The GOP Needs More Libertarianism, Not Less

New York Times columnist David Brooks is wrong to worry about the influence of “economic conservatives.”

Has libertarianism taken hold of the Republican Party and ruined American conservatism in the process? New York Times columnist David Brooks thinks so.

In a column this week, Brooks surveys the state of the American right and declares it to be in terminal decline. The root of the problem, he explains, is libertarianism. Traditional conservatives, those who favor a society that functions “as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government,” have been surpassed by those who “upheld freedom as their highest political value” and "spent a lot of time worrying about the way government intrudes upon economic liberty.”

The result of this libertarian triumph, Brooks argues, has been a disaster for the American right. “Since they no longer speak in the language of social order,” he claims, “Republicans have very little to offer the less educated half of this country.”

Considering that the 2012 Republican Platform advocates things like “Making the Internet Family-Friendly” by banning online gambling, “vigorously enforced” legal crackdowns on pornography, and “a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” it seems a little fishy to say the GOP no longer speaks “in the language of social order.” The Republican message needs more libertarianism, not less.

Brooks’ larger point is also wrong. As he sees it, free-market thinking is deficient because it “appeals to people as potential business owners, but not as parents, neighbors and citizens.”

But that is a false dichotomy.

Libertarians favor limiting the size and scope of government precisely because they believe that approach will offer the greatest opportunity for people to seek their own happiness, whether as individuals, parents, church-goers, or, yes, even as business owners.

Does that make libertarianism anti-social? Hardly. Libertarians simply maintain that there is a crucial distinction between state and society and they hope to maintain a wall of separation when appropriate so that the latter may flourish.

Consider the ideas of libertarian patron saint Friedrich Hayek. Although he is best known for his warnings about the dangers of a centrally-planned economy, Hayek was equally concerned with identifying and expanding those things that make free societies rise and grow in the first place, such as free trade, voluntary social cooperation, and the rule of law.

Contrary to the stereotype of the heartless individualist, Hayek never held that each man was an island unto himself. In fact, Hayek even suggested that humans might possess some instinctual desire for collectivism, an inheritance from early man’s struggles for food and shelter as members of small groups. As he wrote in his book The Fatal Conceit (1988), “it is true that the greater part of our daily lives, and the pursuit of most occupations, give little satisfaction to deep-seated ‘altruistic’ desires to do visible good.”

Whether or not altruism is truly instinctive, it does seem to be true that most people derive benefit from doing things for others. But where someone like David Brooks would see that as an invitation for the government to step in and take charge, libertarians believe the answer is for individuals to pursue voluntary altruism on behalf of their own family, friends, or communities while simultaneously supporting the limited government that protects everyone's equal right to do the same.

As most libertarians will tell you, maximizing the political, social, and economic freedom of each person also maximizes the common good. That’s a feature of the libertarian approach, not a bug.

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  • Caleb Turberville||

    I've noticed since Ron Paul 2008 a lot of people on the left linking libertarians to the MRM and those on the right speaking of libertarians have if they were the new communists.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Of course, the Ron Paul newsletters were destined to strain our relationship with the left.

  • Jeff||

    Nah. The left could look past the racism. They look past their own racism, after all. It's libertarians' fiscal sanity that's the real unbridgeable divide.

  • Killazontherun||

    This needs to be underlined:

    They look past their own racism, after all.

  • Gladstone||

    It's libertarians' fiscal sanity that's the real unbridgeable divide

    No shit. The real problem with the libertarians is that they want to shut down a lot of government programs.

  • TardisPilot||

    Or better yet, remove federal backing of programs that should be instituted and funded at the state level.

  • Hollywood||

  • The Hammer||

    What is MRM?

  • TomD||

    Very curious here as well. What is "the MRM"?

  • Voluntaryist Grunger||

    The Men's Rights Movement? If so I don't have a problem with the link. The family courts are clearly biased against fathers and the domestic violence rape laws are clearly biased against men. Objective research will verify this, but dudes on the left tend to suffer from 'white knight syndrome.' I.E. not holding women accountable when they commit injustices due to 'chivalrous' impulses.

  • ||

    Fuck it I have hope.

    Just yesterday Shrike told us he is voting for Johnson.

  • SIV||

    shriek is in love with Neal Boortz's tax plan.

  • Jtsulli||

    Brooks is a democrat that the NY times pays to pretend to be a conservative. He will decry any GOP move away from statism.

  • Killazontherun||

    Discovered by William F Buckley when Brooks wrote for a student paper. Thanks, Bill. Thanks a million.

  • John C. Randolph||

    So, that's where little Davey Brooks developed his lifelong love of the taste of boot leather?

    Figures.

    -jcr

  • ant1sthenes||

    I think he's more of a communitarian. They're practically the opposite of libertarians, but that means that while they lean toward Democrats at present, they're technically their own thing.

  • Brutus||

    Communitarians are fascists with a human face. Same iron-fisted methods, however, just more concerned with PR.

  • Adam.||

    Are these liberal journalists even capable of rational thought anymore? The longer I continue to identify libertarian the dumber everyone else seems to get.

  • ||

    No they are actually getting dumber.

    Seriously we live in an age when Carter and Bush Sr look like not only reasonable but brilliant leaders.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Carter? Bush Sr.? Really? You really need a long vacation from life if you are willing to say that. Time heals many wounds but we are still bleeding from the damage James Earl inflicted on us. Who stood up the DOE again?

    Things are worse now because of their contributions to the burgeoning state. The latest clowns can only see as far as they do because they stand on the shoulders of those 'giants'.

    I now need to take a few pulls at the bottle. I guess this was a bad day to stop drinking.

  • ||

    Carter? Bush Sr.? Really? You really need a long vacation from life if you are willing to say that.

    My comment was obviously bracketed in relative terms and was made to emphasis how bad Bush Jr and Obama have been and how bad Romney looks to be. Saying those three are perhaps the worst leaders in my life time is probably an understatement.

    Also your time heals many wounds is bullshit.

    Wilson still looks fucking awful and Coolidge still looks fantastic.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    "Also your time heals many wounds is bullshit."
    Bulshit on the bullshit. People forget. And yes, Carter as the inventor of the Dept of Education, has a special place in hell waiting for him.

    Sorry I missed the bracketing, as for YOUR life time? Who cares. Saw the other two bozos in action and the laid the ground work for the current crop of fools.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    You win.

  • RyanXXX||

    Theyre obsessed with creating simple, moralizing "narratives" of "how we got here," I've noticed.

  • ||

    If libertarians have taken over the Republican party then how the fuck does Brooks explain Romney's nomination?

  • RyanXXX||

    That's why he disingenuously uses "economic conservative" as a synonym for "libertarian." It makes anyone who talks about cutting the budget easy to label with the L-word

  • jacob the barbarian||

    He also conflated Tea Party with Libertarian. Makes the racism narrative oh so much tidier.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Also, if libertarians have taken over the GOP, does that mean he is going to shut the fuck up sometime soon?

  • Alex the wolf||

    Sorry but would you say that Romney is against free markets???
    Have you seen his proposals???
    Compared to Barack "fair share" Obama????

    I consider myself a libertarian and I think his economic ideas would be very good for the economy. Unfortunately, I think he will lose, which means that Obama will win, which means that the economy will become more centralized, more regulated, more taxed, etc.

  • Ballz||

    "... I think his (Romney's) economic ideas would be very good for the economy"

    huh? did I miss something? haven't really seen anything from Romney but bullshit

  • Calidissident||

    Romney's proposing more spending and a trade war with China, and possibly tax increases on the lower and middle classes. He supported Romneycare and the bailouts. At the end of a hypothetical Romney presidency, there would be more regulations than at the start guaranteed. There would be the same or more federal departments and agencies. Doesn't sound free market at all to me. Ballz has it exactly right

  • pmains||

    Yup. And he wants a trade war with China because he doesn't believe that the US system can outcompete the Chinese system in the marketplace. In other words, he's a forking commie.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    "At the end of a hypothetical Romney presidency, there would be more regulations than at the start guaranteed. There would be the same or more federal departments and agencies. "

    Yes, but this would be true for every president, and every nominee from either Team Blue or Team Red, going back to ... well ... Me!

  • Alex the wolf||

    Tax increases??? Mitt Romney is proposing tax increases?? I think you are not free of the "the rich aren´t paying their fair share" nonsense.
    Here is the thing: Romney wants to keep the lower tax rates for everyone (aka "taxs cuts for the wealthy")
    Lower the corporate rate to 28% and cap the federal spending at 20% of the GDP. With regards to China, I´m a big supporter of free trade but there have been many reports of China stealing intellectual property, and that shouldnt be. And also Mitt has spoken against public unions prerrogatives.
    Okay, not perfect but better than Obama

  • Calidissident||

    Romney's tax plan has been vague, but it's possible that he's going to eliminate deductions without lowering rates to make up for it. I want everyone's taxes to go down. 20% of GDP? Yeah, that's gonna work, when we've practically never gotten that much revenue. And how is he going to do that? He wants a minimum of 4% of GDP on military spending, not counting wars, and he's proposed at best modest reforms to the entitlement crisis that his set to consume an ever growing portion of our GDP. Federal employees aren't unionized, that's a state/local issue so I don't care what he has to say about that. How about you stop judging political candidates on what they say, and more on what they do? Republicans don't exactly have a good record on following through with their promises

  • ||

    Kudos to China for stealing IP.

  • Cavpitalist||

    Dude...you're talking to people who actually follow politics beyond partisan rhetoric.

    You're out of your depth here.

  • ant1sthenes||

    His proposals? Who cares? It will either be President Romney or President Obama running the country, not Candidate Romney or Candidate Obama.

  • ||

    Whether or not altruism is truly instinctive

    It is. It is basically standard mammalian brain kin selection that can easily be fooled into thinking anyone is kin...hell people can be fooled into thinking dogs and cats and plants and cars and countries are kin.

    Note: by fooled i mean the mechanism can be fooled...this is not a bad thing.

  • Outside the Box||

    You are correct that "altruism" - like all human behavior - is a product of natural selection, but I think your evolutionary psychology could use some refreshing: the theory that altruism comes from kin selection is anachronistic. Man is a social animal and much of evolutionary success is determined by how well he/she navigates the social landscape. "Altruism" is largely about signalling. See http://www.amazon.com/The-Hand.....pd_ys_iyr1 for a pretty neat addition to the field.

  • ||

    Yeah sure cuz humans are magical and unlike every instance of natural selection where new behaviors and adaptation are always old adaptation only slightly modified humans instead through sheer will alone invented a whole new kind of altruism.

    Give me a fucking break.

    Humans are social animals...in fact they have highly developed facial recognition ability that can be directly mapped to kin selection.

    Cows are also social but they are herd animals with little altruism. Humans are pack animals and their social/political structures are based on pack animal social/political structures. Unlike herd animals which just hang out together for protection they have a social strata complete with roles and responsibilities for each member...and pack animals are all about kin selection.

  • Calidissident||

    Humans are far more intelligent than other species, which would enable us to overcome "instincts." Free will does exist. No one would deny the influence of DNA and evolutionary biology, but that doesn't mean every decision we make is precoded into our genes like some would have us believe

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    If you overcome your instinct thoroughly enough to fuck other people with the qualities you look for, then that becomes part of natural selection.

    The ability to treat other non-relatives as kin was an essential evolutionary step toward being able to form settled communities with populations of above 50-100.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    It is a bad thing. This falling in love with whining puppies, and wounded snakes is what is running amok through the fevered minds of the ex-hippies and aging flower children. Think Bubba Clint and his wife, 'hips.' These are the same losers who are now making big time contributions to the Annointed One and disparage self interest.

    Self interest is the driving force behind the market. Capitalism cannot exist without it, and frankly civilization is dependent on it. at least The TEAM red clown does not disparage 'self interest.'

    Until the Rockefeller wing of the party, a.k.a. the Bush wing, is moved out of leadership, Libertarians are only going to continue to get the same shitty treatment they currently do. The Social conservatives are another block that in the main do NOT get the need for small guv'mint.

  • ||

    Self interest is the driving force behind the market.

    You are an idiot.

    Go and actually read Hayek please...or hell actually read the article you are commenting on.

    Then go read about Chimps and how they have no markets because they are unable to empathize to the degree humans can.

  • KPres||

    Uh, chimps trade goods all the time you idiot. Its primitive because of their low IQs (you identify I'm sure) and has nothing to do with empathy.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    Corning,
    First off, I was commenting on your comment directly and I am paraphrasing Adam Smith ...

    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages”
    ― Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Vol 1

    So why need I go to Hayek when Smith suffices? Would you prefer I quoted from Hayek? How about von Mises?

    "Under such a socialist mode of production all personal incentives which selfishness provides under capitalism are removed, and a premium is put upon laziness and negligence. Whereas in a capitalist society selfishness incites everyone to the utmost diligence, in a socialist society it makes for inertia and laxity."

    Also, I did not say all altruism is bad. I said that currently, especially in the team blue camp, it has run amok, and is misplaced. We started with "He aint heavy, he's my brother" and we have gone so far past that now we are responsible for the ills of the whole world.

    Lastly, Chimps do not have markets BECAUSE they cannot empathize? Wow. And you are calling me an idiot? Look bub, I disagreed with you, and I did so without name calling. Prove me wrong, or at least read the comment I wrote directly to you when you reply.

  • KPres||

    But if you have to fool it, then it isn't instinct. Sure, if you brainwash people into thinking all of humanity is one big family, their natural kinship instinct will kick in. But if anybody asks the question "why should I see all of humanity as kin?" the whole thing crumbles since there's no rationale behind such an idea. Furthermore, anybody who does break the brainwashing has a distinct advantage since they're no longer deceived into self-sacrifice, a fact that probably ensures the deception won't persist over time.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    This is where Religion kicks in. The need to obey arbitrary rules in order to form a society required that we evolve the ability to accept things on faith.

  • Outside the Box||

    "libertarians believe [in] supporting the limited government"

    Ummm: no. Why would you write this when you know that the libertarian community is divided on minarchy vs anarchy?

    I certainly do not support the state, and I'm libertarian.

  • David Emami||

    Ummm: no. Why would you write this when you know that the libertarian community is divided on minarchy vs anarchy?

    It's divided that way philosophically, but it doesn't have any practical effect. I would absolutely love to see full-blown anarchocapitalism -- in the same sense that I'd love to see humans colonizing Alpha Centauri. I think they're both desirable and eventually workable, but I just don't expect to see either one in my lifetime, and see no point in thinking about them except when reading fiction. I'm not going to do the philosophical equivalent of criticizing a rocket design's inability to leave the solar system when right now libertarianism rarely even climbs above the atmosphere.

    So, yes, while in my heart of hearts I'm an anarchocapitalist, I'd still love it if we achieved a decent minarchy. I'd be ecstatic just to get things back within the bounds of the US Constitution. Hell, I'd be overjoyed if we merely got rid of the Great Society crap that LBJ foisted on us.

  • T o n y||

    libertarians believe the answer is for individuals to pursue voluntary altruism on behalf of their own family, friends, or communities while simultaneously supporting the limited government that protects everyone's equal right to do the same.

    But there's an upper limit to the size of the community one is allowed to support. I get differing opinions here one where to draw the line. Some are fine with state-level governments. It's pretty universal that we're not allowed to have a national community, though.

    And a "wall of separation" between state and society only guarantees the state will be a tyrannical thing--the state's supposed to be the instrument of society's collective action, not a distinct Olympian rule-enforcer.

    Restricting people's freedom to do things collectively does not maximize the common good. Libertarian national policies have never been demonstrated to do this when compared to more socially conscious national policies. It's just an assertion.

  • Outside the Box||

    "Restricting people's freedom to do things collectively does not maximize the common good. "

    True.

    Fortunately, that has nothing to do with libertarianism, which is only about force, not about collectivism vs individualism.

  • T o n y||

    Yeah and government force is allowed... for all the things rich people care about. If your interests are basic needs rather than property protection, fuck you moocher.

  • Jordan||

    Poor people don't care about protecting their property?

  • T o n y||

    Poor people have little, if any, property, by definition.

  • KPres||

    Which is why they have all the more reason to care about what they do have.

    Liberaltards are always making this stupid argument.

    State protected property benefits the rich the least (since they could afford to hire their own police force) and the poor the most (where do all the texts happen? Which areas do cops have to patrol the most?).

  • KPres||

    Thefts, not texts.

  • Brutus||

    Wasn't it the "liberal" wing of the SCOTUS that green-lighted the confiscation of peoperty in Kelo? Why yes, yes it was.

    Spare us your bullshit, Tony.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And less access to the apparatus of state power, which is precisely why the need for property RIGHTS is vital.

  • Proprietist||

    Nobody said individuals can't have basic needs rather than property protection. It's not the role of the government to provide every human need or want.

    You're perfectly welcome to start Tonyland in Libertopia, create your own Tonybucks and let the poor redeem all the Tonybucks you give them for the products they need at Tonymart, since you know in your heart you must provide for the needs of all citizens of Tonyland.

  • T o n y||

    Fine, then I declare myself a libertarian and say government power should extend only to protecting the right to eat and have healthcare, and property owners can fend for themselves. How is that morally distinct from your position of immutable first principles--with caveats?

  • Proprietist||

    I had already come to the realization that you believe only in positive rights, and not at all in negative rights. Maybe that's your confusion - positive "rights" solely come from governnment provision via coercion.

    Negative "rights" exist in a state of nature where a person can live unmolested by other humans, or where two people can co-exist while respecting the freedoms of the other. On a more populated scale, some people stop respecting others' freedoms and some negative rights come in conflict, thus we have a rational justification for a limited government.

    But nobody is there to give the solitary man food and healthcare, and in a two man society, man 1 could not force man 2 to provide these things without violating man 2's own negative rights to not be enslaved or killed.

  • dinkster||

    Tony already said rights only come from a democratic majority. He doesn't even believe in positive rights. TL;DR Tony: "derp."

  • Calidissident||

    Libertarians believe people have a right to eat and have health care. They don't believe people have a right to force others to pay for it. And before you try to equate it to property ownership, it's not the same thing, because protection of private property is about preventing a third party from committing aggression against you. The equivalent to what you propose would be the government buying land for everyone

  • T o n y||

    If it's the case that property rights are a paradox--that we must violate it in order to save it (and property rights are every bit a positive right as you define it), then perhaps it's fallacious to equate taxation/redistribution with a violation of property rights?

  • Proprietist||

    No property rights aren't positive rights because one can claim and own property in a solitary state without coercing someone else to give it to him. The fact that more than one person exists on the earth means that there will possibly be conflicts over competing property claims, which is why government creates a legal framework for property acquision and tort settlement - to avoid violent conflict that violates more negative rights. That doesn't suddenly make it a positive right to own property.

  • Calidissident||

    Tony, I explicitly explained it in a way to make it clear that it's a negative right (i.e. the purpose is to stop/punish others from harming you, which isn't the same as having a "right" to have others pay for food or health care) and then you respond by saying I defined it as a positive right. Tony, as I said yesterday, I'm of the mind that government is inevitable rather than necessary. So yes taxation is a violation of property rights. But since government is going to exist in some form or another in any decent sized society, I would like to keep its functions/taxation to a minimum

  • Voluntaryist Grunger||

    What you're getting at is the point of anarcho-capitalism/voluntaryism. That if the initiation of force is immoral then the government but it's nature is immoral as well.

  • fish||

    Are you typing this comment on your ObamaPhone?

    Fuck you moocher!

  • ||

    Humans are not evolved for nations. We are not ants.

    We are evolved for small tribal family units. You see these same tribal units appearing in government in business in every human group endeavor...hell you can find a family unit at an AA meeting.

    The problem is the tribal unit does not scale very well. We end up with a father figure controlling millions of people and the result can be Stalin.

    Libertarians recognize this fact and therefor think government has too look very different then our tribal structures and as such should have very little power so as to not squash all the millions of tribal (communal) units under it.

  • T o n y||

    I agree with you about the environment humans are evolved for, but, crucially, we are also not evolved to an environment in which we live to age 80 and beyond. Technology and civilization have changed things, starting perhaps with the invention of agriculture. Communities have been expanding in size ever since. The nation-state has been a successful model, not in that it's always good for people, but in that it's what dominates the planet now. The evolution of the nation-state happened by a Darwinian process too. If modern people were still able to thrive in small tribal units, we'd see more of them around.

    And despite the brutality of modern nation-states, on the whole people live better lives than they did in tribal society, and there's no reason, if free trade and strong welfare states are further encouraged, we can't have a more peaceful world than has ever existed, if we don't already have that.

  • KPres||

    OK Mary, we've been through this a thousand times. Civilization has less "brutality" than primitive lifestyle. The last time I witnessed anything resembling "brutality" was in PUBLIC school, where they force everybody into nice little diverse COLLECTIVES for their own WELFARE just like you dipshit socialists love. That's the hotbed of "brutality".

  • Proprietist||

    Tony-to-English Dictionary:
    Community = goverment
    Freedom from state control = tyranny
    Natural rights = theocracy
    Majority rule = freedom

    Libertarian national policies have never been demonstrated to do this when compared to more socially conscious national policies because democracy has allowed the majority unfettered control over the minority.

  • T o n y||

    I've never said I support majority tyranny over minority rights. You're just confused about what constitute minority rights. You have a right to equality under the law. You don't have a right to suckle from the state and not pay taxes. I guess you have a theoretical right to secede from the state that supports you, but you are required to bring an army.

  • Proprietist||

    You said that democracy is the primary and fundamental right of all people, before all else. That means it takes precedence over the individual rights of the poor, the rich, the white, the black, etc. because these rights are, granted or taken away by government at the whim of the majority, supermajority or whatever number it takes to pass a law. As long as all people have a chance to vote, which I suppose is also subject to the whim of the majority.

    And yet you claim that libertarians construe the rights they claim as absolute come out of thin air or magical religion, while the "right" to be provided free stuff by coercing others through government is obvious because of human necessities.

  • T o n y||

    I don't believe any right to be deducible from nature. They're all human constructs. As such, they're either conferred by a dictator or protected by a democratic system of checks and balances. We've lucked onto the latter. I fail to see what alternative there is that doesn't require more hand waving than an un-air-conditioned church.

  • Hoser||

    Rights are an evolutionary aggregate from traditions. We haven't lucked into anything. The things that support civilization the most have survived as others have perished. Though, despite destroying multiple nations and killing millions of people, intellectuals insist on pushing socialism, which is a human construct, and a lousy one at that, but it appeals to the most inherent and primitive instincts.

  • T o n y||

    Nobody's arguing for anything but a mixed economy.

  • Hoser||

    But inasmuch as you introduce aspects of socialism, you hinder prosperity.

    Now I think you will equate what I just said to mean I don't care about the poor, etc. This is false. I just don't believe that compulsion for social justice helps anyone, poor or otherwise.

    As a corollary, as taxation (and redistribution) goes up, charitable giving goes down, and now the giver (taxpayer) and receiver (welfare recipient) are embittered to each other. The only one that benefits is the liberals who grow their voter base, but I am sure you have no problem with this.

  • T o n y||

    But inasmuch as you introduce aspects of socialism, you hinder prosperity.

    With the exception of the socialist police, courts, and military. Check your premises?

    The rest is unconvincing psychobabble.

  • Sam Grove||

    A mixed economy is unstable. I'm wondering why you can't see it.

  • Blueman||

    This is what I can't figure out. It seems to me the great "mixed economies" of our times are about to come crashing down on our heads, yet some people just want more and more of it.

    Whatever.

  • Proprietist||

    So you don't believe women have the inherent right to not be raped and then stoned for adultery in Middle Eastern countries? You don't believe blacks in the first 100 years had the inherent right to be freed from slavery until law made it so?

    Democracy can technically be as bad or worse than an autocrat, and that has very little to do with our individual natural rights.

    And now let the lies about how I'm endorsing autocracy begin...

  • Hoser||

    Are you asking me or Tony?

    I believe there are inherent rights, which seems to clash with what I just said, but I didn't want to bring my beliefs into it (yet). I was just pointing out how people figured out the best way to grow population into civilization.

    But regardless of how the wind blows, I happen to believe that (life, liberty, property) rights are simultaneously natural rights AND the best way to ensure prosperity for the largest number of people.

  • Proprietist||

    That was directed to Tony...

  • T o n y||

    No women don't have an "inherent" right not to be raped, and blacks didn't have an "inherent" right not to be slaves. Both of those rights had to be invented by people and enshrined in government-gun-backed law.

    These rights are so obvious to modern people as to seem as if they should be considered inherent.

    Democracy can be worse. We could have an ignorant population that loves suppressing people, or a very intelligent and benevolent dictator. Democracy just increases the odds, since if the people truly have authority then they won't be amenable to dictating away their own rights.

    Minority rights are a further innovation, finding the most resistance from democracy (and not present at the precious Founding). The democratic process managed to get them protected by supermajoritarian barriers. We're perfectly entitled to do the same for any other right you want to assert, assuming you can get enough people to go along with it.

  • Proprietist||

    So, let's say tomorrow a nuclear bomb goes off and kills everyone in the world but you. Now you can roam the earth and have anything or go anywhere you ever wanted until you inevitably die of radiation poisoning. You can never be enslaved, killed, stolen from or defrauded by another human because you are the last remaining human being. Are you arguing government solely grants you the power to do this?

    No one will be there to provide you food or healthcare. You have to go find them or do them yourself. Does that mean your rights are being violated by the absence of government provision of these things? Who can you coerce to provide them but yourself?

  • T o n y||

    Well these conversations don't make sense except in the context of society, that is, the assumption that we have to share the planet with each other. With no other people you do have more liberty in a sense. But it's really just the freedom to play at whether you're going to starve or go insane first.

  • Proprietist||

    No women don't have an "inherent" right not to be raped, and blacks didn't have an "inherent" right not to be slaves. Both of those rights had to be invented by people and enshrined in government-gun-backed law.

    False. SLAVERY was invented by people and enforced by government-gun-backed law. It requires no human action to not be a slave, and the government action required is a direct response to the act of enslaving, not the non-action of not being enslaved.

  • Calidissident||

    Proprietist you explained that perfectly

  • Calidissident||

    Nonetheless, the point will go sailing over Tony's head

  • John C. Randolph||

    blacks didn't have an "inherent" right not to be slaves. Both of those rights had to be invented by people and enshrined in government-gun-backed law.

    As expected, you got this exactly backwards. Slavery can't be maintained without government.

    -jcr

  • Sam Grove||

  • TheAstorian||

    No women don't have an "inherent" right not to be raped, and blacks didn't have an "inherent" right not to be slaves

    Rape and slavery are fine and dandy until the government decides they're not? If so, all those people fighting to end slavery were inherently wrong, and women, gays, and anyone else should just shut up, they don't have any rights eh?

  • Sam Grove||

    I don't believe any right to be deducible from nature.

    Where are rights constructed from if not from human nature?

  • T o n y||

    Thought and social contracts.

  • ||

    T o n y has always been a moral nihilist, though I've never seen him state it so explicitly until now.

    Arguments with him tend to follow one of two patterns:

    A rights based argument in which T o n y and the other posters talk past each other, unknowingly or wilfully (I'm not sure) ignoring the fact that they don't agree on a common moral framework, since T o n y doesn't have one.

    Or a utilitarian argument in which T o n y usually, though not always, loses.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    They're all human constructs. As such, they're either conferred by a dictator or protected by a democratic system of checks and balances.


    No, they're not. Rights are a moral condition. Whether a dictator or democratic majority opts to act morally or not does not change the state of what morality is.

  • LibertyMark||

    I always come to these threads way too late, but I was pretty amazed at one thing here. None of you guys attacked this amazing statement from T o n y:

    You don't have a right to suckle from the state and not pay taxes.

    This from the man who sees no limit to the all encompassing welfare state? Who sees nothing but virtue and benevolence when one man is forced to give something to another man at the point of a gun?

  • ant1sthenes||

    The state is always a tyrannical thing, which is why it's nice to restrict its influence to areas where a little viciousness is necessary, like dealing with those who plunder, arson, rape, or murder.

  • John C. Randolph||

    But there's an upper limit to the size of the community one is allowed to support.

    Nope. Size is irrelevant. What's relevant is whether the community is based on voluntary cooperation, or jackboots and guns.

    -jcr

  • Jeff||

    New York Times columnist David Brooks is wrong to worry about the influence of “economic conservatives.”

  • Gladstone||

    When lefties aren't calling Republicans crazy libertarians that want to throw grandma off the cliff, hang blacks from trees and polish their monocles with the sweat of homeless children they are calling libertarians Republicans who smoke pot.

    Gee it looks like they are more interested in smearing their opponents than in honest debate. Also they really hate libertarians and I'm not sure how much bashing of the religious right, corporate welfare and Bush/Romney/Ryan can change that.

  • John C. Randolph||

    they are more interested in smearing their opponents than in honest debate.

    Of course they are. When you don't have a leg to stand on, debate is a losing proposition.

    -jcr

  • Lisa||

    The Republican party was founded because a bunch of people really hated slavery. If anything, the GOP today is less libertarian, not more. I think the David Brooks' article is more a reaction to the increased awareness that Democrats have about libertarianism, they're just lashing out.

  • Gladstone||

    Democrats have been accusing Republicans of being libertarians for decades. This is nothing new.

    Also the Democratic Party was once the classical liberal party but those days are long gone.

  • Gladstone||

    They may not have used the term "libertarian" but the sentiment is the same.

  • John C. Randolph||

    The Republican party was founded because a bunch of people really hated slavery

    That's a bit of a stretch. The party started out as a "white labor" party, and their objection to slavery was more a matter of objecting to slaves competing with free white labor, than moral objections to the plight of the slaves.

    -jcr

  • ChrisO||

    All of these twits braying on about the "social order" naturally imagine themselves as being at the top of said order, needless to say.

  • Hoser||

    "Does that make libertarianism anti-social?"

    Actually, socialism is anti-social, since it seeks to destroy the extended order.

  • ufcarazy||

    Every critic of libertarianism wants freedom for themselves, just not for others. None of them can give an example of how the government should make them do or pay for something they oppose or inhibit them from doing or paying for something they support.

    They dislike not because we support their freedom, but because we support the freedom of people they dislike.

  • Sevo||

    T o n y| 9.27.12 @ 7:13PM |#
    "I don't believe any right to be deducible from nature. They're all human constructs."

    You see, shithead doesn't believe humans are 'natural'.

  • freespeechatheist||

    Here's a slapdash breakdown. Republicans are antagonistic to the following freedoms: (1) The right to an abortion (2) The legality of recreational drugs (3) Freedom of speech in the form of pornography (4) Sexual freedom in the form of not harrassing gays. Democrats are hostile to the following freedoms: (1) Freedom of speech in the form of politically incorrect discourse (2) Some types of economic freedoms (3) The right to bear arms. Who is worse? At the present juncture the Republicans. But notice all the Republican blemishes are the work of the Religious Right. In the unlikely event that the Republicans got rid of their religious baggage or secular Republicans migrated to, say, the Libertarian Party, the new configuration would much favor the secular libertarian party.

  • Virginian||

    Except the Republican Party would then lose elections over and over and over again.

    They will never do libertarian things because libertarians are not easy to get on board. SoCons have not actually gotten any of the myriad things they've pushed. Porn is still being made all over the place, the flag can still be burned, abortion is still legal, gay marriage continues to slowly make progress. They keep voting Republican because the Republicans loudly talk about this stuff, but never do anything about it. The SoCons are a cheap date.

    If Romney wanted the libertarian vote, he'd have to make binding promises to institute the fiscal reforms the country needs to remain solvent, take steps to reduce the debt measurably, cut at least 80% of the federal payroll, radically reorganize and reposture the defense establishment, push for the repeal of thousands of pages of regulation, push for the repeal of thousands of unjust laws, pardon the millions of people in jail for victimless crimes, and dismantle the bureaucratic aristocracy that wields such tremendous power over every aspect of American life.

  • Virginian||

    Oh, and even that probably wouldn't be enough for some people. At some point all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "save us!", and we'll whisper "fuck off slaver". Because we (sorry for speaking for all of us) don't really want to be on a Team, and we don't fall for promises of "the check is in the mail" (I usually substitute a more pornographic example of a promise that will be broken here)

    But the idea that the GOP loses more votes from the SoCons then it gains is just plain silly. The SoCons deliver them the South every year, and they make them competitive anywhere outside a major metropolitan area. You have to remember, America is returning to a more suburban/exurban character every year. Because Mr and Ms. Hyphen-Last Name have their one kid named Sprout at age 37, while Jack and Jane Johnson in the 'burbs have Jacen, Jaqueyln, and Jenna out of diapers before they turn. Demography wins, because the game belongs to the people that show up.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Brooks is a drooling imbecile. One of the consistent themes of libertarianism is the recognition of spontaneous social order. Just because there isn't a strongman in charge, bonking people on the head for not doing what he wants, does not mean that we wind up with Thunderdome. In many ways, such organic developments are far more robust than the imposition of state control.

  • T o n y||

    Can you describe an example of "spontaneous social order" that didn't involve hierarchy?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Just about any market...just about any neighborhood pot luck...hell, this comment thread...

  • Cavpitalist||

    Nobody wants to fuck you.

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