I. Individual Rights
“My right to swing my arm ends where your nose begins.”
We believe that every individual is precious and should be given maximum scope to pursue his or her own dreams and interests. No one should control or enslave another; everyone should be free to do as he or she wishes so long as it does not harm the person or property of others.
“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” —J. S. Mill, On Liberty
II. Freedom of Exchange
“Whenever two parties trade voluntarily, both parties benefit.”
The fabric of society is woven by individuals associating with each other for mutual benefit. Specialization and trade allow us all to increase our productive abilities and benefit from the unique interests, knowledge and capacities of the other members of society. Freedom of exchange means freedom to associate by mutual consent and to trade ideas and goods on mutually agreeable terms.
III. Rule of Law
“Where there is no rule of law, we are ruled by the whims of men.”
A free society is based on the idea that each individual should be free from discretionary power and the arbitrary decision-making of others. No one should be “above the law”—not even members of government. The rule of law means equality under the law, i.e., general, predictable laws enforced equally on all members of society irrespective of social status, sex, race.
“Stripped of all technicalities, [the Rule of Law] means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand—rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in a given circumstance and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.” — F. A. Hayek The Road to Serfdom
IV. Limited Government
“A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’ve got.”
Government is the only organization allowed to use force in society. We believe that the use of such force should be a last resort, not a first resort, and that it should be limited to performing crucial social functions that individuals and associations cannot perform for themselves. Governments should protect individuals’ rights, enforce the rule of law, and provide a few basic public goods, but otherwise leave people free to provide for themselves and each other through civil society.