Letter: Defining libertarians
To the Editor:
Andy Womac made some very good suggestions in his letter of Aug. 22, notably that conservatives need to be more explicit in their objections to liberal policies. I could not agree more. However, by calling himself a progressive libertarian it appears Mr. Womac is not clear what those two terms actually mean.
The basic principle of libertarianism is the non-agression principle. As stated by Walter Block in “Defending the Undefendable,” libertarianism means it is illegitimate to engage in aggression against a non-aggressor. Some say it means that and only that and is widely applicable. Hence, taxation, for example, is illegitimate because it is enforced by legalized aggression. Initiating warfare, as we have done in Iraq and Afghanistan, is likewise illegitimate.
The essential difference between conservatives and liberals is how much they are willing to allow government to control our lives. Conservatives are not against big government, they are against unrestricted government. Progressives and other liberals favor unrestricted government. Conservatives prefer the government spelled out in the Constitution, which restricts federal government to only seventeen enumerated powers. A big country such as ours requires a big, expensive government, but not one with unrestricted powers to do as it pleases. Essentially, we citizens have almost lost the power to control our government; rather it now controls us.
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