Liberty on Tap since 1984
The Libertarians would have us believe that government is not necessary for man to live free and prosper. I read, on a regular basis, the works of many Libertarians, I'm a fan of the Mises Institute and of Austrian economics. Some of my favorite contemporary Libertarian writers are Thomas Sowell, Tom Woods, Gary North, Lew Rockwell, Bruce McQuain et. al. I try not to over do my reading of Libertarians because so often they leave me depressed with their gloom and doom. A case in point is an article I read recently at LewRockwell.com. The article is "Why I Do Not Vote" by Butler Shaffer, which was originally posted on November 14, 2000.
I should declare that philosophically if I were to take one more step to the right, I would be in the Libertarian camp. But that's one step I will never be able to take. Human nature being what it is, I don't see how the Libertarian ideal has any more chance in succeeding than the communist ideal did. I wish I could believe but I can't. But, I'm straying to far from the topic of this article. Is government needed at all?
Mr. Shaffer makes a case that all government is oppressive and over time will restrict the liberties of the governed. He has some cogent arguments to support his decision some years to no longer take part in the political process; to no longer vote. This excerpt demonstrates his point of view.
"...I understand the temptation, born largely of a sense of frustration, of wanting to participate in the political process in order to get persons elected who more closely reflect one’s views. The illusion of a short-term reduction in the rate of increase of state power clouds the longer-term consequences inherent in political participation. Political systems derive their power not from guns and prisons, but from the willingness of those who are to be ruled to expend their energies on their behalf. For state power to exist, a significant number of men and women must sanction the idea of being ruled by others, a sanction that depends, ultimately, upon the credibility of those who exercise such power. When we vote in an election, we are declaring, by our actions, our support for the process of some people ruling others by coercive means. Our motivations for such participation – even if they be openly expressed as a desire to bring state power to an end – do not mitigate the fact that our energies are being employed on behalf of the destructive principle that liberty and social order can best be fostered through the coercive machinery of the state."