by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Given libertarians’ general preference for individualism over collective action, you might find it amusing to ponder the notion of a libertarian form of leadership. Yet that’s what you will find when you read the latest book from John Allison.
The former chief executive officer at both BB&T and the Cato Institute proposes a “free-market cure” to a “leadership crisis.” The entire book should offer value to those who hold leadership positions and those who strive to do so.
But even those who are not looking for ways to improve their position in a job setting might appreciate the libertarian notions Allison imparts along the way, including his thoughts about the importance of limited government.
Although classical liberals/libertarians believe the role of government is very important in preventing and/or punishing the initiation of force, they also believe the role of government ought to be very limited. It is appropriate to have a military to defend the United States from foreign nations that would threaten or destroy individual rights. (But participation in the military must be voluntary — there should be no draft.) A police force is necessary to protect citizens from violence by local villains. A court system is necessary so everybody can settle legitimate disagreements without resorting to violence.
In a classical liberal/libertarian world, the government has the exclusive right to initiate force, but only in the defense of an individual’s inherent rights. Individuals have the right to self-defense (the right to keep and bear arms), but individuals do not have the right to initiate the use of force. This is an exclusive right given to government. The power of government comes from the consent of the governed. Individuals have natural rights. Rights do not come from government; individual rights precede government.
Because the right to initiate the use of force is so terribly powerful, government must be strictly limited or it will inevitably abuse the rights of individuals. In fact, the abuse of individual rights throughout history has largely been done by government. Governments have killed, maimed, and tortured millions more people than criminals and terrorists combined. Governments always claim to be operating in the common good of the group they serve as they slaughter innocent people. In the United States today, libertarians believe our criminal justice system violates the rights of as many individuals as criminals do. One reason is we believe if there is not a victim, there is not a crime. Voluntary acts among consenting adults are not crimes, even if they are considered immoral by some. …
… In a classical liberal/libertarian world the U.S. court system would be significantly more efficient than it is today. Of course, there would be far fewer laws and dramatically fewer crimes. In addition, there would not be punitive damages that make attorneys rich, and to eliminate frivolous lawsuits “loser pays” would almost certainly be the rule in courts of law. The regulatory state and the welfare state would not exist.