Before we begin analyzing the libertarian lessons of South Park, we must first define what a libertarian is. Conservatives believe that libertarians are pot-smoking hippies. Liberals believe that libertarians are either anarchists or corporate tycoons who only care about money. Neither one of these definitions is true. We can define libertarianism with the following two definitions:
1. A libertarian is someone who opposes the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals. (This is the pledge you take when you become a member of the Libertarian Party.)
2. A libertarian is fiscally responsible and socially tolerant. Some say that libertarians are half-Democrat and half-Republican.
You may notice that I’m spelling libertarian with a miniscule “l”. I have to make a distinction between libertarians and Libertarians. A Libertarian is a member of the Libertarian Party. A libertarian is someone who believes in libertarianism, but not necessarily a member of the Libertarian Party. For example, Gary Johnson was a Republican governor of New Mexico, but his policies were very libertarian. He didn’t become a Libertarian until he ran for president in 2012.
Another reason that I’m writing libertarian with a miniscule “l” is that I want to compare libertarians to liberals and conservatives, not Libertarians to Democrats and Republicans.
We also need to define what a liberal is and what a conservative is. A libertarian is fiscally responsible and socially tolerant. A liberal is fiscally irresponsible and socially tolerant. A conservative is fiscally responsible and socially intolerant. Although in recent years, conservatives have become neo-conservatives. Neo-conservatives, or neo-cons, are fiscally irresponsible and socially intolerant, the worst of both worlds.
We can also define libertarian with a quote from Andre Marrou, the Libertarian candidate in 1992:
“Liberals want the government to be your Mommy. Conservatives want government to be your Daddy. Libertarians want it to treat you like an adult.”
I believe this quote sums up the differences among liberals, conservatives, and libertarians perfectly. Conservatives want to protect you from external enemies like your father would. Liberals want to protect you from yourself like your mother would. Libertarians don’t want to be your parents or your nanny.
Liberals & Conservatives & Libertarians, Oh My!
I believe that Matt Stone and Trey Parker have influenced, whether it was their intention or not, a generation of young people to be more libertarian with their show South Park. They sum up their political beliefs with the following statement:
“I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals.”
If this book works the way I intend, liberals and conservatives who read it will be libertarians when they finish it. I will use certain episodes as a point of departure to discuss certain issues. In some cases, I will use my experience in France to drive the point further. I will cite some prominent libertarians, but in many cases I don’t cite anything. As you read, you will notice that I spend more time trying to convince liberals to be fiscally responsible than I do trying to convince conservatives of being socially intolerant. That is because I believe that fiscal responsibility can be taught more easily than social tolerance. Social intolerance is often motivated by deep religious beliefs, and it is virtually impossible to change one’s religious beliefs.
For example, Rick Santorum is very conservative, and I don’t think anyone can convince him to be socially tolerant. In fact, Santorum recently said that the Republicans are losing elections because they’re not anti-gay enough. I’m more optimistic of influencing those who don’t feel very strongly about the liberal-conservative dichotomy.
My job in France gave me so much time off that I was able to contemplate the role of government in our lives. And I was able to come to many conclusions, which I discuss in this book, without having read anything about libertarianism beforehand. I used to be liberal, but then I realized that I was a libertarian all along. I just didn’t know it.Each chapter from Chapter Two to Chapter Sixteen is named after an episode from South Park. The chapters begin with a description of the episode, in case you haven’t seen it. If you’re an avid South Park fan, you won’t need to read these of course. Some descriptions are longer or shorter than others. The subsequent subsections contain a libertarian lesson from that episode. The episode is used as a point of departure, and there are a few subsections that don’t pertain directly to the episode, but rather to the lesson in it. You will notice that a few chapters have more lessons than others. For example, Chapter Two contains many lessons discussed that could easily be discussed in other episodes. While many of the libertarian lessons of South Park are often repeated in multiple episodes, each lesson will be discussed only once, but they may be mentioned a few more times.