Libertarianism is a political philosophy that rests upon the principle that the only moral justification for the use of force, including coercive tactics such as threat, is to defend against an assault upon life, liberty, or property. This principle applies equally to individuals, corporate entities and governments.
A corollary of this principle is that each individual is entitled by natural law to the right of self-determination. Further, implicit in the right to self-determination is the necessity that one be responsible for oneself, which requires the exercise of free choice subject only to limitations implicit within the principle stated above.
In support of the above principle, libertarians oppose the use of force as a means of achieving political or social goals. By implication, the accepted method of achieving political and social goals is rational persuasion.
Libertarians, generally, are opposed to our worldwide military presence, income taxes, entitlement programs, and criminalization of behaviors such as homosexuality, drug use and prostitution among other things. This opposition is directly derived from and justified by the underlying principle stated above.
By contrast, libertarians would argue that almost all other political philosophies believe that the use of force and coercion is acceptable in the pursuit of political and social goals. Further, libertarians would argue that such a belief is logically inconsistent with a belief in self-determination, personal responsibility and free choice.
Libertarians recognize the enduring truth in the following observation made in 1790 by George Washington: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force…It is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”