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Libertarianism and Humanism

This is a libertarian commentary on the Affirmations of Humanism published in Free Inquiry, a humanist magazine.

Humanist:
We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

Libertarian:
The application of reason and science to politics is like the application of boiling water to snow. The common belief that powerful governments benefit mankind is manifestly unreasonable and unscientific. Many have come to libertarianism when reason led them away from the emotional appeals of politicians.

Humanist:
We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

Libertarian:
We deplore the efforts by our leaders to denigrate human intelligence when they explain the world in political terms and ask us to look to government instead of ourselves for salvation. The abstract concept of government is completely supernatural and does not explain the world at all.

Humanist:
We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.

Libertarian:
The libertarian movement has been criticized for having too many technologists and calling for the deregulation of controversial technologies. Scientific discovery and technology progress most rapidly when the hope of profits justifies the investment of time and money in research.

Humanist:
We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

Libertarian:
No society is more open than one with a libertarian administration since the only legal prohibitions are against force and fraud. Throughout history authoritarian elites and repressive majorities have murdered and tortured millions of people. Ending this oppression is our main goal.

Humanist:
We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

Libertarian:
The incredible diversity and prosperity of the churches in the United States and the lack of bloodshed over religious issues is due to this separation. We would like to see other institutions such as agriculture, industry, business, transportation, housing, education, etc. achieve this same diversity, prosperity, and harmony by being separated from the state.

Humanist:
We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

Libertarian:
The arts of negotiation and compromise are essential to commercial success. Merchants and customers commonly resolve differences and achieve mutual understanding to their mutual benefit. The opposite of negotiation and compromise is authority and force, typically exercised by government. You cannot negotiate or compromise with government regulations.

Humanist:
We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and violence.

Libertarian:
We are concerned with increasing justice and fairness by reducing force and fraud in society. We do not believe violent means should be used to impose one group's concept of justice and fairness on another or that the use of violence is justified to prevent or enforce discrimination.

Humanist:
We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

Libertarian:
Supporting the disadvantaged and handicapped is laudable as long as it is accomplished without violence. When the government dictates our behavior toward the handicapped and other minorities the resentment people naturally feel against arbitrary authority is misdirected at the minorities.

Humanist:
We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the good of humanity.

Libertarian:
We seek a world free of legal barriers and boundaries which now separate nations, races, and religions. The elimination of all laws based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, or ethnicity will be a major step forward in human progress.

Humanist:
We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

Libertarian:
The desire to protect and enhance the earth is most evident in the developed nations where basic survival needs are not in question for most of the population. Only market forces can raise the standard of living to this level. As the consumers become more sensitive to the environment and the suffering of other species the producers must change accordingly to survive.

Humanist:
We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to the fullest.

Libertarian:
We would lift all legal restrictions on consensual activities to permit everyone to enjoy life as they see fit. Creative talents develop to their fullest where there is the most open communication and the least restrictions on behavior.

Humanist:
We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

Libertarian:
We believe that voluntary interactions cultivate and reward moral excellence and that the government has no business dictating morality.

Humanist:
We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

Libertarian:
We explicitly uphold the right to privacy and sexuality among consenting adults. People should never go to jail for any consensual activity connected with abortions or suicides. The most comprehensive and informed health care will come when people are free from laws restricting the practice of health care and empowered to create institutions which meet real needs instead of enriching a protected elite.

Humanist:
We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

Libertarian:
We believe voluntary interactions encourage and reward altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, and responsibility. Moral decency cannot be imposed from above, people develop their own standards when they do not fear authority but instead evaluate the consequences of their own behavior.

Humanist:
We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

Libertarian:
Concern for the moral education of children has been a major force against compulsory state educational systems. Most parents will resist with all their resources when they see their children taught what they believe is wrong. Reason and compassion are best nourished where all ideas are free to compete.

Humanist:
We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

Libertarian:
Government sponsorship has distorted both the arts and the sciences to their detriment. It should be ended. The angry response to overtly sexual art mostly occurs where it is tax supported. The criticism of expenditures for science is also mostly confined to government projects.

Humanist:
We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

Libertarian:
We are strongly represented in space oriented and science fiction organizations. Many younger libertarians plan to be among the first space colonists and are exited about the commercialization of space.

Humanist:
We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

Libertarian:
We are especially skeptical of untested claims to knowledge and wisdom by our leaders. Libertarians are frequently criticized for their openness to novel ideas.

Humanist:
We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service of others.

Libertarian:
We affirm libertarianism as a realistic alternative to the ideology of violence characteristic of powerful governments. Only free individuals can experience personal significance and enjoy genuine service to others.