"The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority. Unrestrained political authority, though it be confided to masses, cannot be trusted without positive limitations, men in bodies being but an aggregation of the passions, weaknesses and interests of men as individuals." ~ James Fenimore Cooper
The Path to Liberty: Still Looking
The making of my libertarian philosophy follows roughly the course outlined below.
First off, I had parents who taught me that unprovoked fraud and force are wrong. Not as part of any much bigger philosophy or anything. Just that honesty is the best policy and that peace is preferable. One parent is now a libertarian sympathizer and the other is an awful statist in spite of his/her good values.
I have a mild anxiety disorder that has kept me from falling in too easily with regular folks.
I grew up in Chicago in the 1970's where government at every level was as crooked as a dog's hind leg, and they didn't even bother to hide it.
Big Labor was also huge on the Chicago scene as I was coming up. My earliest impressions were that it was a front for organized crime.
The famous television news footage of a South Vietnamese police officer executing a North Vietnamese prisoner with a pistol shot to the head shocked me, and although I wasn't a political thinker in any respect, I knew that what I had seen was consistent with my vague but growing sense that the State is not what it purports to be.
The Counterculture of the '60s and '70s. "Doing my own thing," Screwing the Establishment" and "Sticking it to the Man" seemed like the right values.
Witnessing up close and firsthand the conflict between otherwise law abiding recreational drug users and the State certainly informs my outlook.
My dislike of 9 to 5 work routines and the employer/employee relationship always pushed me towards freelancing and entrepreneurship.
I had occasion to live for a few months in the house of a major coin dealer who was a regular on the hard money convention circuit. He bought and sold firearms as a sideline. He also had a copy of Ludwig von Mises' The Anti-Capitalist Mentality on his bookshelf. It was the first time I was exposed to that name. I thought the title was intriguing, too. I didn't read it then, but the title and author's name stuck in my mind. I read it five years later.
I was excited to find the Libertarian Party, and plunged myself into working on campaigns and party building.
A high school dropout, I enrolled in college with interests in economics, political science, philosophy, the law (paralegal studies was as close as I could get) and history. For two years I was in the top ten percent of my classes.
I used my paralegal training to become a thorn in the court's side as a pro se litigant in a string of small matters involving the State.
I dropped out of college. Too much proselytizing for collectivism and intellectual dishonesty going on there.
I participated in several exciting bootstrap capitalist startup enterprises. Went places, saw things, met people (fellow strivers especially).
I became disenchanted with the Libertarian Party.
Along the way, I read Ayn Rand, Albert J. Knock's Our Enemy the State, Liberty magazine, Murray Rothbard, Frederic Bastiat and Lysander Spooner.
These days I listen to National Public Radio, read Antiwar.com, Lewrockwell.com and Strike The Root every day.
Now I easily self-identify as an anarchist.