Personal responsibility – essential to liberty

By Nathan Barton

The bizarre idea that “libertarian” is somehow closely tied to “libertine” dates back to the organization of the Libertarian Party in Colorado and other of the Fifty States back in the early 1970s. The fact that I understand why this confusion would develop, especially given the political background of the period, and Massa Nixon’s War on [Some] Drugs, did not make it any more palatable to me then – or for that matter, now. (Although the behavior of the national Libertarian Party in 2016 added fuel to that particular fire, given both the behaviors at the National Convention and the behavior of the two top-of-ticket candidates during the campaign.)

But the distinction has always been obvious to anyone who can be bothered to investigate (which sadly does not seem to include many statists, both left and right, and even a few who claim to be libertarian). It has to do with personal responsibility: true liberty demands accepting personal responsibility for one’s own actions – AND for actions performed on one’s behalf.

(This of course assumes that the actions “performed on your behalf” really are, and don’t just claim or pretend to be on your behalf. Such bogus claims are a frequent excuse by government agents, “leaders” and statists in general for the power that they crave.)

Mama’s Note: “On your behalf” only works if that involves a voluntary contract between you and the supposed “representative,” such as an attorney or broker. Their power is limited by that contract, and it has (or should have) written specific criteria for ending the relationship.

That is why the old equation, “Freedom = I Won’t” (F=IW) makes sense, and “Freedom = I Will” makes none. Liberty can function only when there is self-control: personal responsibility not just for what you do but for what you have others do for you.

Mama’s Note: Not quite sure what you mean here. Individuals have – or should have- perfect freedom to be any sort of fool they wish… personal responsibility simply means they must live (or die) with the consequences.

But government destroys personal responsibility, because it needs ever-increasing irresponsibility on the part of its internal and external enemies. It’s internal enemies, of course, include its citizens or subjects. When people fail to accept responsibility for their own lives, their own actions, then government is there to step in and exercise the discipline that people refuse to apply to themselves on their own.

Mama’s Note: But especially when people WILL be responsible for themselves and their choices… the non-voluntary government has a very heavy hand against those individuals who resist the statist control.

It is a vicious circle: the more government acts as a nanny, as a tyrant (however “benevolent”), the more people shirk responsibility and NEED something to control their actions.

Mama’s Note: Only pretend “benevolence” at best. And the vicious cycle is, of course, at least as much a product of government “school” indoctrination as any lack of discipline by individuals.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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