Why I’m so optimistic about being a libertarian

Why I’m so optimistic about being a libertarian, by David Leyonhjelm.

When I became the first overt libertarian to be elected to the Australian Senate in 2013, I thought I would use my maiden speech to try to sum up my world view. In this speech, I outlined why I believe the role of governments should be limited to the protection of life, liberty and private property. I tried to highlight the importance of personal responsibility, the dangers of creeping government interference and the fundamental right to be left alone so long as we’re not harming anyone.

David Leyonhjelm

If I were to give an elevator spiel to someone who wanted to know more about libertarianism, I’d tell them that “a libertarian believes you should be able to keep more of your stuff and be left the hell alone”. It sounds too simple to work, but it does, and that’s what is truly great about it.

When you look at nations that slash government red tape, protect private-property rights and safeguard civil liberties, you see societies where opportunity abounds, people escape from poverty and civil society flourishes.

The problem for libertarianism today, and why it is receding from the limelight, is that it fails to deal with the increasingly tribal nature of politics — identity politics, and increasing immigration from the third world.

In the West, in the more homogeneous past with all that entails, in the day when we could leave our homes unlocked and politicians and the media were treating us as individuals rather than members of certain sexual and racial groups, libertarianism was a great recipe. It worked. But it assumes cultural affinity, honesty and capable people. It works for high- trust societies, but not for the increasingly low-trust society that we are becoming.

hat-tip Stephen Neil