What Kind of Libertarian Are You?

Tyler Cowen reads Tom Palmer's new book on libertarianism and identifies five primary strands:

1. Cato-influenced (for lack of a better word).  There is an orthodox reading of what "being libertarian" means, defined by the troika of free markets, non-interventionism, and civil liberties.  It is based on individual rights but does not insist on anarchism.  A ruling principle is that libertarians should not endorse state interventions.  I read Palmer's book as belonging to this tradition, broadly speaking.

2. Rothbardian anarchism.  Free-market protection agencies will replace government-as-we-know-it.  War is evil and the problems of anarchy pale in comparison.  David Friedman offered a more utilitarian-sounding version of this approach, shorn of Misesian influence.

3. Mises Institute nationalism.  Gold standard, a priori reasoning, monetary apocalypse, and suspicious of immigration because maybe private landowners would not have let those people into their living rooms.

4. Jeff Friedman and Critical Review: Everything is up for grabs, let's be consequentialists and focus on the welfare state because that's where the action is.  Marx is dead.  The case for some version of libertarianism ultimately rests upon voter ignorance and, dare I say it, voter irrationality.

5. "Hayek libertarianism."  All or most of the great libertarian thinkers are ultimately compatible with each other and we have a big tent of all sorts of classical liberal ideas.  Hayek and Friedman are the chosen "public faces" of this approach.  "There's a classical liberal tradition and classical liberal values and we can be fuzzy on a lot of other things."

Arnold Kling adds a substrand that he calls "civil societarianism" and which I quite like: "Collective institutions that are separate from government—good. Government—bad. Activities that can be sustained through profits or philanthropic donations can be presumed beneficial, from a utilitarian-ish perspective. Activities that require taxation are sometimes beneficial in theory, but public choice issues make them much less beneficial in practice."

I probably sit somewhere between the first and fourth categories: In general, we should oppose state intervention. At the same time, however, we ought to recognize that a certain amount of it is inevitable, and often not even terrible (if not exactly ideal), and thus strive to make sure that when government does act, it does so in a way that's effective and honest. Basically, it's about achieving the right balance between principle and pragmatism.

Of course, that's a tough balance to strike, and others will have different views on what's more satisfying, true, and effective. And that's a good thing! Competition between different ideas and approaches—even internal competition—is a necessity for keeping a political movement healthy.

Reason's archive of articles on libertarian history and philosophy is online here. Senior editor Brian Doherty wrote a very good book on the history of the movement, which can be ordered here.

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  • ||

    Numero dos all the way, baby. Government will always, inevitably, inexorably grow, so having it at all is the first and most profound mistake.

  • ||

    I'm with Pete, a combination of 1 and 4. Consequentialist all the way.

  • ||

    I suspect I am a civil societarian, with the proviso that a night watchman state is both a proper function of the state, and not really subject to the public choice problem (as I understand it).

    As Episiarch notes, however, the problem comes in constraining the night watchman state to its minimalist role. (See, also, the decline and fall of the US Constitution).

  • ||

    How can CATO be considered Free Market when they favor the monetary central planning of the Federal Reserve???

  • Your Dysfunctional Family Rest||

    ""Collective institutions that are separate from government-good."

    Does that include the KKK, La Raza and the Catholic church?

  • ||

    I'm probably vaguely in the Cato camp, though they occasionally diverge from Libertatian thinking. Which is natural, since I don't write for them or fund them in any way.

  • Walt||

    I'm in the house of Cato, with Rothbard rising and a ruling influence from Hayek.

  • ¢||

    The case for some version of libertarianism ultimately rests upon voter ignorance and, dare I say it, voter irrationality.

    Mine rests on voter evil.

    I'm too wild and free for your boxes, Cowen!

  • robc||

    1 and 3, I think. Neither one hits me exactly, but close enough.

    Also, can we put the world's utilitarians and consequentialists in a single large bag and drown them all?

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    T.J. Hooker to hit the big screen! How is that even conceivable without the lead role being the Shat's? Or are they going to attribute the differences to some sort of shift in the space-time continuum?

    Back to the topic: I'm a minarchist, with a healthy dose of paranoia about the government, even the minimum one I envision. Which is why I want censors and stuff like that.

  • KingShamus||

    If anything, number five.

  • ||

    I'm more of a 1 and 4 split as well. I must admit that I favour substantial govt support of basic science/technology research, and educational funding - with vouchers, freedom of choice, elimination of the current teachers' union in the US etc etc of course.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    ""Collective institutions that are separate from government-good."

    Does that include the KKK, La Raza and the Catholic church?



    So long as they don't get to use force on other, or to force members to stay involved they are presumed to be good. If they aren't they should fail as members find other (more rewarding) things to do with their time, money and energy.

    That's the theory, anyway.

    I.e. private institutions that last (collectivist or otherwise), must be doing something for the people involved, and the rest of us don't get to veto their choices in the matter.

    But you do get to stop them from telling you what to do, so it all comes out in the wash.

    We hope.

  • robc||

    Based on the comments so far, I think Im gonna need a bigger bag.

  • ||

    Put me down as a minarchist too. Where does that fall into the scale? Beats me.

    if I had to choose, I'd go with 1 & 5 with a smattering of 2.

  • David Small||

    Mark it, dude, number two.

  • ||

    1. Cato-influenced (for lack of a better word).

    ahem.

  • ||

    robc--I'll bring another bag.

  • Spoonman||

    2.

  • ||

    I'm probably in the CATO-influenced group, but I'm not sure CATO still is.

  • robc||

    I decided I need a new category to describe myself:

    Deontological Realist Libertarianism.

  • ||

    Man, Tom Palmer really hates the Mises Institute.

  • Spoonman||

    Also, if he's the guy I recall from a speech at SFL Philadelphia, Tom Palmer is an Austrian.

  • ||

    Your Dysfunctional Family Restaurant

    It doesn't mean an institution is good because it's separate from the gov't, it means being separate from the gov't is a good thing, in and of itself.

  • robc||

    I'm probably in the CATO-influenced group, but I'm not sure CATO still is.

    And Tulpa wins the thread.

  • Charles||

    Where does someone who is basically a Randian but who doesn't want to nuke everything from Algeria to Pakistan fit in?

  • ||

    Oh, and it's the Austrians for me, baby.

  • ||

    He also left out the superfreakatarians who came for the drugs and prostitution and stayed for the free markets.

  • ||

    Minarchists, while I understand your motivations, you are living in a fantasy world. No minarchist state remains that way. Government--any government at all, no matter how small--is a parasite that learns to slowly leech more and more off its host, yet never growing too fast to kill it. It's its nature. So when you call for minarchism, you are already calling for overwhelming government down the road eventually.

  • ||

    Charles,

    Cato may be closest but Randians are really distinct politically and philosophically from libertarians, imho, although they have many ideas and beliefs in common. Overlapping sets, if you will.

  • kinnath||

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . .


    For me, this is like F=MA -- everything can be derived from it.

    But, I suppose I'm not a real libertarian.

  • robc||

    Epi,

    No anarchy remains that way either. Minarchy takes longer to get to totalitarianism than anarchy does. Anarchy is often just one step away. With minarchy it took a good 150 years to get to the New Deal.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I want my own category. Note: it's not really mine unless I can sell it.

  • ||

    suspicious of immigration because maybe private landowners would not have let those people into their living rooms.

    It is funny that you can't even list "Libertarians" without taking a shot at those who disagree with your positions on immigration.

    Is this really their policy position? If I read one of their books they will say "we fear immigrants in our living rooms?" Perhaps you should have used the word immigrantophobic? Why have a discussion when you can simply portray yourself as winner because of other peoples supposedly irrational fears? Simply calling them racist is quicker and just as intellectually honest.

    Competition between different ideas and approaches-even internal competition-is a necessity for keeping a political movement healthy

    Unless it regards immigration in which case it is time for Strawmanatopia?

  • LibertyMark||

    Can I be a combo of 1, 2, and 3?

    Or does that just make me a "can't we all just get along" 5?

    I think that there is not that much separation between 2 and 3. Plus, for these two, if you're really trying to make a list that will start genuine conversation, you could at least try not to be a dick with your descriptions.

  • robc||

    Jesse,

    I will sell you DRL, but I guess I need to trademark it first.

    trademarks

  • robc||

    last line from above:

    trademarks (arrow pointing left) an example of the R in DRL.

  • ||

    Epi--True that, but what you odn't know is that we plan on semi-annual, very violent, loud and bloody purgings of the mini-state, just to nip any bad ideas about getting any bigger in the bud.

    See? Now you've gone and forced me to reveal our cunning plan.

  • ||

    Apparently, my drugs are working today. I can see the goodness in a mix of 1 and 4. I struggle with those that are incapable of providing for themselves. I am at a loss when it comes to those unwilling to provide for themselves. Government has been filling that role for a long time and to get to #1, that has to be fixed.

  • ||

    As a Libertarian, I believe in the adherence of the Constitution as written and intended by the Framers. Didn't see that in the article.

  • ||

    Kinnath

    I think those words are pretty libertarian--I call my self libertarian and I belief those words.

  • alan||

    Hmmm, no seperate categories for Randians, Boortzians, Heinlein-Pournellians, or O'Rourkian Libertarian Party animals?

    3. Mises Institute nationalism. Gold standard, a priori reasoning, monetary apocalypse, and suspicious of immigration because maybe private landowners would not have let those people into their living rooms.

    Much more true of the Lewrockwell.com site which indulges in a few odd things I don't care for (succession article after succession article, one year some time back, ughh!!!), than Mises.org. I enjoy almost all of Mises.org, and some of Lewrockwell.com.

    If I have to play this game, I'll do it by the implied rules. Number One-ish with a can't get to Number Two fast enough, like Biden in line at the restroom.

    Seriously, though, Tulpa is right. Too much compromise at Cato when it isn't necessary. Just wait out the other think tanks a few years before hopping on the bandwagon for whatever issue of whatever day, and you can sit back, and cross your arms smugly while saying, 'see, I told you so.'

  • ||

    I am at a loss when it comes to those unwilling to provide for themselves.

    I'm not. Have a nice life. Short and brutish, just the way nature intended.

    Now, unable, that's a different story. I'll help, but I won't provide.

  • ||

    we plan on semi-annual, very violent, loud and bloody purgings of the mini-state, just to nip any bad ideas about getting any bigger in the bud

    So did Jefferson. How did that work out?

    Minarchy takes longer to get to totalitarianism than anarchy does. Anarchy is often just one step away. With minarchy it took a good 150 years to get to the New Deal.

    We're always just one step away, no matter what system. The US was created as an uncommonly minarchist state, and it luckily took longer to get where we are. But we're getting there.

    You may find "taking 150 years to get to the New Deal" to be positive, but I don't--all I see is "New Deal".

  • LibertyMark||

    Government has been filling that role for a long time ...

    I agree, but something I read from Cato early in my libertarian journey absolutely convinced me that it doesn't have to be that way (and wasn't always that way). They had a study that showed how fraternal, ethnic, and neighborhood help organizations thrived before the new deal and atrophied afterward.

    And it wasn't just the "after this, because of this" fallacy. They showed many, many cases where private institutions stopped their services due to the government stepping in. The poor schleps thought it was a better deal.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I fear that anarchy, like T. J. Hooker remakes, is a utopian scheme best left unrealized. At least before we're technologically or biologically enhanced not to be so full of stupid.

    I wouldn't pooh-pooh the successes of relative minarchism. The U.S. was a loose approximation of a minarchist state for most of its history. Better controls to prevent democratic tyranny (e.g., Progressivism and whatever we're enduring nowadays) might've made it last in that condition for a couple more centuries. Really, it's the participants that are flawed more than the system. Hard to stop us from doing foolish things. . .at least when we act in groups.

    I agree that Cato tends to compromise a little more than I like, but such is life for a think-tank based in DC. The place, like any swamp, is all-corrupting. But their core values are generally good.

  • ||

    Tom Palmer is SUCH a retard! Cowen is also!

    What is more nationalistic?

    Mises Institute/LRC Libertarianism
    Promoting a commodity-based standard so the government cannot inflate it's value.

    Or CATO/Reason style Libertarianism
    Socialist Bankster Bailout's(Cowen)
    Pro-War(Palmer/Lindsey/Huggins/Hentoff/Mangu-Ward/Moynihan/Weigel/Young)
    supported US invasion of Serbia (Welch)
    Pro-Inflation(Niskanen)
    Pro-Cap & Trade (Bailey)
    Thinks liquidity injections are "necessary and proper."(Gillespie)


    ...HMM!!!

  • kinnath||

    I call my self libertarian and I belief those words.

    So do I.

    My basic philosophy is we're all grown ups and we're all resposible for our own well-being. That being said, we naturally form collectives of various sizes (families, clubs, churches, businesses, etc) to perform tasks that would overwhelm an individual. Some of those tasks (building roads and sewers) justify a large enough collective that we would call it government.

    The problem is that many, many people believe the government is the best collective for just about every cooperative job. These people are dangerous.

  • Urkobold™||

    6. Sexy libertarianism.

  • Fluffy||

    We need a category for "Glibertarians" - people who pretend to be libertarians when Democrats are in the White House, but who are reliable authoritarian warmongering scum when a Republican President needs supports in his authoritarianism and warmongering. See: Donderoooooooooooooo!, Instapundit, etc.

  • The Extispicator||

    You forgot 6: Lives in mother's basement and spends most time masturbating to graphic novels and finding fault with all other libertarians.

  • ||

    ProL, the people behind the T.J. Hooker movie also want to remake Short Circuit. What next? Police Academy? This should be spectacularly craptastic.

    Really, it's the participants that are flawed more than the system. Hard to stop us from doing foolish things. . .at least when we act in groups.

    That's exactly the point. No matter what rules are in place, what constitutions are written, power-seekers will always, eventually, find a way to "legally" increase their power. The system is utterly flawed from the get-go. It's just a matter of time.

  • ||

    So did Jefferson. How did that work out?

    Jefferson was a pussy. We'll bomb state institutions from orbit and/or the Moon.

    ProL will insist on doing this from Mars, but we'll talk to him about that.

    We're always just one step away, no matter what system. The US was created as an uncommonly minarchist state, and it luckily took longer to get where we are. But we're getting there.

    I don't neccessarily disagree with you, but what's a viable alternative that would be bought by the masses?

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    "civil societarianism":

    We don't need state charities for the same reason we don't need state churches, state families, or state anything else, i.e., we don't need state socialism because we already have civil society. Government, organized armed force, exists only to provide governance -- basically, defense against the violent criminal element (domestic and foreign, e.g., bin Laden). Condemning limited government for not performing the functions of the charity, the church, the family, the firm, the school, and the other organs of the body politic is like condemning the skeleton for not performing the functions of the brain, the heart, the stomach, the liver, the lungs, and the other organs of the body proper. Freedom is the framework that secures all other virtues.

    FROM HERE

  • kinnath||

    People are The system is utterly flawed from the get-go.

  • Longtime Hit\'n\'Runners Will ||

    Antitrust libertarian: the only legitimate function of the government is to protect individuals from large business entities, like trusts and oligoplical corporations.

  • DHS Thinks I\'m a Terrorist||

    Mises Institute nationalism? This is an oxmoron my friends. I respect both Reason and the LvMI. Most folks at the LvMI are ancaps - they oppose nationalism. And the ESPECIALLY oppose war.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    "We need a category for "Glibertarians" - people who pretend to be libertarians when Democrats are in the White House, but who are reliable authoritarian warmongering scum when a Republican President needs supports in his authoritarianism and warmongering."

    We have one: the "Spite Right."

  • DHS Thinks I\'m a Terrorist||

    I am a Rothbardian for the record - and I also hold Reason in very high esteme.

  • Spoonman||

    That's exactly the point. No matter what rules are in place, what constitutions are written, power-seekers will always, eventually, find a way to "legally" increase their power. The system is utterly flawed from the get-go. It's just a matter of time.

    Agreed. In Spoonlibertopia, while temporary tyrannies may show up in temporarily depressed or less advanced areas (say, a town that relied on a mine that just ran out) they would quickly be eliminated from within and without as soon as they started exercising power poorly.

  • ||

    I'm an alcoholic.

  • Sid||

    How about the racist Ron Paul variety? As a recruiting tool with deniability, of course. "I had no clue my people were putting out KKK-style newsletters. Fuck!|

  • ||

    It's blowing out the limits on government to get buy-in from the masses that has gotten us into trouble in the first place. Fixing the system is going to be a real chore, now that we've broken it. Probably the only hope is to build in new controls and restore (and clarify) the old ones based on the next round of voter disenchantment with government. Which may be happening at high levels in the near future. If not, we're screwed.

  • ||

    Jefferson was a pussy. We'll bomb state institutions from orbit and/or the Moon.

    "What do you propose we do, Mike?"

    "We will throw rocks at them."

    I don't neccessarily disagree with you, but what's a viable alternative that would be bought by the masses?

    No viable alternative will be bought by the masses. Most people just go with the system they know. You can't believe how badly many people freak out when you propose anarchism. It's like saying they have no soul or something; they just can't imagine a system without government.

    I know anarchism will never be implemented on a wide scale. The only options are frontiers, and right now, we have no frontiers to speak of.

  • The Mythical Canadian Libertar||

    I'm a Sowell Brotha.

    Classifications like this rub me the wrong way. I don't consider myself part of any movement or team to find common ground with. I acknowledge that the positions I advocate add up to something most people who are knowledgable about the sort of thing would call "libertarian," and I'm less willing to bend on those than anybody, but it's not by any kind of design, or intentional adherence to any orthodoxy. I'm quite confident Lew Rockwell is a crazy person. I view anarchisthad utopian, both in the awesomeness sense and the "can't possibly happen" sense. Which category does that put me in?

  • DHS Thinks I\'m a Terrorist||

    There is another variety - the Dr. Thomas Sowell variety.

  • alan||

    Mises Institute nationalism? This is an oxmoron my friends. I respect both Reason and the LvMI. Most folks at the LvMI are ancaps - they oppose nationalism. And the ESPECIALLY oppose war.

    I noticed that as well. I threw in the bit about 'succession' to get Suderman thinking about the implications of his words without the pressure of a finger pointed his way. Some days, I'm too considerate.

  • ||

    ProL--Good luck with that self-imposed control on the state. That's what the bloody purges are for.

    It's going to take a stone-age-level economic collapse to reset the machine, so to speak, and with the votin' public so eager to vote themselves raises on a regular basis, I don't hold out much hope for that either.

    In short: we're fucked.

  • LibertyMark||

    I'm with Terrorist.

    I think it's just two divisions:

    Rockwell/Mises vs. Cato/Reason

    I spend about equal amounts of time at Rockwell's and Reason's sites.

    A little more 180 proof libertarianism with Rockwell, but a little adolescent tribal mentality, too.

    Much more comedy here at H&R, and Reason is pretty thoughtful, but sometimes not "pure" enough.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Hayek + Rothbardian Anarchy... Sounds about right to me.

  • alan||

    Sid | July 7, 2009, 5:29pm | #
    How about the racist Ron Paul variety? As a recruiting tool with deniability, of course. "I had no clue my people were putting out KKK-style newsletters. Fuck!|


    Let it go. Sid. He can't hurt you anymore.

  • ||

    JW,

    Well, I'm hoping that revolt won't be necessary, but, if it is, remember that mass revolts always end up with some elite class running things. During and after the revolt. So maybe we'll luck out and get Founding Fathers 2.0. Probably not, but maybe.

    I am not opposed to controlling the Earth from the Moon. Mars is sexier, but the Moon will do.

  • Sid||

    Okay, how about the market fundamentalist camp? It's a big enough tent to include all right-wing libertarian fanatics.

  • Jonas||

    I'd like to believe I'm a number 2, but I'm probably more like a number 5 with number 1 tendencies.

    The Rothbardian anarchism would be ideal, but I'm not much of an idealist, so I settle for lesser libertarianisms.

  • hmm||

    No "black helicopters and clowns under my bed will get me option."

    Did not vote and feel slighted.

  • ||

    I guess #1 describes my thinking best.
    My default is government should stay out of most everything except protecting people's rights.

    Even if you agree with me on that, there's still plenty to argue about calmly discuss.

  • ||

    ProL--One thing is for certain, the gun-control types will have a very limited lifespan under that scenario. That's a feature, not a bug.

    The downside is that Earth will likely be ruled by the Nugentarians.

    Ans yeah, Mars is sexier, but I keep telling you: high ground in gravity well wins.

  • ||

    "Even if you agree with me on that, there's still plenty to argue about calmly discuss murder each other brutally over."

  • Lolz||

    I think the thing which makes the phrase "Mises Institute Nationalism" most hilarious is Stephen Kinsella's post the other day about how the American Revolution was a bunch of bullshit.

    http://blog.mises.org/archives/010218.asp

  • ||

    #2 is the only logically and morally consistent way and the one I subscribe to.

  • ||

    I come to libertarianism through anti-authoritarianism and a strict application of the principle of self-ownership. Libertarianism is a shorthand expression of what I believe, not something that informs my belief.

    And I am a miniarchist by default because I believe that anarchy is inherently unstable because of it's reliance on honest actors, or, at a minimum, the supposed inability of bad actors to work in concert to overwhelming force. I believe that a miniarchist state could be set up in a stable way, without utopianism.

    So mark me in whaever catergory is appropriate.

  • ||

    Which is why my plans involve controlling the Oort Cloud.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I really really really want anarchy to work, but I'm a little hung up on the idea that minarchy - which if I could start from scratch would be implemented as mechanically and anti-democratically as possible with basically a system where courts are convened only to determine whether an individuals natural rights were violated, and always paid for by the loser - winds up with a much more slow-growth of the state than anarchy, since at some point some jackass with a bigger pile of guns than anyone else will just take over.

    Albeit, that's really only on a "large" scale... I would personally love to homestead some frontier with a big ol' group of other Rothbardian anarchists and set up shop somewhere devoid of any government at all, preferring instead to operate contractually with contract enforcement handled privately.

  • alan||

    Sid | July 7, 2009, 5:36pm | #
    Okay, how about the market fundamentalist camp? It's a big enough tent to include all right-wing libertarian fanatics.


    So what is your option on the list, Sid? Does it need to be expanded a bit to include Gray Flannel Man; not liking those wacky ideas outside the two party system, and not ingesting anything before it has been tested and approved by a government shop?

  • ||

    So mark me in whaever catergory is appropriate.

    Epi's an anarchist because *he* wants to be the one who runs Bartertown.

  • Spoonman||

    Sean, that's if some jackass gets a large enough pile of guns. If there's enough institutional turnover, that can't happen.

  • ||

    #5 cannot be ignored though, even though I subscribe to #2. It's important that we work to kil...convert everyone and move in the right direction.

  • ||

    I believe that anarchy is inherently unstable because of it's reliance on honest actors, or, at a minimum, the supposed inability of bad actors to work in concert to overwhelming force

    Even if you have a stable minarchy, there can always be external bad actors working in concert to overwhelming force. Your minarchy only works within an anarchistic external world (i.e., there is no "world government", so interactions between states is technically anarchist). So why do you accept that, but not having anarchy all the way down?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Yes, I should have said "if", but even in small pockets that can happen.

    Granted, anyone has the right to ask others for assistance in defending their lives & property, and I for one would gladly answer any such calls as best I can, but I can certainly see anarchy being fucked up irreparably by a couple Robert Mugabe-style douchebags. Then it's either beat them down incessantly or... form a more official government.

  • ||

    The classic view is that "pure" democracy is more susceptible to demagoguery and, therefore, to falling into dictatorship.

    Anarchy isn't exactly democracy, but I think the same susceptibility exists. Unless everyone buys into the anarchist ideals so much as to inoculate society against strongman rule.

    I think Heinlein and others were right when they've suggested that the norm for humanity is rule and ownership by the brutal and unprincipled few. The Western experiment may just be a blip in the overall history of our species. Distressing thought.

  • Mike||

    "There is another variety - the Dr. Thomas Sowell variety."

    put me in that camp:
    1. Free markets all the way.
    2. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.
    3. Threats to freedom cannot be ignored.

  • ||

    Which is why my plans involve controlling the Oort Cloud.

    Emperor of Oort Cloud just doesn't have that same ring to it as does Monarch of the Moon or Sovereign of Low Earth Orbit.

    On the plus side, our enemies can watch our punishing bombardments loop around the Sun for a few hundred years. "Quake in fear under your beds, puny Earthlings!! The Hammer of Oort will be here in 264 years to send you back to God!!"

  • ||

    The small government you crave will never happen until those that get their sustenamce at the government teat are weaned. I don't see that happening as long as they can vote. Taking away their vote is unreasonable. I see only two scenarios that are workable.

    1) A sweeping christian revival. Where people strive to earn their keep. They are comfortable in their position as it is a result of their actions. They realize that their primary oncern is the conversion of sinners through Christ and not through the legislature.
    2) A huge calamity, either economic or natural, that results in a massive die-off of humans worldwide including most or all of those unwilling to provide for themselves.


    I don't see stopping all government programs as doable. It would result in chaos which would result in martial law. Wrong direction IMO.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Epi, my point is that I think ultimately humans turn into pussies after a while and demand "protection", by which I mean, that someone else take care of them - so a codified minarchy seems like a better way to hold that at bay longer. Though it seems like 150 years wasn't nearly long enough.

  • ||

    Three points in order of importance:

    1) Wouldn't it be sweet if the T.J. Hooker movie was a grim gore fest in the style of Seven or Hostel? Not that I like those kinds of movies (I abhor them) but it would be so out of character and such a surprise that it would be worth it.

    2) I have noticed lately a sharp increase in partisans of all political persuasions (dems, reps, and libertarians, to name just three) who are calling for "purity" in their party and to avoid compromise at all costs. You know who else does this? Young children and dictators. Seriously, part and parcel of getting along in a diverse and large society is the ability to negotiate, prioritize, and compromise. If we can not abide by that principle, then we are right and truly fucked.

    3) I am definitely a #1 Cato type. Despite what the government is always evil folks say, there is a need for an organizing structure in society. That is why, after all, the vast, vast majority of societies in history develop governmental structures in the first place. The key is how to limit it and keep it from getting too big.

  • Your Dysfunctional Family Rest||

    ""There is another variety - the Dr. Thomas Sowell variety."

    put me in that camp:
    1. Free markets all the way.
    2. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.
    3. Threats to freedom cannot be ignored."

    Me too. We elected the wrong black guy for president.

  • ||

    Emperor of Oort Cloud just doesn't have that same ring to it as does Monarch of the Moon or Sovereign of Low Earth Orbit.

    "The inventor of the environment and first emperor of the moon: Al Gore!"

    so a codified minarchy seems like a better way to hold that at bay longer

    Nothing is codified. The Constitution is a fucking piece of paper. George Washington could have been president for the rest of his life if he'd wanted to. Alexander Hamilton would have done a lot more damage if Aaron Burr hadn't ending that little problem.

    Minarchism is great for the people who live in it while it's still minarchist. But it sucks monkey balls for those who later have to deal with a government that slowly and surreptitiously grew out of control and is now too big to take on.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Swede: I would take some issue with #3... Most cultures have set up governments not out of the need for organization nearly so often as just out of fear of the people setting up the government.

    Also, I don't expect a world full of pure libertarians, we're just talking about what we'd personally prefer.

  • ||

    Your minarchy only works within an anarchistic external world (i.e., there is no "world government", so interactions between states is technically anarchist). So why do you accept that, but not having anarchy all the way down?

    It's the best of both worlds: unfettered rights with a nominal state to enforce rights and resolve conflicts between parties.

    But yes, I agree, if the US history is any example, the system in inherently flawed and doomed to fail. I submit that all the systems are doomed to fail and the quesiton remains as to which will remain stable, create the least amount of harm and provide the most freedom the longest.

  • ||

    The only way a T. J. Hooker can possibly work is if the following occur: (1) Hooker is played by Shatner and (2) it's done as a musical.

    Maybe Khan was right. We need to improve the species.

  • Brandon||

    I think the most relevant division among libertarians is whether liberty can be achieved and maintained by political participation and activism in a democracy. If you answer yes, you lean towards a moderate CATO-style libertarianism. If you answer no, then your defeatism leads you to embrace anarcho-capitalism and other more radical strands.

    The same thing used to divide the hardcore left, until they realized social democracy was slower but more efficient than revolution.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Fair point Epi... But still, as a matter of practicality, it's hard to get away with anarchy either way.

  • ||

    Wouldn't it be sweet if the T.J. Hooker movie was a grim gore fest in the style of Seven or Hostel? Not that I like those kinds of movies (I abhor them) but it would be so out of character and such a surprise that it would be worth it.

    I like this idea. Or have it be some relentlessly unfunny piece of shit buddy comedy like any Will Farrell movie.

    Or...a surrealist film noir, in French. Quebec French, narrated by Shatner. Awesome.

  • MNG||

    Vewy, vewy interesting to us non-libs...

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Meh... I don't agree that there's a dichotomy there Brandon - speaking for myself, I'm pretty solidly "extreme" and an anarcho-capitalist Rothbardian, as noted above, but I'm also not an idiot... so I recognize that using politics and "the system" to fight for a minarchy is far preferable to what's going on in the world right now, even if my ultimate goal would never be realized.

  • ||

    Though it seems like 150 years wasn't nearly long enough.

    It only looks like it because we're on the ass end of the American minarchy. Historically, its probably the best anyone has ever done.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Yes, but the U.S. did work for a long time. It might've worked longer but for the Progressive movement and, later, the New Deal. Most of the expansion of government has come through the foundations built by those two eras.

    The Constitution functioned--and functions today on life support--because its basic precepts were shared by a majority of Americans. What's broken down is that the core value--distrust of government power--is largely gone. It's insane to trust a largely unfettered government, but that's what's happening.

    Dude, with Shatner narrating the whole thing. Kind of like a book-on-tape, with him speaking each character's dialogue, making sound effects, and singing the theme song. Oh, man, that would so rule.

  • ||

    I submit that all the systems are doomed to fail and the quesiton remains as to which will remain stable, create the least amount of harm and provide the most freedom the longest.

    Of course. But remember that any minarchist system will eventually grow out of control--it is the nature of government. So it's the later generations who have to pay for the earlier generations' freedoms. Is that moral?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I'm almost positive 150 years is better than anyone else has ever managed, but... to whine a little, I just think it's bullshit that I get to a young adult right when shit tanks hard, thus I am looking forward to a whole life of watching America's decline. Unless something changes radically around here.

  • KingShamus||

    The Extispicator | July 7, 2009, 5:20pm | #
    "You forgot 6: Lives in mother's basement and spends most time masturbating to graphic novels and finding fault with all other libertarians."

    The most common type?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Epi - Jefferson originally proposed sunsetting every law ever made at 19 years... Why not a minarchy that self-destructs every generation?

  • ||

    2. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.

    What does that actually mean?

  • ||

    The point is that people seem to unswervingly form communities and organizations, usually out of need or protection.

    I see nothing about anarchism that prevents any of these organizations to develop into an embryonic state that will eventually have clash with another organization over some conflict or disagreement. Somebody, somewhere, will exert force for dominance over others and will have the muscle to back him up.

    That *seems* to be human nature to a large degree. Hell, look at office politics. People will get in cat fights over the most trivial of reasons, none less than it's *their* way.

    I don't disagree that anarchism is and should be the ultimate state of man's existence, but I don't see us, as a people, being anywhere close to being ready for such a thing.

  • ||

    I admire anarchists for the purity of their beliefs and agree with them on many points. But I am not an anarchist myself. I don't believe anarchy would be sustainable. Unless it is a true Hobbesian bloodbath, voluntary agreements of non-aggression and trade would spring up. Eventually these agreements would be so interlocking and complex that division of labor will dictate farming them out to a third party, and further that third party will be given some power to settle disputes and competing claims.

    That's a government.

    Anarchy is empty of an organizing principle to settle disputes impartially and without force that might lead to a cycle of retributive violence. Nature abhors a vacuum. Anarchy will collapse in on itself and a properly limited government from the beginning would probably be preferable to what the churn of anarchic human interaction would produce. (Namely, warlords.)

  • Sean W. Malone||

    NutraSweet: Thus why i sometimes ride the anarchy fence.

  • ||

    I agree with George Carlin's take that the problem with humans is that evolution isn't being allowed to work.

  • ||

    Why not a minarchy that self-destructs every generation?

    Because the people in power will eventually force through a change stopping this...because that would utterly be in their interests.

    Anarchy will collapse in on itself and a properly limited government from the beginning would probably be preferable to what the churn of anarchic human interaction would produce.

    Anarchy may collapse, but a government will always grow out of control. Both have their downsides. But at least admit that minarchists are pushing the pain off on future generations knowingly.

  • ||

    2. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.

    What does that actually mean?


    If there's no victim, there's no crime.

    Anarchy is empty of an organizing principle to settle disputes impartially and without force that might lead to a cycle of retributive violence.

    Bingo. I've long toyed with the idea that the fundamental role of government is dispute resolution. Historically, proto-governments only arise in groupings that have outgrown kinship affiliations as the basis for peaceful resolution of disputes. At that point, the grouping either fragments into small (less than 200 person) kinship-based groups, or some kind of proto-government authority emerges to keep disputes from getting violent.

    Needs work, but I think there's something there.

  • ||

    What we need is a cabal of armed, insanely principled arbitrators. With the power of life and death, of course.

  • ||

    Anarchy may collapse,

    The may would be more convincing with historical examples of anarchies that lasted any length of time without coming under the sway of a strongman.

  • ||

    Of course. But remember that any minarchist system will eventually grow out of control--it is the nature of government. So it's the later generations who have to pay for the earlier generations' freedoms. Is that moral?

    As much as I hate utilitarianism, this entire question seems to boil down to which system will do the least amount of harm in the most time.

    If anarchism is the most moral of systems, I think it is, but creates vastly more harm than a minarchist state over X amount of time, is that preferable? I mean, how much pain will you endure for principle if a different, but flawed, system will create less harm?

    It's all relative, I get that, but at some point, you will have to say "fuck it."

  • ||

    But at least admit that minarchists are pushing the pain off on future generations knowingly.

    Future generations are on their own. They are just as responsible and capable of keeping the state within bounds as the folks who found a minarchy.

  • ||

    Sug and RC are expressing what I'm trying to say, only with better words and more coherent thoughts. SOP.

  • ||

    Government is attempting to act as the equalizer between our base animal instincts and the moral requirements of society. That can only work out if those we elect as our representatives have control over their instinct to achieve more control with their power. It also fails in its willingness to trade care for the weak for more power.

    As long as humans are involved, all organizations, whether private or governmental, are doomed to fail.

  • Nash||

    I used to be squarely in the 2 camp, but after watching the repeated failures of the libertarian party, and the sincerity of the Ron Paul for president movement I've moved over to 1 and 4.

    That doesn't make Ron Paul a failure in spreading the message but it's pretty clear that winning the presidency was never his intention. I want a libertarian leaning president and I'm willing to compromise on some things to achieve that.

  • LPer||

    I fit closest in the LP Libertarian.

    I am one of those "BIG L" Libertarians that actually works to repeal legislation and get other big L Libertarians elected. Seems to be working well for my state. We have repealed taxes, stopped massive spending programs, written legislation limiting taxing power (and yes it was passed), successfully sued the state to secure our right to peacably assemble, and pissed off the legislature by putting iron chains on their powers of funding (more like thick plastic chains really). But yes it is an excruciatingly slow process and the victories are small compared to the losses. HOWEVER, my state is one of the top libertarian states in the union (I would say top three). Judge for yourself; I live in Colorado.

  • ||

    A very good thread. But I have to go. I'm going to play disc golf in a public park! OMG! ;-)

  • Sean W. Malone||

    This is much too complex to deal with in the scope of a Reason thread, but I've long been toying with the idea of a minarchy that is essentially devoid of any permanent rulers or lawmakers.

    Essentially, this would be a system where there is a Constitution, which basically only states a series of unalienable rights that anyone living in "my" society would be entitled to - Only the non-contradictory ones like life, liberty, property, and those immediately derived from that like speech, association, self-defense, etc. of course.

    To enforce said rights, you would hire (or not, at your discretion) private protection services, like we did once upon a time for housefires and such, but if you've felt a violation of your rights has occurred (or if one is obvious), then you would be able to petition for a variety of jury trial. The idea, to some extent, is that there are no legislators who are writing laws, but only individual cases tried separately.

    Without some explanation to the mechanism I've been kicking about, this may seem ridiculous, but it's something that I wish I would be able to experiment with somehow.

  • ||

    I will note that those of you proposing minarchism are using the US as our default example. Remember that the minarchism that the US enjoyed for some time (let's leave the slavery discussion for another time) was in part assisted by the US's physical location. It was just really difficult for a "strongman" within the anarchist world community to come and take over, not that the British didn't try.

    Minarchism would be great, except that as soon as you start it you just accepted defeat, even if that defeat takes 150 years.

    Everything is actually anarchy. We are all Rational Anarchists, in the Bernardo de la Paz sense. We just decide that many of the rules around us are tolerable.

  • That Guy||

    Not to mention that the U.S. of old was basically protectionist and certainly no more accepting of immigration than it is today.

  • ||

    Some would say that the US only worked for about 65 years until Lincoln. Not 150 until the New Deal. Checks & balances went out the window after the war when the states effectively had to accept federal mandates.

  • MattXIV||

    I'd add another trend of "Drop Out" libertarianism that is based on the idea that it's easier to avoid the goverment than change it. It isn't linked to any particular libetarian policy set or philosophy, but is defined by a focus on devising methods of getting around the restrictions posed by the government. They often focus on a specific restriction or method moreso than on libertarianism in general. This is the group for seasteading, secession, loopy ideas about how to get out of paying income taxes, growing pot in the basement, creating private currencies, etc.

  • X||

    You left out "ex-libertarian". Those of us who have realized that the most likely outcome of libertarian policies would be an environment where little or no liberty would be practically possible, and if you really value your liberty, stay far, far away from the libertarians.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Robbie: Some might also suggest it lasted about 9 years until the Alien & Sedition acts....

    I may have just made Epi's case entirely though :P

  • Sean W. Malone||

    So... X, your genius is astounding and Orwellian. If you value your freedom, avoid those trying to protect it. Makes perfect sense.

  • ||

    the most likely outcome of libertarian policies would be an environment where little or no liberty would be practically possible

    Mac: (to the gas station owner) You're about to experience the hard knocks of a free market, bitch. Get ready to feel it where it hurts.

    Charlie: Your dick.

    Mac: No. No, not his dick. His-his wallet.

  • ||

    Even better Sean. I would even argue the illegal Constitutional coup against the Articles of Confederation. How long was that?

  • robc||

    It's going to take a stone-age-level economic collapse to reset the machine

    Step 1. Check.

  • X||

    So... X, your genius is astounding and Orwellian. If you value your freedom, avoid those trying to protect it. Makes perfect sense.

    The prerequisite to having a free country is having a country. And if you want to have a country, it's generally a good idea not to support people who want to hand it out from underneath the inhabitants and turn it into an international public toilet.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Ohhhhh... so X is for Xenophobia... Gotcha.

  • ||

    people who want to hand it out from underneath the inhabitants and turn it into an international public toilet

    What?

  • ||

    I meant replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution was a coup, not that the coup was constitutional.

  • wingnutx||

    I'm a Heinlein/Goldwater Libertarian.

    What do I win?

  • Stevo Darkly||

    I PROUDLY TAKE NUMBER TWO!!!

  • John Dillinger||

    Tom Palmer is a legend in his own mind.

  • Number 6||

    I'm not a libertarian, I am a free man!

  • Stevo Darkly||

    The problem with mere minarchism is that it is inherently unstable. Government wants to grow.

    1) Best example of a minarchist nation that I can think of: United States of America.

    Stayed free: Let's say 150 years (until the New Deal, as someone else suggested). If you want to say it's still a viable minarchy, then maybe 250 at the outside.

    2) Best example of an anarchist nation that I can think of: Viking Iceland.

    Stayed free: 300 - 350 years.

    QED, bitchahs.

  • @#*&!||

    The comments above warrant a fifth option: Narcissist Libertarian.

  • @#*&!||

    Or a sixth.

  • Thomas Jefferson||

    Yeah, the US was a great "minarchist" nation that just happened to have tens of thousands of slaves.

  • ||

    I'd like to propose a sub-variant of Godwin: the bringing up of slavery when discussing the size of the US government in the past. Especially since we're mostly talking about the Federal government here and slaves were a function of state governments.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Yeah... the Jefferson = Slavery, therefore = wrong about everything meme is a little annoying.

  • ||

    We can call it "Hemings-ing" the thread.

  • Franklin Harris||

    2. Rothbardian anarchism.

    4. Jeff Friedman and Critical Review

    5. "Hayek libertarianism"



    I'm a bit of each of these. I favor Rothbardian anarchism (actually, I'm more of a David Friedman anarchist), but because I believe with Group 4 about voter irrationality, I don't think we'll ever get it (or minarchism) from the starting point of a large, democratic/republican state. So I favor marginal, Hayekean

  • Franklin Harris||

    Crap. That last post got cut off. Continuing...

    marginal, Hayekian reforms on the one hand while building seasteads (our only hope for true freedom) on the other.

  • ||

    "Cato-influenced"? Why not just good old "Jeffersonian"???

  • robc||

    2) Best example of an anarchist nation that I can think of: Viking Iceland.

    Stayed free: 300 - 350 years.


    They had a parliament. No fucking anarchy has a parliament.

    QED, bitchahs.

    QED right back at ya.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I'm with you Harris.

    Add to that process one step though: "Work within the system to get amazingly, fabulously rich."


    Seriously, that's the only way to affect real change while keeping yourself, your loved ones & your stuff safe.

    Also, I like "Hemings-ing". Well done Epi.

  • robc||

    Anarchy is metastable.

    Any perturbation and it falls apart.

  • robc||

    building seasteads (our only hope for true freedom)

    The asteroid belt has a much higher probability. But that is because I put seasteads at ~0%

  • ||

    Another theoretical lens: Three kinds of libertarian - head, disposition, soul


    Head - Can cite passages from Smith, Hayek, Mises, Rand, Nok, etc. for any circumstance. In love with the elegant logic of it.

    Disposition - A punk teenager in an adult body who just doesn't want anyone telling him what to do or not do. Calls this stance "anti-authoritarian."

    Soul - A "spiritual" sense regarding the rightness of liberty which arises from human compassion.

    These motivations are not mutually exclusive, and individuals can have varying proportions of each.

  • ||

    Epi, I think the terminology should be a nod to the most well known of slaves, Kunta Kinte.

    hence the phrase, "you kunted the thread"

  • ||

    "Free-market protection agencies" = Cosa Nostra

  • ||

    The asteroid belt has a much higher probability. But that is because I put seasteads at ~0%

    Start planning your belter crest haircuts now....

  • ||

    2

  • robc||

    Start planning your belter crest haircuts now....

    Never quite got that. I get cutting it short to prevent it from getting in your eyes at a key moment, but why a mohawk instead of bald? Or why not just buzzed short.

    Also, can I get an imaginary arm without losing a real one first?

  • ||

    hence the phrase, "you kunted the thread"

    No. No. NO! You "tobied" the thread. How many times do I have to tell you!

  • alan||

    The asteroid belt has a much higher probability. But that is because I put seasteads at ~0%

    As foreseen by Alfred Bester, teleportation* will be the technology of liberation. However, his character was zapping in and zapping out of every which a where in a Romanticist adventure that would be exhausting to Pete By The BBQ America. People will want to develop stable communities of like minded individuals, so they will close off caverns and spaces so the Revenuers can't gain access, and they will link these spaces together into a chain of like minded people forming a new nation while Ezra Klein is left wondering to where all of those people funding his pseudo-intellectual life style disappeared.

    * I have the suspicion that it will never be feasible on anything but the quantum level where it will prove beneficial to information technology and communications, but still, who really knows for certain.

  • ||

    Kunta Kinte!

    (the whip ain't exactly punishment to some folks)

  • ||

    Never quite got that. I get cutting it short to prevent it from getting in your eyes at a key moment, but why a mohawk instead of bald? Or why not just buzzed short.

    I think it was Niven's way of just being "futuristic." But, the Belt was also very off the grid and privateering, so what says societal outcast better than a mohawk? (Fauxhawks don't count. In space, no one can tell you're a guido.)

    Also, can I get an imaginary arm without losing a real one first?

    No, but we are having an imaginary 2 for 1 sale.

  • ||

    As foreseen by Alfred Bester, teleportation* will be the technology of liberation.

    My first Bester book is on the way to me, courtesy of Amazon. I have Hit & Runners to thank for turning me on to him.

  • ||

    JW,

    Stars My Destination, Demolished Man, and the short story collection Virtual Unrealities are about all you really need to read. The rest is shaky at best.

  • Cinque||

    Give us us thread!

    Wait, shit, wrong slave movie.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I'm a combo of #5 + the "civil societarian" thing, I guess. But willing to pose as a raging cosmotarian when it can be used to irritate #3's.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Ok:

    How's this?

    "Hemming's Law" = Whenever someone uses slavery to discredit Jefferson/etc.

    And thus to be colloquially used as, "You Kunted that thread, buddy!"

    Yes?

  • Mike||

    "2. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.

    What does that actually mean?"

    It means that if you are deciding whether or not some action should be illegal, the first question you should ask is, "Are anyone's rights violated by this action?" If the answer is "no", then it shouldn't be illegal. This would include free speech, gambling, using a toilet that uses more than 2 gallons, prostitution, putting a boat on your driveway...

  • Sean W. Malone||

    B-B-Butttttt... Mike..... The EXTERNALITIES!!!

  • Bee||

    I'd be a combination of 2 and 3.... I'm a Mises Institute-type anarcho-capitalist without the nationalism/fear of immigration.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I'd be a combination of 2 and 3.... I'm a Mises Institute-type anarcho-capitalist without the nationalism/fear of immigration.

    Good for you! Wish there were more 3's like that.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Very nice thread. Too many props to give out. I regret showing up late to the party.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Er, too *much props. Lest anyone correct my slang.

  • ||

    Stars My Destination, Demolished Man, and the short story collection Virtual Unrealities are about all you really need to read. The rest is shaky at best.

    Thanks Sug. Stars my Destination is what I have coming.

  • ||

    It is interesting that none of the first three would exist if it weren't for Rothbard.

  • John||

    I'm probably a Hayekian, if I had to choose from this list. So I guess that I should read more of Hayek than just about him.

  • Rice Bingham||

    So, what kind of libertarian is Eric Dondero?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Donnnnnnnnderrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooo!!!

  • Dick Clark||

    Up with Rothbardian anarchocapitalism as promoted by the brilliant and hard-working folks at the Mises Institute!

  • Brian Drake||

    Liberty is simply a recognition of everyone's self-ownership.

    Government (coercive monopoly) is 100% incompatible with self-ownership (to declare jurisdiction over your person and property is to deny your self-ownership. To tax you is to deny your self-ownership).

    Therefore, if you truly value liberty, you cannot also support any form of government.

    If you support some form of government, you are not in support of liberty.

    If you are not in support of liberty, why would you consider yourself a "libertarian"?

    Minarchism is incompatible with liberty just as much as totalitarianism. The inherent premise of EVERY form of government is a denial of the self-ownership of others.

  • Brian Drake||

    To those who like to hide their disregard for the self-ownership of others behind the nonsensical claim: "I'd be an anarchist except it'd never work."

    1) you are a moral coward and just as evil as any statist

    2) how do you know a free society won't work? Anarchy is at work all the time throughout society. It DOES work. Government of any form DOESN'T work, and that's theoretically and observationally indisputable.

    3) how has minarchism worked? If ever there was a utopian idea, a limited state is the most laughable of them all.

    4) you are intellectually dishonest and inconsistent to claim to "value liberty" since you do not. You value what you (falsely) perceive to be utility. You are a utilitarian, not a libertarian (philosophically, I don't care about groups).

  • ||

    The only category that I fit into being against force and for the individual is the Rothbardian Anarchist tent. Government is force, at any level, and commerce is the absence of force.

    Also: I am looking for an answer to the question posed by William R. How can CATO be pro-liberty and free markets while being pro-central bank? The ultimate agency of force in the US right now is the Federal Reserve as the federal government and all its activities depend completely on the theft of money through inflation.

  • Anon||

    "Cato-influenced:
    A ruling principle is that libertarians should not endorse state interventions."

    Is that why Cato is a cheerleader for Bernanke and the Fed?

    "Mises Institute *nationalism*."

    Huh?

  • Brad||

    I don't think the Mises Institute is all that concerned about immigration these days. Lew Rockwell recently wrote an article declaring the immigration issue dead.

    However, the minarchists have NOT refuted the anarchist position. To refute Anarcho-Capitalism, you do not need to show that it is impractical. The practicality of AnCap is irrelevant to whether it is morally right. If you want to refute AnCap, you must either show that a government that does not violate the non-aggression axiom is possible (which I regard as an impossible task) or refute the non-aggression axiom (in which case, you would not be advocating libertarianism). The burden of proof that statism is morally justifiable lies with the statists (among which I include Minarchists), not the AnCaps.

  • ||

    Anti war and anti fed libertarian. I'm not exactly sure where that puts me, but I know it's far outside of the "CATO" beltway (sellout) camp.

  • ||

    Horrible list that makes no sense whatsoever. I just dont see ANY of those 5 categories as distinct, besides maybe Rothbardian anarchism(which is what the Mises insitute is all about if you hadnt noticed).

  • ||

    Correction: The Cato Institute is not libertarian. It's LINO.

  • Vince||

    I'd be interested in hearing about the "nationalism" of LRC and mises.org. Cato's support of central banking is FAR more nationalist than anything I've read at either of those two sites.

  • Vincent||

    And I'd also be interested in knowing how you can oppose state intervention, but not insist on anarchism. Even the tiniest state "intervenes".

  • ||

    I should think that at this late date, we each, and we all, have enough work to do, from relegalizing drugs,starting, but certainly not limited to, eliminating Federal intervention in "medical marijuana", emptying Federal and State prisons of the hundreds of thousands of clearly nonviolent offenders mostly jailed for drug use and other political offenses, to supporting an independent audit, and hopefully the abolition of, the Federal Reserve, and its long overdue replacement with sound money, we need to continue debunking the endless lies of the "war-on-terror" and "global warming" idiocy and the appalling legislative agendas which their advocates inspire.

    We must work to revive the ideal--both patriotic and libertarian--of an America-first, patriotic, and peaceful foreign policy committed to peace and friendly commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none, and firmly repudiating the perpetual war for perpetual peace role of world policeman which has played such a large part in our national bankruptcy, both material and moral, throughout the world, and at least for starters, reviving the politics of the Constitution and Bill of Rights--whatever their shortcomings--to inspire our fellow Americans to rebuild a country we and our children can be proud of, not the failed empire of militarism, fiat money, and nanny state imbecility which characterises the altogether flawed status quo.

    Looking for ways to help each other, and our fellow Americans, even more our fellow human beings, rediscover liberty, private property, and peace, instead of labelling each other, would be a far more useful pastime for libertarians!

    Let us each be worthy of being a libertarian, and devote ourselves to helping each other create the future we want!

    Leave the labelling and name-calling to politicians and mainstream "journalists". They have more practice at it, and are better at it than we are anyway.

    PEACE AND FREEDOM!!
    David K. Meller

  • William Lloyd Garrison||

    I believe that Rothbard was correct in appropriating my quotation about slavery for his description of the proper attitude to have towards the prospect of a new, free system:

    "Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend."

  • John Markley||

    Sugarfree,

    "I admire anarchists for the purity of their beliefs and agree with them on many points. But I am not an anarchist myself. I don't believe anarchy would be sustainable. Unless it is a true Hobbesian bloodbath, voluntary agreements of non-aggression and trade would spring up. Eventually these agreements would be so interlocking and complex that division of labor will dictate farming them out to a third party, and further that third party will be given some power to settle disputes and competing claims.

    That's a government."

    It's only a government if there is single third party that has a monopoly maintained through threats of force. "Everyone would employ a third party to settle disputes" does not imply that everyone would or should use the same third party, and then empower it to violently crush competitors.

    More generally, on the fact that no historical anarchy has lasted very long, two points.

    First, virtually everyone in existing anarchic societies wanted a state, though they may have disagreed on who should control it. This sort of weakness is not unique to anarchy: If 99% of the American population wanted a monarchy, the existing republic wouldn't last long no matter what the constitution said.

    Second, people sometimes speak of anarchic areas as if they have no prior history, or as if the government is gone because the rulers just decided out of the blue to quit. However, most people want a state to exist, and the most powerful people usually want it most of all. Thus, in the real world, places usually become anarchic in the first place because they became so violent or dysfunctional while the state still existed that they could no longer support the existence of a state. The parasite killed the host. Our real-world examples of anarchy are therefore pretty much guaranteed to be devastated societies to begin with. Thus, it is no surprise that the states that eventually form there are especially nasty, and that fact tells us little about anarchy itself.

  • Erwin||

    The mises institute is all about the free market, i.e. competing currencies, not the gold standard.
    Nationalism? The people at the LvMI are mostly anarcho capitalists, absolutely opposed to nationalism.

  • ||

    How can you draw a significant distinction between Rothbard libertarianism and so-called Mises Institute "nationalism" when Rothbard is second only to Mises in the institute's historical hierarchy, and nearly everyone at the institute has not only been influenced by Rothbard, but met the man, loved the man, and probably went to his funeral. The LvMI has a shirt with the man on it. This list is baffling.

    Also, why is CATO orthodox when they not only abandon the non-aggression axiom more than any other libertarian foundation, but seem to get the greatest joy when they do it?

  • ||

    Where do you guys get this sort of ridiculous bizarro world caricature of libertarianism that you peddle? The Mises Institute "nationalist"? CATO is "orthodox" libertarianism?

    I have news for you guys. The libertarian market is making its selection, and you are on the wrong side of history (not just the logical arguments). You should either accept the logical implications of the non-initiation of force or fraud all the way down the rabbit hole, or just stop claiming to be libertarian.

  • Anthony Gregory||

    I'm an orthodox Rothbardian, Mises-influenced, not at all a nationalist, but big-tent (for example in my involvement with Campaign for Liberty). In fact, almost everyone I've met through Mises is fairly hardcore, and not at all a nationalist or border waller. The Mises Institute's slogan is emblazoned in many languages throughout the headquarters.

    Funny that most critiques I hear of Mises-associated folk is that they are "anti-American" and "nationalistic." Mises Institute Nationalism is indeed an oxymoron. The spirit of plumbline libertarianism -- that is, personal liberties, free markets and peace, the trifecta -- is alive and well, throughout the world and particularly at the Rothbardian Mises Institute.

  • ||

    Rothbardian anarchism all the way.

  • LibertyVini||

    I liken government to an onion, and relate these categories to how many layers of the onion we are willing to peel away. Catoites and consequentialists are willing to peell away a couple of layers, more in some spots, less in others. Misesians want to peel nearly all of it. We anarchists want to throw the whole stinking,rotten thing away.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I'm really digging the last group of comments.

    I might actually start calling myself an anarcho-capitalist from here on in... Never spent much time labeling myself, but as stated wayyyyyyyyyy way up thread, I've been a Rothbardian + Hayekian with a healthy splash of Mises for a long time and you're all right. If you care about logical consistency at all, you really do have to make it all the way down the road on this one.

    I also liked the analogy someone made of being a full-on supporter of anarcho-capitalism knowing that you'll never get there anyway.

    On that note however, I do think the Rothbardian types sometimes miss their opportunities in pushing back the "smaller" abuses in advocating total freedom in a really uncompromising way. Far be it for me to tell anyone what "we" need to do, but I do think it's important to have "plans" ready to go to counter bullshit like bank nationalization & socialized medicine, etc. People will always prefer even a tremendously bad plan to "no plan at all". And of course, increasing freedom is, obviously "doing something", but we've all lived long enough (I hope) to know that it's never perceived that way. As stupid as it is, more shiny Ph.D's, more "experts" on TV, more "reports" would do us all some good.

  • Bee||

    Yeah, I was kind of puzzled by the reference to 'nationalism' - I just took it to mean Hoppe and Ron Paul's ideas on immigration, which I disagree with.

    I side more with Walter Block on the issue - open borders all the way - yet he & I are both Mises Institute people *and* Rothbardian anarchocapitalists.

    I find the distinction between #2 & #3 very unclear unless the immigration issue is the one you're referring to.

  • ||

    Where's room for libertarians that think a strong state supported military is actually a good thing?

    I don't really see it there.

    The war is evil schtick works well until that all goes up in smoke when an irrational cretin may decide to lob a missile your way.

  • Brian Drake||

    J,

    You are not a libertarian. You may feel good by calling yourself one, but it's a label that requires a simple philosophical test, and you fail.

    Call yourself a "classical liberal" or a "paleo-conservative" or some other euphemism for statist, but as long as you advocate the initiation of force against innocent people (by advocating a state that has jurisdiction/taxation power over them regardless of their consent), you are no advocate of liberty (self-ownership) and thus, not a libertarian.

    That's called logic and is a requirement of being rational. Thus, if you persist in defying logic due to some pragmatic delusions, you are being irrational. Since you advocate the enslavement of your fellow man, that would make you an irrational cretin.

    Rationally constructed theory and empirical observation leave me fully confident that my demand for protection against irrational cretins like you would be met with supply in increasing quality and decreasing cost by the highly competitive free market of a stateless society, just like every other good and service I VOLUNTARILY trade for currently.

    Is the state magic? It has no resources other than what it has stolen. So how is it magically capable of providing MORE protection from lobbed missiles than the same resources (minus bureaucratic waste) employed privately towards the same end?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    J, I don't think "war is evil" - everyone has the right to defend themselves, or to hire a group of people to do that for them, but why does it have to be "state" supported? Assuming state means taxes, and taxes mean forced theft - so why can't that be done privately as well?

    AND... Maybe much more importantly - if all you're doing is peacefully trading with people, why is anyone lobbing missiles at you? No one ever lobs missiles at Switzerland.

  • Joseph||

    Cato is "orthodox" libertarianism? News to me. I find Cato to libertarianism lite. Not bad, but not totally satisfying either.

    And what is this juvenile smear of talking about the Mises Institute's "nationalism"? That is ignorant of the Mises position, or a purposeful misreading.

    Me? A Rothbardian all the way. I don't need anyone to "pretty it up" with new language.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, I wrote badly to describe my feelings.

    I said:

    Where's room for libertarians that think a strong state supported military is actually a good thing?

    I meant to say :

    Where's room for libertarians that think a state supported by a strong military is actually a good thing?

    And I don't mean a strong state in any sense..I take Fridman's approach that the state ought to be totally maxed out at 10% of GDP and perhaps lower.

  • ||

    Sean:

    I think the state at the present time is the one apparatus able to lob a killer blow to an enemy. I do see the possibility of a quasi privatized military but that would need to be phased in over time.

  • ||

    AND... Maybe much more importantly - if all you're doing is peacefully trading with people, why is anyone lobbing missiles at you? No one ever lobs missiles at Switzerland.

    that's actaully only somewhat true. The reason Switzerland was able to stay out of the war was because the Germans realized just how bloody a conflict with the swiss would have been and they saw a use for them remaining "neutral". The swiss have historically operated a serious army for its size.

  • ||

    didnt cato support the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan? And doesn't cato support and think the federal reserve has been the nation's savior throughout the fed caused "financial crisis"?
    what is free market and non interventionist about that?
    Also, I think Cato supported items like the patriot act and police america act which fly in the face of calling them pro civil liberties.
    cato is statism calling itself libertarianism.

  • John Kindley||

    A prominent strand, the so-called left-libertarians, represented by folks like Henry George and Karl Hess, is completely left out. Its take is that government, amenable as it is to being the tool of the rich and powerful, is a great if not the greatest cause of the economic equalities in society and of poverty. As we move incrementally towards less government and a freer society, equality and a "preferential option for the poor" should be an important value in our determinations of what kinds of government interventions should be eliminated first. More economic equality and self-sufficiency itself seems to be an important condition for a freer society. Catholic Distributists such as G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc emphasized this.

    The granddaddy of libertarianism himself, Lysander Spooner, greatly concerned himself with economic exploitation and government's role in making that exploitation possible.

  • ||

    #2

    That being said, I think libertarians need to come together more on the most common issues of agreement. Number one would seem to be the ending of the war on drugs.

  • ||

    If the orthodox reading of what "being libertarian" means being Cato influenced I sure am glad I gave up on the label after the shame of Bob Barr. Forget it, if labeling myself libertarian means having to be associated with Cato in anyway just call me a Voluntaryist instead.

  • ||

    As a libertarian, my first order of business is to tear down what other libertarians have constructed.

    A. Cato is not libertarian
    B. The Rothbard and von Mises camps are not nearly as ideologically distinct as you are making them out to be, and certainly can't be classified as "nationalist"

    I think he may have confused nationalism with localism, actually - though even if this were true he still failed to give a proper description.

  • bakester||

    Number two.

    Of course.

  • PhysicistDave||

    Brandon wrote:
    >I think the most relevant division among libertarians is whether liberty can be achieved and maintained by political participation and activism in a democracy. If you answer yes, you lean towards a moderate CATO-style libertarianism. If you answer no, then your defeatism leads you to embrace anarcho-capitalism and other more radical strands.

    I thought that was an insightful comment… until I remembered that Rothbard himself (who presumably counts as a "Rothbardian anarchist"!) was involved in partisan politics in various political parties for most of his adult life - from the 1950s through the 1990s.

    And a lot of Rothbardian anarchists (including me) were involved in the recent Ron Paul GOP movement (yeah, Sid, I know that makes us racists in your eyes - this is actually okay with us!).

    So, Brandon, I think your theory is refuted by experimental facts.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

  • PhysicistDave||

    I knew Rothbard personally, and this attempt to distinguish between "Rothbardian anarchism" and "Mises Institute nationalism" is truly bizarre.

    The Mises Institute really was Murray's baby, and they are generally Rothbardian. The biggest exception I can think of is that many Mises Institute folks seem to be Christians, which Murray was not (though he openly expressed sympathy for some aspects of Christian culture).

    Perhaps some people wrongly conclude that Murray's political radicalism meant that he was a cultural radical also, at least in his younger days.

    He wasn't.

    Anyone who doubts that should read his cultural commentary from way back when (the '60s and early '70s) in "The Libertarian Forum."

    Murray hated the American government, but he did not hate America, at least not the American culture that existed prior to the '60s.

    If it is "nationalist" to love a country and its people, then Murray was an American "nationalist" throughout his life.

    If it is "nationalist" to love the state one happens to live under, neither Murray nor the Mises Institute can possibly be honestly considered "nationalist."

    Dave

  • ANARCHOCAPITALIST||

    HI GUYS! IM A LIBERTARIAN! I'M AN ANARCHO-CAPITALIST, BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES SENSE! IF YOU'RE NOT AN ANARCHO CAPITALIST, THEN YOU'RE NOT A LIBERTARIAN! THEY'RE INCOMPATIBLE WITH EACH OTHER! YOU'RE BEING INCONSISTENT! I'M SO MUCH SMARTER THAT YOU! YOU GUYS AREN'T REAL LIBERTARIANS! I'M THE REAL LIBERTARIAN! IT'S AMAZING HOW MUCH SMARTER I AM THAN YOU

    YOU'RE BEING INCOSISTENT!
    INCONSISTENT! INCONSISTENT! INCONSISTENT!!!!!!!!111!

    YOU GUYS ARE JUST AS BAD AS SOCIALISTS! ANYBODY WHO DOESN'T AGREE WITH ME IS STUPID AND EVIL!!!!!

    INCONSISTENT!!!!!11!!

  • PhysicistDave||

    Gee, ANARCHOCAPITALIST, why do I have this feeling you are just fooling with us? Maybe it's your typing in ALL CAPS?

    Personally, I'm not really into this "who's a real libertarian?" game; however, when factually mistaken information is posted, especially when it is about my old friend Murray, I do think it is right to point out the misinformation.

    As to your claim:
    >YOU GUYS ARE JUST AS BAD AS SOCIALISTS! ANYBODY WHO DOESN'T AGREE WITH ME IS STUPID AND EVIL!!!!!

    Nah! Some "minarchists" simply *are* socialists, but some are pretty good guys: Ron Paul is a minarchist, for example.

    You did have a point about the intelligence question, though. All of the very smartest libertarians are of course anarchists.

    But remember: intelligence is largely genetic - the minarchists can't help it.

    Minarchism is a genetic defect.

    Dave

  • Edwin||

    yes, I was being sarcastic in my "ANARCHOCAPITALIST" post

    I was making fun of the dialogue coming from a lot of libertarians exemplified by Brian Drake's posts above

    Instead of accepting that not everyone is going to agree with them and working with their fellow libertarians on their shared beliefs, they just want to freak out about being perfectly consistent and whine about governments always inevitably failing (not true, by the way)

    and I disagree with what you're saying about the intelligence - part of being intelligent is being realistic, and anarchism is unrealistic on many fronts. There are even more college educated, smart-ass kids who are totally indoctrinated in socialism, who can espouse socialism on and on in a seemingly articulate and "intelligent" mannner, but that doesn't change the fact that they're babbling idiots when you factor REALITY into the equation.

  • PhysicistDave||

    Edwin wrote to me:
    > yes, I was being sarcastic in my "ANARCHOCAPITALIST" post

    > and I disagree with what you're saying about the intelligence - part of being intelligent is being realistic, and anarchism is unrealistic on many fronts.

    Gee, Edwin, it seems not to occur to you that you are not the only one who can be sarcastic?

    Seriously, I do think the historical record shows that it is you minarchists who are being unrealistic - minarchism seems never to have been stable for more than a couple of centuries or so; whereas, most human societies throughout the existence of the human species, over tens of thousands of years, seem to have been "anarchist," in the sense we anarchists use the term.

    Government - i.e., a separate institution manned by specific personnel which successfully claims a monopoly in controlling the use of force within a given territory - seems to be an institution which was invented in the Near East only a few thousand years ago. If you want a less academic definition of government, government is an organization which does in broad daylight what common criminals do under cover of darkness.

    The biggest problem with minarhcists is their viewing government and anarchism as simply alternative institutional arrangements, instead of recognizing that government was created as a means of allowing certain power-hungry humans to safely and systematically steal from their fellow human beings.

    While I was of course simply matching your sarcasm in my quip about minarchism being a genetic defect, I do think it is fair to say that minarchists who deride anarchism as "unrealistic" are betraying their own lack of a broad historical and anthropological perspective.

    Anarchism is natural to humans; it is government which is an alien imposition invented by some nasty thugs a few thousand years ago.

    "Libertarians" who advocate government are, wittingly or unwittingly, opting for a system designed to be tyrannical.

  • PhysicistDave||

    Edwin,

    I've been mulling over why you feel anarchists are "unrealistic," aside from your ignorance of history and anthropology.

    Perhaps, you think that anarchists suffer from the delusion that government can be abolished in the next year or the next decade.

    I know of none who do: we think that government *should* be abolished immediately, but we know it will not be.

    There will, alas, be a Presidential election in 2012, and even in 2016 and 2020. But we can hope that there will be none in 2100 - i.e., that by then the American Leviathan will have been killed.

    Or perhaps you think that anarchists believe that abolishing the state will lead to a utopian transformation of human life. Some libertarian anarchists (for example, members of the self-proclaimed "Movement of the Libertarian Left") do seem to expect that, but I know of no Rothbardian anarchists who expect that.

    No, children will continue to refuse to clean up their rooms, spouses will continue to have occasional quarrels, and some folks will continue to look down their noses at homosexuals, homophobes, Christians, or atheists. Getting rid of government will simply make us all a bit freer and a bit richer; it will not remake human nature.

    Or, perhaps, you think that libertarian anarchists and minarchists all basically agree, and you do not understand why anarchists pretend to disagree? Don't anarchists agree with many minarchists that life would be close to perfect if the income tax were replaced with a value-added or national sales tax, if school vouchers became universal, and if cocaine were legalized?

    Well… no. Personally, I think that a VAT or school vouchers might be a step backwards. And cocaine legalization is about as high a priority for me as ferret legalization (which was actually the pet cause of a recent Libertarian candidate for governor here in California!).

    People who think that government is a positive good and will fight to preserve it and people who think the state is a positive evil and wish to abolish it are pretty obviously on opposite sides of the political spectrum. We are not on your side.

    From time to time, we may work with you on particular issues, just as we work with liberals or conservatives on particular issues, but, long-term, there is not and cannot be a unified libertarian movement that includes both Rothbardian anarchists and preserve-government-but-make-it-efficient minarchists.

    We are on opposite sides.

    Dave

  • Andrew M. Finefrock||

    I dont think any side fights for what they think is wrong. I think it's just a clash of differences. you may ask why clash then? I think when ideas enter into copetion, they have to resolve dominace. I guess the only truely"bad" idea is one that takes away self determination.

    By:Andrew M. Finefrock

  • Andrew M. Finefrock||

    I dont think any side fights for what they think is wrong. I think it's just a clash of differences. you may ask why clash then? I think when ideas enter into copetion, they have to resolve dominace. I guess the only truely"bad" idea is one that takes away self determination.

    By:Andrew M. Finefrock

  • Kent||

    I'm my own version of libertarian. I reject Cato as being any sort of libertarian organization, but is a Koch republican front. I base my libertarianism on my own observations and reading of von Mises, Hayek and Rothbard amongst others. I also reject the "nationalism" of Lewrockwell.com which is inconsistent with libertarianism.

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