I am constantly re-examining my beliefs and principles. All of them, not just libertarianism.
I try to look at them from every possible angle and twist them inside-out to see if there is a possibility I could be wrong and libertarianism isn't the most ethical philosophy that has ever been created for relating to all other people. Sometimes I am unhappy at having to wade through arguments that seem abhorrent to me, from people who will try to justify every horror imaginable just to manipulate society into what they believe it should be, or to excuse terrible things they want to be able to do to others without a guilty conscience. But it is necessary for my peace of mind to delve into the dragon's lair in order to find the truth.
If externally imposed government (rather than self-government/"self control") really is a good idea, and if the State is really the right way to impose that government, I don't want to be stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the right thing.
If natural human rights don't really exist, as some claim, yet somehow there still exists a "right to govern" that can be claimed or delegated, I would want to know it. If it really is wrong for you and me to be responsible for the defense of our lives and property; that we should leave that to the "professionals," I want to do the right thing. If it really is necessary to sacrifice the individual and his property for "the common good," as in the various wealth-redistribution schemes we see at work, then why fight it? If it really is appropriate to kidnap and kill people for their own good — to prevent them from harming themselves — then it's time to accept it.
So far I have not been able to twist things enough that coercion or "violence against the non-violent" becomes right, and theft becomes something other than theft if done by a government employee. Every argument to that effect I have ever encountered is so full of holes and inconsistencies that it falls apart as soon as you begin to examine it. But I keep looking.
So far, only the libertarian idea — that it is wrong to attack the innocent or steal, and your position in society changes nothing in that regard — holds up to scrutiny.
I'll let you know if anything ever changes, because I'd rather be embarrassed at having to eat my words than to be wrong and refuse to accept it.
Kent McManigal is a freelance writer who sometimes offers commentary on our websites. Contact him at: