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What is a libertarian?

Libertarians have a consistent philosophy based on the "non-aggression" principle, an ethical principle often appealed to as a basis for libertarian rights theory. The principle forbids “aggression,” which can be defined as the use of (or the threat of) coercion or force against any person or property, to accomplish an economic, political or social end. In libertarian philosophy, the only justification for any aggression is self-defense against acts (or threats) of aggression. 

What flows from this principle is the freedom of each adult to behave as he or she sees fit, provided that his or her actions do not directly hurt others.  We own ourselves, which means our bodies are our own business, and that the fruits of our labors are our own to enjoy, invest or re-distribute as we see fit.

This translates politically into some important concepts:

1. Libertarians believe government's only legitimate use of coercion is to deter individuals or groups from inappropriately using coercion on others, or punishing those found to have committed such aggression.  Libertarians cite the Declaration of Independence as the authority that limits the legitimate role of government to the preservation of our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  When government exceeds this limited role, it is acting illegitimately.

2. Libertarians seek maximum personal and civil liberties, including the jealous guarding of the Bill of Rights. Citizens who peaceably follow the non-aggression principle should have maximum liberty to pursue happiness as they define it.  When lawmakers or law enforcement agencies intrude on these liberties, they are acting in violation of the non-aggression principle.

3. Libertarians seek maximum economic liberties, including the right to pursue whatever trade or career the individual chooses free of unreasonable government limitations, and to keep the fruits of their labor, to be consumed, saved, invested or given away as each citizen sees fit.  Provided the citizen's trade or career is not in violation of the non-aggression principle, government should not intervene in any way.  Libertarians believe the coercive taxation of the fruits of a citizen's labor is a violation of the non-aggression principle.

4. Libertarians extend the non-aggression principle to foreign affairs.  Nations should engage in peaceful relations with other nations, emphasizing diplomacy, relation-building travel, orderly immigration and free trade.  Nations should refrain from using force or the threat of force to achieve political, economic or social ends.  Libertarians believe the intervention of one nation into the internal affairs of another is not only unwise, but creates instabilities that lead to war.  Certainly the existence of malevolent governments in the world means America needs to be well armed to deter aggression, but we should not initiate aggression unless under direct threat.

Paid for by Bob King for Texas-21
Kristin Abel, Treasurer
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