Original Pagan•Vigil FAQ
What do you mean by "libertarian?"
Let's break this down a bit. "Libertarian" is the modern American name for "classic liberal." In America, the label "liberal" got hijacked in the early 20th Century, although it still tends to be an accurate description in Europe.
A modern liberal can range from what used to be called a "progressive" to socialist. Roughly speaking, a modern liberal is all for personal freedom but feels that economic freedom and opportunity should be controlled by government action so that everyone "benefits equally" in the name of "social justice." In it's more extreme forms, it can mean that good intentions and lofty goals are judged over results.
A conservative tends to value economic freedom over personal freedom. Usually this means removing government obstacles to business while advocating a common moral belief system to join people together, even if someone has to sacrifice in the name of that system. In it's more extreme forms, that can mean dictating the personal behavior (and occasionally beliefs) of individuals through government actions. The bottom line and results take precedence over feelings.
American libertarians want both personal freedom and economic freedom, and they know that always comes with responsibility. Libertarians also believe that the biggest threat to personal freedom and economic freedom is a large government with expanding powers.
There is a very important distinction between a "classic liberal" and a "modern liberal." A "modern liberal" believes that rights are defined by a group and granted to individuals by virtue of their membership in that group. I call this the French model of rights because it's assumptions made the French Revolution possible. A "classic liberal" believes that individual rights exist even if they haven't been defined, and the only restriction should be to prevent an individual from interfering with the rights of another. I call this the American model of rights because it made the United States possible.
You can find more information on the model I used here at the World's Smallest Political Quiz .
If there is a single rule that American libertarians follow, it is "Thou shalt not initiate force." Both conservatives and modern liberals see force as an option if it is for the "greater good.”
We libertarians also tend to be idealistic.
I'm not a member of the Libertarian party, so I usually don't capitalize "libertarian" except at the beginning of a sentence. When I say libertarians, I really mean a group unified only by their beliefs, we aren't really organized or anything.
If you think I am off base in my definitions or if I have overlooked something, please let me know .
Just to make things more confusing, the word "libertarian" had completely different meanings up until about the mid-Twentieth Century.
Doesn't that make you a moderate? Aren't you picking and choosing which ideas you like and which you don't like?
No and nope.
Both the modern liberal and conservative movements want an ever increasing government to control individual action, just in different ways.
I don't want the "bad choices" removed "for my own good." I believe that act of choosing helps people to recognize the consequences of their actions. I think that competing with the "bad choices" results in improved benefits in the "good choices."
A libertarian wants the government to leave him and his alone. The only thing that really unites libertarians is their desire for freedom for themselves and their property.
A libertarian wants the government at all levels to be smaller than absolutely necessary.
If I and others like me are anything, it's anti-statist.
What's this I've heard about libertarians and the "Zero Aggression Principle?"
Both conservatives and modern liberals will use force if it is for the "greater good." One problem is deciding just who controls that force, especially when and how it's applied. But the bigger problem is picking the people who decide that "greater good."
Most American libertarians follow the Zero Aggression Principle. "No human has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another." Many libertarians insist that the ZAP is the sole defining characteristic of libertarians.
Prior to the 1960s, I can't find evidence that the Zero Aggression Principle was THE defining characteristic of a libertarian. Yes it was mentioned, but always deriving from other principles. I'm still amazed that I missed that until I started looking closer. Considering some of the other things that were happening in American culture and in the liberty movement, it does make sense in context. If the ZAP wasn't THE defining trait of libertarians in the 1950s, or of (classical) liberals in the 1900s, then obviously the ZAP isn't as central to freedom and liberty as some libertarians say.
I used to sum the ZAP up as "Thou shalt not initiate force." It was practically the only dogma I allowed myself.
But there are exceptions to every rule. Exceptions that you can only invoke at your own peril and at the risk of undoing everything that you believe is right and just. There are times when playing by the rules just invites your own destruction. There are times when certain people game the system, just so no one can honorably oppose their moves.
The Zero Aggression Principle only works as a guideline, not as an absolute.
Depending on circumstances, I'm no longer willing to rule out initiating force. But I'm still smart enough to accept that initiating force could (and probably will) invite total catastrophe.
With apologies to movie purists, "be nice until it's time not to be nice." Tit for tat. That's a choice that can only be made by an individual. That's a choice that will always have drastic consequences. Sometimes that's the choice that will support liberty and freedom.
Ultimately, that's the goal, not non-aggression.
The Zero Aggression Principle works when everyone is willing to play the civilization game. But it's not universal. And that is the issue.
Doesn't a government "smaller than absolutely necessary" mean that the government couldn't do it's job?
Exactly. That is a bad thing how?
KYFHO. As in Keep Your F***ing Hands Off!
What's with this pagan nonsense?
It's capitalized, Pagan, just as Christian is capitalized.
I could just as easily ask "what's with this Christian nonsense?" or "what's with this Muslim nonsense?" or "what's with this atheist nonsense?"
Let's just say that I choose to perceive and acknowledge Deity in a different form than you do and leave it at that.
Does that mean that you're one of those Wiccans who runs around claiming to cast spells?
Persistent, aren't you?
I'm not Wiccan.
The "scholarly" description for the path I follow could be described as Celtic Reconstructionist-influenced eclectic solitary. That leaves a lot out. Does that tell you any more than you knew before?
I'm not trying to be difficult, it's just part of the disassociation between a revealed faith and an experienced one. Think of it as the difference between riding a roller coaster and listening to someone tell you about riding a roller coaster. Or reading about someone telling someone else about riding a roller coaster. That doesn't make either more true, but each has it's own characteristics.
As for spells, yes, some of what I do could be considered spells. So could prayer from hundreds of other religions, including all prayers from members of the Big Three monotheistic faiths.
However, none of that has any real bearing on this website EXCEPT that as a member of a minority faith group, I'm sensitive to religious freedom issues. Oh, and technically I am a "person of faith," even if it is not a usual one.
Incidentally, I mean "minority faith group" in the same sense that I mean "libertarian." Neither has any formal membership or hierarchy, those in the group just share common ideas, perspectives, and concerns. Pagans and libertarians are about equally hard to organize, and for about the same reasons.
Who are your gods? What are their names?
Sorry, that is a private matter between me and Them.
You do know that you are going to burn in Hell for worshipping Satan, don't you?
No more than you will be condemned to Tartarus for worshiping the "false" Christian God.
It's not my faith, so I can't really be bound by it's beliefs, can I?
If you won't let me dictate the form of your religion, why should I let you do that to me?
And no, Tartarus is not part of my beliefs.
So let's move onto something other than religion and faith.
What do you mean by part-time trouble maker?
Three things. First, I try to tell the truth and be honest about how I feel when I am asked a question. This can upset people who are only used to hearing unqualified support for their chosen dogma. The chosen dogma isn't always religious.
Second, when someone is passing themselves off as something they are not in order to gain influence or power over, I will stick out my metaphorical foot to trip them up.
Third and most importantly, when something threatens either individual freedom or personal responsibility, I will do what I can to stop it cold.
Now, those things don't pay the bills, so I can only afford to do it part-time.
Individual freedom or personal responsibility?
You really can't have one without the other. Each one alone is limited. I think that is the mistake that both modern liberals and conservatives make.
Many promote their own freedom, but only at the expense of someone else. Others don't want to face the consequences of the things that they have done.
You should be free to choose as long as your choice doesn't interfere with another, BUT you should accept responsibility for your actions and words.
Put individual freedom and personal responsibility together and the result is an incredibly potent catalyst that has been known to shake nations.
But doesn't everyone do that already?
Not by a long shot.
Take out the people who are convinced they have the only method to utopia while destroying everything else in the process, the people who are only looking to scam a better angle on the game, and the people "beaten down by the system," and there is only a remarkably small portion of the population left.
The people "in charge" don't want anyone else to know about freedom joined with responsibility because the combination is "too dangerous" and could threaten their personal power base.
Aren't you overreacting and exaggerating?
*shrugs* Suit yourself.
But you might want to ask why so many of the present laws and regulations in the U.S. and worldwide protect either individual freedom or promote personal responsibility, but seldom do both at the same time. And why does the cost to one usually more than offset the benefits to the other?
What are you doing about it?
This blog, among other things.
I'm not looking to establish my own utopian pagan paradise. I just know that if enough people know enough of things that happen, there will be changes. I have no idea what form those changes will take or what the effect of those changes will be on me personally. I just know in the long run, those changes likely will be beneficial.
That's why I am keeping vigil. Watching out for both the Left and the Right, those with faith and those without, those nationally focused and those globally focused. Alone, any one group is a disaster waiting to happen, With each struggling for attention, all sides together keep any one side from absolute dominion and the competition forges answers beyond the capabilities of any single group.
I have this crazy idea that the internet can help do that.
What qualifies you to keep vigil?
Other than the things I've already listed, not a lot.
But remember, some "experts" already made the choice for you that put us in this state of affairs, and the modern version of those experts don't want you to look too closely or you might see things that you don't like.
I'm not looking to "lead a revolution" with this blog. I just want to help people connect with each other and with the information they need to make a difference.
It's more than just black and white.
Last updated Tuesday, April 7, 2009
© 2005, 2006, 2009 NeoWayland, All Rights Reserved
Posted: Thu - May 12, 2005 at 06:56 AM