What is a Libertarian?

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From time to time I see articles on blogs or posts by my friends and family on Facebook telling us all why libertarians are naive or wrong or stupid or whatever. I don’t get upset that they think they disagree with me, but  it does bother me that 99% of the time they aren’t describing libertarianism when they think they criticize it. Who knows how they define libertarianism? It’s one of those terms that seems to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean.

I asked a cousin of mine how he defines a libertarian.  His answer was “It isn’t easy to do, but a rough definition is that they’re socially liberal and fiscally conservative.”  That isn’t even close to correct.  I told him I consider myself a libertarian, I’ve read a ton of libertarian philosophy, and that is definitely not what a libertarian is, and if he ever wants to talk more he should let me know.  He replied that it is too complicated to describe a libertarian and he never took me up on my offer to talk. He didn’t seem the least bit interested in hearing what I had to say.  It doesn’t stop him from posting completely asinine comments about libertarians though.

We “cling to old-fashioned economic systems that never worked in real life”, we worship Ayn Rand, we’re greedy, we love wall street, we’re central bankers, we only focus on the individual, we believe in “survival of the fittest”….I could go on.  Some of these may be true to some libertarians, however, some of these beliefs like, central banking, would exclude you from being a libertarian all together. Guess what? I’ve never read Atlas Shrugged, and I don’t plan on it.  I’m not an objectivist either!

The only requirement for a libertarian is that he or she believes that you should not use any violence against peaceful people.  It’s really that simple, and it applies to all people, not just the Koch brothers!  Yes, you can live in a collective and still be libertarian.