Thursday, 19 March 2009

My journey to libertarianism: Part 1

My journey, I suppose, starts with the first time I heard of libertarianism. I can’t remember what year it was, but it must have been at least 30 years ago. I read a brief description of the American Libertarian Party. I wasn’t impressed. They didn’t believe in the welfare state and they believed in legalising drugs. And I strongly believed that the welfare state was good, and that drugs were bad. The latter belief stood me in good stead at university, and I managed to get through my student days without once sampling any illegal substance - a sure sign that I was not destined for high political office. Sufficient to say, libertarianism struck me as uncaring and decadent.

Upon reflection, I’m sure that I wasn’t unique. I suspect that most people in Britain today - and probably in America as well, have a pretty negative gut reaction when they hear the word ‘libertarian’. I’ve never tested it out on people as such, but when I admitted to my wife that I had joined the Libertarian Party, I could tell that she thought that my normally sound judgement had deserted me. And that was without even hearing about any of the party’s policies.

It seems to me that libertarianism has an image problem. People confuse it with libertinism. It doesn’t help that self-proclaimed libertarians are somewhat few and far between. To put it politely, libertarians are seen as unusual, and rather un-mainstream.

But once upon a time, I too was a sceptic. So there is hope.

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