On the Future of Libertarianism

As libertarians, we often hear the good news: libertarianism is on the rise.  The youth are leaving behind the Democrat and Republican political parties.  The future belongs to liberty!

Call me a crank.

I’m a bit more pessimistic than that for a very specific and simple reason: sin.  What I mean by that is whereas libertarianism, or some variation of it, is being more broadly accepted by people from all sorts of different backgrounds, there is still the problem of a growing cultural and societal commitment to humanism and moral relativism.

The problem is that sin begets sin and the more that the “libertarian” masses put their emphasis on “doing whatever I want because I can” rather than seeing libertarianism as concerning “the proper use of coercion in society,” the more it will backfire.  There is no ethical society without the grace of God and a commitment to His principles.

Now, I realize that there are many atheists and agnostics who who object here by pointing out that they have never coerced against another person and that this proves that God is not needed in order to live virtuously.  But it is not my claim nor my concern that one can refrain from violence without God, rather, my point is that ignoring God produces a greater number of people who are willing to use violence to get what they want.  Sin begets sin and while the current generation is participating in an exodus from the political status quo, this means little if they are going to continue doing “what is right in their own eyes.”

While libertarianism addresses the role of the State in the society, hardly any libertarians look to God or the Bible for ethics and morality.  The Bible is seen as a backwards, Old World, book that has no relevance for today.  Meanwhile gay marriage and sexual promiscuity are placed on a pedestal and worshipped as the great symbol of progress in the Western World.  It is not culturally acceptable to criticize another person, nor shall it be tolerated when one has the opinion that God has deemed certain activities as sinful.  Traditional marriage and the distinct roles of Man and Wife are considered a nuisance that have no place in the liberalized West.  The most popular celebrities of our time specialize in the promotion of drugs, drunkenness, sexual immorality, materialism, and irrationalism.  The feel-goodism and emotionalism of society threatens our civilization with a vengeance.  Being stupid is hip and advocating the primacy of the intellect is scoffed at.

Libertarianism, at least a form of it, is on the rise, allegedly.  But meanwhile the Western World society has died.  Libertarianism in itself cannot fix that.  In fact, without the principles that go back to the Reformation, without virtue and hard work and intellectualism and logic and self-control, there is no hope for civilization.  Without God, without the Truth who sets us free, liberty will not be achieved.  Sin begets sin.  More people will come to the conclusion that State coercion is bad, but at the same time, State coercion will grow.  Friend will turn against friend, brother against brother.  I agree with Albert J. Nock that “Our Enemy [is] the State.”  (See difference between State and government). But the State is only the institution of sin writ large.  The State is the establishment of the people’s choice that sin shall be tolerated.  The State is the manifestation of the opinion that God and His word are to be ignored.

Now, after such a consideration, it is easy to feel a bit discouraged.  After all, a free society is what we all long for.  But we must realize that this world is not our home.  As pilgrims in a foreign land, we look to the eternal future where we will spend forever with Christ our King.  Christ is the Truth and the Truth sets us free.  Is not such an eternal arrangement the perfect fulfillment of a “free society?”  The bad news is, we won’t see freedom achieved here on earth.  The good news is, earth is a temporary home.  Pessimism is for the short term; optimism for the long.

To consider the status of libertarianism in the future is multifaceted.  We might have low expectations for libertarianism on earth, but there is no other option.  After all, is not sin the fiercest form of bondage there is?  If it takes the very blood of God Himself to release us from the bondage of sin, how could we possibly expect freedom in this life?  Sin is rampant and constantly being expressed and demonstrated to greater degrees every day.  And yet, an eternity in the presence of the Holy King means that sin itself is no more.  No sin means a pure and true liberty; greater than anything imaginable.  Liberty from the bondages of sin in the Kingdom of God is what we await.  Redeemed and glorified, sealed by God Himself, nothing to impede the existence of a brightly shining liberty.  Such is the nature of the Believer’s liberty.

Go forth ye Pilgrims, and preach of the liberty that awaits.