I would like to explore something, actually a couple of things that have been raised on and off in the libertarian world. The two topics:
A private law society will be right-libertarian. I have heard this view more than once from libertarians.
If you could pull the plug on the state, or push a button to end it, would you do it? Several libertarians have asked and answered this question. The answer comes back affirmative.
I do believe the first of these to be true: a private law society will be right-libertarian, or certainly conservative. The idea and possibility is completely consistent with my view of medieval law as being about as close to libertarian law as the west has experienced. The idea is also consistent with my view that a society organized on left principles will self-destruct.
I should somewhat modify: I believe the first to be true in the long run – if we can get to the long run. Which is why I incorporate the two topics together – the second topic does not contemplate a transition, the reality today, etc.
Perhaps underlying this call to pull the plug there is a contemplation of a transition given the reality today – that the transition after pulling the plug has been explored. If it is explored, I would welcome a link. In the meantime, I will do a little of my own exploring. Mostly, just questions.
Now…I know there will be readers out there who will read the following and conclude something like: “that bionic, I knew he was trending statist, he is no longer libertarian.” You are free to conclude that, but you would be wrong – and wrong for at least two reasons:
1) If libertarians don’t have good answers for the many questions that come up about the transition, talk of pulling the plug just adds to the belief that libertarians have a utopian theory without practical application.
2) The issue comes right into the intersection of libertarianism and culture. Libertarians that don’t contemplate this just add to the belief that libertarians have a utopian theory without practical application.
I personally do not believe that libertarianism is a utopian theory without practical application.
Again – I do not say that these things have not been contemplated, and I welcome any references. But in the shorthand of this discussion, I haven’t seen or heard any of it. Finally, because I feel that it needs to be said: my intention here is not to criticize, but to explore the topic and to advance the discussion.
So, let’s begin.
If the plug was pulled today, on what basis would we expect that a private law society would result?
Because if we end up with more of the same (or worse), then pulling the plug might not be a good idea.
Imagine the picture. The plug gets pulled. Tens of millions of government employees are unemployed; tens of millions of social security recipients and other beneficiaries of government programs are left in poverty; tens of millions of individuals who work in fields dependent on government contracting; a few million released from prison and hospitals; universities and public schools emptied or drastically reduced; all banking transactions cease.
These are just a few thoughts off the top. Yes, I can envision as well as any libertarian theorist how this might play out over the course of time, but we are talking of pulling the plug and we are talking of a right-libertarian society emerging.
In any case, we aren’t talking about “over the course of time.” What happens on day two to these tens of millions (maybe 100 million or more) whose lives have been existentially affected? Do we expect that they will quietly accept their condition and respect a private property order? When they are starving, dying on the streets, etc.?
I know you can fend them off…well, only if you and enough of your neighbors (community, town, county?) are on the same page and are unaffected by the plug being pulled. Do you know that this is the case? Half of your neighbors may be pretty upset about the plug being pulled – they are part of the 100 million or more that are negatively affected. How many of the people in your surrounding area will sit quietly with the plug pulled?
Oh, I forgot to mention. There are a few million people with access to the most sophisticated weaponry in the world – military, police, various spook agencies – who are all suddenly unemployed and without hope for pension. Will they stand idly by, waiting for a right-libertarian society to emerge?
Will a private law society emerge from this? Or will these 100 million or more of your very well armed and now starving neighbors impose something along the lines of the thing that just had its plug pulled…or worse?
Libertarians and culture. Which comes first, pulling the plug or a society supportive of (truly) conservative principles? I have been exploring this question for several years now. The more that I explore it the more it seems to me that the culture comes first.
So…let’s advance the discussion. If it is so that a right-libertarian society will emerge in a future libertarian order – exactly what conditions are necessary for this to be the case? Because, when I consider today’s conditions, pulling the plug won’t get us there.
I do believe a transition will get us there – but what steps will make this transition effective? In other words: which comes first, libertarianism or culture and tradition (of a specific type)?
Or is there a different question?
“Bionic wouldn’t pull the plug!”
I didn’t say that. I am asking libertarians to help me get there.
Or advance the discussion. I am OK with either.