Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is "big government" needed to protect life?

[Editor's note: Today's guest post is by Nulono. For more information on pro-life libertarianism, check out Libertarians for Life.]

I'm generally a fan of The Rachel Maddow Show. While I don't always agree with Maddow, she is not usually unreasonable, and will often interview people who disagree with her.

Except for the issue of abortion. Not once have I seen her interview a pro-lifer on an abortion issue, or even a moderate. She always paints pro-lifers in a bad light.

The most recent example of this is a recurring segment on her show attempting to show hypocrisy in the Tea Party. Now, I'm no Tea Partier, and I won't take this space to talk about how I feel about the Tea Party, but bear with me. This segment focused on what she considers really really really BIG government. Think I'm exaggerating?Yeah. So, one would expect some pretty Orwellian stuff in here!

From time to time she does have some legitimate points, but you and I both know that's not what I'm here to talk about. These legitimate examples are just window dressing; 9 times out of 10 it's just about the multiple pro-life victories of 2011.

Now, personally, I have nothing against a big government per se, but that's neither here nor there. Let's look at what a small government would look like. I'm going to dismiss anarchism for the purposes of this discussion, because "small" and "non-existent" are two different things. So, the next step up in government size is Libertarianism. What would a "really really really small government" be? What is the absolute least a government can do before it no longer counts as a government? The minimum requirement for governmenthood, if you will.

Well, Libertarians believe that the central (and only) role of government is to protect citizens from aggression, that is from the initiation of force or fraud. In fact, most political philosophies hold this to be the most fundamental role of government. Even our founding fathers wrote that "to secure these [inalienable] Rights, Governments are instituted among Men." If a government fails to protect the people from aggression, it isn't doing its job. A wise man once said "that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Luckily, they did the latter, setting up the US as a republic. That means that we can fix ("alter") the government we have, without having to abolish it completely.

Abortion violates the right to life, foremost among the inalienable rights. At the *very least*, the government should defend the right to live, if nothing else. Being pro-life has nothing to do with supporting big government; it only requires that one adhere to the fundamental post-Enlightenment ideals of what a government should do. If you drop the non-aggression principle, you literally no longer have a government. And if what you consider to be REALLY REALLY **BIG** GOVERNMENT literally could not be any smaller, I think you need a better sense of scale.


Abolitionist said...

I definitely would suggest Libertarians for life as well. Just as the right to swing my fist doesn't include a right to hit one's nose, the right to do what we want with our body does not include a right to dismember our own offspring.

Kelsey said...

Well said, Abolitionist!

Kristina Johansson said...

Have you tried writing a letter to the show's producers, or Rachel directly? I've mailed her about this once, but I'm nowhere near as eloquent as you are.

Jameson Graber said...

Good to see some pro-life libertarians on here. I consider myself a pro-life libertarian, but I still see a lot of problems with this position that need to be explored. For most people it is insufficient to point out that the unborn is human (really). The problem is that the unborn is not autonomous, but is wholly dependent on someone else for survival (ever noticed all the debates about "viability"?). I find libertarianism a bit lacking in the theoretical tools needed to deal with human beings that are not autonomous.

Nulono said...

I'm not really sure what the problem is. The Non-Aggression Principle applies to all persons, autonomous or not.

Nulono said...

I may send this to the Maddow team (after I translate it into the second person of course).

Jameson Graber said...

"The Non-Aggression Principle applies to all persons, autonomous or not." A lot of libertarians use autonomy as a basis for grounding personal rights. And that becomes a huge factor in the abortion issue, because being with child does deprive a woman of autonomy. It's not as simple as saying the unborn has a right to life; the tricky part is arguing that the unborn has a right to be protected by the mother's womb.