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Myth: Libertarians Don't Believe in Laws & Rules
What do liberty-minded people believe about law & order?
I often point out that much of what people believe about libertarianism is based on misconceptions or outright lies peddled by statists. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen people raise objections to libertarianism that have absolutely nothing to do with what liberty-minded people believe.
Take the issue of “law and order,” for example.
Many seem to believe that libertarians or anarchists do not believe there should be laws or rules. When discussing the matter on Twitter, one of my followers argued that our “fatal flaw” is that we don’t understand that “rules and laws are needed.”
To put it simply, this is balderdash.
Of course libertarians believe in the concept of laws. Even anarchists who reject the legitimacy of the state understand that whether we call it “law” or not, each community would have rules or guidelines by which its residents should abide.
Libertarians recognize that laws are necessary to protect natural rights and provide a framework for peaceful and voluntary interaction between individuals. However, libertarians also believe that the government's role in creating and enforcing laws should be limited to the protection of natural rights, with a focus on preserving personal liberty and promoting free markets.
The primary role of government, according to libertarians, is to protect individual rights, including life, liberty, and property. The government should ensure that individuals are free to pursue their own goals and interests without interference from others. To accomplish this, laws should be enacted to protect against fraud, theft, violence, and other forms of coercion that violate natural rights. These rules must be applied equally to all individuals, regardless of their status or position in society.
Libertarians believe that any governing authority should not interfere in the personal lives of individuals. They argue that laws that regulate personal behavior, such as drug laws or gambling laws, infringe upon individual liberty and are therefore unjust. Indeed, a government should never try to legislate personal morality.
The idea is that while certain types of behavior are immoral and should not be engaged in, the government still should not be empowered to send men with guns and badges to address them. For example, most would agree that cheating on one’s spouse is immoral and wrong. But most would not agree with the state sending officers to arrest adulterers and throw them in cages.
In the economic sphere, libertarians believe that laws should be designed to promote free markets and economic growth. They oppose laws that regulate or control the economy, such as minimum wage laws or regulations that limit competition. Instead, libertarians believe that markets should be allowed to function freely, with individuals and businesses free to engage in voluntary transactions without the state intervening.
Libertarians also believe in the concept of voluntary association, which means that individuals should be free to associate with whomever they choose. This includes the freedom to enter into contracts with others, which should be enforced by a governing authority, preferably one to which each individual consents.
To be clear, libertarians are not under the illusion that people should not adhere to rules or laws. Liberty-focused people, unlike those with a statist bent, believe in the law as a means of protecting individual rights and promoting free markets. They argue that the government’s role is to protect natural rights and should do little outside of that mandate.
The best way to create a just and prosperous society is to allow individuals to live freely and pursue their own goals and interests, while respecting the rights of others.
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