(Disclaimer: I am stereotyping conservatives to be anti gun control and pro drug control, and liberals to be the opposite. This is obviously not always the case.)
The prohibition of guns is remarkably similar to the prohibition of drugs, and for that reason most libertarians are baffled by how liberals and conservatives are capable of holding such polar opposite views on these issues.
A point very few are willing to admit is that advocacy of gun control is, in principle, the same as advocacy of drug control. Both prohibitions are a brazen violation of self-ownership, property rights, and the right to self-defense.
The core of the libertarian ethical system is self-ownership – the idea that each human being has exclusive ownership over themselves. While it is possible to own other humans as slaves, even then you cannot control their behavior directly; you can only influence them to act in a certain way through coercion and threats.
Any violation of someone else’s self-ownership is tantamount to slavery.
Drug prohibition is a violation of self-ownership
Now immediately, drug prohibition is a violation of other peoples’ self-ownership because it is an attempt to control what they can and cannot do to their own body. Statists of various stripes make this claim all throughout their philosophy, from attempting to control what people eat and drink, to telling them where to work and for what wage.
“Central planning” is just an Orwellian euphemism for slave management.
An adult who is told what he can and cannot put into his own body is a slave. That so-called liberals will often protest this, and then in the same breath advocate gun control, is a great mystery to me.
Because gun control is the exact same scenario but with a different wrapping. By advocating that people do not have legal access to the same weapons that their aggressors might use against them, you are basically taking away their right to self-defense. The right to protect your life from harm done by others is an inevitable extension of self-ownership, and yet conservatives who advocate for gun rights will quite happily infringe on peoples’ self-ownership in other ways.
Do conservatives not see that drug prohibition is a violation of the right to self-defense too? Do they not realize that in order to prohibit peaceful people from using drugs, they must be threatened and assaulted with up to deadly force should they not comply?
A prohibition of drugs is a blanket threat of aggression against all drug users, whether peaceful or not. It is therefore identical to a prohibition of firearms, which effectively lumps responsible firearm owners and criminals in to the same group of lawbreakers. By legally threatening with violence peaceful people, you are taking away their right to defend themselves against an aggressor (in this case the government agent trying to take away their prohibited property).
Looking at this situation, I seriously wonder whether conservatives and liberals attempt to advocate for their respective positions based on some kind of consistent application of logical principles, or whether their arguments are nothing more than attempt to politicize their personal prejudices.
Both firearm prohibition and drug prohibition fundamentally boil down to a claim of ownership over other people, which is just a fancy way of saying that both philosophies advocate slavery.
Through the advocacy of such initiation of violence against peaceful people, anyone who supports the prohibition of either drugs or firearms is effectively levying a threat against innocent people. A threat of jail time or even murder. The violence itself is of course carried out through the proxy of government. Few advocates of drug or gun control actually take matters into their own hands. After all, it’s much easier to support murderous policies when others enact them on your behalf.
Where’s your moral high ground now?
Both Prohibitions are Violations of Property Rights
From our initial axiom of self-ownership, we can derive property rights. Property rights are an extension of the human, who first by homesteading and creating value, and then by trading, rightfully acquires property over material things.
This is why theft is a crime against a person – because the thief is not just stealing an object, they’re stealing a portion of the person’s life, in this case their past. If it took you 10 hours of work to buy that coat, then a thief just stole that time from you.
So while a lot of people, especially conservatives, make a big fuss over how important property rights are, they sure seem to miss the point when it comes to drugs. Why is owning a leaf any less legitimate than owning a piece of metal? Both are property. The conservatives are willing to violate ownership of the former, and liberals of the latter.
It seems that none of these people advocate property rights in principle, but only when it suits them. “It’s okay for the slaves to own this and that item of property, but government forbid we let them have guns/drugs!”
What is it that conservatives like to say? Abusus non tollit usum. Abuse does not take away use. Now why can’t they apply that to drugs and realize that inflicting harm upon your own body, or that of consenting adults, constitutes fair use, and not abuse.
A person force-feeding drugs to someone else without their consent while pointing a gun at their head? Now that’s abuse. Just like it is an abuse to take a firearm and coerce people to do anything against their will. But if you agree that the behavior of some bad people shouldn’t impinge on the rights of everyone else, then why can’t you apply that same reasoning to drug use and eliminate the nanny state you keep advocating be imposed on everyone else?
There are already laws on the books that deal with driving under the influence of drugs, for example. There’s no need for additional laws that ban all drug use outright. Just like the laws dealing with murder are sufficient without requiring a host of new rules being written about “knife crime” and “gun crime”. What difference does it make whether a person is murdered by strangulation, poison, a knife, or a gun?
And if the punishment for the crime of murder is insufficient to deter murderers, how will adding a new prohibition on a specific implement of murder help?
The Use of Violence as a Solution
All of the politicians and their supporters, regardless of what name they may go by during any particular decade, agree on one basic premise – the use of violent means to achieve their ends. While they may differ in the specific ends they wish to pursue, they all agree that violently compelling other people to do their bidding is how those ends should be achieved. In other words, there is fundamentally no moral distinction of any importance between different political parties. In every case it boils down to an advocacy of violence – just with a different purpose.
In this case, we saw how some will deplore the use of violence to deprive an innocent person of their right to self-defense, while loudly proclaiming their support for violations of their right of self-ownership. Others believe people should be free to own and ingest a wider range of substances than they are presently permitted, but that owning and legitimately using a particular configuration of metal and plastic for purposes of self-defense is some kind of an abomination.
When you deconstruct the beliefs to their basics, you realize that arguing over the ends – whether people should consume certain drugs or not, or whether they should own firearms for self-defense, is just an attempt to argue over opinions. It’s almost like arguing over which ice-cream is better, or which movie deserves to be in a top-10 list. It entirely misses the fundamental point that is shared by all statists – that violence is deemed an acceptable means of enforcing your opinion on others.
If initiatory violence becomes looked down upon, then these debates stop being about who should be in control of a violent government compelling others with force, and more about peaceful solutions to complex problems.
From a young age, most children are taught that violence is not the answer. That if you want to achieve something, violence will only get you the opposite. Isn’t it time intelligent adults started applying to wider social issues this basic tenet by which they already live their personal lives?
If the average voter lived their personal life the way they advocate for policies, they’d be pointing guns at innocent people, robbing them, and telling them how to live their lives while threatening to murder them if they do not comply. In other words, if the average voter applied his politics to his life, he’d be in jail by the end of the day. Probably serving consecutive life sentences. But somehow advocating for mass initiatory violence in politics is okay. I guess if enough people do something, it becomes accepted as a way of life. Even if it’s an abominable evil.
In the end, it seems like the fundamental difference between consistent libertarianism and almost all other political ideologies, is that libertarians are willing to separate their personal views from their political ones.
A libertarian such as myself may find drug use repugnant, but that doesn’t give me any right whatsoever to initiate violence against peaceful people and claim ownership over others as if they were my slaves.