You Know You're Neolibertarian If ...

The inaugural issue of The New Libertarian is now available for download. This is intended to be an online journal of "neolibertarianism," described by Jon Henke in terms of the following: 1) Pragmatic domestic libertarian; Hawk on defense; 2) Hobbesian libertarian; 3) Big-Tent libertarian.

There's more discussion here (link via Instapundit), along with links to a bloc of sites that regard themselves as part of a neolibertarian network. By the way, the motto of the new journal is "Free Markets, Free People."

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  • ||

    Hey, if I subscribe to this, it looks like I can get their book, "Joyce, the best of treason" for half price. What a great idea.

  • clarityiniowa||

    Anything that starts with "neo" is going to end badly. Witness the "Matrix" trilogy.

  • ||

    "1) Pragmatic domestic libertarian; Hawk on defense; 2) Hobbesian libertarian; 3) Big-Tent libertarian."

    I got one. How 'bout statist libertarian?

  • tomWright||

    I have always thought that too many of us treated Libertarianism like some sort of fundamentalist sect. This is a move towards mainstreaming libertarian ideas and philosophy, I am all for it.

    Tom

  • clarityiniowa||

    Tom, I confess I have treated Libertarians that way, especially on H&R. But it's hard to avoid when so many of them do such a wonderful impression of M*A*S*H's Frank Burns.

  • ||

    The blog link takes me to a page that starts off quoting Irving Kristol out the ass--there must be some kind of mistake if this link was meant to take me to a page about any kind of "libertarianism", regardless of prefix (unless it's "non" or "un").

    The most telling Kristol quote (and comment) is this one:

    >>"The welfare state is with us, for better or worse, and...conservatives should try to make it better rather than worse."

    Indeed, Leviathan is with us, for better or worse. Libertarians should try to make it better, rather than worse.

  • ||

    I share many of their concerns about maximizing libertarian influence, etc., but I think their first bullet point is terribly confusing:

    "Pragmatic domestic libertarian; Hawk on defense"

    Usually, this is where I would point out that being a "Hawk on defense" is an oxymoron and therefore confusing, but they paired that already confusing statement with the word "pragmatic" which obviously exacerbates the confusion...

    ...Those of us who are pragmatic in both domestic and foreign policy need a new name for ourselves. We keep letting the opposition invent all the labels, and that will not do. I'm open to suggestions, I'd somehow thought the word "pragmatic" might work its way into our label...

    Anyway, it is my understanding that the label "neocons" once described people who were new to the conservative movement. Now that the river seems to be flowing the other way, that is, now that the neocons seem to have convinced so many conservatives that improving the lives of people beyond our borders is a legitimate function of the state, the label "neoconservative" is a misnomer--it's just not accurately descriptive anymore.

    ...I suggest we call them "neoliberals", which I presume they'll prefer to "excons", my alternative favorite.

  • ||

    Agree or disagree with the particulars of their worldview, this is yet another example of:

    1. How distraught many small-l libertarians and anti-government conservatives have become with the Republican Party's ongoing ideological drift.

    2. How unappealing the Libertarian Party remains to most of them.

  • drf||

    Mr Iowa!

    :)

    hilarious comments. "neo" indeed! neo keynesian... oh yeah.

    remember that the Illinois GOP had reports from NY calling Alan keyes a "libertarian". and some harder core christian conservative site uses the label "libertarian" as "most consistent with christian conservative voting".

    get ready for round sixteen.

    happy friday

  • Warren||

    "Free Markets, Free People" eh? And 'enslaved minds' by implication.... I LIKE it!

    It has "Brave New World" feel. A work I have long held is grossly misinterpreted. Huxley's dystopia arises from the strong central state. The genetic engineering and other technologies should be embraced for the (supposedly evil) stated reasons.

  • ||

    A journal for pragmatic libertarianism is needed. Whether this is the answer is another matter.

    When I say "pragmatic libertarianism", I mean useful maps on how to get from our statist "here" to the great libertarian "there" without causing a huge backlash because the change was too abrupt. People don't mind change so long as they can see that it won't be too painful in the short run and has lots of benefits in the long run. Libertarianism usually neglects the short run (scaring people who agree that long run looks good, but...) and doesn't always do a good a job articulating why our long run is beneficial in the first place (witness the difficulty with The War On Drugs).

    Anything that helps out with inching forward is welcome. There won't be a libertarian revolution, but we might manage a libertarian evolution, given enough politically palatable intermediate steps. We just need to know what steps to take.

  • ||

    "1. How distraught many small-l libertarians and anti-government conservatives have become with the Republican Party's ongoing ideological drift."

    They're so distraught they're hysterically rushing in the same direction?

  • ||

    LfP,

    Well stated.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    "Hawks on defense?" As in, "the best defense is a good (and frequently deployed) offense?" Yeah, right. (Pun intended.)

    True libertarians are extremely strong on defense, but to call them "Hawks" imputes a predatory aggression that is inaccurate, an attitude of "freedom for me but not for thee (if thou disagreest, anyway)." Tell me, can a slaveholder be "libertarian"? Can a tyrant be "libertarian"? If you can think of reasons for the answer to be "yes," you probably are a long way from being truly "libertarian," yet the arguments for an aggressive foreign policy come very close to arguments that would reconcile those other oxymoronish juxtapositions.

    People are getting very aggressive about re-defining the term "libertarian" into indistinct, confusing mush. I hope that is because "libertarian" retains a certain good-guy reputation that has flowed from the central ideals of true libertarianism, and the posers want to exploit it for their own aggrandizement and to further their own agenda.

    Those who understand what TRUE libertarianism is must now start raising their voices, to articulate persuasively the meaning of the word, and to retain the term as a label fit for real libertarians.

  • ||

    Neolibertarian, huh? This is an April Fools joke, right?

  • Jon Henke||

    Hey guys, I was the one who wrote "Hawk on defense", and I've come to regret the wording. As I wrote in the comment section: "'hawk' is probably too loaded a term, as it implies a militaristic outlook. We don�t advocate "for the hell of it" militarism. Rather, we reserve the right�and recognize the value�of a foreign policy that does not exclude the use of force. In essence, we are Realists who place a value on freedom, rather than simply valuing the State. (though, insofar as a State protects freedom, we value that State, too)

    In any event, Neolibertarianism is less about specific policy prescriptions than it is about recognizing that politics is the art of compromise, and if we'd like to see a society more like our ideals, we have to play the game in the margins, rather than on absolutes. As Dale puts it in the first article of The New Libertarian:

    "Politics is the means whereby we try to reconcile the competing interests of society in order to come to a generalized solution that is acceptable to the whole. To be successful at this reconciliation, one must be willing to compromise. Certainly, one can try to get as much of one's program enacted as possible, but at the end of the day you have to have a firm grasp on the sense of where the limits of possibility lie.

    In doing so, you have to determine that doing a little bit of something is better than accomplishing all of nothing".



    One of the problems libertarians have had is the "purity" issue. I've never seen a group of political activists so determined to kick people off the team. If we're going to be successful, we need to tolerate -- even encourage -- dissent, and welcome the spectrum of libertarians into the coalition. Unless we can do that, we're going to stay irrelevant to the political discussion in this country. We will be ensuring our failure.

    At any rate, agree or disagree, I hope you'll give The New Libertarian a look, and sign up for future editions.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Doesn't sound much like the last publication called New Libertarian, that's for sure...

  • Warren||

    Hey Jon,
    Fuck of and die you heretic.

    Love
    a libertarian

  • ||

    "1) Pragmatic domestic libertarian; Hawk on defense;"

    Hah! I'm stunned by the people suckered by this obvious April Fool's joke.

  • ||

    I've always preferred the term "Hamiltonian" libertarian. Hobbes was too, er, Leviathan for my tastes; Hamilton (the Founding Father libertarians love to hate) was at heart a libertarian, however "pragmatic" he may have been on certain issues (OK, his support of the Sedition Act was pretty stupid). And in any event, he was right to be concerned about tyranny of the majority - After all, Tom DeLay was elected by a majority...

  • ||

    Wait. . you're serious? Dear sweet Jesus.

    "One of the problems libertarians have had is the "purity" issue. I've never seen a group of political activists so determined to kick people off the team."

    Jon, your analogy is wanting. If you are willing to compromise the principles of libertarianism (and libertarianism is nothing if not an ideology derived rationally from clear principles), then nobody kicked you off the team. You were never on the team. You did not show up for practice.

  • ||

    If "Hawks on Defense" means the kind of armed-to-the-teeth, Fortress America but non-interventionist attitude once evinced by the old Libertarian Defense Caucus and their newsletter, American Defense, I've got no problem with it. If it means seeking out quarrels the world over, I've got no use for it.

    Kevin

  • ||

    What's with the Statue of Liberty fetish? Maybe they listened to XTC too much in college?

    "The first time I saw you standing in the water
    You must have been all of a thousand feet tall
    Nearly naked - unashamed like Herod's daughter
    Your love was so big
    It made New York look small"

    Just wondering. Me, I prefer the pot-smoking, dog-fucking version of libertarianism better than the "tamed adjunct of the GOP" version.

    "The failure of the liberatarians results, not so much from their abandonment of their classical liberal ideas, and even less from actual or threatened political marginalization, but mainly from skillful cooptation continuously carried on through collaboration by government, 'free market' industrialists, 'celebrity libertarians' and the Republican Party. Simply put, they are suckers for the arguments of 'fixing the system from within', 'being realistic' and 'being part of the solution'. Especially the last argument, as it gives them some illusory power even as, through cooptation, they cease to be libertarians and become little more than exotic lapdogs."

  • PintofStout||

    What if you're a libertarian who doesn't like the whole "compromise so we can make general distinctions across a collective," aka politics. I find that a compromise on anything larger than a personal dispute is just a submission of a freedom you should rightfully have. If we "compromise" now, we are simply giving some power-hungry second-hander control of some aspect of us; albeit less than he originally wanted.

  • PintofStout||

    You know you're a Neolibertarian if...

    - The first thing you think of in a political fight is how to surrender in the most graceful way.

    - You think the GOP would almost have it right if only they'd stop spending so much money.

  • Jon Henke||

    I find that a compromise on anything larger than a personal dispute is just a submission of a freedom you should rightfully have.

    A lot of libertarians feel that way. How's that been working out for libertarianism?

    Understand, there's certainly nothing wrong with being a political conscientious objector. But, if politics is merely war by other means, then there's also nothing wrong with fighting it to win.

  • ||

    "One of the problems libertarians have had is the "purity" issue. I've never seen a group of political activists so determined to kick people off the team."

    I'm with you on that. It just seems to me that the big tent you're trying to put up isn't big enough to include people like me.

    ...And this doesn't help:

    "In essence, we are Realists who place a value on freedom, rather than simply valuing the State."

    It looks like you're trying to have it both ways. That is, when you use a term like "realist" or "pragmatic" under the banner of "Neolibertarian", a term that looks like "Neoconservative", it looks like you're just mincing words. ...That is, it looks to me like you're trying to persuade real pragmatic libertarians that using the Department of Defense to improve people's lives is a perfectly legitimate use of government.

    It's a free country, of course, knock yourself out! ...But my money's bettin' against you.

    ...From my perspective, it seems to me that you're tryin' to take only a small portion of current libertarians and go fishin' for hawkish Republicans. Don't be surprised if the overwhelming majority of libertarians who feel like you're tryin' to leave 'em behind kick and scream a lot.

    ...My idea of a big tent, by the way, takes all the libertarians we have and makes the party larger, indeed, big enough to include Republicans and Democrats as well. ...But I can't imagine supporting a supposedly "libertarian" agenda based on the idea that improving people's lives is a legitimate function of the Department of Defense.

  • ||

    Considering that we will never see the large-scale government reduction/destruction that libertarianism calls for, the options for enacting change are very limited.

    Either some compromise must be made, which has traditionally landed libertarian votes into anxious Republican arms, or a full-scale revolution must be launched. Obviously, a real revoltion is not to be recommended by any sane person which mean compromise is the only method of acheiving results. Personally, I'd rather see a "big tent" LP that was actually welcomed by libertarians than be relegated to side-show status whether within or apart from the Republican party.

    Of course, the third option is that we could just continue to whine about the current state of gov't forever. Libertarians are good at that.

  • ||

    the motto of the new journal is "Free Markets, Free People"

    Reason did it!

  • Jon Henke||

    I can't imagine supporting a supposedly "libertarian" agenda based on the idea that improving people's lives is a legitimate function of the Department of Defense.



    Well, Ken, Dale covered that when he wrote:

    In foreign policy, neolibertartianism would be characterized by,

    * A policy of diplomacy that promotes consensual government and human rights and opposes dictatorship.

    * A policy of using US military force solely at the discretion of the US, but only in circumstances where American interests are directly affected.

    It's not about "improving people's lives" except insofar as it is in the interests of our own liberty/security. For example, I'd certainly argue that a non-Taliban run Afghanistan is more conducive to US interests than one run by the Taliban.

    it seems to me that you're tryin' to take only a small portion of current libertarians and go fishin' for hawkish Republicans.

    We're looking for people who are either libertarian, or libertarian on the margins. That is, people who have libertarian sympathies are welcome to join a coalition of libertarians. That's the way politics works. You have ad hoc coalitions of people with similiar goals, and you try to arrange things according to your best interests.

    To date, we've been doing that very, very badly. Non-participation is always an option, but I don't find it a particularly productive one.

  • ||

    Mr. Henke,

    First, I love the snide comment, "A lot of libertarians feel that way. How's that been working out for libertarianism?"

    Second, if the libertarians are so useless you can insult them and still expect them to come over to your side, why the hell would you want a bunch of ineffectual, hypocrtical lickspittles as allies?

    Third, "if politics is merely war by other means, then there's also nothing wrong with fighting it to win", I suppose that depends on whether you want to win the war just to win it or just to beat the other guy or to actually accomplish something you believe in. I would suggest that "ends justify the means" arguments will cut little ice with most libertarians.

    But your argument plays directly to my quote above. You clearly want to neutralize or coopt all the libertarians who are going to hold their noses and go for the Dimmycrats in future years. You play the GOP buttboy, I prefer not to.

  • Jon Henke||

    I didn't intend that as an insult. My apologies. I intended to make the point that futility should eventually be recognized.

    At any rate, I never implied that "the ends justify the means". But there's a line we all tread between principle and pragmatism, and we have to judge the marginal effects of our decisions on each.

    GOP buttboy? Well, inter alia, I didn't vote for Bush.

  • ||

    We hold these truths to be self-evident,

    -- that all men are created equal. . .
    -- AND
    -- that governments are institued among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
    -- AND
    -- "if we'd like to see a society more like our ideals, we have to play the game in the margins, rather than on absolutes"
    -- AND with firm reliance on divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, in the margins of course.

  • Jon Henke||

    Yeah, well you might recall that the Constitution was the result of quite a lot of compromises.

  • PintofStout||

    I realize that the libertarians have been nearly invisible in politics for a long time, but, as Nick Gillespie pointed out in the "divorce hearing," we are more free now than in the not-too-distant past. Something is working; although not quite fast enough for my tastes.

    I am going to try the focused attack, myself. By participating in the Free State Project I will gain a considerable measure of individual freedom simply by moving. The rest of the political fight involved will be more like guerilla warfare (or maybe psy-ops) trying to change peoples minds and fighting small battles against government creep. The national battle you speak of smacks of Picket's Charge.

  • ||

    is this an april fool's joke?

  • ||

    Jon Henke,

    Hobbesian libertarian? *ha ha ha*

    That is the most clueless statement I have seen in quite sometime I am afraid. In other words, someone isn't reading Hobbes very much (or at all). Hobbes' notions of a centralized, intrusive state are directly contrary to libertarianism. Color me very unimpressed.

    My suggestion is this: read the Leviathan nitwit.

    Yeah, well you might recall that the Constitution was the result of quite a lot of compromises.

    Some of them quite terrible; think of slavery for one.

  • ||

    Jon Henke,

    When looking at the issue of the slavery issue and the Constitution, I suggest:

    Paul Finkelman, Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson.

  • ||

    I will concede this: there are a lot of neocon assholes running around calling themselves "libertarian." (Christ, *Michelle Malkin* claims to be one!) Still, there's gotta be some wiggle room on these issues, otherwise we're no better than the Objectivists: "What?!? You like Mozart?!? DIE, HERETIC!!!"

  • ||

    Sometimes I try to imagine a world in which we have a President and Congress which make the "libertarian" decision 90% of the time. Then I imagine libertarians bitching about the 10% so much that the President and Congress lose their support and the country is retaken by statists.

    There are a hell of a lot of people out there who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. They are interested in a third way, but if you get them to read the LP platform they go, "whoa, these guys are pretty far out there" because let's face it, libertarians advocate some pretty "extreme" solutions to people not familiar with the underlying ideology. We gotta be able to harness these ideologically impure people in some way in order to push the nation in a more liberated direction, instead of just weirding them out. I don't think "neolibertarianism" is the solution, but I don't think the current method of holier-than-thou, pox-on-both-your-houses cynicism is working out too well either. I think our ideas and ideology are fine, but we need to find a better way to frame the debates we get involved in, and work with those actually in power when we have the rare opportunities to do so. That doesn't mean compromising beliefs, but it might mean compromising action and taking a more incremental approach.

  • Justin Raimondo||

    Why don't these people come out of the closet and just call themselves neocons?

  • ||

    Ok, I gave it a read. To me, it comes off as a clumsy attempt to blend Reason and National Review. "Living in the real world" was a waste time, rehashing the limits of libertarianism that any right-thinking libertarian already agrees exist. (I still don't understand the author's objection to the libertarian support for the rights of the Michigan company that fired workers for smoking.) Invoking Buckley at the end was ballsy and fell short. Chastising the libertarian party is always fun and always useless - is the goal to chase those 22,000 libertarian votes into the Republican and Democratic camps, where they'll still be "marginally futile"? Where does that get us?

    This Neolibertarian crap is about as lame as Neoconservatism. matt was dead on with his label, "Statist Libertarian."

  • ||

    I'm sympathetic to the concept, especially the notion of pragmatic libertarianism. Like GG, I don't follow the Hobbesian libertarian concept, I have to admit.

    I'll wait to see what comes out of it, I guess. If a statement of purpose could come out to look something like "It is our goal to advance libertarian policies, not only through education, but through strategic participation in the legislative process," I could get on board. I want an organization that acknowledges up front that large blocs of voters get what they want and that the use of the term 'strategic' implies a selection of policies to advance by participating in coalitions that are not philosophically libertarian at all.

    Further, an organization that is skeptical of the reflexive libertarian foreign policy statements of 'interference is always ineffective' and 'sitting on your hands prevents them from getting dirty' would be nice, too.

  • ||

    "Non-participation is always an option, but I don't find it a particularly productive one."

    You're just confused about the mechanisms of participation. The reason the Libertarian Party is a joke is because in the current political climate of the United States, it is effectively an oxymoron. There are no means by which libertarianism can advance its principles through the existing mechanisms of political partydom. Therefore the correct solution is to advance those principles through education and single-issue advocacy, something that has actually been going fairly well.

  • ||

    Justin,

    I don't know about them, but I think the foreign policy arm of "real" libertarianism is very philosophically lazy. I want to end the war on drugs. I hate censorship. I hate government spending. I think that libertarianism as historically practiced by the Party of Principle is galactically ineffective.

    I don't think the neocon label fits, and to ask some folks around here, I don't qualify as a 'real' libertarian. I don't know if these guys have the right label, but you can understand where people might feel a need to find one.

  • ||

    From the ant farm perspective, this periodical should be considered another Good Thing in the promulgation of libertarian ideas and ideals. We need the porn-loving pot-smoking freaks to push from one direction, the clean-cut religious libertarians pushing from another, the Birk-wearing Prius-driving libs pushing from yet another, every lib in between, and the idealist chattering away to help clarify and maintain (and possibly move) the focus. There is no one way to spread a good idea and spreading a good idea in one way only is a bad idea.

  • ||

    Jason Ligon,

    You are a real libertarian as far as I can tell.

  • ||

    Rimfax,

    Oh, more power to them. They just need to stop using really stupid phrases like "Hobbesian libertarian."

  • ||

    GG:

    Between the war and the election, there has been quite a bit of neocon muck flung my way over the last couple of years. I felt like a RAVING neocon at Freedom Fest last year.

    I must be sensitive on the subject, given how whiny that last post reads to me now ...

  • ||

    I don't know what 'Hawk on Defense' in this context means but here's my version of the idea:

    No troops outside US Borders and a firm promise to nuke the shit out of any country that attacks us.

    Am I a neo-libertarian?

  • ||

    Jason Ligon,

    Well, people can honestly disagree on the Iraq war; of course you are fucking wrong, but that's beside the point. :)

    The election ... who the fuck cares. IMHO castigating someone for holding their nose and voting for either Bush or Kerry isn't much of a demerit. Note that I didn't vote at all.

  • ||

    Ah, the discussion where I make the same point: Libertarians are too busy being "right" to bother with nonsense like winning elections. I think many people are sympathetic to libertarian ideas... just not to libertarians. The H&R forum has plenty of intelligent, articulate libertarian thinkers who I hope never sit next to me on a plane.

    This is one reason neolibertarian is a lousy name. The word libertarian has the curb appeal of a 1964 lime green Dodge Dart... adding the word "neo" is the semantic equivalent of yellow racing stripes.

    The real libertarians will bitch and moan while people that average 40 fewer IQ points make public policy and basically run the world. (Which for my money is fairly compelling indictment of intelligence testing.) I agree with Thoreau. I think the answer is to find an intelligent, charismatic libertarian candidate who can spend five minutes with a religious voter without kicking them in the groin... and then spend money on the campaign like a fleet of drunken sailors. Donde esta Thoreau?

  • ||

    "The reason the Libertarian Party is a joke is because in the current political climate of the United States, it is effectively an oxymoron."

    and because the LP is filled to the brim with jokers and jackasses who should have stayed at the comic book fair.

    purity for the puritans.

  • ||

    That should read:

    IMHO someone for holding their nose and voting for either Bush or Kerry isn't much of a demerit.

  • PintofStout||

    Jose,
    I love the imagery (sp?) there.
    ROFL...

  • ||

    I'm a libertarian who has never been associated with the L.P.

    _________________________________________

    I took a gander at their publication. First, I'm not going to read an .pdf version of a 'zine. Second, most of the their statements were so watered down as to lack utility. Third, there were a lot of strawmen being kicked about.

  • ||

    Jose,

    You are never going to convince religious voters to be libertarians or to support libertarian causes. Religious voters are all about social control after all.

  • ||

    It looks to me like there are neoconservative libertarians (or libertarian neoconservatives) on this very site.

    I'm not sure it's possible to make a libertarian leaning web site that pitches a bigger tent than the one here at Hit & Run. Really, they have all kinds on staff here, and the commenters land all over the board. I agree that there's a need for a pragmatic libertarian journal, but, to my eye, Hit & Run does a great job of filling that need. Indeed, if there was one legitimate libertarian purity test, it might be this...

    ...If you can't find anyone on Hit & Run that agrees with you, then you're not a real libertarian.

  • ||

    "You are never going to convince religious voters to be libertarians or to support libertarian causes."

    I was raised in a fundamentalist household. I retain some of my fundamentalist beliefs. I talked one of my parents into voting libertarian for president in the last general election.

    I talk to fundamentalists about politics all the time. It's not always obvious to the outside observer, but while most, if not all, Evangelicals are fundamentalists, not all fundamentalists are Evangelicals. And there's a difference behind fundamentalist politics and Evangelical politics. Most Evangelicals--at least most of the ones I've talked to--believe in changing the moral character of this country through politics, but most of the fundamentalists I talk to, on the other hand, are entirely distrustful and fearful of government.

    ...Indeed, most of the fundamentalists I talk to are afraid of George W. Bush. Abandon the insistence that it's not enough to be right, you have to be right for all the right reasons, and we can reach them.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    There is a difference between a religious voter and a voter who happens to be religious.

  • ||

    How about "pragmatarian"

    Understands that anarcho-capitalist libertarianism aint' gonna happen anytime soon, but is dedicated to incrementally pushing for more and more freedom wherever possible.

    I'd settle for letting doctors prescribe pain meds without going to prison as a first step...

    A typical pragmatarian statement would be:

    "I would like to see the FDA abolished, but for now let's just change it so that all it does is monitor drugs and advise consumers impartially without having authority to ban anything"....

    Again, I would settle for that for now...

    nmg

  • ||

    I read a book once that made a pretty convincing argument that Hobbes largely supported a minimal state. I don't have the book or a cite for it on me, but it quoted from the end of Leviathan where Hobbes says something like "And with the sovereign preventing violence, people become free to trade with each other, increasing their mutual wealth; and the sovereign won't interfere because it's in his interest to see his state and his people grow rich and strong." So he definitely thought the state should be infinitely more libertarian than our current one is, in that he opposed restrictions on trade &c.

  • Jon Henke||

    "Hobbes' notions of a centralized, intrusive state are directly contrary to libertarianism."

    Indeed, but Hobbes observations about the state of nature were more accurate than Locke's, whose views were little more than wishful thinking.

    Why don't these people come out of the closet and just call themselves neocons?

    Because we're not neocons.

    If a statement of purpose could come out to look something like "It is our goal to advance libertarian policies, not only through education, but through strategic participation in the legislative process," I could get on board. I want an organization that acknowledges up front that large blocs of voters get what they want and that the use of the term 'strategic' implies a selection of policies to advance by participating in coalitions that are not philosophically libertarian at all.

    Further, an organization that is skeptical of the reflexive libertarian foreign policy statements of 'interference is always ineffective' and 'sitting on your hands prevents them from getting dirty' would be nice, too.

    Those are exactly the points we've been making. We don't even always agree with each other, but we recognize that libertarian activism has been suicidal to date. It needs to organize and influence, rather than play the game of ever-narrower purism. If that means compromise, then some of our goals are better than all of nothing.

  • ||

    I think the reflexive anti-religious sentiments of some libertarians are really hurtful to the ideology's popularity. I'm completely with Ken Schultz on this - I was raised much the same way and convinced my dad (but not my mom) that libertarianism is the only sane political philosophy at the moment. We'll never make any progress if we kick people out of the club before they've had a drink.

  • ||

    Jon Henke,

    Indeed, but Hobbes observations about the state of nature were more accurate than Locke's, whose views were little more than wishful thinking.

    I think its rather apparent that we don't live in a Hobbesian universe. If we did then we would be following Hobbes' prescriptions for the proper form of government. But indeed we aren't. We are following the prescriptions of Harrington and the Baron de Montesquieu instead (maybe you ought to read the works of these men as well while you are picking up a copy of the Leviathan). Indeed, given that Hobbes' views are heavily clouded not by any objective study of human society but by the tumults associated with 17th century Britain, you come to understand his negative view of human beings are based largely on discrete and local concerns even though he conflates them to a universal vision.

    However, all of this ignores the point of my statement; Hobbes' prescriptions are directly contrary to libertarian thought on the matter of ordering social relations. Thus calling oneself a Hobbesian libertarian is an oxymoron and a sign of complete ignorance of Hobbes' ideas and prescriptions. If indeed you are a Hobbesian libertarian, then you are a libertarian who favors a strong, centralized state where social, political and economic control are wielded by a by that centralized state; that is not libertarianism, its statism.

  • ||

    Randolph Carter,

    I don't like religion. However, you are aren't going to see me trying to enact laws which inhibit religious liberty however. I will of course continue to mock the silly superstitions, religious stories, etc. of the religious. If that is being reflesively anti-religious, so be it.

  • ||

    Jadagul,

    Hobbes' prescriptions weren't democratic or pluralistic; absolute submission to the sovereign and the sovereign's rules was his prescription. And while Hobbes certainly did argue that an individual may disagree with sovereign and refuse an order by the sovereign, the sovereign had every right to kill the individual. Hobbes uses the example of a draft to illustrate this point; the draftee may refuse and the sovereign may kill the draftee.

    A Hobbesian government would allow its subjects no rights; in a Hobbesian government the subject either obeyed was punished. There is no division of political power either; there is one supreme ruler or small coterie of rulers; and as we know, such undiluted political power is ripe for abuse.

    To be frank, the state of nature is hardly as bad as Hobbes' claims as to justify such a totalitarian regime. But its this sort of totalitarian regime which a "Hobbesian libertarian" would advocate.

    If Locke's vision was too rosey, then Hobbes' view is far too stark and colored by the historical events that influenced his writings.

  • ||

    Jadagul,

    So yes, Hobbes' did argue that his prescriptions would lead to a more prosperous population, etc.; but given our experience with regimes where political power was not diffuse, do you really think that is true? I certainly don't. Hobbes in his own way is advocating for the sort of the monstrosities that killed millions during the 20th century.

  • ||

    Jon Henke,

    Again, color me unimpressed.

  • ||

    Next thing we'll be hearing about is "Stalinist libertarianism" or "divine-right libertarianism" or "theonomist libertarianism." :)

  • ||

    Give Henke a break. At least he's trying. The rest of us (including me) are often too pissed off at the stupidity of the average person to do anything constructive. That fact is that the human race is simply not ready for full-blown Libertarianism. Humans are simply too culturally and intellectually primitive to coexist in a truly free state. It may take centuries for freedom to truly reign, but we'll get there if the primitives don't destroy us all first. Personally, I agree that neolibertarianism is a terrible name. I simply call myself a moderate libertarian--I'm fairly pure in my ideology, but I understand that you can't change the world (or the US) overnight without upsetting the apple cart.

    Most people are morons. That's the real problem. Without education, we're little more than wild beasts. This is a fact. Period.

  • ||

    The Real Bill,

    I'm annoyed at the stupidity of Henke actually. :)

  • ||

    Gary, you're missing the point. I actually haven't read Leviathan itself, just excerpts. But this author excerpted a passage where Hobbes argues that the sovereign will be good and foster prosperity by giving his subjects as much freedom as possible, and not, for instance, restricting freedom of trade in any way. Probably Hobbes's greatest fault is not a too-cynical view of the average man, but a too-trusting view of the sovereign: he argued that the sovereign will do everything in his power to increase the welfare of his subjects because it's to the sovereign's benefit to do so. He also argued that the sovereign would be smart enough to realize that the way to increase the welfare of his subjects was a relatively laissez-faire economic system. Thus a society goverend by a Hobbesian sovereign would be considerably freer in practice than ours, if not in principle.

    Of course, Hobbes didn't actually insist that the sovereign be a single person--he said it could easily be an oligarchy or even a democracy (but a democracy without constitutional limits on the authority of the legislature, since the sovereign's authority must be absolute). If all the people in the democracy were smart enough to realize that freedom is good, this might actually work.

  • ||

    GG,

    LOL!

  • ||

    Jadagul,

    I am not missing the point at all.

    I actually haven't read Leviathan itself, just excerpts.

    I've always assumed everyone read it in college. In any case, I can treat your comments with a grain of salt.

    But this author excerpted a passage where Hobbes argues that the sovereign will be good and foster prosperity by giving his subjects as much freedom as possible, and not, for instance, restricting freedom of trade in any way.

    To which I would say hogwash. Hobbes argues quite passionately that the sovereign is absolute in his powers; as such a sovereign may be kind, or may be a monster (BTW, this fetish for absolutism is in part derived from societies desribed in the Old Testament as well as the influence of the Chinese emporer on the European mind - Voltaire fell for into this same trap based on idealized stories about the Chinese emporer).

    Probably Hobbes's greatest fault is not a too-cynical view of the average man, but a too-trusting view of the sovereign...

    I believe its both. Human beings aren't as bad as Hobbes makes them out to be, nor are sovereigns as noble as he paints them.

    ...he argued that the sovereign will do everything in his power to increase the welfare of his subjects because it's to the sovereign's benefit to do so. He also argued that the sovereign would be smart enough to realize that the way to increase the welfare of his subjects was a relatively laissez-faire economic system.

    I have to disagree with this POV; Hobbes was not a laissez-faire capitalist. Indeed, Hobbes' view of humanity is directly contrary to a Smithian worldview, and a Smithian worldview is the truly laissez-faire one.

    Of course, Hobbes didn't actually insist that the sovereign be a single person--he said it could easily be an oligarchy or even a democracy (but a democracy without constitutional limits on the authority of the legislature, since the sovereign's authority must be absolute).

    Well, above I note that it could be a coterie of individuals. Nevertheless, the point is that power is not divided in a Hobbesian society; everything is centralized; and that is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • ||

    You can't get to a libertarian society from where we are without small steps which improve things and a lot of education of the people in just why those steps caused those improvements.

    Thus there is definitely a place for a moderate libertarian position -- a position from which politics and communication are possible. But that moderate position must always have as its backstop a pure libertarian position.

    To take Social Security as an example, you make sure that who you're talking to recognizes that you think Social Security is inherently unjust and that its useful features can be provided for with much cheaper and better alternatives. But you can offer as a compromise the 6.2% solution like Cato suggests.

    The problem I see with this neolibertarianism is that, before it even leaves the barn, it sets up and defends a position that is not libertarian. Either they are starting their compromise internally already, which is bad strategy, or they aren't libertarian at all and are simply using the word for some reason. From the mushy article "Who Is the New Libertarian?" I suspect the latter.

    All that said, the more people talking about libertarianism, the better -- even people whose basic message is, "Yeah, a lot of libertarians are wacky, but many of their ideas make sense; let me try to convince you."

  • ||

    I agree with Thoreau. I think the answer is to find an intelligent, charismatic libertarian candidate who can spend five minutes with a religious voter without kicking them in the groin... and then spend money on the campaign like a fleet of drunken sailors. Donde esta Thoreau?

    Here are my thoughts on this matter:

    1) I think that, at least in the political arena, libertarians should just agree to disagree on foreign policy. Why? Because serious political advances by libertarians, be it via the LP, small-l libertarians in the GOP or even maverick ACLU Democrats (hey, one can always dream), ballot measures, lobbying, or litigation (e.g. The Institute for Justice) will start at the local and state level.

    We can argue all we want about the invasion of Iraq, but let's also take the time support a ballot measure to repeal a local tax. My vow is to soon start aiding such measures. And when I pass out leaflets I won't be asking whether my fellow volunteers will join me in condemning our foreign policy.

    We can argue all we want about whether the revolt in Kyrgyzstan was inspired by events in Iraq or Ukraine, but take a break to attend a city council meeting the next time they try to use eminent domain.

    We can cancel our subscription to any libertarian magazine that doesn't support our vision of foreign policy, but if we must do this let's at least send the subscription money to the Institute for Justice so they can get some bullshit regulation overturned.

    In October or November of 2002, on the Sunday before the election, while I was in church somebody went to the church parking lot and passed out fliers indicating where candidates stood on abortion. That's all well and good for offices that have some authority related to abortion, but this flier even rated candidates for Water District based on abortion. I think that flier is a perfect analogy to those who would divide the already tiny libertarian movement over foreign policy.

    2) If the editors of this new magazine end up widening the tent by bringing people who are libertarian on domestic issues but don't share the dominant/orthodox/pure/whatever libertarian view on foreign policy then I wish them the very best. But if they spend more of their time battling other pedigrees of libertarian then, well, I won't condemn them too loudly (no need to add more fuel to the fire of infighting), but I can't say they're doing anything too constructive.

    I like Reason because they run articles that a non-libertarian can appreciate. I find points in those articles that I can bring up with non-libertarians and make them think.

    3) My notion of a big tent: At least on domestic policy, I'm perfectly happy to confer include in the libertarian camp anybody who wants genuinely smaller government, who embraces market economics as well as social tolerance and civil liberties (note that the "social tolerance" criterion probably excludes the hard core types on both sides of the "culture war"). One need not be a purist, just support less government rather than more.

    I'd welcome in the big tent somebody who wants to remove restrictions on handguns but not automatic rifles, who wants to cut taxes and spending without completely abolishing taxes, who wants to liberalize drug laws without complete legalization, who wants to trim regulatory agencies but not abolish all of them, and so forth.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    I think that, at least in the political arena, libertarians should just agree to disagree on foreign policy.

    That seems like a silly attitude.

    Because serious political advances by libertarians, be it via the LP, small-l libertarians in the GOP or even maverick ACLU Democrats (hey, one can always dream), ballot measures, lobbying, or litigation (e.g. The Institute for Justice) will start at the local and state level.

    They can also conceivably start in the foreign policy arena.

    ...but take a break to attend a city council meeting the next time they try to use eminent domain.

    There are of course similar things that one can do re: foreign policy.

    But if they spend more of their time battling other pedigrees of libertarian then, well, I won't condemn them too loudly (no need to add more fuel to the fire of infighting), but I can't say they're doing anything too constructive.

    You should read the thing; its mostly a bunch of strawmen blowing in the wind.

    ___________________________________________

    My version of a big tent: non-statists in a tent. :)

  • Franklin Harris||

    Thus calling oneself a Hobbesian libertarian is an oxymoron and a sign of complete ignorance of Hobbes' ideas and prescriptions

    In that case, Gary, you might want to take the matter up with Jan Narveson and James Buchanan. Narveson ("The Libertarian Idea") is a neo-Hobbesian libertarian and, I dare say, knows more about Hobbes than you.

    The fact that even a neo-Hobbesian libertarianism doesn't lead to the militarist "libertarianism" these neolibertarians want is another matter.

  • ||

    Thoreau:

    Yes. Yep. That is about it. What you said.

    The problem is that would mean surrendering The Moral High Ground from which many libertarians have been basing their arguments. After all, what happens when you are not The Party of Principle? I've found most libertarian groups I've tried to mingle with nearly impossible to penetrate for that reason.

  • ||

    Franklin Harris,

    Then Narveson is deluding himself. Now, if you could actually attack my statements with something other than a hollow argument from expertise, I'd be pleased to have a conversation with you about it.

  • ||

    Why does this thing think I've never posted before? Arrgh!

  • ||

    Jason Ligon,

    Gillspie and Cavanaugh have got you targeted. :)

  • ||

    Jason Ligon,

    Compromise is fine, but there comes a point when compromise means essentially giving up your the core of your principles. Look at this stupid new publication's article on workers being fired for smoking. Their justification for legal action against such actions is pathetic and is as bad as any of the liberal drivle one might expect out of Hillary Clinton.

  • ||

    There's a difference between deciding not to fight a battle (for now) and explaining why it's a good thing that the other side won.

  • ||

    I have a very limited understanding of Hobbes--I skipped all that stuff in the front of Leviathan--and I don't see how someone can be both a libertarian and a Hobbesian. Of course, that doesn't mean it can't be done.

    ...The only connection I can see with Libertarianism is that Hobbes was an Egoist (yes?) and so was Ayn Rand. However, Hobbes, to my eye, thought that a strong sovereign was necessary specifically because he was an Egoist (yes?) where Rand, well, most certainly did not think we needed a strong sovereign to thwart the selfishness inherent in each of us. (yes?)

    Perhaps someone might see a connection between some form of libertarianism and Hobbes in that Hobbes believed that the Social Contract came about as a function of selfishness. Is that the case? If so, I think that would be something quite different from what Gary is criticizing.

    ...The people Gary criticized seemed to want to use the sovereign to thwart the Egoism of foreign sovereigns--or something--I'm not sure. Anyway, like Gary, I don't understand how anyone can agree with Hobbes on the proper role of the sovereign as I understand Hobbes to mean it and still think of himself as a libertarian.

    P.S. Don't some people call themselves Hobbesian in reference to a right to self-preservation?

  • ||

    Is thoreau2008 already taken? He�d make a great LP candidate and without the blue druid or no drivers license baggage of a normal LP candidate. The problem is he�s far too competent and honest to win anything more important than county dogcatcher.

  • ||

    Well, in 2008 I'll only be 31 years old. So that's a problem.

  • ||

    "He'd make a great LP candidate and without the blue druid or no drivers license baggage of a normal LP candidate."

    If you believe in driver's licenses, you aren't a real libertarian!

    ...just kidding.

  • ||

    I'm sure you can find some judge to overturn it on 14th Amendement grounds. It's not like anyone pays attention to the Constitution these days anyways. That or thoreau2012, stop Hillary or Jeb's second term!

  • ||

    I'm sure you can find some judge to overturn it on 14th Amendement grounds.

    They'd probably also confer voting rights on kids then. Some teenage pop singer would run and get a massive elementary school vote, and I'd lose.

  • ||

    But, if I ever do run for office, I'd just like to make a plea to my fellow libertarians:

    I know you will be tempted to vote against me since I'm not a purist. But I'd still be a step in the right direction. In order to appease your conscience while still supporting me, all I ask is that you vote for me before you vote against me.

    Just ask yourself "What would Kerry do?" :->

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    Self-preservation: Hobbes taught that this right never ceased (even in a Hobbesian state where not other rights exist); but its sort of a piss poor right since the sovereign need not respect under any circumstance (the state places no absolute checks on its power in other words).

    Hobbes and Rand came to radically different conclusions about how government should function; Hobbes believed in a coercive social contract between what we can only call today a totalitarian police state and its subjects. That police state's function was to "socialize" individuals and to control their lives; that's one of the reasons why Hobbes would have had no problem with with the entire swath of nanny-state government projects we have in the U.S. today.

    Yes, Hobbes did see the social contract coming about as a result of the condition of man in nature; but that's a bit different from the pluralism, diversity, laissez-faire economics, etc. that libertarians aspire to.

    The people Gary criticized seemed to want to use the sovereign to thwart the Egoism of foreign sovereigns--or something--I'm not sure.

    Hobbes discusses foreign relations as between dominant and subject nations; and that might be what they mean by "Hobbesian libertarian," but if if that is the case, then we are largely discussing a view of Hobbesianism that borders on 19th century imperialism.

  • ||

    Random thoughts:

    If the "neolibertarians" who would otherwise have nothing to do with libertarianism actually vote for an LP candidate (how unlibertarian!) that would be a significant step in the right direction, even if they're half-breeds so to speak.

    I'm all for letting a unified position on foreign policy slip to the back. When every single election and appointed position, no matter how tiny and local, is framed in terms of Federal standards, the battle for decentralization is already lost.

    Whatever ones personal feelings on religion, the argument should always be framed where it belongs, that one group of citizens cannot impose their own beliefs on another group through government. Far too often, especially since the election, I see modern liberals rallying against religion from pure distaste for religion. Take the Schaivo case. Yes, those petitioning for gov't involvement were largely religious, but they are still a minority compared to all of the religious people who didn't get involved and in some cases agreed with the decision of the courts. The problem isn't religion. It's that some people want to enforce their views on everybody, no matter where those views come from.

    The fact is most people have no idea what a libertarian believes, and they certainly have no clue how much debate goes on internally within the libertarian community. Depending on the viewpoint, we're seen as far-right, far-left or (gasp!) both simultaneously. To that end, I would suggest that any new blog which will raise any awareness is a good thing, even if the beliefs of that blog aren't necessarily "pure". After all, I don't believe the DU is completely representative of the Democrat philosophy, and "neolibertarianism" isn't going to define its origins. I'd be much more concerned about those who just claim to be "libertarians" without a prefix. After all, words have been hijacked before...

    If there's one thing that the mainstream needs to know about libertarianism, it's that it is a coherent and consistent political philosophy, as opposed to the hodge-podge of conflicting ideas that it is usually confused with. Ironically, it's much more consistent than either the Republicans or Democrats, and yet is seen as the opposite.

  • ||

    I'm still trying to figure out why the guy who had been running the blog "the new Libertarian" since last year had to give up his domain and name at the demand of the heirs of SEK III, and now these Neolibertarian hawks are publishing a blog called "New Libertarian." For me the new Libertarian will always be the Tim West gang, which is now at http://libertyforsale.com/

  • ||

    Or more like 19th century imperialism as practiced by Britain and France; "ordered liberty" for those at home and colonialism for the "wogs."

  • Jim Henley||

    Questions for Jon Henke if he's still around. (I tend to abandon comment threads for good at the end of the work day myself, but maybe I'll get lucky here.)

    1. Max Borders says foreigners have no rights Americans are bound to respect. A contractarian, or perhaps "Taneyist" conception of rights. Bruce McQuain says we have an duty to free foreigners from oppressive governments. (This seems to be the general neolibertarian view.) How do these two conceptions go together?

    2. You say you have a big tent and "we don't all agree with each other on everything." Would you say there are any neolibertarians who oppose, in retrospect or contemporaneously, the decision to change Iraq's government by force? Are there any neolibertarians who oppose preventive war as outlined in the Bush doctrine? Are there any neolibertarians who dispute the McQuain/Samizdatist argument that the US has an obligation to use military power to free the oppressed? Is it conceptually possible that a neolibertarian could believe any of these things, and which?

    3. Which friends and people does neolibertarianism most want to win and influence? As a matter of recruitment, is your highest priority: Winning existing libertarians over to neolibertarianism? Converting neoconservatives to neolibertarianism? Gaining converts from among Christian conservatives? Recruiting from the ranks of liberals and leftists? Would you say the articles in your first issue are most concerned with refuting tenets of:

    o "preneolibertarians?"
    o neoconservatives?
    o evangelical conservatives?
    o main street conservatives?

    4. What do you see as the three most urgent issues demanding the political energy of neolibertarianism?

    That's an awful lot of questions. More than I thought I'd be asking, actually. I appreciate your indulgence.

  • ||

    Classic. In attempting to take the measure of this bold, new 'Neolibertarian' movement, I have sampled the contents of its apparent flagship, qando.net, wherein I find:

    1. Pope reference
    2. Defense of the Religious Right
    3. Analysis of the relationship between Republicans and the Religious Right
    4. Analysis of the relationship between Republicans and libertarians
    5. China/Taiwan
    6. Good article on Schiavo (but which contains the tidbit: "And I'm now even more committed to the ideas of neolibertarianism and the hope that through this burgeoning movement we can, in some manner, have an effect within the Republican Party.." emphasis mine)
    7. Impassioned defense of Dick Cheney, of all things
    8. Something odd about computers
    9. Anti- "judicial activism" screed
    10. anti-Krugman screed
    11. Republicans act too much like Democrats
    12. Democrats are bad
    13. Close the borders

    I'm sure you'll understand why some people are a little dubious as to how pure Republican sausage-making signifies a viable direction for libertarianism.

    I am already well-enough acquainted with the population of conservatives who call themselves 'libertarians' because it's fresh and edgy and contrarian.

  • ||

    Just because I critize the neo-libertarians does not mean I am anti-semitic.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Gary,

    I am not going to use this forum to have a discussion with you that could fill an academic journal. You, however, could do better than to insult an entire strain of libertarian thought (involving not only Narveson and Buchanan but also semi-libertarian David Gauthier, author of "Morals By Agreement") without knowing the first thing about it.

  • ||

    Franklin Harris,

    We have long-winded discussions here all the time that, thus I am not buying your pathetic excuse. If I am wrong, demonstrate it with something more than mere pointless posturing and fallacious arguments from expertise. Otherwise shut the fuck up because all you are adding to this blog is hot air.

  • ||

    Franklin Harris is now pouting in the corner. I disagreed with his heroes. *boo hoo*

    Apparently to whiny little cretins like Mr. Harris just mentioning an author, and posturing about that author's excellence, is enough to stop a discussion cold in its tracks.

  • ||

    As long as we're talking about different strains of libertarianism, here's a thought:

    A lot of the differences between sects, at least on the subject of domestic policy seem to involve 2 questions:

    1) What should be done in some far off, distant day when the government has been shrunk significantly and the momentum exists to shrink it even more?

    2) Given that the government should be smaller, what is the "proper" rationale for wanting it to be smaller? Which set of axioms are the "right" axioms to use when deducing that the government should be smaller? Even if 2 different sets of axioms lead to that same conclusion, which set of axioms is the moral set?

    The first question is currently irrelevant. The taxes need to be cut right now, and we can worry later about how to fund core government functions when we're on the verge of eliminating the very last tax. People need the right to keep and bear concealed handguns to protect themselves from criminals right now; we can worry later about the right to keep and bear fighter jets. The drug war is completely insane and needs to be rolled back ASAP; we can worry later on about whether it should be legal to sell heroin in candy stores. Zoning laws are inflating housing costs right now; we can debate later on whether to repeal the law against building a nuclear wase dump next to an orphanage. And so forth.

    The second question is not only irrelevant to the current situation, it's downright religious. When I've volunteered on campaigns, nobody has asked me which philosopher I subscribe to. It shouldn't matter whether one is inspired by Hobbes, Locke, Rand, Nozick, Jesus, or whoever. If somebody wants to shrink the state across the board (not just on selected matters, while expanding it in other dimensions) that's good enough for me.

    If neo-libertarians differ from other libertarian sects on the 2 questions outlined above (at least in regard to domestic policy) then I welcome them to the big tent. OTOH, if they differ on other questions as well, maybe I'll have to reconsider that welcome mat.

  • ||

    Franklin Harris,

    Anyway, as far as I know, you are wrong regarding both Naverson and Buchanan; you seem to be making the same stupid mistake that John Gray has made in his analysis of Buchanan's work. In other words, you misapprehend Buchanan's The Limits of Liberty; if you read that book you would see that Buchanan has a fundamentally Lockean viewpoint.

    Naverson's criticism of the Hobbesian view: http://www.peterjaworski.com/Jan%20Interview.pdf

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Well, maybe you ought to go poking around the links offered in the write-up.

  • ||

    Gary-

    I found this statement most disturbing:

    Indeed, Leviathan is with us, for better or worse. Libertarians should try to make it better, rather than worse.

    I agree with the first half: Leviathan is with us, and we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that it will vanish.

    I am disturbed by the second half: We should try to make Leviathan smaller rather than worse. If by "better" they mean smaller then, well, that's fine. No arguments here. Even a very slightly smaller Leviathan is a step in the right direction.

    But if they are willing to make Leviathan larger as long as they get to do some of the design work, well, that's not a very libertarian sentiment.

    I am reluctant to criticize too heavily because infighting is basically the political version of an autoimmune disease.

  • ||

    What thoreau said just above.

    And also, what Kevin said at 02:39 PM, which was:

    If "Hawks on Defense" means the kind of armed-to-the-teeth, Fortress America but non-interventionist attitude once evinced by the old Libertarian Defense Caucus and their newsletter, American Defense, I've got no problem with it. If it means seeking out quarrels the world over, I've got no use for it.

    With the caveat that "armed-to-the-teeth" is really necessary. I mean, since were talking about the government spending other peoples money and some folks who provide the armaments will profit, there is a tendency to over do it, to put it mildly.

  • ||

    "libertarians will bitch and moan while people that average 40 fewer IQ points make public policy and basically run the world. (Which for my money is fairly compelling indictment of intelligence testing.)"

    Yeah. What he said.

    Just because you're an idiot-savant doesn't mean you're not an idiot.

    Glad to see there are other "neo-libertarians" like me out there making some noise.

    After all, what's so terrible about killing dictators and smoking weed?

    :-)

  • ||

    Rick:

    If you had asked me, circa 1980, in the face of the Soviet Threat, whether defense spending should have been reduced, I would have answered, "Yes, and here's how. Let's convince our NATO allies to pick up their fair share of the defense of their own damn continent. Let's stop our love affair with massively expensive forward-bases for our troops and equipment, especially where it is a fig-leaf for propping up the local dictator. Let's concentrate on what we do best: higher tech weapons than The Bad Guys, force projection via the Navy/Marines and our air arms, exploring the Assault Breaker strategy, etc., developing anti-missile tech that can actually defend US territory against attack, etc. Ditch Carter's draft registration and pay our volunteers enough wages and benefits to attract good people." Of course I would be against Waste, Fraud and Abuse, but so is everyone else, and while knocking those down to manageable levels is possible, I doubt any administration can ever eliminate them.

    In many ways our military has evolved along lines I might have liked, though we still have tripwire forces where they aren't really needed anymore (Germany) along with those who are in harm's way (Korea) even if some of the locals don't seem to appreciate it. Using high tech as a force multiplier is the mark of American forces today, even as the supply of warm bodies to wear the body armor and drive the Wonderful Toys is a bit thin, given what we are asking them to do. That's a function of The Brushclearer-In-Chief's policy of overstretch, not the quality of our military, though.

    Even after the "Peace Dividend" and Clinton-era build-downs of our forces, since the Warsaw Pact dissolved and Central Europe "switched sides", and with Russia caught up in regional concerns if not an actual ally of ours, the USA is still The Meanest Sunuvabitch In The Valley, which is how I like it. But just because I have the best arsenal in the neighborhood doesn't mean I want to lord it over my neighbors. Just being well-prepared is fine by me.

    Kevin

  • Jon Henke||

    I'm going to absent myself from the thread after this, but I wanted to offer a couple more responses:

    I have a very limited understanding of Hobbes--I skipped all that stuff in the front of Leviathan--and I don't see how someone can be both a libertarian and a Hobbesian. Of course, that doesn't mean it can't be done.

    I think Mr Gunnels is misunderstanding the use of the word "Hobbesian". He seems to be assuming that the word implies blanket acceptance of Hobbes prescriptions. I didn't imply that, though I can understand how he might have inferred that.

    Rather, I think Hobbes had a clear-eyed view of the state of nature: absent a government, it will be a war of competing interests. Poor, nasty, brutish and short, as it were.

    Locke, on the other hand, pictured an idealized state of nature that has never existed. As a basis for a realistic philosophy, its non-existence is problematic.

    Mr Henley: I'm wrestling with an impatient kid right now, so I'm unable to get into great detail. If you'll email me the questions, I'll be happy to respond by email later this weekend.

  • ||

    Let me expand on my 1964 lime green Dodge Dart analogy. What we have on this thread is a group of guys standing on the curb arguing about yellow versus orange racing stripes and the ideal compression ratio for the 273 V8. And you wonder why people look at you funny?

    Of the dozen people on the planet who care about Hobbes, I see six on this thread. Voters do not care about dead philosophers. I expect only about one in a thousand could pick Hobbes out of a police line up. Voters don't care about "neo" anything. What libertarians need is a reasonable sounding candidate who runs on a simple platform: I want to help our city/state/country become more open, more free and more tolerant. American voters don't care about countries that sound like a spoon full of alphabet soup. They care about getting hassled at the airport for stupid reasons. They care about paying taxes for stupid programs. They care about how government effects day-to-day life, not about the philosophical basis for social policy.

    People may not be smart, but they can smell contempt and arrogance... and most libertarians reek of those two aromas.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Stretch says, "Considering that we will never see the large-scale government reduction/destruction that libertarianism calls for, the options for enacting change are very limited."

    And yet, goverments continue to collapse, as they have throughout history. Governments are overthrown. Governments lose in war. History teaches us that, at some point -- simply because of the unpredictability of events and the randomness of human behavior -- our own government will be no more. Nobody thought that the Soviet Union would be a chapter in the history books by the mid 1990s. As with the USSR, the key questions we must ask about our own government are these: What will replace it? Who will be in control of the process?

    If what you are saying is that our system cannot heal itself from within, then that bodes ill for its future survival. If you are saying that all governments will be "large-scale" from here on out, I think you are ignoring the lessons of history; likewise, if you think that our system will go on forever as it is now, without drastic change. If you're saying that you and I will never be able to influence that change for the better, perhaps you are right. But are we to simply go back to sleep and get up the next morning to trudge in the mines, all thoughts of a constitutionally limited republic gone from our minds like a pleasant fantasy that begins to fade as soon as one opens one's eyes and quits dreaming?

    Perhaps it is impossible to bring big government to heel. That would be a shame, because such a failure would guarantee a much more wrenching transition later: collapse, revolution, what have you. I believe that it is, however, irresponsible to just abandon the goal. I don't think that we can ever make government smaller by participating in making it bigger, though, unless the point is to accelerate the collapse -- an approach that I remain open minded about but basically feel will do much more harm than good.

    The US government is bloated. It needs to go on a diet and shed significant poundage, or the prognosis is not good. Somehow, I doubt that "pragmatic libertarians," who mostly go along with the idea of using government force, the way that co-dependent enablers go along with the idea of eating junk food, are going to make any significant difference in dealing with the bloat. If we can't get serious about reining in big government and cutting it back, maybe you are right: there's no hope. In that case, one might as well dream; and if there IS hope, I'll bet that only the people with clear dreams will make them real.

  • Charles Hueter||

    Voters don't care about "neo" anything. What libertarians need is a reasonable sounding candidate who runs on a simple platform: I want to help our city/state/country become more open, more free and more tolerant. American voters don't care about countries that sound like a spoon full of alphabet soup. They care about getting hassled at the airport for stupid reasons. They care about paying taxes for stupid programs. They care about how government effects day-to-day life, not about the philosophical basis for social policy.

    If the voters cannot see the simple fact that it is a philosophical basis that is used for all human decision-making (whether they identify it or not), then why the hell are we looking to recruit them? If voters would rather not be bothered to learn the moral/practical implications of what they want, demand, and expect, then how can they be trusted to make the "proper" choice at the polls? If voters really are the fingers-in-ears "NANANANANA! government treat me nicer! NANANANANANANA!" babies you say they are, then how do you ever expect to convince them of the crucial importance of individual freedom, personal responsibility, the negative consequences of coercion, and other abstract concepts that MUST be recognized in order for any libertarianesque society to develop and grow?

    If the voters are uncomfortable with ideas, then I say stop wasting your time trying to appeal to a mindless mass. Let them keep punching away in the dark if they won't stop to consider something as simple as: if it is Bad for an individual to assault someone and if it is Bad for a group of individuals to assault someone, then why is it OK for the group of individuals known as the state to do so?

    You'll have to excuse me. I'm one of those nasty purists some have been dissing here.

  • ||

    Why is it so hard for a group of people as collectively bright as libertarians to figure out how elections are won? I am sure many republicans and democrats are contemptuous of the electorate... they just hide it much better. If you want to be a purist, fine. Just do so with the realization that you'll spending most of your time grousing about the people who run the world while spanking your philosophical monkey.

    The ideas of freedom and tolerance are not hard to sell... but selling these ideas to the general public means framing the discussion in common language. In other words, the libertarians need a politician... not a person who sounds like he has the corpora of Ayn Rand and von Mises stuck in his ass.

    Ronald Reagan wasn't a brilliant philosopher, but he was a brilliant politician. He sold complex ideas in simple language... and he changed things. You don't have to like it, folks, but it's how the world works.

  • ||

    If the voters cannot see the simple fact that it is a philosophical basis that is used for all human decision-making (whether they identify it or not), then why the hell are we looking to recruit them?

    You know, my identification as a libertarian has nothing to do with any sort of philosophy. I'm big on civil liberties because I just don't like to be messed with if I'm not hurting anybody. I like innovation and technology because, well, they seem to solve a lot of problems. I don't like regulations that destroy jobs and drive up the cost of housing. I don't like drug prohibition because I've seen first hand how it enriches nasty people while fueling crime and corruption (and believe me, even the handful of things that I've seen would make your hair stand on end).

    I'm not the least bit philosophical about it. Does that mean I'm not worthy of being recruited?

    I don't claim to know what motivates each and every voter. Mostly because everybody's different, we're all individuals. Some voters probably are whiners who just want government to make their lives better. Others are probably pragmatists who will vote for whatever they think seems to work, based on whatever information they have and trust. Others probably do have some sort of philosophy. Others probably vote based on which candidates they trust. Others are probably single-issue voters.

    The only way to present libertarian ideas to such a diverse crowd is to go out and talk about them and emphasize how great they are from so many different perspectives. Cuz our ideal free world won't consist of a bunch of people who uniformly subscribe to the same philosophy and debate only the finer points of Rothbard vs. Locke vs. Rand or whatever. This world does and always will consist of a lot of people with a lot of perspectives, some of which make absolutely no sense to other people. But that's OK as long as we don't mess with each other.

    It makes no sense to insist that a movement for individual rights can only work if everybody acknowledges the same philosophy.

  • ||

    The Purist Libertarian Agenda For Changing the World:

    Step 1: Enforce absolute ideological conformity among all people, or at least among a voting majority.

    Step 2: Freedom!

    Anybody see the irony?

  • ||

    I still say Henke's a GOP buttboy but I'll add neocon running dog.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Gary,

    I don't care if you agree or diagree with Narveson or Buchanan (I have plenty of disagreements with him, myself) or anyone, and I'm not trying to convice you that your position (whatever it might be) is wrong. I do, however, take issue with your flippant disregard for views you obviously have not explored.

    Nice to see, however, that you have now actually read something by Narveson. Of course, you are missing his point. Obviously Narveson, and any libertarian, would reject Hobbes' view of the state. That is not the point of being a Hobbesian (or, more properly neo-Hobbesian) libertarian. What neo-Hobbesians take from Hobbes is his view of morality, that it can only arise out of agreements between those to whom it is to apply, which is, in turn, why only a very limited, libertarian view of morality can be justified. (As far as my "misreading" Narveson goes, you'll find Narveson agreeing with Hobbes on morality and the use of the "state of nature" model in nearly everything he has written on libertarianism, while, of course, he rejects Hobbes' political absolutism. The point being that Narveson belives that Hobbes' moral theory leads to different conclusions than those Hobbes himself reached.)

  • ||

    Just because people call themselves "neolibertarians" and decide to reinvent the libertarian message doesn't mean it's going to do one whit of good. I'm just not convinced that the libertarian party can change its image, embrace "pragmatism" or suddenly get on the right message and people will just come flocking to it. Party politics is a giant black hole down which libertarians pour their energy and effort. The LP isn't going to accomplish anything, ever, unless we start changing people's minds, one at a time. People are never going to be drawn to libertarianism no matter what message the LP sends because it is fundamentally at odds with what most people believe about government. Forget talking high-minded philosophy. The LP will never reach people as long as they think, among other things (and I have encountered all of these at one time or another):
    1. The minimum wage produces prosperity
    2. There are certain things the free market is simply incapable of providing enough of, including health care, education, and charity.
    3. The government is the only institution that's ever made meaningful progress against poverty.
    4. Government acts for the public good and is simply responding to what people want.
    5. Every government program was started in response to an urgent social need that was not being met, and is thus necessary.
    6. Free markets will naturally divide people into haves and have nots, but government can make society fair.
    7. Laws against victimless crime send a message to people about what behaviors we as a society do and don't approve of.
    8. Income redistribution makes a society richer and more just.
    Changing one mind at a time is the really, really hard way, but in the end I think it's the only thing that will work.

  • ||

    The agenda, Thoreau, was funny. Funnier yet was subsequent Franklin Harris regarding Narveson and Hobbes.

    Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree. Maybe libertarians don't want to win elections. Maybe they are happy just spanking the old philosophical monkey and bitching about how stupid everyone else is. [Note to self: Check possible connection between libertarians and the French.]

    After reading H&R for awhile, I have the sinking feeling that many of libertarians here really like going at one another hammer-and-tong over issues like Hobbes v. Narveson. Then I read your candid description of why you lean towards libertarianism, Thoreau, and I think, "He sounds like a pretty normal guy." When you run for office, I will send cash.

  • ||

    Lisa Marie-

    I think you hit very good points. Those misconceptions are what we need to address, and they have nothing to do with philosophy. In fact, I sometimes think that people on this forum actually subscribe to some of the same misconceptions. Whenever some sort of economic regulation is discussed, especially one that (allegedly) benefits the poor rather than the rich, some people here suggest that the regulation will produce the intended outcome but the intended outcome is immoral.

    My response is that the intended outcome won't happen, a lot of people will be worse off, a few people might be better off, and the beneficiaries will probably turn out to be campaign contributors.

    It seems like whenever a leftist says "The free market will turn the world into a scorched earth where a handful of wealthy people fluorish while the masses starve", there's at least one H&R poster who will say "Yes, but that outcome is morally superior because it arises from free choices." My response is that the free market doesn't actually work that way, so it's completely ridiculous on every level to argue the moral superiority of the scorched earth scenario.

  • ||

    I think we are beginning to conflate two different discussions in this thread. One discussion is about whether or not the Libertarian Party should find ways to appeal to a bigger audience--very few of us seem to be against that. It's just a question of how best to do it. The other discussion is a question of Party platform. If the "NeoLibertarians" (despite protests to the contrary) believe that the Libertarian Party platform should allow for the United States to use its military for the sole purpose of democratizing dictatorships, then the change they're trying to make will alienate a lot of current Libertarians.

    I don't think the Party can answer this foreign policy question the same way it answered the Abortion Issue. ...I don't want to debate the Abortion Issue here and now; I hope I can make my point sufficiently simply by pointing out that there are valid libertarian arguments on both sides. ...By accepting that there are valid arguments against banning abortion, no Libertarian pro-lifer need fear that someone will interpret his vote as support for forcing people to abort their fetuses. Rather, I suspect, most of the people who know anything about the Libertarian Party probably assume that such a voter will be entirely upset if the government forces people to have abortions.

    ...That isn't the case with foreign policy. If the Party officially supports military incursions for the sole purpose of spreading democracy, then I can't support the Party without supporting those incursions too. If the Party's platform contains a plank allowing for such occupations, then I certainly can't vote for the Party's candidate in protest. That is to say, there can be no "both...and" here. I can hold that Abortion laws should be crafted by the states rather than the federal government and yet maintain that the Abortion procedure itself is either right or wrong. I can hold that a right to life is just as or more important than a mother's right to pursue happiness and yet maintain that a fetus is not yet a holder of rights.

    ...However, I cannot support occupying a country that doesn't pose a threat and simultaneously oppose occupying the same nation. And, please note, this is not just a backward looking observation as it regards Iraq. What position should the Libertarian Party take in regards to an invasion of Zimbabwe? What about Myanmar? What about the Sudan? What about Cuba? What about Libya?

    Let there be a debate about what we're talking about when we talk about "self-defense." I have long argued that alliances are an extremely effective form of self-defense and that, because of this, many things that otherwise might not be justified are entirely justifiable in the service of an alliance. I have heard it argued, unpersuasively I should add, that occupying a foreign tyranny is a form of self-defense because of Reverse Domino Theory. Make that case if you please, but please, let the Party stick to the idea that the only justification for the use of military force is self-defense.

  • ||

    LisaMarie, you're correct that a majority of Americans do hold the views that you listed. But for me at least, that's never been the issue. The issue has been whether the percentage of people who don't generally subscribe to such views is really in the range of 0.3%, or whatever the hell your average LP presidential candidate brings in. I think it's quite safe to say that the actual percentage is much higher (I'd peg it around 10-15%), even if it falls well short of a majority.

    So why is it that so few of these people vote for guys like Browne and Badnarik? Mostly because they see them as anarchist fruitcakes who wouldn't have the slightest as to how to run a country if given the opportunity. You only have to look at all of the small-l libertarian writers and bloggers out there, and see how few of them would care to give the LP the time of day. In the absence of a credible alternative, the tribal instincts embedded in all of us will lead most of them to support candidates from one of the two major parties.

    I'm firmly convinced that there's political breathing room for a libertarian that could command support from at least 10% of all voters, in the absence of major changes to the Democratic and/or Republican agendas. But trying to kick-start a project like that clearly isn't on the minds of those who are either obsessed with ideological purity, or are intent on maintaining an air of cynical detachment.

  • ||

    "I'm just not convinced that the libertarian party can change its image, embrace "pragmatism" or suddenly get on the right message and people will just come flocking to it."

    I suspect that the biggest reason for that is because we have single member districts, and, by the way, I like single member districts. This means that, unless something historic happens to one of the two big parties, if our agenda is ever to be picked up, it will be picked up by one of the major parties. This is what happened with the Communist Party's platform in the 1920's, which FDR picked up and implemented (at least that's what it said in the appendix to "Free to Choose.")

    ...If the Democrats or Republicans pick up our platform, the Libertarian Party can make profound, long term changes in American government.

    "People are never going to be drawn to libertarianism no matter what message the LP sends because it is fundamentally at odds with what most people believe about government.

    I refuse to believe that. In times of crisis, our Presidents sound like libertarians. In the speech Bush made to congress right after the 9/11 attacks, he sounded like a libertarian. When Reagan was running for office against Carter, especially in that speech with the Statue of Liberty in the background, he sounded like a libertarian. These were remarkably memorable speeches, and they both got people excited.

    ...I would argue that those speeches were exciting because they framed libertarian ideas in moral terms. I would argue that framing ideas in moral terms resonates with people more so than analysis. I would argue that libertarians have been much more adept at the analysis arguments and not so adept with the moral arguments. I would argue that we can improve that.

    Of the following two arguments, which do you think would be more persuasive to a general audience?

    Argument 1: The amount of money we spend per arrest in the War on Drugs isn't worth the bang we get for our buck.

    Argument 2: Locking people in cages for doing something that only effects themselves is morally wrong.

  • Dan H.||

    Hobbes was not a totalitarian. In [i]Leviathan[/i] he makes clear why a sovereign is needed, and his reasoning is not so different than Libertarian acceptance of a judiciary and military. Basically, it goes like this:

    In a state of total anarchy, men are free to do whatever they want. But in such a state, there is no objectivity. Power confers to the most powerful gang. People are in a constant state of war with each other. This is the world in which all rights are 'natural' rights - a right being simply something that is within our abilityt to do. I have a natural right to swing my fist into your nose, because I can.

    Recognizing that such a state means that no one gets what they want, Hobbes invokes the concept of 'political' rights, which are really just rights enshrined in contract. I agree to not punch you in the nose, if in turn you agree to not punch me in the nose. We each give up our natural right to punch each other because we recognize that it is in our own self-interest to do so. That last bit is key to understanding why Hobbes is not a totalitarian. He invokes the state not to rule over the affairs of men, but to enforce a contractual system that maximizes freedom.

    Once we have this contract, the next question is, "what is to stop some people from violating it, for their own advantage?" It's in this context that he invokes a sovereign - a state given power to adjudicate and enforce the social contract. Because it sits above the affairs of men, it is objective and impartial.

    To Hobbes, the point of this whole construct is to maximize freedom and increase utility for citizens, not to have a state for its own sake.

  • ||

    Ken-

    Well, with your particular example, some people would argue (wrongly, I know) that drug users are hurting others. And, to be honest, they have a point: A lot of drug abusers cause big problems for their families, even if they don't commit theft, assault, or other "real" crimes.

    So if you argue that "Locking people in cages for doing something that only effects themselves is morally wrong", somebody will immediately fire back with a consequentialist argument. To refute them you'll have to get into the issue of what really constitutes harm to another person and whatnot.

    A better consequentialist argument about drugs is that prohibition is clearly not working (lots of people are still using drugs) and that it's creating huge side effects (the violent and corrupt black market that everybody knows exists). Judge Jim Gray doesn't always come right out and say that we need immediate legalization, he just says that what's being done right now is clearly a failure and we need to move past prohibition. It's a much more difficult argument to refute.

    On economic issues, I think moral arguments will meet a lukewarm reception. Sure, everybody believes that theft is wrong, but not everybody believes that taxation is theft. Everybody believes that you should be able to make your own choices as long as you aren't hurting anybody else, but not everybody believes that certain economic choices (e.g. accepting a low-paying job) are freely made, or that the other party to the transaction (e.g. the McDonald's manager) isn't hurting anybody else (he's giving that person a job, but it's a "bad job").

    Now, consequentialist arguments will also encounter lots of resistance, but they don't necessarily offend people as much. If I say that minimum wage laws are wrong because they violate a boss's God-given (Rand-given? ;) right to pay a shitty wage, people will look at me like I'm some sort of barbarian. They'll be less likely to take my subsequent arguments seriously OTOH, if I say that I feel sorry for low wage workers but minimum wage laws do more harm than good, people will be more likely to consider me worthy of engaging in debate.

  • ||

    "To Hobbes, the point of this whole construct is to maximize freedom and increase utility for citizens, not to have a state for its own sake."

    I hear what you're saying Dan, but wasn't "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" supposed to maximize freedom and increase utility?

    I think we should look at Gary's comments in the context of the debate we were having at the time, which, among other things, involved the question of what the true aims, biases, policies, etc. of the "NeoLibertarians" really are. They claimed Hobbes, or NeoHobbes, and in light of what else they said, Gary was right to question how anyone could square that circle.

    ...In all honesty, regardless of context, I still think Gary's right to ask how anyone could square that circle. From what I can tell, Gary's dead on right about Hobbes' prescriptions in regards to societal relations being incompatible with libertarianism, and I'm still interested in reading about what, if anything, "NeoHobbesian" means in regards to "NeoLibertarianism".

    P.S. I appreciate Mr. Franklin's last comment by the way; for future reference, and I'd like to see his comments more frequently, appeals to authority draw more scorn around here than one might expect elsewhere--we're a pretty raucous bunch, smart too. There are a lot of things I don't know, but there aren't many things that I can't understand.

  • ||

    I'm talking emphasis as much as substance. Of course, we should continue to apply logic to political questions universally. ...But it's okay to say that something is morally wrong because of its consequences.

    I've argued to my black friends that the minimum wage is morally wrong because of the way it amplifies racism and makes it so much harder for urban black teenagers to find an after school job. That's a consequentialist argument. It comes straight from the logic found in everybody's Economics 1A: Macroeconomics textbook and applies the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment data for urban black teenagers and compares it to the same data in the same areas for urban white teenagers.

    ...It's a consequentialist argument, but it's framed in moral terms.

    If I tell you that everyone should be allowed to grow their own marijuana, and you tell me that there are some horrible consequences borne by people who smoke marijuana, I'm going to come back and tell you that 1) some of the worst of those consequences are a result of locking people in cages and making it hard for them to find a job by giving them a criminal record when they get out. and 2) all the data suggests that locking people in cages isn't very effective and 3) by locking people in cages...

    ...That is, I'm going to come back with a consequentialist argument, but I'm going to frame it in moral terms.

  • ||

    Jon Henke,

    Rather, I think Hobbes had a clear-eyed view of the state of nature: absent a government, it will be a war of competing interests. Poor, nasty, brutish and short, as it were.

    Again, you illustrate that you know very little about Hobbes. If you would care to read my comments instead of ignoring them that would be helpful.

    BTW, if this is all that one takes from Hobbes, then that hardly counts as a "Hobbesian" position, since Locke and Smith both admitted that some measure of government was required, yet did not feel that the sort of tyrannical government Hobbes' proposes was necessary to get the job done. In other words, you are much more in line with either Locke or Smith, without even realizing it. Again, I urge to actually study the works of the man (Hobbes) before you start making pronouncements about his views or what a Hobbesian is!

    Locke, on the other hand, pictured an idealized state of nature that has never existed. As a basis for a realistic philosophy, its non-existence is problematic.

    Hobbes also pictured an idealized state of nature, as did all the contract theorists; big whoop. Anyone with a tidbit of knowledge about Locke realizes that Locke never disagreed with Hobbes' notion that human society requires some measure of government. Man, this is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Franklin Harris,

    You're an asshole. You come on here and attack me with the most pathetic arguments from expertise and authority and then expect some sort of nice and tidy discussion with me. *LOL* This by itself gives me no reason to take you seriously. You're just another version of our local troll known as BillyRay.

    As to your discussion of Naverson and Buchanan, it does not obviate the fact that they are not neo-Hobbesian in the sense that I have discussed. In other words, your statements are beside the point.

    Perhaps in the future, instead of making cowardly and pathetic appeals to authority, you can engage folks in discussion. Otherwise you're just another BillyRay.

    Obviously Narveson, and any libertarian, would reject Hobbes' view of the state.

    And of course Hobbes' view of the state has been the heart of my commentary. So, like, DUH! Note that your cryptic appeals to authority didn't try to make any differentiation along these lines. So I, the reader, was left to assume that you were responding to my actual comments; if I had realized that were responding to some wholely different issue, perhaps our discussion would have been more fruitful. But you weren't really willing to give me that courtesy, were you?

    Dan H.,

    Hobbes was not a totalitarian.

    How can a sovereign which has no check on its power not be totalitarian or at the very least authoritarian? Hobbes also recognizes no individual rights in his Leviathan state.

    You are getting Hobbes' predicted outcomes confused with the means to those outcomes I am afraid. The outcomes may indeed be greater security, but the means to that end are totalitarian in approach.

  • ||

    The three major philosophical groundings that various libertarian thinkers have used are natural law/rights, consequentialism/utilitarianism, and contractarianism.

    Some contractarians credit Hobbes with getting the contractarian approach started. "Hobbesian libertarian," then uses social contract reasoning to get at some kind of libertarian result. Buchanan comes up with limited government consitutionalism. Narveson comes up with an absolutist individual rights position.

    Locke is generally considered a key figure in the natural law/rights tradition. Contractarian libertarians give the "social contract" a different and much more important role than Locke. So, the credit to Hobbes.

    It is evident that calling these variants of libertarian perspective "Hobbesian libertarianism" causes confusion. It seems to me that "contractarianism" is a better term.

    As for this new ezine, there is no real connection between incrementalism in domestic policy proposal, a rejection of isolationism, and a contractarian grounding of libertarianism. It is just these particular folks hold those three views.

    Many natural rights libertarians reject isolationism. John Hospers, for example. As have consequentialist libertarians--like Milton Friedman.

    And there is no reason why a contractarian might not be an isolationist.

    As for emphasizing incremental reform in domestic policy, many libertarians take that approach. And there is no reason why a contractarian might not favor proposing immediate radical change.

    For that matter, libertarians who favor something like isolationism might well take an incremental approach in foreign policy--focusing on opposition to really stupid interventions, like in Iraq, before cutting the Japanese loose.

    To some degree, the "neos" are just creating a false alternative. Them or the "paleos", that is, Rothbard's old plumbline.

    A much better approach is that there is a wide variety of libertarian approaches to domestic and foreign policy, as well as to strategy. The relevant question is what do they have in common?

  • ||

    That they've somehow grafted Hobbes onto their supposedly libertarian argument isn't the only joke. Symbolically, these guys look to me like they're way off the reservation. Look at the symbols they've chosen for their network. They both use the phrase "Don't Tread on Me" and use the Revolutionary War era rattlesnake. That symbol is near and dear to my heart; in fact, if I ever got a tattoo, I think it would sport that phrase and symbol.

    ...But why did the Revolutionaries use the rattlesnake as a symbol? Sure it was thought of as being a uniquely American animal, but that isn't all. The rattlesnake gives a big, loud, nasty, rattle of a warning before it strikes, and even then, a victim must provoke it further in order to be attacked. All that is to say, the rattlesnake only strikes in self-defense. Indeed, without the "Don't tread on me.", wouldn't the symbol seem incomplete?

    ...So it seems to me that using that symbol to justify unprovoked incursions by Ameican troops is a gross misappropriation, plain and simple.

    If NeoLibertarians were devoted to self-defense, of course, this would make a great symbol for them; but that doesn't seem to be the case. Look at their definition on foreign policy:

    "In foreign policy, neolibertartianism would be characterized by,"

    "A policy of diplomacy that promotes consensual government and human rights and opposes dictatorship."

    "A policy of using US military force solely at the discretion of the US, but only in circumstances where American interests are directly affected."

    http://www.qando.net/details.aspx?Entry=650

    Doesn't it take special shoes to tip toe around like that?

    Anyway, I don't think the old revolutionary rattlesnake really communicates what these guys are trying to say. I suggest they try this symbol on for size. I might have suggested this one, but for their purposes, I suspect it would require some modification.

  • ||

    Ken,

    I completely agree with your analysis of the rattlesnake symbology. But I'd like to ask, do you think that it's impossible for a libertarian to support the use of military force to liberate oppressed people?

  • ||

    "...do you think that it's impossible for a libertarian to support the use of military force to liberate oppressed people?"

    If it were justified as a means of self-defense, I believe it's possible to justify the use of military force to liberate oppressed people.

    ...as I stated above. Please see the end of my comment on April 2 at 3:51

  • ||

    I support Mr. Henke and hope his neolibertarian coalition takes off. Much as I enjoy spirited debate, I prefer it to be civil, and I deeply dislike purge mentalities and anathemas. This board has become uncivil, especially with Mr. Gunnel's many contributions to it. It is also surpassingly common for those of us who broadly support Bush's war on terror, including the occupation and liberation of Iraq, to be decreed as heretics, and no true libertarians. Hence, I have largely ceased posting here, and disagree that this board is a "big tent" in tenor and tone.

    Milton Friedman is, I would presume, accepted by most here as a "real" libertarian; Brian Doherty certainly seemed to concede that point when he interviewed him in a 1995 Reason piece entitled "Best of Both Worlds," which is included in the book, Choice: the Best of Reason. Therein, Doherty inquires of Friedman: "Do you consider yourself in the libertarian mainstream on foreign policy issues?" Friedman replies: "I don't believe that libertarianism dictates a foreign policy. " He then goes on to discuss his own personal position (he is anti-isolationist but calls himself an anti-interventionist, without defining those parameters), and his ambivalence over the Gulf War, but declares that "it was more nearly justified than other recent foreign interventions...."

    Libertarians will have little to no influence on policy as long as they are primarily dedicated to squabbling among themselves and policing the ranks for purity as defined by self-appointed arbiters of same. So, I support Henke's fledgling efforts, and hope they continue to be refined as time goes by to turn into a libertarian movement that might actually see some success in the real world.

  • ||

    Nice to see you again Mona. It struck me as I was reading what these NeoLibertarians believe that these guys might earn your blessing.

    "It is also surpassingly common for those of us who broadly support Bush's war on terror, including the occupation and liberation of Iraq, to be decreed as heretics, and no true libertarians. Hence, I have largely ceased posting here, and disagree that this board is a "big tent" in tenor and tone."

    ...but not in substance. Neoconservative commenters post here frequently, and there are at least two regular Reason contributors who are clearly, at least, sympathetic to the War in Iraq if not full blown neoconservatives themselves.

    At any rate, this is where I would suggest that libertarians who support the War in Iraq need your wisdom and wit on this board, but that's true of any side of any issue. The more intelligent commenters, the better.

    ...Proper tenor and tone is a difficult thing to deliver I suspect.

    "Doherty inquires of Friedman: "Do you consider yourself in the libertarian mainstream on foreign policy issues?" Friedman replies: "I don't believe that libertarianism dictates a foreign policy."

    I came to the Libertarian Party by way of the Reagan Revolution, that is to say, by way of Milton Friedman. I read "Free to Choose" when I was very young. Considering the ultimate effects it had on my political orientation, I think I would have to rank high on the list of books that influenced me most. Like Friedman, I'm both anti-interventionist and anti-isolationist, and if you had asked me in 1995 if I thought there was a libertarian foreign policy, I think I would have said no.

    ...But it isn't 1995 anymore. I think what NeoLibertarians, and those like them, are doing will ultimately lead to a platform fight. I don't want to restate everything I wrote on April 2 at 3:51, but supporting the War in Iraq, or supporting any such interventionist war, is in abject defiance of Article IV of the Libertarian Platform on Foregin Affairs, which reads in part:

    "The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between governments. The United States government should return to the historic libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration."

    http://www.lp.org/issues/platform/platform_all.html

    So we're talking about a fight as it regards the Party Platform, are we not? I would not say that this makes you or anyone that agrees with you a nonlibertarian, but if the NeoLibertarians define themselves against the Platform in an apparent attempt to influence people against the Party Platform, they shouldn't expect those of us who like the Platform as it is to sit on our hands and breathe through our noses.

    As I argued in my comment above on April 2 at 3:51, I do not believe the Party is big enough for both pure interventionists and non-interventionists, so if there's going to be a Platform fight, let there be one with as many intelligent voices as possible.

    I hope you participate.

    P.S. The last election is the first I've been eligible to vote in, in which I didn't vote for the Republicans for President. The Democrats didn't offer an anti-Iraq vote in the last election, so I voted Libertarian to protest the Iraq War. I couldn't have done that if the Libertarian Party had nominated someone who was in favor of the Iraq War. Given a change in Party Platform, I don't think this patriotic American could have voted for President in the last general election in good conscience...

    ...Some may ask NeoLibertarians where their platform ideas differ with the Republicans, and, indeed, wonder why they just don't join the Republican Party. I might be among them. Please note that this is a point of interest, and not an attempt to poison the tone or question whether or not someone is a true libertarian.

  • ||

    Anyone that's interested, here are some other exerpts from the Libertarian Party Platform under Article IV - Foreign Affairs:

    Under A - Diplomatic Policy, 1 - Negotiations

    "...The important principle in foreign policy should be the elimination of intervention by the United States government in the affairs of other nations."

    Under A - Diplomatic Policy, 3 - Human Rights

    "The violation of rights and liberty by other governments can never justify foreign intervention by the United States government."

    Under D - International Relations, 2 - Foreign Intervention

    "The United States should not inject itself into the internal matters of other nations, unless they have declared war upon or attacked the United States, or the U.S. is already in a constitutionally declared war with them."

    http://www.lp.org/issues/platform/platform_all.html

  • ||

    Ken,

    re: The LP Platform

    This is why some are not content to let Libertarians speak for libertarians. The platform, taken as a whole, is an iron clad guarantee of impotence. There is NOTHING more damaging to the general cause of limited government than the LP.

  • ||

    Oh, for Chrissakes guys, after three years of daily blathering on my part, this website should know who I am.

  • ||

    Jason,

    That may be, but the platform stands for something, and the candidate we select is supposed to defend the platform. I think this is going to be a platform fight, and I just wanted everybody to see what the platform says now.

    ...It may be a crummy party, but it's the only one we've got.

    P.S. Did you unwittingly check the "No" box after the question "Remember Me"?

  • ||

    I dunno, non-interventionist and non-isolationist makes a pretty handy description of a libertarian view of foreign policy for me. What I have not liked about some LPers' take on foreign affairs is when they seem to say that the U.S. should never use military force outside our borders. Some went as far as to say that our campaign against the Taliban harborers of al Qaeda was unwarranted, which was a bridge too far, except for pure pacifists. But then, I have always supported having the capacity to whup what asses need to be whupped, even as we refrain from picking unnecessary fights.

    Kevin

  • David Aitken||

    Seems to me that some of the problems could be solved by 1) cleaning up the Transition sections of the platform and making them step-by-step plans for getting from here to liberty with steps that are based on the current political reality; 2) putting the Transition section BEFORE the Solution section so people read the Transition stuff first.

  • ||

    All that libertarian principles really say about foreign policy is that free trade is good and military force should only be used for self-defense.

    All well and good. But some will construe self-defense exceedingly narrowly, while others will argue that a project of democratization is a necessary component of self-defense. Some will argue that we should only attack a country if we have knowledge of an imminent attack, and others will argue that preventing a dictator from acquiring WMD is a valid act of self-defense.

    What it comes down to is how much risk you're willing to accept (there is no such thing as 100% security), and how narrowly you construe the notion of defense. The principles are all well and good, but the application requires judgements about scenarios in the real world.

    So I would say that there is no single, objective libertarian foreign policy.

    Everybody here knows that I favor a much more cautious approach, but I won't strip anyone of his secret decoder ring for taking a more aggressive approach.

  • ||

    How exactly is "neolibertarianism" different from neoconservatism?

  • ||

    The monkey died.

  • Taylor||

    Listen, we young libertarians need to identify with something. The past marginalization of libertarians, and the academic cliche of accepting this, is over.

    Current politics presents us with two options: you can own it, or react to it. I choose to own it.

  • Billy Beck||

    "In any event, Neolibertarianism is less about specific policy prescriptions than it is about recognizing that politics is the art of compromise..."

    You don't know what you're talking about, Henke. You have no idea what you're doing when you use that word, and you're doing manifestly irresponsible 'work' with this "neolibertarianism". Let me explain something to you, sonny: "compromise" implies an exchange of values. You give up something that you want when I give up something that I want, for things that we can agree on. Here's the fact: I am not interested in giving up anything in order to meet asshole Republicans -- or commie Democrats -- in the middle about *anything*. And your assertion that I cited at the top of this comment is utter horseshit. You run around posing this sanctimonious rubbish as an immutable principle, but anyone who knows history beyond what *you've* managed to soak up, knows the facts. As I've been constrained to point out elsewhere, Martin Luther King wrote his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" (later expanded to the book "Why We Can't Wait") in reply to black leadership who thought he was being too "extreme" and he was making them look bad. What he was doing did not fit their concept of "the possible".

    I'm here to say: *fuck* you and your "possible". Nothing worth having can possibly come from "compromise" with anything in Washington, now, and if that means I condemn *you* to hell, then so be it.

  • Billy Beck||

    Henke -- "But, if politics is merely war by other means, then there's also nothing wrong with fighting it to win."

    By "compromise".

    You brainless little twit.

  • ||

    Luckily for the statists, people like Billy Beck "fuck you" themselves right into political obscurity.

    If you're a "real libertarian" -- and the term just makes me CRINGE because the implication is that a philosophy dedicated to freedom of thought and action has become stultingly incapable of tolerating dissent -- then you have clear options.

    In a winner-takes-all political environment, you can try to win now and change the system, or you can lose perennially and be all but removed from meaningful debate at the national level. Chain yourselves to the doors at the debate hall all you want; that's as far as you'll get to the stage.
    That stage is where the TV cameras are that will broadcast your ideas to the masses, in fact, all over the world.

    I don't think all libertarians accept a losing fate. Currently, some of them are calling themselves Neolibertarians.

  • Billy Beck||

    I "tolerate dissent" over Ford vs. Chevys.

    There are, however and whether you like it or not, things over which there is no middle to be split.

    And I don't care if you don't like me. I never got into this to make friends. I have a lot more important things in mind, and I've been watching stark Pollyanna morons trying to vote themselves out of these straits for over thirty years, so take your "lose perennially" to the polls next November and enjoy the party, fool. The Republicans will be happy to have you.

  • ||

    Ah, well, this thread has died, but not before Mr. Beck provided a technicolor example of why libertarians have no discernable influence on public policy. I rest my case.

  • Billy Beck||

    "Public policy" is for pretentious busy-bodies pathologically unable to stay out of other peoples' affairs, Gasset. I am not interested. Thoreau spiked this point when he said, "A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should be petitioning the Governor or the Legislature any more than it is theirs to petition me."

    But "this thread has died," and this is the part where you'd better run away.

  • ||

    Mr. Gasset, why have a platform at all then?

    ...I think those who find it suspicious that the "NeoLibertarians" appear to be more interested in influencing libertarians than they are about influencing Republicans are right to be suspicious. Once again, what is the difference between NeoLibertarians and Republicans?

    ...as a Libertarian, I will never condone the use of any one a dozen government agencies and departments to improve the lives of people within or borders, and I won't condone the use of the Defense Department to improve the lives of people outside our borders either. Spin it any way you want, spin it 'til the cows come home, spin it like a Globetrotter, but that's what you're advocating. ...Don't expect the rest of us to see your spin as anything other than spin.

    ...Really, I think you'd be much better off tryin' to convince people of Reverse Domino Theory.

    P.S. I can't wait 'til someone calls me a "PaleoLibertarian"--who wants to be first?

  • ||

    Ken -

    You are indeed a Paleolibertarian if not a Neolibertarian... by default, right?
    Not that there's anything inherently bad about the prefix "paleo."

    However, I wonder what exactly the results are you hope or expect to see from your current stance.

    Being pragmatic with a platform is code for "incrementalism." In the United States today, that means you have to play the game.
    If you don't want to play the game, fine. You face no danger of being a virgin sent in to reform the whorehouse. But you also forfeit any chance of changing anything substantially.

    If libertarians can't find a way to compete in politics, they won't ever realize their many goals associated with the function (or non-function) of government.

  • ||

    If libertarians can't find a way to compete in politics, they won't ever realize their many goals associated with the function (or non-function) of government.


    Thank you for finally saying this. I have known one of your "bloggers" for many years... since we were 'children,' if you will. And, I have been curious to see what road he has taken since we parted ways some five years ago. I found him here... on a libertarian blogger board. I am not surprised.

    All the years I've known him.. he's claimed to be a libertarian. Now, he challenges anyone to call him a "paleolibertarian." All of it.. is nonsense.

    From my point of view... having lived with (intimately)a so-called libertarian for 6 years plus... and having known him since I was 16 (we're now both 37)... nothing has changed! And, why is that? The libertarian party is no closer to having any impact on society, morals, government, religion, etc. than it was when we were in highschool and wet behind the ears.

    Libertarians are a non-party. They are the political black hole. A place where the disatisfied, the I'm-entitled-to-it's gather. They are sucked in by some ridiculous sense of having been wronged, having been infringed upon and they cluster there.

    The conversations here have been incredibly interesting. Ken Shultz is a philosopher bar none. I've always known that about him. Loved him for that. But, then what?

    Where has any of all of this babble gotten any of you? What has it improved in your life in the real world? What outside of this board has it impacted? Disent from a libertarian is as significant as disent from a 16-year old, truant pimple-faced teenager.

    I said, "GET REAL" until I was blue in the face and then I just had to finally leave him.... and here he is again. Posting his blogs. Intelligent as all get out, but for what? Are you married, Ken? Do you have progeny? Someone has intelligent and as capable of you just wastes your time with this nowhere party. Is this board any different than the talks that we used to have in Redondo Beach on our "bench" above the cliffs. You smoked, I watched. We stroked the yellow fluffy stray cat... What difference has it made?
    Not only will libertarians never realize their goals in politics.... more importantly.. in their own SHORT LIVES... they will never realize their full potential for happiness. But, that's just my opinion. What do I know?////// Kendall...??? Just walk away. Is that really what you want to do? Again?

  • Edward T Bear||

    I Edward T Bear Esq. (aka Pooh) have officially declared that I am the chairman of the Neolibertarian Party and Movement of America.

    Our Candidate for the 2008 Election will be none other than Cuffy Meigs. Our VP candidate will be Wesley Mouch.

    We have kicked up a spiffy blogging website that details our plans to essentially create a Libertarian Empire! Our Motto is "Vote Local And Often, Rule Global!"

    The Intellectual Vanguard of the TRUE AND REAL
    "Neolibertarian" (TM 2005) Party and Movement is headed by non other than Elsworth Toohey. (Please don't confuse us with those poseurs over on the Q&O website. They are not TRUE neolibertarians at all.

    They may protest all they wish. But in fact WE OWN the term "NeoLibertarian" and we also intend to publish a magazine and call it "The New Libertarian". Don't be fooled by imitations!

    Donations can be mailed to us c/o The Hundred Acre Woods, where we have located our Party Headquarters

  • ||

    Hey Edward...Why did Tigger stick his head in the toilet?

    Because he was looking for Pooh!

  • ||

    Brilliant post, Briana Beatty! In blogging online I have consistently found Libertarians to be experts at filling pages without saying anything. But I don't worry because when I ask people what their opinion is on Libertarians, they always reply, "they're assholes". Not too much to worry about from a non-viable group with round public support like that.

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