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Varieties of “Anti-Government”

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Prompted by the recent violence in Charlottesville, in my latest column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review I highlight some differences that ought to be kept in mind when using, or encountering, the term “anti-government. [2]” A slice:

A libertarian’s – a Jeffersonian’s – “anti-government” stance reflects mainly a strong presumption against using force to direct peaceful people’s affairs. The libertarian objects first and foremost not to particular policies of a large and constitutionally unconstrained government, but to its very existence. Even if such a government were today to behave in no ways that the libertarian finds objectionable, he remains opposed to it, understanding that such power is destined to be abused.

Of course, the libertarian is indeed “anti” many specific government policies – tariffs, subsidies, minimum wages, occupational licensing, K-12 schools’ funding and operations. This “anti-government” stance reflects no prejudice against an ethnic group, no favoritism for a culture or way of life. It reflects prejudice only against using power to secure special privileges, favoritism only for maximum scope to live, work and play as individuals peacefully choose. It is, in short, a pro-individual-liberty policy.

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