Complex objects become clearer when seen from different angles. Here is libertarianism from pairs of opposing viewpoints.
Libertarians are a serious threat to the establishment.
Because we seek to undermine the very foundations of political power we threaten the establishment not with mere change but with annihilation. Politics is a power game where the winners impose their plan on the people. Whoever wins, the game continues. But when the libertarians win the game is over. Nobody imposes their plan on the people. The immense power and wealth of the churches is based on faith. If Sunday comes and nobody goes to church the game is over. Less obviously government is also based on faith. If people stop believing in it the game is over. Libertarians are working toward that day.
Libertarians are no threat to the establishment.
Libertarians are completely nonviolent and do not seek to seize anyone’s wealth. A libertarian take over will protect wealth from seizure and businesses from interference.
Libertarians are very peaceful.
The libertarian party is absolutely committed to peaceful means of political and social change. It is written into the platform and the pledge. No other political organization requires its members to sign a pledge of nonviolence. This pledge insures that no violent political act will ever be approved by the libertarian party.
Libertarians are very violent.
The libertarian founding fathers of this country fought a bloody revolutionary war against oppressive British rule. Libertarians today believe strongly in the right of the people to be heavily armed and to defend themselves with lethal force against government tyranny.
Libertarianism is simple.
Just as cold is the absence of heat, liberty is the absence of tyranny. Where others have complex plans to run your life the libertarians let you live your own plan. Governments have shelves of books of laws you must obey but libertarianism can be learned in one lesson. What could be simpler than leaving people alone?
Libertarianism is complicated.
The market dynamics that evolve in the absence of regulation are far more complex than the regulations could ever be. The state can make a law that all who enter stores must wear shoes. Libertarians would let the myriad merchants each make their own policy to fit their separate needs. Price fixing always fails because real prices come from thousands of judgments by millions of people. Regulations could never approach this complexity.
Libertarianism is obvious.
Most Americans are libertarians, they just don’t know it yet. What could be more obvious than the incompetence of the government? Songs and jokes chronicle our contempt for our leaders every day. It is abundantly clear to most Americans that the government is far too large; this is the message of the libertarians.
Libertarianism is obscure.
Who are the libertarians? Ask a hundred people on the street and perhaps five will have heard the word and two will know what it means. Since there is no plan, there is no plan to grasp, to like or dislike. No one who has, or hopes for, political power has any reason to spread the word. The media get a lot of news and entertainment from the politicians and have nothing to gain by alienating them. Without the support of rulers or media the libertarian message is easily obscured.
Libertarians are kind.
Only the libertarians will accept your right to pursue your dreams. Only if you dream of oppressing others will you be opposed and then it will be mainly by your empowered victims instead of a dominant authority. Only the libertarians will allow the poor to build their wealth and climb the ladder of success without legal impediment. Only the libertarians will allow the desperately ill access to any person, procedure, or medicine that they wish to pursue. Only the libertarians will allow the dreamers of other forms of society to pursue their plans and build their (voluntary) social systems. Many are inspired to libertarianiam by sympathy for the millions who have suffered and died at the hands of governments through the ages.
Libertarians are cruel.
A libertarian administration would let the hungry starve, the sick perish, and the poor remain poor. It would allow mistreatment of animals and destruction of the environment. It would allow people to waste their lives with drugs, gambling, prostitution, and other vices still unimagined.
Libertarians are a cult.
Libertarians have their own special beliefs and jargon wildly at odds with prevailing cultural norms. Libertarian Party members must sign an oath when they join. They believe they are a global revolutionary movement with the force of morality behind it. They attract the young and impressionable by advocating the deregulation of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Those infected with libertarianism rarely return to conventional political beliefs. Many libertarians are heavily armed and believe the government is their enemy.
Libertarians are not a cult.
Libertarian organizations have no strong leaders and no secret agendas. Their ideology is drawn from dozens of unrelated sources throughout history. Completely independent libertarian organizations work together without conflict. They are proud of the diversity of personalities and lifestyles within the movement. They are firmly and adamantly nonviolent. They believe they represent the mainstream, that most Americans are libertarians who just don’t know it yet.
Libertarians have great faith in humanity.
Libertarians believe that people are so good that they don’t need to be controlled by a government. They believe laws to compel people to be good are unnecessary. The common people with their common wisdom will handle their lives better than any laws could tell them they must.
Libertarians have little faith in humanity.
Libertarians believe people are too evil to be trusted with the power of government. They believe people will oppress and tyrannize each other if the tools are in their hands. Even wise and kind people usually do more harm than good using the violent power of government.
Libertarians are sure to fail.
The media and the educational system have convinced the people that a strong government is good, or at least necessary. Opposition forces, including the libertarians, are infiltrated, disorganized, and obscured by a media blackout. All political struggle is portrayed as personality conflicts between rulers thus avoiding examination of principles or trends. Laws soon to be passed will suppress any resistance to unlimited increases in government. Liberty is doomed when people accept tyranny.
Libertarians are sure to succeed.
Big government can’t survive unless the people believe in it. The Soviet system collapsed in spite of its overwhelming power when the people stopped believing in it. In an information age the principles and trends of government failure will become impossible to conceal. Tyranny is doomed when people seek liberty.