Doesn’t really roll off of the tongue, does it. Well, one of you can work on branding.
The comments to my recent post, The Libertarian Movement, offer a wide variety of opinions and views on the topic (even one that I didn’t publish, suggesting that I start a blog on cooking); of course, this wide variety was already quite evident within the very broad community that identifies as libertarian.
I will address some of the comments from the aforementioned thread; let’s just say that it is clear that there is not today (and perhaps can never be) a thing called a “libertarian movement.” So…let’s begin.
Victor February 10, 2018 at 12:54 PM
…the libertarian problem is how to completely dismantle political power of any and every kind in order that all service, particularly security and justice are mediated exclusively within and by a free market.
Victor, I get this. But just saying it ain’t gonna make it so. I have spent much of my focus over the last few years on the question of “how”; what conditions / pre-conditions are necessary?
Victor, my question to you: How? Don’t tell me what’s wrong with my view of how – what is yours?
Victor February 12, 2018 at 11:03 AM
Offering a quote from Randall Holcombe:
When the founders created this country, the underlying philosophy of American government was liberty.
For much of my life I believed this to be true. I still believe that some of the founders believed it to be true. I have come to conclude there was no chance it could be true, given the philosophy of sand upon which it was built.
Once man decided to make law (legislate), liberty was doomed. It is as simple as this. This is what made and makes a “state.”
What the founders meant by liberty was freedom from government oppression.
It is difficult to read the Constitution and believe this. In any case, this might have been true for a minority of the founders; it certainly wasn’t true of the majority. And to the extent it was true, it all came crashing down even during the time of the founding generation.
Hard to believe that they really meant “freedom from government oppression” when this freedom didn’t survive their own time in office.
Victor February 12, 2018 at 2:58 PM
The paradox is that though rights based discourse developed in the West, by no means have Western societies ever been fully or even mostly free.
(Look, I promise that this post won’t just be a dialogue with Victor…this is the last one.)
Victor, I get this. I have spent much of my focus over the last several years on the question of “compared to what?” Because you don’t get to preach about utopia at this site.
The society that came closest (and lasted for a meaningfully extended period) to this libertarian ideal is that of the European Middle Ages. I have written about this dozens of times; I have asked just as many times for someone to challenge this – not that the society was libertopia; just that it came closest in a world populated by humans.
So…Victor…compared to what? Or do you have a better example. Because talking about libertopia isn’t sufficient in a world of humans. I want the truth. And, yes…I can handle the truth.
Anonymous February 11, 2018 at 5:51 PM
Are there going to be times that we right-libertarians side with (work with) left-libertarians (about 5% of the time - your stat)? And then other times when we do not (about 95% of the time - your stat)?
Do we become discerning like Rothbard and choose our battles and friends (and enemies) well? And change allegiances as needed or as circumstances change? Or does some objective truth or guiding principles forbid us from doing so? Working through all of this myself too with you.
I want nothing to do with the cultural aspects of the left. I do not say I wish such aspects were made illegal; I do not say such aspects are unforgivable. I merely say I do not want to advocate for, or live in, a world that looks like their libertarian ideal.
I also know that such a world will only enhance government control. I will cite Sagunto February 12, 2018 at 12:48 AM, but I agree with this view:
So from the moment [libertarianism] allows left-"libertarians" any space inside the tent, the NA principle becomes a self-destructive concept.
I can make common cause with those who advocate for political decentralization and those who are anti-war / anti-empire. The thing is…there are many non-libertarians who hold these views - in numbers, perhaps far more than libertarians. There are libertarians against these views in any case.
There are many lessor (in my mind) issues with which to make common cause - cut spending and taxes, reduce regulation, decriminalize non-violent offenses, stop subsidizing family destroying behavior. Of course, I don’t really know how to get any of this done without engaging with the system in some manner. Eventually (within the lifetime of anyone reading this post today) it will mean engaging politically. No one is going to hand you these things without a little political effort on your part.
JaimeInTexas February 11, 2018 at 8:29 AM
Without a common culture or understanding of what is libertarianism, how can libertarians use the word we? They must first go through a litany of issues to be agreed.
Jaime, this gets to the heart of the matter. In order to be blessed with the label “libertarian,” one need agree on only one thing – and it is a thing he is against. It is a “thou shalt not.” Thou shalt not initiate aggression. (Setting aside, of course, the complexity inherent in the term “aggression.”)
Every revolution is made up of people joined in a common “thou shalt not.” In other words, they all agree that the current rulers / scheme / paradigm “shalt not” exist any longer; they agree on what they are fighting against. Yet, none of the revolutionaries agree on the “thou shalt,” on the thing(s) on which they are fighting for.
There is no libertarian “thou shalt” because there can be no libertarian “thou shalt.” Unfortunately, “thou shalt not” has never formed a sustained community. And without community, there is no civilization – a drastically more significant issue than the violations of the NAP most westerners live under today.
Anonymous February 11, 2018 at 11:58 AM
I'm going to suggest there is a very real possibility that if Rothbard found a way to stick around Cato, or at least maintain SOME kind of relationship, that he might have had a significantly positive influence on them, compared to what they are today
You know, it’s is also likely that had Rothbard done this we would not have the same Mises Institute that we have today – maybe none at all. So, sorry to disagree – I am glad Rothbard went his own way. If there is any libertarian future worth hoping for, it is the picture as painted by the Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell. And this libertarianism is built on a foundation of Rothbard – the same Rothbard that Cato would just as soon crucify for their 30 pieces of silver (yes, I chose the metaphor purposefully, although I do not hold Rothbard out as the equivalent of the Messiah).
INTERNATIONAL VENTURES GROUP BLOG February 12, 2018 at 3:53 AM
This is the libertarian movement: the giant stream of mankind going around and over the barriers and dams of the state as we head to the open sea of freedom.
It is a life well-lived if one can increase his personal freedom, the freedom of his family, and – most importantly – properly educate his children on the same. If one accomplishes nothing more, he will have been a tremendous service to society (in the best sense of the term).
But it is no crime to also work to present something more – to demonstrate to both his children and society that there is a path to freedom and liberty, one that is built on a specific cultural tradition.
Ted Weiland February 12, 2018 at 6:05 AM
Liberty was formally lost in America when the 18th-century Enlightenment founders made liberty a goal (almost a god)…
Ted, when you first started posting such things here, I thought you were half-nuts. Suffice it to say, the proportion of your nuttiness (in my view) has gone way down since then, given the path I have taken.
Thank you for continuing to contribute. I mean this sincerely.
Anonymous February 12, 2018 at 5:11 PM
Limiting such social behavior in a small community of like-minded people, I agree may result in a peaceful community but I do not see how it can be called “libertarian” (according to Smiths definition) if it allows or promotes aggression to do so….
Sometimes a good punch in the nose in response to a verbal attack is the best way to ensure that a libertarian community stays libertarian. Further, the restrictions on behavior within a covenant community will look draconian to those on the outside, yet look like liberty to those on the inside.
Would I find liberty in a community that allowed sex orgies on the front lawn? Hardly, despite the practice not being a violation of the NAP.
…nor do I see how it can achieve world peace over a larger area by attempting to dominate or outlaw undesirable behavior using aggression to do so.
If you are looking for world peace, you have come to the wrong place. There is nothing in the NAP that will eliminate conflict. The NAP is a rule, a principle, a law – nothing more. There will always be outlaws willing to dominate.
I can see an endless progression of conflict such as the “30 years war” but perhaps I am myopic in this regards.
Go back to a time before the 30 Years’ War; the time of a very decentralized Europe, one with the Church as a competing governance institution. Yes, there were conflicts – as there will always be as long as humans are human. But these were local and only involved the conflicted parties and those sworn by oath to them.
Woody Barrett February 12, 2018 at 11:48 AM
So far as governance is concerned, that implies a monopoly on coercion – at least in a given geographic area. If you think about it, monopolies of coercion exist even in libertarian and anarchistic thinking – after all, who controls coercion within a parcel of property if not the property owner? Monopolies of coercive power must always exist regardless of political theory whether or not the individual choses to exercise that power.
Woody, you get the prize…almost – and maybe this is just a point of clarification and not a disagreement; specifically to your comment: “…who controls coercion within a parcel of property if not the property owner?”
This, as many readers here know, was a rather strong point of contention that I had with a well-known libertarian writer. I agree that the property owner controls coercion within his property, but he is limited by a couple of things.
First, he is limited by the NAP: he is not free to deter or punish a violation on his property by any means he chooses. His means might be so egregious relative to the offense that it constitutes, in its own right, an initiation of aggression. (See the following for an example.)
Second, he is limited by the traditions and norms of the community within which he lives – at least if he wants to live. In other words, he cannot shoot a child for stealing an apple because this would pretty much ensure that the father of the child and the neighbors in the community would shoot the bastard for shooting a child for stealing an apple.
Some might not deem this to be “libertarian,” but as I mentioned above, sometimes a good punch in the nose is the best means by which a libertarian society can stay “libertarian.” Call this extreme “shunning” in defense of property rights.
Sagunto February 12, 2018 at 12:53 PM
That is one of the reasons why I keep making the distinction between Western Civilization, which refers to a specific set of unique historical circumstances present at about the geographical location that I happen to be commenting from right now ;) and the cultural values that for a long time were embedded in the fabric of some European nations..
today's "West," which boils down to something quite different (modern fantasies about "democracy"), as I described in my posts about Eric Voegelin's analysis of modern Gnosticism.
I will believe that left-libertarians are libertarian if they state clearly that they respect the rights of those who choose to form a decentralized society based on Western Civilization – the patriarchy, traditional Christian values, etc. They need not join in; they can have their own “safe space” in their own decentralized society.
So now we are getting somewhere. Which leads me to (and you were wondering about the title of this post)…
A Texas Libertarian February 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM
…if both cultural left and right libertarians can get together to carve out a libertarian order, where each can have their exclusive society as they see fit…
In other words…