Libertarian and Green Values: Short Responses
This paper gives a short response to each question in a paper listing ten key green values. Nobody has all the answers but libertarians see excessive government at the root of most of the problems. Libertarians want to limit government to national defense, police protection for violent crime, and courts to arbitrate disputes. The Libertarian Party has run presidential candidates since 1972 and their platform addresses all major issues clearly and simply.
How can we operate human societies with an understanding that we are part of nature, not on top of it? Only by understanding that we are part of society, and not on top of it. How can we live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, applying our technological knowledge to the challenge of an energy-efficient economy? Tax funded projects exceed ecological and resource limits worse than private projects. The technology we need will evolve most rapidly in an open market. How can we build a better relationship between cities and countryside? Regulations and tax structures divide city from country interests and set people against each other. How can we guarantee the rights of non-human species? Only market processes can do this without infringing on the rights of human beings. How can we promote sustainable agriculture and respect for self-regulating natural systems? Present agricultural policies are destroying both the environment and the farms. Deregulation will allow sustainable agriculture to flourish. How can we further biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life? State education never teaches wisdom, alternative schooling can.
How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that effect our lives? The government doesn't want us to control our own lives and will suppress systems that allow it. How can we ensure that representatives will be fully accountable to the people who elected them? By not giving them excessive power. How can we develop planning mechanisms that would allow citizens to develop and implement their own preferences for policies and spending priorities? Citizens constantly plan and implement their own preferences and spending priorities in the market. Government interferes with them. How can we encourage and assist the "mediating institutions" -- family, neighborhood organization, church group, voluntary association, ethnic club -- recover some of the functions now performed by government? Join the libertarians; these are our goals. How can we relearn the best insights from American traditions of civic vitality, voluntary action, and community responsibility? Join the libertarians; these are our traditions.
Personal and Social Responsibility
How can we respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity? Any system imaginable would promote dignity better than government welfare. How can we encourage people to commit themselves to lifestyles that promote their own health? By making people (not government) responsible for their own health. How can we have a community- controlled education system that effectively teaches our children academic skills, ecological wisdom, social responsibility, and personal growth? Such systems can only evolve in the absence of compulsory government schools. How can we resolve interpersonal and intergroup conflicts without just turning them over to lawyers and judges? Paid arbitrators are a fast, fair, free market alternative to institutional justice. How can we take responsibility for reducing the crime rate in our neighborhoods? End the prohibition of drugs to take the profit out of crime. End gun control to make violence less safe for criminals. Focus all police activity on violent crime instead of victimless crime. How can we encourage such values as simplicity and moderation? By encouraging people to reject the authoritarian and violent values fostered by government.
How can we, as a society, develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the street to nations and the world? The Libertarian Party is explicitly nonviolent and has a noninterventionist foreign policy. How can we eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth without being naive about the intentions of governments? A libertarian nation would need few missiles since it wouldn't be meddling in other countries affairs. How can we most constructively use non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree and in the process reduce the atmosphere of polarization and selfishness that is itself a source of violence? Libertarians are using non-violent methods to free us all from oppressive government practices and policies (which promote polarization and violence by forcing centralization and uniformity).
How can we restore power and responsibility to individuals, institutions, communities and regions? By taking power and responsibility back from the government. How can we encourage the flourishing of regionally-based culture rather than a dominant monoculture? Government imposes a dominant monoculture. Reduce its power and alternatives will flourish. How can we have a decentralized, democratic society with our political, economic, and social institutions locating power on the smallest scale (closest to home) that is efficient and practical? Locate power in the individual. Only empowered individuals can create such a society. How can we redesign our institutions so that fewer decisions and less regulation over money are granted as one moves from the community toward the national level? The Libertarian Party platform calls for radical redesign of our government institutions toward fewer decisions and less regulation over people and money. How can we reconcile the need for community and regional self-determination with the need for appropriate centralized regulation in certain matters? Libertarians are skeptical of the need for centralized regulation in most matters. We favor individual self-determination.
How can we redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy? The improved morale and adaptability of employee owned democratic workplaces gives them a competitive advantage over those with obsolete hierarchical management. Deregulation will amplify this advantage. How can we develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological, and accountable and responsive to communities? Present government policies form a major barrier to the development of appropriate new activities and institutions. This barrier should be removed. How can we move beyond the narrow "job ethic" to new definitions of "work," "jobs," and "income" that reflect the changing economy? State education and regulations impose these obsolete concepts and obstruct change. How can we restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal, monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.? We can each restructure the distribution of our own income to reflect these values. How can we restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation.? We give them size and power by buying their products. If we don't buy, they don't survive.
How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting? Government is the biggest patriarchal institution in our culture. It is based on the ethic of dominance and control. Reject the culture of government and cooperation will blossom. How can we encourage people to care about persons outside their own group? By removing barriers to trade, travel, and charity. By abandoning the myth of the government safety net. How can we promote the building of respectful, positive, and responsible relationships across the lines of gender and other divisions? Laws which now dictate our relationships destroy respect, responsibility, and harmony. They should be repealed. How can we encourage a rich, diverse political culture that respects feelings as well as rationalist approaches? Libertarians welcome voluntary social experimentation and the diversity it brings. How can we proceed with as much respect for the means as well as the end (the process as much as the products of our efforts)? Libertarians firmly reject the initiation of force as a means of achieving any social or political end. How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities? Only if we have the leisure time generated by a free and prosperous economy.
Respect for Diversity
How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility to all beings? Government suppresses diversity and takes away responsibility. Reduce its power. While honoring diversity, how can we reclaim our country's finest shared ideals: the dignity of the individual, democratic participation, and liberty and justice for all? Join the libertarians; these are our ideals.
How can we be of genuine assistance to grassroots groups in the Third World? By eliminating barriers to travel and trade. By denouncing dictatorships in Third World nations. By withdrawing our troops. What can we learn from such groups? How to function in a dictatorship. How can we help other countries make the transition to self-sufficiency in food and other basic necessities? By eliminating barriers to travel and trade. By denouncing dictatorships in Third World nations. By withdrawing our troops. How can we cut our military budget while maintaining an adequate defense? By bringing our troops home from foreign soil and ceasing our meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. How can we promote these ten green values in the reshaping of global order? By working with and through the libertarians. How can we reshape world order without creating just another enormous nation-state? By supporting the libertarian revolt against oppressive governments everywhere.
How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long-range future, and not just in terms of their short-range selfish interest? Short-range thinking is an adaptation to an environment where government rules can change at any time and taxes destroy long term investments. How can we encourage people to develop their own visions of the future and move more effectively toward them? By not allowing government to impose the vision of the few on the unwilling many. How can we judge whether new technologies are socially useful -- and use those judgments to improve our society? As consumers we use our judgment to choose technology that improves our society. The government spends our money on weapons and technology to control us. How can we induce our government and other institutions to practice fiscal responsibility? By withholding our support. How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking? Whatever qualities you desire for your life, you are more likely to get them from an open market than from any government program or agency.