Libertarianism

Being a Libertarian in D.C.

What does it mean to be a libertarian? Matt Kibbe attempts to answer with his bestselling new book, "Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto."

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Matt Kibbe

What does it mean to be a libertarian? That's the question Matt Kibbe attempted to answer with the title of his bestselling new book, Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto (William Morrow). Kibbe, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is the president of FreedomWorks, an influential activist group that works to elect liberty-loving candidates and promote their issues. In April, Kibbe sat down with Reason TV to discuss his new book, the right's growing dovish streak, and why it's easier than ever to learn about libertarian ideas.

Q: The title is Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff. Why do you need a whole book after that? What needs to be expanded on?

A: I wanted to translate basic libertarianism into plain English. People would always ask me, "What should I read if I want to understand what libertarians stand for?" And you'd say something like, "Go read Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments."

Q: Which is another way of giving them the finger, right?

A: It's another way of saying: "Don't even think about considering libertarianism." So I just wanted to translate it into basic values, and get them to understand that what we talk about, when we talk about freedom, is really just common sense.

Q: You also talk about taking personal responsibility-that liberty demands that you are responsible. You also talk about the non-aggression principle. It's very basic to your worldview. Explain that a little bit.

A: The whole basis of peaceful cooperation is not hurting people, is not violating their rights, their most basic right to life. And libertarians are a little bit different, because they don't want to start a fight with anybody. They want to be left alone. When you apply that to foreign policy, I'm kind of a Washingtonian. It's practical.

Q: By that you mean a George Washingtonian-not Beltway Washingtonian.

A: Yeah, George Washington. He basically said, "Let's avoid entangling alliances." It was a pragmatic position for him. He was like, "Do we have money to nation-build? Can we actually get involved in all this stuff?"

Q: Are Republicans going to become hawkish again if and when they take the Senate and the White House?

A: It's easy to oppose a Democratic president when he's proposing to bomb Syria, but I think there has been a serious philosophical shift as well. You're going to see more Republicans start challenging a Republican president if he or she starts trampling our civil liberties, if he or she starts proposing this kind of blank check nation-building.

Q: Are we getting to a point where back-to-back you have a kind of nightmare scenario? Republicans blew out the budget. They expanded entitlements. They made war overseas after promising a humble foreign policy. Obama came in saying, "I'm going to close Gitmo." He kept it open. "I'm going to get us out of dumb wars." He tripled troop strength in Afghanistan. He's terrible on civil liberties. Is this setting the table for a great libertarian reaction? To just say, look, we've tried it on the right, tried on the left, now let's try it libertarian style?

A: That is the trend. And a lot of the reason you're seeing so many people interested in libertarian ideas is the failure of the Republicans and the failure of the Democrats, but also the ability to go get the information for yourself. You're not waiting for the RNC [Republican National Committee] to tell you what to think anymore.…More and more young people are building their own curriculums. Didn't get it in high school, didn't get it in college, but all of a sudden, all of the things that I struggled to find when I was a teenager, you can find just sitting at your keyboard.

To watch the full interview, see below.

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  1. And libertarians are a little bit different, because they don’t want to start a fight with anybody. They want to be left alone.

    We all do sweetheart. We all do. It just doesn’t ever seem to work out that way. I see people like this and I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. And trust me Reason, you didn’t need to tell us this guy was a Washington Libertarian in the headline. It was pretty obvious without the headline.

    1. We all do sweetheart.

      All evidence to the contrary.

      1. Everyone wants to be left alone. The worst meddling nannyies on earth will tell you that. The problem is that they think that you, by engaging in (insert horrible activity dejour here)are messing with them leaving them no choice but to try and stop you.

        1. Do the Swiss have a lot of enemies?

          1. Yes. It is just that their enemies have a hard time getting to them given that they are landlocked and have strict border controls.

            You admit yourself that people most certainly don’t want to leave each other alone. So why is it so hard for you to understand that your enemies may have their own reasons for hating you?

            1. It is just that their enemies have a hard time getting to them given that they are landlocked

              You mean kinda like being separated by two huge oceans?

              1. The US has enemies in this hemisphere.

                  1. Cuba, Venezuela, Mexican revanchists, MS-13, the drug cartels, Muslim radicals, numerous socialist radicals.

                    1. Papaya, those countries present as much of a threat as a little girl with a crochet needle.

                      Please, exaggerate much?

          2. How are the Swiss a remotely appropriate comparison to America? You can’t be this wantonly dumb.

            1. How are the Swiss a remotely appropriate comparison to America?

              They certainly aren’t. The Swiss are Neutral and don’t have any enemies.

              1. The Swiss were invaded multiple times in the 18th and early 19th Century. They have had plenty of enemies.

                And the Belgians were neutral too. So were Czechs. That didn’t seem to help them much either.

                Do you honestly believe that “if only we leave people alone” we will never have any enemies? You don’t generally strike me as being retarded. I guess some truths are just too horrible for some people to contemplate. Let me burst your bubble here, some people out there just suck and nothing you do is going to placate them.

                1. Do you honestly believe that “if only we leave people alone” we will never have any enemies?

                  NO! What I’m saying is if we only leave people alone, we’ll have significantly fewer enemies.

                  1. You’re wrong. Our enemies hate America because it is perceived as a bastion of the freedoms and values they hate.

                    Hitler planned to invade Switzerland.

                2. Miserable Fat Belgian Bastards!!

          3. Do the Swiss have a lot of enemies?

            Do they ban abortion? Do they reject the entire concept of equal, natural rights? Do they confuse social fascism with liberty?

            1. derp derp derp

              1. Can’t answer? (snicker)

                Misty be a dupe of Ron/Rand Paul, the phony federalists who lie about the Constitution, as a lame excuse for extreme social conservatism.

                derp derp (lol)

        2. Good point, sadly. 100 years of Progressivism has created a society where most people don’t understand that in order to be left alone they need to leave other people alone as well. That’s the fight libertarians need to win.

    2. Think back to the end of the Cold War. Clinton was president and we had budget surpluses, a growing economy and the potential to drastically shrink our military and overseas commitments. Bush ran and won on a policy of improving relations with Mexico. Both Clinton and Bush were for “Free Trade” (though our free trade policies are not exactly free trade). Then 9/11 happened, largely due to our policy of trying to have troops and arms caches remain in the Middle East and particularly in Saudi Arabia (Mecca and Medina and all that). So, just as Sheldon pointed out with his WW1 article earlier today, there was a huge potential wasted and the USA and the world got shunted onto a different path. Possibly if we had been a trifle less interventionist and a trifle less eager to leave military depots in Saudi Arabia, 9/11 may not have happened. So no massive military build-up, no Iraq II or Afghanistan, no Patriot Act, no Gitmo, etc.

      An alternate path without 9/11 has us with a much smaller military, more free trade, improved immigration policies. What a waste.

      1. “Possibly if we had been a trifle less interventionist and a trifle less eager to leave military depots in Saudi Arabia, 9/11 may not have happened.”

        AHAHAHAHA no. If America had been a trifle MORE interventionist in Afghanistan and killed OBL and AQ, no 9/11. There is a 9/11 lesson and it’s not the one you like.

        1. Cytotoxic|8.10.14 @ 7:22PM|#

          There is a 9/11 lesson and it’s not the one you like.

          Yep. We stuck our nose into the middle east and suffered 9/11.

          Just like when we stuck our nose into the war between China and Japan and suffered Pearl Harbor.

          How many more dumbfuck notions before we mind our own business?

      2. Think back to the end of the Cold War.

        Funniest thing I’ve read all year!

        Clinton was president and we had budget surpluses,

        I love satire! Bush was President. There were no Clinton surpluses! He took office in the 22nd month of a recovery, and left us with a recession.

        Then 9/11 happened, largely due to our policy of trying to have troops and arms caches remain in the Middle East

        But mostly our military aggression, as you merely hint at later.

        We stuck our nose into the war between China and Japan and suffered Pearl Harbor. We stuck our nose into a 2000 year dispute in the middle east and suffered 9/11.

    3. not true – if we all just wanted to be left alone then there would be no need to “want to be left alone”

      Truth is the world is full of control freaks, greedy people that want to screw with people for their own gain. Many of these types work in government or are politicians.

      Basically the best person to be a leader in government is someone who doesn’t want to be there.

      1. I am the exception to the last rule. I really do want power just to protect people’s rights. I’m pretty much morally immaculate.

  2. And someone needs to tell this guy that sideburns went out with the second George Bush. He needs to just embrace his inner beardo, even if that means getting some testosterone supplements.

    1. Ha! I was about to comment that he needs to lose the sideburns. Beat me to it, John.

      1. And straighten up that tie, mister!

        1. Or get a purple sequined jumpsuit.

      2. Why do people working as a policy hacks in Washington seem to always look like such douches? Does anyone in the normal range of the social awkwardness scale ever choose that field?

        1. Or people who piss and moan about irrelevancies?

    2. Or he could just become a real trendsetter and grow them into fullblown muttonchops.

      1. In fairness, I would have to respect that.

      2. But only if they were full on Gettysburg style chops. I am talking serious ones.

    3. Point to John.

    4. Yeah, fuck individualism. Worship mindless conformity.

  3. Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.

    Best line ever. Even if this guy IS a bit of a hack.

    I’m stealing that for my explanations of libertarianism.

    1. “Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.”

      Best line ever. Even if this guy IS a bit of a hack. I’m stealing that for my explanations of libertarianism.

      Much better than his dumbfuck notion of explaining the nonaggression principle, after ridiculing those who tell folks to read Hayek!!!

      nonagression = don’t hurt people and don’t take there stuff. DUH

      Yeah, we need more ivory tower theorists, incapable speaking to American voters (or even having sensible policy proposals)

  4. And a lot of the reason you’re seeing so many people interested in libertarian ideas is the failure of the Republicans and the failure of the Democrats, but also the ability to go get the information for yourself. You’re not waiting for the RNC [Republican National Committee] to tell you what to think anymore.

    I guess since he lives in Washington and worked in Congress, he actually thinks that everyone does that or did that before the internets. My advice to this guy is to get out of Washington and get a real job and live a real life for a few years and then come back and talk to us.

    1. “he actually thinks that everyone does that or did that before the internets.”

      They did and too many still do. Most people are stupid sheep.

    2. On the other hand, if we could go ten years without intervening in some shit-hole overseas, we might get back on track towards a more libertarian future.

  5. “Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.”

    Unless you want to pollute the planet or steal the wealth of nations via tax code. Then knock yourself out.

    Simplicity is nice, but it’s not necessarily the same as truth.

    1. So much derp in such a short post.

    2. steal the wealth of nations via tax code

      prog-jection

      1. Indeed. Of course to Tony, a tax cut or simply low taxes is “stealing” from the rightful owners, The People (in the form of The State).

        And I love it when lefties use “pollution” as an argument against free enterprise or libertarianism. The least libertarian countries have some of the worst pollution: the USSR, China, etc.

    3. Simplicity is nice, but it’s not necessarily the same as truth.

      You and truth aren’t even marginally acquainted, but you’ve obviously got the market cornered on simple.

    4. Tony is profoundly stupid and hateful but he proves my point above. Tony wakes up every day and thinks it is the rest of the world that is compelling him to try and control their lives.

      1. He (tony) is a progressive/liberal/statist/socialist come here to argue that ideology. He is a plant from that side

        he is not worth responding to and should be ignored because he has nothing but liberal talking points to add which have already been refuted.

    5. It’s way too late for Tony to read this, but one quote which always annoys me is “There is always one simple wrong answer to every problem”, implying that there is a correct complex answer.

      In fact, there is one simple solution to every problem: leave it to markets. Markets and prices are a real world magic which lead the willing and observant to answers, some of which work and some of which fail, all of varying degrees of complexity but which markets and prices inexorably reduce in complexity. In contrast, government answers are invariably complex and unworkable in both theory and practice, producing knock-on problems needing ever more complex amendments to the original unnecessarily complex government answer.

      1. It’s weird how liberals like Tony proclaim to understand and believe in evolution but hate markets.
        It just goes to show they retain the 6th grade version of evolution that is still teleological and thinks fitness is running speed or six pack abs. Absolutely no conception of emergent systems but full of the pretense of knowledge.

      2. Markets fail, sometimes spectacularly, and that’s happened at least once in your lifetime on a global scale. This is almost a parody of the type of thinking I was referring to. The market mechanism is useful to a degree but it’s not everything.

  6. The upside to a troll is that it increases clicks on the story, which increases the advertising rate (a little), which helps Reason spread its message.

    1. Good point. Thanks for helping the cause Tony.

    2. At one point I was almost convinced that Tony was a Reason plant to stir up controversy, the expression seemed artificially provocative. But a few comments that were reasonably heated convinced me they were genuine.

      To my sadness.

      1. He is a fascinating creature. Been here fit years and understands libertarianism not one but more than when he came. He’ll attack some straw man, get called on it, have to abandon his original nonsense, change the subject, only to repeat the same claim the next day as if nothing happened.
        He comes here to anger people, yet is more often easily angered by those he wishes to troll.
        Trolls like him would make absolutely amazing case studies.

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