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More About: Philosophy: Libertarianism

How History Will See Libertarians v. Laura Ingraham

Conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham said yesterday that libertarians will always be a fringe minority.

It's a refrain that libertarians have heard hundreds of times.    It's usually followed by snide remarks about libertarians being utopian and idealistic.

At the same time, libertarians are called right-wingers by liberals, who, by doing so, reveal their appalling ignorance.

What's the sin of libertarians?  Do they hate dogs and children?  Do they want the poor to live in cardboard boxes?  Do they wear jack boots and black uniforms?

Hardly. 

Actually, their mortal sin is that they believe in non-aggression in personal and national affairs, in people owning themselves instead of being owned by the state, in being able to keep the fruits of their labor instead of having the fruits expropriated by others, in helping the poor and disadvantaged through voluntary action, and in the full array of civil liberties.

Horrible people, aren't they?

To see who is really horrible, imagine if Laura Ingraham and other critics had lived in earlier times.

If they had lived in Roman times, they would have ridiculed Christians as idealistic for wanting to stop crucifixions and the feeding of humans to lions in the Coliseum as an early form of pet food.

If they had lived in medieval times, they would have ridiculed utopians who wanted to end serfdom, burnings at the stake, and the drawing and quartering of people.

If they had lived during the Protestant Reformation, they would ridiculed Martin Luther, calling him idealistic for questioning the power of the papacy.

If they had lived during the Scottish Enlightenment, they would have ridiculed the idealism of Adam Smith, David Hume, and others.

If they had lived during the French Revolution, they would have ridiculed anyone who suggested that the guillotine might not be the best way of resolving political differences.

And if they had lived during the American Revolution, they would have ridiculed the Founders for subscribing to classical liberal principles, which are almost identical to today's libertarian principles.

At every inflection point throughout history in the advancement of humanism and human rights, there were people who were seen as utopians and idealists—as a fringe minority.  But those same people were later vindicated by history and honored for their courage and insight. 

Just think how different the United States would have been if libertarianism had been the prevailing political philosophy in 1619.  It would have been illegal to bring slaves to Jamestown that year or to anywhere else in the American colonies in subsequent years.  As a result, there wouldn't have been four million slaves in the United States by 1860, there wouldn't have been a half-million deaths in the Civil War, there wouldn't have been the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow, there wouldn't have been the terrible social and economic consequences of black welfare, there wouldn't be thousands of blacks killed by fellow blacks each year in Chicago, and there wouldn't be Black Lives Matter. 

It's astonishing that so many of today's conservatives and liberals don't understand such simple truths and thus want to continue subjugating humans to the state while ridiculing those who want to remove the remaining shackles.

Well, at least libertarians will be treated kindly by history.  A hundred years from now they will be honored for being ahead of the times, and Laura Ingraham and other naysayers on the right and left will be remembered for their lack of vision and enlightenment.  

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