Libertarianism Is Still About More Than Rejecting Aggression

Libertarian has a historical and philosophical association with ethical and political individualism

The debate on thick and thin libertarianism continues, and that's a good thing. Libertarians can only gain by the discussion. Often one comes to appreciate one's own philosophy more fully in the crucible of intellectual argument.

So I, for one, welcome the debate—so long as it is a real debate and not merely a series of unsupported denials of the proposition on the table. As Michael Palin of Monty Python pointed out in the brilliant sketch "Argument Clinic," "An argument is not the same as contradiction. An argument is a collected series of statements to establish a definite proposition. It isn't just contradiction. It isn't just saying 'No it isn't.'" (To which John Cleese responded, "Yes it is.") "Argument is an intellectual process," Palin continued. "Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says." (To which Cleese responded, "No it isn't.")

The proposition on the table is that the most robust case for the libertarian philosophy (such as I articulated but of course did not originate) entails commitments not only to the Nonaggression Principle—or what I now call the Nonaggression Obligation—but also to other values that don't directly relate to aggression (for example, opposition to even non-rights-violating forms of racism). Charles W. Johnson spells this out in some detail in "Libertarianism through Thick and Thin." What Johnson calls "thickness from grounds" is only one of the forms of thickness he has identified, but it's the one most relevant for this discussion. Here's how he puts it:

There may be cases in which certain beliefs or commitments could be rejected without contradicting the nonaggression principle per se, but could not be rejected without logically undermining the deeper reasons that justify the nonaggression principle. Although you could consistently accept libertarianism without accepting these commitments or beliefs, you could not do so reasonably: rejecting the commitments means rejecting the proper grounds for libertarianism.…

Noncoercive authoritarianism [for example, patriarchy] may be consistent with libertarian principles, but it is hard to reasonably reconcile the two. Whatever reasons you may have for rejecting the arrogant claims of power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats—say, for example, the Jeffersonian notion that all men and women are born equal in political authority and that no one has a natural right to rule or dominate other people's affairs—probably serve just as well for reasons to reject other kinds of authoritarian pretension, even if they are not expressed by means of coercive government action. While no one should be forced as a matter of policy to treat her fellows with the respect due to equals, or to cultivate independent thinking and contempt for the arrogance of power, libertarians certainly can—and should—criticize those who do not, and exhort our fellows not to rely on authoritarian social institutions, for much the same reasons that we have for endorsing libertarianism in the first place. [Emphasis added.]

The first thing this quotation does is refute the mistaken but common notion that advocates of thick libertarianism believe that force may properly be used for reasons other than to counter initiatory force. The second thing it refutes is the spurious claim that thick libertarians simply add their pet preferences onto libertarianism, like so many ornaments on a Christmas tree. To repeat Johnson's point, "rejecting the commitments means rejecting the proper grounds for libertarianism." There are no "add-ons."

Note also that Johnson says that the sort of commitments he has in mind "could be rejected without contradicting the nonaggression principle per se." In other words, he does not say that someone who rejects these commitments is not a libertarian. He says only that rejection of the commitments weakens the best case for libertarianism, which in turn could weaken a particular libertarian's commitment to libertarianism itself. Despite what you may have heard, there is no attempt here to read anyone out of the movement (as though someone could actually do that).

Let's look at some counterclaims made recently in this discussion. Unfortunately, I've seen little more than the sort of unsupported contradictions about which the dissatisfied Argument Clinic customer complained. I hope someone will take up the challenge of presenting a contrary case for the Nonaggression Obligation that does not reasonably entail commitment to values not directly related to the use of force.

In a recent lecture, libertarian economist Walter Block rebutted the case for thick libertarianism, particularly my rendition, by insisting that libertarianism is only about nonaggression combined with property rights acquired through homesteading. But insistence is not argument.

He went on to rebut my proposition that libertarianism is intimately associated with individualism. Surprisingly, he denied this is the case, no matter (he added) what his mentor Murray Rothbard and most modern libertarians have believed. While Block said he has no problem with methodological individualism, he sees no connection between libertarianism and political individualism. (I had in mind political and ethical individualism: the individual is the basic unit morally and politically precisely because only individuals act.) According to Block, libertarianism is entirely compatible with collectivism as long as it is voluntary, such as in a free commune.

Of course, Block is right about that compatibility, but that in no way refutes my claim about the historical and philosophical association of libertarianism with ethical/political individualism. In my article I defended the proposition that we owe other individuals nonaggression because we owe them respect as ends in themselves. (Block never says why we owe anyone nonaggression. Does he ever ask that question?) That is why we respect a person's choice to join a commune. Thus, Block's "voluntary collectivism" cannot refute individualist libertarianism. Where Block goes wrong is in conflating ethical/political individualism, which is based on the idea of the human being as a social animal, with what we might call lifestyle, or atomistic, individualism, which I never claimed was the essence of libertarianism. To see the absurdity of Block's position, note that in his lecture he said my notion of libertarianism should logically lead to the rejection of team sports! Symphony orchestras and jazz bands too, I presume.

Another critique is provided by Lew Rockwell. (For the convenience of the reader, his article is here.) In response to my claim that libertarianism must be about more than force, Rockwell in effect parrots John Cleese: "No it mustn't." But he does a bit more: he makes an argument from authority by citing Murray Rothbard (of whom I was a long-time friend, informal student, and admirer). He quotes Rothbard thus: "Libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory. Libertarianism does not offer a way of life." That's not an argument either, but of course the thick libertarianism that Rockwell is criticizing makes no such claim. Reread Johnson's passage and see for yourself.

Rockwell then warns that thick libertarianism threatens to repeat a tragic episode in the history of classical liberalism:

To claim that it is not enough for the libertarian to oppose aggression is to fall into the trap that destroyed classical liberalism the first time, and transformed it into modern liberalism. How, after all, did the classical liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries become the state-obsessed liberalism of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? How did the once-venerable wordliberalism become perverted in the first place? Precisely because of thickism.

This is flat wrong. Statist "liberalism" did not arise from the association of classical liberalism with broader values; many classical liberals in the early days associated political liberty with a broader social and ethical philosophy rooted in natural law; so did Rothbard. Instead, liberalism was corrupted by thinkers and activists who, contrary to liberalism, wanted to use the state to accomplish their ends. As Herbert Spencer, an eye witness to the transformation, wrote in "The New Toryism," which is included in his book The Man versus the State,

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  • ||

    Duh, it's more importantly about sniffing out crypto-SoCons and cosmotarians.

  • Ted S.||

    I probably should have posted this for you a couple of days ago.

  • ||

    You'll always be my lásko, Ted.

  • Ted S.||

    Until you throw yourself in front of a train. :-(

  • ||

    But we'll always have Most.

  • Fluffy||

    It's also about wearing a monocle, exploiting orphans, and driving all female libertarians off of discussion boards.

  • Free Society||

    Only the juvenile orphans. Small hands, you see.

  • Sudden||

    I thought we targeted the juvenile orphans for the sophomoric humour

  • Fluffy||

    "Libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory. Libertarianism does not offer a way of life."

    I think this is actually true, at least for Rothbardian libertarianism, which is the dominant strain.

    Richman is revealing that he is not a Rothbardian libertarian.

    And that's OK.

    Because there are two ways to arrive at libertarianism - two distinct methods.

    One method is to arrive at libertarianism by way of doubt. You can say, "I don't think anyone can overcome the Hayekian information problem in economic policy. I also don't think anyone can ever conclusively devise an exhaustive set of moral norms. Further, I think that the people who occupy government positions are incredibly fallible, and we need to diminish their ability to impose their fallibility on others, by procedural and other means."

    But the other way is to arrive at something that looks a lot like libertarianism by way of certainty. (The Objectivists are the best known example of this.) You say, "I know exactly what is right and wrong, and among the set of things I know to be right are the propositions, 'Government should be small and limited' and 'Individuals possess the following set of moral rights'."

    Both of these groups can contort their views to fit into the straitjacket of the NAP. But the second group will have a lot more demands to make. Richman may not be an Objectivist, but he's in the second group.

  • GILMORE||

    "Because there are two ways to arrive at libertarianism - two distinct methods."

    Weed, and/or Devo.

  • Almanian!||

    Definitely "and". Definitely.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Too bad there wasn't a chance for the Independents to ask Wolowitz about this:

    "The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has said the Church in his country is "ruined" eleven years after the US-led invasion of Iraq.

    "“1,400 years of Islam could not uproot us from our land and our churches, while the policies of the West [have] scattered us and distributed us all around the world,” Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako said."

    http://www.zenit.org/en/articl.....d-invasion

  • Irish||

    I go back and forth on this. What's a worse display of sickening obeisance to the ruling class: political conventions or the White House Correspondents' Dinner?

  • Irish||

    Actually, I think I have my answer.

    According to the source, “there are way too many [A-list celebrities] who have had pretty weird experiences at the dinner. A lot of the people who have gone say they’ll never do it again."

    A few years ago, one drunken guest actually bared her breasts to Ben Affleck as he was walking to the men’s restroom. (That was the last time he attended the dinner.) And it’s not just the megastars who get the unwanted attention, which often comes from the correspondents’ dates.

    “They’re infatuated with anyone who is sort of famous,” according to one previous attendee. “People on reality TV shows are walking around like they’re the secretary of state — and they’re actually getting their pictures taken with the real secretary.”
  • ||

    Pretty pathetic.

  • ||

    I vaguely remember Natalie Merchant sang at some event in the White House and afterward complaining that when she met Bill Clinton he made a crude pass at her.

    What a fucking snake pit that place must be.

  • buybuydandavis||

    A crude pass? She was lucky that's all it was. Bill has done worse.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Then she takes Yusuf Islam's song off her album and vows to never sing it again, even though "Peace Train"'s lyrics are all positive and hopeful, and neither Cat Stevens nor his latter-years alter ego Yusuf Islam ever made a pass at her, crude or otherwise.

  • BillEverman||

    Well, to be fair, I'm not aware of her having recorded any of Clinton's songs.

  • Atanarjuat||

    A few years ago, one drunken guest actually bared her breasts to Ben Affleck as he was walking to the men’s restroom. (That was the last time he attended the dinner.)

    Nancy Pelosi gets crazy when she gets a few drinks in her.

  • Specail Sauce||

    I just threw-up in my mouth.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    No, she merely loses inhibitions after the drinks. The cray-cray is inside the whole time.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    More ways that the White House has something in common with Scientologists.

  • Stickler Meeseeks||

    Couldn't watch the Correspondence Dinner, despite McHale's promises "to bash everyone," i.e., to be even handed in targeting the butts of his political jokes.

    Apparently, this turd appeared in his set last night: “I know the Kardashians are Republicans, because they’re always trying to screw black people,” which elicited "oooohs" from the audience.

    McHale told Howard Stern that "[I and my writers crafted] a joke where I said, ‘It’s great that we have our first black president’ and other people were like ‘he’s half white everybody.’ And I was going to go, ‘Look, the only person who can tell you if the president is black is Michelle Obama,’”

    He dropped this one from his set because it was (are you ready?) too risque.

    Look, I love edgy humor, but these are just predictable and unfunny. Watched Bob's Burgers instead.

  • ||

    Howard Stern is no longer risque. He's gotten way too safe.

  • Sevo||

    "Look, I love edgy humor, but these are just predictable and unfunny."

    "Hitchens flips off Maher's morons"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HECI4QK_mXA

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Maher looked like he wanted to cry when Hitchens called him out.

  • Stickler Meeseeks||

    While I am sure that McHale took shots at the left, I guarantee that none of the jokes he made at their expense targeted the intentions and motivations of left. This despite the fact that the left has a real racist element to it.

    To paraphrase The Hitch, then, "Republicans are racist" jokes are jokes that stupid people make, a joke that any stupid person could laugh at, it's for people who think they morally superior to those on the right.

    :::flips off Tony and American Socialist:::

  • ||

    Arguments about the philosophical basis for Libertarianism always reminds me of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZbLFXqhbQM

    It is not complicated. The basis is self-ownership. All of the rest of it flows from that. The only counter argument for self-ownership I have ever been presented with is that might makes right, which is not an argument for anything, but an endorsement for the second amendment.

  • JohnZeus||

    But even self-ownership (which is obviously a foundational principle) is not uncomplicated. When does it truly begin? Age 5? Birth? 18 is our society's arbitrary rite of passage, but upon what basis? Do our social norms trump one's right to own his/her person? Seems so. It's not uncomplicated.

  • ||

    You are overcomplicating it. Inherent rights, one of which is self-ownership, are present whenever an individual is present. Much like a trust fund they are overseen by guardians until that individual is competent to manage their own.

    One does not 'own' their children even though they have a responsibility to look after them. A charge is not property.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Wonderfully written comment. Very well said.

  • JohnZeus||

    My only point is that the time at which an "individual is competent to manage their own" is a one-size-fits-all reality. It completely ignores the individual. It's arbitrary. You may legally restrict a minor's movements. He does not possess the same "right" to his person as he does the day he turns 18.

    I think you might be using "self-ownership" mistakenly here. You have the right to not have your life taken at all ages, as well as other bodily aggressions, but you most definitely do not have the right to full self-ownership. Not when, as even you state, one may be "overseen" until deemed competent to exercise their full right to self-ownership. That's just a rationalized way of saying you don't really have the right to self-ownership until we decide you've been alive the appropriate number of years.

  • ||

    I agree with you about the arbitrariness of the point at which one may assume full ownership rights. Things are that way because monitoring every individual is too troublesome, and because many individuals never reach that point. It may be more of "If you haven't gotten it by now, you aren't going to, but we are tired of looking after you, you are on your own".

    As for your other point, it comes down to semantics. Full self-ownership may not be exercised in practice, but it is anticipated and assumed in principle. I don't think we disagree on much here, if anything.

    In my example of a trust, the manager of the trust may not use assets as if they were his own, but must manage them with the actual owner's interest in mind. Thus the manager does not have full ownership rights, and the charge may have them, but not exercise them personally. Again, this comes down to semantics.

  • Hydra||

    You are overcomplicating it. Inherent rights, one of which is self-ownership, are present whenever an individual is present. Much like a trust fund they are overseen by guardians until that individual is competent to manage their own.

    Great answer for a debate club or a thread filled with people who already agree with you, but how do you implement that in a real society filled with actual people?

    How is it determined when an individual is competent to manage his/her own affairs?
    Who determines the guardians for an individual, and determines when existing guardians must be replaced?

    These are not questions that can be answered from a pure philosophical perspective, they require pragmatism. The wrong answer to any of them will result in unjust limitations on self-ownership. You NEED a utilitarian perspective.

    * and that's before we get to the question of justifying land ownership and avoiding horrific consequences such as withholding food from starving people or medicine from dying people.

  • Free Society||

    ut even self-ownership (which is obviously a foundational principle) is not uncomplicated. When does it truly begin? Age 5? Birth? 18 is our society's arbitrary rite of passage, but upon what basis? Do our social norms trump one's right to own his/her person? Seems so. It's not uncomplicated.

    Self-ownership starts at day one. You may not have the ability to exercise fully that ownership, but over time you gain that ability. Like patient in a hospital or a person in a coma. Others care for the person and don't simply rape them to death, because everyone still has moral obligations to not do that, obligations arising from that person self-ownership.

    As for the moment when someone can retain full control of their self-ownership, it's really not all that complicated. It's just not a precise moment in time as writers of government statutes would find convenient. I happens over time depending on circumstances. A heavily retarded child, will never attain the ability to full exercise his/her rights, but that doesn't mean they don't have such rights as human beings.

  • ||

    My kingdom for an Edit button!

    "...an argument for anything..."

    Remove the words 'for anything'.

  • robc||

    As i repeated below: THIS

    I really wish we could get away from people talking about the nap as fundamental.

  • Hydra||

    The NAP is something you can put into practice in a real society filled with real people.

    Abstract concepts of self-ownership are not, especially when that abstract concept is immediately found not to be practiced even by libertarians, as shown above.

  • robc||

    Anyone who doesnt support self-ownership isnt a libertarian.

    Yes, I just True Scotsmanned your argument, but sometimes it needs doint.

    I never claimed that the NAP was useful, just that it wasnt fundamental.

    The NAP is derived from the fundamental principle, which is self-ownership.

  • Hydra||

    I'd like to see that derivation. Self-ownership doesn't tell you how to deal with violations of property rights, so I don't see how you can pull the NAP bunny out of that hat.

  • Robert||

    Self ownership is not sufficient. You need at least freedom of movement in addition. Plus, you need to allow ownership of other things, and theories of property to know what that ownership entails, what other things can be owned, and how it can be obtained.

  • Edwin||

    self-ownership is the worst basis for libertarianism I've heard, as a philosophical argument. The very word/concept of "ownership" or "property" is extremely loaded. Ownership is a huge packet of rights with a shit ton of implications. It's all easy for small personal property, which is probably why so many libertarians fall for it, but the minute you start talking about land rights and homesteading and boats going over water and water use rights and stuff like that none of the basic claims hold up anymore

    property schemes that allow for the control over land or space immediately contradict themselves the minute anybody accidentally (or purposefully) steps onto someone else's land, or sits inside someone else's car (how can you tell somebody else what to do with their property if their property rights are unimpeachable, just because they're in "your" space?)

    the basic premise is also completely separate from homesteading, which is a completely separate premise that one doesn't have to accept.

    And you can still have animal rights by again, simply not accepting the premise in its entirety (which I do, in the first place you DO NOT have full property rights over animals, you can't do what you want to them)

    Saying "You own yourself, which means you get to decide what to do with yourself, and you own anything you make" is so easy to accept when you ignore everything else

  • Edwin||

    in other words, it's begging the question

  • fuck you tulpa||

    Yeah, well, Sheldon Richman is consistently the worst writer on the site, with the least effective arguments and the most unconvincing logic.

  • SlV||

    I'd like to see Richman try to refute that

  • Hydra||

    Shikha Dalmia is worse.

  • buybuydandavis||

    And he keeps beating this dead horse.

    He's doing the usual Progressive shtick of getting out at the head of a parade, this time Libertarianism, and then trying to lead it down to the dul de sac of Progressive Theocracy.

    Yes, we have other values than opposition to coercion. But that's the most important value politically by a wide margin.

    Once we can agree to stop using force to "convert" the unbelievers, feel free to try to *persuade* them to your other values.

    Libertarianism is really the opposite of theocracy - forcing people to be good.

    Happily, the usual Progressive hijacking of social movements doesn't always work. The attempt to hijack atheists on the web into Atheism+ (atheism is more than not believing in metaphysical bogeymen, it's really the Church of Progressivism too!) was a colossal failure, widely jeered at by atheists, and even progressive leaning ones.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Courtesy of Secular Prolife, juicy quotes from Planned Parenthood's sex advice for young people -

    "You have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose your HIV status...It is not always possible to talk about to your partner(s) or to practice safer sex..."

    "Some people have sex after they have been drinking alcohol or using drugs. This is your choice."


    http://blog.secularprolife.org.....hoods.html

  • ||

    I don't even know what to say about that. It is like listening to Bernie Madoff give financial advice.

  • ||

    Actually, even though Madoff scammed people maybe he does have good financial advice. Just saying.

  • ||

    Technically you are correct, and that is the best kind of correct.

    *rolls eyes*

  • ||

    Nah. Was just being technically annoying.

  • Irish||

    "You have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose your HIV status...It is not always possible to talk about to your partner(s) or to practice safer sex..."

    Interesting. This is actually the exact opposite of what the government's AIDS website advises.

    It is very important that you talk to your current and past sexual partners about your HIV status. If you have shared needles with others to inject drugs, you need to tell them too. If you are afraid or embarrassed to tell them yourself, the health department in your area can notify your sexual or needle-sharing partners that they may have been exposed to HIV without giving your name.

    In most cases, sharing your HIV status is a personal choice—but it may also be a legal requirement. Many states have laws that require you to tell specific people about your HIV status. For more information, see the American Civil Liberties Union’s State Criminal Statutes on HIV Transmission.
  • R C Dean||

    You have the right to decide if, when, and how to disclose your HIV status

    Then apparently Planned Parenthood doesn't take the concept of consent to sex seriously. Consent isn't valid unless it is fully informed consent. Not disclosing that your partner runs the risk of catching AIDS (or any other STD) from you is a material omission.

  • PapayaSF||

    No kidding. Apparently the PC view of sex now is that if two drunk college students want to make out, the male must get explicit permission. But if one of them has a fatal contagious disease, hey, it's a personal choice whether to disclose it.

    WTF?

  • buybuydandavis||

    Apparently the PC view of sex now is that if two drunk college students want to make out, the male must get explicit permission.

    What?

    RAPE APOLOGIST!

    The whole point is that a drunk woman *can't* give consent. At least to a man. If two drunk women have sex, that's beautiful, you HOMOPHOBE!

    And the consent of the man is irrelevant. A penis entering someone drunk is RAPE! Unless the penis is attacked to a gay man, you HOMOPHOBE!

  • buybuydandavis||

    The first sentence should have been quoted. I had marked it off with a greater than sign, but Reason's software deletes those.

  • Sudden||

    the health department in your area can notify your sexual or needle-sharing partners that they may have been exposed to HIV without giving your name.

    This is teh awesome. I'm gonna see if I can have my local health department cook up a scare for some people i know.

  • robc||

    1 out of 2 aint bad.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Everybody must be vaccinated as a general precaution, but when you do have a deadly disease with very particular means of transmission, you don't have a moral duty to inform people who you are exposing to those means of transmission because...?

  • Atanarjuat||

    I'm pretty sure I've heard of people being charged with a crime for knowingly exposing their partners to HIV. If so, this advice isn't just wrong, it's advocating breaking the law.

  • ||

    There are state laws criminalizing failure to disclose HIV infection. I know WA state has one.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Just heard this on NPR: The "colored" population of South Africa speaks Afrikaans, but does not speak "African languages."

  • ||

    That is a stunningly misleading statement, so, par for the course for NPR.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Wouldn't it be like saying Yiddish is not a European language, even though it originated and was spoken there, because it draws heavily from Hebrew?

  • ||

    Further, they use the term 'colored people' which implies all of the blacks of SA, which is not what S Africans mean by that term.

    There are nearly as man Zulus there as everyone else, all of whom are black black black, but not considered 'colored people' and who speak Zulu. They are considered Zulus.

  • robc||

    Right, colored means mixed race, iirc.

  • ||

    Yiddish is classified as a High German language.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_language

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Right, that is my point. Saying Afrciaans is not an African language because of its heavy Dutch influence is like saying Yiddish is not a European or German language because of its heavy Hebrew language, despite the fact that Africaans and Yiddish were developed and spoken in Africa and Europe/Germany respectively.

  • ||

    Linguistically speaking, Afrikaans is basically Old Dutch. It's not based on any local language. My Swedish friend says he can understand Afrikaans quite well, better than German I believe.

    In this sense it is quite different than Yiddish which has German as its core, it's not based on Hebrew.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    We usually classify languages "genetically", that is based on their descent from a common ancestor. I understand your confusion as many language-families refer to geographic areas, but it's the ancestor that counts, not where it's currently spoken. For example, Burmese is a Sino-Tibetan language, even though Burmese isn't spoken in either China nor Tibet. Afrikaans is an Indo-European language by descent. To call it an "African language", to most knowledgeable people would imply it belonged to the Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, or Khosian families. This is not the case. Likewise, Yiddish is also an Indo-European language as the grammar, core vocabulary, etc. are Germanic in origin. (In a related note, some linguistics, like Ghil'ad Zuckermann, argue that Modern Hebrew is better classified as IE due to the heavily influence Yiddish grammar and vocabulary had on its reconstruction).

    However it's not a huge sin, in my opinion. If someone calls Persian/Farsi a "Middle Eastern" language, I'm not going to get in a huff because Farsi is Indo-European. Geographers, on the other hand....

  • ||

    Maybe that's what libertarians need. Their own language!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What is Loglan/Lojban, chopped liver?

  • Free Society||

    Saying Afrciaans is not an African language because of its heavy Dutch influence is like saying Yiddish is not a European or German language because of its heavy Hebrew language, despite the fact that Africaans and Yiddish were developed and spoken in Africa and Europe/Germany respectively.

    Languages aren't classified according to geography, they're classified by genetic lineage and split into language families. To your credit NPR was being very imprecise in their use of terms, but Yiddish is a Germanic language because the core of it's grammar and vocabular are of Germanic language, similar to English having borrowed heavily from French, but still being a Germanic language for the same reason.

    Linguistically speaking, Afrikaans is basically Old Dutch. It's not based on any local language. My Swedish friend says he can understand Afrikaans quite well, better than German I believe.

    Afrikaans is not 'Old Dutch'. Afrikaans differentiated from standard Dutch because it was more liberal with linguistic change.

    Your Swedish friend may be stretching the truth. German and Swedish are not mutually intelligible, Swedish is a North Germanic language. For your friend to have such understanding of Afrikaans without education, he would need to be exposed to the Afrikaans' sound system which a Swede would unfamiliar with.

  • Edwin||

    //Languages aren't classified according to geography, they're classified by genetic lineage and split into language families.

    well then the term isn't "African language", dingy, it's "Bantu language"

    Afrikaans IS an AFRICAN language, it just isn't a BANTU language

  • Free Society||

    I clearly said NPR was being highly imprecise. And to say Afrikaans is an African language is to claim it's a language native to Africa, like Afro-Asiatic or Bantu etc. They may speak French in Ivory Coast, but that doesn't make French an African language now does it?

  • ||

    This is where Heroic Mulatto should weigh in. Where is he when we need him?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Working in my garden.

  • ||

    My first rendition of the comment ended with "He is probably off fucking around with having a real life or some such nonsense".

    Yeah, I keep hopping up from here and tending to mine as well. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction from plucking nut grass up by the roots. It is almost better than killing mosquitoes.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    I get an enormous amount of satisfaction from plucking nut grass up by the roots.

    Ouch. The things we do for our ladies.

  • robc||

    Before reading article or comments:

    Robc's 2 rules of libertarianism:

    1. Everyone agrees with libertarians on something

    2. No two libertarians agree on anything

  • robc||

    Dammit phone, my name is all lowercase

  • BSubversive.com||

    Damn, if I agree doesn't that break your second rule?

  • robc||

    No it doesnt. See? We still disagree.

  • robc||

    Applying rule 2 above, i disagree with the basic premise about nonagression. The primary basis is self ownership. The nap follows from that. Nonaggression is derived, not fundamental.

  • Hydra||

    Explain how locking a murderer in a cage follows from self-ownership alone. How do you get around the murderer's self-ownership.

    Keep in mind you can't appeal to nonagression, common law, or a property rights system either.

  • PapayaSF||

    The murderer forfeited his self-ownership rights by violating the self-ownership of others. Upholding of self-ownership may mean removing from society those who do so.

    Note that nobody thinks the Declaration Independence means that "life and liberty," despite being "inalienable," cannot be forfeited by the commission of crimes.

  • Robert||

    No, someone locked in has self-ownership—there's nothing they can't do with or to themselves—but not freedom of movement.

  • PapayaSF||

    I'd go with that.

  • Hydra||

    Being able to move what you own is pretty basic to ownership.

    And if you do succeed in divorcing freedom of movement from self-ownership, then kidnapping and locking innocent people up are consistent with libertarianism.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    It doesn't. The murderer's on the hook for compensating the family for their loss, and sticking someone behind bars doesn't do them any good. Legitimate justice is either the guy working the rest of his life to pay them or they kill him, their choice.

    Prisons are just hand-me-downs from the imperial era when kings used them for their own benefit, which also happens to be when justice moved away from compensating victims to some ethereal, high-minded concept of justice which just so happens to empower the state. As was the case then, special interests now use prisons to feather their own nests at the expense of taxpayers to the tune of $20k+ a year federally, with some states sitting around $40k.

    I'd guess at least half the time being served in prisons today is based on drug violations, so if you want to cut DoJ expenses for federal prisoners and save each state a nice chunk of change, the war on drugs might be a good place to start.

  • Hydra||

    Legitimate justice is either the guy working the rest of his life to pay them or they kill him, their choice.

    And this follows from self-ownership how again?

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    From property damage and the need for compensation.

  • ||

    Legitimate justice is either the guy working the rest of his life to pay them or they kill him, their choice.

    Surprisingly, I really like this idea.
    You murder someone, you become their family's slave for the rest of your life (unless they decide to free you). A life for a life.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Speaking on Non-NAP 'Rights,' Does a Child Have a Human Right to a Loving Mother and Father?

    "Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, is among the family experts interviewed for Focus on the Family’s upcoming film 'Irreplaceable.' And according to her: Marriage does matter. But our culture today has forgotten why it matters so much.

    McGuire said our culture is too focused on 'me' and 'the individual.'

    'We started to lose sight of the fact that what it really should be about is the rights of the most vulnerable,' she said. 'It’s actually a human right for every child to have a loving mother and a loving father.'"

    http://www.citizenlink.com/201.....nd-father/

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    OMG, those socons are so stupid!

    A loving mother and father?

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Wait, let me stop and catch my breath...

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    I have to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes...I mean, a loving mother and father, how retarded can you get?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    What does having a 'right' to that mean, though?

    Also, would having two loving parents who are not the mother and father mean that the child's 'rights' had been violated?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "two loving *parents* who are *not the mother and father*"

    *facepalm*

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "A parent is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species. In humans, a parent is of a child (where "child" refers to offspring, not necessarily age). A biological parent consists of a person whose gamete resulted in a child, a male through his sperm, and a woman through her ovum. Parents are first-degree relatives and have 50% genetic overlap. A woman can also become a parent through surrogacy. However, some parents may not be biologically related to their children. An adoptive parent is one who nurtures and raises the offspring of the biological parents but is not actually biologically related to the child."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parent

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    That *defines* the problem, doesn't solve it.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    So your snarky dismissal doesn't dismiss anything at all. So care to take a run at my original question, or more dodging? Would having two loving parents who are not the mother and father mean that the child's 'rights' had been violated? Two loving parents of, say, the same gender for example? Or how about having one loving parent, though no one's fault (other parent died or has been removed from the situation)?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Good, but this one is still standing:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-U2kx.....w-man3.jpg

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    More dodging.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Your friend the straw man:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg66kwRnOpw

  • R C Dean||

    What does having a 'right' to that mean, though?

    Negative or positive right, unfortunately, is always the question now that the term "right" has been corrupted by progs and Total Statists.

  • prolefeed||

    I have to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes...I mean, a loving mother and father, how retarded can you get?

    It's nice to want nice thing ... like being brought up by a loving mother and father.

    But, what if your parents aren't all that, all the time, because they are, you know, HUMAN?

    How, exactly, do you then enforce that positive "right"? At gunpoint?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The people acting at gunpoint are generally those who want to *violate* this right.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    If you can dodge a question you can dodge a ball!

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It is important to note that apologists are never, ever interested in honest debate. They knew the answers going in, and the only point of conversation or discussion is to defend these answers.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "It is important to note that apologists are never, ever interested in honest debate. They knew the answers going in, and the only point of conversation or discussion is to defend these answers."

    A classic example of this phenomenon:

    http://blog.allstate.com/wp-co.....80x471.jpg

  • ||

    I could make a long list of things 'What is best for an individual', but I don't think they fall into the category of rights.

    Everyone has a right to own property, but there is no particular property that anyone has a right to. This is where the left takes advantage of blurring that distinction to say that if everyone has a right to earn a living, then everyone has a right to a living wage.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "Everyone has a right to own property, but there is no particular property that anyone has a right to."

    But wouldn't therefore say that there is *no* right to property because not everyone has property, or that the govt can arbitrarily take that property away.

    "A right to property? That's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard! What about all the people who don't own property?!?!?"

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Ridiculous apologia. She is clearly not talking about the rights of children with a loving father and mother to not have that broken up, in the context of opposing same sex marriage she is talking about how every child has a right to a family situation with a loving mother and a loving father. So it is not analogous to the property situation you are describing above (where people have a right to property that is theirs, but not a right to everyone having property).

  • ||

    "(where people have a right to property that is theirs, but not a right to everyone having property)."

    Better, I think.

  • ||

    "But wouldn't therefore say that there is *no* right to property because not everyone has property,.."

    No. That is exactly what I was refuting, exactly the blurred distinction I was pointing out.

    "Everyone has a right to own property, but there is no particular property that anyone has a right to. This is where the left takes advantage of blurring that distinction to say that if everyone has a right to earn a living, then everyone has a right to a living wage."

    In that example, replace 'living wage' with 'guaranteed income'. Does that clarify it any?

    You have a right to enter into a contract with someone where you perform a service for them in exchange for money. If you earn 10 bucks, you have a right to own those 10 bucks, but that in no way entitles everyone else on the planet to be given 10 bucks.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "No. That is exactly what I was refuting, exactly the blurred distinction I was pointing out."

    Then I'm sorry if I missed your point. :(

  • ||

    I don't think I made it as well as I could have. I tried to clarify.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    No, no Suthen, this is simple for Eddie, the Pope has spoken or something. Facepalm!

  • R C Dean||

    I could make a long list of things 'What is best for an individual', but I don't think they fall into the category of rights.

    Wouldn't they be subcategories of the 'pursuit of happiness' or the general right to do what thou wilt, provided that you do not violate the rights of others?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "Does a Child Have a Human Right to a Loving Mother and Father?"

    Easy. No. Next question.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Catholic SoCon Tries to Reconcile Catholicism and Libertarianism

    "All of this is to say that complex economic and ethical issues cannot be resolved by shouting “heresy!” It would be antithetical to the spirit of Catholicism to suggest that anything other than the common good ought to be the ultimate goal of economic policies. It would also be antithetical to the spirit of Catholicism to suggest that there is only one way to promote it, and that all other ways are automatically heretical and forbidden. Libertarianism is only a “heresy” in the same way that every other idea becomes a heresy; when it is taken to irrational extremes or when it explicitly rejects a fundamental teaching of the Church. There is no reason why any self-identified libertarian has to do either."

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/.....nquisition

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Catholic reactionary publishes theocratic justification of libertarianism in extremist clerico-fascist publication:

    http://reason.com/archives/201.....r-the-dead

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Are we going to need a clean up crew to scour the remains of Bo after that running over with a Mack truck?

  • robc||

    I can reconcile them...they arent in conflict to begin with.

    As long as the church isnt the state.

  • BSubversive.com||

    Too bad you aren't aware of the secret behind what Jesus actually did to feed those 5k people. He didn't miraculously multiply those loaves and fishes, he actually used a legion to steal all of the food from the area villages.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Change "legion" to "sicarii".

  • ||

    Huh. The Jewish version of the Assassins.

  • ||

    the secret behind what Jesus actually did to feed those 5k people

    In my personal opinion, he used some kind of appetite suppressor.

  • cavalier973||

    There is an idea that everyone in the crowd already had food, but didn't want to share it until they saw the example set by the young boy with the loaves and fishes.

    The narrative doesn't really support this interpretation, because the people compare Jesus unfavorably to Moses in the post-miracle discussion. ("Moses fed our forefathers with manna from heaven for 40 years; what you just did was a minor trick, comparatively.")

  • Hydra||

    I wouldn't want to be in the middle of a crowd of 5,000 Jews sitting out in the hot sun all day with fish and bread hidden in their undergarments.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    5,000 other people you'd prefer in the same situation?

  • Hydra||

    Somebody light the Sevo signal...

  • RishJoMo||

    Sounds like a solid plan to me dude.

    www.myAnon.tk

  • prolefeed||

    Shorter Richman article: "I'm going to advocate for something call 'thick' libertarianism. I'm not going to tell you what it is, exactly. I'm not going to give you a concrete list of those other principles we're allegedly supposed to defend that aren't derived from the NAP. I'm not gonna defend any of those other principles by concretely showing how they enhance libertarianism. And then I'm going to denounce those who criticize this tail-chasing argument by saying they failed to offer a detailed critique of my alleged argument."

    Saying that unfettered individualism should be the goal is retarded, since the most fundamental unit of social organization -- the family -- is collectivist. And that's fine, and workable. It's only bad when people try to extend that collectivism beyond it's workable limits -- i.e., any involuntary arrangement whatsoever.

  • ||

    Families are voluntary? Wow, that's news. Where was I supposed to go choose my parents? I think I fucked that up.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Fraulein Nikki,

    Families are voluntary?


    Yes. Kids can leave any time they want. It is US parents who are bound by contractual agreement - the moment we brought the little buggers to this world - to see them grow and thrive.

  • Hydra||

    Yes. Kids can leave any time they want.

    Um, no. You know what the cops immediately do when they find a runaway kid (assuming no criminal acts or medical care needs)?

  • Christophe||

    Shoot them?

  • buybuydandavis||

    No, silly.

    They shoot people's dogs, not their kids. They beat their kids and plant drugs on them.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Although you could consistently accept libertarianism without accepting these commitments or beliefs, you could not do so reasonably: rejecting the commitments means rejecting the proper grounds for libertarianism.…"

    Now explain what one of those commitments or beliefs are and how rejecting that rejects the basis for libertarianism. That quote is so abstract it is rather meaningless.

  • robc||

    As the proper grounds are principle of self ownership, i doubt he can do it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Two reservations about NAP:

    1) Another philosophical orthodoxy? How helpful is that from an outreach standpoint?

    Telling newcomers there's an orthodoxy to which they must subscribe may be off-putting, and demanding conformity of thought seems intuitively unlibertarian.

    One of the best things about being a libertarian is that we don't need to agree on much else once we agree that each of us should be free to make choices for ourselves--and that last part is what makes us libertarian. Not the NAP.

    2) I'm not convinced the security of our rights precedes the threat to defend them.

    Show me a secure right apart from the threat of retaliation, and I'll reconsider.

    It seems to me that the implied threat probably existed before our rights were conceptualized. Originally, it was probably an explicit threat! I won't kill you and take everything of yours--like I normally would--if you don't kill me and don't take everything of mine: didn't the threat of violence have to come first to make our rights necessary?

    Or think of it this way: how many of you see the Second Amendment as the ultimate guarantor of our rights?

    If you assume that our rights would be ignored and violated with impunity unless we were able to initiate a credible threat, then how can you cling to the NAP as all encompassing?

    In other words, if the threat of aggression is absolutely fundamental to the security of our rights, then why call that "non-aggression"?

  • robc||

    You are making the same error as Richman and arguing about the nap. Self ownership is that orthodoxy that newcomers must subscribe to. Much easier for them to accept than the nap too.

  • ||

    I have sold a number of people on libertarianism without ever using the term libertarianism. In the course of some discussion where they pose a question about who should decide things about other's lives I simply ask them "Who owns you?"

    "What?!"

    "Who. Owns. You?" *points finger at them*

    *studder studder* "Well....I do!" *puff up chest and straightens posture*

    "Then you get to decide."

  • PapayaSF||

    Nice.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The idea that individuals should be free to make choices for themselves (including what to think) is the only orthodoxy new libertarians need to subscribe to--and once they do, no other orthodoxy is possible as such.

    The rest is just people trying to make sense of that central principle (individuals, right, to make choices for themselves) using their own perspectives, personalities, biases, education levels, interests, histories, etc.

    I really don't care how people get there--just that they do.

  • JohnZeus||

    The problem is who decides when someone is old enough to make choices for themselves. It's not as simple an orthodoxy as you make out. We currently very arbitrarily deem 18 that age, but we force everyone into that box.

    The fact that most libertarians believe it's perfectly legitimate to restrict the choices individuals make for themselves before they reach an arbitrary age that's applied to everyone, without respect to individual differences, kind of puts the lie to the claim of orthodoxy. Right?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The problem is who decides when someone is old enough to make choices for themselves."

    Part A

    I don't see that as a major problem. To me, anyway, children are old enough to make choices for themselves when they're old enough to be held criminally accountable for what they willingly choose to do.

    The 18 year old rule isn't so much an arbitrary determination of when any one child is ready to make choices--it's a determination of when we as a society are willing to hold them responsible for what they do in criminal court as if they were adults.

    And even then, we're willing to make exceptions. Children are often tried as adults, and some of the sentences they receive in our juvenile court system are as grievous as any that should be inflicted on an adult charged with a similar crime.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Part B

    Also, insofar as I think think it's okay to restrict the choices children can make, it's only okay insofar as it is done to make sure their right to choose isn't being violated by someone else in a position of trust, e.g., no, children can't choose to marry their father or appear in pornography, etc.

    The others restrictions are mostly, again, a function of our choice as adults not to hold children criminally responsible for their behavior--it's not because they don't have the right to make choices.

    For instance, if children can't be held criminally responsible for how they drive, then they don't have the choice to drive. This is how it works for everyone--adults, too! If an adult can't be held responsible because he's insane, for instance, then we sometimes take away their rights to make choices for themselves, too.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It doesn't have to be arbitrary. The most important part of the brain involved in rational decision making is the prefrontal cortex. The PFC is involved in "executive function", or how we decided between two things, reason morally, plan for the future, and control our emotional impulses.

    Therefore, a scientifically literate decision would be to grant full self-determination around the time the average individual's prefrontal cortex is fully developed. Brain science has shown that the prefrontal cortex fully maturates at 25 years of age.

  • sarcasmic||

    The hobbits had it right. Thirty three.

  • Mercutio||

    +6 meals a day

  • Ken Shultz||

    Hobbit chicks have big, giant, hairy feet.

    They're like feminists from Marin County.

  • newshutz||

    But do they have "huge tracts of ... land"?

  • kinnath||

    The 1st principle is self-ownership.

    The non-aggression principle is just a variation of the golden rule. We don't aggress against others because we don't want other to aggress against us.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think you should go with whatever works for you. And absolutely formulate and explain your system to others.

    The first principle could be the sacrifice of Jesus Christ! If God in heaven sacrificed his son for each and every individual on this earth, then each of us must be important to God. Who are you to violate someone else's God given rights?

    The first principle could be reciprocity. You owe it to others not to treat them badly becasue they didn't treat you badly. If someone does treat you badly...

    The first principle could be evolution! Societies evolve and the social values they have are adaptive, as well, within the context of competition. When societies that featured individual rights more prominently came into conflict with those that didn't, the result was one superpower--and the USSR, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Mao's China all had to go on the ash-heap.

    I'm sure there are dozens of ways to get to respecting other people's individual rights.

    I don't care how you get there.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    One of the best things about being a libertarian is that we don't need to agree on much else once we agree that each of us should be free to make choices for ourselves--and that last part is what makes us libertarian. Not the NAP.

    Are you free to make the choice to kill someone or steal his shit? (Meaning by free, after doing so you expect to remain free without retaliation?)

    In other words, if the threat of aggression is absolutely fundamental to the security of our rights, then why call that "non-aggression"?

    It's not the threat of aggression. It's the threat of retaliation in response to aggression.

    Big difference.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Are you free to make the choice to kill someone or steal his shit?"

    Saying that everyone should be free to make choices for themselves also involves the victims of crime.

    Violating someone else's right to makes choices for himself or herself is what makes crime wrong.

    Why is rape wrong? Isn't it because the victim didn't get to make a choice?

    Why are armed robbery and murder wrong? Don't they both involve depriving someone else of their freedom to choose?

    Why is selling cannabis to a willing adult wrong?

    I don't know. I don't see anything wrong with that. ...not criminally wrong, anyway.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Oh, I should add that shooting someone in self-defense is okay, why?

    Isn't it because when people shoot in self-defense, they didn't really have a choice? And you can't hold someone criminally responsible for what they did if they didn't really have a choice?

    Everyone should be free to make choices for themselves. This is our guiding principle.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Saying that everyone should be free to make choices for themselves also involves the victims of crime.

    Violating someone else's right to makes choices for himself or herself is what makes crime wrong.

    So, in other words...

    The NAP.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They certainly have similarities, but just because the NAP also thinks rape is wrong doesn't mean they're the same thing.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I don't follow. You're gonna need to splain that to me.

  • Ken Shultz||

    What I said about people and choices isn't necessarily predicated on NAP. See my comment elsewhere about the apparent preconditionality of aggression.

    Just because NAP and what I said come to similar conclusions on crime doesn't mean they're the same thing.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Agreed, but your quotes I cite above (AGAIN):

    Saying that everyone should be free to make choices for themselves also involves the victims of crime.

    Violating someone else's right to makes choices for himself or herself is what makes crime wrong.

    Is nothing more than the NAP only stated in different words.

  • Ken Shultz||

    But it is not predicated on the NAP!

    I'm glad you see that it comes to the same conclusions as the NAP.

    But it is not the NAP.

    It is perfectly acceptable to believe that people should be free to make choices for themselves for all sorts of reasons--and never accept or reject the NAP.

  • Hydra||

    I would disagree. The NAP is more precise and practical.

    Ken's formulation there has a lot of vagaries that statists could exploit. For example, does the right to make choices for oneself require government subsidies? Without any money, you don't have many choices in life.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "It's not the threat of aggression. It's the threat of retaliation in response to aggression.

    Big difference."

    It's preconditioned on the threat of aggression itself.

    The ability to fuck shit up is what your "non-aggression" is predicated on. I don't even think it's a chicken and egg thing. If my rights are insecure to the point of being ignored unless I posses the ability to fuck your shit up, then the threat to fuck your shit up is the precondition of "non-aggression".

    http://tinyurl.com/k5f6ug6

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    The word aggression with respect to the NAP, implies the definition of aggression as the "initiation" of force. (i.e. 1 below)

    aggression

    ag·gres·sion [uh-gresh-uhn]

    1. the action of a state in violating by force the rights of another state, particularly its territorial rights; an unprovoked offensive, attack, invasion, or the like: The army is prepared to stop any foreign aggression.
    2. any offensive action, attack, or procedure; an inroad or encroachment: an aggression upon one's rights.
    3. the practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general.
    4. Psychiatry. overt or suppressed hostility, either innate or resulting from continued frustration and directed outward or against oneself.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You don't think the threat of violence is aggression unless it's actually carried out?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    You don't think the threat of violence is aggression unless it's actually carried out?

    That's a tricky question. My gut instinct would be to say that is correct, and I'd be correct 99 times out of 100.

    There are cases, however, where the threat of violence IS initiation of force, extortion for instance.

    I'll need to think about a delineation of when it is vs when it isn't. Off the top of my head, I suppose threat of violence is aggression when not being used in the defence of one's rights, but rather to force one's will upon another. There's probably some holes in that. Like I said I need to think on it.

  • Hydra||

    More succinctly, a threat is only aggression if the threatened force would itself be aggression.

    Defending yourself is not aggression, so the threat of self-defense is not aggression either.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Or "defense" too.

    Don't know why that didn't highlight as misspelled? Is "defence" the Limey spelling or something?

  • ||

    Is "defence" the Limey spelling or something?

    It is indeed.

  • Hydra||

    To reiterate what I said below, following the NAP does not mean you have to assume everyone else does.

  • Hydra||

    Telling newcomers there's an orthodoxy to which they must subscribe may be off-putting, and demanding conformity of thought seems intuitively unlibertarian.

    And I suppose demanding that a person calling himself "Asian American" actually have Asian ancestors is unlibertarian too.

    It's not demanding conformity of thought, it's demanding honesty with oneself.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "It's not demanding conformity of thought, it's demanding honesty with oneself."

    No it isn't.

    There isn't anything unlibertarian about people thinking they have a right to make choices for themselves.

    And anyone who says libertarians who think that--but aren't necessarily enamored of or obsessed with NAP--aren't really libertarians? Doesn't know what they're talking about.

    No one's identity is neatly circumscribed by your pet theories. And your theory certainly isn't comparable to an ethnicity.

  • Hydra||

    You are a very confused person, I must say. Yes, you can make choices for yourself, but those choices have consequences. You can't have sex with someone and claim afterwards to be a virgin.

    If Obama said he was a libertarian tomorrow, would you contradict his claim? I don't see how you could based on your statements here.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not talking about Obama.

    I'm talking about people who say they think everyone should be free to make choices for themselves--but don't necessarily subscribe to the NAP, or any other philosophical principle, per se.

    If we want to live in a more libertarian world, we're going to need more libertarians than we have now, and unnecessarily greeting people at the door with philosophical principles they've never heard of and don't understand or appreciate is counterproductive.

    You want more freedom and are willing to tolerate other people's free choices? Please come and join the libertarians! We'll keep the light on for you.

    There's already a movement about philosophical consistency and purity--they're called Objectivists. And they couldn't sell ice water in hell to the general public--not in quantity.

  • Hydra||

    I'm talking about people who say they think everyone should be free to make choices for themselves--but don't necessarily subscribe to the NAP, or any other philosophical principle, per se.

    Thinking everyone should be free to make choices for themselves is a philosophical principle, isn't it? You're just substituting a laxer principle in place of the NAP and "demanding conformity" with that, are you not?

    Look, I'm all for allying with non-libertarians on issues where we have common interest. But i'm not going to lie to myself and to them and claim they're libertarians for having a shared interest. And I'm not going to expect them to pretend that I fit in whatever category they define themselves as, either. We don't have to be identical to be allies.

  • ||

    I'm talking about people who say they think everyone should be free to make choices for themselves--but don't necessarily subscribe to the NAP, or any other philosophical principle, per se.

    Find me 2 people on this planet who don't say they think "everyone should be free to make choices for themselves". That's kindergarten platitudinous shit. It's meaningless. By that definition Michael fucking Bloomberg is a libertarian. You've defined the concept into non-existence when you base it on a trite platitude instead of any actual philosophical principle.

  • Hydra||

    If you assume that our rights would be ignored and violated with impunity unless we were able to initiate a credible threat, then how can you cling to the NAP as all encompassing?

    Following the NAP does not require that one assume everyone else will.

    The NAP is a moral guideline, and armed followers of the NAP are the encouragement for others to follow it.

    I wouldn't call publicizing the ability to defend oneself a "threat" either.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Following the NAP does not require that one assume everyone else will."

    We don't even have to think about the Second Amendment in terms of crime.

    What about the Second Amendment in terms of a threat to government?

    Does our freedom from the government depend on a credible threat that we might overthrow them or doesn't it?

    How credible would that threat be without the right to bear arms? If freedom from oppressive government is preconditioned on a preexisting and credible threat of violence, then why are you calling that "non-aggression".

  • Hydra||

    Merely having the ability to defend yourself is not a "threat".

    And I'm very skeptical about the 2nd amendment's ability to guarantee freedom. The US citizenry is more poorly armed than the Iraqi army was in 1990, even in states where RTKABA is respected the most. We don't even have any tanks! So how could we possibly fight off the federal LEAs and the military if, God forbid, that were the only option left to protect liberty?

    * I must add that I think we are NOWHERE NEAR the point of having to defend liberty with force. The ballot box and the courts are still open to us, it's the apathy and gullibility of our fellow citizens that threatens liberty and those must be fought by persuasion and education.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Merely having the ability to defend yourself is not a "threat".

    Well, we could threaten to hold our breath until we turn blue, but actually having the ability to defend ourselves in reality really does require some kind of threat. It is preconditioned on some kind of threat.

    I agree that modern weaponry has made it harder to overthrow the government than it used to be, but then there would probably be military units that would join a popular revolution--and as better armed as we were against the Iraqi insurgency circa 2003-2004, those poorly armed Iraqis gave us a hell of headache.

    I must add that I think we are NOWHERE NEAR the point of having to defend liberty with force.

    I suspect that is in no small part due to what the government is afraid we'd do if they went too far. It's always the crazies that go over the edge first, but in recent history, we've seen crazies go over the edge against the government--and all the destruction they can do.

    I saw Clinton pull back.

    I think the government is legitimately concerned about pushing regular Americans too far in that direction--out of fear of what would happen. I think they feel threatened, and reading the Federalist Papers, I think that's what the framers wanted from the Second Amendment.

  • Hydra||

    but then there would probably be military units that would join a popular revolution

    Which has diddly to do with the 2nd amendment... military units joining the rebels is a problem in even the most oppressive countries.

    What I find alarming is Obama's drive to hobble the military (who pledge allegiance to the constitution) while amping up federal law enforcement agencies (who are not required to pledge allegiance to anything). It's still a long way from the Venezuelan situation with Chavez' personal militias independent of the military, but the steps are definitely in that direction.

  • ||

    I saw Clinton pull back.

    One of the last things his administration did before he left office was send in a SWAT team with machine guns to wrestle a little boy away from an elderly woman so he could be deported to Cuba. Stacked up against firebombing a compound full of religious nuts or blowing the face off a woman in the Idaho woods over her husband's alleged crime of sawing off a shotgun, I guess you could call that "pulling back". It's worth pointing out that there were exactly 0 repercussions for the government from any of those 3 incidents though. Nothing.

  • Hydra||

    Ruby Ridge and the beginning of the Waco operation both occurred under the first Bush administration... and Clinton experienced one of the biggest midterm election bitchslaps in US history in 1994.

    The Elian Gonzalez incident occurred six months before the 2000 election and probably cost Gore Florida (and thus the presidency).

  • RJ The Terrible||

    "And I'm very skeptical about the 2nd amendment's ability to guarantee freedom. The US citizenry is more poorly armed than the Iraqi army was in 1990, even in states where RTKABA is respected the most."
    The US Army has ~500K personal. The USMC some 200K. Not all of them are in combat roles (supply, comm etc). There are some 35-50M gun owners in the country. The federal police number some 150K, and there are ~750K police of all stripes throughout the rest of the country.

    The US military & police have better weapons, tanks, missiles etc, but they are outnumbered at least 35 to 1. If a revolution comes the questions become:
    1. what % of the military is going to desert
    2. what % of the gun owners will side with the statists
    3. how will the governors use their LEO's, NG and other state militias?

    pretty sure most police will enforce the statists

  • ||

    Ruby Ridge and the beginning of the Waco operation both occurred under the first Bush administration.

    Ruby Ridge, yes. Waco, no. The investigation had been underway in 1992, but the raid and siege took place entirely during the Clinton presidency and with the full and aggressive support of Janet Reno. That wasn't really my point though. Point being that only by comparison to two then-recent back-to-back law enforcement actions the aggressiveness of which hadn't been seen since the "public enemies" era could you say that Clinton "pulled back", and I doubt it had shit to do with fear of gun owners since it was closely followed by the "assault weapons" ban. Also, I was thinking more of legal repercussions or armed resistance the likes of which Ken was referring to when I said there were 0 repercussions for those incidents - not political consequences. Clinton didn't suffer politically much from them either. He was re-elected in a landslide and enjoyed an approval rating through the stratosphere until he left office. Including while he was up on perjury charges.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    "The US citizenry is more poorly armed than the Iraqi army was in 1990, even in states where RTKABA is respected the most. We don't even have any tanks! So how could we possibly fight off the federal LEAs and the military if, God forbid, that were the only option left to protect liberty?"

    Successful insurgents don't engage in classic maneuver warfare. Insurgents don't need tanks. Tankers have to sleep. Tankers have to piss. Tanks need to be refueled/rearmed. Once dismounted, tankers are very poorly trained and armed infantry.

    Same goes for aviation and self-propelled artillery assets.

    Police and most fed LEOs aren't trained, equipped nor armed to deal with insurgents or a prolonged insurgency.

    Some insurgents would try to "fight fair" and would likely get their asses handed to them. Those of us with over a decade of counter-insurgency experience would most assuredly not "fight fair" and would find a little more success.

    No government unwilling to engage in total warfare with its own populace is going to be a determined insurgency.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    Scheisse.
    *going to beat a determined insurgency.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Two reservations about NAP:

    1) Another philosophical orthodoxy? How helpful is that from an outreach standpoint?"

    The NAP principle leaves *everyone* free to pursue their non coercive values. For anyone who doesn't their rocks off on human suffering, coercion is a negative sum game, no matter what your other values.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    No two libertarians agree on anything

    Being a libertarian means never having to say, "Everybody agrees with me."

  • straffinrun||

    I thought libertarianism is based on the hatred of rich, white, ascot wearing monocle polishers. This way I don't have to actually think about rational counter arguments.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Where was I supposed to go choose my parents? I think I fucked that up.

    Fucking sperm lottery- how does it work?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What we need is a Libertarian Catechism.

    Our resident Grand Inquisitor should write one up for us.

  • OldMexican||

    "Noncoercive authoritarianism [for example, patriarchy] may be consistent with libertarian principles, but it is hard to reasonably reconcile the two."


    Ok. Uh... why?

    Because I can reconcile the two. I can also reconcile libertarianism and matriarchy [for example.]

    I can reconcile the authoritarianism of a corporate structure, as it is entirely based in contractual agreement, just like patriarchy and matriarchy. You can always take your business somewhere else, and that includes leaving your family.

    "[...] probably serve just as well for reasons to reject other kinds of authoritarian pretension, even if they are not expressed by means of coercive government action."


    Oh, I see. Sheldon, have you ever considered the possibility that us libertarians apply the NAP to judge all actions and not only those of the state?

    What I as a libertarian will not do is confuse good manners, customs and etiquette with non-aggression.

  • Hydra||

    "Noncoercive authoritarianism" is an act of base-stealing on Richman's part at the outset. Authoritarianism always refers to a government or other coercive organization.

    The word "authoritarian" can apply to non-coercive relationships (one's boss, coach, teacher, parents, etc) but that sense is not present when you add the "-ism", just as there are meanings of "commune" and "social" that have nothing to do with communism and socialism.

  • sarcasmic||

    Start with self ownership, no the NAP.

    If you own yourself and others own themselves, then is aggression not a violation of that self ownership?

    Same with property rights. Private property extends from self ownership. If you own yourself, then do you not own what you produce?

    Libertarianism extends from self ownership, whereas collectivism sacrifices individual self ownership for something like 'The Will of the People' which really means 'Everyone but you.'

  • ||

    That comment, you didn't write that, you didn't make that happen. Someone else did.

  • R C Dean||

    Collectivism asserts that you are owned by the collective, which may (or may not) deign to allow you some temporary and conditional indicia of self-ownership, revocable by the collective at any time.

    I think its just that simple, really.

    What's funny is that people who will answer these questions correctly:

    "Who owns you?"

    "Who owns her?"

    Immediately abandon those answers when they want to push other people around. This is known as "human nature".

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Start with self ownership, no(t) the NAP.

    I start with liberty. It is what I value most in life. I therefore want it maximized. If I want liberty for myself, I must extend the same to others (golden rule if you must, an assertion if you mustn't ).

    The NAP is the logical place to bound liberty as if I take ANY more liberty for myself, I take it from others. From this, Tenet 1:

    1. People can do as they choose, PROVIDED in doing so they do not infringe upon the rights of others.

    If I left it there, I would be an anarchist. The problem with anarchy is that there are evil people in the world that will not comply with the NAP. I am not strong enough to repel their attacks on my rights alone. I need help (government). Problem. I need government to protect my rights, but if it does anything beyond that it begins to take them. THUS, Tenet 2:

    2. The ONLY legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual.

    My philosophy. Part libertarian, part Objectivist and maybe even part Christian. It works for me.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I am not strong enough to repel their attacks on my rights alone. I need help (government).

    This is a non-sequitur. There is nothing government can't do in this situation that couldn't be done by a contracted PMC.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    A contracted PMC is a government.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    How so?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    At that point, it's the last word in force. And not a very good form of government at that, as if they wish, they can turn against you, at their leisure, and take all your shit. (a dictatorship)

    A better (notice I didn't say perfect, as perfect doesn't exist) type would be a republic where power can be retracted for breach of contract.

    Yes, I know your counter argument, and you are right. If they have the power, they can use it against you regardless. Thats why I've come to believe liberty isn't some sort of statically stable construct. It is unstable, requiring constant energy be applied to the system to keep it from falling apart. You want liberty, you gotta constantly fight for it. Government will always seek to expand, and you'll eventually need a reset. What you are shooting for is getting a long run of goodness before the reset is required. I think that's what Jefferson meant.

  • prolefeed||

    A contracted PMC is not the last word in force, since you can fire them, and since if they disagree with another PMC, they have to contract with an arbitrator, or go to war and destroy their profitability.

  • Hydra||

    or go to war and destroy their profitability.

    Unwarranted assumption alert. Destroying a competitor would seem pretty profitable.

  • sarcasmic||

    Destroying a competitor would seem pretty profitable.

    If you employ organized violence and have no competition, you have license to steal. If you have competition, it is in your self interest to kill that competition because doing so gives you license to steal.

    Once you have the last word in organized violence, you can force everyone to pay for it, whether they want to or not.

    What are they going to do about it? You have organized violence. You can lock them in a cage or kill them, and nothing else will happen.

    Thus government is inevitable.

  • Hydra||

    Yep. So let's make sure we have the most innocuous type possible and give it our support.

    Even our intestines understand the need for this and harbor a benign flora which keep the baddies from gaining a foothold.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I am your PMC. I do not accept your firing. I don't want an arbiter. Give me all your shit, right now. No? Bang, bang, you're dead, now I'll simply take your shit. Hire someone else now...

    ...bitch.

    That's how I see anarchism ending up. Constantly conflicted tribal factions, simply because rule of law would differ from one "village" to another. Whose rules apply where, and who is going to enforce them?

    And that's on a small scale. God forbid a force the size of a nation-state decides it wants your shit.

    I've said it before. Anarchism does not account for bad guys.

  • sarcasmic||

    That's how I see anarchism ending up. Constantly conflicted tribal factions, simply because rule of law would differ from one "village" to another. Whose rules apply where, and who is going to enforce them?

    Somaliaaaaaa!!1!!1!!!!!

  • Hydra||

    Somalia didn't experience anarchy for long, but broke up into several smaller de facto warlord-states, the legitimacy of which the "international community" refused to recognize. Even now the TNG does not control most of the country still.

  • Hydra||

    And if you don't want the other PMCs, with which you don't contract, you better make sure you pick the strongest PMC. And that strongest PMC is ultimately going to gobble up or obliterate all the other ones, and presto, you have a government.

  • RJ The Terrible||

    Is the conversation stumbling towards a classical liberal solution of a government with divided powers? Not being sarcastic or snarky ... really asking.

  • robc||

    I start with liberty.

    Liberty == Self-ownership

    One and the same thing.

    If I dont own myself, I dont have liberty (totally).

    The degree to which I dont own myself is the degree to which I dont have liberty.

  • Hydra||

    How do you reconcile locking a murderer in a cage based on self-ownership?

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm not a big fan of locking people in cages. All it does is teach people how to live in a cage.

    I much prefer justice a la Starship Troopers (the book of course) where punishment takes the form of public humiliation, pain, and execution.

    If I were king, thieves would be locked in stocks, violent criminals would get lashes, murderers would hang, while school children would watch and learn.

  • Hydra||

    How do you justify any of that using solely self-ownership?

    Presumably the murderer doesn't want to be publicly humiliated, tortured, and executed, all of which require the use of the body that he supposedly owns.

  • sarcasmic||

    Justice is a bitch.

  • sarcasmic||

    I never used the word "solely."

    I said that self ownership is a better starting point than the NAP, since the NAP can be derived from self ownership, but not the other way around.

  • Hydra||

    If it's a starting point it has to be able to justify everything that follows.

    I don't agree that the NAP can be derived from self-ownership, since self-ownership doesn't prescribe how to deal with violations of property rights.

  • robc||

    I don't agree that the NAP can be derived from self-ownership

    See rule #2.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't agree that the NAP can be derived from self-ownership, since self-ownership doesn't prescribe how to deal with violations of property rights.

    When you violate my rights, you forfeit your own.

  • Hydra||

    When you violate my rights, you forfeit your own.

    Did you derive that from self-ownership?

  • robc||

    Or maybe that is another axiom.

    Do you understand how logic works?

  • sarcasmic||

    Do you understand how logic works?

    I don't think it does.

  • ||

    Or maybe that is another axiom.

    Do you understand how logic works?

    Do you? You're the one who insisted the NAP was a natural outgrowth of self ownership. Now it's a separate axiom, and you're the logical one?

  • PapayaSF||

    As I wrote above:

    The murderer forfeited his self-ownership rights by violating the self-ownership of others. Upholding of self-ownership may mean removing from society those who do so.

    Note that nobody thinks the Declaration Independence means that "life and liberty," despite being "inalienable," cannot be forfeited by the commission of crimes.

  • Hydra||

    My point is that self-ownership needs other principles to exist before you can get to the NAP. Thus it is not a viable substitute for NAP.

  • robc||

    No one said SO is a stand alone axiom.

    NAP isnt either.

    SO is fundamental, NAP is derived.

    There are a number of fundamental axioms, the point of axioms is they cant be derived from previous underlying axioms, they just are.

    NAP can be derived from other axioms, therefore it isnt one.

  • Hydra||

    Several people, including yourself, said we don't need the NAP because we have SO. That would be like saying you don't need the Pythagorean Theorem because you have the axiom that there is only one line between two points. While that axiom is necessary to prove Pythagorean Theorem, it is not sufficient.

    And anything is derivable from something else (and indeed SO is easily derived from NAP). The difference between axioms and derivations is merely a matter of the choice of starting point.

  • sarcasmic||

    I smell Tulpa.

  • Hydra||

    I know you smell, but who is this Tulpa person you're addressing?

  • ||

    NAP can be derived from other axioms, therefore it isnt one.

    Which is it?

  • robc||

    How do you reconcile it based on the NAP?

    Same answer.

    Start with self-ownership, derive the NAP from it. Then, voila, your question is answered.

  • Hydra||

    If you can derive it from the NAP, and the NAP was derived from SO, then you can derive it directly from SO by just skipping the mention of the NAP.

    Therefore, if it is impossible to derive punishment for a murderer directly from SO, but it is possible to derive it from NAP, then NAP is not derivable from SO.

  • robc||

    If the NAP is an intermediate step, why not go thru it?

    Thats how fucking proofs work.

    And I can derive NAP from SO.

    You own yourself, therefore I have no right to harm you. I do, via owning myself, have the right to defend myself, therefore can use self defense.

    Bam, NAP.

  • Hydra||

    You've used a lot besides SO in that derivation.

    I do understand how proofs work; a crucial point is that you list your assumptions first. (and your second sentence is a circular argument)

  • Hydra||

    If the NAP is an intermediate step, why not go thru it?

    My point is that you shouldn't HAVE TO go through it. As a practical matter, yes, you usually do stop at important points and reference those points later on. But it isn't necessary.

  • Robert||

    No, private property does not "extend from" self ownership. One could easily have ownership of the self and nothing else, ever, by anyone.

  • R C Dean||

    I think the argument for "thick" libertarianism goes to the social/cultural context in which we can expect (based on experience and/or deduction) a small limited government to sustain itself against the inevitable pressure to expand.

    The thickies are saying that we should regard this context as an essential element of libertarianism. The thinnies are more focused on the core (small/limited government).

  • Christophe||

    But is changing moral philosophy the best way to achieve that?

    Cryptoanarchists and many kinds of minarchists (designing more restrictive constitutions) treat this as an engineering problem, and I tend to agree.

    When was the last time many people changed their attitudes and behaviour based on a new set of moral axioms? When has the majority of people even tried to reason about their morality?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I guess I consider myself more of a mesomorph libertarian. The thick libertarians often merely seek to Trojan-horse their social/political concerns as necessary conditions for liberty, the extremes of the thin movement also leads to absurdities as the "benevolent" dictator is just as valid or better than "mob-rule"democracy argument. I believe that libertarians should have a bias toward participatory modes of governance, as long as the rights of the minority and the individual are protected within the rubric of NAP.

  • prolefeed||

    "Mob rule" democracy fares better than a "benevolent" dictatorship, since the latter is an oxymoron -- how the hell do you give someone absolute power and expect them to not start abusing it more and more?

    Mob rule has the same tendency, but because you have more people giving input about how the theft and deprivation of rights must proceed, the resulting discord and disagreement causes it to be a slower and messier process toward tyranny.

    Individualist anarchy has the maximum number of people giving input -- everyone -- and the greatest incentive to not enact silly rules.

  • Christophe||

    Right, democracy isn't an inherent good, it's just a practical way to stall aggression.

    Which is why supermajority requirements are a good thing, despite giving effective veto powers to a minority.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The banality of evil:Enrique Peñalosa

  • prolefeed||

    Saw the title, the necessity of (government-run) buses for democracy, and that was all I needed to know.

    Yeah, I'm guessing he left out the government theft part of it, since who the hell opposes the notion of buses by itself?

  • ReeceExaminer||

    Libertarianism is solely about non-aggression. One may believe in all sorts of other things in addition to libertarianism, and some of these beliefs are a must for a logically consistent approach, but to say that they are part of libertarianism makes one a fake libertarian.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: ReeceExaminer,

    Libertarianism as a political philosophy is based on the Non-Aggression Principle.

    What Sheldon Richman and others argue is that libertarianism should also be an aesthetic philosophy that deals with ideas and behaviours through the prism of methodological individualism.

    However, individualism is not meant to be an aesthetic principle, only a political and economic one. What libertarianism is concerned is with people's ability to make choices freely without external and arbitrary restrictions by a state or other people (a condition that automatically and without the requirement to express it limits all others in their choices if these represent an act of aggression against someone else).

    It seems to me that Sheldon Richman and other aesthetes are trying to turn libertarianism into a more comprehensive political theory that not only presents a moral or ethical base for judging individual choice but also a set of rules that makes a libertarian morally superior to anybody else, in a sense that a person who does not follow these precepts should not call him or herself a libertarian. In a sense, Richman and others are placing themselves in the role of a car salesman trying to puff up libertarianism to make it "nicer" or more palatable to those that already hate our guts.

  • OldMexican||

    I believe Richman, Tucker and others are wasting their time. You can't turn ideologues bent on taking our liberties away by showing a nicer face of OUR philosophical foundations. The best we can do as libertarians is to teach and convince those that are not wrapped in the mysticism of statism.

  • ReeceExaminer||

    The humanitarian/thick libertarians are wasting their time. The best we can do as libertarians is to persuade those who can be persuaded and use violence in self-defense against those who cannot be persuaded.

  • robc||

    Libertarianism as a political philosophy is based on the Non-Aggression Principle.

    [citation needed]

    As many of us claimed upthread, its based on self-ownership.

    NAP is derived from that, but it isnt the basis.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    This. All rights must necessarily be property rights or we experience the kind of rights inflation we've seen over the past few decades where the meaning of the word is purposefully destroyed by people who yammer on about the "civil right" to someone else's property or labor.

    All property rights have their basis in self-ownership, or one's property in his own person. The degree to which that's protected by law is the degree to which a society will prosper.

  • Hydra||

    Property rights are subject to the same inflation. "You don't own that, someone built a road and taught a child to make it possible."

    The only answer is utilitarianism but some people here would rather gouge their eyes out than entertain the thought that a viable moral system simply can't be deduced from any first principles.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    How's it going, Tulpa?

  • GILMORE||

    I always tell people I came to libertarianism for the rock and roll lifestyle and legions of hot, easy, young women.

    When they point out the current lack of some of these things, I note:

    "I was misinformed"

  • Hawk Spitui||

    Meh. Libertarianism is mythical beast. If there are any actual libertarians, they're living in a cabin in the woods somewhere in Montana, not playing political activist on the internet. You don't engage the political establishment in pursuit of your liberty, unless you're actively trying to overthrow a government that makes it impossible. There's only one good reason to engage in politics - and that's because you want your team to be calling the shots.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Meh. Another clueless dullard.

    Here's a clue. Libertarians would like they and their neighbors to be able to call their own shots.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Hey, Reason.com.

    Have you noticed that most everyone here thinks Richman has his head up his ass on this? And what is this, the 3rd or 4th *recent* article on it? Are you just trying to piss us off?

  • Hydra||

    You should be happy to have the opportunity to skewer your opponent's arguments.

  • Vampire||

    "2. The ONLY legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual."

    So what had been the result of this fantasy? Government has proven itself incapable of doing such a thing. Individuals are the only ones who can protect and defend their liberty.

    It's amusing how many folks equate anarchism with chaos. Oh no, Somalia!!, ROADZ!!!....there will be armed folks running around stealing half of people's incomes!! Oh sheisser bums! This already happens with government. How folks can talk about liberty, the nap, and then say government in the next sentence is contradictory. Government is aggression, and it ultimately can only survive through violence. It grows and consumes like a fire until there is nothing left.

    I'd rather be free to choose to defend myself, or utilize a market based defense firm to assist me if I so needed them. At least I would be free, able to fight for my liberty.

    By supporting a government, you would be aggressing against others, which would violate liberty, the nap, and the whole self ownership thing. You would force others into slavery....so if one believes such nonsense, they can't say they support liberty when government is antithetical to it. So how many are you going to kill to maintain a govt??

    Yet folks worry about anarchy???? If one is scared of freedom, enslave yourself, but leave free individuals alone.

  • JFree||

    The more of this site I read, the more I realize I am a 'classical liberal' - not a 'libertarian'. Author's history is nonsense. The reason classical liberalism died was because it failed to deal with the cronyism (or as Nock called it 'the merchant State' - and Nock was also last libertarian to actually go ballistic about that cronyism too)

    Classical liberals fell into the trap of using government to fix that problem rather than fixing the crony problem at the heart of it. But that is better than modern libertarians who essentially ignore the problem and instead start diverting attention to non-aggression as a way of ensuring that the problem can't even be addressed.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    The state consists of the guys with the biggest guns. When the guys with the biggest guns decide to ignore a document written by dead men instructing the guys with the biggest guns not to use those guns for pelf, how do you intend to get rid of the theft without first convincing people with ethical and rational arguments for the benefits of voluntary cooperation/markets?

    Like Locke, libertarians are getting to the heart of the problem because we seem to be the only ones who understand how perverse incentives and statist theft kept humanity mired in poverty for so long. That you think the NAP and cronyism are unrelated is a good indication that you don't understand what we mean when we use the word aggression.

  • JFree||

    The state is not pathological. The source of its compulsion is functional.

    Property does not go with you when you die. Your will (psychological) does not live on after you die. If you own property at death, then you rely on some entity to enforce the will of the dead (you) upon the living regardless of what the living themselves may want. There is nothing 'voluntary' about any of this - and there never will be because death itself is not voluntary. Nor is it 'libertarian' or freedom-enhancing to enslave the living to the will of the dead merely by spouting BS about 'nonaggression'.

    This is the origin of the state's monopoly on violence - to enforce the claims of a living 'heir' upon the property of a dead person. The King is dead. Long live the King.

  • JFree||

    Just to expand on my point. Person A (a type A personality) owns everything. Person B (a type B personality) hires himself out to person A in exchange for a satisfactory living and otherwise spends his time with family. Both agree to form a nightwatchman govt to arbitrate disputes. Both find this situation completely acceptable. Both have one kid. Each kid is a type A personality.

    The moment person A dies, the nightwatchman is called into action. Kid of A claims the property of now-dead A - by reason of what is essentially cronyism (access created solely by circumstances of birth in this case). Who is then going to call for 'non-aggression' as an ethical rationale? The kid of A. That call is nothing more than a demand for the kid of B to quietly enslave himself to the 'will' (now a legal term as well) of the now-dead A.

    This intergenerational tilting of the playing field is where classical liberals failed. Socialists were quick to see this problem and propose their revolutionary nonsense. Classical liberals (esp the successful) sometimes saw the problem but were generally too gutless to actually deal with the actual underlying problem (and instead called for the 'welfare state').

    Modern libertarians don't even see the problem as they are basically the privileged crony kid of A chanting about non-aggression. WHAT is your solution to kid B? WHAT is your solution to this intergenerational tilting of the playing field?

  • Edwin||

    how about this: the individualist morality he's talking about matters and is necessary because ultimately, in the long run, there are so many issues which are right there on the edge conceptually between two other concepts that are more concrete, and you combine that with a lot of people are stupid and can't think everything through, so a society that doesn't have at least some of these individualist ideas will eventually begin to violate the NAP

    i.e. a society that's full of hard-line racists will eventually start violently opressing the race it doesn't like

    and of course the opposite is true, a society that's solely libertarian and indivisualist in nature will have everyone eventually fucking each other over, and refusing to cooperate, and that problem would explode because eventually no matter what you do, some right to coercion always sneaks into government, and people would use that power to fuck others over (like, for example, zoning laws and land-owners prohibiting building to raise the price of their land at the expense of everyone's living costs). Or more fundamentally, why should I even care about the other guy's rights if it's all about me? That's where unfettered individualism leads you to, and again I think that's kind of where we are now

  • FuriousFatMan||

    "and exhort our fellows not to rely on authoritarian social institutions"

    i've been trying, but when you explain that that means not having a government, most people flip the fuck right out.

    Libertarianism in its purest form is Anarchy.

    Anarchy is just the removal of the middle man between an individual and their freedom.

    -FFM

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    I find it's easier if you distinguish between the words government and state. Anarchists believe in voluntary government and hierarchies (relationships between boss and employee, parent and child, pastor/roshi/whatever and congregant), but we don't believe in the involuntary monopoly on violence that is the state.

    Taking Hayek's arguments about spontaneous order to their logical conclusion and consistently arguing for the need for peaceful cooperation and voluntary webs of defense is a strong draw for those who're more interested in ethics than Team Purple gamesmanship.

  • Hydra||

    For those more interested in ethics than a practical form of society, you mean?

    Anarcho-capitalists have no answer for the question of how to prevent the people/groups that are naturally good at perpetrating violence from eventually forming a de facto state. And no, unsupported claims that "war is unprofitable" don't count, particularly given that they're contradicted by 5000 years of human history. War is plenty profitable when you're a lot stronger than your opponent, and those differentials do arise naturally.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Grown-ups talking, Tulpa. You go back to torturing cats.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    So, if, as some in GOP circles would have us believe, libertarianism is actually a subset of conservatism, then does that mean that anarchy -- the purest form of libertarianism -- is also a(n even smaller) subset of conservatism? ;-)

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    If by conservatism we mean liberalism, yes. The terms are bastardized beyond recognition by a century of special-interests politics, but political conservatives have their roots in the liberal Lockean tradition just like progressives have their roots in atavistic collectivism.

    The conservative movement is political and populist rather than philosophical, and all of the serious thinkers/economists it claims are liberals who'd be much more at home breaking bread with Bob Murphy or Richman than conventional conservatives like Boehner or W.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    There are some who view libertarianism as a way of life, and their interests and views may overlap those of people who see libertarianism as an approach to defining the size and scope of government. I don't find either class of people to be "non-libertarian," or promoters of "first-" or "second-class" libertarianism. There are a number of things that need to be voluntary accomplished by, and promoted in, civil society, in order for libertarianism as an approach to government to be most successful. Perhaps Richman is getting at that idea. But I think that completely "thin" -- one might even say "anorexic" -- libertarianism is valid. For those who want to live a fully consistent libertarian lifestyle, "thick" libertarianism and its adherents are always there, but to say that proper libertarianism is more than the "thin" version just doesn't play with me. Congratulations to Richman in getting people to think about how to build libertopia, but if we never achieve it, we will still do the world and ourselves a service to rein in the government via a so-called "thin libertarianism" approach.

  • Geezer||

    When Sheldon Richman begs the question, it's "argument." When others do it, it's "contradiction."

  • thorax232||

    Really great article and points, I do love hearing these sorts of perspectives.

  • toolkien||

    Every philosophy has its narrower and broader definitions of concepts (we didn't get the homoousion/homoiousion controversy for nothing, and the need for the Council of Chalcedon). The NAP can be too axiomatic and trite in some hands, but then when others begin to more broadly define libertarianism, toes get stepped on. That's the "blurry" nature of the definition of anything. But the idea, then, is to tend toward the NAP, that IF things are blurry and up for debate, then it follows that the option for the LEAST amount of Force should inform behavior, individually and - especially - collectively. This concept, itself, is hard to get across in a culture where the machine of state has been set to Force First and the knobs and levers have been removed. People are so conditioned to settle everyone else's hash through the Force of the State. Out of this we have conceptions that universal health care, food, education, and housing for all somehow comports with some notion of libertarianism, and they call themselves such. Perhaps they simply know they aren't libertarians and are trying Pied Piper people over to progressivism/fascism, but anyone with an IQ above room temperature would see through the ruse. Unfortunately, I think many such folk are simply stupid, particularly of basic economics.

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