Ask any level-headed libertarian if he or she exists without community and they’ll tell you “no.” No human exists free of other people. I wasn’t born from a tree and I can’t live a social life alone with a amber dachshund. Life happens with, through and around other people. Even our beloved capitalism is a system highly interdependent of other people. As a public communicator, I don’t grow my own food, process my own oil, make major repairs to my car, provide electricity to my home or any number of other tasks. I’m dependent on others for their skills as they have become dependent upon me for mine.
However. The key difference is that libertarians believe that the individual has every right to choose which community he or she will give of themselves to and allow themselves to be obligated by. As a southern American male, I live in a southern community that has low taxes and provides few government services in kind. I live around others who share similar beliefs in freedom and economic theory and culture of faith. I don’t agree with everything everyone around me believes in, but I’m content where I am at the moment.
At any time, I can leave this community and may join another, one I will pay taxes (or not), abide a culture (or not), and participate in (or not). We recognize that all humans exist within culture, and that there is a benefit and cost to each culture we choose, be they high government low freedom or low government high freedom.
What we buck is the concept that any one particular community may force individuals to participate in their culture if they don’t want to. We believe the individual must always have the choice to participate, and always the freedom to leave a different culture and community within the security of constitutional protections.
As a libertarian, one who advocates freedom over security, I’m not denying the human need for culture or other people, I’m fighting the idea that any particular culture or its voluntary participants might force me to obey that culture regardless of my individual say in the matter.
How does that translate to real life?
Imagine you’re a thirdist (as opposed to leftist or rightist), and you believe your culture is the best for everyone. So, you vote for a president who is also a thirdist and demand he/she and your thirdist politicians push thirdist beliefs on the entire nation, because you believe everyone should have the rights and obligations your party believes in.
What you have just done is force your beliefs nationwide, to make us all a faceless crowd, and destroy the freedom that is supposed to be inherent to our “Nation of Liberty.” What libertarians want is not a world with no government, (that’s peaceful anarchism, which was around long before the skinheads, believe it or not), they merely want community government to remain at the lowest level, so that should their community turn a way they don’t agree with, they’re free to go to a different community to commit themselves to. The community may hold every participant to obligation ONLY by that individuals voluntary desire to participate and benefit from what that particular community offers.
In other words, if I want to join the math club at school and STAY a member of the math club, to be able to join Math Club field trips and other events, I must voluntarily pay Math Club dues. Math Club law can only apply to me if I voluntarily participate, but I can’t visit Math Club unless I pay my dues, and can’t even stay in the room. If I want to come to the classroom and reap the benefit, I must pay my dues.
That’s exactly what voluntarism is. Math Club can’t tell me that I HAVE to stay in Math Club and HAVE to live by Math Club LAW and HAVE to stay in this classroom. I must be free to leave. Nor can Math Club push Math Club rules upon the English Club, Science Club or Garden Club because the Math Club believes its own laws are better than everyone else’s, and that everyone else will benefit from Math Club’s rules.
Math Club’s rules are great for MATH LOVERS!! And that’s great, but I’m not a math lover! And that’s the whole point, folks. Libertarians recognize that everybody in school doesn’t love math. Or science. Or English. We’re all different people with different needs and wants. We must remain free of one club ruling all the others because they believe they have it best. What they really have down are the rules for people just like them. You cannot force English Club members to live by Math Club rules. You cannot force right-wing conservatives to live by left-wing communal values. Right-wing conservatives cannot force left-wing communalists to live by their faith-based values.
Instead, let the constitution offer only laws that protect our freedoms to move back and forth between Math Club and Science Club. NOTHING more than those freedoms. Let no Federal Laws push the laws of any one club on anyone else, because one size doesn’t fit all! Freedom is the key to allowing us the movement to find the best club for ourselves, with all its benefits and obligations, within the securities of the Constitution, and no other laws forcing us to live otherwise.
That’s really the key to libertarianism. We don’t want one Club to Rule Them All. We want the country full of not only Math Club, but Algebra Club, and Calculus Club, and Statistics Club, English Club, Spanish Club, Shakespeare Club … all clubs, living their own way by their own rules with all members voluntarily joining them and contributing their very best with each other. Some clubs may fail, but it will be on their members to make it succeed. No club may take dues from any other, or demand it from everyone with the club leadership mismanages their own dues.
Is this complicated? I sure hope not. It makes perfect sense to someone who doesn’t want anyone else’s money without earning it voluntarily.