Gene Balfour Blogs

It’s the principles that matter!

As a Libertarian and an active member of the Ontario Libertarian Party, it is my objective to help people who are new to Libertarianism to better understand its core principles, why they matter, and how to apply them for the purpose of policy analysis and discourse with other people.

This is the first of a series of bulletins that will address some topics that are important to me personally, as well as all topics that are listed here: 2018 Ontario Libertarian Party Platform.

Introduction

What are the fundamental principles of Libertarianism and why do they matter?

In a nutshell, Libertarians oppose the use of FORCE to aggress against the 'property' of others for personal gain. The one exception is in cases of self-defense.

What do we mean by "property" and "property rights"?

Principle 1: Libertarians defend Individual Property Rights (IPR) whereby "property" refers to each person's:

  • Body
  • Mind
  • Effort
  • Assets (earned or acquired through trade)

Principle 2: Do No Harm. The 3 types of action that can inflict harm on others are described in the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) - an ethical stance that asserts that all forms of aggression are inherently illegitimate. The NAP forbids any human action that serves to intentionally inflict...

  • Physical harm upon the Body of other person(s)
  • Psychological harm upon the Mind of other person(s) by threats or intimidation that induces fear and places the victim(s) at any disadvantage.
  • Survival harm to other person(s) perpetrated through acts of theft or deception which serve to deprive the victim(s) of their earned Assets and/or their legitimate Efforts to provide for their needs, wants, safety or security.

Intentional harm results from force.

Force requires action.

Action requires volition.

Libertarians try to eliminate Intentional Harm by seeking to understand the circumstances that enable it, and remove these circumstances wherever possible.

Survival - All human beings are all motivated by one common need – to survive.

Each human being manifests our survival instincts, and subsequent actions, differently because of our very unique life experience and inherited circumstances. What forms is a unique Life Lens which informs and guides our perceptions of right and wrong; our priorities, personal biases and preferences; and virtually every choice we make along the journey of life. For some people, this means that they will choose forceful means to satisfy their survival needs while others will choose more respectful and cooperative survival methods without choosing to apply force against others.

Why does any of this matter?

Clearly, Libertarians prefer to live, trade and co- survive with their fellow community members in a peaceful, cooperative manner. However, survival fears are a powerful motivator for many citizens, especially those whose Life Lens exerts powerful influences on their perception of the world as a frightening place where no one can be trusted; and who perceives that they are, somehow, weaker or disadvantaged compared to other citizens who appear to be better off.

Most Big Government politicians of the BORG (blue, orange, red and Green) parties actively play to these fears. Their campaigns, based mainly on “the politics of fear”, often feature promises to our most vulnerable citizens which claim to “be in their corner” when life presents difficult circumstances.

BORG politicians are motivated by political POWER – access to the levers of state FORCE (laws, regulations and an army of enforcement personnel). They work to expand government operations. Their primary political tools are money and propaganda.

Money - The easiest thing in the world for an elected politician is to spend OPM (other people’s money) which is easy to access because they invent myriads of non-discretionary “revenue tools” for this purpose- taxes, fees, permits, certificates, debt bonds, etc.

Propaganda - Almost all of the mainstream media providers today promote BORG propaganda which mainly takes the form of short “sound bite” messages with political spin designed to win votes. However, no real content or satisfying explanations to justify political promises – their costs, how they will be implemented, and by whom specifically – are available to discerning voters.

Libertarian politicians are the antithesis of BORG politicians.

We seek to reduce existing government legislation that is found to violate the IPR and NAP. By doing this, we reduce government “responsibility” which, in turn, reduces the need for the very expensive and ineffective “enforcement” bureaucracy which, in turn, will decrease the need for taxes and public debt. In other words, the Libertarian battleground is the 380,000 regulations that the Ontario government uses to justify its bloated existence and rising costs.

In effect, most government regulations are in violation of the IPR and NAP in virtually everything they do because they were passed to serve Special Interest Groups (SIG) in the past thereby conferring special treatment for some select groups in society at the expense of others. Libertarians believe that all citizens should be served equally and fairly under our laws, and our laws should respect and defend the individual property rights of everyone equally with no exceptions other than for those citizens who are unable to provide for, and protect themselves through no fault of their own.

Many of our political adversaries, and their sympathetic media and public intellectuals, have criticized Libertarianism to suit their own agendas. This Libertarian misinformation is widespread and all Libertarian political candidates will be challenged many times to address negative claims concerning our purpose.

I hope that this series of Bulletins, and the application of the Libertarian IPR and NAP policy analysis methodology that will be introduced, will be useful in preparing all Libertarians for the inevitable encounters that they will face in their personal Libertarian journey. Proper preparation will make this journey fun and fulfilling.

Principles matter, and Libertarian Principles matter most.

For those of you who are like me and enjoy reading the works of great Libertarian thinkers, I recommend this excellent analysis concerning the legitimacy of PUBLIC GOODS provided by governments.

A Theory of the Theory of Public Goods (pdf)

Enjoy the journey.

Gene Balfour

Member, Ontario Libertarian Party since 2007:

Riding: Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock

Thornhill Libertarian candidate in 4 past elections.

IMPORTANT: The views or opinions expressed on this site are those of individual authors and contributors and DO NOT necessarily reflect or correspond to the policy or platform of the Ontario Libertarian Party, its leader, or any other party member. This site is moderated and should you have any concerns with anything found herein please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.