Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What sort of libertarianism could I respect?

A good question often asked by skeptics is "What would it take for you to change your belief?

For example, asked of an atheist, the answer could be that a real god (or alien or advanced being) could compel change in belief, and would know whether evidence or intervention was needed.

My belief is that libertarianism in all its diversity is repugnant.

So what would a libertarian have to tell me about his most important beliefs so that I didn't think they were repugnant?  You folks go first: after a few days I'll post some of my ideas in the responses.

Then we can see if any libertarians out there fit.


Lorraine said...

I have been following your critiques of libertarianism for some time, and hope you continue this project. I find your critiques of libertarianism, to some extent, to be defenses of statism, which is not my worldview, but even my anti-statism has recently taken on an anti-libertarian character. This is because I have reached the conclusion that the so-called "non-aggression principle," or negative liberty, is a rhetorical trap; one that I have come to suspect has been deliberately lain in order to snare egalitarians in general. I can still respect libertarian socialism in cases where it is clearly stated that liberty and socialism are goals of equal priority, that will not be "traded off" against each other, but I'm simply not buying the "libertarian means to socialist ends" thing any more. The N.A.P. is a rhetorical recipe for independence as a prerequisite for freedom, and wealth as a prerequisite for independence. I will not keep banging my head against the wall trying to make flatbread using a recipe for a layer cake.

Mike Huben said...

We come from very different viewpoints, but I think I may understand how we agree.

The non-aggression principle is a trap because libertarians except the greatest aggression in our society today: property. The idea of property includes a right to violently aggress against anybody who disagrees about property.

John Locke attempted to solve that problem for land with the Lockean Proviso: property is ok if there is as much and as good left after you take it. But any time price arises, there is obviously SCARCITY, and not as much and as good.

The single-taxers had a fairly good solution, of paying a ground rent that would be redistributed to the populace. With what we've learned of economics since then, it might make even more sense to frequently auction rights to each property, or have some sort of continuing auction, with some safeguards for small holdings that have significant sentimental value to the occupiers.

The Coase Theorem should support this as being roughly as economically efficient as another system, and it has the benefit of better social justice.

BTW, I am not an anarchist though one of my proudest contributions was to the Anarchist FAQ. I am sympathetic but unconvinced.

Anonymous said...

I would respect a libertarian which could define and describe a "free market" that could physically exist in the real world and describe the mechanism where by humans would come to act socially but in a way that no one could ever feel forced to anything they didn't won't do and never do anything that anyone could argue would cause one to believe that one was being forced into doing something with the slightest feeling of coercion.

I would like a technical description of how exactly this market would operate and solve the physically real problems of food distribution, climate change, building shelter for everyone without any disagreement or conflict every resolved by any other than completely free consent to all actions taken by everyone affected.

When I read libertarian all I see is bunch of hand waving and abstraction. Give me something real. Explain exactly what changes in transactions, banking, regulations that a free market would entail and how exactly each of those specifics would lead us to the best of all possible worlds.

If they could do that then their positions would be respectable. I won't hold my breath.

Michael said...
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Michael said...

I might respect a libertarian who didn't seem delusional. I mean, they show every sign of being in a cult (if you're not in it, anyway, since they won't admit it), they have their own parallel history, economics, culture, and they're SURE they're right about every issue because of their principles. I have sometimes met some who were pragmatic, sensible and realized that the real world didn't look like their theory, and it was their theory that had to adapt.
And they're all so self-righteous. I just saw, and I'm not kidding, someone claim that Ayn Rand was a STATIST so that he could keep going with his claims about libertarianism purity.

David Moisan said...

I've flirted with libertarianism for a long time, but for just as many years, I've come to despise it.

I might respect a libertarian who recognizes his or her limits, and the limits and failings of the ideology.

I have a disability. I am on a town board dealing with people with disabilities. I would be...well-off if I got a nickel for all the "Yer a special interest group!" comments I've heard over the years.

Years ago, when my mom had to get around with a scooter because she could not walk, we could only go to places with automatic doors. We heard over and over again, "why should we serve a small minority of people?"

The disabled were supposed to get together and serve as their own market (sound familiar?) Of course, they couldn't have access to the larger marketplace via curb cuts and street level entrances with doors, it's "tyranny of the minority!"

I've heard it all before.

(And don't talk to me about the "minority of the individual" or "the smallest minority". I only hear "ME ME ME!" when you do that.)

The libertarians have to realize that The Free Markets tend towards the tyranny of the majority if they aren't checked. Or in other words, the markets fail people with disabilities (your neighbors) all by themselves.

Over 20 years ago, there was a law that did do a lot to encourage market development in many sub-fields serving people with disabilities of all kinds, marketing and selling a wide variety of access solutions from playground equipment to amplifiers for the hearing impaired.

It was the Americans with Disabilities Act. Signed by a Republican president and sponsored, amongst others, by a Republican senator.

20 years ago.

Rand Paul hates it.

It's statist.

Penn Jillette loves to talk about handicapped parking spaces, and how one cannot legislate politeness.

In my lifetime, as a child 40 years ago, there was absolutely no incentive not to cut off some poor Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair just because you needed the parking spot by the door. And if they could not get into the store, well, Jillette can politely explain that, well, you know, you're just a minority and a special interest.

Mike Huben said...

Excellent point, David! I've created a new index in my wiki for Minorities as libertarian blind spots. Would you like me to copy your comment there as the first entry? You're welcome to rework it however you like first.

David Moisan said...

Mike, permission granted to copy it verbatim. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

At first sight libertarianism looks nice, but if one studies it deeper ones sees the flaws. The more consistent people try to make their ideologies, the more absurd and extreme those ideologies become.

The greatest flaw libertarians make is the fact that they ignore human interdependence. This means that freedom is essentially a zero-sum game, for freedom for one, means less freedom for another. Real liberals try to equalize the amount of freedom persons have.

@Mike Huben

If we combine the Lockean proviso, with Nozick's compensation principle we essentially get a moral argument in favour of Georgism. Only Nozick denounces Georgism as "impracticable" (ASU, p. 175). This onjection applies, of course, to much of Nozick's on theory.