Why Libertarianism Fails: Thoughts On Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, Ron Paul gave his amazing “farewell speech” on the House floor. Rep. Paul gave a summary of his career and his fight for liberty since 1976, as he enters retirement with a legacy for all of us to continue.

Themes brought up by Ron in his speech included the fiscal instability in this country, our increasing lust for war and violence, our ever-impulsive run on the Treasury and, to paraphrase Hayek, how the absolute worst of us are running the country.

However, there is a very important issue in Rep. Paul’s speech which needs to be called to light, one that is ignored by most of his followers, especially his younger ones – that being the role of religion and morality in libertarianism.

To many libertarians, in fact probably most libertarians, have no use for such things. Wicca’s Golden Rule of “Do whatever you want, just don’t hurt anybody” becomes not the policy but the lifestyle.

There comes a point, however, when non-traditional social structures and immoral behaviors and lifestyles require regulation of some kind in order to function more conveniently. When the policy cannot sustain the lifestyle, the lifestyle then becomes the policy – i.e., liberalism.

This is not limited to traditional forms of vice – casual sex, excessive drugs and alcohol, prostitution, pornography, materialism, etc. – “vice” becomes all things in society.

Ron Paul states in his speech:

“Many are now acknowledging that a financial crisis looms but few understand it’s, in reality, a moral crisis.”

Indeed. Why buy something you want, when you can set up a society based on debt and paper and get it for free? Why put more effort into managing your business, when you can get a free bailout, re-define property to control other people’s use of your product, or launch a “minimum wage” lobbying campaign so you can secretly hire slave labor? Gas prices are going up, let’s take over the Middle East and print up some more welfare programs while we wait!

“The Founders were convinced that a free society could not exist without a moral people. Just writing rules won’t work if the people choose to ignore them. Today the rule of law written in the Constitution has little meaning for most Americans, especially those who work in Washington DC.”

“Benjamin Franklin claimed ‘only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.’ John Adams concurred: ‘Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.'”

“A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society.”

“The misunderstanding that tolerance is an endorsement of certain activities, motivates many to legislate moral standards which should only be set by individuals making their own choices.”

We should not go about banning and outlawing evil things and punishing sinners with fines and jail time. Libertarianism is correct on that. However, a libertarian society needs traditional values and institutions completely separated from government, with which libertarians should voluntarily associate. Otherwise, lie-cheat-steal-and-print liberalism will very quickly and very consensually return.

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