As there is significant confusion or misrepresentation among some members of the forum, I thought it useful to have a thread that addresses the question: What is Libertarianism? A: Libertarianism is a political philosophy concerned with the legitimate use of violence. The non-aggression principle (or NAP) is the central tenet. It is worded in a variety of ways but I prefer to state it as follows: It is wrong to initiate fraud, force or violence against another person or their property. Or, more simply: Don't hurt other people. Don't take their stuff. (Although this simplification is more of a playground definition as it removes the key word "initiate" which recognises that there are occasions when it is legitimate to use violence in self-defence.) Or, in the positive sense: people should be allowed to do anything that's peaceful. However, even if we are to have a society which is based on this philosophy it is important to remember the following: 1. It is not possible to make the world perfectly safe. Attempts to do so often result in gross denial of personal freedom and responsibility. A world free of risk is also impossible. 2. What constitutes aggression is typically highly contextual and can be based on differing opinions (ie what a 'victim' thought was aggression, the 'perpetrator' did not or vice versa). Consequently a major role in a civilised society is to have an independent adjudication process, the decisions from which will be respected and abided by the parties involved (noting that most dispute resolution process have the ability to dispute the decisions of the process itself). Hence, Libertarianism isn't about determining hard and fast rules that govern people's behaviour for all time, it is about societal institutions that eschew the use of violence to solve the inevitable disputes that arise between individual humans living in groups. It is also about creating inbuilt safeguards that mean that the institutions themselves are not perpetrators of illegitimate aggression. Principally this means not granting illegitimate authority or privileges into the hands of some people and that everybody is subject to the same laws and rights. The institutions are there to govern the behaviour of the individuals within it so that they are serving the interests of others (whilst fulfilling their own) instead of serving their own interests at the expense of others.