You know the NAZIs were socialists right?

Plot of person freedom and economic freedom

Personal and Economic Freedom

I’m a libertarian, sometimes I google the word. A lot of outsiders have us confused with somebody else (we aren’t fascists), but many iof us use the wrong vocabulary.

How many times have you seen libertarians talk like this:

Governments the world over are becoming more and more statist and are trampling all over individual rights. Libertarians oppose the government’s belief that is has the right to tax populations, wage wars implement social programs …

Ironically, when we talk like this we remind people of Nazis. I guess they see ‘capitalism’ with that warlike language and think “extreme right”. It’s doubly ironic in that people think Nazi’s were right wing, even though they did all the classic left-wing stuff like a centrally planned monetary policy, banking, imports and exports, price and wage controls, restricted dividends, organized factories and mobilized for war.

In any case, talking about libertarianism is tough. We support free markets and some people will support us for this alone, but other people don’t see the connection between a free economy, low prices, and pulling the world out of subsistance living.

The communication problem arises we we say that Libertarianism = free markets and then leave the listener to fill in the blanks. He only leaves with the impression that we simply don’t care about anyone else (when in fact we care so deeply we’re trying to free trade!)

Thats why I like Healing Our World by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart. Her book explains libertarianism the way it should be explained: In human terms rather than economic terms.

Here is my description of libertarianism, I think it captures the essence without being so stand-offish.

Libertarianism is a philosophy that emphasizes the rights to life, liberty, property. We support free markets and free trade, low taxes, and small government. “Live and let live” is a very libertarian but we’re not hermits. Like anyone, we want nice neighborhoods, good wages, clean environments, law and order, good educational institutions, and medicine when we are sick.

How libertarians would achieve these objectives is different from other parties. Libertarians oppose any attempt to infringe individual rights, for example laws that forbid selling unpasteurized milk or a war-time draft. Libertarians believe (and history has shown) the greatest good for the greatest number of people occurs in the most free countries.

In practical terms, a libertarian government would slowly repeal victim-less crime laws (like drug laws) and bureaucratic red tape (like the gun registry). It would also repeal tariffs, regulations and subsidies, and leave the price setting to the market.

Long term, the laws governing the Canadian health, education and mail would be changed to no longer exclude private competition. Given a long enough timespan they might even become fully privatized. If that sounds extreme, don’t worry; we certainly don’t want to make drastic changes quickly. We’re just letting you know these options are on the table.

So to summarize, here are some things libertarians support.

  • Reduced taxes
  • Cutting red tape
  • Free trade
  • Free markets

And here are some things we oppose

  1. Drug Control
  2. Gun Control
  3. Big Government

The trick is being clear about what changes and what will result. It’s okay to hedge before mentioning radical changes that might upset — it’s not okay to omit them. Talking about the current state of affairs (and their respective philosophies) is usually a sign you need to rewrite with more focus on what libertarianism will do — and besides, such talk is hopelessly negative.

Addendum (Feb 3rd 2011): I found The Advocates a blog that focuses on how to advocate libertarianism.

2 Comments on “You know the NAZIs were socialists right?”

  1. Enlightenment says:

    You know what the party of the Neo-Nazi movement in Germany is called: the National Republican Party. Holy cow Republicans really are Nazis!
    Do you know who America’s highest profile libertarian (Ron Paul) had his picture taken with: a self described white supremacist named Don Black.

  2. alain says:

    Of course you are aware that the third reich was financed by henry ford and prescot bush (father and grandfather of both presidents). Of course those guys are left winged….

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