It is both! Libertarianism focuses on extending personal morality and ethics into societal organization. In other words, we want communities to follow the same rules we were taught as kids: Don’t hit others, don’t take their stuff, and don’t lie or cheat.
Unfortunately, government is organized around the premise that these things are ok if enough people agree. If voters collectively decide to murder or steal from other individuals with 51% of the vote, then they believe the morality changes. Libertarians don’t.
So enacting these values requires a mindset shift. It requires a mental shift for individuals that have lived under a different paradigm their entire lives.
The more one examines their values through this new way of thinking, the more empowering the ideology becomes. As individuals begin to think about taking responsibility for their own lives and communities, they get excited about the opportunities this new path affords.
One small example of this is the shopping cart. After purchasing items at a store, people will head to the their car in the parking lot and unload groceries. Once the cart is empty, a person faces a choice.
They can leave the cart in the middle of the parking spot to inconvenience both the next parker and the employee corralling carts. Or they can put the cart in the corral and maintain order.
Most put their carts away, but some don’t. The market has a fix for these “bad actors.” Most stores employ a coraller. Other stores like Aldis use financial incentives to persuade individuals to act in a responsible manner.
Suppose stores hired an armed security guard to threaten any person not returning the cart. Would this make the relationship between customer and store more or less tense? Would it cost the store business? The answer is yes.
Government operates this way. It rejects the peaceful path used by an Aldi and monopolizes force. In other words, it puts all other stores out of business or takes them over and standardizes the more violent approach.
Libertarianism advocates for the original peaceful path by reminding individuals of their personal responsibilities, their right to be left alone, and providing solutions to handle complex problems.
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