Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Benevolent Individualism: All Politics is People and Personal

I run a non-profit foundation and as part of what I do I confronted this question. I realized I needed to identify a formulation to enable individuals to identify appropriate choices for themselves and to recognize when their own rights had been violated. I understood that since we live in a community of people who practice a variety of religious traditions, including no religion, it could not conflict with any major theological tradition, including atheism. Also, it had to be very short, in fact, it had to fit on a business card.

The answer was what I call Benevolent Individualism. These are its tenets.

  1. Using violence, coercion , or fraud to get your way is wrong.

  2. The more powerful party has a moral duty to ensure that the transaction/trade/relationship is fair to both. (The Bill Gates Principle)

Along with the political revolution we must call a moral revolution. The two are one in the continuum of human action. The political dialogue takes place in circles that are far removed from the day to day lives of people. We can reach them where they live if we use our principles applied to the problems of injustice that confront them and engage their attention in their own lives.

The market for self-help, relationships, and romance is far larger than the one for political solutions. It is fertile ground for solutions that enable freedom. All freedom is personal. By ignoring this huge market for human choice and action Libertarians have limited the their options and marginalized their relevance.

Becoming a full service provider for freedom means we must provide answers to all the questions involving choice and liberty. We need to have standards for personal behavior within the LP that can inspire respect and a desire to emulate by non-libertarians.

Libertarians can make honorable behavior an issue, in terms that engage the minds of non-political Americans. They can open up a front where there are no other political parties to compete. We can demonstrate that freedom is not license and that we do not endorse, excuse or tolerate bad behavior. We can create examples to show how the world should work. That alone would differentiate us from any other political party now in existence.

The issue of character has been central to the ongoing political dialogue. Character is the way Americans express their perception of the ethical imperatives exemplified in the life acts of an individual.

No human institution is immune from the action of human choice. If we had been optimizing freedom as a benevolent option for human choice we would not be producing former LP members faster than we can spend money.

We are not limited to the forms presently in use. We can think smarter. We can change our political forms to suit our very different goal, reflecting the idea that we can and should grow freedom from within the LP. In this way, we can simultaneously make local groups more effective, duplicating success, and grow the infrastructure necessary to replacing the State.

Freedom is being able to live your life free of the violence, coercion and frauds that are endemic and tolerated in most of the world. This is what women want. They are not wrong, just misguided. This brings us to the next issue.

We know that the world is moving away from hierarchies and towards a network model for human action. This reflects in every aspect of our lives, especially in leading edge technologies, such as the Internet. This is an affirmation that individual choice is for freedom. We should also remember that while we need to work through the form of a political party our goal is to make political parties irrelevant. Political action is not, for us, a self perpetuating end. It is only a means to the establishment of human freedom. The emancipation of the human spirit is our ultimate goal; not occupying the White House.

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