Societies shouldn’t be ‘run’ at all

When I defend liberty I constantly get accused of condoning all sorts of things I don't condone. Rather than "condoning" them, I realize that those things are simply none of my business; not mine to approve or condemn. Nor are they anyone else's business, either.

Recently a fellow libertarian posted a comment on Face-book that I agreed with whole-heartedly. He posted, "There is a difference between approving of what someone does and approving of their freedom to do it, and the latter does not somehow mandate the former."

So true! Why is this impossible for so many people to understand?

It really does seem to be impossible for the majority of people to grasp. Our entire political system is evidence of that. Almost everyone is seeking to use the force of the state to prohibit others from doing things they don't approve of, while others are doing the same thing to them. It's like the Hatfields and McCoys, but without taking responsibility for the violence that is done on your behalf. Or, actually, it's precisely what some people claim would happen in the absence of an externally-imposed government. "You kill one of ours, so we kill one of yours," and the cycle goes on until everyone has been shot.

It's a demented way to run a society, and it is probably one of the best demonstrations that societies shouldn't be "run" at all; complex systems function better when allowed to "self-organize." No one should have the authority to meddle in other people's lives until there is an individual victim.

This obsession over condoning or forbidding other people's voluntary, mutually-consensual behavior is also why government grows and grows, and never becomes smaller. It is why the number of laws increase geometrically — or faster — every year until even the government has a clue how many laws there now are. Or whether you (or they) are breaking some of them.

So, as long as you aren't attacking anyone or taking or destroying other people's property, whether or not I approve of the other things you do isn't even something you need to concern yourself with. It's not even on the map.

While we are talking about attacking and stealing, I definitely don't condone taking property from people by threat of force in order to finance the loss of more of their liberties, and to finance the enforcement of that violation.

Kent McManigal is a freelance writer who sometimes offers commentary on our websites. Contact him at:

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