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David Boaz

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Libertarianism is not libertinism or hedonism. It is not a claim that "people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything." Rather, libertarianism proposes a society of liberty under law, in which individuals are free to pursue their own lives so long as they respect the equal rights of others. The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands; and that those rules should protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways, not aim at any particular result or outcome.
--
"Key Concepts of Libertarianism" (1 January 1999)

 
David Boaz

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Law deals not with actual individuals, but with individuals artificially defined. We cannot say that law-makers are under an illusion to the effect that all men are equal. They do not even suppose them all alike in being reasonable, or in being well informed about the law, or in being morally sensitive about their own rights or the rights of others. Law-makers have probably never been blind about the conspicuous facts of human difference. Nevertheless, the law in every community ó and not alone in modern communities ó proposes to treat certain large groups of individuals as were alike "before the law."

 
William Ernest Hocking
 

From whence are these "rights of individuals" derived, and why should we care? Unless we presume the existence of some greater power that determines what is good, isn't it arbitrary to posit that human survival is more important than private property rights, an equally artificially construed concept? Isn't it arbitrary to assume that some sort of equality is preferable to a system where, say, the poor are assumed to have bad karma? If these 'rights of individuals' are derived only from shared humanity, then do 'individuals' (a thoroughly meaningless term, by the way), begin to lose them when they act inhumanely? And isn't it totally arbitrary to grant rights to humans rather than other creatures anyway?

 
Cornel West
 

For the fundamental fact of human psychology is that society, instead of remaining almost entirely inside the individual organism as in the case of animals prompted by their instincts, becomes crystallized almost entirely outside the individuals. In other words, social rules, as Durkheim has so powerfully shown, whether they be linguistic, moral, religious, or legal, etc., cannot be constituted, transmitted or preserved by means of an internal biological heredity, but only through the external pressure exercised by individuals upon each other.

 
Jean Piaget
 

Fortunately, the Internet has the potential to revitalize the role played by the people in our constitutional framework. It has extremely low entry barriers for individuals. It is the most interactive medium in history and the one with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to a universe of knowledge. It's a platform for pursuing the truth, and the decentralized creation and distribution of ideas, in the same way that markets are a decentralized mechanism for the creation and distribution of goods and services. It's a platform, in other words, for reason. But the Internet must be developed and protected, in the same way we develop and protect markets ó through the establishment of fair rules of engagement and the exercise of the rule of law. The same ferocity that our Founders devoted to protect the freedom and independence of the press is now appropriate for our defense of the freedom of the Internet. The stakes are the same: the survival of our Republic. We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it, because of the threat of corporate consolidation and control over the Internet marketplace of ideas.

 
Al Gore
 

If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals ó if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. Now, I canít say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we donít each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.

 
Ronald Reagan
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