The Five Key Questions for the Libertarian MovementSubmitted by Marc Clair on Mon, 04/01/2013 - 11:24
Towards the end of Murray Rothbard’s speech on the the six stages of the libertarian movement he details the five key questions that libertarians need to settle among themselves in order to have a successful movement. This part of the speech starts around the 49 minute mark for those following at home. It’s certainly not necessary for libertarians to agree on every tiny little detail of what exactly defines libertarianism. Today there are debates between libertarians on topics ranging from abortion to the legitimacy of intellectual property, an issue that we will examine later this week following the upcoming debate between Stephen Kinsella and Robert Wenzel.
While these debates are important in order to help libertarians further define their views and arguments, it is not necessary that libertarians reach broad agreement on the finer details of every issue. However, Rothbard believed that there were five key issues that libertarians should reach broad consensus on.
1. The Morality of Political Action
Many libertarians believe that any political action – voting, running for office, etc. – is immoral since it legitimizes the State. Rothbard sees no reason not to use this tool that the State has given us, however ineffective it may often prove to be. But since the State isn’t going away any time soon, we may as well use these tools to our advantage.It is important to remember however, Lord Acton’s warning that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Politics should be used both to spread the message of liberty and to roll back the State when it can be, but it’s very important to remain vigilant of all politicians, particularly those running under the banner of liberty.
2. Moral vs. Utility-Based Arguments
This is the debate over whether libertarians should make arguments based on natural rights – the right to self-ownership and the non-aggression principle – or simply use “cost vs. benefit” utilitarian arguments. I’ve always held that if you have a double barrel shotgun there is no reason to only fire out of one barrel, and the same approach should be taken to libertarian arguments. If we feel we have the right ideas morally, and the right ideas practically, why not make both arguments?