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Opening Arguments

The modest way

Precise, succinct, correct:

. . . though it may be radical, libertarianism is far from extreme in comparison with its principal alternatives: the social justice of the Left or legal moralism of the Right. Social justice posits that everyone should get a certain amount of stuff; legal moralism posits that everyone should act in a certain way. But because there is no consensus about how much stuff each person should have or how exactly everyone should act, both of these comprehensive approaches are recipes for societal conflict. And the legal institutions that are necessary to implement each vision must be highly intrusive and coercive. In contrast, libertarianism is far more modest: it stipulates only that individuals may do what they please with what is theirs, requiring a legal system merely to define the proper jurisdiction of each person over their rightfully acquired property.

The left and the right are both intolerant, each in its own way. And neither has sufficient respect for the individual to deserve total allegiance. Libertarianism has many faults, but intolerance isn't one of them. A certain latitudianarian excess is, in fact, one of its defects.

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