____ Those of us who favor individual freedom with personal responsibility have been unable to agree on a generally acceptable name for ourselves and our philosophy of liberty. This would be relatively unimportant except for the fact that the opposition will call us by some name, even though we might not desire to be identified by any name at all. Since this is so, we might better select a name with some logic instead of permitting the opposition to saddle us with an epithet.
Some of us call ourselves "individualists", but others point out that the opposition often uses that word to describe a heartless person who doesn't care about the problems and aspirations of other people.
Some of us call ourselves "conservatives", but that term describes many persons who base their approval of an institution more on its age than on its inherent worth.
Many of us call ourselves "liberals". And it is true that the word "liberal" once described persons who respected the individual and feared the use of mass compulsions. But the leftists have now corrupted that once-proud term to identify themselves and their program of more government ownership of property and more controls over persons. As a result, those of us who believe in freedom must explain that when we call ourselves liberals, we mean liberals in the uncorrupted classical sense. At best, this is awkward, subject to misunderstanding.
____Here is a suggestion: Let those of us who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word "libertarian".
'Webster's New International Dictionary' defines a libertarian as "One who holds to the doctrine of free will; also one who upholds the principles of liberty, esp. individual liberty of thought and action".
In popular terminology, a libertarian is the opposite of an authoritarian. Strictly speaking, a libertarian is one who rejects the idea of using violence or the threat of violence -- legal or illegal -- to impose his will or viewpoint upon any peaceful person. Generally speaking, a libertarian is one who wants to be governed far less than he is today.
A libertarian believes that the government should protect all persons equally against external or internal aggression, but should otherwise generally leave people alone to work out their own problems and aspirations.
____While a libertarian expects the government to render equal protection to all persons against outright fraud and misrepresentation, he doesn't expect government to protect anyone from the consequences of his own free choices. A libertarian holds that persons who make wise choices are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their wisdom, and that persons who make unwise choices have no right to demand that government reimburse them for their folly.
A libertarian expects his government to establish, support, and enforce the decisions of impartial courts of justice -- courts which do not recognize or refer to a person's race, religion, or economic status. If justice is to be rendered, the decisions of these courts must be as binding upon government officials and their actions as upon other persons and their action.
____A libertarian respects the right of every person to use and enjoy his honestly acquired property -- to trade it, sell it, or even give it away -- for he knows that human liberty cannot long endure when that fundamental right is rejected or even seriously impaired. A libertarian believes that the daily needs of the people can best be satisfied through the voluntary process of a free and competitive market. And he holds the strong belief that free persons, using their own honestly acquired money, are in the best possible position to understand and aid their fellow men who are in need of help.
____A libertarian favors a strictly limited form of government with many checks and balances -- and divisions of authority -- to foil the abuses of the fearful power of government. And generally speaking, he is one who sees less, rather than more, need to govern the actions of others.
A libertarian has much faith in himself and other free persons to find maximum happiness and prosperity in a society wherein no person has the authority to force any other peaceful person to conform to his viewpoints or desires in any manner. his way of life is based on respect for himself and for all others.
____A libertarian doesn't advocate violent rebellion against prevailing governments -- except as a last resort before the concentration camps. But when a libertarian sees harm rather than good in certain acts of govern- ment, he is obligated to try his best to explain to others who advocate those measures why such compulsory means cannot bring the ends which even they desire.
The libertarian's goal is friendship and peace with his neighbors at home
Aiding those who seek better understanding and greater skill
in explaining libertarian ideas is the task to which FEE is
dedicated. Anyone, anywhere, may receive FEE's monthly journal,
'The Freeman', and other studies for the asking. The services
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.................. (Text from back of pamphlet) ......................
The beliefs which identify a libertarian -- as defined
by Dean Russell -- are not the vogue today. And in their
absence grow and thrive the opposite beliefs -- label
them state interventionism, socialism, communism, Fabianism,
nazism, fascism, the planned economy, the Welfare State, or
Direct inquiries to:
The Foundation for
Economic Education, Inc.
Aiding those who seek better understanding and greater skill in explaining libertarian ideas is the task to which FEE is dedicated. Anyone, anywhere, may receive FEE's monthly journal, 'The Freeman', and other studies for the asking. The services offered by FEE depend upon voluntary financial support from the individuals, businesses, and grant-making foundations.