“Don’t tread on me” or “Do unto others?”

dont-tread-on-neighbor300There is a standard criticism of libertarians by Catholic opponents: that we are selfish individualists.

I cannot understand how avoiding the use of violence in dealing with others is painted as individualistic and un-Christian. I am sorely tempted to believe these critics are being deliberately obtuse. The scriptures teach that we should not do to another what we would not want done to ourselves. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t hit. Don’t harm others. Live and let live. Mind your own business.

So here is my plea for charity: Give us libertarians the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume that libertarians are all about “Don’t tread on me.” I don’t control what others do to me, only what I do unto others. That is where my libertarianism hits the road.

I ran across a very well-made video called “The Conversation.” It’s a powerful dramatization of the non-aggression principle, well-reasoned–and not religiously based–so please share it with everyone.

2 thoughts on ““Don’t tread on me” or “Do unto others?”

  1. jim canary

    It is easy to agree with your argument as posed. If indeed force is the only
    way to get what people want for the majority. I would resist the use of force.
    But what your leaving out is the Catholic concept of the Common Good.
    There are basic needs that all persons have and when these are lacking to
    a substantial number of these not only is it hurtful to individuals but it damages
    the community at large.
    For us the Person is sacred and must never be treated as an object to
    be used by others. By the same token he must not use others. To keep this
    balance we need to have the Common Good. No one is an Island. So as a
    Catholic I can agree with you as far as you go – You simply do not go far enough.

    1. Randy England Post author

      Hi Jim.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I really hear you about not treating others as objects (whether for a good purpose or not). This is why using government to initiate violence on anyone’s behalf is so wrong. There is so much to say on this (and I do not always say it well) but I invite you to listen to chapter 2 of Free is Beautiful,” Catholicism and Liberty” which is free to listen to (or download) here.


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