Spoonman, come together with your hands
Save me, I'm together with your plan
I will go through your points one by one; I take these from your second post, and haven’t tried to check these against your first…so if I missed something, this is why. Your comments are indented and italicized. Other indented comments are mine, taken from the subject post and offered, when necessary, to make clear what I actually wrote.
First, although we have reconciled on the following, I believe some further clarification is in order:
The point of your post was to refute libertarians who offer that agreement by contract would be sufficient to form a libertarian community. I pointed out this is a strawman as no such offer is being made by any serious libertarian.
Two things: first of all (and of lessor importance), I have had direct and personal exchanges with one very prominent (“serious”) libertarian on this topic. To each of my scenarios or points, he offered a contractual stipulation that would “work.” His framework was all contract; further to this point, I can think of at least one “serious” libertarian whose “model” suggests just such a framework. Maybe I am wrong on this, but not about the direct and personal exchange that I had.
Second (and more important), who cares about the “serious” libertarians? Get three of them in a room and you will have five positions on any point of correct application of the NAP (one reason I have done my best over the last few months to quit debating with any “serious” libertarian). More important is to have a dialogue and discussion with the many people who might be interested in liberty (as libertarians see it) but choose not to because, to them, most libertarians are kooks.
Now, on to the rest:
Your ‘main objection’ to covenant communities is that they are no different than hiring/electing a strongman.
This was my main objection to Victor’s idea for solving the issue of change to a for-profit corporation’s mission statement by finding the right CEO. It was not my main objection to the idea of contractual communities. I introduced the entire section about “for-profit” examples with the following statement:
While less relevant [than the non-profit world], one could also examine the for-profit world. Why I say “less-relevant”? The non-profit / foundation world is a world of ideas – an organization is funded and sustained in pursuit of an idea. Libertarianism is nothing if not an idea.
So, if one considers what I wrote in context, one could not suggest that this was my “main objection.”
You complain that contracts can never capture all possibilities, and I pointed out that neither does old and good law, and asked what the difference was.
It is a good objection, and one for which I don’t think I have a good reply. As circumstances and technology evolved, there were times that the old and good law was not sufficient. Maybe I am biased by the benefit that the old and good law was very slow to evolve, providing stability in the law yet leaving room for flexibility given circumstance; that, ultimately, it was the broader community that would decide if the evolution was “good.”
This compared to the more codified law, when once written leaves little possibility for flexibility – only debate (at most) about interpretation; when individualized as in a contract, offers no opportunity for broader acceptance (somewhat necessary if one wants to live in liberty).
In other words, custom might leave more room for flexibility than does codified law. As long as custom is respected – in other words, “old” is accepted by default unless shown to be deficient in keeping the “good” of the law – this flexibility seems to me to be a benefit. For the old and good law to work, the nobles must actually be “noble.” But I guess for a contract to work, all parties must act noble as well. Alas, we are lacking such men.
In any case, this objection might be your most valid, at least in my opinion. I am not sure I have a great answer on this.
You said a meeting of the minds between two people was difficult and I simply noted the factually accurate point that it happens millions of times a day.
In the cases where it happens millions of times a day, two things are present: first, the transactions are simple, and second, they have been repeated often (i.e. we have been culturally conditioned to act in a certain way under these circumstances).
A contract for my liberty? Maybe I just find this more complex that the run-of-the-mill million-times-a-day meeting-of-the-minds. Maybe I am wrong; it just seems more complicated than buying a candy bar or ordering a meal. But more on this shortly.
You equate a covenant community with constitutional ones and I pointed out that for a constitution to be a contract, all parties would have to sign on to it and asked for an example of a constitution that is like this.
This isn’t what I “equate,” so I won’t give you an example. Here is what I wrote:
At its core, what is a contractual community but a community in which all residents have signed onto the constitution?
Do you find a reason to disagree with this?
And how well have constitutions – a piece of paper – been respected by even those who have signed or drafted it?
Do you find reason to disagree with this? Keep in mind, the same people who signed the US Declaration of Independence and drafted and approved the US Constitution violated the terms almost immediately – regardless of what those who didn’t sign these did or didn’t do.
In any case, constitutions have virtually always been more effective at protecting those in power from the people as opposed to the other way around.
Do you find reason to disagree with this? If so, please show me examples; I can offer dozens of examples to prove my point. In the meantime, consider this examination of how the lack of a written constitution made insecure the medieval king’s position.
I pointed out that your idea of a libertarian order did not last. This is factually accurate. 1,000 years or 1,000,000 years, it failed. We need to learn what we can from this, the best example we have, and move forward.
Look, don’t pooh-pooh 1000 years until you have a better real-world example. I don’t go for theoretical, pie-in-the-sky wet dreams thought up by “serious” libertarian thinkers. I would like some evidence when it comes to experiments on human social behavior.
So 1000 years is the best example I have of a society that came close to conforming what we today would describe as libertarian law. The classical liberal order lasted all of three minutes, and libertarianism? We are still waiting.
In any case, it seems you have not been around here much otherwise you would know that learning from this example is fundamental to my work. Maybe more specifically: why did the evolution from this medieval period into the classical liberal period devolve into the nightmare of the twentieth century? My most complete post in pulling on this string might be this one (albeit, today I would include the Reformation in the listing).
I have ‘negotiated’ a few contracts for deals at least 1% as complex as buying a professional sports team. It was difficult, but as the example of buying professional sports teams demonstrates, not impossible.
So why did I put out that example? On the continuum, do you view that negotiating a contract for your liberty will be more like buying a candy bar or more like negotiating a contract to buy a sports team? Or will you accept a standard-template “liberty” contract, one that is ready to sign?
Because if the contract is as simple as buying a candy bar, you are right. If it is complex at all (like anywhere to the right of buying a candy bar), well how many people are ready to shell out five or six or seven figures to their lawyer for this matter? Conversely, liberty secured by commonly accepted cultural tradition? That’s a pretty easy one to navigate. We do a lot of this every day (to the extent we live in a community that holds to a common cultural framework)…without a contract.
And no, I’ve never got a few thousand people to agree to the terms a million times a day -- nor did I claim anything of the sort.
But then with whom and from whom are you going to negotiate your contract? You don’t “do” liberty by yourself, nor will you and two or three close friends be sufficient to secure your liberty. So, you need not have claimed it to make this a logical conclusion from your insistence regarding contract.
Continually in my business I hear, "you know, that isn't what the terms meant to me!" That’s why we have terms in our contract for what to do when someone says “you know, that isn’t what the terms meant to me!” It’s one of the least complicated portions of the contract.
The more complicated the contract, the more extensive are the notes taken by the lawyers; the more complicated the contract, the more effort lawyers place in document control and change management. They don’t do this because they like to take notes. They do this to demonstrate their client’s thought process throughout the negotiation: what the contract terms meant to his client.
Anyway, how would it look if your liberty was just left up to contract? Ninety-eight percent of such problems resulting from a contract go away if the two people (or however many) who are negotiating a contract have a common view of how things will work, based on past dealing, etc.; the terms in the contract are given meaning by past action. In other words, a common cultural tradition is what makes contracts work, and the more common the better they work.
And if the parties have a common enough view of how things work, they really don’t need a contract.
Why does someone who considers [himself] a Christ-follower think it’s ok to talk to people this way?
Sometimes the tables of the money-changers need a little overthrowing. Anyway, you should hear me at work.