While I was writing the post on Gary Johnson’s platform, discussions raged on about libertarianism and libertarian positions. I got into somewhat of a fight over the difference between freedom and responsibility and while my libertarian counterpart refused to see reason, I wanted to go into a bit of detail here because I think it explains the core of my political thinking.
See, to a lot of libertarians, in fact, every libertarian I have ever debated, freedom is infinitely more important than responsibility. In fact, it seems like they only throw in responsibility at all as a means to do away with the inherent problems with unlimited freedom, they throw it in as a means to keep people from running wild, yet it makes no sense at all. Anyone familiar with libertarian politics will know that they arbitrarily draw the line on freedom where it doesn’t cause anyone else harm, but why is that? If someone is supposed to be free, what difference does it make if they harm anyone else, steal their stuff or do things which produce an unfair advantage over your opponents? The reason, although they’ll never admit it, is self-interest. They don’t want others to have the ability to harm them, thus they set this arbitrary limit on how much freedom people actually get to have. They can’t justify why they set the limits where they set them however, but I can.
Personally, I think responsibility is infinitely more important than individual freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against freedom at all, I think freedom naturally arises from responsibility and not the other way around as many libertarians do. As far as I’m concerned, you have an inherent responsibility to those around you, simply as a consequence to living in a society. The same is true on a smaller scale if you live in the same house with others, you have a responsibility to share resources, treat each other well and keep the peace. Scaled up, this works just fine for society as well.
But yes, I know, libertarians aren’t much into the social contract, in fact, their absurd ideas of natural law and natural rights go completely against it. That’s why they’re into freedom for the sake of freedom and for anyone who gets in their way, fuck them. It’s one of the primary reasons I have very little respect for libertarians.
Having responsibility first and foremost guarantees freedom, but it also guarantees interconnectivity. People are responsible for taking care of others, but everyone is also responsible for providing for themselves. It gets rid of the welfare state that the liberals love, but it also gets rid of the “I got mine, screw you” thing that the libertarians value. It recognizes that everyone is connected to everyone else and everyone plays an important role in society. If one part fails to properly operate, it harms the whole, which is why we need to hold everyone to the same high standards, such that all of us in society can continue to output at a high rate. It’s not rocket science. It just makes sense, unlike liberalism and libertarianism.
So be responsible, both to yourself and to those around you. It’s the only way that actually works.