Sunday, 18 November 2012

Am I a Libertarian?

According to Wikipedia, "libertarianism" is defined as
a [personal] philosophy that upholds individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action. (I substituted the word 'personal' for Wikipedia's 'political')
Which is as good a definition as any, I suppose. As I understand it, as it relates to my way of thinking, it involves radical individual rights, individual freedom of choice and individual freedom of conscience.

Let me start by saying then, for example, that if I owned a bed and breakfast, even though I consider myself a fairly fundamentalist Christian, if a gay couple wanted to stay overnight, I would welcome them. I would not turn them away. It just so happens that that would be my choice. But if someone else wishes to operate their own business, according to the dictates of their own conscience, I believe they have that right. Or if a person of faith (any faith) who owns a printing business feels uncomfortable in printing invitations for a gay wedding, I believe they have the right to decline that business. I understand that this is not the law as it stands, but I think the law as it stands is wrong in this area.

If someone wants to open a business and offer their services only to albino midgets over the age of 60, I believe they have that right.

If a group of Native Canadians want to form a Native Healing Society, and restrict membership only to First-Nations people, I believe they have that right. Heck, if they want to restrict it to exclusively male Native Canadians, or exclusively female, I believe they have that right.

If a women's fitness club doesn't want to admit male members I believe they have a right to deny them.

And if a Muslim wants to open a barber shop and tell his customers that because of his religious beliefs he cannot cut women's hair, I believe he has that right. And I think any reasonable person should respect that religious perspective and travel another block or two to another barber shop. I believe that anyone with the attitude that would force someone to contravene genuinely held religious beliefs for his or her convenience demonstrates a high degree of intolerance, self-centeredness and sense of entitlement.

And I believe that only such an intolerant, self-centered busybody would launch a suit against him.

And, as I say, I wonder if that suit would even be launched if the complainant had to fund it him or herself.

Take Care

PS: In my next post I will attempt to address how I can reconcile this personal philosophy with my Christian faith.

4 comments:

Warren said...

Enough with the lame examples.

Do you believe that any privately owned business should be entitled to refuse service to or refuse to hire anyone they choose (based on race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, etc.).

Since you're a "libertarian" you presumably want to minimize government (you conveniently left that out of your definition), which means that you want to see most services provided by the private sector. Presumably you also want to minimize government involvement in education and see it privatized to the greatest extent possible. So, if you are a true libertarian and answered yes to my first question, you are presumably fine with significant sectors of our society having the potential of being completely alienated and excluded. Or, maybe you would prefer our country to become balkanized - each group keeping to itself because other groups refuse to do business with them.

No, I don't believe you are a libertarian. You might be trying to drive up your blog traffic though - and I can't blame you for that. ;)

I'm looking forward to your reconciliation post. I think libertarianism is much more in the vein of Ayn Randian atheism than of Christianity.

John K said...

Libertarian? I meant to say I was a Librarian.
Actually, perhaps what I should do so I am not held too tightly to your understanding, is remove the indefinite article, 'a' from my description. Then libertarian becomes an adjective rather than a noun. Then I should further modify it by saying I am 'somewhat' or, 'rather' libertarian. then my 'lame' examples will serve more to demonstrate how I feel about certain situations without pinning mmself down with a narrow label.
Now, to your own expamples. One can speak in theory, or practical application. There are those who think that communism, in theory, is a wonderful system, and it may be, but in practicality, it doesn't work. I suspect the same would be true about pure libertarianism. The same with Ayn Rand's concept of, "enlightened self interest." Human nature intervenes.
In theory, for instance, one wouldn't need human rights laws at all because any business's self interest would be to serve every customer who came in the door. However, because we have established so many desires, preferences and orientations as 'rights' perhaps we need to establish a heirarchy of rights. Being a person of faith, I believe my highest duty is to God, and to compromise my obedience to Him would be the greatest wrong I could do. Therefore I believe the highest right a person should have is the right not to compromise his legitimate religious faith. And I allow that right to others too. Obviously, others would not agree with me. I am just stating my opinion. I don't know of a religion who would now deny service to anyone on the basis of race or colour.
Limited government? I would sure like to see government more limited than it is now. Having said that, we need government. I don't need to mention armed forces, police and fire, even government oversight of educational standards, although the kind of governmentally enforced inclusivity we see now, the no-zero/no failure policies etc are actually diluting the quality of our education system.
Even health care. I happen to like our heath care. We have given our government permission to have the kind of healthcare system we now have, and I think it is overall, a benefit. Although a little less government monopoly and a little more private option would improve it.
Driving my blog traffic up? Probably not going to happen, and I don't really care. This blog is just an outlet for me to pour out my thoughts and receive critciism from those who disagree with what I say. From time to time I think I should wind it down anyway.

Anyway, I have typed quite enough and am starting to make spelling mistakes (there may still be some), so I'll wrap it up.
Take Care

Warren said...

You can't wind it down! Everyone else has banned me!

Warren said...

Having worked side-by-side with the author of Tea Party Revival (http://usconservatives.about.com/od/gettinginvolved/fr/Tea-Party-Revival.htm), I feel as though I gained insight into the libertarian mindset in a way that few Canadians do. "Biff" and I had many interesting conversations - even though we rarely agreed. There was the usual military bond (he's a retired Army Ranger Colonel) and he could also be amused by me because I was a Canadian - thus expected to be a socialist. By the way, Biff is also a member of Colorado Libertarians (http://www.meetup.com/lpcolorado/members/10880117/)

Based on what you've written, I'm confident that Biff would write you off as another Canadian socialist - despite your acceptance of a few libertarian ideals. From my experience with Americans, you've got to drink all of the Kool Aid before you're counted as a member of the club. Hold one view that doesn't fit with the ideology and you're out.

So, I'm sticking by my assertion that you're not really a libertarian - despite your assertion that you are. And I'm glad. American-style libertarianism and "normal" Canadian values are a truly ugly mix.