The word "libertarianism" has erupted into our cultural lexicon as we see the political and cultural disintegration of the United States into extreme debt, division, authoritarianism, and a seemingly endless cycle of the welfare and warfare state.
The Left is still blaming Bush, the Right is still blaming Obama, both sides claim the mantle of the Constitution. In reality, both sides are wrong. Both sides have betrayed the original philosophy behind the American republic and its libertarian heritage that extends back to Magna Charta. Instead of buying the propaganda of the professional political establishments of the Democrat and Republican parties, a groundswell of people are considering a different way that doesn't empower the state, but rather limits it, or theoretically even dissolves it, leaving people themselves empowered to live out their lives seeking harmony with others around them based on the right to life, liberty, and property.
There are many terms for these concepts: libertarianism, voluntaryism, the non-aggression principle (NAP), miniarchism, anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, etc. There are some differences between the terms, both in emphases and in the acceptance of some different premises, but the overarching similarities are greater. All of these terms embrace personal liberty, personal responsibility, economic freedom to work and hire and make contracts, respect for private property, freedom of travel and trade within the realm of private property, all without relying on the state as a monopoly of violence and a tool for the forcible transfer of wealth for social ends and goals.
While no political or economic system will ever create a Utopia, and, as Jesus taught, we will always have the poor among us in this fallen world, societies that embrace more freedom and less coercion enjoy exponentially more material prosperity and personal happiness over and against coercive states and societies that rely on threats, terror, prisons, torture, invasion, redistribution of wealth "for the good of the people" - as graphically illustrated here.
But where are we headed in the United States? Are we seeing personal liberties expand or contract? Do we see more or less involvement in our lives by governments at all levels?
As the U.S. collapses into a larger segment of the population being dependent on an increasingly smaller segment, as the dollar continues to decline due to continued Fed "quantitative easing," as unemployment continues to spiral, as Christians and other religious minorities are being increasingly bullied by public and political institutions to violate their own religious tenets or face jail time and fines, as the military/industrial complex rattles sabers and entices Washington into further undeclared wars and quagmires that destroy the lives of thousands of young people, and as the leaders of both major parties mouth platitudes about "change" - we need a real philosophical paradigm-shift instead of just a sideways reshuffling of the ruling parties.
Thanks to YouTube and other technologies, these concepts are accessible in ways that demonstrate the common sense of the matter. Here are just a few thought-provocative videos:
1) The Conversation
Two college students have an intriguing discussion:
2) George Ought to Help
What is the best way to help people in need?
3) Edgar the Exploiter
Minimum wage laws and greedy bosses:
4) The Broken Window Fallacy
Do things like war, make-work jobs, and repair of damage stimulate an economy?
5) I, Pencil
The remarkable process by which goods come to market:
6) If You Were King
What about a benevolent State?
7) You Can Always Leave
What about the social contract?
8) Diner from Hell
What about democracy?
To learn more, the Ludwig von Mises Institute probably has the largest free online library of literature and audio/video materials on libertarianism. Feel free to click here! And though this list is now about five years old and may not be completely up to date, here is a list of 100 libertarian websites.