So far, I have dedicated my posts to some fundamental frameworks that I think are particularly important to understand. Certainly, there is much more than can be expanded on in these particular topics, and in time, we most definitely will.
But in this post, I pose one crucial question: to what extent liberty?
I understand that I am going to naturally appeal to readers who will generally claim to favor liberty. Who among you would boast, “the more authoritarian our government, the better!”…?
But would you argue, “the more liberty, the better?” Or is there a limit at which point you would stop? Perhaps a different limit in different areas?
As we’ve already noted, there are different areas in which we could assess this question. “Keep government out of business,” a right-of-center (on the traditional left vs. right continuum) might argue, “but ensure that government bans the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.” A left-of-center opponent might rejoin, “We need regulation to protect the worker from exploit, but how dare we pass legislation banning gay marriage?”
Many of us have heard (and possibly used) phrases like socially conservative and fiscally liberal, or socially liberal and fiscally conservative, or some other variation. To offer some clarity, we refer back to the totalitarianism vs. liberty, or authoritarianism vs. libertarianism continuum. What is meant by the first is that a person believes in an authoritarian government in ethics (introduced in the previous post), so long as it enforces his or her perspectives on what is right and wrong, and that this person believes in a libertarian government in fiscal matters that minimizes taxation, spending and wealth redistribution.
Or for another example, the current candidate for the Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson, claims to be the second combination noted above: socially liberal and fiscally conservative. What he means, we can assume, is that he believes in a government that allows for broad liberty in ethics (he openly advocates for things that the traditional “right” has opposed, like recreational marijuana use), while believing in a government that, liked stated before, minimizes taxation, spending and wealth redistribution. (To note, Gary Johnson’s description of himself is not what libertarianism is. That’s the topic of the next post.)
And in all this, we’re still muddling about in a sort of quagmire of ideas that need so many qualifications simply to clear up the myriad of nuances raised in their suggestion alone.
This post is not meant to be conclusive, but rather, I ask my readers again: to what extent liberty? Should there be greater liberty in some areas while less in others? If so, on what basis? This is what I challenge readers to chew on. And if you like, comment below.
Yes, there are plenty of tough questions to answer, to be sure. Questions that need answering. That is a key reason why I began this blog.
And in the next post, I will start to answer those questions with a very simple premise that answers this question: on what basis can we argue for liberty? It’s actually quite simple.