Libertarianism is a political theory that focuses on the natural rights of individuals. The roots come from ancient Greece, China, and Israel. However, modern-day libertarianism did not emerge until the 17th and 18th centuries.
The first principle is that libertarianism defends individual rights. Libertarians believe that people are born with natural rights that ought to be protected. Individuals have the right to determine how they live their lives as long as they do not interfere with other people’s rights. Among these are the rights to live, speak freely, and own property. Hence, libertarians reject the death penalty, government censorship, and any government intervention with private property.
Secondly, libertarianism emphasizes economic liberty. Libertarians value a free market economy. Therefore, they allow little government intervention in the economy. They resist any unnecessary tax. Thus, they support all efforts to reduce taxes. People should not lose their assets for other’s gain. Furthermore, they do not want the government to create debt. Debt would inevitably burden future generations. A balanced budget or a surplus is a necessity.
The third fundament of the theory is a limited government. Libertarians believe that government is a dangerous institution because of the highly concentrated power. Instead, they look to divide and limit the authority of government institutions. A small government leads to personal liberty and sustained economic growth.
The final main principle of libertarianism is that the single purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of its citizens. For example, the sole purpose of the military is to protect the country against foreign aggression. Hence, they oppose using military force for foreign intervention, including providing military or economic aid.
Libertarianism in practice
In conclusion, these four ideas describe libertarian positions on major domestic and international issues. No country is strictly libertarian. To some extent, we can observe these views in countries such as Canada, Australia, and Germany. As well as in the United Kingdom and the United States.