Talking smack at libertarians


Ahh, that’s what I need. In a long day full of classes and meetings, it’s a breath of fresh air to see libertarians called on their baloney.

Libertarians have a problem. Their political philosophy all but died out in the mid- to late-20th century, but was revived by billionaires and corporations that found them politically useful. And yet libertarianism retains the qualities that led to its disappearance from the public stage, before its reanimation by people like the Koch brothers: It doesn’t make any sense.

They call themselves “realists” but rely on fanciful theories that have never predicted real-world behavior. They claim that selfishness makes things better for everybody, when history shows exactly the opposite is true. They claim that a mythical “free market” is better at everything than the government is, yet when they really need government protection, they’re the first to clamor for it.

It’s quite clear that libertarians are just “useful idiots,” pawns of the far right wing deployed whenever they want some stooge to claim that inequities are rational.

Comments

  1. unbound says

    It’s quite clear that libertarians are just “useful idiots,” pawns of the far right wing deployed whenever they want some stooge to claim that inequities are rational.

    Dead on accurate.

  2. thecalmone says

    As an Australian, libertarianism was new to me until only recently when I was exposed to it via the Internet. As far as I can see it’s merely a cheap justification for personal selfishness. It exerts a powerful hold over many conservative US christians though, doesn’t it?

  3. zero6ix says

    I’m a deliusionist. It just so happens that my psychosis matches perfectly to real life.

    Or does it?

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I love liberturds fish-out-of-water look when you ask them for real evidence their inane religion really works. The answer is usually wrong century, wrong country.

  5. erichoug says

    OK, I completely agree with PZ on all of this. But, the phrase useful idiots always sets my teeth grinding. It has become a phrase that people utter regarding anyone they disagree with politically. Although I do believe the idiots part is true in regards to the modern Libertarians and I understand why they would be useful to the wealthy plutocrats who make use of them for their own ends. That phrase, like “Facist” basically has no real meaning anymore.

  6. Usernames are smart says

    My favorite takedown of their ‘Bible':

    “Atlas Shrugged” is a turgid, needlessly verbose work of fiction which glorifies selfishness, encourages narcissism and promotes an economic structure that is unsustainable for longer than a few decades. It takes place in a world that is pretend, where the author takes “creative license as plot developer” and fabricates a societal structure that never existed (and still doesn’t) to the extent the story would have you believe and it used to justify the arrogance of the “producers” to move the story along. It makes for compelling fiction, I guess, but has little true reflection on what life was like when the book was written or even now. How does any “producer” amass their fortunes? Through the labor of the “lower” class they despise. The whole narrative about “makers vs. takers” derived from this fictional world and transposed on modern society is a clever, yet very transparent, positioning ploy enabled by people who very much understand human nature and how to exploit it for personal gain.zappaisfrank

  7. says

    Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn’t exist without government in order to preach against the role of government?

    Of course they do, but good luck getting them to admit that they aren’t a two-faced leech.

  8. doublereed says

    Another thing to do with Libertarians is to show them the Noncentral Fallacy, because that fallacy is the primary drive in most of their arguments, like Taxation is Theft, Property Tax is Feudalism, etc. etc.
    http://lesswrong.com/lw/e95/the_noncentral_fallacy_the_worst_argument_in_the/

    The idea is that they take a single similarity between A and B and then extrapolate it to equivalency. They then claim that you should be just as emotional as A as you are about B. This is despite the fact that the part that actually makes us angry about B is not present in A. The example given in that article is that “We shouldn’t give Martin Luther King Jr. a statue because he was a criminal!”

  9. says

    I’ve always described libertarianism as the excuse given by people who have most benefited from the past efforts of their society for why they shouldn’t contribute to the future of that society.

    I had a long argument with a “bootstrap libertarian” about how we should all start out equal and rise and fall on our personal merits. I agreed, and suggested a 100% inheritance tax to fund public schools and what-not. He didn’t agree AT ALL, because while he thought it fair that poor people rise and fall “on their own merits” he also believed that the children of rich people should get a huge head start. And he completely failed to see any contradiction in those two positions.

  10. Ogvorbis says

    I could quibble about the “useful” part.

    Extremely useful for the super wealthy who want even more of the economy.

  11. says

    Well everyone calls themselves “realists.” Except maybe for surrealists.

    Could that make surrealists the most realistic of us all? The mind wobbles, even if the pocket-watch doesn’t melt.

    As for libertards, I’ll just mention that there is no creature on earth more hypocritical than the libertarian who uses the government-created ARPANET (what’s that thingie called now?) to spread their message about the evils of government spending.

  12. jxbean says

    I was kind of puzzled to discover that most libertarians apparently oppose abortion. Freedom for me, but not for thee. I did like Atlas Shrugged when I was a nerdy 15 year old, though.

  13. fmitchell says

    @Improbable Joe

    For us to truly “rise and fall on our personal merits”, each child must start in a state-run public school, receive no financial assistance from his or her parents, and apply for admission to private schools solely on the strengths of one’s transcript and extracurriculars with no references to family connections, race, sex, etc. This, I’d wager, is a libertarian’s nightmare.

  14. Alverant says

    @9
    It always struck me that the “takers” were the higher class because they never made anything and just lived off the hard work of others. Yet they were called “makers”. I guess if you make other people miserable for your own profit then you’re a “maker”.

  15. Randomfactor says

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged . One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ― John Rogers

  16. says

    One of the reasons I didn’t suffer great disillusion and disappointment at the recent reports about Michael Shermer* was that some years ago I heard him insert the fallacious “Government of the Gaps” argument in a talk, and in a way that came across as grand-standing. So to me, the guy already had clay feet, and somehow I just wasn’t surprised when I started hearing worse things about him (which for me, was over a year ago). He already wasn’t any great hero of mine.

    *I’m disturbed about the reports themselves, of course.

  17. R Johnston says

    Calling libertarians “useful idiots” is unfair to both useful people and idiotic people. Rather, libertarians are extreme Dunning-Kruger victims being strung along by wealthy idiots incapable of properly evaluating their usefulness. It is the vast overestimation of their own intellectual abilities that is a defining characteristic of libertarians, not any particular level of intelligence. And let’s face it: a Koch brother who’s worried about the marginal dollar in his pocket is someone who can’t tell the difference between being useful and having a cerebral aneurysm rupture.

  18. says

    Libertarianism (of the american variety) is also disgustingly popular with the PirateParty crowds in Europe. I spend a few weeks dealing with German Ron Paul fans and AGW denialists on the German PP forum before giving up in disgust

  19. mx89 says

    Hey wait! Libertarianism can be found on both sides of the “economic” political spectrum. People like Noam Chomksy can be reasonably described as libertarian socialists, while the Ayn Randroids are libertarian free-market types (sworn enemies). The extremes are anarcho-communism and anarcho-capitalism.

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/ is nice for a quick explanation (they also have a quiz!).

  20. freemage says

    Small-l libertarianism–the ‘libertarian impulse’–is actually fine. Coupled with empathy, rationality and other motivators, it helps to produce a healthy worldview. However, when you take it and make it the whole of your worldview–when you opt out of using any other criteria for making your judgements–it’s a hobbled mess. I’ve got friends with strong libertarian impulses, and I usually work to keep those in check by pointing out that the government is not the only source of restriction on liberty–corporations, left unchecked, control considerably more people than governments, often in more intrusive ways. This gets them to the idea of using the two power-centers against one another–thus, regulation and separation are GOOD things, because they enhance personal liberty of the masters.

  21. says

    because none of us have heard the “but there are left-libertarians, too!” arguments before. yawn. we’re aware that anarchism exists and that for various reasons, these terms used to be used almost interchangeably. They are not used that way here. libertarianism is used for anti-government folks; anarchism is used for anti-hierarchy folks.

  22. Ichthyic says

    As an Australian, libertarianism was new to me until only recently when

    …Tony Abbott was elected.

    seriously, you must have been living in a fucking cave. libertarianism is RAMPANT in Oz! I see it and hear it constantly from Australians, and I love across the pond in Kiwiland.

  23. consciousness razor says

    It’s quite clear that libertarians are just “useful idiots,” pawns of the far right wing deployed whenever they want some stooge to claim that inequities are rational.

    Sadly, they’re being used by people who are also fucking idiots. Not the saddest part, of course. That would be how fucking awful their ideas are. But I think it’s still kind of sad.

    doublereed, #12:

    Wiki calls that an association fallacy, since not everyone speaks Yudkowsky’s private language.* Or even more generally, it’s ignoratio elenchi, or “missing the fucking point” as I believe Aristotle put it originally. That certainly is one thing they seem to excel at. If they ever do go Galt, I’m sure we’ll all be very sorry when our irrelevance reserves begin to run dry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
    **Which, in case you didn’t know, was reinvented along with the wheel.

  24. says

    @fmitchell (#17):

    That was my exact point, and yet that “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” libertarian didn’t understand how growing up in a wealthy family in a wealthy community and inheriting millions could possibly invalidate the entire “on your own merits” thing… as though inherited privilege and cold hard cash actually count as an individual’s personal merit as opposed to an unfair advantage given to them from an external source.

  25. jimmyfromchicago says

    They call themselves “realists” but rely on fanciful theories that have never predicted real-world behavior.

    “Fanciful theories” isn’t quite it. Libertarians think they’re the smartest guys–and they are usually men–in the room because they’ve learned about the models that are used to explain the basic concepts in first-semester economics. However, what they think the models prove are really the assumptions that the models are built on.

  26. laurentweppe says

    Your quote does not tell the whole story: allow me to complete it:

    Believers in capitalism have a problem: their ideology went down in flamme in 1929.

    Unfortunately for them, between the days when Smith waxed lyrical about the Magical Invisible Hand and how the rising class of commoner businessmen would maintain an intelligent and respectful relationship with the working class by necessity and 1929, the inept parasitic hereditary rentiers that Smith, Ricardo & all despised so much had learned to use their jargon and to pretended that their undeserved privileges, wealth and clout where the product of a fait competition which they had won by being more intelligent and hardworking than the hoi polloi.

    Then at one point, some weird nerds with a bizarre mix of fascination for Smith’s theories and a quasi-anarchistic view of civil liberties branded themselves “libertarians”, and were almost immediately swallowed by the inept parasitic hereditary rentiers’ propaganda machine.

    Then a few decades later, some folks with an internet connection manage to grow the spine to say publicly that, you know, maybe this whole libertarian stuff had been reduced to little more than self-justifying bullshit for rich heirs.

  27. marcoli says

    Well, there is the ‘fun’ part of true libertarianism, which is that they think the anti-drug laws need to be relaxed.

  28. anuran says

    Randroidism and Libertarianism are quite simply religions.

    They have Scriptures; I have to say Atlas Shrugged makes the Book of Numbers look downright thrilling by comparison.

    They have a Supreme Being – The Blèssed Market – who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnibenevolent

    They have a Theology.

    Their core beliefs are based on Faith and are not susceptible to reason or facts.

  29. Ichthyic says

    the inept parasitic hereditary rentiers’ propaganda machine.

    the modern day Illuminati!

    neat.

  30. R Johnston says

    Libertarianism is a deeply held belief in all the freedom money can buy.

    Libertarians don’t believe in money. Sure, they’ll claim otherwise, but widely accepted money requires government, and reasonably stable money requires a strong government. I’ll also note the strong libertarian tendency towards goldbuggery, which is effectively about abolishing money in favor of barter–gold stock simply isn’t money.

  31. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Libertarians definitely believe in money. They just believe that ‘fiat’ money isn’t really money and gold is money. And coconuts. And bitcoin. They just love the bitcoin. But it’s still a belief in money, just a very specific type of money system.

    That being said I’ve never met a libertarian who wouldn’t accept fiat money.

  32. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I would add that of course it all depends on how you define money. I would define it as whatever the government accepts in payment of taxes. Taxation creates the underlying demand for money.

    So in that sense I would agree with R Johnston that libertarians do not really believe in money because in its most extreme form Libertarianism is opposed to all taxation.

  33. says

    I don’t get bitcoin; it’s value is more bipolar than I am.

    The main attraction appears to be that people believe Bitcoins are not controlled by the banks so they will be able to use them to avoid paying taxes (it’s always down to avoiding taxes). Of course, that isn’t true, especially since the only route Bitcoins have to widespread legitimacy is for the Bitcoin exchanges to play ball with the regulators, which is exactly what they are doing.

  34. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Coconuts is a reference to a notorious paper by a libertarian economist (whose name escapes me at the moment) who argued anything can be money, and proceeded to describe some mythical tropical island where the inhabitants used coconuts as money. He thought he was making some profound point about the nature of money, but completely ignored the taxation angle and the fact that no place on earth has ever used coconuts as money.

  35. thelastholdout says

    Yes, because we can rely on a government employee to be unbiased in his assessment of libertarian ideals, can’t we?

    PZ, you’re generally awesome, especially on matters of science and feminism, but economics and politics is one area where you clearly are more inclined to sneer at those who disagree with you without actually knowing what you’re sneering at.

  36. Ichthyic says

    Yes, because we can rely on a government employee to be unbiased in his assessment of libertarian ideals, can’t we?

    so, if you had a professor of economics whose work supported your idea of libertarianism, you would of course ignore all of that, since they are just stooges of the government, right?

    what a fucking idiot.

  37. Ichthyic says

    but economics and politics is one area where you clearly are more inclined to sneer at those who disagree with you without actually knowing what you’re sneering at.

    no, he’s not sneering at people who disagree. he’s sneering at complete idiots.

    thanks for giving us an example.

  38. adobo says

    I am so fucking tired of the “No True Scotsman” defense of Libertarianism. From all my experiences of talking and debating with them, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are just two types of Libertarians whether they care to admit it or not.

    There are the Progressives who doesn’t like that word because, well you know, America and “freedom”, that sort of thing.

    And then there are the Sociopaths!

  39. says

    Yes, because we can rely on a government employee to be unbiased in his assessment of libertarian ideals, can’t we?

    I’m in love with that sentence.
    You heard it folks. Don’t listen to government employees, they’re biased. Listen to libertarians instead, they have no bias in their assessment of libertarian ideals.

  40. Ichthyic says

    There are the Progressives who doesn’t like that word because, well you know, America and “freedom”, that sort of thing.

    And then there are the Sociopaths!

    yeah… that does cover at least 90% of it from my experience as well.

  41. jxbean says

    It’s quite reasonable to sneer at people who disbelieve in global warming, people who believe that vaccination causes autism, people who believe in creationism, and people who believe that Ayn Rand was an economic theorist. Those people deserve to be the object os sneering because they are clueless about their cluelessness.

  42. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    thelastholdout ,

    Would you like to advance any actual arguments for libertarianism?

  43. Ichthyic says

    yeah, Jadehawk cuts to the real issue.

    libertarians project. They are in economic denial, just like creationists and AGW deniers live in science denial.

    it’s the same underlying mindset, with likely just different social starting conditions that caused them to focus on one issue over the other.

    not saying there aren’t of course creationist, libertarian, AGW deniers.

  44. consciousness razor says

    Yes, because we can rely on a government employee to be unbiased in his assessment of libertarian ideals, can’t we?

    PZ, you’re generally awesome, especially on matters of science and feminism, but economics and politics is one area where you clearly are more inclined to sneer at those who disagree with you without actually knowing what you’re sneering at.

    Sure, science is awesome. But the public education system is obviously just a bunch of socialist propaganda. Only awesome, job-creating libertarians deserve to know awesome stuff about science. The rest of you leeches want science? Too bad. We’ve already got it, so fuck off.

  45. consciousness razor says

    Of course, by “science” I mean “Objectivism.” But you get the idea. We know that’s what you all want.

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but economics and politics is one area where you clearly are more inclined to sneer at those who disagree with you without actually knowing what you’re sneering at.

    Since we’ve had liberturds spouting their morally bankrupt religion since half a year before Obama was elected, we know all their problems. Including their arrogance, ignorance of economics, arrogance, ignorance of politics, arrogance, ignorance of history, arrogance, ignorance of science, arrogance, ignorance of morals and ethics, arrogance, oh, and of course, general and unwarranted arrogance of their ignorance.

    So, what is your point again?

  47. demonhauntedworld says

    I think the best description I’ve heard of (American-style) libertarianism is that it’s the conservative equivalent of Communism.

  48. Ichthyic says

    I think the best description I’ve heard of (American-style) libertarianism is that it’s the conservative equivalent of Communism.

    that must be why so many teapartiers are now embracing comrade Putin?

    seriously, I still can’t wrap my head around it…. right wing religious embracing a Russian strongman….

    they are seriously off narrative!

    :)

  49. says

    I had a heuristic in college…if a guy was really into Atlas Shrugged he was a right wing asshat, if he was way into On the Road he was a left wing asshat. It saved me a lot of time and trouble.

  50. says

    My fav question for libertarians is this… what do you care more about – your money or the fact that the state is all up in my lady parts? Do you play footsie while in bed with the far right Dominionist Christsosphere? Who initiates?

  51. gjpetch says

    As an Australian, libertarianism was new to me until only recently

    In NSW we just elected gun nut libertarian David Leyonhjelm to the senate…. eww. Apparently he largely got in because people mistook his party “Liberal Democrats” for the liberal party. Ughhh, the damage that politicians do here over the next few years is going to be ugly.

  52. says

    Ha…Sigurd…no…though I am interested in what you think that person’s favorite book is?

    I prefer people on the non-completely self absorbed variety. Those two titles – if carried around like a talisman (and not just say – read) indicated a sort of narcissism which is fine at a distance – bad in a partner.

  53. Ichthyic says

    I prefer people on the non-completely self absorbed variety.

    That would be ME!

    I’m completely and proudly not self-absorbed.

    I even wrote a book about me, being not self absorbed!

    LOVE ME AND DESPAIR.

    :)

  54. consciousness razor says

    Ha…Sigurd…no…though I am interested in what you think that person’s favorite book is?

    I’m wondering too. The Da Vinci Code? Not enough of a … um … “classic” like the other two? Not bullshitty and mainstream enough?

  55. says

    Ichthyic – OK…can you dance and do you like dogs….

    Also… do you find messy women who hate housework and therefore pretend it is a non issue hot?

    I could have a third eye but being horribly disinterested in the domestic seems to be a deal breaker.

  56. Ichthyic says

    Also… do you find messy women who hate housework and therefore pretend it is a non issue hot?

    uh… *looks at current state of household*

    one just might conclude that.

    *stumbles over empty coke bottle*

  57. mx89 says

    @25:

    It’s by no means obvious Pharyngula has a rule that calls right-wing libertarians “libertarians” and left-wing libertarians “anarchists”. This is not a rule that is used anywhere else to my knowledge, probably because it is not nearly as informative as you might think. Anarchists generally don’t want any state at all. Libertarians just want a minimized state in certain respects (depending on your economic ideology).

    I think the an-caps and Objectivists are as unrealistic as they come, but a whole thread of content-free insults shows little in the way of an informed attack in the ideology.

  58. consciousness razor says

    I was thinking something escapist that pushes lots of nonsense and fiction as if it were fact. Or centrists are “not political literary,” so they do all of their reading by watching television. You know, when they find the time.

  59. consciousness razor says

    I think the an-caps and Objectivists are as unrealistic as they come, but a whole thread of content-free insults shows little in the way of an informed attack in the ideology.

    Do you have anything to say about the article linked at the top of the thread?

  60. says

    Yes, because we can rely on a government employee to be unbiased in his assessment of libertarian ideals, can’t we?

    PZ, you’re generally awesome, especially on matters of science and feminism, but economics and politics is one area where you clearly are more inclined to sneer at those who disagree with you without actually knowing what you’re sneering at.

    So, now you’ve finished your own little sneer at a mere government employee), the obvious thing to do would be to lay down precisely what it is you believe in, and why, and why it (and you by extension, of course) is superior.

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think the an-caps and Objectivists are as unrealistic as they come, but a whole thread of content-free insults shows little in the way of an informed attack in the ideology.

    Go back 6 months prior to Obama’s first election as Pres. There is real informed attack of the idiotology. Show otherwise by citing the history….

  62. says

    @mx89 …. right because there’s nothing more fun on the net than a debate with an ossified libertarian ideologue and surely…there needs to be much much much more of that on the internets.

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So, now you’ve finished your own little sneer at a mere government employee), the obvious thing to do would be to lay down precisely what it is you believe in, and why, and why it (and you by extension, of course), with historical evidence, is superior.

    Added the Achilles heel of liberturds….

  64. Justin says

    I tried to get libertarians to answer the questions, but they all refused claiming that the questions weren’t questions or that they were biased and served an agenda…

  65. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Then again, that concept’s completely alien to our brave bootstrappers…

    Yeah, the concept of checking the evidence is against their religion appears to be verboten. You have a point.

  66. says

    Anecdote: my father was a mere government employee – a high school science teacher for over 30 years. My mother also held several positions within local and state governments including city councils, water boards, state mental health services the local police.

    During their tenures, my parents were also vociferous and vigorous critics of government at all levels, up to and including the point of mounting and participating in successful grassroots campaigns to save local wilderness preserves from development and prevent local community-owned assets such as hospitals from being privatised by the state. Though state employees for almost their whole working lives, they never backed down or stayed silent when the state did something they objected to.

    thelastholdout’s implication that every government employee is going to be a kneejerk supporter of the system, simply because that system employs them, is as ridiculous as painting every religious person as a creationist stooge – or, even, every libertarian as a sociopathic Randroid who leaves steaming drive-by comments, never to return to support any of their statements or accusations.

  67. mx89 says

    @75:

    The article makes some valid points but also has a few straw-men. For example, on the question of unions, I don’t know of any libertarians who oppose the right to voluntary free association. The attacks on unions in the form of “right-to-work” laws are against mandatory union membership being linked to a given job. These laws are bad ideas, to be sure, and result from a irrationally utopian thinking: a similar approach results in the Ron Paul types in the US opposing civil rights law (possibly they are racist as well but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt). But in trying to find intellectual inconsistency, some of those questions were well off the mark.

    @78: Political philosophy can be quite interesting, especially if one starts by clearing out the strawmen and ad-hominems.

  68. says

    It’s by no means obvious Pharyngula has a rule that calls right-wing libertarians “libertarians” and left-wing libertarians “anarchists”. This is not a rule that is used anywhere else to my knowledge, probably because it is not nearly as informative as you might think. Anarchists generally don’t want any state at all. Libertarians just want a minimized state in certain respects (depending on your economic ideology).

    Anarchism is a spectrum. It’s not generally for the destruction of all plausible rules ever, also.

  69. says

    The article makes some valid points but also has a few straw-men. For example, on the question of unions, I don’t know of any libertarians who oppose the right to voluntary free association.

    They respect that right. Much like they respect the right of people of color to eat at the restaurant of their choosing, that will have them…

  70. mx89 says

    @88: “Much like they respect the right of people of color to eat at the restaurant of their choosing, that will have them”

    Well, they don’t actually believe people have that right, which is why many are against the Civil Rights Act. Again, it can be a stunningly bad ideology, but it’s not necessarily that inconsistent, showing which being the purported aim of the article. I think it places too high a value on property rights/the fruits of one’s labour by in effect placing much too low a value on human life & dignity (though nominally they do value those things). The difference comes in the real world, of course.

  71. says

    My brother could be a stereotype straight from central casting: he’s an early-twenties, white, straight, college student who loves Ron Paul (and now Rand Paul, *sigh*) and is convinced Libertarianism is the only “logical” political movement. And he thinks he’s so much smarter than everyone else, because he’s a moderate, you see, which is automatically better: sure, he thinks the entire welfare system should be abolished and Obamacare is pure evil (even though he knows his sister–me–would be dead right now if it wasn’t for Obamacare, and probably homeless and starving without the assistance I get through disability and food stamps, pitiful as that is), and yeah, he hates immigrants and he thinks the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional and illegal, but he doesn’t think the government should punish people for being gay and he thinks the “War on Drugs” is super bad, so hey, don’t call him a mindless follower or a conservative moron–he can think for himself! He doesn’t follow any political party (except, hmmm, he always seems to vote Republican right down the line…), not like those liberal sheep who unthinkingly do whatever MSNBC tells them to.

    I would hope that it’s just a college thing he’ll grow out of, or that maybe it’s just a side effect from living with his fiance who worships Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity…but my father is the same way. Actually, I feel really bad for my Mom…ever since Obama was elected (it may have started a little earlier, during the Bush fuckups, or maybe the election ridiculousness), Mom has become much more liberal. The attacks on women’s reproductive health have turned my Mom–who marched against the ERA and protested abortion clinics when she was a girl, and even had a job offer to work for Phyllis Schlafly’s “think tank”–actively pro-choice. She’s a huge Obama supporter, far more than I am, really, and she straight up hates the GOP and everything they do. But Obama’s election has done the exact opposite for my Dad…he has become much more conservative, and much more openly racist as well (though he gets very angry at the suggestion that Obama’s race has anything to do with his extreme political views and hatred of the president for doing the exact same shit Bush did). So for the first time in 30 years, their marriage is having some serious problems. We used to discuss politics all the time when I was growing up–now there’s a total ban on political discussions, after Mom burst into tears one too many times.

    After listening to their Libertarian rants, I’m of the opinion that Libertarianism is just the flip side of Communism. They constantly tell me that my political opinions are doomed to failure, illogical, because hey, people tried communism and it never worked. (Doesn’t matter to them that I am not a communist, I’m a democratic socialist, which is a political system that has worked quite well, thank you very much…in their minds, socialism=communism=facism, and there is no swaying them.) So I stopped trying to explain that I’m not talking about communism–they just weren’t listening–and pointed out that Libertarianism is the exact same thing, just reversed.

    They complain that communism is antithetical to human behavior, that without the encouragement to work for profits, people will do nothing and the society will stagnate, it depends on people having the goodwill to provide work without incentives. Okay, but it seems to me that Libertarianism depends on people having the goodwill to provide services and welfare, as well. “We don’t need a welfare state because private charities will pick up the burden, and they do it better than the government.” Uh-huh…and when has that ever happened in history? Is it happening now? Libertarianism depends on people just having the goodwill to get together and, say, fight fires, or fix roads, or take care of the sick and elderly, without any government oversight, money, or compulsion. And they say Communism is unrealistic and antithetical to real human behavior? PUH-LEAZE. We tried having a country without a welfare system, with no government oversight or regulations on business. It didn’t work then–which is, hey, the reason we have at least some laws and protection now–so why they hell do they think it’ll fix everything now?

    And I’m supposed to believe that Libertarianism is the only logical, rational, form of government? Yeah, okay. My brother can scoff at all those stupid kids he goes to college with, who are just sheep caught up in all the liberal causes around campus, unthinkingly letting themselves be led by liberal professors…while he came to his political opinions totally logically, his libertarian economics professor showed him the truth (unlike those socialist professors who just want to brainwash students). Yup, totally logical, completely unswayed by emotion, like those bleeding-heart liberals. It doesn’t surprise me that so many of the insufferable atheists are libertarians as well…I actually can’t decide if my brother would be more obnoxious if he dropped his conservative Christian beliefs, or less.

    I have nothing but contempt for Libertarians–but that’s okay, it’s quite clear that they have nothing but contempt for me.

  72. says

    Well, they don’t actually believe people have that right, which is why many are against the Civil Rights Act. Again, it can be a stunningly bad ideology, but it’s not necessarily that inconsistent, showing which being the purported aim of the article. I think it places too high a value on property rights/the fruits of one’s labour by in effect placing much too low a value on human life & dignity (though nominally they do value those things). The difference comes in the real world, of course.

    Except it is inconsistent, because money and spending it are sacred rights, until it comes to black people.

    More to the point, they pay lipservice to unions, but except for a small minority, tend to think of them as mostly horrible things, invariably, and they oppose collective bargaining in PRACTICE. It’s not as blatant as when they support republicans while pretending to care about drugs, but hey.

  73. robnyny says

    Three questions for which I have never gotten satisfactory answers from libertarians:

    1. Has any city, country, nation, society ever produced systems of comprehensive education and health care based entirely on private for-profit entities, with no prominent role played by the public sector and/or non-profit entities?

    2. What is the libertarian solution to the tragedy of the commons? Please focus on the real life examples of contamination/exhaustion of water supplies and the collapse of fisheries.

    3. Would you fly on an airline that is not subject to government regulation? Because, after all, you are free to take your business elsewhere if the plane crashes. Let the free market rule!

    One libertarian friend boldly declared that he had answers to these questions, but I could not force him to reveal those answers.

    I once took a business ethics class (yeah, I know, an oxymoron), and the correct answer on the final exam was “if you can pollute to save a dime, then the only ethical thing to do is to pollute.”

  74. says

    They complain that communism is antithetical to human behavior, that without the encouragement to work for profits, people will do nothing and the society will stagnate, it depends on people having the goodwill to provide work without incentives. Okay, but it seems to me that Libertarianism depends on people having the goodwill to provide services and welfare, as well. “We don’t need a welfare state because private charities will pick up the burden, and they do it better than the government.” Uh-huh…and when has that ever happened in history? Is it happening now? Libertarianism depends on people just having the goodwill to get together and, say, fight fires, or fix roads, or take care of the sick and elderly, without any government oversight, money, or compulsion. And they say Communism is unrealistic and antithetical to real human behavior?

    The utopianism of it all grates on me. As does the hypocrisy.

  75. says

    @ Hankstar [Antipodean Antagony Aunt] #84

    OMG this.

    My father is a federal employee (he’s a federal police officer), has been a federal worker for most of his career. He’s also been an active member of the police officer’s union–when he was working for a state PD, he was the local union president, for a while, and was one of the main drafters of the new contract federal police officers just negotiated for. And Dad hates the federal government, wants most of it abolished. He also hates (most) unions.

    I asked him one time, after watching congresspeople get up on the floor and denounce the wasteful federal government, those federal employees who are raking in all this dough while doing nothing, etc. etc., I asked: “How can you support these guys? They’re talking about you.” And Dad responded, “They’re not talking about me, they’re talking about those idiots I work with.”

    Okay.

    He also has the remarkable ability to blame the pay freeze, the hiring freeze–both of which guarantee he has to do three times as much work and have more responsibility without any of the pay or benefits of a higher rank–and the sequester, which cut his pay an additional 20%, entirely on Obama. All of it is Obama’s fault. Not the Republicans in Congress, oh no: Obama did it all, because he hates white people and America and justice and probably puppies (well, white puppies–did you see the new dog they adopted? It’s also black, proof Obama is a racist! I wish I was kidding).

    But I’m irrational. Because sometimes, when I see people suffering, or when I’m overwhelmed with the depth of the institutional roadblocks and inequalities, I get upset. I’ve even cried. I’m just a bleeding heart, who lets my emotions overwhelm my intellect. Because if I was really logical, really smart, looking at it from an intellectual standpoint, I’d obviously be a libertarian, duh. (But, hmmm, somehow anger is an appropriate, rational response. That doesn’t make you incapable of intelligent thought. But crying is just girly–wait, I mean, illogical. Yeah.)

  76. Nick Hudson says

    @laurentweppe

    I wouldn’t dismiss Adam Smith like you do; he’s not really a libertarian ally. One suspects, in fact, they have never read him.

    To give my favorite example from The Wealth of Nations:

    “The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [i.e. capitalists], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

  77. mx89 says

    @91:

    We certainly don’t disagree, but I’d maybe discourage attacking an ideology mainly based on the hypocrisy or corruption of its adherents. In practice, of course, mainstream “libertarians” in the US are not really libertarian anyway, just a collection of Astroturf groups. I like attacking ideology while assuming its adherents follow it perfectly. This, of course, works for Christianity and other religions too.

    @ 92:

    You might be interested to read Will Wilkinson on your first point.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/06/libertarianism-and-experiment

    In short, just because it’s never been tried doesn’t mean it’s wrong (though you may have suspicions either way). Actually, many people have said “point me to a place where social issue X is implemented. No? Cause it’s a bad idea!” as an argument against many progressive policies historically.

  78. robnyny says

    #96.

    I’m not arguing that it’s false because it’s never been tried. It’s been tried many, many times. Deregulation of banks in Ireland, deregulation of thrifts in America, deregulation of banks in America, deregulation of derivatives in America, deregulation of banks in Iceland. I’m arguing that it’s false because it has never worked, and in “notably rare exceptions” has been catastrophic.

    But even accepting your assertion that libertarianism has never been tried, why would anyone attempt to implement as policy an ideology that has never been tried and lacks any empirical support?

  79. eigenperson says

    2. What is the libertarian solution to the tragedy of the commons? Please focus on the real life examples of contamination/exhaustion of water supplies and the collapse of fisheries.

    Ooh! ooh! I know this one:

    The tragedy of the commons isn’t actually a tragedy. For example, if water supplies are contaminated, then people will buy clean water from entrepreneurs who purify it. This is not only acceptable, but actually preferable to the situation where there is enough clean water for everyone, because it is worth making sacrifices for freedom. Even if you don’t believe that particular sacrifice is worthwhile, you should still demand a completely free market, because the other benefits of a free market outweigh the relatively minor costs associated with not having enough fresh water, and regulating only the water industry (and not other industries) isn’t possible because all regulation is a slippery slope.

    … or something like that.

  80. says

    @ Mx89 #96

    Yeah, except we have tried Libertarianism. The turn of the 20th century was Libertarian dream–no government welfare, very few regulations on business, small federal government, isolationism…and it didn’t work. They had their chance to prove it’s a working theory of government and economics, and they failed utterly. Our current system may not be the best, but it’s a hell of a lot better than, say, 146 women burning to death in a garment factory because of lack of government oversight or regulation. The almighty Market didn’t correct that and keep it from happening again–the federal government did.

    When Libertarians can explain how their preferred policies won’t lead to a Dickensian horror story of massive economic exploitation, unsafe or unfair working environments, people starving and dying from lack of food, housing, medical care, etc., the poor or mentally ill being locked up, etc. etc. etc. then I might start to take them seriously. But they can’t. They say, “Oh, private organizations will take care of that,” or “Oh, businesses that are unsafe will lose workers and buyers; the Market will take care of that,” but they can’t explain why, when they had the chance to prove all that, the exact opposite happened. It’s just “different” now. Uh-huh.

    As I tell my brother and father, the current system, as flawed as it is–and we both agree that there are serious, deep, institutional changes that need to take place–is just a reaction to a Libertarian paradise. When The Market and Private Companies didn’t magically fix social, political, and economic inequalities and abuses, the federal government had to step in. It’s your own fault, guys. Maybe it’s time we tried something new.

    Actually, many people have said “point me to a place where social issue X is implemented. No? Cause it’s a bad idea!” as an argument against many progressive policies historically.

    I totally agree with you, here. I don’t like that argument against Libertarianism, either, and I tend to use the exact opposite argument. I do think it would backfire–especially because my argument for a progressive, socialist government is, basically, “No, we haven’t tried this solution, but we’ve tried it most other ways and it hasn’t worked, lets see if we can replicate some of the success people have had with it in other countries–and learn from the pitfalls some governments have found, as well.”

  81. says

    @ demonhauntedworld #55

    I think the best description I’ve heard of (American-style) libertarianism is that it’s the conservative equivalent of Communism.

    And

    Erin (formerly–formally?– known as EEB) # 90

    After listening to their Libertarian rants, I’m of the opinion that Libertarianism is just the flip side of Communism. They constantly tell me that my political opinions are doomed to failure, illogical, because hey, people tried communism and it never worked.

    The principle similarity between the communist ideologues of the mid-20th century and the present-day Libertarians is that both hold their “system” as infallible. Therefore, any failure can not ever be the fault of their perfect “system” and thus must have some other cause. The Communists used “counter-revolutionaries” as their scapegoat and Libertarians use either “personal failure” or “government interference” as theirs. The beauty of blaming “government interference” in the economy comes from the fact that you can not ever remove the government entirely from influencing the economy without getting rid of government entirely. Therefore, voila! the Libertarians can always blame government. This claim of perfection makes their theory un-testable.

    I tried to explain this to a libertarian once by pointing out that immigration policies have to influence the economy: either by creating more competition for jobs or by leaving jobs unfilled when natives do not qualify for them. He started discussing what he thought a proper immigration policy would be – demonstrating the uncanny ability of most Libertarians I have encountered to so totally miss the point as to make you wonder just what happened to their heads.

  82. Ichthyic says

    “libertarians” in the US are not really libertarian anyway, just a collection of Astroturf groups.

    you MUST be more careful if you plan to use the the argument of true scotsmen everywhere.

  83. eric123 says

    My first encounter with libertarianism was with, I believe, Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve. He gave an example of his autistic political/economic faith with the example of elevator repair services, claiming that in a deregulated market when enough elevators crashed to the ground killing people that eventually the “market” would sort it the lethal incompetents from the professionals.

    Subsequent encounters weren’t much better.

    After years of reflection the libertarian fallacies are all much clearer now. There’s the rigidified, hopelessly narrow and incurious definition of ‘freedom'; the fundamentalist faith in the crumbling ideology of neoclassical economics; the robotically unvarying selection bias that only sees threats to freedom in government, and refuses to see contrary evidence; the perpetuation of obfuscating reifications like “free markets”, “regulation”, and “liberty”; the catamite water-carrying for corporate and moneyed interests; there’s the moral incomprehension that species and ecosystems might have some claim to a right to exist; or, how about conceptually forcing human nature in the narrowest of boxes –selfish, acquisitive, contemptuous of those who either fail or aren’t interested in playing the capitalist lottery; the inability to understand that the world–people, corporations, markets, governments, values–aren’t as simplistic as libertarian doctrine wants them to be –“markets are moral, and more economies are founded on our virtuous nature”, says a priest of libertarianism, Michael Shermer; or, how about valuing property and markets over human well-being and life? Arguing against the dangers of second hand smoke, the reality of acid rain or climate change or the dangers of child labor? The list goes on.

    And I didn’t even mention all the objectionable personalities I’ve encountered among libertarians.

    Libertarianism is a quasi-religious faith system, an embarrassing boner in the public shower of skepticism, a closed-system of belief with all the emotional zealotry of religious jihad, a polarized threadbare ideology of the twentieth century still flapping in the wind of credulity and need to believe. It needs skeptical take-down as much as creationism, and it does just as much damage.

    The best resource for critiques of libertarianism on the web:
    http://critiquesoflibertarianism.blogspot.com/

  84. mx89 says

    @101:

    Yes, I know. I can elaborate if necessary, but there is actually a clear difference between even the early Tea Party and later, when the industrialists started supporting it, in terms of their rhetoric, policy concerns, etc. As the Salon article says, right-libertarianism had very little support in America in the last decades. It actually still has very little support as an ideology, but there is a brand name Libertarianism that’s propped up by lots of money and is incidentally hardly worth engaging as an intellectual force (or lack thereof). I’m not sure if it’s the true scotsman fallacy to point out that movements are often hijacked by those who use them as cover while espousing quite different ideologies, no?

  85. says

    @ Nick Hudson # 95

    I wouldn’t dismiss Adam Smith like you do; he’s not really a libertarian ally. One suspects, in fact, they have never read him.

    Nice favorite quote. Mine is the one in which the term “invisible hand” occurs. Once you see it in context you realize that most Libertarians either never read Smith or like Bible-thumpers they just dishonestly quote-mine the Wealth of Nations.

    But the annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry, or rather is precisely the same thing with that exchangeable value. As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.

    [emphasis mine]

    — Smith, Adam. Wealth of Nations.
    East Rutherford, NJ, USA: Viking Penguin, 2000. p 32.
    http://site.ebrary.com/lib/gguu/Doc?id=10052970&ppg=96
    Copyright © 2000. Viking Penguin. All rights reserved.

    The assumption that people favor domestic products to foreign ones a matter of patriotism has not held true for centuries. That this is the foundational assumption for the whole “invisible hand” metaphor never occurs to Libertarians, assuming they ever understood this passage in the first place.

  86. mx89 says

    @97: The link I posted explains a bit more on that. There is more to the ideology than “deregulation”, though. Some libertarians attack business just as much as the state as contributing to cronyism and the ill-functioning of government & society. In essence giant monopolies with state backing are not a good starting point for a libertarian society, I think.

    @99: We have tried the Gilded Age, but I’m not sure if we’ve really tried libertarianism. I personally think that any attempt at the latter will quickly devolve into the former (and the theoretical aspects of libertarianism share quite a lot with the empirical aspects of Guilded Ages), yes, but there is daylight between the two. I don’t want to simplify the actual libertarian philosophers down to “You love the Guilded Age!”.

  87. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but I’m not sure if we’ve really tried libertarianism.

    Yep, from post civil war until the turn of the century, Nothing but monoplies, trusts, cartels, etc. Not the small shops liberturds like to pretend, without evidence, would be the results. Try really reading history. It will convince you liberturdism has been tried and failed miserably.

  88. says

    I don’t want to simplify the actual libertarian philosophers down to “You love the Guilded Age!”.

    I can acknowledge that, philosophically, there might be differences…but in practice we already know what the results of deregulation and other Libertarian dream policies are. And until Libertarians can show how–practically, not ideologically–their policies would differ from the Gilded Age and keep, say, exploitative business practices and abject poverty from being widespread problems, it would be incredibly foolish not to base our judgements on the past results of the very policies they advocate.

    I don’t know, maybe this makes me as unintellectual as I’m accused of being, but when it comes to politics, I really could care less about your ideologies or philosophies of government. I care about what works. If you can demonstrate evidence–and often, with these sorts of things, the only real hard evidence we have is looking at how such-and-such worked in the past–that your policies promote maximum well-being, then great, I don’t care how you arrived there, lets work to make it happen. (Which is why I often find myself more aligned with liberal Christians who feel compelled by their faith to work for a more equal society, than with libertarian Atheists who advocate for deregulation or whatever.) But then, this gets me in trouble with the more “liberal” groups, too…while I can appreciate Communist or even anarchist philosophy, in practice I find them so doomed to failure that I have little patience with it.

  89. Jacob Schmidt says

    The link I posted explains a bit more on that.

    It really doesn’t. It argues that the [supposed] fact that libertarianism has never been tried doesn’t discredit libertarianism, then veers into a spiel about “ideality” within political philosophy.

  90. Pierce R. Butler says

    cityzenjane @ # 62: … what you think that person’s favorite book is?

    The Audacity of Hope, what else?

  91. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I always ask liberturds to point to one first world country who had liberturd theology in use for at least thirty years in the last century. The lack of response is deafening, and would mean something to an evidence, not religious based, person. Which is why I haven’t considered liberturdism anything other than a religion. All theology, no evidence to back it up.

  92. ihateliberals says

    oki, quick answers to your quiz:

    Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of “spontaneous order”—and if not, why not?

    obviously yes. It’s not an accident that in the Republican Party you have mostly conservatives, in the Democratic Party – liberals, and in labour unions – lazy people. Even though there is no special governmental agency that puts people into appropriate groups. They can just sort themselves out on their own! Was that supposed to be a tricky question?

    Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded?

    production is even more complex than this question seems to suggest, and I recognize it and reward it with my cash every time I go to a shop. Then the shop’s owner rewards someone for freight and so on. And if someone along the chain feels screwed up, that’s his problem (unless he is literally forced to work).

    Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces?

    yes, they are. Actually collective bargaining is a special example, because it’s damaging to consumers (reminder: workers are consumers too). In the best interest of every worker is to be a part of cartel, while at the same time possibly many other workers are not, or participate in weaker cartels. That of course leads to escalation. That’s why collective bargaining (and labour unions ofc) should be forbidden. If there was an 11th commandment it would be: “Thou shalt not engage in collective bargaining”.

    Is our libertarian willing to admit that a “free market” needs regulation?

    Above I gave an example of good regulation. The fear of hell will be sufficient, so there is no need for government :).

    The bankers who collude to deceive their customers, as US bankers did with the MERS mortgage system, were permitted to do so by the unwillingness of government to regulate them

    okay: libertarian often oversimplify things when they talk to the public (guess why). It’s actually not true that less regulation is always good. Only ZERO regulation is always good. I don’t know this particular case (i’m not an American), but it’s possible that a very simple, not even 2 sentences long regulation might do more damage than 1000 pages long act.

    Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what’s wrong with governments that regulate.

    I don’t. Those libertarians who say that they believe in democracy usually use some unclear definitions for that word. But liberals are not much better in that respect.

    Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn’t exist without government in order to preach against the role of government?

    copyrights are no wealth. Peter Thiel uses copyrights given him by the government just as I use roads built by the governemnt. I remember a discussion with a liberal, who told me that I have no right to argue for private education, because I went to a public school. I won the argument, when I asked him what kind of school he attends. Obviously a private one :). By that logic he shouldn’t be allowed to argue for public education :)

    Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property?

    yes (any most libertarians believe it too).
    Natural resources (broadly understood – including “climate”) and patents are interesting examples, because they might be cases of prisoner’s dilemma. Government’s involvement would be then beneficial, but commandments would be even better.

    Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace?

    it is. But the real marketplace works, because you are the only one who puts things in your basket. Democracy is flawed because others make that decision for you, and put crap there.

    Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms?

    it’s libertarians who say that small is beautiful. and efficient.

    Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were “parasites”?

    she was 100% right.

    If you believe in the free market, why weren’t you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?

    “final judgment”? What is final about it? A small setback is nothing strange in business. I actually believe that will come out of this period stronger (“what doesn’t kill you…) and immunized against leftism for a few millenia :).

  93. Ichthyic says

    Actually collective bargaining is a special example, because it’s damaging to consumers (reminder: workers are consumers too).

    fail.

    this is what happens when someone only thinks in terms of lowest price = greatest benefit.

  94. bad Jim says

    Lame, lame, lame, like every libertarian utterance broadcast on the common good known as the Internet. The cognitive dissonance required by clicking “Submit Comment” automatically disqualifies the writer.

  95. Jacob Schmidt says

    And if someone along the chain feels screwed up, that’s his problem (unless he is literally forced to work).

    Indeed many are. You know, on threat of starvation? On threat of costly medical needs?

    That’s why collective bargaining (and labour unions ofc) should be forbidden.

    How do you foresee forbidding this without government regulation? You yourself admit that collective bargaining is an aspect of the market.

    The fear of hell will be sufficient, so there is no need for government

    You assert but you do not demonstrate.

    okay: libertarian often oversimplify things when they talk to the public (guess why).

    Because simplified nonsense sounds better than complex, contradictory nonsense.

    Only ZERO regulation is always good.

    Yet you want to ban collective bargaining; in that case, at least, zero regulation is bad.

    By that logic he shouldn’t be allowed to argue for public education :)

    I think you missed your opponents argument. This sentence here, of course, is nonsense, falling under the fallacy of false analogy.

    Government’s involvement would be then beneficial, but commandments would be even better.

    Yet another scenario where zero regulation leads to a bad outcomes (see also: contradictory nonsense).

    she was 100% right.

    Asserted without evidence; likewise dismissed.

    I actually believe that will come out of this period stronger (what doesn’t kill you…) and immunized against leftism for a few millenia

    Only a fool would take idioms seriously.

  96. Ingdigo Jump says

    The fact that Libertarianism doesn’t work is irrelevant.

    The key point is that they consider, even in an ideal system that starvation and ruiniate is a proper punishment for bad luck or incompetence.

    It’s efficacy is beside the point, it’s advocating the death penalty for failing buisness

  97. MJP says

    I used to be a libertarian several years ago, but now I’m a (left-wing) anarchist, which some of you may consider to be worse.

    I see most of the problems with libertarianism as rooted in their theory of property. Most of them hold to the Lockean theory of property (which has its own problems), but they don’t seem to realize that actually-existing property has never been based on Locke’s abstract principles, or the principles of any other libertarian theorist. They derive an is from an ought, while ignoring actual history.

  98. Ichthyic says

    it’s libertarians who say that small is beautiful. and efficient.

    how will you achieve such a thing with unfettered capitalism?

    have you ever looked at how businesses actually compete, even in the current regulatory framework?

    business does not encourage competition for its own sake. that kind of idealism never actually existed except maybe in science fiction shows like ST:NG.

  99. brianpansky says

    @112
    ihateliberals

    Only ZERO regulation is always good.

    i’d love to see that one backed up. (along with a definition of what is meant by “good”)

    @119

    “the small-setback depression”

  100. lpetrich says

    As to labor unions, you can tell what side they are on by which sorts of laws they object to. When has some self-styled libertarian objected to laws that hurt labor unions? They often object to laws that help labor unions, so that absence is remarkably revealing.

    As to “right to work” laws, those are laws against certain contracts that private entities can make, and libertarians ought to hate them.

  101. lpetrich says

    Over at Patheos Blogs, Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism has been doing a series on Atlas Shrugged. Its cartoonishness and its social and moral inversions are often remarkable.

    One of her heroes ordering a train to pass a broken signal.
    Her heroes being good-looking and her villains being bad-looking.
    “Rand’s protagonist Hank Rearden is in favor of child labor and doesn’t think pain or injury is a reason not to work.”
    “Hank Rearden sulks over having to see his wife on their wedding anniversary and despises his family for wanting to spend time with him.”
    AR’s heroes think that charity is utterly bizarre.
    AR’s corporate lobbyists try to become high-level government employees, rather than vice versa (the real world).
    One does not need government help to build infrastructure, and it’s perfectly OK to be violent to government officials who get in the way.
    Women shouldn’t be presidents because they need someone to look up to.
    AR wants it both ways: her heroes getting their positions by competence and by inheritance.
    Smoking: the taming of fire.
    Losers in competition deserve nothing less than absolute ruin.
    Francisco d’Anconia: a Mary Sue (Gary Stu?).
    Her male heroes like rough sex that’s not much different from rape.
    One of AR’s characters has a scheme for cheating the looters, as if doing so is completely fair game.

  102. consciousness razor says

    Above I gave an example of good regulation.

    You mean the eleventh commandment (and the other ten?), which forbids collective bargaining? Because I don’t see anything else that you might call a “regulation.”

    The fear of hell will be sufficient, so there is no need for government :).

    Spoken like a true tyrant. Never actually does anything useful for the society. No need for that, when you have the “freedom” to terrorize everyone into submission.

    “Death is nothing to us, since when we are death has not come, and when death has come we are not.” Blows your fucking fear out of the water, if you ask me.

    Only ZERO regulation is always good.

    *facepalm*

  103. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I notice many claims from liberturds, but not one citation to back up even one claim. It is all presuppositional. If you had evidence, you would lead with it. Instead we see nothing but evidenceless assertions, which can be dismissed since they aren’t evidence backed. Yawn. Just like any godbot/creobot pretending their imaginary deity exists, and their babble is inerrant….

  104. lpetrich says

    I’ve added to a famous dictionary that Bertrand Russell had included in his book History of Western Philosophy:

    Judeo-Xianity – Marxism – Randism

    Yahweh – Dialectical Materialism – Objectivism
    The Messiah – Karl Marx – Ayn Rand
    The Elect – The Proletariat – The Producers
    The Church – The Communist Party – The Chamber of Commerce?
    The Second Coming – The Revolution – The Shrugging?
    Hell – Punishment of the Capitalists – Ruin of the Looters
    The Millennium – The Communist Commonwealth – Galt’s Gulch

  105. says

    @ ihateliberals #112

    I’d rather be in the party of “lazy people” (though, really dude, citation fucking needed) than in the party of sociopathic assholes.

    Oh, you want a citation for why conservative Republicans–and especially the Libertarian wing–are sociopathic assholes? Well. We can start with your comment, move on to the “Let Him Die” moment complete with cheering from the Republican debate (and subsequent advocacy for policy which supports that view), turn to states that are making abortion impossible for low-income women while, at the same time, cutting health care, food, and welfare for mothers, so women can just, I dunno, slowly watch their children starve to death or die of treatable conditions (pro-life!)…I can keep going all day.

    You might be able to point to individual democrats that are “lazy”, sure. (Although, hey, I really don’t think Republicans want to play that game…) But do the policies Democrats advocate for and implement when they are in power support, say, widespread laziness? No. Do Republican policies reflect the fact that they’re all (okay, okay, not all–mostly, maybe) sociopathic assholes? Pretty much. I don’t have the time or the inclination to list out everything, but I’d start with the Republican party platform and then work my way through the various laws passed by Republican controlled states. Hell, check a list of quotes from the various candidates from the last couple elections. There’s really no way I could provide all of the examples.

    (Or maybe I’m just lazy?)

  106. Ichthyic says

    After reading “ihateliberals”, I’m betting mx89 has ripped large chunks of hair out.

    …and I feel fine….

  107. Ingdigo Jump says

    Losers in competition deserve nothing less than absolute ruin.

    Again this should be the first nail in Libertarian’s rotting worm ridden coffin.

    Bury it in the skeptic tank

  108. Ingdigo Jump says

    Given the amount of work organizing a union involves claiming lazy is pretty much just farting out your nose

  109. transenigma32 says

    Holy Hell is that thread crawling with libertarians. I just lost an hour of my life debating those fools. I love the pie-in-the-sky answers that I get:

    Me: If I don’t have skills that are in demand at the time of the market, I face starvation and death. The Market is a collective of individuals and entities that are constantly telling me what to do and how to do, and how to live, and what skills I need to learn. I thought Libertarianism was all about Personal Freedom – when your choices are “do this or die”, there’s no freedom. That’s slavery.

    (no response)

    [further upthread, same username]

    Me: Taxes are not theft. You consented to them the minute you joined society; think of society like a club, and the taxes are the membership fee. By demanding you be let into the club for free, you’re free loading on the rest of the club.

    Them: You can’t steal a man’s wallet and then calm the land around his house is part of the club.

    Me: … What? No, you were born into society. Ergo, you pay the membership, because if you don’t, you can leave.

    Them: So it’s all about the collective huh?

    Me: *blinks in astonishment*

    Collective Democratic Government is bad. Collective Authoritarian Market is good.

    What’s more, Libertarianism is destructive to capitalism. Capitalism requires people taking risks and introducing new things and ideas into the market place of free ideas and thoughts, so people can take those ideas and run with them, and make money. But if you know you’re going to loose your ass on an idea, and your entire life will be wrecked, you’re not going to take that risk. You’re not going to inject new ideas. So the only people who can inject new ideas become the people who can afford to take that risk, which is relatively few people. So with no new ideas, the market begins to stagnant. When it begins to stagnant, the power slips and it condenses into the hands of those who can move the market and make waves, but they chose not to because they’ve got enough as it is. Thus, Oligarchies are born. A regulated market, with a strong social network to catch people when they fall, is a necessity for any functioning capitalist economy.

    Ergo, the best capitalism is really socialism.

  110. Ichthyic says

    huh. I’m embarrassed to admit to thinking it might be cool to be able to fart out of my nose on demand.

    …depending on what I’ve recently ingested, anyway.

  111. consciousness razor says

    After reading “ihateliberals”, I’m betting mx89 has ripped large chunks of hair out.

    …and I feel fine….

    Yeah, I guess this doesn’t really need to be said.

    The article makes some valid points but also has a few straw-men. For example, on the question of unions, I don’t know of any libertarians who oppose the right to voluntary free association.

    Of course they don’t oppose it. They just want to forbid it. But not the ones you know of. The true libertarians™ that you know of think it (like democracy) interferes with market forces, when the point is that it is a market force. But of course you’re also totally okay with that interference, because all this crap about invisible hands and freedom and economic prosperity and such is just pure bullshit, crafted so you can get whatever you want.

  112. says

    You know, if there’s anything good to come from the last few years of Republican “leadership” in the House and various red states, it’s that things are suddenly a lot more clear.

    For years, Republicans were able to cloak themselves in the whole “Compassionate Conservative” guise, insisting that sure, they wanted to help the poor, they believed in equality, they just had a different view on how best to achieve that. Abortion restrictions sounded so reasonable…it was about protecting women and young girls, not about taking rights away and oppressing women. Welfare reform was framed as a way to help poor people…welfare was destroying communities, they just wanted to make it better. Of course they justice system wasn’t racist, see, we’re fixing it, we’re the party of Lincoln and civil rights. Etc. And people–like my Mom–bought into it. A huge problem for activists was just convincing people that there was a problem.

    Now, the problem is much more obvious. I don’t know if it’s the shock of having a black President or what, but Repbulicans have suddenly become much more honest. It’s impossible to hide the racism or the misogyny (not to mention the homophobia and classism, but they never hid that, much), and only the blindest of the hardcore ideologues will pretend it’s not there. Unfortunately, this has just emboldened hateful people, but it’s also caused a lot of people who had just been going with the flow to wake up and start resisting. It might turn out to be a net positive.

    So, hey, thanks for being honest, ihateliberals. You’re just making my job a lot easier.

  113. consciousness razor says

    Now, the problem is much more obvious. I don’t know if it’s the shock of having a black President or what, but Repbulicans have suddenly become much more honest. It’s impossible to hide the racism or the misogyny (not to mention the homophobia and classism, but they never hid that, much), and only the blindest of the hardcore ideologues will pretend it’s not there. Unfortunately, this has just emboldened hateful people, but it’s also caused a lot of people who had just been going with the flow to wake up and start resisting. It might turn out to be a net positive.

    I’d say the internet is partly responsible, for amplifying the voices of people you wouldn’t usually have heard on TV/radio/newspapers and generally improving the ways groups can organize and communicate.

    (No, I’m not complaining about the internet on the internet. Not right now. I’d say that’s generally a good thing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also come with negative consequences. I’m sure it’s promoted atheism too, for better or worse.)

  114. kittehserf says

    thecalmone @3:

    As an Australian, libertarianism was new to me until only recently when I was exposed to it via the Internet. As far as I can see it’s merely a cheap justification for personal selfishness. It exerts a powerful hold over many conservative US christians though, doesn’t it?

    Same here.

  115. says

    @ transenigma32 #131

    when your choices are “do this or die”, there’s no freedom. That’s slavery.

    That’s another element of reality Libertarians either can’t hand-wave away and make fools of themselves when they try. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have a group of people, growing in number and proportion of the human population, who can only live by wage employment. In the much of the world this now constitutes the overwhelming majority of the population. Think of the economy as Jabba the Libertarian kindergarten teacher: when he has the children play musical chairs, he shoots the losers. But it does not matter because at a later point in time when more chairs need to be filled there will be more kids to fill them. Workers as a “renewable resource.”

    More and more people have to compete with each other to see who can work for the least. Where’s the freedom and liberty? Libertarianism becomes elitist, justifying a “get rich or die trying” world. Those born well-off don’t have to worry about the dying bit – that’s for the rest of us.

  116. yubal says

    There is this thing to a “free market” that I, as a biologist, fancy. However, the market I see or the one that is proposed by libertarians is not a free market.

    A free market that is run by vendors and buyers lacks the contribution of the producers and eventually the one of the consumers.

    In a world that knows wall-mart, which market is free? A cornered market?

    Take home message is, a free market might actually be a good idea, but where does it exist? I haven’t seen a single approach how to realize a really free market, yet.

  117. Ichthyic says

    I haven’t seen a single approach how to realize a really free market, yet.

    well, you could get rid of the need for money.

    but then, I guess it wouldn’t even BE a “market” any more, would it.

  118. yubal says

    @ Ichthyic

    Well, yes, it wouldn’t.

    However, a free unrestricted exchange is what we actually need in order to distribute the goods we have locally.

    Can I hear a proposal how that can be accomplished without free trade? In an efficient manner?

  119. mx89 says

    @128:

    Godammit.

    Well, I’m not going to waste any more time offering tepid defences for them when the first self-declared libertarian in the thread is named ihateliberals and is either trolling or a complete moron.

    I still hold that the ideology is fairly consistent, though, getting away from the terribleness of it. Though I guess I can’t exactly say the Salon piece uses strawmen when one of them just became flesh and blood a few posts up.

    I remember the real shut-down of right-libertarians comes from Proudhon’s notion of original appropriation: that is, all private property must be at some point taken from the commons with government backing (oh noes forcible theft!!!!). If you like taking walks in the forest and somebody builds a factory there, you lose out on the ability to use that property. The compensation that society has worked out is tax, collected nominally on behalf of the commons from the property owner: otherwise wealth and property would accumulate into fewer and fewer hands.

    I like the Henry George land tax personally (or geolibertarianism) but that’s out of fashion pretty much everywhere.

  120. yubal says

    well, you could get rid of the need for money.

    Then how would you put a value on the the trade goods without being totally inefficient?

    There is always “another thing” than money you could use, that would eventually turn into “money” if used for that purpose.

  121. Ichthyic says

    Can I hear a proposal how that can be accomplished without free trade? In an efficient manner?

    replicators?

  122. Ichthyic says

    oh, btw, sorry if it isn’t clear I stopped taking this discussion seriously after “Ihateliberals” edumacated me.

    I’m now fully committed to the ST:NG model economy.

  123. yubal says

    where does the energy to feed the replicator come from? A whole bunch of hypotheticals doesn’t really help here.

  124. says

    @ Ichthyic #147

    oh, btw, sorry if it isn’t clear I stopped taking this discussion seriously after “Ihateliberals” edumacated me.

    I’m now fully committed to the ST:NG model economy.

    Now that’s a philosophical discussion I could get behind! Which Star Trek civilization has the best functioning economic system?

    My father insists that one of the main points of ST:DS9 is that Ferengi economics are both more moral and more practical than the Federation’s.

  125. Ichthyic says

    but i thought the federation by that point had stopped using money all together; no more need for it because: replicators.

  126. Ingdigo Jump says

    The Ferengi being more moral can only come from one bit where Quark defends them claiming they’re better than humans.

    Of course you have to take note that Quark is full of crap and his speech is a blatant lie (or profoundly ignorant of Ferengi history).

    He claimed the Ferengi had no past warmongering, slavery or genocide. Immediately false as in DS9 they treat females (FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEMALES) as property. Not to mention we see plenty of trigger happy or aggressive Fenergi pirates, arms dealers, etc.

    Quark gets a slight comeuppance for this when he’s forced to face financial ruin over letting a sadistic rival kill him because he got conned into signing a bad contract.

    Also remember the rules of Acquisition “A contract is a contract is a contract….but only between Ferengi”

  127. Ingdigo Jump says

    The energy’s from the matter/antimatter core or subspace energy flux+zero point energy

    Goddamn I am ashamed to know this

  128. Ingdigo Jump says

    @Ichthyic

    Subspace/Zeropoint energy flux
    matter/antimatter reactor
    Contained micro singularity reactor
    Crystal gazing hippy power of thought bullshit.

  129. chigau (カオス) says

    Ingdigo
    something switched
    I didn’t understand most of that libertarian yadayada but Ferengi I grok.
    (even though that mixes wildly disparate timelines)

  130. Ichthyic says

    meh, one imaginary economic visualization is the same as another.

    liberatarians… ferengi… same thing.

  131. says

    @ Ingdigo Jump

    Yeah, the problem with Quark’s speech is that it requires you to completely ignore everything we previously learned about Ferengi back in ST:TNG…you know, when they were supposed to be the new “Kingons”, before everyone realized they could only ever be comic relief.

    I mean, on its own, it’s an interesting thought…Quark insists the Ferengi would never have gotten involved in war that was killing millions of people because there’s no profit in warfare, and so they would have sat down with the Dominion from start and hammered out a deal, regardless of how long it took. (Except…the Ferengi, as introduced in TNG, were a very warlike people, so.) And I think there’s something to the fact that the Federation is often only the “Good Guy” because of perspective. (Also, that they suck at diplomacy.) So while I wouldn’t go as far as my dad, I do think one of the points of DS9 (maybe unintentionally, though?) was showing that the Federation wasn’t always good, and they could be warlike, oppressive, and discriminatory too.

    Or, bringing this somewhat closer on topic: even without money and capitalism, in the ultimate technology-driven utopia, you can still have systemic inequality and human rights abuses. It’s again why I have little patience with any of the movements that (in my opinion, obviously) are fantasy-based…Libertarianism, Communism, anarchy…they all depend on a belief in human nature that I don’t think is shown in reality. Any system that doesn’t acknowledge and have ways of dealing with the fact that there are just some people who don’t care about the ‘have-nots’, who don’t care if they succeed at the cost of someone else (or who even feel that makes the success so much sweeter), who will always take advantage of any loophole…you’re only creating a society where the weaker are preyed upon. As always. In my view, progress necessarily entails moving beyond that.

    (Sorry, Mods…I am trying not to totally derail the thread with OT silliness!)

  132. chigau (カオス) says

    Erin #166
    There are no ‘mods’.
    and as Ichthyic noted ‘imaginary’ is not a problem.

  133. thelastholdout says

    The comments in reply to me proved my point beautifully. Without knowing anything about me, I was called an idiot, dismissed, and otherwise subjected to some pretty nasty commentary. Why should I waste any effort actually explaining the reasoning behind my views? You won’t listen anyway.

    My original purpose for commenting was just noting that the overall attitude towards libertarians/anarchists smacks of a complete lack of critical thinking. I have nothing more to say to any of you beyond that.

  134. Ichthyic says

    The comments in reply to me proved my point beautifully.

    uh huh.

    run along and play now, Billy.

    Grown ups talking.

  135. Ichthyic says

    Without knowing anything about me

    you forgot to add: except for what you wrote

    which was plenty to judge the level of your understanding on and dismiss it as ignorant and childish.

    gratz if that was your goal.

  136. says

    @ transenigma32 #131

    What’s more, Libertarianism is destructive to capitalism. Capitalism requires people taking risks and introducing new things and ideas into the market place of free ideas and thoughts, so people can take those ideas and run with them, and make money. But if you know you’re going to loose your ass on an idea, and your entire life will be wrecked, you’re not going to take that risk.

    QFT. IMHO, this does not get pointed out enough. It’s absolutely true, and destroys much of the Libertarian argument.

    Like, true story: I want to open a bookstore. If I could do anything I wanted, risk-free, I would run a bookstore. A used bookstore, with a large selection of leftist books, feminist and queer theory books, writers of color, etc. (But not exclusively–there would have to be a sci-fi section, too.) And not just a used bookestore…it would also be a cafe, a community center. Rooms in the back for meetings and classes. A safe, fun place for teens to hang out after school. A place for activists to gather, network, meet-up, plan. I don’t care if it makes money, I just want to be able to break even and maybe live in a little apartment above the shop. That is my absolute dream.

    But there are a lot of reasons why that won’t happen, and a lot of it comes down to our society. Even though I’m fairly young, don’t have any college debt like other kids my age, I still am drowning in debt. What, did I go nuts with the credit cards, buy a lot of cars, maybe a house I couldn’t afford? Well, no, I got sick. I had multiple surgeries, hospital stays, and a several-month stay in a skilled nursing facility. And I was lucky, because I had medical insurance, but I still owe tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. It was up to over 50,000 last time I checked, but my father has taken to hiding the bills before I can see them because they were making me more sick, literally, and they’re trying to work on appeals and that sort of thing. (Hey, fun fact! Did you know that if I had run up big credit card debt or bought a house or something that I could declare bankruptcy, but since they’re medical bills, I’m not allowed to? Because that makes sense.) There is zero way I will ever be able to get a loan. I can’t even get a cell phone.

    My entire family is lower-middle class. My parents barely broke the poverty line the whole time I was growing up (and they just slipped below it again), and the extended family that I have who are considered “rich” are decidedly middle class. They just own their homes, which is something of a novelty. So there’s no start-up money coming from them. And, y’know, even if I did get handed a huge amount of no-strings-attached money, enough to start up a bookstore…I’d go the smart route and a) pay off my bills and b) pay for school, where I’d major in something safe, that will give me the best chance of being able to get and stay employed. Because that is the economic reality I live in.

    I know what it’s like to go without electricity, to have the water turned off, to not have enough food. It was a shitty, scary time. (And actually, we’re currently going through something very similar, thanks to the sequester and other issues.) I won’t risk going back there. It’s terrifying enough as it is, being disabled. Right now I have support from my parents, but I know that’s not going to last forever. And maybe I’ll get better someday and be able to have a career, and maybe not. But even if I was physically up to it, I still wouldn’t open that bookstore.

    When we’re kids, they tell us to “follow your dreams!” and “you can be whatever you want to be!” and that is just. not. true. Maybe if I lived in a different society, where the repercussions from failing at business (or having a medical emergency or chronic illness) weren’t so devastating, where middle class parents who worked hard their whole lives could save up a chunk of money for their kids to use to go to school or use as a down payment (like my grandparents), I’d have a different perspective. Maybe I’d be taking night classes in business and working on my plans to open my own place.

    But in this reality, I–like many other people, more brilliant than me, who have wonderful ideas for new products or ways to do business–lack both the opportunity and security of starting my own business.

  137. says

    The Ayn Rand club has unfortunately stolen the center stage of libertarianism, which is supposed to be rooted in the Non-Coercion Principle (or Non-Aggression Principle) — that the use of force is inherently wrong and the purpose of government is to protect people from coercive situations. Anarcho-capitalism is just one extreme, noisy and hopelessly flawed interpretation of that principle.

  138. piegasm says

    So while I wouldn’t go as far as my dad, I do think one of the points of DS9 (maybe unintentionally, though?) was showing that the Federation wasn’t always good, and they could be warlike, oppressive, and discriminatory too.

    I think it was intentional as evidenced by their dealings with the Maquis. They helped Cardassia obliterate the Maquis and imprisoned a lot of people for the apparent crime of wanting to protect their homes and families from Cardassian agression which would not have been a problem had the Federation not sold them up the river to Cardassia in the first place.

    Also, in the interest of being at least kinda sorta on topic:

    It’s interesting how someone can turn up,

    It’s funny how people think they can turn up, say nothing at all meaningful and even patently absurd things like implying that all government employees are inherently biased in favor of the government as opposed to…idunno…collecting a paycheck because they have to have some way to put food on the table, and then be indignant when people dismiss them as ignorant. And then refuse to in any way elaborate on their “point” because, obviously, the last thing you want to do when you feel you’ve been dismissed unfairly is show anyone that they’re wrong to dismiss you. Obviously the mature, polite, rational thing to do is throw a tantrum about how mean everyone is for not being suitably awed by your complete lack of a coherent argument.

  139. says

    @ thelastholdout #168

    My original purpose for commenting was just noting that the overall attitude towards libertarians/anarchists smacks of a complete lack of critical thinking.

    The problem is that libertarians in general–oh, and your comment, specifically–display a complete lack of critical thinking. So many of us feel it would a total waste to do anything but respond in kind.

    And look! You ignored all those who’ve made very substantial points through the entire discussion! So, really you’ve just proved my point…trying to make rational arguments is obviously a waste, because you’ll just ignore or mischaracterize them.

    Sometimes, it’s just easier to point and laugh. Especially with Libertarians! They have a real talent for scoring argumentative own goals. Often, you don’t even need to provide any commentary or counter-point…merely quote back the Libertarian’s own words, and they’ll make your point for you!

  140. chigau (違う) says

    Erin #174
    # 167 was not meant as a threat. sorry.
    and you know where the Lounge is.
    (we have chocolate and kittens)

  141. Ichthyic says

    So many of us feel it would a total waste to do anything but respond in kind.

    Thread title:

    Talking smack at libertarians

    just taking the appropriate tack, imo.

    :)

  142. laurentweppe says

    I wouldn’t dismiss Adam Smith like you do; he’s not really a libertarian ally

    I never said Smith was a libertarian ally, I said libertarians were Smith’s fanboys.: huge difference.

    ***

    The principle similarity between the communist ideologues of the mid-20th century and the present-day Libertarians is that both hold their “system” as infallible

    Actualy, the main similarities between the two types of ideologues is that they are the lackeys of sociopaths who see humanity as cattle and fucktoys to be disposed at the whims of a self-proclaimed intellectual elite composed exclusively of people like themselves

  143. says

    Without the government-created corporation there would be no limited liability.

    Own a single share of Chevron stock? I’m suing your ass for the chemical eye and lung irritation I was diagnosed with after last year’s accident near me. And the increased local cancer and asthma rates that have always existed since the plant opened 100 years ago.

    Or because I don’t like the color of the Chevron logo. Whatever.

    Oh, you DO like the government-created and licensed entity known as the corporation?
    Well, what government creates and licenses it can set the rules for. It can regulate.

    Can’t have it both ways, kids.

  144. says

    Ha….sorry…that was in reference to knowing how the replicators are powered….

    @EEB — thanks for the reality. Always needed in a thread like this. I hope things start getting better for yourself and your parents. I think libertarians typically have a totally atomized view of humans. Each one a completely pristine sphere with no ties…no needs attached, no pain of a loved one you want to help and try to but can’t… the detachment with which they talk about difficulties…hardship seems only possible if you’ve never lived through it or seen a loved one suffer.

  145. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @chigau #157

    So we’ve switched from discussing Libertarians to discussing Ferengi.
    I approve.

    IANAT; but from what little I know of Ferengi culture, I fail to see the difference.

  146. Anri says

    thelastholdout:

    The comments in reply to me proved my point beautifully.

    Let’s examine that claim, shall we?

    Without knowing anything about me, I was called an idiot, dismissed, and otherwise subjected to some pretty nasty commentary.

    The only thing we know about you is what you said in your comment.
    You stated that a government employee could not have a sensible opinion about libertarianism, and that PZ was unfamiliar with libertarian thought. As these are both idiotic and dismissible, you were called an idiot and dismissed.
    If you don’t want to be called an idiot, stop saying idiotic things.
    As far as being treated nastily, it says in the rules that this is a rude blog. If that hurts your fee-fees, you’re not commenting in the right place.

    Why should I waste any effort actually explaining the reasoning behind my views? You won’t listen anyway.

    It’s hard to listen to things that are unsaid.
    Yanno what else it says in the rules? This:

    Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.

    Saying “you’re wrong, but I ain’t gonna tell you why!” is not the mark of someone who is interested in serious conversation. It’s idiotic and dismissible. Hence the response.

    My original purpose for commenting was just noting that the overall attitude towards libertarians/anarchists smacks of a complete lack of critical thinking. I have nothing more to say to any of you beyond that.

    One of the most irritating things about libertarians – and this gets mentioned in every single thread in which we encounter libertarians – is that they are all convinced we have never before encountered a libertarian. This usually morphs in a comment or two from never met one to never met a real one and from there to well, all the ones you encountered were wrong, and distressingly often to I am the only TRUE libertarian.
    We have, in fact, heard dozens of libertarians splurt forth their views, and expound on them at length. We treat libertarians as idiotic and dismissible not because we dislike them, but because we have found, without exception, that their views are idiotic and dismissible.
    If you have an exception, we’d live to hear it.

    But I’m willing to bet you don’t.
    The thing about rational thought is that is can lead to a tentative conclusion. You’ve experienced one in regards to libertarianism. Provide a counter-example or shut up.

  147. Nick Gotts says

    Non-Coercion Principle (or Non-Aggression Principle) — that the use of force is inherently wrong and the purpose of government is to protect people from coercive situations – cjwinstead

    1) How is government* to protect people from coercive situations without:
    a) The use or threat of coercion, e.g. a police force to prevent violent crime, armed forces to resist external attack.
    b) The resources to maintain the means of coercion, i.e. taxation – which, of course, implies the use or threat of coercion to collect taxes.
    2) Force is by no means the only form of coercion. Withholding necessary resources unless someone does what you want is also a form of coercion**. Failure to admit this is the fundamental hypocrisy of libertarianism.

    *The same question applies in slightly different form for anarchists, if they deny the need for some form of coercion in a society without government.
    **Note that unlike libertarians, I am not pretending to believe that coercion is always wrong.

  148. says

    For me, the problem with Libertarianism is the blithe dismissal of the social contract. It inverts the relationship between the individual and society, and insists society is dependent on the individual, rather than the the other way ’round. In reality, the individual is dependent on society.

    At its best, government is the expression of the social contract. This includes regulation and enforcement, planning of common infrastructure, management of shared resources, and support for those in need. Regulation is necessary because someone will always try to game the system. Planning is necessary for efficient creation and maintenance of common infrastructure. Management of shared resources is necessary to maintain those resources and guard against overuse or poisonous side-effects.

    In Bangkok, there are many telephone providers. Back in the day of land-lines, instead of a single telephone wire, there were bundles of wires, each from a different provider. Sometimes an installer from one company would accidentally cut a competitor’s wire.

    That is libertarianism.

    Once I was in Cleveland during rush-hour when the power went out downtown. All the traffic signals were out. Instead of people nicely taking turns at the intersections, they tried to push through the intersections, blocking opposing traffic. The result was gridlock for hours, even after the police (government employees) came to direct traffic (regulation). What should’ve been a 15-minute exodus from the city took three hours.

    That is libertarianism.

    The repeal of Glass-Steagall allowed investment bankers and speculative finance bankers to merge operations. This resulted in an over-inflated real estate market, and the subsequent poison-pill hiding of bad loans in bundles sold to other banks. This was a major contributing factor to a recent economic collapse.

    That is libertarianism.

    The thesis that regulation is bad runs against the evidence. When regulations are repealed, bad things often happen. That isn’t to say some regulations do more harm than good, and should be repealed. But the evidence clearly shows that regulation is necessary to help curtail the gaming of the system.

  149. notsont says

    Force is by no means the only form of coercion. Withholding necessary resources unless someone does what you want is also a form of coercion**. Failure to admit this is the fundamental hypocrisy of libertarianism.

    Ahhh but resources are limitless and you can just walk over…There… and get your own resources. Or in otherwords “fuck you, I’ve got mine!”

    When talking with a libertarian I came to realize they live in a world where resources are unlimited and easily obtained. I had at first thought this was because they were deluded, but eventually came to realize that it was because only “the true people” (them and people like them) are entitled to resources so obviously there are plenty of resources they just aren’t distributed right.

  150. says

    I don’t think that is quite right, libertarianism is comfortable with the idea of social contracts so long as they are not coerced. That means you can opt out. On that they have something important to say, the idea of a social contract that you cannot leave is not a very satisfactory one.

    There are few ways of leaving society. Becoming a wealthy shut-in might be one. Going out into the wilds of Alaska might be another. But as long as you are taking advantage of the benefits of society, you are accepting the social contract. Ignoring the cost of participating in society while reaping the benefits of society is not a valid way of opting out of the contract. It seems you are indeed trying to invert the relationship of individual to society.

    And as Nick Gotts pointed out, there are many forms of coercion. I watched as Microsoft used its dominant market position (granted as proxy by IBM) to coerce distributors to eschew competitors’ products in favor of its own. Economic power can be used for coercion. Often, far more effectively than government regulation, but usually only for the benefit of the economically powerful.

    Again, it’s demonstrably true that regulation isn’t just necessary, but in general, good. Until you can demonstrate how a society will function and survive without regulation, state coercion in the form of regulatory enforcement is our best option, based on available evidence.

    Randianism is very much the fringe, there is a tradition of libertarian thought, though, from Hayek, through Nozick and Rothbard which really is worth engaging in and which makes very telling critiques of the authoritarian streak in liberalism and other ideologies, as well as the weakness of the state as a tool to achieve social change.

    Any ideology can have an authoritarian streak. Including Libertarianism. In my experience, liberal authoritarianism is targeted to the enforcement of a decent social contract, one that is beneficial not only to those with economic power, but those with no power at all. Basically, those that libertarianism would abandon.

    Libertarian authoritarianism manifests in economic power. Those with the power get to make the decisions. Seems to me that’s indistinguishable from a plutocracy.

    The state itself is not a tool for social change. In fact, the state should be resistant to social change, at least change that comes from within the state itself. Ideally, the state reflects the social contract, so social change should come from the people, from society. (Yes, this is an ideal, and reality is much messier.)

    While this requires individuals to participate in their own governance, and certainly isn’t perfect, it’s a lot better than trusting the economically powerful to make social decisions for us.

    Or: I’ll take a messed-up democratic republic over a plutocracy any day.

  151. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, nothing but theory from the libertudism defender. It would be nice to show evidence to back up your inane and unworkable theories. That is the problem of liberturdism. No evidence, just theology.

  152. says

    The comments in reply to me proved my point beautifully. Without knowing anything about me, I was called an idiot, dismissed, and otherwise subjected to some pretty nasty commentary. Why should I waste any effort actually explaining the reasoning behind my views? You won’t listen anyway.

    Do you have novel reasons?

    My original purpose for commenting was just noting that the overall attitude towards libertarians/anarchists smacks of a complete lack of critical thinking. I have nothing more to say to any of you beyond that.

    Beautiful. “You don’t understand critical thinking because you insulted me”. Love the lack of self awareness.

  153. says

    John Meredith:

    I think it is a sleight of hand to describe as a ‘contract’ something that you are forced to accept. This is a problem that most social contractarians accept at some level and I think it is a fair criticism.

    It’s a fair criticism, but the alternative is far less fair — people who take advantage of society without abiding by the rules that allow society to function.

    That is not to say that there is a practical alternative to some kind of authoritarian social structure, but we may be able to mitigate the coercive power of the state and we should recognise how far reaching that power is.

    Exactly. I agree completely with this. I suspect we both would criticize the government over the use of the NSA, DHS, the CIA, and probably even the use of drones to attack citizens of foreign countries. There is a massive overreach of state power. Ideally, we should be able to correct this through our collective participation in our own governance.

    I am not quite sure what you mean by this.I think that societies owe their legitimacy to the individuals that constitute them. That is pretty much the basis of the common law tradition of the UK and US. You would not want to say the opposite, would you?

    I believe a careful reading of my previous posts indicate I’m not contradicting those traditions. I’ve stated clearly that state power is legitimized by the aggregate will of the society it represents. However, what you seem to claim is that an individual may legitimately ignore that same state power simply because they don’t agree.

    An individual has the right, even the duty, to help change society. They do not have the right to opt out of the responsibilities of citizenship.

    I don’t quite agree. Yes there are benefits for the weak and poor, but overwhelmingly liberal states function to drive money and power into the hands of the ruling class and to protect its privileges. Libertarian critiques of state power have been very good at revealing the mechanism of this, especially Rothbard.

    I’ve not read Rothbard. Perhaps I should. But if this is so, why do more liberal countries (such as Norway) have a more even wealth distribution than the US, for instance?

    Perhaps for some values of ‘libertarian’, but not for all. There is a left libertarian tradition with Marxist roots, that would undermine plutocracy much more that current arrangements.

    Is this Rothbard, again? Or do I need to add someone else to my reading list?

  154. says

    John Meredith:

    Libertariansim does not require an end to regulation, but would tend to minimise it and to minimise the state’s role in it.

    I can understanding minimizing regulation, but how do you define minimal? What is the rubric by which you judge just the right regulation from too much regulation? What is the goal of the regulation?

    Also, what other kind of agency can legitimately and effectively enforce the (minimal) regulations?

    I called this out from my other answer because I think it’s an important point. I believe we agree on one of the essentials (that some regulations are bad, and too much regulation creates a bureaucratic nightmare in which you can’t help but break some regulation somewhere). But it really seems like your argument rests on everyone behaving as a perfect agent, and unscrupulous people won’t game the system for the own benefit at the expense of others.

    What is the minimal amount of regulation required to keep people from gaming the system?

  155. Ogvorbis says

    John Meredith:

    Discussions about political theory are going to tend to be a bit, well, theoretical but I will help if I can.

    This is a serious question and illustrates my biggest concern with libertarianism.

    If businesses are deregulated completely, or almost completely, and allowed free reign to engage in fully free market solutions, what are the actual mechanisms (not just the magic hand of the free market, but the actual way it could happen) that would:

    1. prevent a company’s management team gutting the company for personal short-term profit (profit which can set them up for a life-time of ease)?

    2. create anything that is safer (physical and environmental safety) rather than just cheaper to produce (virtually every safety improvement in, say, automobiles is a direct result of government intervention and, in case you haven’t noticed, despite more cars and higher speeds, far fewer people are being killed on US highways)?

    3. prevent a company destroying the environment (remember that environmental degradation is not confined to one’s private property. for instance, there is a mine in Idaho that has poisoned twenty miles of a creek with arsenic to the point that, on private or federal land, it is dangerous to one’s health to even walk on the soil. And 99% of that is outside the original mine claim.)

    4. ensure that a company, which is, under regulation, doing everything in their power to avoid safety and environmental regulations, will actually spend money on safety and environmental concerns which will be a negative influence on the profits of that corporation (in other words, what is the actual mechanism under which, with no regulations, companies will start doing on their own what they are willing to spend lots of money on lobbyists, lawyers and fines to avoid doing now?)

    Again, what are the actual economic mechanisms that will ensure that a company under no regulations will be safer or cleaner?

  156. says

    John Meredith:

    I think this is the point where libertarians and liberals start to part company (I think we were using different definitions of ‘liberal’ earlier on, by the way, and Atlantic divide thing).

    D’oh!

    You’re right. That was a confounding factor. Makes some of my responses look naive.

    In fact, with just a little bit of tweaking, your version of Libertarianism isn’t much different from my version of liberalism. (The US flavor … er, flavour.) It seems more a difference of judging the right kind and amount of regulations, and the methods of enforcement.

    I could be wrong, but that’s how it seems to me.

    Not because people are wicked, but because institutional forces will inevitably lead them towards working for their group interests at the expense of the wider society.

    The same can be said for Libertarianism. Just the group interest is maintenance of economic power. (Note this is not a problem specific or unique to Libertarianism. It just seems this is another issue that Libertarianism fails to adequately address.)

    The ‘left’ libertarianism I was banging on about accepts the libertarian critique and looks to minimuise the state but maintain massive redistribytion through some version of the ‘Citizen’s Wage’.

    Understandable. Something like universal welfare, only without the stigma associated with that here in the US.

    British Marxist economics blogger Chris Dillow is very good on all this (very good in general actually), I recommend him if you are interested and you don’t already know him. His blog is called Stumbling and Mumbling.

    Thanks. I’ll check up on this.

  157. Jacob Schmidt says

    I don’t deny that these are difficult questions, and technical too, but as a general rule, the way to avoid gaming of a system is to have less system, no?

    Possibly. It’s also possible that the system needs to be that complex to handle specific cases that don’t fall under the simple rules. By your reasoning, “no system” is the best since it can never be gamed.

  158. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Discussions about political theory are going to tend to be a bit, well, theoretical but I will help if I can.

    Liberturds don’t discuss, they preach their morally bankrupt gospel, a gospel that isn’t backed up by reality. Keep preaching preacher, but you say nothing to change our minds until you stop preaching and start presenting evidence your theology works. And do date, since April 2008, not one liberturd has been able to demonstrate the theology works.

  159. says

    John Meredith:

    I don’t deny that these are difficult questions, and technical too, but as a general rule, the way to avoid gaming of a system is to have less system, no? That is the logic behind the constant (failing) calls for a simpler taxation system.

    The easiest system to game is one without rules.

    I question the calls for simpler regulation and simpler taxation. My experience is generally limited to the US, but here, proposals to simplify the tax code invariably benefit the wealthy more than the poor.

    While I think we are very close on several goals, I suspect the fundamental difference is one of approach. The kinds of changes you suggest require significant and fundamental social changes, and, lacking a good framework for controlling the unscrupulous, a perhaps-utopian change in human nature. I’m not claiming a decent minimal libertarian-ideal regulatory structure is impossible. I guess I just haven’t seen a viable proposal yet.

    I’m glad to see there are libertarians that are not of the “Screw you, I’ve got mine” variety. I suspect our ideal cultures would be similar, which is patently untrue of the run-of-the-mill US libertarians. Our divergence seems to be in the methods used to achieve that ideal culture.

    (Me, I think the ideal itself is impossible, but it’s worth the incremental changes necessary to get us as close as possible.)

    Anyway, it’s been good discussing this with you. Now I really have to get to work. This code ain’t gonna write itself (in spite of all the promises from the AI folks decades ago).

    Take care, and thanks again for the reading list.

  160. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    JohnMeredith appears to have been banned. Why?

  161. keithm says

    They helped Cardassia obliterate the Maquis and imprisoned a lot of people for the apparent crime of wanting to protect their homes and families from Cardassian agression which would not have been a problem had the Federation not sold them up the river to Cardassia in the first place.

    Not really true. The situation was that they were in systems that had changed ownership due to a peace treaty, and they’d been offered to be relocated but had decided to take their chances, after being warned what could happen.

    It was a situation where there were no good options, which made it interesting from a plot point of view.

  162. Ogvorbis says

    John Meredith is a sock for TorquilMacNeil.

    Makes sense.

    If any other adherent to libertarianism wants to answer my 201, I’d love to find out just what the mechanisms are.

  163. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    Oh, I remember that detestable arsewipe. Well, I remember arguing with him about something, but there’ve been so many arguments this past month… He was a Dawkins fanboy, right?

  164. David Marjanović says

    Libertarianism (of the american variety) is also disgustingly popular with the PirateParty crowds in Europe. I spend a few weeks dealing with German Ron Paul fans and AGW denialists on the German PP forum before giving up in disgust

    Interesting, because right now the German Pirate Party is campaigning for a guaranteed basic income for everyone.

    I think the best description I’ve heard of (American-style) libertarianism is that it’s the conservative equivalent of Communism.

    Not just “equivalent”. As hinted at in comments 90, 100 and 126, it is communism with opposite signs.

    I also like the short section called “Libertarians” not quite 3/4 down this page.

    it’s libertarians who say that small is beautiful. and efficient.

    So, the greatest force for capitalism in the world is the EU Commissioner for Competition, who has the power to forbid megamergers and is not afraid to use it.

    I burp in your general direction!

    either trolling or a complete moron

    Or both! :-)

    Libertarian authoritarianism manifests in economic power. Those with the power get to make the decisions.

    The golden rule: the one with the gold makes the rules.

  165. says

    1) How is government* to protect people from coercive situations without:
    a) The use or threat of coercion, e.g. a police force to prevent violent crime, armed forces to resist external attack.
    b) The resources to maintain the means of coercion, i.e. taxation – which, of course, implies the use or threat of coercion to collect taxes.
    2) Force is by no means the only form of coercion. Withholding necessary resources unless someone does what you want is also a form of coercion**. Failure to admit this is the fundamental hypocrisy of libertarianism.

    *The same question applies in slightly different form for anarchists, if they deny the need for some form of coercion in a society without government.
    **Note that unlike libertarians, I am not pretending to believe that coercion is always wrong.

    -Nick Gotts

    I agree that libertarianism suffers a number of limitations as a theory of moral and political foundations. My point (also made by some others in this thread) is that “libertarianism” is a broader term characterized by the non-aggression principle; it is not strictly associated with the version that happens to be dominant in the US over the past decade. The Randians have already ruined one perfectly good word, “Objectivism,” and I don’t think they should get to run another.

    I think proper libertarianism is extremely useful for many types of moral and political decisions, whether “coercion” is unambiguous. A number of controversial issues are well addressed by libertarian’s emphasis on self-ownership. For example, gay rights and church-state separation are very logical outcomes from a libertarian position. Beyond these simple cases, discussion of “coercion” becomes significantly more nuanced. I personally might be called a “left libertarian” in that I believe coercion is an inherent consequence of property ownership. Nevertheless, I would say that the best regulation (whatever it may be) is one which minimizes peoples’ exposure to coercion. It isn’t as simple as arithmetic and I don’t claim to deduce all public policy solutions from this theory; but this is my libertarianism and I’d like to reclaim the word from the crazies.

  166. Ogvorbis says

    Nevertheless, I would say that the best regulation (whatever it may be) is one which minimizes peoples’ exposure to coercion.

    But wouldn’t maximizing regulation of private corporations have the effect of minimizing peoples’ exposure to coercion, especially economic coercion?

  167. Brother Yam says

    I love how Libertarians are here to do the heavy lifting of making society after the roads, bridges, sewers, etc. are built. They’re like the guys that carry up the sheet music after you’ve moved the piano up seven flights of stairs…

  168. says

    But wouldn’t maximizing regulation of private corporations have the effect of minimizing peoples’ exposure to coercion, especially economic coercion?

    “Number of regulations” is not a relevant variable. The relevant variables are availability of personal choice and exposure to coercion. Regulations are not coercive in the same sense as a deceitful contract or a drugged beverage. Regulations are just the rules of the game. Having said that, I think regulations should be simple enough for the average person to fully understand with a modest amount of study. Regulations become coercive when they are so confusing that they interfere with informed decision making, or when they are so severe that they restrict informed choice more than they protect it.

  169. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Regulations become coercive when they are so confusing that they interfere with informed decision making, or when they are so severe that they restrict informed choice more than they protect it.

    Funny how liberturds always think they always have the most informed choice, when they are very ignorant in real life.

  170. says

    Funny how liberturds always think they always have the most informed choice, when they are very ignorant in real life. –OM Troll

    Given that this is one of the only times I’ve chosen to comment after more than a year reading Pharyngula, it would be nice to be met with some constructive discussion.

  171. says

    chigau-

    Yes, I have read the commenting rules. In particular this one: “If you spot a violation of these rules or attitudes, here’s what you can do: Point it out in a comment of your own. Call out bad behavior.”

  172. Nick Gotts says

    I personally might be called a “left libertarian” in that I believe coercion is an inherent consequence of property ownership. Nevertheless, I would say that the best regulation (whatever it may be) is one which minimizes peoples’ exposure to coercion. It isn’t as simple as arithmetic and I don’t claim to deduce all public policy solutions from this theory; but this is my libertarianism and I’d like to reclaim the word from the crazies. – cjwinstead@215

    I think you’re too late. I’m old enough to remember when (at least in Britain), a self-identified “libertarian” would generally be of the left, in fact the terms was a near-synonym for anarchist, and most British anarchists were anarchist communists (there were a few Stirnirites around). But the right have stolen and dirtied the word irretrievably, I’m afraid.

    BTW, local practice is not to use ableist terms, and while “crazies” could be argued to have lost its potential for splash damage to those with psychiatric illness, it’s best avoided if you don’t want to piss people off unnecessarily.

  173. guthriestewart says

    Nigel the bold #199 and after-

    left libertarianism is the modern label for what was always called libertarianism in Europe – it was, roughly speaking, an anarchist/ communist/ socialist approach, against big government and corporations, against “free markets” run by such organisations, and against capitalism as it was and is, i.e. the rich people running hte government and companies for their own gain.

    Meredith was entirely correct to reccomend Stumbling and mumbling, and you should check out the links in the side bar.
    However he was somewhat wrong in the comment about:

    “The ‘left’ libertarianism I was banging on about accepts the libertarian critique and looks to minimuise the state but maintain massive redistribytion through some version of the ‘Citizen’s Wage’.”

    In fact, the term libertarian originated in Europe, from the left, and depending on his own personal definitions, the statement that ‘left’ libertarianism accepted libertarian critique misses completely the fact that the left has always had a critique of big government, big corporations etc etc, it’s just such critiques have been silenced over the years as the more centrist lefties, usually of socially conservative types, (e.g. the labour party in the UK) got power (And as you can imagine nobody with any such ideology has gotten near a mass circulation newspaper for decades). Therefore no reference to american libertarian thought or ideals is needed to have a left wing critique of big government and corporations etc.

    As an aside, you could have a much fairer market system if you just paid everyone the same for working. And at one point the UK had 2 communist MP’s! Now they all seem to be centrist and far right.

    I thought Rothbard was an anarcho-capitalist; a lot of left libertarians, as we might as well call them to emphasise the difference, are anarchists, but not of the right wing capitalist sort.

  174. Ogvorbis says

    “Number of regulations” is not a relevant variable.

    I said nothing about the number of regulations. if you want to argue against something I did not write, go right ahead.

    Regulations become coercive when they are so confusing that they interfere with informed decision making, or when they are so severe that they restrict informed choice more than they protect it.

    Again, nowhere did I imply that regulations need to be confusing. But, again, if you wish to argue against something I did not write, go right ahead.

    Simple regulations that stop companies destroying themselves, destroying the lives of workers and investors, destroying the environment, preserving the rights of workers, preserving the safety of workers would minimize the exposure to coercion of people by corporations.

    it would be nice to be met with some constructive discussion.

    cjwinstead, I tried to engage you with something that you wrote. You chose to argue against things I did not write. So where is this magical constructive discussion?

  175. says

    Ogvorbis-

    Please double-check what I wrote. I arguing against one single point you made: “wouldn’t maximizing regulation of private corporations have the effect of minimizing peoples’ exposure to coercion.”

    Number and degree of regulation have nothing to do with quality of outcomes, and are not in themselves reasonable measures for optimization.

    I am presenting a left-center interpretation of libertarianism in which “bigness” is an irrelevant measure of government regulation. This interpretation is not uncommon amongst libertarian thinkers outside the contemporary party leadership in the US.

  176. guthriestewart says

    CJ Winsted – the problem with the use of the word “proper” as a prefix for the term libertarianism is that it supposes a univeral or easily agreeable with norm, and then we can spend ages trying to pin down the norm in question without actually getting anywhere at all. Perhaps a different word would do?

    As for the term crazies, like playground use of hte word ‘moron’, I suspect it has lost any kind of medical term.

  177. Ogvorbis says

    cjwinstead:

    Please double-check what I wrote. I arguing against one single point you made: “wouldn’t maximizing regulation of private corporations have the effect of minimizing peoples’ exposure to coercion.”

    Number and degree of regulation have nothing to do with quality of outcomes, and are not in themselves reasonable measures for optimization.

    And where have I said anything about the number of regulations? Maximizing regulation does not necessarily mean numbers. You are hung up on the whole numbers thing. On regulations being automatically both numerous and confusing. And I have written nothing that suggests that I am taking this position.

  178. says

    guthriestewart@227:

    Perhaps “proper” is overly didactic, but I meant it in the most formal sense: “libertarianism” is a family of philosophies generally characterized by their emphasis on the non-coercion principle. That’s what I meant by “proper.” I’ll happily use a substitute for “crazies” if one is suggested. Perhaps “anarcho-capitalist fundamentalists” would be better.

  179. says

    Ogvorbis-

    Although I happened to quote you in my post, I am not trying to have an argument with you. I responded to what you seemed to be saying, and then elaborated on my views. I’m not sure if I even disagree with you so let’s not have a death match right now.

  180. Ogvorbis says

    cjwinstead:

    Fine. I’m not looking for a fight. I’m looking for an actual answer to my question.

    Would not effective (since ‘maximizing’ seems to set off a numbers argument, I’ll drop it) regulation of private industry reduce coercion of human beings by corporations?

  181. says

    Ogvorbis:

    Yes, I agree. I would say that, from the libertarian perspective, regulations should be “optimized” so as to minimize the coercive powers of their regulatory targets, without becoming onerous. I don’t think the US has many (if any) truly onerous regulations, but I’ve seen some regulations that don’t really solve a problem but limit peoples’ access to opportunity.

  182. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Given that this is one of the only times I’ve chosen to comment after more than a year reading Pharyngula, it would be nice to be met with some constructive discussion.

    Given that you’re preaching liberturdism, and constructive discussion requires you to be able to acknowledge you could be wrong. No liberturd is ever wrong, hence they can’t, only pretend, to engage in constructive discussion.

  183. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Constructive discussions require real world examples, not vague handwaving. Which regulations, and how changed? Details is constructive discussion.

  184. says

    Troll@233:

    I’m not sure why I’m engaging you; I suppose I’m curious to hear what you think is so unreasonable about wanting to minimize coercion (in the most general sense)?

  185. Ogvorbis says

    regulations should be “optimized” so as to minimize the coercive powers of their regulatory targets, without becoming onerous

    Define ‘onerous’. Seriously. The CEO of a mining company knows that if there are no environmental regulations, he can increase the profit margin from 11% to 19% ROI. Those eight percentage points may be hundreds of millions of dollars. So to the CEO, those regulations are onerous. To the people who live downstream from his mines, the safety of the dams for the settling ponds, a river that is not dead, breathable air, the things that the onerous regulations preserve, protect and demand, are exactly what the mining company considers onerous. To the manager of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, proper storage and reporting of stored ammonium nitrate was onerous. And, to the entire state of Texas, not building a potential bomb next to schools, playgrounds and nursing homes was an onerous regulation.

    I’ve seen some regulations that don’t really solve a problem but limit peoples’ access to opportunity.

    I don’t see that in regulations. I do see that in massive tax breaks to the wealthy, massive deregulation, elimination of enforcement, slap-on-the-wrist fines, and other tactics used by the super wealthy to glom onto even more of the economy. Those really do limit economic opportunity.

  186. Ogvorbis says

    And, cjwinstead, I echo the respected Nerd of Redhead in asking for real world examples of your contention that the regulation of business limits the opportunities of people.

  187. says

    @Troll and @Ogvorbis:

    The most concrete example from my personal experience is “English-only” legislation proposed (and sometimes passed) in various parts of the US. Some versions would prohibit municipal governments from printing and processing regulatory forms and other documents in Spanish, even though they have adequate Spanish-speaking staff and are servicing predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. In my opinion those policies are onerous.

    Once, years ago, I persuaded my local Libertarian party leadership to join protests against a state English-only ordinance based on this argument. Although I am now a “vanilla” Democrat, I was once a card-carrying Libertarian and found that the non-coercion principle was a key device for reasoning and persuasion within libertarian circles, and that policy opinions were not set in stone so much as they appear today. Libertarians are not all well represented by the fundamentalists in charge.

  188. eric123 says

    @Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    ”Fuck you.”

    You know, you’re right. You called me on a word I shouldn’t have used. I was following the lead of something called the post-autistic economics movement. They, apparently not me, saw the light, and they changed the name of their associated journal to real-world economics review. My apologies.

  189. Ogvorbis says

    The most concrete example from my personal experience is “English-only” legislation proposed (and sometimes passed) in various parts of the US. Some versions would prohibit municipal governments from printing and processing regulatory forms and other documents in Spanish, even though they have adequate Spanish-speaking staff and are servicing predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. In my opinion those policies are onerous.

    English only legislation is not a regulatory apparatus for business. It is an attempt at social legislation, specifically seeking to add more disadvantages to the already economically disadvantaged. How does that argue that regulating industry is bad?

  190. says

    Ogvorbis@230:

    English only legislation is not a regulatory apparatus for business. It is an attempt at social legislation, specifically seeking to add more disadvantages to the already economically disadvantaged. How does that argue that regulating industry is bad?

    English-only legislation is a business regulation; for one thing it requires businesses in Spanish-speaking areas to use employment forms and other documents written in English. I’m not arguing that regulations are bad. As I said before, I think they are necessary (games need rules). In libertarianism, there’s also nothing conceptually special about “industry regulations” or “business regulations” as compared to other laws that regulate peoples’ private lives. Libertarianism is firstly concerned with what criteria should be used to determine the efficacy and fairness of a regulation. In my view, one such criterion is whether people will be forced to comply with regulations that they cannot easily comprehend — hence limiting their ability to make informed choices, which I regard as coercion. In the case of English-only laws, business operators in Spanish speaking neighborhoods would be required to use strictly English forms for a variety of business purposes, even though Spanish-language forms had previously been available. That is an example of how ill-meaning politicians can hijack a regulatory apparatus for harmful purposes.

    As another random example, how about a regulation that says you can’t produce and sell paintings unless you have an art degree? There are western countries that have that sort of regulation, and they are arguably bad because they limit personal choice, expression and access to opportunity. They are aguably good because they protect professional communities and preserve the value of education.

    On the language topic, some libertarians might go one step further and argue that governments are obligated to make regulatory documents and forms available in all major languages spoken by their citizens. Some libertarians might reject this entire line of reasoning — that’s my point. Libertarianism is a philosophical framework designed for structured reasoning about justice and rights; it is defined by a few core principles, but there is significant variation in how those principles are applied in practice. The Randians are only one subgroup suffering from the collective delusion that all social problems are easy to understand.

  191. Ogvorbis says

    In libertarianism, there’s also nothing conceptually special about “industry regulations” or “business regulations” as compared to other laws that regulate peoples’ private lives.

    And this doesn’t strike you as a problem with libertarianism?

    In my view, one such criterion is whether people will be forced to comply with regulations that they cannot easily comprehend — hence limiting their ability to make informed choices, which I regard as coercion.

    And I am still fucking waiting for you to show where I have said anything about regulations always being difficult to understand? You keep going up against the strawmen you erect (too many regulations, regulations too complicated — NONE OF WHICH I HAVE FUCKING MENTIONED YOU ASSHAT!) and carefully evading the answer. You almost answered it, almost agreed, and then explained that regulations eliminate personal opportunity which means you disagree but are now off on a tangent about regulations that affect individuals lives rather than regulations that affect corporations.

    I have no idea why I even tried to engage in this.

    Enjoy arguing with yourself.

  192. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I suppose I’m curious to hear what you think is so unreasonable about wanting to minimize coercion (in the most general sense)?

    What you perceive as coercion isn’t if you don’t define it that way, as it is part of the social contract. I work in a highly regulated industry. All the regulations came about because of industry malfeasance and arrogance, not the government trying to make it hard on a well running industry. If industry doesn’t want to be regulated, it needs to behave itself….

  193. MJP says

    I remember the real shut-down of right-libertarians comes from Proudhon’s notion of original appropriation: that is, all private property must be at some point taken from the commons with government backing (oh noes forcible theft!!!!). If you like taking walks in the forest and somebody builds a factory there, you lose out on the ability to use that property. The compensation that society has worked out is tax, collected nominally on behalf of the commons from the property owner: otherwise wealth and property would accumulate into fewer and fewer hands.

    From what I understand of Proudhon’s position (and he may have changed it at some point), he wasn’t trying to justify a tax – instead, he was arguing that property should be limited by occupancy and use.

  194. mx89 says

    MJP:

    Yes, I did not mean to say Proudhon endorsed that (I am not fully aware of his positions) but that it’s the solution society has found to the problem. If we’re going to have property rights, we need taxation on the wealth derived from the property.

  195. says

    Ogvorbis@243:

    Enjoy arguing with yourself.

    I am not, and have not been, trying to argue specifically with or against you. I have been presenting my perspective on libertarianism as a broad philosophical system distinct from the Randians’ economic agenda. In some of my posts I responded directly to you, and then added my own perspective on the libertarian philosophy and how it might be applied. These are not “straw men,” they are examples of types of claims that appeal to libertarian reasoning. They are not “arguments against you,” they are examples presented for your perusal. Since you have barely mentioned any specific view of your own, and I don’t know who you are or what you are talking about, it is a bit solipsistic of you to imagine that I’m trying to refute you. I am trying to talk about libertarianism, and you happen to be in the room too. We are not having a debate. I don’t even know your position, and I have no idea what you are so damn angry about.

  196. says

    Nerd of Redhead@244

    What you perceive as coercion isn’t if you don’t define it that way, as it is part of the social contract. I work in a highly regulated industry. All the regulations came about because of industry malfeasance and arrogance, not the government trying to make it hard on a well running industry. If industry doesn’t want to be regulated, it needs to behave itself….

    I think coercion has a clear definition independent from social contract theory. The social contract is a meritorious body of theory that is often compelling, but negative-rights libertarianism is equally compelling (at least in cases where there’s no conflict with a compelling social contract argument). As a philosophy, libertarianism can be traced to multiple roots with differing interpretations. I prefer the root that traces back to Kant, who articulated a very libertarian point of view in Science of Right, which he considered logically equivalent to the categorical imperative. Kant’s moral system evades some problems faced by social contract theory, and vice versa. There is no complete theory of moral and political foundations, but it’s useful for people to contemplate the fundamentals that underly their judgements of justice, rightness and fairness. In practice, what you find in many libertarian groups is a sort of amateur philosophers’ club.

    I agree that industries have often behaved badly; but this does not mean that every regulation is automatically useful and well-crafted. I’ve also worked in some highly regulated industries. I worked in biomedical manufacturing during a series of regulatory audits from multiple agencies. I can appreciate the reasons for regulation; but some of the regulations that applied then were unnecessary and genuinely restricted innovation. In fact, most of the real problem regulations are now gone. (One such regulation prevented use of programmable hardware in medical devices — every function had to be made with standard discrete IC components!)

    With regard to industry regulations, there are a lot of arguments made on all sides within the libertarian framework: (1) freedom of businessmen to buy and sell and enjoy profit; (2) freedom of technical staff to do innovative work (engineers really worry about this); (3) functional freedom of employees as affected by working conditions and job security (financial duress is arguably a form of coercion); (4) functional freedom of customers with regard to product safety and quality (deception and confusion are coercive devices); (5) rights and freedoms of neighbors and other parties who may be affected by business operations; and probably many more. My point is that libertarianism isn’t inherently a “no-regulation” system, rather it is a rubric for judging fairness in complex moral and political questions.

  197. Ichthyic says

    Libertariansim does not require an end to regulation, but would tend to minimise it and to minimise the state’s role in it.

    goes back to the very early point that such people are even better defined as progressives.

  198. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think [presuppose without evidence] coercion has a clear definition independent from social contract theory.

    Fixed that for you. There is nothing wrong with the state regulating things. It evens the playing field, as it should, and ensures public safety. Which your morally bankrupt theology can’t do. And for things sold to the public that must be safe, only the state can really enforce reasonable regulations to ensure that safety. You haven’t demonstrated otherwise with EVIDENCE. Your OPINION never will be that evidence. Third party. From places like this: Google Scholar. Until you start citing real evidence, all you have is mental wanking. And you certainly think a lot of your self and your theology without the evidence to back up your claims. And you do make claims, like the state shouldn’t do much regulation….

  199. Al Dente says

    cjwinstead @somewhere up there ↑

    Regulations become coercive when they are so confusing that they interfere with informed decision making, or when they are so severe that they restrict informed choice more than they protect it.

    The reason why the US military has a 17 page description of fruitcake which is part of the contract given to fruitcake bakers is that otherwise some people would sell fruitcake that doesn’t have any eggs, flour or fruit. If that’s restrictive than I’m all in favor of restrictions.

  200. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I am reminded of what Entomologist Edward O. Wilson said about Marxism:

    “Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species”.

    I am sure there is some solitary species that spends all but its mating season in isolation. Perhaps the libertarians could join them.

  201. omnicrom says

    cjwinstead @248

    I think coercion has a clear definition independent from social contract theory.

    If it has a clear definition please share it. As you are making a claim it is upon your head that we the recipients of your claim understand what you are trying to say.

    I agree that industries have often behaved badly; but this does not mean that every regulation is automatically useful and well-crafted

    No one has argued otherwise from what you said.

    My point is that libertarianism isn’t inherently a “no-regulation” system, rather it is a rubric for judging fairness in complex moral and political questions.

    I’ve yet to see Libertarianism used as a good rubric. Most Libertarians use their philosophy as an excuse for a “Got mine! Fuck you!” mentalities, assuming they’re the Galtian supermen who will rise above the collapse of order. What I’m saying is that if you’re seeing Libertarianism as a rubric for morality as you claim you seem to be on the wrong side. The mainstream Libertarian view is that the god of the free market is inherently moral and just and whatever it leads to is the highest good. It’s not a rubric or a moral system as much as an excuse.

  202. says

    Late to the thread; I had a busy couple of days, so apologies for the teal deer.
    IJoe #28

    as though inherited privilege and cold hard cash actually count as an individual’s personal merit as opposed to an unfair advantage given to them from an external source.

    That’s one of the ugly little assumptions of most libertarian thinking:That merit is heritable. Since they also believe that merit is compassed entirely by the acquisition of financial capital (and also certain types of social capital, although they don’t recognize it), it therefore follows that inherited wealth is simply an outward sign of the inward virtuous essence propagated from (usually) father to son (there’s a lot of ugly little assumptions buried in libertarianism). This also dovetails nicely with the racism that’s also a common element of their thinking, because ethnic minorities don’t tend to have much capital (due to systemic factors that libertarians either refuse to recognize or actively cheer).
    R Johnston
    #35

    Libertarians don’t believe in money.

    Libertarians believe in a platonic ideal of money, which no actual money can attain, because all actual money derives its value from social agreements.
    mx89 #85

    (possibly they are racist as well but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt).

    Why? They are adamantly opposed to policies of racial equality which have been demonstrably if not perfectly effective, and their only justification is that they believe bigots should be free to exercise their bigotry in harmful ways. This is a prima facie racist argument, and there is no reason to suppose that their ‘heart of hearts’ is totally anti-racist. Or care, for that matter.
    #103

    but there is actually a clear difference between even the early Tea Party and later, when the industrialists started supporting it, in terms of their rhetoric, policy concerns, etc.

    There actually isn’t, it’s just a more polished version of the same turd.
    #105

    Some libertarians attack business just as much as the state as contributing to cronyism and the ill-functioning of government & society

    They talk about it sometimes, but in practice they always vote for ‘pro-business’ policies of lower taxes and deregulation. Rhetoric gets no points from me.

    I don’t want to simplify the actual libertarian philosophers down to “You love the Guilded Age!”.

    Until they can provide an answer to how their ideology won’t lead directly back there, that could be considered the more flattering assumption, because the other one is that they’re total idiots who don’t know shit about shit, which is an assessment that most libertarians find more insulting than the equally valid conclusion that they’re evil bastards.

    Erin#90

    that without the encouragement to work for profits, people will do nothing

    (I realize this is merely an argument you’re quoting, but it should still be addressed) Demonstrably untrue; people work for all kinds of motives, especially if their basic needs are met. On top of that, what this sentence actually unpacks to is “Without the threat of starvation, those lazy bastards would never do a lick of work.” Which is not only untrue, it is hideously inhumane, and usually includes values for ‘lazy bastards’ that are deeply racist as well.

    We don’t need a welfare state because private charities will pick up the burden, and they do it better than the government.”

    They didn’t. That’s why there’s a welfare state now (although a pretty shitty one here in the U.S., thanks to these assholes).

    MLP119

    I used to be a libertarian several years ago, but now I’m a (left-wing) anarchist, which some of you may consider to be worse.

    Nah, there’s quite a few of us around here.

    sadunlap#138

    Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have a group of people, growing in number and proportion of the human population, who can only live by wage employment.

    The solution here is worker ownership and a basic guaranteed income (both of which ideas are utterly anathema to libertarians).
    cjwinstead
    I mean to address several of your points as well, but I need to do other things for a bit, so I’ll get back to that in a while.

  203. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I think that we must judge the tree by its fruits–I’ve yet to meet a libertarian who was not simply a selfish bastard with delusions of grandeur.

  204. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve yet to meet a libertarian who was not simply a selfish bastard with delusions of grandeur.

    QFMFT

  205. Ogvorbis says

    I am not, and have not been, trying to argue specifically with or against you. I have been presenting my perspective on libertarianism as a broad philosophical system distinct from the Randians’ economic agenda.

    You are correct. You have not been arguing with me. You have not been discussing anything with me. You have been taking what I have written and using it for a springboard for your canned talking points. Have fun with that.

    As for who I am? I am a liberal progressive social capitalist. I am in favour of higher taxes (especially on the rich and on large corporations), an end to corporate welfare, high government spending for infrastructure and education, full human rights for all humans, and end to punishing the poor for being poor, capitalism and competition where it does not actively harm people, universal health care (maybe with private non-profit companies in competition with each other), a curb on the economic and political power of multinational corporations, the death penalty for corporations that keep breaking the law, a strong national defense that is actually used for only defense, lots of economic and educational and agricultural and industrial and infrastructure aid to any country that wants it, and a fully funded National Park Service.

    How selfish of me to deny the modern incarnation of libertarians their fantasy of no government, corporations policing themselves, and the wealthiest 1% getting even more of everything.

  206. says

    I had a huge post, but I lost it, and I haven’t the energy to redo it right now. Short form:
    cjwinstead #248

    (1) freedom of businessmen to buy and sell and enjoy profit;

    Many left-libertarians/anarchocommunists recognize no such right. Profit represents theft from the workers by the owners, and in cases where the workers are the owners it has very little meaning.

    (3) functional freedom of employees as affected by working conditions and job security (financial duress is arguably a form of coercion);

    Right-libertarians oppose minimum wage laws, social safety nets, workplace safety laws, workplace harrassment laws, and all other regulations which bring this goal closer. They cannot be considered to favor it.

    (4) functional freedom of customers with regard to product safety and quality (deception and confusion are coercive devices);

    Right-libertarians oppose consumer protection laws, regulatory agencies such as the FDA, labeling laws, and all other regulations which bring this goal closer. They cannot be considered to favor it.

    (5) rights and freedoms of neighbors and other parties who may be affected by business operations; and probably many more.

    Right-libertarians pollution laws, industrial inspections, the CRA, and all other regulations which bring this goal closer. They cannot be considered to favor it.

    My point is that libertarianism isn’t inherently a “no-regulation” system,

    Right-libertarianism is exactly that.

  207. Ichthyic says

    people work for all kinds of motives, especially if their basic needs are met.

    exampled in the world of ST:NG

    :)

  208. says

    I think it’s kind of ironic. Everywhere else in the world “libertarianism” is basically the anarchism of PJ Proudhon; it contains both a critique of the state and a critique of capitalism. Only in America does it mean “down with the government! Let’s all be corporate slaves instead!”

  209. hotshoe, now with more boltcutters says

    the death penalty for corporations that keep breaking the law

    Yep. Since corporations are people, let ‘em pay the ultimate price for murdering born-people.

  210. says

    @ Dalillama, Schmott Guy #256

    Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have a group of people, growing in number and proportion of the human population, who can only live by wage employment.

    The solution here is worker ownership and a basic guaranteed income (both of which ideas are utterly anathema to libertarians).

    That’s one way. I think there’s more than 2 ways, more than 3 ways, etc.

    We don’t need a welfare state because private charities will pick up the burden, and they do it better than the government.”

    They didn’t. That’s why there’s a welfare state now (although a pretty shitty one here in the U.S., thanks to these assholes).

    Lots that people do not know how the welfare state as a concept arose in the first place and this concept flies over the heads of most libertarians. First, Bismark, In Germany, created the modern welfare state as a way to quell worker unrest. This was the first time anyone in political power tried to deal with the point I brought up above: that we have a growing population of people who can only live by wage employment. Building in structural protections has proven benefits. The limited liability corporation allows for investors to risk only the cost of the stock share, and not their whole savings and property. But people other than investors need structural protections too.

    The welfare state in the U.S. has come under attack as “charity” or “people who don’t want to work” etc. If it were built into an overall plan, such as in countries that require a multinational to employ a given percentage of the local citizens in proportion to the market share of their products, then welfare becomes wage support (you must offer people a salary better than the welfare grant). Germany, a country with a population almost fanatical about work, has a very high welfare grant compared to the U.S.

    Another solution is stronger and national unions. In Sweden, for example, a worker in an IKEA factory makes the equivalent of $19 an hour (cost of living is not that much more in Sweden that much of the U.S.). A person in an IKEA factory in Danville Virginia doing the same work makes $8.00 an hour. The difference? Unions.

  211. hiddenheart says

    Long-time reader who registered but didn’t actually post in the heat of a few weeks ago, so this is my Pharyngula debut.

    I found libertarianism appealing in my younger days, but gave it up in very large measure due to my changing personal realities. I’m disabled, and I’m transgendered, and I’m lesbian. While the government has often been the enemy of people like me (Stonewall, DSM use and abuse, and very much on and on), it’s also very often been the source of whatever relief and opportunity for quality of life people like me get.

    The crux of the issue, I’ve realized, is that “liberty” in the libertarian sense only has a purely instrumental value to me. I’m interested in actually achieved human well-being: physical health, security, the absence of fear, the chance to learn what one’s aptitudes are and to put them to use, and so on. Now, quite often, a generous dollop of negative liberty is necessary to get them. The best way to start having a good life, for instance, is to not die, and a great way to not die is to not get murdered, and one way to reduce the rate of murder is to reliably investigate murders and punish murderers. So far, so good.

    But it goes way beyond that. I learned a few years ago that I have very severe sleep apnea. No private insurer wanted anything to do with me or my medical needs, thanks to preexisting conditions, but Medicaid did. So I learned that I have the condition and got the right kind of CPAP with the right settings, and leapin’ lizards is my life better thanks to getting better rest all the time. A fairly small infringement on medical business pays off big, and is a net gain for society since I’m able to do more creative and productive stuff and be that much less of a burden in perpetuity.

    Or take the case of Trayvon Martin. Clearly our society would have been better off with some restrictions on Zimmerman’s ability to pack a gun and to defend his murderous usage of it. He’d be carrying around what looks like a long-standing disappointment about not getting to actually gun down a bad guy, but in return, Martin would have a whole lifetime’s worth of life, including everything he might contribute to productivity figures and the well-being of others.

    Negative liberty only interests me insofar as it leads to the things that I think actually matter about human existence.

    As a practical matter, too, I don’t think it’s possible to assess whether a given action actually is a net increase or reduction in oppression without a full understanding of the context. Consider, for instance, someone whose parents or grandparents lost assets to the local tyrants of a sundown town and their situation when compared to the children and grandchildren of the appropriator. Affirmative action in this generation might strike a libertarian observer as coercive, but is it genuinely more so than the taking of major assets and generations’ worth of benefits derived from their use? You can’t just declare a snapshot of economic and social time a just baseline, you need to account for how it got there.

    So it seems to me that libertarianism fails in the application of its own principles in a honest way and as a worthy goal for anyone interested in human beings living well.

    Oh, and one final snark, while I’m here. I’m amused at the idea that government employees are presumptively unreliable about libertarianism. I’m certainly happy to apply that consistently, to elected officials (the Pauls), professors (Glenn Reynolds), war profiteers (Erik Prince), contractors and lobbyists, and all the rest. Somehow, though, I get the feeling that wasn’t an intended outcome….

  212. says

    Troll@250:

    Fixed that for you. There is nothing wrong with the state regulating things. It evens the playing field, as it should, and ensures public safety. Which your morally bankrupt theology can’t do. And for things sold to the public that must be safe, only the state can really enforce reasonable regulations to ensure that safety. You haven’t demonstrated otherwise with EVIDENCE. Your OPINION never will be that evidence.

    For evidence with regard to the definition of coercion, see any dictionary. I have repeatedly stated that I think regulations are necessary and good. If you are asking me to provide evidence, from google scholar, to support the existence of a long-running literary tradition on libertarianism, then you do not understand the nature of evidence or scholarly research because this is not a scientific claim, it is basic information from an introductory textbook on philosophical ethics. Instead of looking for such basic facts in google scholar, start with Wikipedia:

    Wikipedia: Libertarianism

    If you doubt Wikipedia as a source, that’s no problem because the page offers a thorough bibliography of primary sources to which you may refer.

    Troll: I also perused some of your comments on other threads and notice that you use this “evidence” language frequently in situations when it is inappropriate to the discussion. You can’t just demand evidence for non-observational claims, personal experience, or highly specialized discussions. I already cited literature and my own experience in libertarianism, which should suffice to prove that at least one libertarian exists (or existed) with the views I described. Other than that I’ve only described my view on libertarianism, I haven’t made any sweeping claims about regulations. Why in the hell would you demand “evidence” that I believe in the non-coercion principle but reject anarcho-capitalism?

    In conclusion, I (and a few others) have merely noted that libertarianism is a broader term than what is described in the OP. I have stated clearly that I do not object to the criticisms in the OP with regard to anarcho-capitalism libertarians. I have only attempted to point out the broader literature and thought on the subject. Since you (specifically Ogvorbis and Troll) keep trying to squeeze an argument out of this, I think I’ve accumulated sufficient evidence that you are trolls, and I will no longer respond to you.

  213. says

    hiddenheart@265:

    physical health, security, the absence of fear, the chance to learn what one’s aptitudes are and to put them to use, and so on.

    A left-libertarian might respond that these conditions are all necessary for the exercise of genuine consent. You end up with a “libertarian socialism” that strongly supports civil liberties and self determination. Property doesn’t have to be associated with liberty the way the uber-capitalists claim it is.

  214. says

    cjwinstead, please address people by their handle. You should refer to Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls as either his full handle or simply as Nerd of Redhead.

    You demonstrated in comment 248 that you’re able to do that.

  215. says

    Kristjan Wager@268:

    No problem, in the future, should I choose to comment, I will avoid abbreviations.

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy@260:

    I agree with your characterizations of right-libertarians. It has been my experience that right-libertarians can occasionally be persuaded toward more centrist, balanced conclusions by careful appeal to the non-coercion principle.

  216. hiddenheart says

    cjwinstead@267:

    A left-libertarian might respond that these conditions are all necessary for the exercise of genuine consent. You end up with a “libertarian socialism” that strongly supports civil liberties and self determination. Property doesn’t have to be associated with liberty the way the uber-capitalists claim it is.

    Likewise, you can do ethical reasoning with a concept of “God” that goes through enough pretzels to free it from everything that’s wrong with various theisms, pantheisms, polytheisms, etc. You can also do astronomy with epicycles and perfect circular orbits rather than ellipses. But in each case it’s really a lot simpler to do without the nuisance addition and get on with things.

    That’s where I’m at with regard to making any use of libertarian concepts in social and political reasoning. I can think of lots of cases where they lead to actively wrong and dangerous outcomes, and some where they lead to reasonable outcomes by unnecessarily long and convoluted processes. I’m not aware of any that lead to human-well-being-improving outcomes more directly than a bunch of other socio-political stances do.

    I should add here that I wasn’t a dabbler, in my libertarian days. I went beyond David Friedman and Tibor Machan to work like the Rothbard/Radosh-edited anthology A New History of Leviathan and Jan Narveson’s The Libertarian Idea. In fact it was the latter that played a crucial role in pushing me off the libertarian path, but it would take more time to write up why than I have right now.

    Deontological libertarianisms fail as all deontological philosophies do when it comes to outcomes, and consequentialist libertarianisms fail in the wake of endless evidence that the non-libertarian parts of Adam Smith were and are quite right. It simply brings nothing to the table that will help anyone enjoy less fear, more health, more security, and more opportunity that I can’t get more simply from lots of other places.

  217. hiddenheart says

    Ack. Fail. “quote” is not “blockquote”. Apologies. The first paragraph of my last is cjwinstead’s words, the rest are mine.

  218. says

    hiddenheart@270:

    I think you are correct to point out that erroneous theories can be deformed into something that looks correct through the addition of many inelegant corrections. I think this is true of libertarianism when it comes to economic justice. There are only a few categories of ethical and political theory, however, and I think each of them is compelling for certain types of problems but useless for others. One can also observe that the non-coercion principle is a good and noble goal, even if it may be trumped by other considerations. For instance, I think the non-coercion principle is really compelling when it comes to civil liberties. Libertarian reasoning has straightforward application to church-state separation, gay marriage, non-discrimination laws, freedom of expression, and other matters which argue the primacy of personal choice vs the demands of social conformity.

  219. hiddenheart says

    Cjwinstead: So does something like the UN’s declaration of human rights or Canada’s human rights charter, without requiring any logical trickery or complexity for stuff the non-coercion principle is very bad at.

  220. says

    Hiddenheart@273:

    The UN declaration on human rights is a nice document, but it is merely a list of claims approved by one representative body at one point in time. It is not widely adopted in practice by the world’s governments. More fundamentally, it does not provide any explanatory power for understanding why things are right, wrong, just or unjust. A lot of people are still thinking very hard about the foundations of ethics, morality and justice. “Libertarianism” most generally describes a class of thought on ethical and political philosophy concerned with articulating a complete science of right, as Kant called it. There is currently no good, unified theory on moral foundations that works for all practical problems. In principle, though, I think it is better to pursue reasoned positions than to refer to lists of commandments, whether they be from the UN or from Moses.

  221. MJP says

    You can also do astronomy with epicycles

    Incidentally, that is how I regard liberal capitalism. They accept the fundamental assumptions of capitalism, but tack on welfare programs and regulations to patch over its problems. The libertarians look at the inelegant mess of epicycles and say “No! The planets move around Earth in perfect circles!”

  222. Anri says

    cjwinstead:

    In principle, though, I think it is better to pursue reasoned positions than to refer to lists of commandments, whether they be from the UN or from Moses.

    One problem is that in reality, as opposed to in principle, real people are really starving while the more comfortable sit around and discuss the niceties of the morality of feeding them.

    The other major problem is that a lot of people aren’t interested in reasoning out a position, or giving any weight to a reasoned-out position.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the things spelled out in the UN Declaration aren’t things you’re having daily life-or-death difficulties with, yes? That does tend to give one the luxury of dismissing it as not terribly useful. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable enough to not require it, but one should at least strive to be aware that not everyone shares that situation.
    I certainly have to remind myself of that.

  223. says

    Anri@276:

    One problem is that in reality, as opposed to in principle, real people are really starving while the more comfortable sit around and discuss the niceties of the morality of feeding them.

    Lack of action on moral imperatives is certainly a problem. Some people apply moral reasoning poorly, arriving at objectionable conclusions. That doesn’t mean reasoning is a problem.

    The other major problem is that a lot of people aren’t interested in reasoning out a position, or giving any weight to a reasoned-out position.

    That is a serious problem indeed. If a person is not interested in reasoning, then their beliefs can only be true by accident. People should generally be encouraged to engage in reasoning about all subjects. I think most people are at least somewhat open to reasoning and logical persuasion, even if they are stubborn about it.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the things spelled out in the UN Declaration aren’t things you’re having daily life-or-death difficulties with, yes? That does tend to give one the luxury of dismissing it as not terribly useful. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable enough to not require it, but one should at least strive to be aware that not everyone shares that situation.
    I certainly have to remind myself of that.

    I didn’t mean to imply that the UN declaration is a useless document. I stated that it has no explanatory value, and isn’t useful for resolving disagreements about morality and justice. It is especially unhelpful if (A) one or more parties to the dispute disregard the declaration, or (B) the matter in dispute isn’t expressly covered by the declaration.

    Just to pick a random example, the declaration is a bit murky on whether Muslim women should be prohibited from wearing veils in any public places (an item of active debate in some countries — see this Wikipedia article for more information.). All types of libertarians would most likely say that people are free to cover their faces if they choose. On the other side, you have the argument that she could commit a crime, and security cameras can’t tell who she is. Then libertarians would respond that a surveillance society is bad anyway. The traditional liberal stance is also murky, because they have to do a whole lot of work to figure out if the law’s intent or effect is racist and whether its collective benefit outweighs the possible harms. It is a complicated issue, people are debating about it, and debates require structured reasoning based on underlying theories or else they are just circular shouting.

  224. David Marjanović says

    it therefore follows that inherited wealth is simply an outward sign of the inward virtuous essence

    *lightbulb moment* Calvinism!

    cjwinstead, please address people by their handle. You should refer to Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls as either his full handle or simply as Nerd of Redhead.

    *eyeroll*

    It’s true that Nerd of Redhead isn’t a troll, but I’m not sure if that’s obvious from this thread alone. In this thread, he’s having one of those episodes where he doesn’t read for understanding – he scans for keywords and has automatic reactions to them.

    Ogvorbis is being unusually angry in this thread. Even here, however, it’s obvious that he’s not a troll. I like comment 259 very much.

    One problem is that in reality, as opposed to in principle, real people are really starving while the more comfortable sit around and discuss the niceties of the morality of feeding them.

    Bingo.

  225. hiddenheart says

    Bluntly, any philosophy that makes “leave them to die in the streets, you owe them nothing and nobody should suggest otherwise” a sensible outcome from its principles is too flawed to be worth my while. And like Anri, I think master schemas are vastly overrated by intellectual types – often including myself. What we have pressing need of is motivations for collective action coupled with motivations for careful scrutiny of what’s attempted and what’s come of it. It’s not that theory has no value, but I’m with Feyerabend in much of what he has to say in Against Method. Leaving people to die in the streets (and suffer great fear and misery along the way) because you can’t quite be sure you’ve covered the whole class of cases for intervention is precisely, 100% as bad as leaving them to die because you’re not yet satisfied as to whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father.

    In practice, American libertarianism is almost always a distraction from action already thoroughly justifiable on other, more widely held ground and cover for action that should be condemned as shameful, harmful, and just plain bad. As a group, libertarians are very much better at helping to keep people in misery than at helping them out of it.

  226. David Marjanović says

    It is a complicated issue,

    …and libertarianism offers a simple solution to a complicated issue.

    What could possibly go wrong!

  227. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s true that Nerd of Redhead isn’t a troll, but I’m not sure if that’s obvious from this thread alone. In this thread, he’s having one of those episodes where he doesn’t read for understanding – he scans for keywords and has automatic reactions to them.

    Nope, I’m responding to liberturdism being a religion. Having a holy scripture, key phares uttered unthinkingly, and NO evidence to back it up. I still don’t see one link from our liberturd presenting real third party evidence to back up their theology.

  228. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What’s the best way to discourage folks from thinking that liberturdism is nothing but an irrational theology? Let one talk about it. Thanks for you help in discouraging all moral and rational people from liberturdism cjwinstead….

  229. Ogvorbis says

    Ogvorbis is being unusually angry in this thread. Even here, however, it’s obvious that he’s not a troll. I like comment 259 very much.

    Thanks.

    Sorry about the anger. I have this really stupid dream that someday a libertarian will actually answer the question I asked and not springboard off of it into pontificating about something only peripherally related.

  230. Ogvorbis says

    I am now correcting myself. I have no problem with someone taking what I write and going off in a peripherally related direction. I do have a problem with someone taking what I write, agreeing with it, and then spouting a libertarian talking point that has nothing to do what I have written and disagrees with what I have written. That does annoy the fuck out of me.

  231. says

    nigelthebold191

    This includes regulation and enforcement, planning of common infrastructure, management of shared resources, and support for those in need

    One of the fundamental problems that libertarians tend to have is a complete failure to comprehend how infrastucture works.

    I’ve not read Rothbard. Perhaps I should

    I really can’t recommend it. It’s sophistimicated theology for libertarians. There’s no better arguments in it than you get from random internet libertarians, it’s just a whole lot more verbose.

    cjwilson248

    The social contract is a meritorious body of theory that is often compelling, but negative-rights libertarianism is equally compelling

    The trouble here is that the entire distinction between ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ rights is arbitrary and meaningless, leaving ‘negative rights theory’ completely useless.
    sadunlap

    Another solution is stronger and national unions. In Sweden, for example, a worker in an IKEA factory makes the equivalent of $19 an hour (cost of living is not that much more in Sweden that much of the U.S.). A person in an IKEA factory in Danville Virginia doing the same work makes $8.00 an hour. The difference? Unions.

    Quite. That still leaves considerable inefficiency in the system, assuming that the goal of the economy is general prosperity; hence my earlier suggestion.
    ogvorbis
    I can put on my libertarian hat and answer, but they’re pretty shitty answers, which is why I don’t bother and libertarians refuse. The answers all boil down to ‘the market will provide; when things get bad enough, there will be a profit in fixing it, and thus will the almighty market cause someone to do so, with capital that shall materialize out of thin air, and all will be wonderful and prosperous, hail the almighty market, for its judgment is wise altogether.’

  232. David Marjanović says

    Nope, I’m responding to liberturdism being a religion. Having a holy scripture, key phares uttered unthinkingly, and NO evidence to back it up. I still don’t see one link from our liberturd presenting real third party evidence to back up their theology.

    Well, that’s the problem: you respond to the whole religion as a monolith – instead of responding to what each of them has actually said. ihateliberals is a flat-out asshole, cjwinstead means well and has just lost sight of things by trying too hard to be philosophically consistent; you don’t care – once you’ve identified them as liberturds, you say the exact same things to all of them and repeat yourself till the thread dies.

    I do have a problem with someone taking what I write, agreeing with it, and then spouting a libertarian talking point that has nothing to do what I have written and disagrees with what I have written. That does annoy the fuck out of me.

    Ah, that makes sense. :-) Ideologists do this a lot in general, probably without even noticing.

  233. David Marjanović says

    The answers all boil down to ‘the market will provide; when things get bad enough, there will be a profit in fixing it, and thus will the almighty market cause someone to do so, with capital that shall materialize out of thin air, and all will be wonderful and prosperous, hail the almighty market, for its judgment is wise altogether.’

    Why am I not surprised! :-)

  234. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    DM,
    My point on regulations is:
    Do you want cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices), where all the raw material used to form the drug substance, are demonstrated with hard evidence to be what is claimed, and of the proper purity. Also, that the process to make the drug substance has been demonstrated to produce drug product of the proper purity, with related impurities below a proper levels, and as a result is properly labeled. Likewise with the drug product, that the drug substance is verified to meet appropriate levels of purity and known impurities, and that all substances going into the drug product are verified to be of the proper purity, and that the drug substance meets certain levels of purity, impurities including those known to cause trouble below certain level, A, and that the formulation meets international standards. Which means any hospital can administer this drug without fear that at anyplace during the process from raw chemicals to the administration of a parenteral drug is verified and validated as being true, and that they aren’t unnecessarily harming your loved one by giving them the drug that (in our case) lowers the Redheads blood pressure after a hemorrhagic stroke.
    With the social contract, I give a real life example where an individual would have trouble following the trail back to a problem, but they don’t need to do so since international regulations require a certain level of diligence upon the manufacturers of products that go into the human body. And I linked to ICH guidelines which lead this documentation/regulation.
    Can our liberturd troll do the same….

  235. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Alright liberturd, show me with third party evidence where ICH guidelines for drugs is overregultion. Put up or shut the fuck up. Your word, isn’t evidence, and never be….

  236. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and DMFM, I tend to go very basic, and attack the unspoken presuposisition various creoots/liberturds present with the opinions. After all, if their imaginary deity, be it Yehweh or the magic market, doesn’t exist, checkmate….

  237. says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy @ 285:

    The trouble here is that the entire distinction between ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ rights is arbitrary and meaningless, leaving ‘negative rights theory’ completely useless.

    The distinction is not meaningless, it is quite simple: negative rights are claims against other people; positive rights are entitlements to services. It is no more arbitrary than any classification system on any topic.

    hiddenheart@279:

    Leaving people to die in the streets (and suffer great fear and misery along the way) because you can’t quite be sure you’ve covered the whole class of cases for intervention is precisely, 100% as bad as leaving them to die because you’re not yet satisfied as to whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father.

    I completely agree, and this is why I’m a “vanilla” Democrat (as I stated previously in this thread). There is a big difference between philosophy and government. I think libertarian-style reasoning is useful for articulating civil rights claims, but that is obviously on a different level from “people starving in the streets.” Today’s American Libertarian Party has become obsessed with an indefensible anarcho-capitalist pseudo-philosophy, which I lamented in my first comment.

    David Marjanović @ 278:

    It’s true that Nerd of Redhead isn’t a troll, but I’m not sure if that’s obvious from this thread alone. In this thread, he’s having one of those episodes where he doesn’t read for understanding – he scans for keywords and has automatic reactions to them.

    Ogvorbis is being unusually angry in this thread. Even here, however, it’s obvious that he’s not a troll. I like comment 259 very much.

    I also liked that comment, and it encouraged me to resume engagement with those two. Unfortunately they seem really upset that I’m not a Randian/Objectivist libertarian. I’ve stated repeatedly, and from my very first comment, that I’m not an anarcho-capitalist and I’m not anti-regulation. I’m a conventional Democrat who happens to have studied a lot of philosophy, and I think libertarian methods are useful for reasoning about certain types of situations. I gave examples of those situations which mainly pertain to civil liberties. My original objective in this thread (shared by some others), was to point out that the word “libertarian” is not limited to the extreme views expressed by the US political party with that name.

    Trolling occurs when certain people demand that I justify anarcho-capitalism, or that I prove regulations are bad, even though I’ve stated these are not my views. It is also trolling when ogvorbis attacks me for repeatedly returning to my original positions instead of the ones he wants to argue against. I’m only addressing these yahoos because they first responded to my points, so naturally I’m going to return to my own points. This has been an exceedingly bizarre discussion. I’m not going to re-quote the thread, but you can find my original post at 175. Ogvorbis pitched a single-sentence reply in 216, and I attempted a more verbose answer in 218. Ogvorbis then flew off the handle at 225, in which he seemed very upset that I misunderstood or misdirected from all the amazing nuance of his single sentence. Nerd of Redheads first replied to me at 219, which was a complete troll comment that made no logical reference to anything I had said. So yes, TROLLS.

  238. unclefrogy says

    I have kept coming back to this thread the whole time it has been up and I just do not understand what this even means

    ” I think libertarian methods are useful for reasoning about certain types of situations.”

    is that some new kind of reasoning or is it just a characterizing of reasoning as if it were some new kind of reasoning.
    because in the end it does not make any difference there will have to be an agreement. That is the only concept that I have ever heard about the libertarian ideology that intersects with reality. It is a contract, an agreement in the marketplace that is supreme. The way it looks to me is we have been struggling with these agreements for all of history, in fact history is just the recording of the agreements and the results.What we are left with is what we have been able to agree with to date nothing more and nothing less. some times the choice is agree or be tortured or killed. Other times it is by unanimous consent. but an agreement none the less.
    The ideologues are dissatisfied that it is not going all their own way. That is the way it is with agreements, contracts there are always more than one side all parties have to give some to get some.
    they talk about free markets but in the same breath they want to constrain what can be agreed to .
    contradictory self-serving bull shit made to sound like lofty idealism.
    uncle frogy

  239. Ogvorbis says

    cjwinstead:

    So yes, TROLLS.

    See, I read you as trolling. It really didn’t matter what question I actually asked. As soon as you saw the word ‘regulation’ you seem, to me, to have experienced a Pavlovian reaction and immediately jumped in with complaints about the number of regulations (which I never mentioned) and the ineffectiveness of difficult-to-understand regulations (which I never mentioned). My point was a simple one — one question Does effective regulation of industry decrease coercion of individual human beings. And you have both agreed and disagreed. In the same comment.

    So, what question should I ask of you, how should I phrase it, in order to match what appear to me to be your preset answers?

  240. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Humans are social animals–to the extent that in ancient societies, exile was a more severe penalty than death. I wouldn’t mind glibertarians if they were willing to simply separate themselves from society and go out to try and live on their own…and fail. Instead, they live like parasites on the society, feeling entitled to its benefits without feeling any need to contribute–indeed, as Uncle Frogy says above, making a virtue of their parasitic nature.

  241. Anri says

    cjwinstead:

    I completely agree, and this is why I’m a “vanilla” Democrat (as I stated previously in this thread). There is a big difference between philosophy and government. I think libertarian-style reasoning is useful for articulating civil rights claims, but that is obviously on a different level from “people starving in the streets.” Today’s American Libertarian Party has become obsessed with an indefensible anarcho-capitalist pseudo-philosophy, which I lamented in my first comment.

    This is sort of an unusual (piece of a) comment.
    If there’s such a substantial difference between the philosophy of human interaction and actual human interaction (for example, theories about government), what good is the philosophy? It’s “assume a spherical cow…” on social engineering.
    If your equations are systematically giving you results that don’t match up to observational data, why keep using them? As an analogy, it is my understanding that widespread use of slide rules caused engineering problems by encouraging the types of calculations that could be easily solved with a slide rule, even if they weren’t what was really going on. Libertarianism often seems like that to me.

    The problem with many libertarians – not, as far as I can tell, you, so please don’t take it that way – is that when confronted with a conflict between their theory and observable reality, they assume reality must be in the wrong. Typical libertarianism asserts that humans are rational actors, that maximum freedom stems from minimal regulation, and that libertarian societies arise spontaneously when allowed to do so. All of these are utterly at odds with observed reality, as far as I can determine.

    Not that any of this is necessarily news to you, of course, but that sort of result is why libertarian thought tends to get mocked and insulted pretty heavily around here: not because we’re unfamiliar with it, but because we aren’t.

  242. Ogvorbis says

    cjwinstead:

    I am aware of your opposition to anarcho-capistalism and Randian libertarianism. I really did read what you wrote. That was the point of my intitial question — the question of regulations on business (modern US libertarianism sees them as absolute evil) and their effect on personal freedoms and personal coercion.

    But, I’m just a fucking troll who is only interested in telling you what to argue, so I’m not sure why I am bothering.

  243. Forrest Phelps says

    From what I can see, not a lot of discussion has occurred in nearly 300 comments. One can summarily dismiss the i-hate-all-liberals (or whatever – an obvious coward with) comment, but I do think there was an opportunity for a good discussion with cjwinstead that was missed. Pity.

  244. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but I do think there was an opportunity for a good discussion with cjwinstead that was missed. Pity.

    There never is discussion with folks like cjwinstead. They just preach, and don’t respond to questions. If cjwinstead wants an evidence, not theoretical, based discussion xe can start citing evidence to back up xis positions. Then, and only then, will discussion take place.

  245. hiddenheart says

    Forrest Phelps: If there was a missed opportunity, it was on cjwinstead’s side. Ogvorbis had a question of crucial importance and asked it well. I had a fuzzier question and at least tried to as it well. But cjwinstead is apparently unwilling to discuss either what their philosophy says about actually existing state action or what good things their philosophy offers in evaluating real situations that others don’t. At which point…it’s not good for very much, is it?

    It would be like an atheist declining to express an opinion on any separation of church and state issue, and having no explanation for what atheist analysis offers someone facing an ethical question that theist approaches don’t.

    Zooming out to the general question of efforts at libertarian/liberal-left alliances, this is my take…

    I’ve got a cause. points helpfully at the cause It is a serious need that requires prompt action to keep it from being a crisis. In front of me, sitting comfortably and playing with the cat while I type, are two people currently uncommitted to doing anything about the need. I have time and energy to make one (1) persuasion attempt right now.

    One of them is a libertarian. They are by default skeptical of all state action, doubly so when it purports to be charitable – they’d actually be less skeptical about something pitched in terms of pure greed and looting, because the combination of moral concern plus state power is, as they see it, the root of an endless torrent of horrors. Because they’re not actually a total asshole, they are open to persuasion, and have been persuaded to support specific laws or policies in the past. It’s just that the counter resets with every fresh appeal, and I know that I’ll have to work hard just to get them to a state of declining to proclaim opposition, let alone to support with anything so dramatic as a call to their representatives and a small donation to a group working on the problem.

    The other is a-political, vaguely cynical about what power does to people and thoroughly uninformed (and fairly heavily misinformed, thanks to news channels overheard in public places and like that). They have no history of political effort, though they’ve actually done things that I see as political but they don’t, like a stint helping protect people coming to Planned Parenthood after the local PP was helpful to someone they care about. They sometimes put in time at a local food bank, helping repair parks after floods and fires, give pretty generously to charity through Humble Bundle deals, and so on – the world is a better place for them being in it, they just don’t give a rip for politics and aren’t interested in changing that. If I want to get their support for this cause here, I’ll have to both make a case for the effort being worthwhile and show that they’re not at risk of turning into a politics junkie like, say, me.

    You know what? I’ll go for the second one every time. I am altogether fucking tired of having to persuade people not to do monstrous things before I can even start on doing anything good. Libertarians who’d like to work with liberals and leftists on matters of common interest have a burden of their own, to show why we shouldn’t be expecting them to turn into road bumps, obstacles, and derailments yet again. If they’re so all fired up about doing good things…let them do some good things and earn our trust. My a-political case above already is doing good things; I just have to show them that this is a good thing worth their involvement. I don’t have to calm them down from fears that food stamps are just three steps away from gulags, or that census data are inevitably tools for Big Brother to use in destroying them. I don’t have to make any kind of general argument that profit motives corrupt research, information distribution, and a bunch of other social concerns. And on and on.

    Libertarians who feel isolated from others elsewhere on the political spectrum can look at their own actions and those of their chosen allies. If they don’t like what they see, they can do differently, just like all the rest of us.

  246. says

    cjwinstead

    negative rights are claims against other people; positive rights are entitlements to services.

    All rights impose obligations upon others to ensure that they remain rights. No rights whatsoever exist in the absence of a social agreement to enforce them. In order for you to have a right to get murdered, an obligation is imposed upon the police, the courts, lawyers, etc. to ensure that something is done about it, so as to minimize the liklihood of murder, and thus maximise your ability to enjoy that right.

  247. says

    Anri@296:

    If there’s such a substantial difference between the philosophy of human interaction and actual human interaction (for example, theories about government), what good is the philosophy? It’s “assume a spherical cow…” on social engineering.

    There is certainly a gap between theory and practice. With moral and political theories the gap is especially pronounced because there is no generally agreed upon measure of justice. There are some clear-cut examples of injustice that can sometimes be blamed on philosophical attitudes, but these are quite rare. I agree that there is a “spherical cow” difficulty, but the same is true of many other fields. You could ask me how Euclid’s Elements will help you fix a flat tire, and I won’t have an answer. Similarly you could ask me how the Golden Rule applies to the US policy toward Syria, and I won’t have an answer. That doesn’t mean that the Elements or the Golden Rule are useless; and similarly mathematics is not useless, and moral philosophy is not useless. There are an infinite number of highly specific questions that I can’t answer with any confidence, and I’ve been hit with a good number of them in this thread.

    I will now try and make the very briefest apology for the existence of moral and political theory. Should I fail to persuade the lingering audience in this thread, then perhaps the entire philosophical profession will resign in defeat. Here goes:

    Moral theory exists for two purposes. The first is to explain the latent reasons that support moral judgements that we make and intuitions that we possess. The second purpose is to prescribe reliable rules by which we can make correct judgements in the future. Since we hold beliefs about morals and about justice, it desirable to quantify the reasoning that validates those beliefs, and to verify that our reasoning belongs to a consistent (i.e. non-contradictory) system of justification. A suitable moral system is one that is consistent, complete (i.e. decides all interesting moral dilemmas), and avoids absurdities or atrocities. To date, there is no system that satisfies these criteria. But the alternative — no system at all — leaves us with the discomfort of holding moral beliefs based solely on emotional preference (which is only slightly better than choosing them at random).

    To deal with the failings of moral systems, we might take a narrowed approach and build moral systems that are specialized to certain problem domains, while considering them inapplicable to other domains. In this fashion we can construct mini-systems that are more consistent and complete, and have fewer chances for absurdity than their grand-system counterparts. This is quite analogous to how an engineer deals with the “spherical cow” problem — I just focus on systems in which a better model is not required, and it turns out I can do a lot of good with a spherical cow.

    [Since there’s a lot of demand for examples, I’ll point out that a great deal of good biomedical engineering progress has been made using spherical-head assumptions over the past 20 years; the head isn’t a sphere but one can still make progress by choosing problems that are tolerant to this approximation.]

  248. says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy@301

    All rights impose obligations upon others to ensure that they remain rights. No rights whatsoever exist in the absence of a social agreement to enforce them. In order for you to have a right to get murdered, an obligation is imposed upon the police, the courts, lawyers, etc. to ensure that something is done about it, so as to minimize the liklihood of murder, and thus maximise your ability to enjoy that right.

    I don’t agree that “rights” are necessarily outcomes of social agreements. Human rights are a real thing, even in totally disorganized societies that have no means to recognize or protect those rights. The social contract view is really awkward when applied to problems of animal rights, international relations or to conditions of social disintegration.

  249. unclefrogy says

    as someone who aspires to the scientific method and ideals I try to base my understanding on the reality I can “measure”. In these discussions about Libertarianism the libertarian thinkers insist on leading the discussion into the area of abstraction. never once have I heard any analysis of what we are doing now and how we got there.
    the complicated interactions of individuals have yielded the complex world we find ourselves in.
    The argument they have is with reality itself in that way they are just like the religious believer..
    there is no land anywhere that is not owned and under the control of someone or some group any where. all of those owner have a say about what happens in this market place and many have made agreements with others with the purpose to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, ”
    the thing that I really have a reaction to is the characterization of the government as some outside force or entity when in fact that is doubly true in a democracy it is the people who have designated some to do the actual work required to implement their agreements.
    I think we would be well advised to take a much closer look at how reality really works and ignore the obsessive disputes over what political and economic ideology is the best
    uncle frogy

  250. hiddenheart says

    Cjwinstead: A right that cannot be enforced, and that is routinely violated, is not in effect a right at all. Rights exist only when they recognized and enforced by someone whose authority to do so is generally accepted, so that her reprisals against violators won’t be taken in turn as justification for counter-reprisals from someone else. In the absence of that, any talk of rights is as much wishful thinking as talk of what a just and loving God would do, were He inclined to intervene.

    To say “this is a right” is to talk about what should be. To talk about rights in action, we must always to talk about enforcement, because there are zero rights that everyone always respects. Even the most negative of liberties exists only insofar as there’s positive protection of those exercising it and punishment of those violating it.

  251. says

    hiddenheart:
    I think we are launching into a centuries-old debate over the nature of rights, but we can briefly hash out a few of the major points. I think that when people refer to rights, they refer to something worthy of respect by others, regardless of whether it is in fact receiving that respect. However what you’re referring to is ambiguity related to dual usage of the term. For instance, someone might say “colonialism ignores the rights of indigenous peoples,” but in another context one might say “refugees exist in a vulnerable position where they have no rights.” In the former usage, it is claimed that indigenous people deserve respect even though there is no authority to recognize/protect it. In the latter usage, it is observed that refugees have little protection for the rights typically enjoyed in civil society. I think both usages are meaningful and necessary for intelligible moral discussions.

  252. says

    cjwinstead 303

    I don’t agree that “rights” are necessarily outcomes of social agreements.

    It’s unfortunate that you choose to deny reality; it makes these discussions much less fruitful and more tedious than they might otherwise be. What evidence can you present that rights have any other source?
    306

    I think both usages are meaningful and necessary for intelligible moral discussions.

    Regardless of whether we’re discussing rights as an is or as a should, the distinction between negative and positive rights remains arbitrary, meaningless, and useless.

  253. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think both usages are meaningful and necessary for intelligible moral discussions.

    Nope, until you lose your presuppositions, your cliches, and your slogans, there can’t be discussions. Only you preaching, and being refuted by reality….

  254. says

    At this point we are arguing about semantic distinctions that have logical significance but are totally unrelated to evidence. It’s like demanding evidence for mathematical set theory. I’m not going to recapitulate nearly two thousand years of western literature on these topics while you lob insults at me. For those who are interested in basic introductory information on moral foundations, just go to Wikipedia pages like this one on Natural vs Legal Rights, which introduces the topic with these semantic distinctions:

    Natural and legal rights are two types of rights: legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system, while natural rights are those not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable.

    The theory of natural law is closely related to the theory of natural rights. During the Age of Enlightenment, natural law theory challenged the divine right of kings, and became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, positive law, and government — and thus legal rights — in the form of classical republicanism.[dubious – discuss][original research?][clarification needed] Conversely, the concept of natural rights is used by some anarchists to challenge the legitimacy of all such establishments.[1][2]

    The idea of human rights is also closely related to that of natural rights; some acknowledge no difference between the two, regarding them as synonymous, while others choose to keep the terms separate to eliminate association with some features traditionally associated with natural rights.[3] Natural rights, in particular, are considered beyond the authority of any government or international body to dismiss. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an important legal instrument enshrining one conception of natural rights into international soft law. Natural rights were traditionally viewed as exclusively negative rights,[4] whereas human rights also comprise positive rights.[5] Even on a natural rights conception of human rights, the two terms may not be synonymous.

    The proposition that animals have natural rights is one that has gained the interest of philosophers and legal scholars in the 20th century.

    I’m posting this information because there seems to be at least one lurker who is interested in gaining a greater depth of knowledge from the discussion. As to the rest of you, this has been a truly bizarre experience and I won’t be posting here again.

  255. says

    cjwinstead
    You make the classic libertarian assumption that we are totally ignorant about libertarian gibberish, and that you can convince us by pointing to basic explanations of it. We are perfectly familiar with this bullshit, it is merely incorrect. If you can provide evidence for the existence of ‘natural rights,’ please do so. Philosophical wankery is not evidence. Examining the real world, we find that rights exist where a society has agreed to grant them to all members, and do not exist otherwise.

  256. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Nerd, if you aren’t going to contribute to the conversation, go somewhere else. Seriously. You aren’t helping or contributing by your repetition of “hurr you are illogical.”

    Cjwinstead, you are making the assumption that people here haven’t looked at libertarianism, examined its merits, and found them wanting.

    Personal example: I have a curved spine that is slowly but surely worsening (which means that, if family history is any guide, I’ll one day be bent double) and a congenital abnormality in my respiratory organs that has mostly been corrected by surgery. I am, however, dependent on nasal steroids to keep myself from drowning in my own mucous. Family history also indicates that by the time I’m 35, I’ll be diabetic, that I’ll need a hip replacement at 50 the other hip at 55, and both knees replaced at 65, and that by the time I’m 75 I’ll be incoherent from Alzheimer’s – but I’ll die at 95 and my doctor will maintain that my heart is that of someone thirty years younger. I seem to have dodged the rheumatoid arthritis (it would have manifested already) and the lupus (ditto) bullets, but I didn’t dodge the “chronic bursitis for no apparent reason” one. I have polycystic ovaries (which will make reproducing fun, if and when I decide to go down that path) and a thyroid whose condition can only be described as “catastrophic,” which means that I’m dependent on daily infusions of pharmaceuticals to stay alive. Not happy, not optimally-functioning, alive.

    Oh, and I’m a cancer survivor. Five years cancer-free! *confetti*

    Did I mention that I’m 28?

    For all that you say that you’re a Democrat who recognizes the mismatch between certain aspects of libertarian theory and the real world, and that you recognize the need for a safety net, I want you to understand something:
    (1) In the libertarian utopia, I would die.
    (2) As a result of (1), debates over safety nets is not an abstract thing to be debated. I cannot by “neutral” or “impartial” or “reasoned” about it.
    (3) Libertarianism exasperates me because it is illogical, it offends me by handwaving off the plight of the have-nots, and it terrifies me because it is my death sentence.

  257. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Cjwinstead, what part of we have had liberturds preach at us since April 2008 don’t you understand? That is why nobody is interested in engaging your inane and unevidenced ideas; we’ve done it a hundred or so times since then. You haven’t said anything new, or anything we don’t already know about. If you want to talk wank about political philosophy, find a more engaging web site that doesn’t do evidence discussion. You can’t force us to talk about something we are very tired of.

    Natural rights? More mental wanking, with no real world applications, as all rights are decided by society/social contract. Pretend all you want; we don’t have to agree with you.

  258. says

    I hope you have a better basis than this pulp critique. I see now that you are consciously discarding the entire field of moral philosophy. This is much bigger than libertarianism. You’re allowed to do that, and I won’t say its philosophically unreasonable (it is the moral equivalent of Cartesian skepticism). But I don’t see how this leaves anyone in a better position for understanding ethics or deciding moral questions. If you think that this one Loompanics book constitutes a scholarly foundation for your view (strong enough to trump all other views), then you’re delusional. A google scholar search for “natural rights” returns 71,700 results. A single text on the topic has over 3800 citations. A search for “myth of natural rights” returns 15 results (which includes other works that cite the book). This book has not had any scholarly impact whatsoever. It appears to be aimed primarily at refuting Randian Objectivism, which is not hard to do and serves as a poor straw man for the vast project of moral philosophy.

  259. chigau (違う) says

    I don’t care how late and dormant the thread seems
    if you are addressing a specific comment
    copypaste the nym and the comment #
    thank you

  260. says

    Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 @ 314:

    For all that you say that you’re a Democrat who recognizes the mismatch between certain aspects of libertarian theory and the real world, and that you recognize the need for a safety net, I want you to understand something:
    (1) In the libertarian utopia, I would die.
    (2) As a result of (1), debates over safety nets is not an abstract thing to be debated. I cannot by “neutral” or “impartial” or “reasoned” about it.
    (3) Libertarianism exasperates me because it is illogical, it offends me by handwaving off the plight of the have-nots, and it terrifies me because it is my death sentence.

    I support universal health care and believe a single-payer system is the best way to provide it. Access to health care is one of those mythological “rights” that I believe in. I am not a utopian thinker; I believe people deserve maximum libre, and this is not possible if they are impoverished, sick or malnourished. Unfortunately universal health care is still an “abstract thing to be debated” because it doesn’t yet exist in the US.

    I think you are exasperated by the views of Objectivists, who are consistently illogical and inflexible. It can also be exasperating to face the uncertainties and deficiencies of ethical philosophy, but that doesn’t mean reasoning about morality is a bad thing or that is a waste of time, or that it is masturbatory any more than, say, pure mathematics (which is also often accused of being masturbatory). Most people have moral beliefs, and most people reason about their beliefs. The project of moral philosophy is one of classifying the methods of moral reasoning that people use, discovering the logical structure of those methods, and deducing the logical consequences of our hidden beliefs.

    In order to make any progress in understanding, in a subject where there is no clearly dominant theory, you have to accept that theories can be problematic and yet still be reasonable, though not absolute. Some systems (like Objectivism) simply lack logical coherence and are thus not even theories. Other systems (like more carefully qualified libertarian critiques) may yield conclusions that run counter to our intuitions; that doesn’t mean we have to adopt those counter-intuitive conclusions, and it doesn’t mean we have to discard the theory. There simply isn’t a winning theory of morality and it is premature to discard any theory if it has some merits, unless you can produce a theory that is unambiguously better.

  261. says

    At this point it seems important to emphasize what just happened in this thread. In comment 317 I noted that there are over 71,000 hits for the phrase “natural rights” in google scholar. That should be sufficient to demonstrate my sole claim which is that there is a large body of legitimate scholarship associated with these concepts, and you can’t just dump the whole history of western thought, in all of its nuance, as “libertarian gibberish.” You just don’t know as much as you seem to think you know. I and other participants have provided links to establish a scholarly bibliography on these topics which is worthy of the same respect and attention that one should give to any scholarly subject.

    In response, my chief tormentor “Nerd of Redheads” has offered a single reference @316 as “necessary reading.” It is a fringe book written by an active holocaust denier, distributed by a holocaust-denial publishing house (nine-banded books), and has no scholarly value of any kind.

    It seems to me that this group has no appreciation for the distinction between legitimate scholarship and fringe groups. Perhaps it would make a nice object lesson if, from this point forward, I only refer to Nerd of Redheads as a holocaust denier, and assume that everything he says is somehow derived from holocaust denial. But then again I hate stupid object lessons and I believe in genuine, patient, rational criticism and correction. You might try it.

  262. says

    cjwinstead317

    I see now that you are consciously discarding the entire field of moral philosophy

    Not at all. Merely those portions of it which make absurd and unevidenced claims, which includes all forms of ‘Natural Law’ or ‘Natural Rights’.

    A google scholar search for “natural rights” returns 71,700 results

    That’s nice. A search for “Divine right” gives 43100 results, but that doesn’t make it a valid basis for morality, or anything else for that matter. Do any of those hits actually provide any evidence for natural rights? The first 5 I looked at didn’t, and many of the hits were historical discourses on the history of such philosophy, which only covers what people argued when, but says nothing about the validity of the arguments. (Note: I haven’t read the book Nerd suggested, and don’t care to. Whatever points the author may or may not have are irrelevant to the question of whether you can provide evidence for the existence of natural rights, which you have so far failed to do.)
    320

    Other systems (like more carefully qualified libertarian critiques) may yield conclusions that run counter to our intuitions; that doesn’t mean we have to adopt those counter-intuitive conclusions, and it doesn’t mean we have to discard the theory.

    The problem is not that libertarian conclusions are counter intuitive, it’s that they are demonstrably wrong and do not accurately model the real world, which is an entirely valid reason to discard the theory, as we have discarded phlogiston theory and geocentric theory: they did not accurately model or predict real world data, and are therefore entirely useless.

    There simply isn’t a winning theory of morality and it is premature to discard any theory if it has some merits, unless you can produce a theory that is unambiguously better.

    Given that you have failed to demonstrate any merits whatsoever to libertarian theory, virtually any political theory is unambiguously better.

    That should be sufficient to demonstrate my sole claim which is that there is a large body of legitimate scholarship associated with these concepts,

    It really doesn’t. ‘Theology’ gets over a million hits, and that’s certainly not a legitimate branch of scholarship.

  263. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    . That should be sufficient to demonstrate my sole claim which is that there is a large body of legitimate scholarship associated with these concepts, and you can’t just dump the whole history of western thought, in all of its nuance, as “libertarian gibberish.”

    Just because people write about nonsense, and the internet bots find it, doesn’t make it a valid claim, or a real scholarly subject. Your claim of “natural” rights doesn’t stand up to critical and skeptical scrutiny, and if you look at the web sites promoting it, they are all liberturd or even more inane political philosophies.

    It’s like the death penalty. One of the reasons I’m against it, is that I don’t care to be associated with the countries that practice it. Likewise, those making claims of natural rights aren’t people I care to be associated with either. And neither should you.

  264. says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy@322

    By all means, if you are aware of an ethical system that “models real world data” and also provides a useful framework for applied ethics, jurisprudence, and basic moral decision making, please enlighten me.

    In my view, “natural rights” exist because people refer to them as a basis for moral reasoning, and have done so for a long time and across many cultures. Moral concepts and claims evolve in the social “ecosystem,” and the first task of moral philosophy is to evaluate the latent logical structure of moral arguments that already exist. So the concept of rights exists, if only as a rhetorical object. People’s intuitions about morality have inconsistencies that lead to disputes and uncertainty. Hence the second core task of moral philosophy is normative: to identify logically consistent approaches that help answer the moral questions that people ask, and that help resolve the conflicts that people encounter.

    But I think I already said all this.

    The crucial problem with denying rights language is that it is in use by a huge number of people, very few of whom are libertarians. The UN Declaration on Human Rights is a nice document, but it wasn’t drafted on the basis of “real world data” and “evidence,” it was developed from a long-standing international discourse on rights theory. A good moral theory should be one that helps explain and improve on successful traditions, not just discard them as semantically meaningless.

  265. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Way to actually address my criticism of libertarianism, cjwinstead.

    “Moderate” non-Objectivist libertarians go on about how the “market” will provide all, and that everything would be fine if the market were left unfettered.

    I challenge you to speculate as to – unless there are rules like “no rescissions” and “pre-existing conditions are not grounds for denial of coverage” – how I would get access to health care coverage on an open market.

    (Hint: I CAN’T!)

    I’m not just slamming Objectivism – which appears to be a fancy name for sociopathy – I’m slamming the notion that “the market” is the answer. I’m slamming the notion that the optimum amount of regulation on the market is less than what we have today.

    And, thanks for the condescension about how this is totally an abstract debate for you. It isn’t for me, or the thousands like me. And I can talk to friends who live in countries with national healthcare and compare our situations.


    NERD! FFS, YOU AREN’T HELPING.

  266. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Cjwinstead, I am not interested in hearing bloviation about theory and the need for “debate.”

    Explain, in clear language, how disabled and unhealthy people would get access to care, how poor people would eat, be clothed, and have housing, and what people could practically do in response to a rapacious company polluting their neighborhood.

    Those are three real-world situations that – as far as I can tell – libertarianism of all stripes has done a crappy job of actually addressing. So address them, or admit that you can’t.

  267. says

    Cjwinstead324

    In my view, “natural rights” exist because people refer to them as a basis for moral reasoning, and have done so for a long time and across many cultures

    The same can be said of divinely granted rights, which is why I chose that comparison. Both classes suffer from the problem that every culture, and in many cases every proponent, has a different idea of which rights are ‘natural’ (or ‘divinely ordained’) and none of them have any way of demonstrating that their set is any more or less ‘natural’ (or ‘divine’) than anyone else’s. Therefore, it’s not really good for anything, because the whole thing is completely fucking arbitrary.

  268. says

    Esteleth@326:

    Cjwinstead, I am not interested in hearing bloviation about theory and the need for “debate.”

    Explain, in clear language, how disabled and unhealthy people would get access to care, how poor people would eat, be clothed, and have housing, and what people could practically do in response to a rapacious company polluting their neighborhood.

    Those are three real-world situations that – as far as I can tell – libertarianism of all stripes has done a crappy job of actually addressing. So address them, or admit that you can’t.

    As I’ve stated repeatedly, I am not a free-market libertarian. I am not going to defend free-market utopianism because it is not view. The whole reason we got stuck in this loop is because I tried to state that there are non-capitalist versions of libertarianism, that there is a class of legitimate scholarly literature on rights theory commonly referred to as “libertarian,” and that political theories are very distinct from political parties. I think the US libertarian party is crap, but I’m not willing to say the same about important philosophical literature just because libertarians happen to read it and cite it. Philosophy is not able to directly solve practical social problems any more than mathematics can directly help you fix a flat tire. It doesn’t mean that the study of philosophy is bad or useless.

    Personally, I am civil libertarian. I believe in self-determination, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and in the “open society” (i.e. freedom of information). My views in that domain could be classifiable as some version of left libertarianism. I don’t believe that economic libertarian theories are sound. I haven’t had much opportunity to talk about what I believe, or why I believe it, because people in this thread keep asking me to answer for the fallacies objectivism, or to explain why ethics itself is even a thing.

    I’m sorry to hear about your medical situation. I have lived in two countries that provide universal health care (I’m currently living in France), and it is supremely better. My wife and I both have chronic medical conditions, and at times in the US we were paying well over $1000 per month in addition to our insurance coverage. It is a stupid system. Philosophy isn’t going to fix it; that isn’t what philosophy does. Libertarians have made a mess by short-cutting the space between moral philosophy and government.

    We use the study of philosophy to help construct sound arguments, and to refute unsound arguments. Arguments on both sides of an issue can be sound. The US libertarian party is dominated by an absolutist amateur pop-philosophy known as “objectivism,” which is not sound. You can usually tell an unsound philosophy by its degree of certainty. Anyone who undertakes rigorous philosophical study should be painfully aware of the shortcomings in all their ideas — that’s why you don’t find too many trained philosophers signing up for the libertarian party.

  269. says

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy @327

    Both classes suffer from the problem that every culture, and in many cases every proponent, has a different idea of which rights are ‘natural’ (or ‘divinely ordained’) and none of them have any way of demonstrating that their set is any more or less ‘natural’ (or ‘divine’) than anyone else’s. Therefore, it’s not really good for anything, because the whole thing is completely fucking arbitrary.

    I want you to understand that you are being a Cartesian skeptical with regard to ethical theory. I have described the general framework of ethics as having an empirical component (starting with the types of claims and moral intuitions that people generally express), and an analytical component (to infer the hidden logical structure, and to propose theories that resolve inconsistencies or disputes). What I hear from you is that this is all arbitrary — everything from peoples’ moral intuitions to established jurisprudence. All crap.

    I cannot defeat the Cartesian skeptic.

    I have been asked to prove there is a scholarly basis to “all this.” Since you didn’t care for the Wikipedia pages I posted (which reference plenty of scholarly literature and are edited by contributors with verifiable credentials if you cared to check), I’ll offer a couple of textbooks from a university ethics curriculum:

    Peter Singer, A Companion to Ethics
    Michael L. Morgan, Classics of Moral and Political Theory

    Its been more than a decade since I was a student, but I think Singer’s book is still quite applicable. Morgan’s book is an abridged collection of important western philosophical works from Plato to Marx; it should give you some idea which works are considered respectable and scholarly. Singer is a professor at Princeton; Morgan is a professor at Indiana University.

    Previously in the thread I mentioned a highly cited text, Natural Law and Natural Rightsby John Finnis. I have not read this book, but the author is Professor of Law at University College, Oxford and at the University of Notre Dame. According to Wikipedia, “Finnis was a friend of Aung San Suu Kyi, also an Oxford graduate; and, in 1989, Finnis nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize.” So it sounds like he has some scholarly credibility.

    You don’t have to agree with anyone’s philosophy (no two philosophers agree; otherwise what’s the point?) But it isn’t all fringe pseudoscholarship. You need to draw lines in the right places or you’re no better than any other random mob.

  270. says

    Small-l libertarianism–the ‘libertarian impulse’–is actually fine. Coupled with empathy, rationality and other motivators, it helps to produce a healthy worldview.

    Yeah, that healthy worldview is generally known as “liberalism.” Which most libertarians flat-out despise and even compare to Hitler. So your benign “libertarian impulse” is just as ficticious as the libertarian understanding of history and economics.

  271. says

    cjwinstead, your purely abstract rambling about ethics and natural law has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the stupidity, dishonesty, indiference to human welfare, and utter lack of connon sense that lies at the core of libertarian ideology.

    The whole reason we got stuck in this loop is because I tried to state that there are non-capitalist versions of libertarianism…

    …all of which are vacuous, dead wrong, irrelevant to actual policy-making, and have nothing to do with the versions of libertarianism that are causing so much human misery today. There were non-Stalinist versions of Communism too, but that didn’t make Communism a more valid or workable ideology than it was.

    Personally, I am civil libertarian. I believe in self-determination, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and in the “open society” (i.e. freedom of information).

    There is not one single significant advance in any of those ideals that has not depended on government action — sometimes FORCEFUL government action. That’s why “left libertarianism” is pure crap: it advocates certain ideals but rejects the only tool known to effectively put those ideals into practice.

  272. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    . That’s why “left libertarianism” is pure crap: it advocates certain ideals but rejects the only tool known to effectively put those ideals into practice.

    QFMFT

  273. says

    cjwinstead 329

    I have been asked to prove there is a scholarly basis to “all this.

    I actually requested and evidentiary basis to the idea of ‘natural rights,’ which you have proven unable to provide or cite. I, however, can point to the real world to provide evidence for my claim that rights exist only insofar as a society provides and guarantees them (note that there is a difference between de facto rights and de jure rights as well, but that is arguably a subcategory of the whole is/ought distinction regarding rights covered above). For instance, as a U.S. citizen, I’ve got the right to fill my home with an arsenal of firearms, but I haven’t got the right to go to a doctor if I’m sick (Arguably I actually do have the latter right de jure since the U.S. is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but in practice the U.S. government pretty much ignores the whole thing, so I haven’t actually got that right). In Sweden, say, this is reversed; were I a Swedish citizen, I’d have no right at all to have firearms in my home, although I might be able to get that privilege by jumping through enough hoops, but if I were sick, I’d have the right to go see a doctor. The other rights I’ve got come from the U.S. Constitution via the U.S. government

    But it isn’t all fringe pseudoscholarship

    I didn’t say it was fringe, I said it was useless. Do try to pay attention. Neoclassical economics isn’t fringe either, but it’s crap. Same goes, as I pointed out above, for all manner of flavors of theology. Ad populum is a pretty crap argument, as is ad auctoritatem. So far you’ve managed not a single actual argument, and you constantly protest that you don’t actually agree with libertarians on anything when pressed, so what the living hell is your actual point?

    Raging Bee 331

    There were non-Stalinist versions of Communism too, but that didn’t make Communism a more valid or workable ideology than it was.

    Not quite true, old bean. I really do wish that the kneejerk anti-communists would do at least a bit of research (leaving aside the question of whether Stalinism is legitimately any more communist than Nazism is socialist, which is one that can be taken up separately. Given that it meets at least as many of the identifying points of fascism as the latter, I see no reason not to call it another variety of same.) Pure-strain Marxism has a number of flaws, many of them quite serious. Some of them are due to changes in technology and such since old Karl was writing, while others stem from his own blind spots and prejudice. Nevertheless, as the links above indicate, there are viable forms of applied communism*. Socialism is another story; partial socialism has limited uses in certain forms of economic development (See Ha-joon Chang, Kicking Away the Ladder for more detail on that), but pure state ownership of industry is no better and usually considerably worse than ownership of industry by rapacious capitalists.

    *I feel the need to point out here that in common parlance, communism and socialism have become nearly synonymous, and both are applied equally to situations where the state owns the means of production and to situations where the workers own the means of production. When I’m writing, I tend to use socialism to describe the former and communism to refer to the latter, to keep the concepts separate, because they are very different ideas with very different effects. I will also note that state provided infrastructure (including ‘socialized medicine’ or single-payer healthcare as well as social welfare/safety nets) is an example of neither socialism nor communism, and can perfectly well exist in a capitalist economy (although actual capitalists, i.e. owners of large amounts of capital, tend to fight tooth and nail against most forms of soft infrastructure, and often hard infrastructure too, despite the fact that they benefit the most from both; greedy short-sighted bastards that they are.)

    That’s why “left libertarianism” is pure crap: it advocates certain ideals but rejects the only tool known to effectively put those ideals into practice.

    Also untrue. The best phrasing of the implementation of anti-hierarchical (left-libertarian/anarchist), on my view, comes from Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons (No link because I don’t want to trip the filters): “Mutual coercion mutually agreed upon.” Practically speaking, this means universally democratic governance, in economic as well as political matters. The precise political implementation is a matter of considerable debate (representative vs direct democracy, how to apportion representatives, etc. etc. etc. It can go on for days.)

  274. says

    I feel the need to point out here that in common parlance, communism and socialism have become nearly synonymous…

    Yes, I’m quite aware of that problem, but I’m not part of it. I used the word “Communism” here for a reason, and I know fine well that it’s very different from what we tend to call “socialism.”

  275. says

    Raging Bee 334

    Yes, I’m quite aware of that problem, but I’m not part of it. I used the word “Communism” here for a reason, and I know fine well that it’s very different from what we tend to call “socialism.”

    This leads to a couple of salient questions then. Given that you claim to understand the difference between communism and socialism, why would you classify Stalinism (which includes complete state control of industry and the economy) as the former rather than the latter, which is clearly a better descriptor? Given that you understand that communism means, in an economic sense, worker ownership of means of production, why do you insist that it is fundamentally unworkable in the face of a multitude of worker cooperatives which work perfectly well? What evidence can you offer in support of this contention of yours?

  276. says

    The best phrasing of the implementation of anti-hierarchical (left-libertarian/anarchist), on my view, comes from Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons (No link because I don’t want to trip the filters): “Mutual coercion mutually agreed upon.”

    That means some form of GOVERNMENT playing an active role in regulating private business practices for the common good, which is antithetical to libertarianism. (And it wouldn’t be “anti-hierarchical” or “anarchist” either — there would have to be a hierarchical organization making and enforcing the regs.) If you advocate this, then either you’re not a “libertarian,” or you’re making that label meaningless.

    Any political philosophy or label that contains the word “anarchist” or “anarchic” is, pretty much by definition, nothing but brown air. You can’t have ANY kind of functioning civil society without a government, using force as necessary to regulate behavior for the common good. The word “anarchist” is pretty much synonymous with “airhead.”

  277. says

    Raging Bee #336
    Do at least try to read for comprehension, jackass. It helps so much in actually having a discussion. Do you maybe know another meaning of ‘representative democracy’ that doesn’t involve government? Did you notice the positive mention of it in the next fucking sentence after the one you quoted? Or did you just jerk your knee because you know jack shit about anarchism or communism, despite your claims above? Address my fucking questions, dipshit, or acknowledge that you’re full of shit.