1 Pacifists and nonresisters like Jesus qualify as libertarians if they are consistent. These people do not personally use force against anyone, not even when they are attacked. Unfortunately, they often fail to apply their own principles to political philosophy, and they end up advocating invasion by proxy. For example, Martin Luther King and his Christian Nonresistance League conducted nonviolent protests against race discrimination, but, even though they were personally opposed to armed robbery, they advocated the welfare-state with all of its coercive expropriation and redistribution that it entails.
2 Some libertarians say they don't believe in natural rights or moral principles of any kind, yet they accept the non-aggression principle. They claim to be egoists, but many of them have worked hard to promote liberty. There should be more hypocrites like them.
3 Referring to relativists who reject natural law, Leo Strauss wrote (Natural Right and History p. 5):
They appear to believe that our inability to acquire any genuine knowledge of what is intrinsically good or right compels us to be tolerant of every opinion about good or right or to recognize all preferences or all "civilizations" as equally respectable. Only unlimited tolerance is in accord with reason. But this leads to the admission of a rational or natural right of every preference that is tolerant of other preferences or, negatively expressed, of a rational or natural right to reject or condemn all intolerant or all "absolutist" positions.
4 Leo Strauss, op. cit. p. 5.
At the bottom of the passionate rejection of all "absolutes," we discern the recognition of a natural right or, more precisely, of that particular interpretation of natural right according to which the one thing needful is respect for diversity or individuality.
Go back to the table of contents.
Go back to Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday.
This page was last updated on January 1, 2003.
This site is maintained by Roy Halliday. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.