Thursday, January 19, 2006


I think my brain may have shifted gears a few weeks ago when Sunni Maravillosa pointed out that even the Constitution is a statist document. It wasn't a sudden downshift into reverse, more like shifting from first gear into second or some such.

But I found myself suddenly in a small clearing where it seemed irrelevant what my philosophy of government is. All this talk about liberalism and conservatism and libertarianism and statists and individualists and anarchism and agorists and Randism and Rothbardists and Istism is kind of interesting - but in the end we are 6 billion people who view life 6 billion different ways.

All of these "isms" make for intriguing conversation, but they're limiting, and they can create diversions as we strive to be consistent within our chosen ism. How can I be a libertarian if I'm pro-life, for example? Or how can I be tolerant of gays if I profess to be a born-again Christian? Such questions help me hone my beliefs and understand where I'm coming from, no doubt, but the questions themselves imply that I'm being not being true to my pigeon hole.

More importantly, perhaps, somewhere in there is an implication that one or the other of these philosophies needs to triumph in order for humanity to thrive. My belief, for example, was/is that if only the U.S. government were structured along the lines the Constitution set out, things would be better. But millions if people are content to live under the nanny government - who am I to insist that they live without airport screeners and corporate welfare and college grants and all of the other unconstitutional amenities of everyday life?

I keep coming back to Serenity and Malcolm Reynolds' statement to the government assassin: "I got no need to beat you. I just want to go my way." I have no need to impose my view of the good life on the rest of us; I just want to seek out that life for myself.

More and more, I think that means ignoring or avoiding the government as best as I can and just trying to "go my way," rather than try to conjure a way to change it to suit my vision, which seems like a minority view anyway.

The trouble, as the fictional Reynolds found, is that the busybodies of power just don't seem to be willing to leave well enough alone. I'm still working on that particular dilemma.

The various isms provide a convenient shorthand - "I'm mostly a libertarian" is easier to say and write than repeating the several paragraphs above. But when all is said and done, I don't believe exactly as Ayn Rand or Robert A. Heinlein or Murray Rothbard or even Mahatma Gandhi did, so embracing them as great thinkers does not endorse every thought they ever had. I am mostly a libertarian, but I am free to diverge from libertarian philosophy if another view makes sense to B.W. Richardson.

Maybe that's my philosophy: I won't pigeon-hole you if you won't pigeon-hole me. Call it Richardsonism if you have to. Just don't hold me to it.


Blogger Wally Conger said...

Depending on my audience, I go by many labels: classical liberal, libertarian, abolitionist, Rothbardian, secessionist... Of course, my "purity" percentage varies for each of these categories. Anarchist still seems the best term for me...because no matter what, I will always be a hater of the State.

11:15 AM  

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