This article was published in the Spring 1999 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Libertarian Mythology
by Steven F. LeBoeuf

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When Richard Hammer requested our personal "mythology" regarding a free nation, my immediate response was typical for a twenty-four-year-old Cajun male. I envisioned a mountainous paradise with plenty of clear, free-running streams. I was resting under a big oak tree with scantily-clad nubile young women slowly feeding me fried crawfish and jalepeño hush-puppies. Socialist politicians were drowning in the rivers nearby, and their frantic screams could be heard for miles away. But then the daydream stopped, and I realized that my mythology was becoming more like a Muslim afterlife fable than a free nation. After pondering for a few minutes, my true mythology for a free nation came rather quickly.

Much of our work in the Free Nation Foundation focuses on designing a government (or lack thereof) that will best preserve the individual liberties we so dearly cherish. This work is quite justified and practical; with careful planning, constitutions can certainly be engineered to provide for optimum individual freedom and help thwart forces that act against such freedom. But of course, the future of a free nation inevitably rests in the values of its citizens. No constitution can guarantee that a free nation will remain free. If citizens simply do not respect individual liberty, then not even an impeccable constitution can prevent the resulting barbarism.

But this is what will be unique about the development of the world's first true free nation. Our nation will be the first nation formed by those who truly value individual liberty. Many consider the United States as the original free nation, but with huge philosophical contradictions embedded in the heart of the country's framework (such as the regulation of interstate commerce, slavery, and monopolies on rules of law), I hardly find the United States worthy of such a title. In a nation founded by true lovers of liberty, individuals will respect the natural rights of their peers, and this is what attracts me so ardently to the work of FNF.

Socialists excuse their barbaric use of force in the name of the "common good." This two-word phrase runs chills up the spines of many libertarians (myself included). Our distaste for this term is quite justified—after all, the "common good" is associated with collectivism and the disintegration of individual rights. Regardless, we libertarians also persuade in the name of the common good, but for libertarians, the "common good" is "individual liberty" as opposed to "society's" nebulous goals. In fact, I imagine that the true foundation of a free nation will rest more on this libertarian theme than on a hard-wired constitution. This theme is based on a respect for private property and a sharp distaste for the initiation of force.

To illustrate my argument, consider this mock scenario involving neighborhood pollution and the infamous Dr. Quirk. Dr. Quirk is an eccentric scientist, living in a typical suburban neighborhood, who spends his spare time performing bizarre experiments in his basement. In an act of carelessness, Dr. Quirk creates an explosion which, unbeknownst to him, busts his sewer line and seeps raw sewage into his neighbor's prized garden.

In modern American culture, it is likely that this incident would result in a bitter and expensive law suit that would establish fault and damages. Furthermore, the state might castigate Quirk with penalties for violating its sewage laws. But in a free nation, I imagine the scenario to be quite different. Of course, general sanitation guidelines would exist in any free community, and these guidelines would probably be sustained through free market principles. Violations of these guidelines could be addressed through arbitration, but I doubt that Dr. Quirk's mistake would make it that far. Rather, I imagine that both Dr. Quirk and his neighbor would be sensible on the nature of fault. On his own volition, Dr. Quirk would agree to pay his neighbor just compensation without wasteful court proceedings and third-party intervention. In short, I imagine that the theme of respect for private property would pervade the culture of a free nation to such an extent that many property disputes will be settled quite peacefully and without the intervention of arbitrators or blue men with guns.

Similarly, I presume that the general theme of laissez faire, or "live and let live," would oil the social mechanisms of a free nation. Educational facilities of all varieties would be established, and the costs of these facilities would reflect the true market demand for education. And unlike the case in modern America, a variety of peaceful leisure activities currently deemed as unacceptable would be tolerated in a free nation. As a result, many individuals who would be considered as dysfunctional by American standards would function quite normally and profitably in a free nation, where they can legally relieve their "bizarre" passions without violence. I imagine that theft and murder would be relatively rare in a free nation, and when such crimes do occur, I imagine that compensation will be realized rather peacefully.

All too often in state-controlled institutions, value received does not equal value earned. Not only is this disheartening, as those who've earned watch their incomes being capriciously consumed by those who've yearned, but the economic repercussions are devastating. On the other hand, I fantasize that a general sense of "fairness" will permeate a free nation and that diligent individuals will reap what they sow. It is a great feeling to know that you can keep what you earn and that your possessions truly belong to you; this is the true nature of fairness.

I do not naively imagine that a free nation will be absolved of clashing motives. In fact, clashing opinions, intelligent skepticism, and conflict of interests will be quite welcomed in a free nation. Rather, what fuels my mythology is this vision: in a free nation citizens can live their lives as true individuals unified under a libertarian theme. This theme is centered on a respect for private property, social tolerance, a love of life, and a sharp distaste for the initiation of force.

While I am quite aware that mythology does not equal reality, there is something pleasantly defiant about my myth. Santa Claus, Zeus, and the Tooth Fairy can never become reality. But a free nation, founded by zealous libertarians, can. D


Steven F. LeBoeuf hopes to obtain his Ph.D. in electrical engineering by May 2000. Though currently engrossed in doctoral research at North Carolina State University, LeBoeuf manages to devote spare time to the libertarian cause. After moving to Raleigh from the "Cajun Capital" of Houma, Louisiana, LeBoeuf immediately began working as a libertarian columnist/cartoonist for NCSU's student paper (Technician). Having published over three dozen columns, LeBoeuf now serves as a principal medium for libertarian insight on campus.

He ran for public office in the ‘98 elections as a Libertarian Candidate for State House . Despite having the coolest slogan, "Had enough, vote LeBoeuf!", he somehow failed to win.


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