Person A: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
Person B: "But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge."
Person A: "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
Excerpts from a dialogue:
Jack: The God of the Bible authorized lots of barbarism and land theft.
bionic: Regarding God, well…being God I guess He can do what He wants.
Jack: That’s why principled libertarians are usually non-religious.
bionic: For this and other reasons, I have decided some time ago that I will leave theology to others, on a different website. I don't engage in debate on these matters.
In this post, I am not going to debate theology; instead I want to explore the idea of a principled libertarian, ultimately to include a specific examination of Jack’s statement regarding religion.
Now I know Jack included the qualifier “usually.” I know this makes my title and analogy a fallacy. Call it poetic license, and just humor me.
First, some definitions:
Principled: imbued with or having moral principles
Principle: an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct; a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived; a fundamental doctrine or tenet; a distinctive ruling opinion.
Libertarian: I will use Rothbard’s statement from the subject post:
“The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the "nonaggression axiom." "Aggression" is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.”
As I wrote that God, being God, can pretty much do whatever He wants…well, a libertarian can’t believe in this kind of God, apparently.
The Principled Libertarian
Matthew 7: 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
I have yet to meet a true principled libertarian. Not one. If there is a true principled libertarian, he would be living the hermit’s life on a mountaintop somewhere; I haven’t been to that mountaintop.
Drive on the street? Walk on the sidewalk? Ever attend a public school or university? You are using resources that I have paid for. Have you received my permission?
Are you collecting social security? You are receiving my money, not yours; the money they took from you has long ago been spent. Medicare? Same problem. Receiving a tax refund? Sorry, Charlie – that was money taken from you last year – already spent; you are receiving someone else’s money this year.
Have you ever voted for a politician? What gives you the right to choose someone to violate my person and property?
John 8: 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Don’t say that you have no choice regarding such things; you are free to live a hermit’s life on a mountaintop. In this non-libertarian world – off of the mountaintop – we are all swimming in pig slop.
Trip: Yeah, It stinks bad. And we all covered up in it too. Ain't nobody clean. Be nice to get clean, though.
Even Trip knows better: there ain’t no true principled libertarians; we all covered up in it. And it stinks.
ABR (Anything But Religion)
Principled libertarians are allowed to believe and support many things and remain true principled libertarians. Instead of going through the effort of coming up with my own list, I offer the chapter headings from Walter Block’s “Defending the Undefendable”:
The Prostitute; The Pimp; The Male Chauvinist Pig; The Drug Pusher; The Drug Addict; The Blackmailer; The Slanderer and Libeler; The Denier of Academic Freedom; The Advertiser; The Person Who Yells “Fire!” in a Crowded Theater; The Gypsy Cab Driver; The Ticket Scalper; The Dishonest Cop; The (Nongovernment) Counterfeiter; The Miser; The Inheritor; The Moneylender; The Noncontributor to Charity; The Curmudgeon; The Slumlord; The Ghetto Merchant; The Speculator; The Importer; The Middleman; The Profiteer; The Stripminer; The Litterer; The Wastemakers; The Fat Capitalist-Pig Employer; The Scab; The Rate Buster; The Employer of Child Labor.
Walter didn’t even include some of the really big ones – how about the numerous and ever-increasing issues of LGBTMNOP, sodomy, polygamy, bathroom-gender freedom? Most libertarians would include abortion on the list; there are some who would support shooting a child (or anyone else) as punishment for stealing an apple.
Look at the list again. Every one of these is an acceptable issue for true libertarian support. Principled libertarians can support each of these and remain principled…truly.
But not religion? Because, we are told, “principled libertarians are usually non-religious.”
Enough With the Hyperbole
I am sure I am making too much of Jack’s statement; for example, if one considers that most people are not religious, then it is reasonable to conclude that this would also apply to the libertarian population. But I don’t think this is what Jack means.
I also know that I am stretching and exaggerating Jack’s statement. I am doing it only to make a point: whatever Jack believes, from my anecdotal experience I would say that – while libertarianism can mix with any of the items from the above list and remain true (and libertarians will beat you over the head until you advocate for these) – there are sufficient libertarians who believe libertarianism and religion not only don’t mix, they can’t mix. These are two philosophically opposite concepts (actually, I think this is what Jack was getting at).
But why? Is the believer in religion holding a gun to your head, convert or else? (Well, yeah, some of them…but you understand my point.) How does this contradict the NAP if someone believes there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God? Who, by the way, is neither a libertarian nor an adherent to libertarian theories of punishment?
Romans 9: 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
Of what bother is it to you what someone else believes? Are we to apply the NAP to thoughts and beliefs?
Matthew 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Talk about a trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle.
Romans 3: As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one…”
Like I said: no true principled libertarian.
Me? I like sugar on my porridge. Truly.