As Governor of Oregon, I would always seek to act in accordance with the Libertarian Non-Aggression Axiom which states that “No man or group of men may aggress against the Person or just Property of any Individual.” It basically says that a Libertarian, or anyone, should not initiate aggression against anyone’s body or property, unless that person violates your person or property.
The Libertarian Non-Aggression Axiom is really not much different from the old Hippie saw which ran “Go ahead and do whatever you feel like doing, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.” It is also in line with the real spirit of Buddhism, in my opinion (and I am not a Buddhist), in the sense of first making sure that one does no harm to another. Buddha refused to kill, and a Libertarian refuses to kill, unless attacked. And even then, since he has no pre-ordained political dogmas, he doesn’t really know what he’d do in that situation of being attacked.
Libertarianism also follows the political philosophy of that grand old Leftist Libertarian, Lord Bertrand Russell. Russell supplies us with the correct formula for political action in the face of injustice. Civil disobedience should not be carried out lightly, because the existing laws should be obeyed unless they are so repugnant to Conscience, that the Individual must refuse to obey them. If the injustice is not so heinous, then it should be opposed solely by non-violent political “agitation”, that is, peaceful political demonstrations, writing articles, giving speeches, running for elected office, the grand old Irish Capitalist weapon of the boycott, picketing, bringing legal suit, etc. These should be the methods if the injustice is not egregious. For example, the difference between opposing a tenth of one-percent sales tax levied on non-food items, and opposing Human slavery. One should be opposed by political debate, legislation, demonstrations, etc. The other should be overthrown.
One important question that arises simultaneously with the adoption of the Non-Aggression Axiom is that of what exactly is property ownership, or “just” property. This is the key to the ethical system of property rights known as Libertarianism.
Let’s say we are walking by an alley late at night, and we chance to see a young man of twenty, holding a gun on an elderly, silver-haired couple, and we hear him say, “Give me your wallets”. We assume that he is robbing them.
But say we learned that this young man had been employed by this elderly couple for a month cleaning latrines at bowling alleys, and when it came time for his monthly paycheck, the employers, that silver-haired couple we see in the alley, refused to pay him wages. Say furthermore, that after handing over their wallets, we knew the young man had removed from each wallet only the amount due to him, and not a cent more, and then had returned the wallets to the employers. Now our view of who is the scoundrel and who the innocent must face a complete reversal. We must admit that our first impression was completely prejudicial, and upon learning the facts we feel great sympathy for the young man, and great contempt for his exploiters. Because now we realize who is the just owner of the money involved in the “theft”, and who were the thieves, foiled by vigorous Libertarian action.
Libertarians also believe that for ends to be moral, the means must be also. This is one of their chief objections to taxation by the State, whom they compare to a highwayman, only worse, since the highwayman robs you once, and then goes on his way, while the State is robbing you from the cradle (look how these Liberals pile up the debt for the unborn) to the grave (the vile Estate tax, a violation of the Property Right of the Deceased to give away his property to whomever he chooses.)
Thus, Libertarianism, or Jeffersonian Minarchism, both of which are virtually identical to Classical Liberalism, the philosophy that fueled the British Liberal Party of the 19th Century, is really true Liberalism. It champions always justice in Property Rights for Individuals, for this is the only way you ever can possibly achieve Social Justice, a popular phrase of the Left, which has no meaning except in regards to Individual Property Rights. Individual Justice is Social Justice; there is no other.
And at the root of all this is the word Liberty, the word they put on all the American coins. The Freedom to “Go ahead and do whatever you want to do, as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.”
-Paul Grad, Libertarian Nominee for Oregon Governor