100 years. Victimless crime laws are a severe infringement upon liberty and in order for the US to be considered truly free once again, must be eliminated. Government must return to protecting only Life, Liberty, and Property, and letting its citizens live life as they please.


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Personal Responsibility and The Quest for Blame

By Fritz | United States

As the year 2018 continues ahead into the Summer Season, we have yet again in America come across what has become a rather typical news story: multiple teenagers dead in a shooting carried out by a lone gunman in a high school. Not even an hour after such news breaks, before there are even details that have been disclosed, the politicization of the event is underway.

That is true on both sides of the spectrum: Immediately there are those offering condolences, thoughts, and prayers. They are almost always quickly scrutinized and belittled by a segment of individuals who are angry (rightfully so, it is quite sickening to read or watch a breaking news story in which children are dying), but they are more than angry, a quick search of whatever hashtag is being branded on the incident will show you some pretty vile responses to someone expressing their sorrow.

Then there is the wave of gun control now statuses, where you typically will read lines such as “all assault weapons need to be banned,” “we need common sense gun control,” and now even more so, the bolder “ban all guns.” The latter is becoming more and more prevalent, as the most recent shooting which claimed the lives of 10 people, most of whom were young teenage students, was not carried out with the usual AR-15 Rifle, rather this time it was a .38 revolver and a shotgun, two guns that a few weeks ago any gun control advocate would have probably argued are completely fine because they aren’t “assault weapons.”

After a few days, what then happens is what I call the “quest for blame.” It is a natural occurrence because we all typically agree that no decent, sane human being carries out such acts of unspeakable violence. In the latest case, a number of issues have been brought up for discussion, including alleged bullying of the culprit, ease of access to guns for the culprit (they .38 and shotgun in question were legally purchased and owned by his father) and even Ollie North, the next NRA President, suggesting a combination of overexposure to violence and prescribed medication as a factor.

This is exactly what it becomes: Who or what caused this to happen? And the answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one. Some people try to pin it on a culture of violence: Television is more violent, movies are more violent, video games are not only violent but nearly at the peak of realism. Yet despite these facts, almost every major study conducted on video game violence shows no data to suggest that consumers become more violent due to the content of the games themselves.

Glenn Beck and numerous voices at The Blaze are arguing that still, culturally there is an overall lack of respecting the sanctity of human life. Beck argues that it boils down to the very issues such as abortion, where everything has been stripped down to the simple mechanics of a woman having the absolute right to control anything to do with her body, including whether or not she completes a pregnancy or terminates it. (Note: I am not arguing for or against the issue here, merely presenting someone’s opinion.)

My argument is that it well may be a blending of multiple things. Take myself as an example: At the time of High School, I had already experienced losing a parent, my father, when I was merely 4 years old; when I was 9 my 12-year-old sister was diagnosed with cancer and months later passed away; I was shy, introverted, not outgoing, quiet, kept to myself, played video games and struggled with my religious beliefs. Technically, you could profile me with that information.

At that time, I probably suffered from depression, but I dealt with the issues that life threw at me in my own way. My outlet was discovering music, and I fell in love with bands that people have never heard of and discovered Power Metal, which is my musical getaway from the world and helps me tackle my spiritual struggles.

During that time, I never sought to blame something or someone for life. It simply was. I never had a violent thought in my head, yet I played the first installments of Call of Duty and God of War. I went to the gun range with Scouts. Because of my religious beliefs and personality at the time, I was kind of an outcast and a weirdo. I dealt with my fair share of bullies, but never did I want to wish harm on people because that was the complete opposite of key things I was taught growing up.

As we all continue on, the struggle remains the same: Nobody wants to wake up and see a story of kids getting killed, but not everyone believes stricter gun laws will actually accomplish the goal of reducing violence. We then remained stalled, where we currently are, and that is not a good thing either.

You can never find a true solution, but we seemingly do not examine the entire picture in trying to find several solutions that could work for the better.


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