Friday, October 12, 2018

Is Libertarianism Sufficient for Liberty?


If liberty is the objective, is the non-aggression principle sufficient?  If the non-aggression principle is insufficient, what might that mean for those who wish to develop a proper theory for the realization of liberty?

A Somewhat Discordant Introduction

I came across an interesting tidbit:

And, as predicted by the theory, these seven moral rules – love your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to authority, be fair, and respect others’ property – appear to be universal across cultures.

The authors studied sixty societies and found these behaviors to always be considered morally good.  These behaviors were found across continents, not limited to any particular culture or region.  Further, there were no counter-examples: no societies in which any of these behaviors was considered to be bad. 

This does not mean to suggest that the moral values were manifest identically in each region, or that they were held in the same priority:

‘Morality as cooperation’ does not predict that moral values will be identical across cultures. On the contrary, the theory predicts ‘variation on a theme’: moral values will reflect the value of different types of cooperation under different social and ecological conditions.

In other words, just because these different communities hold to these same rules, it doesn’t mean that the application is identical.  The concepts are the same; the lifestyles might be quite different.

What is the purpose of these moral rules?

Converging lines of evidence – from game theory, ethology, psychology, and anthropology – suggest that morality is a collection of tools for promoting cooperation.

Who cares about cooperation?  Given the antonyms, you might care about the absence of cooperation: hindrance, hurt, injury, antagonism, disagreement, discord, disunion, disunity, hostility.

A reminder from an earlier post:

Ethics and Morality: These two terms are often thought of and used synonymously. This is not entirely correct but there are similarities inasmuch as both words have their origin in common. One is the Greek and the other is the Latin word for “custom.”


It is the moral duty of the individual to conform themselves to the larger structure that exists.

Troubling for the non-aggression principle, I know.

What’s It All About, Alfie?

These seven common moral rules were learned and developed over countless generations and centuries.  Societies that figured out how to cooperate have survived; those that did not…did not. 

Yet, governments throughout the west are working diligently to destroy these behaviors.  On topics ranging from immigration, welfare, divorce, family, patriarchy, religion and, of course, property – the government supports, subsidizes and enforces culture destroying behaviors.  With these destroyed, cooperation is lost and therefore more government is “demanded.”

Let’s look at these seven common moral rules again, and consider each one through the lens of the non-aggression principle:

Not required by the non-aggression principle: love your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to authority, be fair.

Required by the non-aggression principle: respect others’ property.

The non-aggression principle addresses only one of the seven common moral rules.  A reminder of the purpose of morality: a collection of tools for promoting cooperation.  What happens without cooperation?  We have hindrance, hurt, injury, antagonism, disagreement, discord, disunion, disunity, and hostility.

Returning to VanderKlay’s statement: “it is the moral duty of the individual to conform themselves to the larger structure that exists”; it seems this should be considered if one desires achieving and sustaining liberty.

Does this mean any “larger structure” will do?  Hardly.  Most fundamental, it is a larger structure that has been built up from custom and tradition – with these organically modified – and not a larger structure artificially created top-down by the state.  Second, it is clear that the one society where the idea of individual freedom was best developed is Western Civilization.

Will your property survive in a society absent the other six moral rules?  It seems to me not.  Does the non-aggression principle survive in a community filled with hindrance, hurt, injury, antagonism, disagreement, discord, disunion, disunity, and hostility?  I don’t think so.

Conclusion

Is libertarianism sufficient for liberty?  Everything about man’s cultural and moral evolution answers with a resounding “no”; everything about how cooperative relationships are formed answers with a resounding “no.” 

So why are some libertarians afraid to talk about it?  Why are some even antagonistic to the necessity of a common culture and tradition as a foundation for a society to move toward liberty?  If libertarians want to move liberty forward, incorporating this reality into the discussion is necessary.

From Rothbard:

The common separation between theory and practice is an artificial and fallacious one. But this is true in ethics as well as anything else. If an ethical ideal is inherently “impractical,” that is, if it cannot work in practice, then it is a poor ideal and should be discarded forthwith.

I have taken Rothbard’s advice.  I think we need to work on our theory.

Epilogue

Is this a criticism of the non-aggression principle?  Not at all; I consider a defense of the non-aggression principle. 

Consider it, instead, a criticism of those who believe that the non-aggression principle is sufficient for liberty; consider it a criticism of those who leave the beauty and value of the non-aggression principle open to easy and obvious ridicule.

92 comments:

  1. I’m going to give this topic one more go and then give up, otherwise I’ll just become a useless nag.

    Context matters because this a personal philosophical perspective used by each person, never altering reality, instead, right or wrong, the origin of each person’s perspective of reality. There is only one reality and only one context representing same, thus each using the same context is truth, as well as agreeable resolution to hostile political division.

    The reality representing context is not freedom as a mutual political end but peaceful coexistence as a mutually valued end, to which mutual freedom from coercion, criminal and political, is mutual means. The same is true of the NAP.

    Using freedom as an end value is that slippery slope often discussed, in which each must be entitled with the freedom to do what, when and where with whom. Also, the freedom of a majority vote deciding who must pay, how much, and who benefits from what is actually unrecognized exposition.

    Two hundred years later, America, from just this uniform but inaccurate context, is an oppressive welfare state, a tax and regulation enriched political/corporate collusion and major hostility over everything.

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    1. jr, I am struck by the fact that you clearly demonstrate a knowledge of my writing and of some of the commenters here - as if you have been reading for an extended period of time.

      Yet, until a few days ago, I don't recall much, if any feedback from you.

      I have one question and one suggestion:

      1) What has changed? In other words, what has caused you to become not just active, but almost hyperactive?

      2) I will suggest that your writing would be better, more understandable, and more likely to get people to read it and comment (well, certainly me), if far fewer words were involved.

      Now, you might take this as a snarky comment. How you take it is your choice.

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    2. I don't think that the political woes of the United States came about because we held freedom as an end, instead of as a means. There's nothing wrong with having the end of 'bringing about a free society.'

      All that is wrong with our political order has come about because we (in the American sense) didn't properly define freedom, or we had many different notions of it, and consequently, it became all muddled up with equality and democracy, because these are the two concepts most conducive to coalescing political power in the hands of the few while pretending to give it to the masses in the form of 'Freedom.'

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  2. This speaks to one of those stateless solutions, inapplicable as a state solution, I mentioned. When politically enforced this becomes a moral imperative compelling all to morally obedient conformity, guaranteed to eventually result in either atheist or theocratic totalitarianism.

    Unenforced it is the freedom of each to agreeably conform only to personally preferred religious morals and cultural and lifestyle preferences, without creating the hostility of today’s incessant hostility over who must be compelled to obedience, and who has the "freedom" to enjoy legally enforced favoritism, and who must be compelled to pay for it.

    Seems to me this is the exact cause of modern libertarian disintegration. There is little effort to maintain any difference between state and stateless solutions, as though there is something about stateless libertarianism that must be hidden, so as distract state libertarians enough for a successful sneak attack on their politics.

    But stateless libertarianism is just the final step of decentralization removing political power from everyone, with its replacement of privately hired or personal defense from both political and criminal aggression.

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  3. Yes, I have concluded this is the correct use of “decentralization.” It is this personal correction into accurate thought, upon which I will continue harping, in as many different ways as possible, until I recognize it has become ineffective annoyance, as it is the most important thing I ever learned. Advice from someone far wiser than I.

    That one _never_ considers criticism as an ad hominem attack on self or self image, instead viewing every correction as the recognition and correction of every error. Criticism includes those that inspire a rebuttal in which one realizes one is making the same error one is criticizing, as often happens for me, making consideration of every criticism, right or wrong, self beneficial.

    If one looks upon all criticism just this way, self image is completely separated from intellectual integrity, each critical word then a gift from others, eventually resulting in a permanent intellectual detour away Friedrich Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom,” onto the road to freedom. And truth, as well. (Please don’t allow that little dust up with leadership to prevent engagement. It's settled and I don’t bite.)

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    1. "Criticism includes those that inspire a rebuttal in which one realizes one is making the same error one is criticizing, as often happens for me, making consideration of every criticism, right or wrong, self beneficial."

      What? You're either a genius or you've lost your mind. I don't have the energy or the expertise to diagnose it. For the life of me, I cannot follow what you are saying in the majority of your posts. I think it would be beneficial to everyone, including yourself, if you would speak more plainly. At least that is this Texas boy's humble request. Cheers!

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    2. To ATL and Bionic,“What? You're either a genius or you've lost your mind…. At least that is this Texas boy's humble request. Cheers!”

      ATL, Nashville, Tn. We’re even on the humble. Yes, I get that a lot. You’re very smart, what a shame you’re crazy.

      But what happened when I posted my “Big Epiphany.” Instead of interest, it was a complete dud. Yet, what does just this reversal of perspective, replacing categorized sets of enemy/ally values, with the recognition that no one can predict whether any hand extended will be enemy or ally, unless one sees a gun in it.

      This: Millions of men meeting _for the very first time_, on battlefields, in pogroms and genocides, every side certain they are fighting to preserve civilization from its enemies. What each soldier is actually delivering is death and destruction to millions of people, about whom absolutely nothing is known, not even their names.

      What I suggested changes that, permanently. No more bombing babies, because when someone seeking political wealth and power says “the Russians” are a national threat and “we” must do some preemptive bombing, everyone would recognize both “the Russians” and “we” as a categorized set of values, not real people. I used the word “stereotype” as synonymous with that, but now that only ‘those who must be exalted’ are allowed to use that word, most are afraid of reprisal, a real threat, and reluctant to use that, too. If you think of something simple that defines “the error saturating the globe, that is categorized sets of values nearly everyone uses to predict human action,” be sure and let me know. Seriously.

      I think the problem is language. My words and definitions are not anyone else’s. I have very little formal eduction. But I see no reason why what I have can’t challenge what anyone else has, however superior. The truth is the truth whether its origin is a trash collector or a CEO. But after years spent on a DIY education in philosophy, and then nobody understands a thing I say. Except other philosophers, drinking their virtual cocktails, each amicably contradicting the other, as well as every philosopher that ever wrote a word, because they aren’t looking for knowledge; but a mutual ego trip. I wasn’t interested, but they have a created a problem for everyone else.

      Everyone uses philosophy, they just don’t call it “a philosophy.” I often think it intentional that philosophy, which is just a personal frame of reference, each believes represents things as they are, and used by everyone to resolve problems, is intentionally kept an esoteric language. Because if philosophy were taught as an everyday mutually enlightening discussion, from 1st grade up, the propaganda that is education today, would fail.

      I’ve gotten sidetracked. My favorite rant is today’s education and its hostile consequences. Answers most of both your comments, so I’ll leave it.
      Con’t

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    3. Anyway, I tried to disarm everybody with a little flattery and that got me in a heap o’ trouble. The he said/she said was that I accused Bionic of being too hasty with cursive dismissals. He explained that as blog leader, dealing with frivolous trolling, he’s often been disappointed, and is most cautiousness with newcomers. I agreed, there are people getting new devices, signing in with new names, signing in with same initials, same people using different sign-ins from different accounts, perhaps clueless, like me, how to fix that.

      He has a nice discussion with mutually enlightening exchanges going on and he is protective of it. I understood, now wondering why I ever thought anyone could keep track of it all, without exactly a few weeks of familiarity everyone would need to do so. Hope that didn’t reveal anything I shouldn’t have, but seems harmless to me, even though I just broke my promise of no more personalities. But as a woman, I get to roar, then wheedle and whine if that doesn’t work. Big advantage, but tends towards the personal and I don’t notice. But I don’t mind when some one says, stop! Too Much Information.

      What I suggest, ATL, is that you needn’t make any extra effort to understand me. I frantically googled Bionic’s impressive vocabulary until I understood his frame of reference, which I also called “context,” “perspective,” also “philosophy,” in hopes that one of these words would ring a bell. But that took several weeks of reading, and the exchanges with others, especially you, also using his perspective, in differently worded responses, I eventually understood everything. And everyone will have plenty of time, as I delurked because I thought I could keep up with the articles that whiz by. But I’ve overextended, and I need a nap or thirty. I’ll still reply to every one who writes to me. And Bionic, that's also the reason why I only write one or two comments a year. (Also, you still seem annoyed. If so, please email and explain. )

      There is something that I do every day, I have found helpful. I think about and write a response to every question asked in this Socratic form of ‘questions, conclusions, discussion of objections,’ everyone loves. I read the comments every evening to see if I’ve missed anything, if so, write a correction. This is the process I was thinking about, when I wrote, I often find I’ve criticized a mistake I was making myself.

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    4. "But what happened when I posted my “Big Epiphany.” Instead of interest, it was a complete dud."

      jr, I won't speak for others. For me, it was a big dud because I didn't read it, as I have not done for much of your writing and will not do for the remainder of these two comments.

      You are consuming the comments section a few thousand words at a time and your comments are very difficult to understand.

      I have blocked certain commenters before for various reasons, but if I end up blocking you the reason will be a first,

      So take my advice: post one comment at a time; keep it under 150 words. Else I will delete it.

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    5. "what a shame you’re crazy."

      We live in a crazy world; I'm just doing what any successful organism does: adapting to the environment.

      "what happened when I posted my “Big Epiphany.”"

      Can you be specific on what this is in two or three sentences? Is it "replacing categorized sets of enemy/ally values, with the recognition that no one can predict whether any hand extended will be enemy or ally, unless one sees a gun in it?" If it is, I don't understand the second half. Are you suggesting we don't look to values in our attempt to find allies to defend our homes against our enemies, but rather what exactly? Are you suggesting a sort of nihilism on values will lead to a freer and more peaceful society? I would agree with you (if I understand your point) that ideology is very dangerous when it is mixed in with objectives of war. It can lead to combatants, and the public who supports them, thinking of the enemy as inhuman. I don't think anyone here would argue with you if all you are saying is that we should see everyone as a person first, then analyze their values to predict friend or foe status.

      "My words and definitions are not anyone else’s."

      That's not a great way to communicate, if that's your objective. If you are going to use a word in a way different than most others, it helps to define the term immediately before or after its use.

      "Anyway, I tried to disarm everybody with a little flattery"

      Flattery gets you nowhere! But thanks for the compliments. =)

      "even though I just broke my promise of no more personalities."

      Umm. How many do you have?

      "is that you needn’t make any extra effort to understand me."

      I'm interested in your perspective, so I have made and am making the effort, though I suggest you do heed Bionic's advice of brevity in your responses, because no one is going to read through your comments when they're longer than Bionic's original post. They'll just end up being useless graffiti on his web page if he doesn't just block them from posting.

      If you have a thought that cannot be condensed reasonably into a few paragraphs, maybe you could link to an external reference (maybe you have a blog?). I did see that you did that at least once already.

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    6. I’m sorry, I didn’t notice your reply. Thought all had moved on. Also, noticed my lengthy posts, (not the boring personal stuff of pill induced chatter,) were caused by trying to prevent misunderstanding by saying the same thing three or four times, using different words. Now aware that I can’t read minds, here are the three paragraphs I should have posted initially and then waited for a question/answer discussion to confirm or deny accuracy:

      **The origin of human action is a value choice, a thought, subjectively derived, self interested desire in a mind. A complementary choice of action is then made in pursuit of that value, transforming the value into physical existence outside all minds. In any kind of human relationship, there are only two ways of acquiring any value. Aggressive theft, politically coercive or criminal or cooperative creation and exchange.

      Both choices are necessary to inspire human action: my evidence that value choices alone are insufficient. Also, support for my argument that conceptualized classifications of values as the origin of human action, such as cultural, moral, lifestyle (aka:identity politics) etc., will always fail to predict human action. Values are thoughts requiring omniscience to know 7 billion of them.

      Only the two categorized classifications, aggressive or cooperative, will accurately predict the intentions of anyone. That prediction requires personal knowledge, observable, as in a mugging or personal associations; friends, relatives, here or anywhere else one reveals intent. Such as leftie sites and shows revealing choice of action in pursuit of values is aggressive politicized theft vs. the libertarian perspective in the same venues, where free markets/cooperative exchange are their choice of action pursuing values.**


      “…I just broke my promise of no more personalities. Umm. How many do you have?”

      Haha, not as many as the lefty rolodex of identity politics, including ‘intersectionality.’ Agree with libertarians; leftism is a psychiatric emergency, not a political vision.

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  4. This post is, obviously, directed at people for whom the NAP is the end-all and be-all of liberty. We know it's just a start.

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    1. Yes, Woody, this is correct. There are plenty of those, and the direction my writing has taken me has cost me a few.

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    2. The desire by some to set the NAP as the cure for all ills only highlights the desire of all people, even Libertarians, to desire certainty rather than truth. Thinking people understand that it will take more than the NAP to fix society's problems. Your site is for thinking people, not dog manic individuals seeking certainty.

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    3. Sorry - I meant dogmatic! Stupid Google voice typing and stupid me for not proofreading more thoroughly!

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    4. Woody, dog manic fits better, I think!

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    5. "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." - H.L. Mencken

      I would say that in the case of the NAP, it is merely insufficient, not wrong, but I think Mencken's wisdom still applies.

      "dog manic"

      Now there's a band name!

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    6. >Dog Manic
      Maybe I should change my user name ... }-)

      ATL, perhaps Mencken's comment should be modified to say "... Clear, simple and incomplete.". Might be more accurate that way in any case.

      I like the identification of additional cultural points in this article towards securing a libertarian culture. I think the order of importance is, in fact, important and maybe that should be the subject of an article in the future but I do think these are a step in the correct direction.

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    7. Regarding the order, it was a commenter here - Unhappy Conservative - that first suggested I consider which must come first: the cultural tradition or the NAP (property). I initially brushed off the question, thinking it irrelevant.

      I no longer feel that way.

      I hadn't thought about the order of the list, but your point is well taken.

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    8. I think that the order is going to be subjective, which falls back to my first point concerning certainty.

      These points may have universal application so far as a libertarian culture is concerned but the order of importance is going to depend on circumstances.

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    9. I agree with the "circumstances" part. There is decentralization drive throughout the people of the west, and this isn't going to wait for much of anything...although it is driven by culture as much as anything else...I think.

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  5. I just read an article on FEE, that illustrates my comments. If anyone wants to read it, too, the URL is:

    https://fee.org

    The title is: "Is There Room for Personal Growth in the Age of Digital Shaming?"

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  6. I think this is one of the better and more precise posts you've created to articulate your point that liberty requires more than just the non-aggression principle.

    I think that "respect for property" carries a very important place within the anatomy of liberty, perhaps even a preeminent one, but it certainly doesn't comprise the whole of it. It is the bone structure without which liberty cannot stand. But without the flesh and blood of the other 6 moral rules (granting for a sec these 6 others comprise everything else that is required) you just have a pile of lifeless bones.

    “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments” - G.K. Chesterton

    We need good culture and custom to attain and sustain a libertarian order, but how are we to build that out of our current degraded culture and the political order it has foisted upon itself? I guess we'll just have to build small pockets of good culture, hoping others follow our example, and survive while the rest of the country goes to hell. Maybe that's being a bit too dramatic, but sometimes I wonder.

    Have a nice weekend and prost!

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    1. My American prognosis is more dire than most. I don’t see success for secession, as political predators starve if they let their prey escape.

      My view is that America is one nationwide looting spree away from what history will record as a “revolution.” The promise of totalitarian property redistribution will quell the violence. Afterwards, there is nothing in collectivist oppressor/victim ideology to stop the imprisonment or extermination of everyone who will not stand for the theft of anything, from anyone, for any reason. That is all of us, of course.

      But in defiance of a still arguable progression, I’m raising a virtual glass to you. Zum wohl! And wishing a good weekend for you, as well.
      Thank you.

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    2. ATL, go to church and buy guns.

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    3. BM: "consider it a criticism of those who leave the beauty and value of the non-aggression principle open to easy and obvious ridicule"

      Well said!

      I have to say that since I dropped the NAP as the universal solution for everything, I have become _more_ appreciative of the NAP. Dropping it as a universal rule allowed me to see the value of the NAP more clearly. Strange as it may sound to somebody still embedded in it.

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    4. My arguments against NAP:

      1) All moral rules are an attempt to gain for self at the cost of others.

      2) Applying a fixed (moral) rule to society will enable more free riders. (Similar to 1, expect that the existence of the rule will create people who misuse the rule)

      3) Even NAP proponents admit that the NAP is not applicable in all cases (life-boat problems)

      4) At this point in time there is no proof that humanity is self correcting. It may be that all cultures inherently self destruct, it may even be that humanity will self destruct. If we would like to prevent self destruction, then all option must be available for a solution.

      Point 4 may be the most powerful argument against all fixed rules, including NAP. But I am still trying to formulate it clearly, even to myself. I am an engineer, and as such I know that any open system without feedback will crash. Sooner or later it will hit an absolute limit and break. It may be that we need to design our own operating system (culture) to provide the necessary feedback. (Example: Is producing children in a limited resource environment aggression? if so, against who? - Note: this is a very coarse example, the real problems can be found in cultural norms but are very difficult to formulate)

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    5. Rien

      “I have to say that since I dropped the NAP as the universal solution for everything, I have become _more_ appreciative of the NAP.”

      I hold a very similar view. When you stop expecting your significant other to be perfect, his/her positive characteristics become more highly valued.

      “My arguments against NAP…”

      Mine – not so much “against” it, but…I don’t know that “property” is defined broadly enough – certainly it is not defined as many people define it. See my reply to Youp below.

      “1) All moral rules are an attempt to gain for self at the cost of others.”

      I would welcome an expansion of this point.

      “2) Applying a fixed (moral) rule to society will enable more free riders.”

      How would you see this playing out specifically with the NAP? Additionally, is it possible that the moral rule remains fixed while the definitions (what is property, aggression, etc.?) organically evolve? Finally, what of moral rules against murder, theft, etc.? In other words, the rules that conform quite nicely with the NAP, and also quite nicely with sustaining a peaceful society?

      “I know that any open system without feedback will crash.”

      It seems to me that societies characterized as most voluntary naturally provide feedback. The least voluntary societies don’t. For this, the NAP serves a valuable role.

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    6. Agree, the word 'against' is not optimal ;-)

      1) I will write my thought down in an article, to be published at my site (in English this time). Might take a few days, but I will drop a signal here when completed.

      2-a) "How would you see this playing out specifically with the NAP?"

      Capitalisation & resulting destruction of commons (I will include this in my article)

      2-b) "Additionally, is it possible that the moral rule remains fixed while the definitions (what is property, aggression, etc.?) organically evolve?"

      A good point, I can imagine this to be a way out of the fixed rule problem. Albeit a bit slow. I would still expect the free rider problem but less problematic.

      2-c) "Finally, what of moral rules against murder, theft, etc.?"

      I see no exception. The problem is that it is always possible to create an edge case in which it "might not" apply. And it is impossible to create rules covering all edge cases, hence people will exploit these cases to their advantage (= free rider).

      2-d) "and also quite nicely with sustaining a peaceful society?"

      Are we sure that a peaceful society is the best solution? Looking at nature and history it seems to me that a certain amount of aggression was used to get us to where we are now. Are we now at a point where this can be abandoned?

      3) "For this, the NAP serves a valuable role."

      For the personal level I agree. I.e. I still believe that each of us should use the NAP for his own best interest.

      For the societal level its different. It will probably be hard to define aggression on that level, and to create a feedback mechanism for it. But the biggest problem will be that we can never perform double blind studies at this level. (Would a world in which Hitler was killed in 1937 have been better or worse?)

      For societies it is make or break, and break should be seen as: disappears in competition with other cultures.

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    7. Rien

      Thank you for these thoughts, and I look forward to your upcoming piece.

      On a couple of these:

      1) I would like to understand on what basis, if any, you would sanction murder.

      2) Regarding the free rider problem, it seems to me that every type of societal construct will result in some amount of “free rider problem.” Even in what I would deem a free society, “haves” will want conveniences and will accept that “have nots” will also get some benefit from these – the cost of putting absolute borders around these conveniences is not worth the benefit of absolute exclusivity to the “haves.”

      3) My peaceful society recognizes that it takes a little “aggression” (in the NAP sense of the term) to stay peaceful. You will recall that I understand the benefits of a punch in the nose for the man who insults my wife.

      4) Regarding the NAP at the societal level, I have offered that a libertarian society might not look like a libertarian society to those on the outside. Such a society may also not act like a libertarian society to outsiders (on both points, see Hoppe). Do you mean something like this or something else?

      Thank you

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    8. BM:

      1) I can only imagine lifeboat scenario's. But there may be others.

      2 & 3) Agreed.

      4) That is only one (well, two) aspect imo. For me, survival is the only measure that counts. And that is valid for the individual as well as society. All societies alive today have used aggression in their past. There may have been purely peaceful (even libertarian) societies, but if so, they did not survive. I feel pretty sure that if we were to become a pure libertarian society today, we would not survive either. Unfortunately there is -and never will be- proof for that feeling. Double blind tests at this level are impossible, and it is possible that this feeling is caused by something in my past (unknown at the conscious level).

      Question/Observation: Assume that a society is libertarian through and through. They will _NEVER_ use aggression internally or externally. Strictly NAP all the time. Now assume that this society is surrounded by other societies that may at some point use aggression. Not much, but now and then, pretty much at random (there will be causes, but to an outside observer it appears random).

      How long can that libertarian society exist if it is only prepared to defend itself? Logic dictates that at some point an attack by the outside will have success. It may take a 1000 years, it may take 10,000 years or even 100,000. But the end result is guaranteed.

      Knowing this the only solution to the libertarians will be to initiate violence against their surrounding societies subjugate them and impose libertarianism on all of them. I.e. a global world government.

      As I have probably said here before: Every ideology will trend towards world governance. Including libertarianism.

      Reality bites.

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    9. “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments” - G.K. Chesterton

      That's a great quote, thank you. It reminds me of some of the Lao Tzu quotes regarding "law" and regulation.

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    10. Rien

      This is helpful, thank you.

      “For me, survival is the only measure that counts.”

      For me, there are also other measures. But on the specific point of survival, the issue is: survival in which world? The next world is in my vision.

      “How long can that libertarian society exist if it is only prepared to defend itself?”

      There are no pure examples; I don’t believe there ever will be as nothing made of man can be pure. But there are reasonable examples. What do you say of Switzerland, as one of the more obvious examples?

      The history of the United States is a mess, and it is too much to get into detail here, but a country with an ocean defending the east and west; a militarily weak country to the south and a friendly one to the north; perhaps the best network of navigable internal waterways in the world – such a country could certainly have survived for centuries if it did nothing more than defend itself – including to defend the cultural tradition. I say, unconquerable – if it just minded its own business.

      “It may take a 1000 years, it may take 10,000 years or even 100,000. But the end result is guaranteed.”

      Even the most violent society hasn’t lasted more than a few generations. If our measure is 1000 years or more…the examples in world history are very few.

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    11. Rien,

      Any "free rider" criticism you have of the libertarian order of peacefully competitive governance can be applied much more effectively toward any system of monopoly provided law and order. The state is itself a free rider parasitically feeding on the production of others. In order to maintain public approval it creates a massive class (both wealthy and poor) of free riders by allowing them also to drink, in varying amounts depending on their political power, from the trough of the productivity of others.

      "Logic dictates that at some point an attack by the outside will have success."

      History and reality dictate that, like life itself, all societies and civilizations come to an end. The question is how will we be remembered when we were alive? Did we live honorably? Did we choose security over dignity? Did we choose dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery? I'm not suggesting that a 'state of liberty' is a suicide pact, but psychologically, I'll bet it is terrifying for some to think of life out from under the wing of our resident dragon knowing full well there are other dragons out there. I think that freedom is the most survivable system out there, but eventually all good (as well as bad) things come to an end. Wouldn't 1000 years of liberty be worth it? Wouldn't 1000 years of any order of governance be considered a success?

      I think that, ceteris paribus, (1) it is more difficult to invade and conquer a decentralized stateless people than it is to conquer those living under a state; (2) it is easier and more cost effective to defend one's own land than it is to invade another's; and (3) preemptive strikes into enemy territory often cause more trouble (foreign and domestic) than they avoid.

      "Every ideology will trend towards world governance. Including libertarianism."

      Every libertarian probably wishes that others would adopt a similar model of governance, but this is precisely the difference between libertarianism and every other political doctrine: the libertarian is, on principle, restricted from imposing his will on others without their consent.

      Libertarianism ultimately boils down to everyone's right to choose their own provider of law and order, whether from existing providers and communities, or by creating their own. How does that possibly lead to world governance? Well I suppose if liberty was tried and was successful, it would be contagious, and others would emulate it, but I'd hardly consider a condition where millions of independent and peacefully competing authorities all respecting the principles of self ownership and private property spanned the entire globe as a form of 'world government.'

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    12. ATL: Just a quick reaction

      I wanted to say that in the comparison of the current system with a libertarian system the libertarian system wins hands down.

      But, the mind does what it does, and is that even true?

      Thanks to BM we now have glimpsed a sliver of libertarianism in the early middle ages. That libertarianism did not only not survive, it has not returned either. Take from that what you want.

      It may mean no more than that a libertarian society is just a step on an open ended evolution of humankind.

      Personally I am not really interested in changing todays society to a more libertarian one. (But if it happens, I will be happy about it.) I am much more interested in finding out if it is theoretically possible to create a stable system in which economic development can run largely unopposed while also providing reasonable security for all people.

      "ideologies -> world governance"

      Since an ideology -by definition- is not in harmony with reality all ideologic systems must spend energy (work) to simply remain in place. This makes the ideology vulnerable to competition from non or less ideological systems. The only way for an ideology to survive is to conquer competing systems.

      "spreading libertarianism through success"

      I'd like that! but I do not believe it possible. Libertarianism or even just plain old liberalism seems self limiting through population growth characteristics. I.e. a libertarian society would in all likelihood be overwhelmed by lower IQ populations. Unless you count genocide as self defence?

      (PS: I _think_ that libertarianism -if at all- is only possible in populations with an average IQ of > 115 (as compared to today's average of course))

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    13. BM: "For me, there are also other measures. But on the specific point of survival, the issue is: survival in which world? The next world is in my vision."

      This is a hypothetical and rhetorical question: say you could choose humanities future:

      1) either 5 billion years (the expected life span of the solar system) of pretty much the current system

      or

      2) 10_000 years of pure libertarian heaven followed by collapse and extinction.


      As an engineer -and as a pure intellectual endeavour- I would like to know if it is possible to create a system that could yield enough stability and prosperity to allow further development of humankind.

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    14. Your number 1) is improbable - because if the world continues in the current system man will bring on his own extinction well before 5 billion years (and before 10,000).

      Man isn't subject to an engineering experiment - instead, we see man's engineering experiments devoid of ethics. That road leads to one place, and it isn't 5 billion years of the current system.

      I will take 2) - first of all, the end result can be no worse; second, after a 10,000 year example, people might actually learn something.

      The animal world has survival at the top of the hierarchy. There is nothing about the ethics required in that kingdom that interest me.

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    15. "Since an ideology -by definition- is not in harmony with reality" - Rien

      Libertarianism is a set of laws praxeologically derived from self evident truths of man's nature, which, if adopted, would minimize conflict in a community. It is the science of liberty, not an ideology, so if it is not in harmony with reality, make the case. If your argument is convincing, libertarianism can and should change to reflect that.

      Delete
    16. ATL: I am still working on the article. (I am swamped currently, so progress is slow)

      I just wanted to point out the big red flag in your argument: "self evident truths".
      There is no such thing. Self evident is always highly subjective. Which is why science is about disproving, never about proving.

      I do agree with the rest of your statement. I am just not sure if that would be the best solution for humanity.

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    17. BM, ATL: I have a first draft of the article up. I will try to update this article from time to time to accommodate more aspects and clarify issues that may arise.

      Oh, link: http://overbeterleven.nl:6678/pages/english/the-case-against-libertarianism.html

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    18. Rien,

      "There is no such thing. Self evident is always highly subjective. Which is why science is about disproving, never about proving."

      A self evident or axiomatic truth is one in which the attempt to refute it must prove it.

      1.) Human action is an axiom - the founding axiom of the social sciences properly understood, because in order to refute it, one must put forward an argument, which is itself an action.

      2.) Human free will is an axiom, because the attempt to refute it requires the free will choice to put forward the opposing argument.

      3.) The validity of argumentation in determining truth is axiomatic, since (you guessed it) you must put forward an argument to refute this claim.

      And finally, the most controversial axiom, even among libertarians (courtesy of Hans Hoppe):

      4.) Self-ownership is an axiom because one demonstrates his *inalienable and direct control of his own body, thus his ownership of his body, in the act of attempting to refute this claim.
      *We know this 'direct control' is inalienable or non-transferable from separate empirical observation. Even if direct control of human bodies could be transferred with new technology sometime in the future, it would not refute this axiom, since we are born with non-transferability, we are necessarily self-owners before control can be transferred.

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    19. Rien,

      From your article:

      "The first objection is that all moral rules are an attempt to gain for self at the cost of others. It does not matter how the rule has been derived."

      Moral rules are attempt to minimize conflict and promote cooperation to advance both the interests of individuals and the group as a whole. It's not a zero sum game. You never explained why morality is an attempt to gain at the expense of others. The opposite is true.

      "Morality itself is the differentiation between actions deemed good and bad. The problem with moral rules are therefore not with morality itself, but with codifying it. I.e. it is the act of codifying a moral into a rule that causes the problem."

      What problem? What is the problem? What negative consequences necessarily follow from codifying morality? To imply that negative consequences follow from codifying morality is to setup your own code of morality, i.e. differentiating good from bad.

      "Given that the real problem is in the codification, why would rules always benefit one group over the other?"

      Which real problem!? Your attack on the very concept of a codified morality (or set of rules) may actually be conceding to it the status of an axiom. To say that rules benefit one group over the other is to imply an underlying code of morality or set of rules which is being subverted by the imposition of other rules.

      "By offloading the cost of protection on society the libertarian gains additional wealth"

      How exactly does he offload the cost of protection in a society of private ownership of resources and consensual relations? Again, using the language of "offloading costs" or "exploitation" assumes there is a correct distribution of costs being subverted.

      "But you may say, are there cases where theft is morally justified?"

      Theft isn't theft if one can assume the owner's consent. And in instances where one must survive by using someone else's property (without harming the owner's chances of surviving), most often we can assume the owner will consent. For instance, let's say I get lost in the woods, and I'm dying of exposure to the cold. If I see a cabin, I'm going to use it to survive, assuming the owner would want that. But if I burned down the cabin to stay warm, I probably can assume that I didn't have the owner's consent.

      "This sabotages the local economy eventually to the point where the town can no longer support itself and starts shedding conveniences, services, and eventually jobs, people etc"

      Often a big supermarket works to bring more people and business into an area since most people see a wider and cheaper availability of goods as an increase in their standard of living. Your free trade, cultural doomsday scenario is not realistic.

      "An ideology is a (desired) view of reality that is not reality itself."

      An ideology is a specific attempt at describing reality. No serious ideology sets out to be unrealistic. It's just that some are more accurate than others. Your view of reality is itself an ideology.

      My overall critique is that you criticize the NAP in ways that all modes of political organization can be criticized without offering your preferred alternative. Do you have one?

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    20. ATL: Thank you very much for your comments. I will use them to update my article.

      One thing that jumps at me is that in my attempt to keep the article short, simple and to the point is that I do not always define the terms, nor fully explain the sequence of thought. That leaves the article open to attacks from ... lets say ... more intelligent people ... or more learned ? ... like the readers of this blog ...

      But your arguments are fair and I will try to address them in an update. Though I will try to keep the article "simple", I do not want to address it only to "academics".

      The big point you raise "... criticized without offering your preferred alternative."

      Absolutely true.

      I am still at the level of trying to understand reality as best as I can. And while I do have some ideas about improvements they are not yet ready for 'print'.

      Most likely I will never really propose a complete alternative system. If ever, my suggestions will be along the type "when developing a new system, keep in mind these points".

      One of the interesting things about studying reality (and inadvertently thinking of ways to improve it) is that I am getting a whole new appreciation of what humanity has achieved already. Republics and democracies have a whole lot more going for them than meets the eye. (I.e. the modern critics should take care in simply trying to dismantle them and replace them with 'new' and 'improved' systems. This is especially true for the founding theorems of the US... they were -are- pretty d*mn good. Too bad that we no longer honour them)

      Oh, PS: As to your other answer: I disagree.

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    21. Rien,

      Perhaps you could write another blog post in which you define all of the terms - a glossary of sorts. That way, you can hyperlink each time you use those words in other posts, without having to define them each time you use them.

      Delete
    22. "One thing that jumps at me is that in my attempt to keep the article short..."

      Yes that is tough to do, when your scope is so big. Perhaps it would be best to break it up into different articles and then follow them up with a summary article that links to the prior ones? I wouldn't say I'm more intelligent, just more familiar with this particular ground.

      "I am still at the level of trying to understand reality as best as I can"

      We all are. It's very difficult to discover what is true and good in the social realm through the 'noise' of temporal politics, religion and technology. This is why I enjoy Bionic's blog so much. My own research had led me down a very similar path as his, and I've benefited from a lot of his arguments and info, as well as those of many commentors, since I've been here.

      I think the quintessential social truth (apart from any metaphysical or theological considerations) is that the good life is equivalent to life by consent. Anything else and we're talking about degrees of slavery. If we're against slavery, then we have to understand why that is. The crucial difference between wage labor and slave labor (as well as sex and rape, gift and theft, vacation and abduction, boxing and battery, etc.) is of course consent.

      Other things are also important, but I believe these things are necessarily encouraged by a consensual community. Some bad things cannot be forcefully prevented in a consensual community, it is true, but I believe these things find much deeper roots in our current non-consensual form of political organization.

      "Republics and democracies have a whole lot more going for them than meets the eye"

      I think republics and democracies were a step backward, at least for human freedom, from monarchies. It cannot be denied that they were a massive leap forward for state power and authority. I think that to the extent republics aimed at true federalism, they were noble and liberty oriented, but even this was no great leap forward from monarchy, which often had even stronger federalist elements.

      I think the reason we have it so good in this country is the underlying (though diminishing) Christian culture of truth, freedom, responsibility, and charity

      Both monarchy and republicanism are flawed by the quintessential political flaw of all non-libertarian political orders: the reliance on a monopolist of ultimate decision making. Both eventually succumb to its corrupting influence; it just takes less time for republics with popular suffrage.

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    23. "As to your other answer: I disagree."

      You disagree with my discussion of self-evident, axiomatic truths?

      Delete
    24. ATL: About democracies & monarchies - A monarchy usually evolves into a democracy for good reasons: its expensive to be a monarch ;-)

      Early democracies where voting is restricted to the aristocracy and economic big wigs could be an even better alternative than monarchies. (Just thinking out loud here)


      "life by consent. Anything else and we're talking about degrees of slavery"

      Pfff... I disagree, but its nothing that I can put in words easily...
      The problem is how to define consent (or freedom).


      "You disagree with my discussion of self-evident, axiomatic truths?"

      Yes, with each point ;-)

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  7. Bionic – I am nowhere near as learned and fluent as yourself and other commenters here about much of the subject matter you discuss, but I must say, this post by you is outstanding! When seemingly complex matters can be cut through and expressed in very simple, direct terms, I consider that a grand slam. You have hit it out of the park.

    I’ll suggest a few notes that likely are assumed and implied in the quest for Liberty by most who frequent this site. Some small fine-tunings:
    - “… these seven moral rules – love your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to [LEGITIMATE] authority, be fair, and respect others’ property – appear to be universal across cultures.”
    - “Converging lines of evidence – from game theory, ethology, psychology, and anthropology – suggest that morality is a collection of tools for promoting [VOLUNTARY] cooperation.”
    - “It is the moral duty of [morally encouraged that] the individual to conform themselves to the larger structure that exists.” [And in any case, the non-conforming individual will quickly learn how unnecessarily difficult life will become…]
    - “A reminder of the purpose of morality: a collection of tools for promoting [VOLUNTARY] cooperation.”
    - “If libertarians want to move liberty forward, incorporating this reality into the discussion is necessary.” [I agree, absolutely and without question or hesitation.]

    ATL mentions that, “… I think that "respect for property" carries a very important place within the anatomy of liberty, perhaps even a preeminent one...”
    Agreed wholeheartedly. Respect for property may be seen as the most “palpable, objectively evident” and most “easily adjudged” facets of these 7 Necessary Virtues. The other 6 - love your family, help your group, return favors, be brave, defer to authority, be fair – are far more subjective, personally felt and acted upon virtues. Respect for property can be well-supported and fairly applied by written law; the other 6 mostly require the wisdom and righteous daily pressure of cultural norms for proper maintenance.

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    1. Thank you, Robert. I appreciate your comments.

      I took the author's words as he gave them. With this said, I agree with the addition of the word "legitimate"; I might only modify: legitimate to the overwhelming majority of a given polity. Which is why libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice.

      Let me offer something about the word "voluntary," using one of your own sentences: "...the other 6 mostly require the wisdom and righteous daily pressure of cultural norms for proper maintenance."

      Maintaining cultural norms does require "daily pressure" by thought and cultural leaders (which is one reason I write often about the need for Christian leaders to lead as if they actually are Christian). But given that I am subject to their pressure, would my conforming be considered "voluntary"?

      In other words, there is this gray area - cultural norms; not really aggression but not really individual freedom. I think as long as our "conforming" is not enforce at the barrel of a gun, the daily pressure is legitimate, even though I might not consider my conforming fully voluntary.

      The remainder of these comments are not in direct response to your thoughts, but come to mind when considering my response:

      There will always be some subset of any given society that wants to break free of these cultural norms. They will face pressure to conform: some will conform and some won't. Those who will conform might not consider that their conforming is voluntary.

      Those who won't conform...well, we need those as well, otherwise society remains stagnant. As long as the foundations of society are solid, slow evolution is both desirable and necessary, it seems to me.

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    2. > I might only modify: legitimate to the overwhelming majority of a given polity.

      Agreed. And the smaller the polity, the better.


      > Let me offer something about the word "voluntary," using one of your own sentences: "...the other 6 mostly require the wisdom and righteous daily pressure of cultural norms for proper maintenance."

      > Maintaining cultural norms does require "daily pressure" by thought and cultural leaders (which is one reason I write often about the need for Christian leaders to lead as if they actually are Christian). But given that I am subject to their pressure, would my conforming be considered "voluntary"?

      > In other words, there is this gray area - cultural norms; not really aggression but not really individual freedom. I think as long as our "conforming" is not enforced at the barrel of a gun, the daily pressure is legitimate, even though I might not consider my conforming fully voluntary.

      Yes, a fascinating gray area it is. It is an area that is not readily codified in law, but better codified in the heart - To Care. As I type the word “heart,” I am instantly reminded why it is that so many hyper-rationalist libertarians always tend to slightly rub me the wrong way. Life and liberty is not just about head/mental/objective/rational, it’s also heart/emotional/subjective/caring. These 6 extra virtues you are talking about point this up clearly. “To care” is what gets the whole ball rolling, after all. I cannot quantify “to care,” but I sure prefer plenty of it within my small polity. Indeed, the only polity that works is one that is small enough for everyone to personally know everyone else sufficiently enough to care about them, their well being and their advancement.

      > The remainder of these comments are not in direct response to your thoughts, but come to mind when considering my response:

      > There will always be some subset of any given society that wants to break free of these cultural norms. They will face pressure to conform: some will conform and some won't. Those who will conform might not consider that their conforming is voluntary.

      > Those who won't conform...well, we need those as well, otherwise society remains stagnant. As long as the foundations of society are solid, slow evolution is both desirable and necessary, it seems to me.

      Seems so to me also.
      How does my culture handle the super-genius? The radical artist? The spiritual heretic? Any challenge to the status quo? Is a positive and pro-active understanding and acceptance of these situations built into the culture, or does the culture tend to ostracize such people?
      Science already has a nice framework in place to deal with status quo-upsetting breakthroughs in the measurable, material world. What is far more challenging is how to construct a workable framework for that which is unmeasurable:
      Love - love your family,
      Involvement - help your group,
      Proportion - return favors,
      Courage - be brave,
      Order, Manageability - defer to legitimate authority,
      Respect, Honor, Equitability - be fair.

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    3. "...but better codified in the heart..."

      As you touch on, the "other" six can be summarized in the word "love."

      Love - at least love that is worth anything meaningful - is not a feeling but a doing. The other six all touch on "doing."

      The non-aggression principle - respect others' property - is "not doing." Do "not" aggress.

      The non-aggression principle is the silver rule; the others could be characterized by the golden rule. It has seemed to me for some time that we need a little golden rule if we want to move toward liberty.

      Needless to say, I do not advocate for laws on such matters - laws cannot force people to love; they usually drive people to hate. It does require, as you suggest, a change in the heart.

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    4. Hello Robert,

      As I read your posts above, I found myself nodding in agreement the whole time. Well said. I would like to say that adding 'voluntary' to 'cooperation' may be a bit redundant, but we can never be too careful in explaining exactly what we mean, so perhaps it is appropriate. I would also say, as a matter of personal preference only, that I like to use the word 'just' rather than 'legitimate.' The word 'just,' to me, carries more philosophical weight, whereas 'legitimate' seems to suggest what is in accord with whatever is currently the written law (much of which may be unjust).

      "It is an area that is not readily codified in law, but better codified in the heart"

      We need men with chests I agree.

      “The head rules the belly through the chest — the seat . . . of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments . . . these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.” - C.S. Lewis, Men Without Chests

      "Life and liberty is not just about head/mental/objective/rational, it’s also heart/emotional/subjective/caring." - Robert

      Lord Acton, in his "History of Freedom in Christianity," would agree:

      "That great political idea, sanctifying freedom and consecrating it to God, teaching men to treasure the liberties of others as their own, and to defend them for the love of justice and charity, more than as a claim of right, has been the soul of what is great and good in the progress of the last two hundred years."

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  8. Excellent piece, and I fully agree that the origins of ethics must be of a practical nature, much more than being the result of an abstract ideological construct. I am wondering to what extent the 6 non-property rights are related to property and if there is something like sociological property.

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    1. Thank you, Youp.

      "...if there is something like sociological property."

      It doesn't fit into the neat little box of the NAP, but it seems to me that something like this must be considered (and much of what I have been reading and writing about recently is on this point). We certainly know, in any case, that people always have and always will treat it as property.

      Hans Hoppe writes of the requirement: a libertarian community must not allow in - or if in, they must expel those whose beliefs threaten liberty. For example, you wouldn’t want a million communists moving in next door – at least not if you wanted to remain in liberty.

      I have used the example of the new guy moving in – he has sex orgies on his front lawn every Sunday afternoon just as all of the neighbors are returning from church with their families. Technically, the exhibitionists aren’t violating the NAP, but…

      Something somewhat on point, if you are interested:

      http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2017/03/uncomfortable-questions.html

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    2. Youp: "Sociological Property"

      Are you thinking of "commons"?

      If so, have you heard of Curt Doolittle (and his propertarianism)?

      Commons in the way propertarianism sees it is not restricted to actual physical property, but extends to all shared human behaviour/actions.

      I.e. trusting that someone will be there in a meeting set up for 2 o'clock next Monday is a part of the 'commons'.

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  9. I'm a fan of the NAP. I have long embraced it, even trumpeted it. I also have long understood the NAP is not a sufficient, only necessary, condition for ordered liberty.

    The way left-libertarians twist it, though, sometimes I wonder whether the NAP is more an undermining condition. In which case I don't know what's left.

    So help me, I have read professed libertarians claim the Christian faith violates the NAP. How can that be? You either believe or you don't believe. If you don't believe, no church FBI will toss you in the hoosegow. No church IRS will shake you down for collection-basket evasion. No church CIA will extraordinarily rendition you.

    You are never detained. You are always free to go.

    To which the left-libertarian parries, oh so incisively, "How about hell?" Meaning what? The church threatens you with hell-fire if you don't believe? Is that it?

    Yes, fear of Judgment does play a role in the Christian faith. Though, speaking for myself, I'm more inclined to focus on the hope for eternal life than the fear of perdition. Either way, the church issues no threat. It *identifies* a threat. What kind of nincompoop fails to grasp the difference between the issuance and identification of a threat?

    You are free to dispute the threat the churches--and Christ Himself--have identified. I am free to acknowledge it. This is a problem for libertarians how?

    In linking vaccines to autism, anti-vaxxers identify a controversial threat. They exercise their First Amendment rights nonetheless. They publicize their views.

    Are the left-libertarians going to accuse anti-vaxxers of violating the NAP, too? Do they propose shutting them up? If anti-vaxxers enjoy First Amendment rights, why don't churches?

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    1. "This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework."

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27402886

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    2. Hey Bionic! Love your musings! And I even agree with most of them. About this moral stuff - you would do well to read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt (pronounced "hite' NOT "hate"), You can find a lot of his lectures on YouTube and you will find him extremely informative particularly illuminating your quote from tidbit.

      Regarding the left "libertarians" - they seem to have an aversion to ANY and ALL hierarchies, voluntary or otherwise, [irrationally] claiming that someone at the "top" of the hierarchy is somehow "coercing" anyone at the "bottom", even if they voluntary place and maintain themselves in that position. The people at C4SS even claim that a private pharmacist should be required by law (read: coercion) to fulfill a prescription for the morning after pill, because the license they got to be a pharmacist is a state privilege (it is, of course) and that somehow makes them liable for a bunch of other obligations, helping women kill their babies being one of them.

      Sheesh!

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    3. “…they seem to have an aversion to ANY and ALL hierarchies, voluntary or otherwise…”

      The primary aversion is to Christianity and the foundations of Western Civilization.

      I have done a decent amount of work on left libertarians, C4SS, and Kevin Carson. If you are interested, a couple of the many posts:

      http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2015/07/left-libertarians.html

      http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2015/07/antonio-gramsci-libertarians.html

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  10. This is a fantastic post bionic, got the birds chirping indeed. But sometimes when I read your posts what I see is like when I was growing up the things that were imparted on me. Respect your elders, do onto others, take care of your things, pick up after yourself, save your money for a rainy day, wash behind your ears lol
    Anyway, it seems to me that nap is simply an extension of what we in the west are taught by decent family, some don't have that moral underpinning, perhaps that's why some people don't see liberty in the context that you write. I for one do, and love coming to this blog almost daily. Thanks again B

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    1. Thank you, Dave. It is a good point that I see liberty this way given a certain moral underpinning. I don't know that this shades my view of the moral underpinning necessary to move toward liberty, but maybe.

      In any case, this is one reason I view decentralization as the practical application of libertarianism. If others want to live in a society where "the undefendable" is "normal" and even desired behavior, that's their business.

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  11. Could libertarianism* ever be a threat to liberty?

    -Sag.

    *(NAP only)

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    1. Nice to hear from you. It has been some time.

      I think yes. We see the common ground of left-libertarians and Gramsci, for example. The means are similar, but only one of these two can be right about the ends. I know which one of these two is right about the ends.

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    2. Likewise BM,

      And agreed about the common ground you mention. This can be expanded to another common ground, i.e. between libertarianism (all of it, not only the lefties) and globalism. Both are anti nation state. So far so good.
      One important difference is that, in the real world, globalists are the ones effectively dismantling nation states world wide. Libertarianism thus far has chiefly been talk & theorizing. If it has any societal impact, talk about abolishing nation states combined with property rights based societies, won't scare any globalist in the least. They might in fact love it. Haven't spoken to one for some time, so I'm not sure.

      For me the worrying part starts with another question and that is whether libertarianism has anything on offer to combat globalism besides talk & theory? If not, libertarianism must be considered to be of no practical use and possibly even a threat, albeit an indirect one here, to liberty.

      -Sag.

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    3. Sag

      “Both are anti nation state.”

      True for the left-libertarians; the right are not against nation (meaning a people with common kinship, culture, tradition, etc.), just against state.

      “Libertarianism thus far has chiefly been talk & theorizing.”

      Libertarianism, being a theory, can only offer talk and theory. So I am not sure what you are expecting from it.

      If you are, instead, asking about libertarians – individuals taking action – this is where, it seems to me, a marriage of libertarians and conservatives is of value. Libertarians have a theory but no meaningful action (beyond educating – a not insignificant role as history has shown); conservatives have political action but no meaningful theory – in other words, nothing to bind them together.

      There are active political efforts in almost every country of the west to reduce reliance and exposure to various globalist organizations and ideas – reverting to “nation.” Conservative libertarians cheer this; left-libertarians (and globalists) are appalled.

      Conservative libertarianism can offer a theory supportive of decentralization - contrary, it seems to me to the desires of globalists. Left-libertarians, of course, have universalism in their sites – supportive of the globalists.

      Conservative libertarianism is not against the nation - left-libertarians (and globalists) generally are. Conservative libertarianism is not against governance - generally left-libertarians are. And absent governance, we get ever-enlarging government. It is this that left-libertarians don’t appreciate; and it is this that globalists appreciate in left-libertarians.

      This is the book waiting to be written….

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    4. "Libertarianism, being a theory, can only offer talk and theory."

      Yes, a theory is a theory is a theory. Almost sounds like libertarianism viewed as Human Inaction.

      "So I am not sure what you are expecting from it."

      Perhaps some decentralization in practice? I was under the impression that you thought there ought to be a connection there, i.e. that theory should lead to tangible real world results towards more liberty.

      -Sag.

      P.s.: noticed you changed nation state into "nation". Not what I was talking about, since I'm well aware of the difference. So my bad. Should have made even more clear that it's the "against the state" part I'm interested in. But thanks anyway.

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    5. Sag, quit beating around the bush. What, exactly, do you expect? A takeover of state and provincial capitals? Marching through immigrant and minority neighborhoods shooting everything that moves? Lew Rockwell and Hans Hoppe manning the artillery?

      Don't be shy about it; just say what's on your mind. Thereafter, I can ask you what *you* are doing about it.

      "...noticed you changed nation state into "nation"."

      I didn't "change" anything. I wrote rather clearly, I thought, to the point you raised (which now you tell me that you didn't mean) - and to do this I had to make this distinction clear.

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    6. @All,

      Back to my original concern with regard to libertarianism:


      1) Libertarianism is anti-state. It aids the globalist agenda in this specific regard.

      2) Property rights constitute no threat to globalists.

      3) The NAP will leave globalists unharmed as long as their global takeover doesn't constitute "aggression".

      There. As concise as this Dutchie can manage.

      In short: I see a potential libertarian problem re: liberty here, which I find worthwhile sharing. Curious about other commenters' thoughts.

      FAIR WARNING in advance: all of this is of course a clumsy set up to arrive at the subject of tyrannicide. Very interesting part of Western culture and civilization.

      Cheers from Amsterdam,

      -Sag.

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    7. Tyrannicide? This is your "action"?

      Sag, so what are you doing about it? When can we expect to hear the news about your deeds?

      Or is it all just talk and theory, Human Inaction on your part?

      Come on, man. Fish or cut bait.

      Me? Tyrannicide is no solution. If this is the "action" you are looking for, you've come to the wrong place.

      As to your three points, you get no disagreement from me - although I can make a theoretical argument on point 2, but not a practical one given this current world.

      Perhaps I should write an article entitled "Is Libertarianism Sufficient for Liberty?" and then expand on my views about this matter. Just to ensure there is no confusion about my views.

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    8. Not the wrong place BM, just the wrong person obviously.

      Nothing wrong with tyrannicide. Like I said, part & parcel of Western Culture & Civilization. So this is the place.

      Here's doctor angelicus and noted medieval blogger Thomas Aquinas, who provided a substantial argument in favour, based on just war theory. Aquinas' conclusion:

      “He who kills a tyrant to free his country is praised and rewarded”

      Good enough for me.

      Suppose a certain Hungarian hothead, egged on by govt. propaganda would go out and send Mr Gregory Rossos to his maker. Would he be regarded as someone who has done liberty a service or a disservice?

      -Sag.

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    9. Aquinas had the luxury of knowing who to kill, and living in a world where killing the one person would make a difference.

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    10. "...and living in a world where killing the one person would make a difference." - BM

      Great point. Lincoln was killed, and yet this act, rather than ending his reign, instead entrenched it like a tapeworm in the hearts of nearly all subsequent Americans. Lincoln became a secular martyr, which was fitting since he was a Godless Puritan.

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    11. ATL, we wouldn't even know who to kill today. It isn't a person: there is a state.

      If tyrannicide is the option, the state must be killed - in fact, exactly what libertarians advocate and exactly what libertarians are chided for in this thread by the advocate of tyrannicide.

      I am obviously missing something.

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  12. But if moral and ethical values turn out to be constant across culture then why are political borders - which is to say borders created as the residue of wars waged by one political group against another - either necessary or desirable ?

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    1. "In other words, just because these different communities hold to these same rules, it doesn’t mean that the application is identical. The concepts are the same; the lifestyles might be quite different."

      Honor culture, dignity culture and victim culture are not the same even though they are made of up the same ingredients.

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    2. Victor the one-trick pony. Nice to see you.

      Political borders are necessary because we live in a world of states in control of politics. For political borders to not exist in a world of state borders is an impossibility, right up there with the moon being made of cheese or Santa Claus visiting every home in the world in one day.

      Political borders are desirable (within this world of state borders) because you have ignored what I have written in this post:

      "In other words, just because these different communities hold to these same rules, it doesn’t mean that the application is identical. The concepts are the same; the lifestyles might be quite different."

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    3. Forgive me if I misundertand....but it seems like in your post you make the admirable case that people the world over tend toward the same good motives and morals - while, by contrast, governments, the state, tend toward similarly malevolent motives. Now strangely here in the commentary you imply that because these government malefactors dominate those in their territories by force [ which one would have thought is a clear cut violation of the non aggression principle ] borders therefor become necessary, a very curious idea I must confess as the very title of Rothbards 'Enemby of the State' makes clear that the fundamental goal of libertarianism must be the elimination of all forms of political power, no ? Now if one believes political power is a given, an initial condition that never vanishes, then it seems to me that debate on the subject is cut very short indeed.

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    4. Open borders cannot be derived from the NAP; in fact, quite the opposite: my borders, my rules; I manage my borders. The NAP can only offer that borders are managed - not open, not closed.

      Now...the government has monopolized the management of all borders - political and also private. Does Rothbard and the NAP require me, therefore, to lie prostrate, impotent in the face of my preferences? A silly notion, and one that even Rothbard refutes.

      It is always curious to me when libertarians are selective about Rothbard; even more curious when they do not see how Rothbard's thinking evolved over time. Given that he was creating a new political theory almost single-handedly, it would be foolish to believe that the first time he wrote on a topic that he would then never evolve his thinking.

      As long as there are states, there will be state borders. The fact of state borders makes the state borders necessary. It is inherently a truism.

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    5. Finally, as you seem to ignore my words in response to your first query, please read Jim's response. Do you believe aggression, property, and proper punishment are all defined the same in all societies? Do you believe acceptable behavior is the same around the world - even if they all believe they are acting honorably?

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    6. The problem is not at all to take inventory of the differences between one 'society' and another. In fact the concept of 'society' is a category invented by socialism. It is a tactic of power deployed by the socialists which has allowed them to impose their massive economic intervention, regulation, and taxation. The real problem is how to escape from a ruinous socialism and return to the peace, prosperity, and civilization of laissez faire capitalism which marked America's most prosperous and most civilized period. Indeed American cities were destroyed by native socialist political control NOT by any teeming immigrant populations untrammeled by government border control. Walter Block has documented the grisly effect of native socialist rent control on New York's South Bronx which caused once magnificent neighborhoods to literally be burned to the ground. It was a native socialism which drove the white population out of New York and nearly destroyed it for good in the 1970s. In fact New York was saved only because immigrant populations re-colonized it starting in the early 1980s. The point is simply that our problem is not to figure out how good societies are opposed to bad ones but how laissez faire can replace political rule. Victor.

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    7. Victor, theories don't apply themselves, theories don't define themselves, theories don't enforce themselves.

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    8. @ Victor

      "The problem is not at all to take inventory of the differences between one 'society' and another."

      I disagree with this, it's that very assessment that should drive people to decide what society(I'm going to use it with "culture" as well) to voluntarily become a member of or leave. It's a natural process, now made easier by the gains in man's ability to travel, technologically speaking, in the last 100 years especially.

      "In fact the concept of 'society' is a category invented by socialism."

      I have doubts in your claim, but setting that aside for a moment we can interchange the word "culture" for "society" if it moves the conversation forward. Sure, the root of words socialism and society have commonalities, but connotatively they are different. I agree with you that socialists use the word of "society", or more often "civilized society" to suggest that their vision of the powerful state without voluntary participation is what produces "civilization", but that's a somewhat different issue from this idea they created the word "society" or it's current day definitions/connotations.

      Regardless, I'll use "culture" when discussing this topic with you.

      Lastly, the argument you make about the native welfarism springing up certainly has some validity- but it's a "double whammy" in that once these policies were put into place it then encourages a specific type of immigrant to come that normally might not have been drawn prior to the 1964/Great Society era. (though certainly the New Deal was a blow, just not to same extent as LBJ's era)

      So given that reality, if there's to be any hope of a return to a less intrusive gov't/welfare state, there has to be an acknowledgment that the government handouts are encouraging immigrants that are friendly to the ideals of more government handouts when they get here. (and the corresponding cultural shifts)

      There is also a strong case to be made that the final nail in the coffin of any notion of a meritocracy and limited governance on a republican style of government went out the window not so much because of "native population" cultural shifts as much as when blacks were rioting at the same they gained voting rights (and I'm not disparaging blacks, just to be clear),also the country was war weary and there were "white" riots over that.

      It was "democracy" during this period that partially drove the final nail in IMO...as American blacks culturally speaking, had no ties to free market ideals and why would they? They didn't come here voluntarily and spent generations in slavery. Yet once they got voting rights and rioted, Congress moved quickly to quell the "natives" that were causing civil unrest via a welfare package. (and I debate if you could consider blacks as part of the "native" US culture at that time- they had no cultural impact do any significant extent until this time period)

      Personally, I think a Soviet style collapse is the best chance the US has for movement of the state back, with the hope that the States take back some power/control under such a scenario and then governance more closely reflects the inhabitants if each state....but that's a very dangerous proposition as such a collapse can lead to war and/or civil unrest among other issues.

      Of course, ideally, communities that are 100% voluntary would be great...but I just don't see how that happens any time soon so we have to talk about the "real politik" today. (but we can always discuss the ideal in context to it, which is also healthy)

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  13. "I think the problem is language. My words and definitions are not anyone else’s."

    Humpty Dumpty, is that you?


    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
    'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
    'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

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    1. The problem is solved, therefore if we all have the same master!

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  14. I am reading Hulsmann’s masterful biography of Mises. Found this tidbit. Alexander Rustow was reluctant to endorse classical liberalism root and branch, but the main objection was to the egalitarianism. ... They argued that hierarchy was absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a free society, because only the authority implied in it would effectively transmit the CULTURAL TRADITION of liberty.

    Rustow later wrote “Freedom and Domination”. I am going to try to see what kind of tradition that work transmits.

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  15. If Bionic will permit another comment,(Rules understandable, expect compliance.)

    “If liberty is the objective, is the non-aggression principle sufficient?”

    The NAP is a principle, a universal statement of means, referencing an action successfully and universally accomplishing one cause of one effect, that of “liberty as sole means to peaceful co-existence.” Liberty, as freedom from the coercion (universally provoking hostility and eventual retaliation,) cannot be both means and end. The NAP would then make no sense, as the statement would be: “liberty is the means to the end of liberty.”


    P.S. To all: Unanimous complaints of rambling, obstinate focus on things interesting only to me, led me to suspect a sleep prescription. Got a different one; crazy gone. Thank you for your patience and the medical alert.

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  16. Bionic,

    Please excuse this small intrusion back into your world but prior to Jeff Deist's comment in a previous thread, I was confused about what libertarianism was. I thought it was only about the NAP.

    The three pillars of libertarianism (and liberty and freedom) is, in my opinion:

    PROPERTY RIGHTS - PROPERTY RIGHTS - PROPERTY RIGHTS.

    1. Property Rights - EVERY Person owns their own body and No One Else's, is the first pillar.

    2. Property Rights - All rightfully acquired personal property (chattel) and goods is the second pillar.

    3. Property Rights - All rightfully acquired Real Property (Homes and Lands) is the Third Pillar.

    The Supreme Law (Principle, Axiom, Commandment) protecting these rights is the NAP.

    Again, libertarianism is not about the NAP per se, except in its application of protecting the Property Rights of all and I now tend to agree with you that without understanding the three pillars, the NAP is insufficient.

    Libertarianism, as with liberty and freedom, is about "Property Rights" and the universal axiom in protecting them is the NAP.

    Tahn

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    1. Tahn, do you have a point? A criticism of something written by me or others in this post or in the comments?

      If you are saying that libertarianism is sufficient for libertarianism, or the NAP is sufficient for the NAP...well, we agree.

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    2. Bionic,

      I was attempting to provide my answer to your first sentence and question in your post ,"If liberty is the objective, is the non-aggression principle sufficient?  "

      I had hoped to make the point that the NAP is only sufficient if considered as the axiom protecting property rights.

      Tahn

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    3. Tahn, the protection of property rights will not survive in a community that does not live consistent with an underlying ethic far broader than merely protecting property rights; property rights will not survive in a community in which members hold to different definitions of aggression, punishment, and even - dare I say - property.

      This is my whole point.

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