The morality of government

The right to bear arms

The morality of war


Who owns land?


The right to independence

American independence

Basque independence

Northern Ireland

Countries by population

The free market


Crime and punishment

The health industry



According to my own personal morality, using force on innocent people is wrong.

It follows naturally that I call myself a libertarian — which means simply that I'm in favour of liberty. I define liberty as what you have when no-one is using force on you, or threatening to do so.

Although I'm no economist, I also favour economic liberty. I believe that a free market — although it doesn't work perfectly — works better than the allocation of resources by government.

There are people who value equality more than liberty. I think both are desirable: I feel most comfortable in a society of equals. But the two aren't completely compatible, and I give preference to liberty for two main reasons:

  1. People differ in circumstances, abilities, and inclinations, and for all these reasons they're not naturally equal. If you use force on them to try to make them equal, you're imposing your morality on them, and you can't prove that you have any right to do so.
  2. I think a society that gives priority to liberty will be happier than one that gives priority to equality. The experimental evidence we have from world history is imperfect and inconclusive; however, I think it gives me some support.

Like any other political category, libertarians are a mixed bunch and have many differences of opinion with each other. Some American libertarians are gun nuts who get excited about the right to bear arms. I suppose this is natural enough, given the combination of American culture and a belief in liberty. However, please bear in mind that I'm not an American. I've never owned a gun and never wanted to.

My politics in practice

In principle, government is moral if all of the governed people consent to it. It's rather unsatisfactory, because (a) it relies on the use of force, and (b) it's unlikely that all of the governed people truly consent to it.

However, law of some kind is essential to society, because people are often tempted to use force on each other, and without law they will often fail to resist the temptation.

Although it's possible for law to exist without government, as described by David Friedman (for example), in practice we need government to provide law for the time being, because we don't yet have the social infrastructure to support law without government.

Therefore, in the short to medium term (within my lifespan), my preferred government is one that makes and enforces laws against the use of force, but does little else. I see no moral justification for using force against someone who is not himself attempting to use force.

In particular, I see no moral justification for using force to obtain taxes, but unfortunately government cannot exist without taxes, so if we accept government of any kind we have to accept taxes as part of the bundle.

Given that we have a government and that it collects taxes by force (which I'm not happy about), there are some other things it could do without strong objections from me. However, on the whole I prefer government to be small and cheap, at least compared with what we have now. Current governments do many things that don't need to be done at all, and many things that could easily be done by ordinary companies without government involvement. Cut out all that stuff, and governments would be smaller and cheaper. The problem is in finding a political party that's willing to do it. In general, political parties love power, and tend to accumulate more powers whenever they can, often by adding unnecessary functions to the government.

In the long run, I envisage all countries moving to a political system without government or taxes, but there's not much point in trying to describe that system in any detail: because, by the time it happens, anything I might say about it will be obsolete. The human race could be physically and mentally unrecognizable by then, and its technology unimaginable to us now.