Keene liberty activist Rich Paul, currently being held awaiting trial at the Cheshire County Jail, has made a letter available for publication. Writing from his cell in the "D" block, Rich talks about the idea of Libertarianism and how it has influenced his decisions that led to this incarceration. His address is included. What follows is the letter:
Libertarianism is a political philosophy based on the idea that no person or group of people has the right to aggress against the Life, Liberty, Property or Pursuit of Happiness of another, either by force or by fraud. Libertarians know and accept that aggression cannot be eliminated from the world, and our philosophy does allow for the use of force in defense of self or others. The question which, for us, settles the issue of who is right or wrong in and violent conflict is a very simple one, probably familiar to readers from childhood: “Who started it?” The person who ‘initiated force’ is the person who is wrong, every time.
Simplicity is one of the great strengths of Libertarianism. It allows a person to understand the legal consequences of his actions without consulting high priced lawyers or studying huge tomes filled with their ever changing statutes. This is probably the reason that there are so few Libertarian lawyers. Simplicity is the enemy of any privileged class.
Some people believe that they should, in some cases, be permitted to do violence against people who do things they don’t like, even though these people are harming only themselves. They argue that a person who takes drugs, for example, might possibly someday do some sort of harm to someone else, so he should be punished before he has the chance. Of course, this belief is absurd. Punishing someone because they might someday aggress would require, if applied consistently, the punishment of every person, since any human might someday commit an act of aggression. The law, however, should punish only criminals, not potential criminals.
Still other people believe that a sufficiently large majority should be permitted to do violence against a sufficiently small minority, in the democratic tradition. The belief that numerical “might makes right” is the ‘moral’ basis of democracy. The idea that the majority is always right can be easily dispelled with a simple thought experiment. Imagine a true democracy which consists of 9 men and 1 woman on an island. The men vote that the woman must have sex with all of them. According to the democratic ideal, this is perfectly acceptable, since the men outnumber the poor girl, and should she refuse their demands, then she is a criminal. This is why Benjamin Franklin described democracy as “Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner,” and why America was founded as a Democratic Republic, not a democracy. Sadly, modern America is closer to the democratic than the republican ideal. (Note: Please do not confuse these words with the political parties similarly named. The connections are lost in the mists of time.)
Libertarianism is, in my humble opinion, the only truly moral political philosophy. Whether it is expressed through a minimal State– like that specified by our Constitution–or through anarchy–private arrangements in the absence of any State–it is the only political philosophy which can bring peace and harmony to our society. If you would like to learn more about this philosophy, please check out the short youtube video “The Philosophy of Liberty,” the Free State Project, the Libertarian Party, or meet some real live Libertarians and the 4:20 rally which occurs every afternoon on the Keene Common, or the Night Cap which occurs every night around 11:00pm in the same place. You may also write to me at the address below:
Rich “420 Guy” Paul
C/O Cheshire County Jail
Cell Block ‘D’
825 Marlboro Street
Keene, NH 03431