I wanted to get a little personal for a moment and talk about my spiritual side. It is true that I am a member of the LDS Church and also adhere to the principles of Libertarianism. Some may think that they are mutually exclusive including some who may be in the Church. However, based on the religious doctrines that I have studied in depth and the principles of libertarianism I have studied, there is far more in common between the two than what is normally perceived.
In order to understand the first line up of the religious doctrine to libertarian philosophy, we must go before the world was created. According to our beliefs, in Heaven there was a great assembly of all the souls that would eventually inhabit the Earth. During this meeting our Heavenly Father laid out his Plan of Salvation. This plan would require for us to come to Earth, forgetting our Heavenly home, and come to accept God through prophets he would send. Because of this mortal state, we would make mistakes and would be considered unclean in the sight of God. In order for us to return to his presence and reunite with him after our passing, we would need a Savior to atone for the sins we commit.
God’s plan required us to have agency, or the ability to choose to accept to come back to him. This is the first instance of free will.
Another entity we believe as Lucifer, stood up to God and offered an alternative. This alternative was to force everyone to be righteous and then there would be no need for us to have this agency. There would be no need for a savior. Through Lucifer’s plan, all would be guaranteed to return to Heaven.
The flaw with Lucifer’s plan was that without the ability to make a mistake, we could not learn beyond that which we already knew. We would not grow as spiritual beings in truly knowing the difference between right and wrong, suffering and pleasure, sorrow and happiness. We had to learn these things in order to become more like God. We had to understand things through experience.
Ultimately the proposal from Lucifer failed, and we came to Earth with free will: our agency. This is 100% in line with the philosophy of libertarianism, as we believe all interaction must be voluntary without any force or coercion.
The next doctrine I find that falls in line with philosophy is what we consider “Articles of Faith.”
The first one that I find aligning with libertarianism is the second article: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” This is saying that you can only be accountable for the actions you choose to take. You are the only one responsible for what you do, no one else.
The next one I find aligning perfectly with libertarianism is the eleventh article: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
In the Book of Mormon, taxation is linked with slavery and bondage of the people. One king was described as wicked for, among other reasons, a 20% income tax on the people, while another king is praised for his righteousness for levying no taxes whatsoever.
Doctrine and Covenants 134, a chapter in scripture prefaced as “A declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general,” contains several verses which uphold the explicit right to private property. For example: “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” If you fall into the faction of libertarianism that believes a cornerstone of rights is the right to property, this is one that definitely aligns with our philosophy.
David O. McKay, the man who served as prophet of our church from 1951 until his death in 1970, stated the following: “A man may act as his conscience dictates so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others.” On of the highest leaders of the Church in our history understood the importance of individual liberty.
Towards the latter end of the Book of Mormon, one of the books that serves as a doctrinal instruction and testament of Christ in the Americas, the prophet Mormon, who later compiled the record of scripture offers a stark warning to those who would eventually read the passages. He had documented how secretive groups of conspiring individuals brought down two strong civilizations by infiltrating the governments and imposing their wills on the masses.
As members of the Church, we are counseled to “suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain” and commanded by God to “awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you.” Many members of the LDS faith thus are sensitive observers and tend to oppose corruption and conspiracy— especially within government, since our scriptures also document such groups usurp political authority in an attempt to further their lust for control and power over others.
One of the prophets in my lifetime, Ezra Taft Benson, regularly cited individuals like Hayek and Mises when delivering advice to members of the Church. He spoke often of freedom and liberty, both socially and economically.
These are just a few examples of places that we align. While some members of the Church come off as more authoritarian, we are not supposed to force our will upon others. We are supposed to have voluntary acceptance of our faith. Some who have garnered power have used it to enact spiritually based laws, which would negate why we came to Earth in the first place: to choose. We must remember that free will is why we are here, so I do encourage members of my faith to start reading into libertarianism.
Radicals in the Libertarian Party were challenged to respond to an article written on LibertyPoint.org entitled Wisdom vs. Reality: Libertarian ‘wisdom’ vs. ‘real’ politics. As a radical, I decided to offer my two cents to the issue in response. I do this independently of the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus, though I am a member. These thoughts are my own and should not be used in an official format as a response from the caucus.
The very first rebuttal I wish to convey is to the following statement within the article:
Unfortunately, as with all too many revolutionary movements, this devotion, dedication and adherence to our tenets sometimes ignores reality.
There is no reality to ignore when adhering to the core of libertarianism. We believe things like taxation being theft, which by definition, it is. You can try to rationalize the “need” for taxation all you want, but when we apply definitions to terms we find that even the dictionary agrees.
the act of stealing; specifically: the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
Just because a group voted to steal, instead of breaking into your home and taking it themselves, doesn’t change the fact that your property was taken as the rightful owner.
Another core tenet of libertarian thought is that we believe in the non-aggression principle, which means that we believe the initiation of force against a person is wrong. This is the most basic reality that exists. Every one of us was taught since early developmental years that we don’t hit people, break other people’s things, or take what doesn’t belong to us. Libertarians simply take it a step further and say that just because the majority voted to do so, doesn’t mean it is right.
We do not have the power to give authority to someone, if we do not have the authority to do so on our own. Since I cannot steal from my neighbor, I cannot give the authority to someone else to steal from him. When we do this without “government approval,” once we face a court of law, we are still guilty of conspiracy and held at the same level of accountability as the person who actually took the action we asked of them. Why is it different when we ask government to do it?
The next portion the author goes wrong is in the following excerpt:
One of the leading examples of this is the belief that “most people are libertarian but don’t know it yet.”
Reality is somewhat less appealing. Libertarians who’ve been involved with any municipal planning or zoning process know “it ain’t so.” The reality is that, in the United States, in the 21st Century, “most people” have come to expect government to do certain things.
Most people expect local government to pick up the garbage, maintain the streets, provide water and sewer services and police and fire protection. They expect zoning regulations and local ordinances to prevent their neighbor from building a 24-hour convenience store in his back yard.
Evidently, the author seems to think that only the city does trash pick up, providing of water/sewage, police, and fire. I would have to assume that the author has never hired private security to guard assets, has never heard of a volunteer fire department, and never lived in a Home Owner’s Association that does trash pick up. It is also apparent that the author has never lived in a rural community, where there is no sewage system and you maintain your own septic tank. Examples already exist where people have demonstrated that they can do these sorts of things without municipal planning groups. All you have to do is experience things beyond a narrow world view.
Not everyone has city utilities on the grid. Not everyone has to rely on subsidies on farmed food. What utter chaos there must be in the non-incorporated areas around the nation.
The reality is that individuals like the author are just too lazy to do things on their own, or in voluntarily associations. It takes a lot more work to make sure things get done, but why bother when city councils and state legislatures can just do it for you?
The author paints things as there being a dependence on government as a “modern reality,” yet for anyone who lives in a rural area, reality is very different. The vast majority of things are done through voluntary association and personal responsibility. Want power? Better make sure the windmill is in good repair. Want heat? Better make sure to order that propane. Want indoor plumbing? Better make sure the septic system is in good order.Want fire put out? Put on your boots and gear up, because all that’s available is volunteers.
The next passage is one I believe you will find an immediate contradiction between the two statements:
Self-government, however, may have another meaning if you consider that man is a social animal. While rugged individualism is an American ideal, and has and does exist in our society, most people also need and seek community. Even in the “frontier days,” when a man was striking out on his own, family in tow, other individuals came together in voluntary association to help him build his barn.
In other words, wherever two or three are gathered, there will be government in the midst.
Notice how the author is speaking about voluntary association and adhering it to meaning government. There is nothing voluntary about government. You pay taxes or go to jail. You cut your grass or be fined. You want salt? Too bad, it’s banned. 32 oz. soda? Too much sugar for you. Want to choose cannabis as a medical treatment? Too bad, jail time for you. There is nothing voluntary about what is going on. It is put in place with authority that never existed.
Most people are social creatures, but there are miles of difference between voluntary exchange and forced compliance to societal norms defined by a majority.
The reality of the situation is that while it may currently be accepted by the majority, we must always speak the truth boldly and plainly. Watering things down does no one any good. Is it ok if you are elected to a city council to vote in favor of a partial tax decrease? Of course. Take what you can get now, but never settle for more than absolute liberty in all things. As soon as you vote yes, the very next day you should be right back on the offensive in decreasing taxation more.
When we water down things to fit society’s current status, we get lost in all the noise. We must be bold in our approach and show exactly how libertarianism is different. Give examples of ways to improve and always strive for the highest amount in all areas of civil and economic liberty.
In my own candidacy for the U.S. Congress in 2014 and this year, I didn’t cut corners in what I placed in my platform. In 2014, I doubled the Libertarian vote in my district and set the highest polling third party for federal office in Utah since the 90’s. In 2016, I have polled even higher than 2014, and the election is still a month away.
I didn’t say to cut taxes; I said eliminate them. I didn’t say legalize medicinal marijuana; I said all prohibition must end. I didn’t say cut foreign aid to our enemies; I said it isn’t our business to be involved in other nations at all. I didn’t say that we should only go to war with Congressional approval; I stated that war must end and violence is only a means through defense. I spoke the truth. I didn’t take half measures. In the end, a new record will be set in Utah because of it.
The reality is that pragmatists like this author cannot do anything without radicals speaking boldly on principle so that people can see the difference between us and the two major parties.
Lately, I have been getting attacked by both sides of the political spectrum from the more militant and defensive individuals within the two major parties. Those in the GOP believe I am a “leftist” and the ones in the DNC believe me to be a “Right Wing Nut Job.” I will take the fact that both parties opposing me is a good things.
Ultimately, I am seeking for a power shift from Washington, D.C. to your living room. Giving the people more power than they have had in a long time. Ideas like that are a threat to the power monopoly the two major parties have enjoyed for over 100 years. Every proposal I make, whether in a civil or economic liberty issue, takes power away from them and their friends.
Most people are unaware of what libertarianism is, and that is why it can be confusing for some when I can speak out against things from both political parties. Fundamentally, however, the majority of Americans do hold libertarian ideals, they just don’t know it. I believe that a lot of the problem has been with communicating the ideas in a manner that people understand.
Many libertarians come off as brash. They immediately yell “statist” and attack ideas that many people hold dear. Challenging the status quo never goes over easy, but when you come in on the offensive, the people who hold the beliefs you challenge will clam up and become defensive.
I have been working on communicating and reaching out to a very broad group of people. Everyone from the more socialistic, millennial generation to the older, ultra conservative. I have made allies in both these camps, and everything in between. The reason why is because of how I approach.
First of all, you must acknowledge the concern of the person you are talking to. Validate their point of view. It is paramount that the person you are talking to understands you also want the same thing. It is just the approach you are taking differently. Case in point, one of the libertarian ideals is to take a non-intervention approach to the military. Many who sit in the Republican camp see this as you questioning national security.
Well, as libertarians, we also believe in strong national security. Let them know that. The way I have approached something like this would be to state it as such:
I know you are concerned for national security, and I support that 100%. We need to have the ability to respond to threats to our nation. I am just concerned about being involved in conflicts that don’t really involve interests of the United States. We need to take a more defensive approach with our military, and not intervene with every conflict that arises around the globe. This ensures that our troops are getting the training they need for the possibility our nation is attacked. With how are foreign policy has been, the military is stretched thin and the men and women who serve our nation are weary with constantly being deployed abroad. They also lose out on that vital training to defend our country when they are involved in so many events globally.
The same concepts can be given to any end of the political spectrum, and it’s important that as a candidate, volunteer, or official representative of libertarian ideas, that you approach in such a manner. It has worked for me to the point that only the most militant and active of the two parties will oppose what I have to say.
Libertarianism is the best solution we have. It sticks to the Constitution, limits spending, and ensures economic and civil liberty reach their maximum for all people. It is the best chance for America’s future. Help spread the word, and make sure you communicate efficiently!