Furthest Right

The psychology of libertarianism

Libertarianism receives its fair share of press as a political idea. But, to my mind, it’s more important as a psychology.

Each belief system can be viewed as a way of constructing an audience or group. You tell them something toward which they’re moving, and how they’ll do it, and what gets in their way. Those delineate a goal, a method and a pitfall.

Libertarianism constructs its audience around a psychology of independence, meaning of not being beholden to others or having them be beholden to you. While some construct airy statements around “freedom” and “non-coercion,” the spirit of libertarianism seems geared toward independent action.

Most other governmental systems focus on who owes what to whom, and how a central force will administer some belief we all share. This occurs because government, for practical purposes, is a religion/culture replacement. When you can’t have a king, a bishop and an ancient tradition, you get a bureaucracy.

Libertarianism focuses on a frontier outlook. If you exist in a land without a nation or government, what kind of deal do you want to strike with your fellow settlers? The psychology of libertarianism is thus this: If nothing stops me from fixing my problems with work, I am independent.

The concept behind libertarianism is that society will never be a single unit where everyone is on the same page. For that reason, the best way to govern is to remove obligations between individuals, and insure that government and society never impair a self-directed individual from doing what is necessary to keep his or her homestead thriving.

While the political dimensions of this psychology are a much bigger question, it is possible we would all be a bit happier with a libertarian psychology. Instead of being enraged at others for what they have that we do not, or at social control for limiting us, we focus our energy toward fixing our situation, individually.

Part of that psychology is the notion that we make our own happiness, and we cannot predicate our enjoyment of life on the actions of others. This extends even to the simplest examples: if the girl you love runs off with the mailman, you make a conscious decision to be miserable when you could be free.

Even more than that, we see how the people in life who often make morally poor decisions are unable to adhere to this kind of psychology. For them, the glass is always half-full and it is someone’s fault; for them, someone should have intervened, and if you tell them that’s selfish, they claim “we all” should have intervened so that we all have “freedom” or “progress” or some other Utopian notion.

That psychology is one of weakness, emotional reaction and a total lack of plan. The libertarian psychology avoids that mental abyss by assuming no debt or owing, and entrusting each person with the responsibility for their own happiness. In the end, that makes them more powerful than demanding “freedom” ever could.

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