• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Libertarians

Status
Not open for further replies.
Reaction score
0
Points
210
Zip said:
Steel Horse my question for you is this.  Can you think of a single service that you and most other people want but is not provided by private industry?
 

I mean there are services out there that are only provided by the government, but the question is, could they be provided by a private operator, and I think the answer is yes.


I have to agree with what you are saying, don't think that I do not.  I guess it just becomes the idea of how do we get from point A to point B.  I mean, I don't think we can just jump from one to the other. There is a road that has to be taken that is not a straightforward path, it has twist and curves and it becomes a bit overwhelming to think of the task at hand.

And I understand about the school system as well as the high school I was slated to go to is one of the 5 worst in the province, I have seen my cousin have a hard time with his studies, and almost fail core courses. Where as we moved before I was able to go to that particular institution and I ended up in a school that was in the top 5 in the province. I wonder sometimes if I would have had the opportunity to go to university if I had still lived in the the other school's catchment area.

The task ahead seems very daunting sometimes, though I think I have my foot stuck in the door and I want in.  We need to start making fundamental changes in the way we run things, that is one thing I know for sure.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
"Join with us Steel Horse, and together we can rule the Universe...."

You are politically aware, and now you want to take the next step, which is to become politically active. Good on you (and wake up the rest of you slackers! Join this young man and change the world).

There are many different things you can do, research and join an existing organization (political activist group, advocacy group, etc.), found your own to concentrate on an area that isn't being studied and commented on, join an existing political party and attempt to work from within (the Libertarian Party and Freedom Party deal directly with issues and ideas of Libertarianism, while the CPC, provincial conservative parties and the "Wild Rose Alliance" and Saskatchewan Party out west are aligned with Libertarian ideas, but often drift away in search of greater pragmatic appeal to voters), or go out and fight the culture wars by promoting people, blogs, media etc. that are pro Libertarian. Even writing letters to the editor to decry State intervention of any sort (and propose free market counters) helps the cause.

Give me a PM and we'll plot the takeover....
 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
Just to add to Thucydides post, the Freedom Party of Ontario/Canada is the brain child of Paul McKeever, an Objectivist.  He's got tons of videos on Youtube and his website on a variety of political subjects, check them out.

Political activism isn't for everyone, but it is in all of us to refuse the status quo without thought, and to encourage those closest to us to do the same.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
One thing Libertarians (and everyone else for that matter) needs to to do is prevent others from framing the debate. Obviously the Republican party is in need of a major overhaul; some people are already trying to make sure Libertarians are regulated to the back of the bus:

http://notweighingourmerits.blogspot.com/2008/11/libertarians-or-libertines.html

Libertarians or Libertines?

David Boaz of the Cato Institute takes on folks questioning whether there can be a political alignment when self-professed conservatives so outnumber liberals in the electorate, calling the liberal/moderate/conservative spectrum a "crude and one-dimensional view of the political spectrum". Libertarians, you see, don't fit within any one of those categories; in the Cato Institute's preferred formulation libertarians are "fiscally conservative and socially liberal". Wait a second, David. Didn't you just tell us that the liberal/conservative distinction was crude and one-dimensional? How does it suddenly become more sophisticated when it is applied to the whole grand tableau of social policy? The fact is that principled libertarians do not find themselves wholly on either side of the social liberal/conservative divide. Yes, on abortion and drugs libertarians find themselves aligned against conservatives. But as Matt Barnum notes:

On the other hand, conservatives and libertarians find themselves aligned on matters such as gun control, affirmative action, political speech (i.e. campaign finance reform), environmental regulations, education policy (generally), health regulations (i.e. smoking and fatty food bans), and freedom of association.

Randall Hoven offers a libertarian's defence of social conservatism The American Thinker. Seems he's not afraid of social conservatives when he looks at the agenda of the true liberty killers, the social liberals, and their massive planned expansions of government power.

Now it's up to libertarians to decide how they're going to describe themselves. But this sally from Boaz is just another salvo in the war for the soul of the Republican Party. It's quite understandable that libertarians want to pull the GOP in their direction. And reasonable and practical libertarians are an essential part of any conservative coalition, although the true believers are too ornery to become a permanent part of anything. But why is Boaz hyping the "social liberal" tag for libertarians? Boaz blew the gaff right after the election, when he described the ideal candidate for the future as "a candidate in either party who presented himself as a product of the social freedom of the Sixties and the economic freedom of the Eighties"

Say what? Boaz is expecting the GOP not only to move in the direction of limited government, but to buy into the Zeitgeist of the Sixties. In the culture wars this is a demand not just for surrender, but surrender and betrayal. Libertarians should ask themselves if they want to hitch their wagon to leaders who want to saddle them with an attachment to a culture that is distasteful if not repugnant to people with a conservative bent, when libertarianism as such need not take any position on whether America should be more like 60s San Francisco or 50s TV sitcoms.

Libertarians absolutely have to be respected by fusionists and others as the Republicans pull themselves together and reorganize, all in the midst of what will be a bloody fight to stave off at least the worst elements of Obama's radical agenda. But there is an element of the movement that is libertine, not libertarian, and they will be sabotaging the effort to fuse the various components of the conservative coalition. Innocent flower children as they may look in their bellbottoms and granny glasses, they need to be watched.
Posted by Toral at 2:41 PM 
 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
On the other hand, conservatives and libertarians find themselves aligned on matters such as gun control, affirmative action, political speech (i.e. campaign finance reform), environmental regulations, education policy (generally), health regulations (i.e. smoking and fatty food bans), and freedom of association.

To quote Col Sherman T. Potter... "Horse Hockey!"

Affirmative action is a construct of the progressive camp.  It has little or nothing to do with merit or any real sense of liberty and equality but is an apologist action for the sins of the father.

Education policy is not shared by conservatives and libertarians either.  When was the last time you heard a conservative call for the dismantling of the Government education system?

The problem with the Left - Right spectrum is that it disallows choosing the classic liberal stance which is on one hand is almost as far Left as you can go (absolute personal freedom in private matters) and on the other is as far right as you can go in economic terms (Laissez Faire Capitalism).


 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
A view that the Libertarian revolution happened after all, only no one noticed: The Libertarian Moment

A long article, but well worth reading. One key paragraph:

We are in fact living at the cusp of what should be called the Libertarian Moment, the dawning not of some fabled, clichéd, and loosey-goosey Age of Aquarius but a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives, from 401(k)s to hot and cold running coffee drinks, from life-saving pharmaceuticals to online dating services. This is now a world where it’s more possible than ever to live your life on your own terms; it’s an early rough draft version of the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s glimmering “utopia of utopias.” Due to exponential advances in technology, broad-based increases in wealth, the ongoing networking of the world via trade and culture, and the decline of both state and private institutions of repression, never before has it been easier for more individuals to chart their own course and steer their lives by the stars as they see the sky. If you don’t believe it, ask your gay friends, or simply look who’s running for the White House in 2008.

and

The generation raised on the Internet has essentially been raised libertarian, even if they’ve never even heard of the word. Native netizens now entering college exhibit a kind of broad-based tolerance toward every manner of ethnic, religious, and sexual-orientation grouping in a way that would have seemed like science fiction just a generation ago. The products and activities they enjoy and co-opt most, from filesharing to flying discount airlines to facebooking, are excrescences of the free-market ideas of deregulation and decontrol. Generations X, Y, and those even younger swim in markets—that is, in choices among competing alternatives—the way those of us who grew up in the ’70s frolicked on Slip ’n Slides.

 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
Libertarians have long been associated with the Republicans/Conservatives since many of the basic principles are similar (the Classical Liberal tradition of Free Speech, Property Rights and Rule of Law are the foundation for all these groups). In today's climate, Libertarians may well have to strike out more forcefully on their own.

http://reason.com/blog/show/131670.html

"Liberaltarianism" in the Age of Obama
Matt Welch | February 12, 2009, 9:50pm

The National Review's Jonah Goldberg takes a look at the stimulus/bailout/econ debate and is moved to ask, "Whatever happened to liberaltarianism?"

t seems to me that the stimulus debate clearly puts the lie to the idea that liberals and libertarians can see eye to eye on the large questions of political economy, at least for the foreseeable future. The first principles simply aren't aligned. The theoretical arguments in favor of the stimulus amount to rubbing the libertarian cat's fur backwards. And the so-called "libertarian center" hardly seems to be decisive or even relevant to the public debate. In the most important and fundamental debate about the role of government in a generation, the libertarians are lining-up with, and even marching out in front of, the conservatives.

Though I might quibble on details, I think Goldberg is basically right here. Will Wilkinson rebuts:
I understand it is now politically expedient for Republicans to oppose whatever Obama is trying to do. But, frankly, the recent performance of the Republicans in Congress has been pathetic, managing to do little more than fight to get a bit more for their constituencies and a bit less for the majority's. I do not remember hearing a plausible, principled alternative powerfully articulated by the Congressional Republicans. Maybe that's because the great success of the GOP over the last eight years has been to destroy the reputation of free markets and limited government by deploying its rhetoric and then doing the opposite. Partisan Republicans choke on the truth that the emerging shape of the Obama era is the aftemath of the GOP's successful, if unwitting, campaign to destroy the political economy they proclaimed.

There's a lot of diversity within libertarianism. And the most common forms of libertarianism are, I think, still pretty well shot through with conservative reflexes bred by the long Cold War alliance between libertarians and the right. For many libertarians, hating the left just feels like home. So many libertarians will indeed come running home when called to service by the organs of partisan conservativism. Well, good luck to y'all, but I was never on the team, and I've never wanted less to be on it.

Though I might quibble on details, I think Wilkinson is basically right here.

The pivot in this debate is the word "team." Seems to me that if and when team-membership (or its yang, team-nonmembership) ceases to be of primary or even duodenary concern, a lot of this discussion, no matter how high-toned, begins to sound like what I imagine heated baseball arguments must sound like to a French woman.

Actually, that's not the right analogy. I have a vested interest in national politicians embracing limited-government principles, and so tend to be more happy than not on the rare occasions when I hear these ideas cited, but I hold out zero hope that either of the major parties would ever take them seriously once in power. In my blinkered view, libertarianism as an outlook is all at once oppositional, constructive, and optimistic. Oppositional to whatever 19th century political party is in power, because chances are near 100 percent that their overriding M.O. will be anathema to limited-government principles. Constructive because, hey, libertarians actually have some pretty helpful ideas about how to make tax dollars more effectively accomplish such tasks as building roads, educating poor people, and (to cite an Obama favorite) creating jobs. When the politicians run out of money (and they always do), we'll have some plausible suggestions. Optimistic because a large subset of l-worders don't take their mood cues from government, but rather the very tangible and even thrilling progress that humanity and liberalism are making across any number of fronts, even if domestic inter-bank lending is down 11 percent this quarter.

The focus on political teams blurs one central, overriding truth: When it comes to bailout/stimulus/econ, there is no significant break in policy between George W. Bush and Barack Obama, no matter how much it benefits enthusiasts and detractors from pretending there's a sharp break between the two. The biggest economic political* event last fall was not the election, it was the bipartisan, unpopular, panic-driven bailout. So yeah, Obamanomics from the outset precludes much of any warm embrace between liberals and libertarians. Much like Bushonomics did throughout his term. Hmmmm, what do the two presidents (and the congressional majorities that enabled them) have in common? Could it be that they're...politicians?

Political alignments and realignments and coalitions and clubs are all certainly interesting to read (and occasionally write!) about, and probably even to participate in, but I wonder if there's something naive and/or narcissistic about the whole exercise. It was 20 years ago today (more or less) that Lou Reed sang "Does anybody need another self-righteous rock singer // whose nose, he said, has led him straight to God?" So, does anybody need another libertarianesque commentator whose nose, he said, has led him to straight to Democrats or Republicans? Strawman!

 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
More on the idea of a Libertarian social movement rather than a political one:

http://www.mikebrockonline.com/blog/2009/02/the-libertarian-culture.html

The Libertarian Culture
By
Mike Brock
on February 24, 2009 1:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0)
Continuing in the coat-tails of my previous post "Socialism, Conservatism and Ann Coulter", the natural progression is to make the case for a cultural libertarianism.

There is an argument among a growing breed of libertarians that libertarianism is about politics and political strategy, not about culture.  These libertarians--some of them in private e-mail conversations, and others in full-frontal view in the comment section here--have expressed a form of libertarianism which mixes social conservative culture with political libertarianism. A mix made in heaven, they seem to think.

You don't have to get very far in into my post or my subsequent follow-up comments to draw the conclusion that I completely reject this position.  In fact, I go so far as to suggest--insulting as it may be--that these people are not true libertarians at all.

The response to this has been quite a few e-mails from people who I know and like, expressing deep regret and insult at my choice of attack.  I'll quote one of my friend's here. Considering we're not on talking terms at this point, I'll withhold attribution out of respect for his privacy:

"It's very hurtful to see you go after the heart of people's belief the way you did on your blog.  I can only say that I am extremely saddened by the level you felt you had to take this to in order to make your point."

"I am okay with you wanting to live in a Godless world, with your libertarian morals.  I get that.  But apparently you want all of us to live in a Godless world too.  Sadly, you've decided to jump to the socialist position of shoving Atheism down everyone's throat.  That's not very libertarian, Mike."

With all do respect to my friend, who has referred to himself countless times as a "libertarian leaning conservative", I don't know what you're talking about.  You and others are projecting.  My libertarianism is--in fact--highly consistent. I do not ask the state to shove "Atheism" (you don't capitalize that word, by the way) down everyone's throat.

The problem with religious social conservatives is that they confuse a change in relative normativity with an attack on their religion.  For example: if there was prayer in public schools, and it's removed (as it was in Ontario), they interpret this removal as an attack on Christianity.  And when non-Christians point out that they wanted no part in it, they cling to arguments from tradition, or argue that those kids can simply "sit it out".

When the Gay Pride Parade comes rolling down Yonge Street, social conservatives claim that "homosexuality is being rammed down their throat".  They don't, like they do with the prayer argument, expect themselves--as they do non-Christian children--to look away. They're not arguing from a consistent position, as it pertains to the rights of others to express their moral position.

Make no mistake: the Gay Price Parade is an expression of a moral position.  It is the moral position that individuals should be free to express their sexuality.  It is, on many levels, a fundamentally libertarian expression.

The change in normative cultural towards one that is more accepting of a plurality of views on morality, particularly sexual morality, has been viewed by Christians as an attack on Christianity.  Or more specifically, an attack on the rights of Christians to not be exposed to other moralities that conflict with their own.

This cultural position is in direct conflict with libertarianism at it's most fundamental level, because if one is to believe that morality--as expressed by arbitrary cultural positions--derives legitimacy therein, it is only reasonable to expect that said person will eventually seek the force of law to reinforce these moral positions.

I make this prediction confidently, as I believe that personal moral positions are the basis for political positions.  They do not exist independently of each other.  Even if they do in rare cases, the distinction is not durable over time.

Cultural libertarianism carries with it the implication that for a truly libertarian society to exist, it's inhabitants must have a fundamental moral grounding in the value of liberty.  If not, what sustains liberty? Law? Law can be changed.

This position has been critiqued by some libertarians as sound reminiscent of the same kind of social engineering that libertarianism stands opposed to.  And they'd be right. On the surface, there is a bit of a conflict between the need to promote libertarianism in culture and morality while not succumbing to statist tendencies to accomplish it.

My preference is to do what I'm doing now; writing and talking, donating and volunteering.  Trying to convince people on the merits of my argument, as opposed to going to the government and asking them to argue for me.  If I do that, I've abandoned a basic principle of my morality, and I'm not prepared to do that.

The battle for liberty will be fought and won in the cultural playing field.  Not the political one.  The political stems from the cultural.  With shifts in cultural values towards liberty, the political stars will align.

That isn't to say we do not fight politically.  Of course we do.  We fight hard against further incursions into our liberty and keep pushing back against growing government.  But we must take heed of the cultural tendencies that are enabling these practices in the first place and start thinking about how we cut off the snakes head; ending statisms biggest enabler: cultural acceptance.

Social conservatism is fighting a cultural war against secularism, feminists against sexism, gays against homophobia, blacks against racism.  It's time libertarians get into the game in a serious way and stake out some serious cultural ground
 

PanaEng

Sr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
210
Didn't libertarianism suffer a great setback in the aftermath of 9-11 and continues to this day at the hands of conservatives (and many democrats) in the US and here in Canada as well.
Individual privacy is being eroded every day and what do we get from the conservative crowd: "well, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't be concerned"
But it has also taken a monetary dimension. Many of the rules coming out to control what goes on on the internet are to protect old businesses with an archaic model. Why should my access to p2p services be curtailed? I don't engage in piracy or distribute obscene material. Only to support the exploitative music business and some software giants. It is like banning guns because some have been used to commit crimes...

just my little rant :)
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
More discussion about the Libertarian philosophy:

http://n-k-1.blogspot.com/2009/02/seeing-it-their-way-why-im-not-your.html

Seeing It Their Way / Why I'm Not Your Kind of Libertarian
Thursday, February 26, 2009

I seldom pay attention to left wing blogs but from time to time the comments there can be eye opening. Take, for example, the following:

    "It's times like this that remind me of the differences between "conservatives" and "libertarians". Conservatives are, through no fault of their own, grim social maladroits incapable of thinking or drawing outside of the lines, constricted as they are by child-like notions of "that's the way it always been", "different = wrong", and whatever religious hoodoo was drummed into their inelastic brains during their joyless and awkward adolescence.

    Libertarians, on the other hand, are just assholes."

The whole thing is not much better. On the other hand, material like this is illustrative of the nature of disagreements in politics. There is a natural instinct to slur the other side, rather than to look at what the other side actually believes and show why the other side is actually wrong. If liberalism were utterly vacuous, I'd understand why liberals would resort to this kind of stuff. (Yes, I know Ann Coulter exists. It's not just liberals.) But liberalism isn't utterly vacuous. I don't agree with most of the positions that liberals hold, but even I don't think the case for liberalism is so soggy that vitriol is a better alternative. Note: If you act as if you think the best case for your political philosophy consists of vitriol and ridicule, don't be surprised if the other side appears intractable.

For the sake of practicing what I've just preached, here's what I think a thoughtful liberal would actually say about the the merits of liberalism vs. libertarianism:

    Libertarians favor a world where all or nearly all decisions about how to use resources are made only by those who own them. And in some cases, this makes sense. But in plenty of situations, the decision concerning how a resource gets used has a great deal of impact on many people other than the owner of those resources.

    As an example, a for-profit drug company has a much greater financial incentive to develop treatments for impotence than for a cure for diseases like AIDS. The libertarians will claim that this is a good thing on grounds of economic efficiency: "If there is more demand for impotence drugs than for AIDS drugs, that's a clear sign that the consumers value impotence drugs more than they value AIDS drugs. If a drug company were to disregard this signal from the market, they wouldn't be satisfying the desires revealed by their customers. How can anyone claim to be concerned about the welfare of the users of pharmaceutical products and then complain when a drug company responds to the preferences that those consumers reveal in the market?" Or the more philosophical libertarian will bypass the issue of consumer satisfaction entirely: "However good or bad the choice to focus on impotence drugs may be, the drug company's freedom to choose its own production plan is inviolable or nearly inviolable."

    Both of these libertarian views are problematic. The first approach is mistaken in assuming that profitability is a good index of preference satisfaction. Can anyone seriously believe that people with AIDS don't value their survival more than middle aged men value sex? Impotence drugs fetch a higher price than AIDS drugs, not because they are more preferred, but because the primary consumer base for impotence drugs is wealthier than the consumer base for AIDS drugs. A Rothbardian will accuse me of making an interpersonal comparison of utility. Well, I am but (1) it's not unreasonable to assume that AIDS victims value their survival more than old men value sex and (2) libertarians are guity of interpersonal aggregation of utility when they point to consumer and producer surplus and this aggregation is weighted in favor of the wealthy.

    The second approach takes it as given that freedom is a good thing, which is true enough, but the problem arises in the interpretation. Yes, freedom is a wonderful thing, but not so wonderful that it should be preserved at any cost. Indeed, there are libertarians who will claim that there is no case in which the attenuation of the freedom of others is justifiable. It's an initiation of force, no matter what the anticipated benefit. Perhaps they believe this, but if so, then they haven't fully thought through their ideas. Do they believe in self defense, defense of property, restitution, etc? No system of justice can have an error rate of exactly zero, so any attempt at securing justice will lead to the possibility that the rights of an innocent are violated.

    If libertarians agree that giving up some amount of freedom is acceptable to further other ends, then we disagree only on what the marginal rate of substitution between freedom and all other goals happens to be. So what's the "right" marginal rate of substitution between one norm and all others? Once the libertarian admits that he's willing, at least in principle, to sacrifice freedom to attain other goals he can't then invoke the non-aggression principle to suggest that his marginal rate of substitution between norms is the right one. It's incoherent to appeal only to norm X to justify a particular level of willingess to exchange X for Y.

    Not only do these libertarian arguments lack any real force, the most that they could prove is that liberalism and libertarianism are incompatible. We liberals don't claim to be concerned with maximizing economic efficiency or minimizing coercion, so if our preferred policies aren't compatible with economic efficiency or the non-aggression principle, that's not a serious problem. When libertarians act as if it is, it's hard to see how they are not begging the question. They are effectively assuming that their political philosophy is right in order to prove that other political philosophies are wrong.

    What we liberals want is for all human beings to be as well off as possible. There are scenarios where market forces lead to that result better than any government program but in many cases, this isn't the case. At any point in time, the sum total of all resources available to a society can be used in any number of ways. Some ways make people worse off and some ways make people better off and some ways make people much better off than before. And there is no guarantee that market forces will lead to the arrangement where resources are used in ways which make people much better off. And we see the force of government as a tool that can be used to generate better outcomes than the free market can generate on its own. We believe that governments ought to act to bring about those sorts of outcomes.

    At this point, libertarians will make a public choice argument to the effect that if a government has the power to intervene in markets, the people who determine policy will probably not implement the sort of policies we have in mind. We don't necessarily disagree. Libertarians should have no trouble understanding that liberalism is a position on what governments should do, not a claim that they are likely to do one thing or another. If politicians act in their self interest rather than implement liberal policies, and this leads to results incompatible with the goals of liberalism, then the results cannot be counted as evidence against liberalism. (Interpolation: Since people will absolutely and forever work for their own self interest, then Liberalism [AKA Progressiveism , Socialism etc.] is inherently self contradictory and therefore will never work in practice)  This just means that liberalism cannot work where it goes untried.

    To sum it up:

    1. Markets don't always allocate resources in the way that makes people best off.
    2. Government can, in principle, improve upon market outcomes from time to time.
    3. Governments should improve upon market outcomes when they can.
    4. Where governments fail to implement the welfare improving policies we favor, this is a problem with those governments, not with the policies that they failed to implement.

At least, that's my understanding of the liberal point of view.

Some of it, I even agree with. So far as I can tell, markets don't always and everywhere lead to the arrangements that make human beings best off. Kaldor-Hicks efficiency is not a perfect measure of human welfare. Freedom from coercion is not so valuable that no benefit, no matter how great, could justify even the tiniest amount of coercion. There are cases where a coercive government might make everyone better off. When politicians act as public choice theory predicts, that just shows that polticians aren't acting as statists believe they ought to, but it doesn't show that statists are wrong about what politicians ought to do.

That list of claims is also a list of reasons why I'm not a non-aggression libertarian a la Murray Rothbard, or an economic efficiency libertarian a la David Friedman. If I had to distill my libertarianism down to one sentence it would be this:

The morality of an act is not a function only of the the identity of, or the agency on whose behalf, the doer is acting.

My libertarianism (as opposed to the whole of my ethics) is silent on the question of whether or not it's moral to take from the rich to feed the starving, but if it is moral for people acting on behalf of a government to take from the rich to feed the starving, this must be so for some reason other than the fact that the doers are acting on behalf of a government. It it's immoral for anyone not acting on behalf of a government to take from the rich to feed the starving, this must be so for some other reason besides the fact that the doers are not acting on behalf of a government.

To be sure, I don't deny that the doer can matter. Only Bill may demand payments from guests at Bill's hotel, but that's not only because the doer is Bill. It's because the doer is Bill and also because Bill happens to own the hotel. I just deny that the morality of an act can depend solely on the identity of the doer. (Aside: A liberal would likely respond to this example by claiming that the government owns the country. Libertarian: Why? Liberal: Because the government has done some XYZ. Libertarian: Is it moral to take posession after doing XYZ only if the doer is a government?)

If any non-libertarians want to admit to believing that the actions of government agents are moral solely because the doers are acting on behalf of a government, I hope they will. At least then the core of the disagreement will be clear, rather than obscured by vitriol.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
These arguments are ultimately about philosophy:

http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/42634

The Case For Small Government

13 Mar 2009 12:40 pm
That was the subject, broadly speaking, of Charles Murray's address at the annual AEI dinner, and like Jonah Goldberg and John Miller I found a lot to like in the speech, but some things to raise an eyebrow at as well. At bottom, I think the argument suffers from a problem that's common to both sides in the debates over the desirability of European-style social democracy - namely, the hope that what's ultimately a philosophical and moral controversy can have a tidy empirical resolution. So long as Murray's speech is making the philosophical case for limited government - that human existence in the shadow of a nanny state doesn't conduce to "Aristotelian happiness," as he puts it, because it strips human beings of the deeper sorts of agency and responsibility that ought to be involved in a life well lived - he's on firm (if obviously arguable) ground. But when he segues into the possibility that the emerging science of human nature will "prove" the limits of welfare-statism, and force liberals to give ground, I think he's indulging in a conservative version of Jon Chait's famous argument that liberals support bigger government because they're rigorous empiricists, whereas conservatives oppose it because they're hidebound dogmatists. In both cases, there's an unwarranted hope that the right facts and figures can settle a debate that ultimately depends on the philosophical assumptions that you bring to it.

I don't want to dismiss the arguments about the practical costs and benefits associated with different styles of welfare states, mind you. I like those arguments, and they matter a great deal. I would just deny that they can come close to settling, in any meaningful sense, the debate over how big the American welfare state should be overall, and whether we should copy Western Europe or disdain it. That's because both the American and the European models of government are successful in purely practical terms, to the extent that purely practical terms exist - which is to say, both models have provided, over an extended period of time, levels of prosperity and stability unparalleled in human history. (Yes, the stresses that Islamic immigration and demographic decline are imposing on Europe are real and serious - but I think it's too soon to say, with Murray and many on the Right, that "the European model can't continue to work much longer," full stop. The end of history may be more resilient than we think!) And as long as this remains the case, where you come out on the debates over whether we should prefer the continent's sturdier safety nets to America's lower unemployment and higher growth rates (or the continent's more equible provision of health care to America's lead in health-care innovation, or what-have-you) will ultimately boil down to values as much as it will to what the numbers say.

How much do you prize equality and ease of life? The more you do, the more you'll favor a European approach to the relationship between state and society. How much do you prize voluntarism, entrepreneurship, and the value of lives oriented around service to one's family, and to God? The more you do, the more you'll find to like in the American arrangement. Where this debate is concerned, I'm proud to stand with Charles Murray - but I don't think that we should labor under the false hope that scientific advances are going to tilt the argument dramatically in our direction.
 

Reccesoldier

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
Wow.  Just like that this article goes from talking about "limited government" to a debate not on whether the welfare state should exist but how big it should be to giving us dumb schmucks who couldn't follow the right shell two choices, modern European socialism or American neo-conservatism.

As long as it is so easy for shell games like that to be played on the ignorant masses (that's all of us BTW) we will never see or even learn about what a libertarian/laissez faire solution could offer.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
New tools break the centralization of power. Look for more and more attacks against the Internet, "Great Firewalls", political harassment of bloggers, "Friekorps" trying to drive bloggers off the net through massive spamming or harassing the individual in real space [sending threats to employers is an apparently common tactic against right wing university professors] and so on as Authoratarians try to hang on:



Influential nobodies

By Stabroek staff | April 4, 2009 in Editorial

A few days ago a little known legislator in Alaska earned himself a special place in the blogosphere’s hall of shame by outing the hitherto anonymous local pundit ‘Mudflats.’ After modest beginnings as a charmingly sceptical observer of state politics, Mudflats had become one of the most famous blogs in the world the moment John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Rep Mike Doogan explained his decision to unmask Mudflats − after months of persistent detective work − as a matter of high principle, a question of ensuring that commentary on public affairs was undertaken only by people willing to put their names next to their opinions. A principle that no doubt assumed greater importance each time this unknown gadfly showed him and Governor Palin to be somewhat less competent than their spin doctors would have the public believe.

In a lengthy rebuttal, Mudflats pointed out that “I don’t need to remind [my] readers that Alaska is in a time of turmoil.  We are facing… an erupting volcano… critical issues in the legislature… an incredibly divisive and extreme right wing ideologue as our new Attorney General.  And there are only three weeks left in the legislative session.  It bothers me quite a bit that instead of focusing all his energy on doing his job, one of our elected representatives would rather spend his time stalking and harassing a political blogger.” Ín an ideal world, “if our politicians were doing their jobs better, there would be no need for political bloggers, and we could all write diaries about our dogs, or our kids, or knitting.”

Blogs have been around for everyone to understand the ways they have changed mainstream news gathering, but few politicians and bureaucrats − except perhaps  those in authoritarian states like China and Myanmar − have really grasped how dangerous the blogosphere has become to the centralized power that determines their status. Glenn Reynolds, better known to his readers as legendary author of Instapundit.com, memorably described the corps of ordinary netizens keeping public figures honest as “an army of Davids.” Linked, with increasing ease, by the ability to share and sift through large amounts of data, this new tribe of anonymous warriors has started to decentralize political power as radically as any seventeenth century English pamphleteer.

One striking example of the emerging change is the case of Ezra Levant. As editor of the Western Standard, Levant published the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed. When a single complaint led to his summons by the Alberta Human Rights Commission in January 2008, Levant decided not to bargain his way out of trouble, as most sensible people would have done. He pushed back aggressively against his interrogator at the commission, videotaped the encounter and posted the footage to YouTube. A few days later his clips had been seen more than 400,000 times and his cause was taken up by bloggers all over the world. They not only helped him to research and publicise his case − for free − they even donated large sums of money to help him pay the substantial legal costs associated with his heroic defence of free speech. Levant finally triumphed over the bureaucrats who intended to charge him with the rather Orwellian sounding offence of  “hate speech” but he readily concedes that his victory could not have happened before the social networks often referred to as ‘Web 2.0’ had become commonplace.

Similar stories can be found all over the world. Chinese bloggers are undermining Beijing’s illusion of political harmony and even using the Internet to push back against the official propaganda with documents like Charter 08.  (Commemorations of the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square this June will not reach ordinary Chinese via print or television, but no matter what the censors do, this unwelcome news will get into the country via the Internet.) Inconvenient truths are also percolating through Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Mudflats’ counterparts in these countries often lose their freedom or their lives if their secret identities are unmasked, and the authorities chasing them scarcely bother to cloak their real motives with a high-sounding rationale. But just as quickly as the censors adapt to the new technology, another set of ingenious evasions is devised and the criticism continues, often more provocatively than before. Repressive governments all over the world have good reason to fear the army of Davids that are rising up against them. George Orwell once observed, brilliantly, that every joke is a tiny revolution. So are the best political blogs – that’s why so many powerful people want to silence them.
 

Journeyman

Army.ca Legend
Subscriber
Reaction score
1,110
Points
940
Thucydides said:
...an apparently common tactic against right wing university professors

???  Hang on, there are right-wing university professors??
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
Journeyman said:
???  Hang on, there are right-wing university professors??

For example Salim Mansur at UWO, who has mentioned attempts by the progressive "Freikorps" to intimidate and harass him by writing to his department and complaining about alleged "racist" and "hate" speech in his columns.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
If you can't reform the state from within, go out and found your own! I suspect the established States would take pretty ruthless action to prevent this:

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2009_04_05-2009_04_11.shtml#1239074395

Patri Friedman on "Seasteading" and the Supposed Failure of Libertarian Political Activism:

In the current Cato Unbound, Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton Friedman), argues that libertarians have failed in their efforts to promote a libertarian society through political activism, in large part because the system is stacked in favor of statism. Instead of seeking to reform existing states, he claims that libertarians should establish new states of their own. Such efforts have failed miserably in the past, but Friedman argues that the new technology of "seasteading" (establishing large, habitable platforms in the ocean) might make this strategy more viable. At the very least he claims that it's better than what he considers the hopeless task of trying to promote libertarianism within existing states:

    I deeply yearn to live in an actual free society, not just to imagine a theoretical future utopia or achieve small incremental gains in freedom. For many years, I enthusiastically advocated for liberty under the vague assumption that advocacy would help our cause. However, I recently began trying to create free societies as my full-time job, and this has given me a dramatic perspective shift from my days of armchair philosophizing. My new perspective is that the advocacy approach which many libertarian individuals, groups, and think tanks follow (including me sometimes, sadly) is an utter waste of time.

    Argument has refined our principles, and academic research has enlarged our understanding, but they have gotten us no closer to an actual libertarian state. Our debating springs not from calculated strategy, but from an intuitive “folk activism”: an instinct to seek political change through personal interaction, born in our hunter-gatherer days when all politics was personal. In the modern world, however, bad policies are the result of human action, not human design. To change them we must understand how they emerge from human interaction, and then alter the web of incentives that drives behavior. Attempts to directly influence people or ideas without changing incentives, such as the U.S. Libertarian Party, the Ron Paul campaign, and academic research, are thus useless for achieving real-world liberty.


I question Friedman's key assumption that promoting libertarianism in existing societies through research and activism is "an utter waste of time." It certainly has not been as effective as he and I would like. But it has nonetheless led to important victories for freedom. For example, as I discuss in my recent debate with Sandy Levinson, there were important reductions in the size and scope of government in the 1980s and 1990s, many of them traceable in part to advocacy by libertarian scholars and movements. Even more impressive reductions in government power were achieved in nations such as Ireland and New Zealand during the same period.

Ironically, Patri Friedman's grandfather Milton Friedman was one of the best examples of the impact of libertarian advocacy on policy. Among other things, Milton Friedman's efforts, combined with those of other libertarians, played a key role in ending the draft, one of the greatest infringements on individual liberty in modern American history. Friedman also helped influence many governments around the world in the direction of adopting relatively more free market economic policies.

To say this is in no way denies that we are still very far from achieving a truly libertarian society. And at the moment, we are obviously moving in the wrong direction. It does, however, suggest that libertarian political action can be effective, even in spite of the many ways in which the system is biased against it.

Does that mean that libertarians should reject Patri Friedman's "seasteading" proposal out of hand? I don't think so. If the technology is viable, the idea may deserve support. Although we can and should work to reform existing governments, Friedman is right to point out that we need more competition in the market for government. If seasteading begins to attract productive citizens away from existing states, it might pressure the latter to allow greater freedom.

A countervailing factor is that a libertarian "seasteading" state might not be as free of the power of existing governments as Friedman supposes. He claims that the latter cannot be reformed in a libertarian direction because of poor incentive structures. But those same perverse incentives might lead them to use force to eliminate seasteading projects - especially if the seasteads appear to be potential rivals. Existing states might suppress seasteads if the latter start attracting too many productive citizens and investment capital away from them. The Law of the Sea Treaty defines the ocean as a "common heritage of mankind" that cannot be claimed by any one nation or group. Existing governments or the United Nations could easily use this clause of the treaty to justify suppressing attempts to establish a libertarian state on the high seas. Friedman and his Seasteading Institute try to answer this objection on their website.They make some good points, but I am not entirely convinced. And they themselves concede that seasteads will be extremely vulnerable to naval attack, especially in their earlier stages.

In sum, Patri Friedman understates the utility of political action within existing states and perhaps underrates the likelihood that those same existing states might foil his attempt to establish a new one. But it is too early to conclude that his proposal is unworthy of support. I, for one, would like to see more analysis and evidence.
 

TangoTwoBravo

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
1,232
Points
1,110
While re-runs of Sealab 2021 run through my head, I can't help but wonder what would actually happen on a "seastead." No doubt they would all start off happy and free, but sooner or later they would need to organize services and perhaps even defend themselves against mutant sharks and pirates on jet-skis. They would need some form of law enforcement. How do they plan to provide healthcare? If their group was larger than one or two families I can't help but think that their little society would follow the same basic path that every other society has taken with some form of government that provides these things and in turn taxes them. Barring that I wager that their seastead would end up run like a cult compound with one authoritarian figure.
 

Kirkhill

Army.ca Myth
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
3,528
Points
1,060
And, T2B, in addition you add in the generational effect that results in kids doing the opposite to their parents.  As a result the grandkids have to relearn everything their grandparents experienced.

Thus the new found interest in Ayn Rand.  The Russian Emigre was clearly understandable to people of her time. The next generation denied her reality as a figment of their parents' imagination.  The current generation gets to rediscover her reality all over again.
 

a_majoor

Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
30
Points
560
Tango2Bravo said:
While re-runs of Sealab 2021 run through my head, I can't help but wonder what would actually happen on a "seastead." No doubt they would all start off happy and free, but sooner or later they would need to organize services and perhaps even defend themselves against mutant sharks and pirates on jet-skis. They would need some form of law enforcement. How do they plan to provide healthcare? If their group was larger than one or two families I can't help but think that their little society would follow the same basic path that every other society has taken with some form of government that provides these things and in turn taxes them. Barring that I wager that their seastead would end up run like a cult compound with one authoritarian figure.

Libertarianism is not the absence of government; most liberatarians would agree that law enforcement, a neutral arbitrator for disputes and some form of protection form outside agression is needed. (Getting them to agree how this is to be done would be something else entirely!).

Early Americans imported a system from England where communities were organized into "hundreds"; the theory being one hundred people could organize themselves for community protection (this would encompass what we would think of today as the militia, police and fire brigade, although as Kirkhill points out, the distinctions are relatively modern.) We still can find rural locations in the United States marked as "hundreds", although the meaning has long since passed. The local magistrate would ride by on a schedule to hear cases (hence the term "Circuit court"), and people could found schools, medical and dental practices and other business wherever they felt there was enough business to support them.

Business services are paid for as they are now (the buyer and seller come to an agreement), while the neutral third party services of protection and courts can be paid for by poll tax or sales tax; either means being far less intrusive or detrimental ti individual liberties than income tax. (Individual protection services like private security guards can still be bought and paid for, if you have the means and are willing to pay the price, but competing "gangs" of private security providers need to be overawed by the State's security providers; the actual foundation of State militaries and police forces is based on this need to ensure sovereignty).

I suspect seasteads would have the difficult problem of raising forces to defend themselves against the armed power of States rather than mutant sea bass; a rather lopsided contest and one reason that centralized States are the dominent political organization of this age.

Protecting against authoratarian figures or charismatic demagogues is far more difficult, but various societies have tried different means to protect themselves. The ancient Greeks had term limits and random selection of juries, the Americans use separation of powers, maybe the Internet will spawn some new means.
 

mediocre1

Banned
Banned
Reaction score
0
Points
10
Zip said:
Wow.  Just like that this article goes from talking about "limited government" to a debate not on whether the welfare state should exist but how big it should be to giving us dumb schmucks who couldn't follow the right shell two choices, modern European socialism or American neo-conservatism.

As long as it is so easy for shell games like that to be played on the ignorant masses (that's all of us BTW) we will never see or even learn about what a libertarian/laissez faire solution could offer.

With due respect to everyone here, my concept of libertarianism is to allow one to engage in any enterprise, the right to choose whether to be employed or be an employer, the right to join or refuse to join trade unions, freedom to become a member of any right wing political party, left-lib political party, or the communist party. The freedom to propagate anarchism is libertarianism. You can only find these kinds of freedom in America.

When Emma Goldman attempted to propagate her brand of anarchism in the Soviet Union during the time of Lenin, she was deported.

At present, here in Canada, you cannot be deported under the law for being a member of the Anarchist Party of Canada. I know of members who have never been harrassed or provoked. Canadian and American democracy is the ideal model of libertarianism.

I believe that  if the Anarchist Party of Canada succeeds to subvert all our Canadian democratic institutions, there is no chance of going back to where freedom reigns, Canadian parliamentary democracy.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top