It’s usually nice when you run across something that confirms what you already thought to be true. However, “nice” doesn’t really get you anywhere if you care about truth. The best way to find out whether or not something is true is to try as hard as you can to disprove it. Therefore I keep trying to disprove libertarianism to myself.
I know that’s not how people normally operate (Me? Normal?), but unless you search for flaws in what you believe to be true, you never get any closer to the real truth. So I am continually looking for loopholes.
Perhaps, deep down I suspect, or fear, that those who claim libertarianism can’t work in the real world may be right. Maybe this is because I am exposed, on a daily basis, to so many who try to justify their opposition. They seem to believe the only thing keeping everyone (other than themselves, of course) from becoming mass-murdering thieves is the threat of governmental punishment.
So I keep searching. After all, I’d rather BE right than BELIEVE I’m right.
I try to find the instance where it really is necessary or ethical to be the first to throw a punch; to “initiate force” in the parlance of libertarians. I look for those cases where taking property from its rightful owners for “the common good” really is the right thing to do. I look for examples where a problem was honestly solved by using the coercive force of The State.
So far, despite my best efforts, I have consistently come up empty.
Sure, there have been times I thought I had found the crack in the wall.
Usually it came as a result of someone passionately trying to justify their opposition to something I had written. Each time, for a moment, I thought to myself that perhaps this was “it”; the exception to the rule.
Every single time it turned out I wasn’t thinking the problem — or the consequences of the “solution” — through sufficiently. I wasn’t working from principles, but giving in to fuzzy thinking or emotionalism, or ignoring human nature and reality.
The people who hate the principles of liberty the most, and forcefully inform me of their opinion, are the ones who offer me the best tools to try to find the flaws I seek in libertarianism. For that I appreciate them. I wonder how many of them take the equal opportunity I offer for searching out the flaws in statism.
Kent McManigal is a freelance writer who sometimes offers commentary on our websites. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org