In 5 sentences: What is Objectivism, and how does it differ from libertarianism?
January 29, 2014 by Paul McKeever
A member of the facebook.com community asked:
“Can someone explain to me in 5 sentences or less what objectivism is and how it differs from libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism without saying “it’s Ayn Rand’s philosophy,” telling me to read a book, or sending me a hyperlink. I just want a short explanation. That’s all. —> EDIT: Use a dozen sentences if necessary. Just don’t write a novel or use philosophical lingo I won’t understand.”
I replied as follows:
Objectivism is a philosophy pursuant to which nothing is KNOWLEDGE except that which *follows* *logically* from the *physical* evidence received by the senses (with or without technological assistance).
That for which there is no evidence is not true or possible/impossible, but arbitrary, and that which is illogical is false.
The pursuit of his own happiness is a man’s purpose, and he can achieve his purpose only by pursuing KNOWLEDGE and acting in accordance with it in order to achieve or obtain the material and spiritual values that are in fact consistent with his survival and happiness in the long term.
When living among others, individuals need a single system of objective laws – which implies a single law-maker, which in turn implies a government (legislature, courts, police, military) common to all and accountable to all – so that decisions about whether someone has taken another person’s life, liberty, or property can be judged objectively by impartial actors and can be subjected to a common evidentiary standard, and so that wrongs are remedied on an eye-for-an-eye basis.
In contrast, libertarianism is not a philosophy but a political movement of people who share a desire for “less government”, and – in order to maximize the size of the movement – libertarianism is deliberately accepting of all philosophies as equally good, valid, and irrelevant to the pursuit of a free society such that, in practice, libertarians usually react with hostility toward anyone who implicitly threatens the size of the libertarian movement by insisting that freedom can be obtained only via the right philosophy: hence, libertarianism is anti-Objectivist, and vice-versa.