Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Libertarians Are a Joke

Settle down, settle, down....

From an interview of Milo Yiannopoulos on the topic of the alt-right, conducted by D.D. Guttenplan, published by The Nation.

Milo apparently gained fame when Hillary Clinton referenced the “fringe” of the alt-right in a speech recently.  Guttenplan decided to find out what this was all about – why was it so important to Clinton to give recognition to this (supposedly) obscure corner of the political spectrum?

Milo’s most succinct description of the alt-right, as follows:

The alt-right for me is primarily a cultural reaction to the nannying and language policing and authoritarianism of the progressive left—the stranglehold that it has on culture.

I see it as a cultural movement.

So what’s the deal about libertarians?  The following exchange is the extent of it:

DG: What about the Libertarians?             

MY: What about them? 

DG: Are they not an acceptable alternative?         

MY: No. They’re a joke.

DG: Why?           

MY: Libertarians are children. Libertarians are people who have given up looking for an answer. This whole “everybody do what they want” is code for “leave me to do what I want.” It’s selfish and childish. It’s an admission that you have given up trying to work out what a good society would look like, how the world should be ordered and instead just retreated back into selfishness. That’s why they’re so obsessed with weed, Bitcoin, and hacking.  

DG: I always thought those were the most attractive things about them.

MY: Maybe so, but that’s why you can’t take them seriously. It’s all introspective and insular and selfish.

I offer two reactions to this criticism….

Milo is Right

Oh the amount of garbage published by so-called libertarians.  I haven’t addressed this topic much in recent months, but I offer a somewhat dated compilation here. 

Some characteristics? 

·        Too many so-called libertarians try to add things on to the simplicity of the non-aggression principle and label these as requirements. 
·        War and pre-emptive military intervention are acceptable under libertarian theory. 
·        Government surveillance of the mundanes is acceptable. 
·        We can make government more efficient. 
·        To be a true libertarian, one must accept and endorse and advocate for every libertine lifestyle ever devised (or yet to be devised) by man.
·        Proper application of libertarian theory requires the abolition of all hierarchical arrangements.
·        Parents should be licensed.

Not enough for you?  How about this: libertarians should reject the non-aggression principle!

Perhaps one of the biggest jokes?  It isn’t on the list, and I won’t link to my work on it.  Regular readers will recall the “discussion” I had with a well-known (and in some circles, well-respected) libertarian writer about the acceptability of shooting a child as punishment for stealing an apple.  He felt this was perfectly justified by the non-aggression principle.  I disagreed.

I went further.  If this was acceptable under libertarian theory put into practice, no libertarian society would ever survive.

So I suggest that when one reads a good amount of the work done by so-called libertarians, one might only conclude as Milo does: libertarians are children; libertarians are a joke.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of this work floating around.

Milo is Wrong

Clearly Milo has never read Rothbard or Hoppe, or if he has then it seems he has a difficult time following a consistent libertarian thread (but there are many to whom I have referred in the section above that are in the same boat).

If one considers that libertarian theory addresses one thing and one thing only, it is difficult to label it a joke.  How can a theory be blamed for not addressing that which it is not designed to address?

Libertarian theory addresses one thing: the proper use of violence.  It is strictly a political theory.  It says nothing about culture, morals, or values beyond what can be strictly derived from a very simple statement: one cannot initiate violence.

The non-aggression principle: don’t steal and don’t hit; you may defend yourself and others if someone else initiates the stealing and the hitting.

This is quite a reasonable theory on violence and initiating aggression. As long as appendages are not added to it, as long as more isn’t expected from it than it actually intends to deliver, it is wonderful in its simplicity. 

Rothbard is quite clear on this – don’t expect more from the theory than it can deliver.  It is not a stretch to suggest that Rothbard single-handedly consolidated a variety of seemingly disparate ideas and concepts and created what would properly be considered libertarian theory.

Hoppe has gone further to demonstrate that culture matters if you want to achieve and maintain an NAP respecting society.  Certain cultural factors are important – factors to be found outside of libertarian theory.  The alt-right would feel right at home with many of these cultural factors.

Many children in the libertarian room are rather critical of Rothbard and Hoppe.  What do you expect from children?

If Milo spends some time reading Rothbard and Hoppe, he might conclude that there are actually adults in the libertarian room.


Unfortunately, the jokester children aren’t going away anytime soon.  This means that the Milo’s of the world will always find it easy to denigrate and discount the value of the theory – despite the significant common ground that might otherwise be shared.

Out of the myriad of libertarian or pseudo-libertarian sites, there are many I go to if I want a good laugh.  There are only two on which I find it worth spending my time if I want properly applied and consistent libertarian theory and concepts – let’s call these sites the adults in the room.  If you find it important to make a difference in spreading proper libertarian ideas, stop by here.


  1. 1. While I also have long pointed out that “culture matters” regarding the NAP, I think it is also true that just the act of abiding by the NAP and your contractual obligations goes a long way in demonstrating that you possess the appropriate cultural attributes of a civilized person. You are not getting a government subsidy or regulatory advantage and you will have to please your neighbors and customers daily in order to engage in beneficial exchanges.

    2. Libertarians are generally afraid of the SJWs and simply do not like conservative Christians or conservative lifestyles. Therefore, they will always be trying to show the lefties that they aren’t so bad after all. Forget it. The Left will still hate you and mock you at every turn.

    3. When I first heard about scientifically based drug testing in the 80s, I thought libertarians would jump on the concept. Libertarians could explain that government drug prohibition was not needed because private business, churches, neighborhoods etc. could conduct drug tests and ban dopers as they pleased. It turns out that my bright idea had no traction with libertarians.

    4. Related to #3, I recall that Ron Paul did poorly in southern primaries because of vast opposition to his “socially liberal” views. Neither Ron Paul nor the LP has ever pointed out to southern evangelicals that libertarianism allows them to form their own exclusive communities, churches and schools free of dopers, gays, and SJWs. There is nothing really “socially liberal” about libertarianism. Fear of the SJWs and the left in general strikes again.

    5. There is a constant failure to note that loathsome behaviors that do not amount to a violation of the NAP which would justify an arrest or tort lawsuit could and can be ostracized.

    6. You could be charged significantly more for insurance or denied coverage in general for risky behaviors. You can also be evicted for violating private community bylaws for behaviors which are frowned upon. Fear of the SJWs and the left in general strikes again.

    1. ...Aaaand that's why many of us 'prefix/hyphenate' our Libertarianism, e.g., Constitutional Libertarian-Nationalist, etc.

      One of the great things about Libertarianism is there's now enough of them that I don't like all of them.

    2. Hey BM, why not just name names? The crazed Libertarian who advocated shooting someone over stealing an apple was Robert Wenzel.

      I have my own bone to pick with him as he ex post facto declared all emails to him as "Letters to the Editor" and published something I sent him via an email address which was clearly not "editor@economicpolicyjournal.com"

      With regards to disrespecting Rothbard and Hoppe, some of us believe that novel ideas are the most valuable commodity, and the producers of those ideas should be protected, as novel ideas are property.

      Hoppe does not agree with that, and he and his disciples have continually ignored the counterarguments to their IP Communism. Evidently because they have none.

    3. There's a scene in the movie "Ten Commandments" where the Pharaoh is ordering the name "Moses" stricken from every record, monument, tablet, etc., in Egypt; the Pharaoh disallows anyone to even say the name "Moses."

      I have not gone that far - if others want to mention the name on my blog, I let it be. But I won't.

      We had what I thought was a professional relationship - many exchanges back and forth. On the topic of apple-stealing children, he made it very personal. He also tried to change his argument without saying he did - because he failed on his first point and knew it.

      I should have expected this given his character with others. My mistake.

      As to IP, I don't know what is so difficult about accepting that if it can be protected via private contractual relationships that there is nothing for any libertarian to complain about. Whenever I have made this argument, I have found no satisfactory response.

      Here again, the interaction has been less than fulfilling.

    4. "One of the great things about Libertarianism is there's now enough of them that I don't like all of them."

      LOL! I guess we must number at least 15, then. :)

  2. Robert Wenzel seems to have an inability to admit when he is wrong, change his position, and move on.

    I called him out on the skim job that high frequency trading is, and now even after it has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it is fraudulent, he still refuses to admit it.

    I also fail to understand the pathology behind refusing private contractual relationships if they are in effect IP.

    Both of these lend credence to Scott Adam's "moist robot" thesis. :p

  3. My bone to pick with many libertarians is their inability to separate theoretical points and real life implementation. In their personal life, I have no doubt they understand that tasks can only be accomplished by setting priorities due resource limitations. But, when it comes to the political, they just lose their minds. The LP freak show is prime example.

    Bionic Mosquito is a rate example of libertarians that graple with the theory rubber meeting the real life road.

    BTW, BM, seeing you posting occasional Bible verses makes me smile. Is it televant to our life? How? Brother, the struggle will not be resolved by us but we are called to struggle.

    1. Relevant in many ways: first, it is the Word of God - I believe every word of it to be true, much of it beyond my (and human) understanding.

      Second, although many hate to admit it and despise anyone who says or believes it, Christianity is at the foundation of what we have come to know as Western Civilization; sadly, that foundation has been dumped down the toilet since the turn of the last century (some might argue since Martin Luther, others might argue since the split of Byzantium and Rome).

      Regardless of these "splits," the general theology, morality, and philosophy is at the root of western culture. It has value, as without it we are bound by nothing but the follies of so-called "wise" leaders.