Harry Browne on Force

The late, heroic Harry Browne on the use of force:

Libertarians recognize that force is the least efficient means of handling social and political questions. Any successful businessman can tell you that you achieve very little by trying to intimidate your employees; you accomplish much more by providing the proper incentives to motivate them to do voluntarily what you want them to do. In the same way, political force breeds resistance, injustice, and inefficiency; it is vastly inferior to arrangements that allow each individual to make his own decisions.

Libertarians may argue in their spare time about the details of a free society we haven’t seen yet, but probably most of them have the same objective — to reduce the use of force to the absolute minimum possible, whether that means a society with no government or very little government. The objective of reducing force is neither radical nor unpopular; undoubtedly a vast majority of the population, if asked, would agree with the objective and, if any thought is given to the matter, wouldn’t fault us for being more consistent in striving toward that objective than they are.

Of course, there are many politicians — Democratic and Republican — who say they stand for smaller government, but they never do anything to try to make government smaller. Even more telling, what separates them from Libertarians is their response to newly discovered social problems. No matter what a Libertarian’s ideology tells him about the final goal for society, he thinks initiating force is the last resort.

But the standard Democratic and Republican politician thinks of force as the first alternative.

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