Taoism and Libertarianism

George H. Smith at Libertarianism.org draws parallels between Libertarianism and Taoism, quoting from the Tao Te Ching:

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control,
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.

Taoism identifies the following five principles of leadership:

  1. If leaders have no clear direction they will confuse their followers. To achieve clarity of mind, eliminate the unnecessary.
  2. A clear mind leads to simplicity in thought and action.
  3. A good leader is adaptable. Like water, they are yielding and pliable but “yielding water dissolves the hardest stone.”
  4. A good leader reflects the will of the people. They pay attention and listen. They follow, rather than lead.
  5. A good leader is sparing in exerting authority. They know when to stand aside and not interfere.

The best leaders are those their people hardly know exist……

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When they have accomplished their task,
the people say, “Amazing!
We did it, all by ourselves!”