Dear Son

Someone on Reddit asked “Explain Libertarianism to me as though I were a child?“. I don’t have a child of any gender, but as a recently married man I suppose it is worth practicing this kind of speaking; so I decided to reply in the manner of a father to a son. There is also a certain stereotypical trait of fathers that is rather relevant to the task at hand:

Dear Son,

© Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez

© Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez

You know how you like to do what you please, but daddy always tells you to do otherwise? I know you don’t like it, but daddy does know better because he’s grown old learning a million little things about the world. So many things you couldn’t even hope to write down a list of them. Daddy stops you doing things, because he wants to protect you by using the things he knows, and which you will eventually learn. A lot of people want to treat everyone, even daddy, like you, as if they know better, even though most people grow up to be like your daddy.

Just like your daddy, these people mean well. They want to protect you but it does not work. The thing is, because there are so many different things that are worth knowing as an adult, no adult actually knows all of them. If I stop an adult from doing something, the chances are he knows better than me and everyone suffers because it means more people end up doing something wrong or silly, or they do something that isn’t as good as it might be. I think that once people are adults, and they know most of the important things that keep them safe, then they have a right to use their knowledge themselves to do whatever they want. Most people want to be good and happy and safe, so that works best.

I know you feel now, as a child, that if everyone had a dad like yours, then the world could be made better. But it cannot work that way because there are so many things worth knowing, and because everyone is so different that you would need too many dads. When dads are tied up trying to look after strangers both miss out (and so do you!). We’re all better off if everyone becomes their own dads and looks after themselves. It sounds hard, but remember you’ll make friends along the way who will help you because everyone is facing the same problem.


Your father


  1. I’d just say it’s about live and let live, respecting yourself and treating others with respect, not stealing, not picking on others – and that the government is a bunch of criminal scum that breaks all the rules the rest of us try to live by. This is basically what I tell all my friends’ kids and nephews, as well as how they’re being brainwashed to be stupid at school. Thus I discharge my avuncular duty.



  2. I don’t have child and I wouldn’t want to ‘ism one either so I would put it in personal terms with my own working definition currently being:

    “A Libertarian is somebody who lives peacefully under the rule of natural law with no contact with / interference from government.”



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