Sunday, December 12, 2010

Libertarianism vs Individualism

In a recent article in The New Republic, TNR, there is a brief discussion of the "libertarianism" of the American people.

They state:

America has always been a libertarian country—and right now, the suspicion of authority that defines our culture and politics seems particularly strong. By huge margins, Americans say they do not trust the federal government. On both the left and the right, conspiracy theories abound regarding the nefarious designs of power-mad politicians, colluding with the rich and well-connected to steal the freedoms of ordinary individuals.  

Yet, as we debate several issues that touch on privacy and disclosure—including the White House's response to Julian Assange and the rise of airport body-scanners—it's worth remembering that the American public doesn't necessarily value individual liberties at the expense of national security. 

 Now I would argue two things:

First, as for the full body scans, the issues will be as I had stated earlier that it is the worst act by a Government in a century, it is a Mengele like experiment with no informed consent, it is akin to dropping a little strontium 90 in the water supply, well they did that fifty years ago. We have just issued a White Paper on back-scatter radiation and cancer that addresses this issue in detail. Thus the major point is not the security issue but the potential for lethal harm on a global basis. Perhaps the author should consider some objections not libertarian but as those of a concerned citizenry against a potentially malevolent Government, or perhaps just stupid.

Second, libertarian is less the issue than being individualists. That was what we were from the beginning, and that is what de Tocqueville found when he wandered the country, just let me be, let me associate as I choose, let me have my property, and Government is there to protect those individual rights. All individuals are equal, really, thus there are no need for minority rights for there are no classes or minorities just individuals and they all have the same rights.

 Now what of those individual liberties, do they have value. Yes they do, and when a Government interferes with them for reasons which are either arbitrary or threatening, such as with the x-ray experiments, then people and specifically individuals have a right to be heard. The Government is there to protect, and in it actions it potentially harms the individual then the individual rights trump the Government. Ignore that core principle and we truly have lost all!