Today, the notion of a hippie has become a relic. We may have leftover music and fashion, but where can we look to find dedication to peace, respect for the individual, and the live-and-let-live attitude that was so iconic of the hippies?
Probably on your college campus. Over the past few years, hundreds of student groups have been springing up across the country touting individual rights and non-aggression. Under the guise of Young Americans for Liberty and Students for Liberty, among others, students have been reinventing the hippie culture.
Here are five key ways that hippies and libertarians are essentially the same.
1. Love, Not War:The obviousness of this doctrine as it relates to hippies makes it seem trivial. The stereotypical hippie can be seen brandishing anti-war posters and handing flowers to policemen. Libertarians, though, don’t seem to have the same reputation. Instead, the typical libertarian seems to be fervently in defense of gun rights, which many consider to be un-peaceful. Without getting into the gun rights debate, we can say that a libertarian is as anti-war as a hippie. (As an aside, there was no anti-gun consensus among hippies; some hippies are thought to have owned guns to defend their communes).
A libertarian tends to believe that wars can be avoided by taking preemptive steps against what might instigate violence. For example, the wars in the Middle East may not have happened if it were not for the rise of U.S. interventionist policy in the region. Similarly, a war with China can be avoided if we treat China like our economic partner rather than our political enemy, and if we do not make them feel as if we are threatening their sphere of influence.
Thus, like a hippie, a libertarian understands war as a dire moral dilemma, and takes great pains in avoiding it. Like a hippie, a libertarian believes that open and honest discussion between nations and sincere diplomacy are far better ways of settling international disputes.
2. Live-And-Let-Live:The lifestyle of a hippie is undoubtedly eccentric, but it is so by his preference. As long as his lifestyle doesn’t harm anyone, he believes that he should be able to smoke as much weed and have as much sex as he wants. A libertarian agrees.
Too often, specific interests groups will deem something immoral or distasteful and try to eradicate it through legislation. But the hippie and the libertarian agree that an individual needs to be able to make his own choices, so long as his decisions to not cause harm to others.
3. The Commune: The hippie is notorious for forming a commune and sharing property with his friends. This isn’t a contradiction to libertarianism, it is a concurrence. A libertarian believes in voluntary exchange of goods, and finds that communes can work in a synergetic relationship to help improve the wellbeing of those involved.
A commune is an effective, peaceful and totally voluntary way of achieving an end that might have otherwise been impossible. If you’ve ever split the bill while out to dinner with your friends, you were participating in a similar kind of exchange.
4. It’s the Man, Man: The hippie is notoriously anti-authoritative. He blames the hate and disparity in the world on the oppressive and old-school mentality of the powerful political elite. He fights to be free of the system that enslaves people to the social constraints of the time. He begs for the world to understand that deep down, he is just another person who is worthy of the same respect and understanding as any other member of society. He fights for this same respect for blacks, women, and gays. He realizes that deep down, we are all just people. So does a libertarian.
5. Revolution: Perhaps the most striking similarity between the hippie and the libertarian is the unwavering faith in the power of the minority to help transform the national culture. The hippie remains the icon of change and passion in America. The libertarian not only holds the same values as the hippie, but also the same fervor for the future.
The libertarian, like the hippie, really does believe that the world can be made a better place. And those students who are submersing themselves in the liberty movement, fighting for individual rights, and crying out for a more fair political system are just like the hippies of the 1960s. We are trying to change the world.