2011 was definitely a year of personal development and introspection for me. Over the last 12 months, I’ve been able to clearly solidify what I believe is well-defended viewpoint controlling my own actions and my interpretation of the actions of others. This is most clearly manifest right now in my political position, which is based on the same core libertarian principles that stem from my understanding of natural laws. I started to care about politics specifically because of these principles. I developed strong views on intellectual property both alongside and as a result of the same principles.
The most significant part of all this is not so much that I think any particular way, but instead that because of the research and debate I’ve gone though over the past year, I feel very confident in my ability to defend my viewpoint with a strong logical argument. I’m not pretending to be 100% correct; in fact, I’m sure that I am not. But rather than holding vague or merely pragmatic values, my intellectual journey over the past year has allowed me to land solidly on a particular spot, and here I stand with reasoned conviction. This reasoned conviction is the key.
The nutshell-in-a-nutshell version of the worldview is known as the non-aggression principle, or the golden rule depending on how you want to look at it. It comes from an equal application of two very basic inherent rights: the right to life, and the by extension, the right to private property ownership. The non-aggression principle states that it is not okay for me to violate those same rights belonging to anyone else except in cases of defense, and only as much as necessary for adequate defense against aggression from others. In other words, more colloquially, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
This fundamental rule clarifies many political positions that might otherwise be hard to decide. The bottom line is that I now can only favor a very small government whose only responsibility is to make sure that the non-aggression principle is applied universally, and that those who would violate it are prevented from doing so or punished accordingly. This allows for national defense, domestic police, and transparent and equal justice system. It does not allow for entitlements, subsidies, privileges, bailouts, loans, scientific research, charity, healthcare, economic manipulation, anti-discrimination laws, drug prohibition, education, and a large number of other things that the government currently has their hands in.
While certainly not everyone would agree with this position, I am confident in my ability to argue for it on principle down to the very foundation without any cognitive dissonance. This is a new experience for me. I’ve never been especially confused, but I’ve also never been especially sure until 2011.
I’m looking forward to 2012, and I hope this trend continues. I anticipate many more Facebook debates, internal consideration, and long explanatory blog posts as I further develop my worldview.