Saturday, May 19, 2007

Libertarian Rituals: Statement of Principles

Republicans have prayer breakfasts – Libertarians have the Statement of Principles, Nolan Chart, None of the Above, the Libertarian Pledge, and the Dallas Accords.

There is no ritual more important to Libertarians than the Statement of Principles. Written by a small clutch of people, including Dr. John Hospers and Sarah O'Connor Foster in a hotel room during the course of the first National Convention, the Statement is mortared into the platform of the LP and cannot be excised with less than a 7 / 8th vote of all of the delegates attending the convention. The wording reflects the verbiage of Ayn Rand, sacred to so many early Libertarians.

The Statement of Principles

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

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