Thursday, 9 February 2006

Stefan Molyneux - Libertarianism and "oppression"

I listen to Stefan Molyneux's podcasts (see links on the right) almost everyday of the week. An issue he raised in a recent podcast seemed intriguing.

Molyneux stated that one cannot be a libertarian if they possess no experience of being oppressed by authority, since libertarians generally desire to limit or eradicate the authority of the state. I find such a statement, quite frankly, to be shocking.

Molyneux often cites incidents in his youth which made him sceptical of the power of authority. It was developing these views which lead to his libertarianism. I'm not sure if I agree with Molyneux's reasoning here. Is there a specific psychological make up which leads to libertarian beliefs? I've never really studied psychology but I've never heard of any evidence which denotes that political beliefs are based on innate or idiosyncratic mental tendencies.

I can broadly understand the rationale behind Molyneux's claim. Yes, the state is oppressive, forceful and coercive. Any libertarian could tell you that. Nonetheless, I believe the reasons for people becoming libertarian are as varied as there are libertarians.

Some libertarians would use natural rights to justify their libertarianism. Granted, natural rights don't exist (I see no evidence of their existence), nevertheless I can see that protecting rights to life. liberty and property (or estate as Locke called it) are central tenets of libertarian belief. Other libertarians (including myself) would use utlititarianism to justify libertarianism. I personally feel that man would be happier with greater freedom, since seeking the freedom to live our life is part of human nature.

Some libertarians may simply like libertarianism because they think it's "cool". Others, like the presenters of Free Talk Live (see links on the right) felt they were "lied to" in their youth regarding the nature of government and view government as an oppressive evil. It's wrong for Molyneux to state that the only path to libertarianism is via experiencing oppression at the hands of some authority figure.