Go Left, Young Libertarian

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Roderick Long looks back at two classic libertarian essays, Herbert Spencer's "The New Toryism" and Murray Rothbard's "Left and Right," and concludes by echoing Rothbard's 41-year-old suggestion that libertarians should find common ground with the anti-authoritarian left:

We've seen one "conservative revolution" after another: Reagan, Thatcher, Bush; we've seen what happens when conservatives get in power and finally are in a position to scale back the state like they've been telling us for years they'd do if those awful liberals didn't keep blocking them. We've seen the purge of libertarian elements from the Right, begun by Buckley and others during the Cold War, reach its apogee during the War on Terror….Today we face a situation remarkably similar to the one Rothbard was facing in the 1960s, including shifting ideological alliances and an increasingly unpopular war.

Proposals like this inevitably set off a flame war in the Hit & Run comment threads, so I thought I'd ask our commenters a question, which you're free to follow or ignore as you see fit. If you support greater cooperation between libertarians and the left, please list three left-wing leaders, groups, or broad tendencies that you'd be happy to embrace. If you think libertarians belong on the right, please list three right-wing leaders, groups, or broad tendencies that you'd be happy to embrace. Ambidextrous readers are welcome to list potential allies of both the left and the right, and of course you're free to announce that both sides of the spectrum are hopelessly, thoroughly infected with cooties.

NEXT: Should Wal-Mart Be Allowed To Own a Bank? (Gillespie on CNBC This Morning)

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  1. Let’s see, there is Ron Paul and…well, there is Ron Paul. This is too hard.

  2. Broad tendencies on the Right that I’d be willing to embrace if they were not just talking points, but actual tendencies:

    1) Fiscal conservatism
    2) Smaller government
    3) Allowing the free market to thrive
    4) Appeals to Federalism in the face of Statist tyranny

    –*–*–*–

    Broad tendencies on the Left that I’d be willing to embrace if they were not just talking points, but actual tendencies:

    1) Principled objections to war(s) and the welfare-warfare state
    2) Cultural/social freedom from conservative puritans
    3) Principled objections to the War on Unapproved Drugs
    4) Appeals to Federalism in the face of Statist tyranny

    Now, can anyone tell me why we should “side” with these “tendencies”…”tendencies” that are often nothing more than empty rhetoric?

  3. If we total everyones suggestions and come up with six trustworthy career politicians, I’ll be genuinely shocked.

  4. Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Barry Goldwater’s corpse. As far as the left goes I can’t even think of a single one. What exactly does the “anti-authoritarian” left mean? Does such a thing exist? Is there a member of the left out there who objects to government power itself and not merely the manner in which such power is wielded?

  5. I’m too jaded to think of anyone, frankly. Although Phil Bresden, TN’s current governor seems, to have potential. Maybe Tom Coburn (R-OK) on the right.

    On the left, Obama might have potential, but I seem to recall some race baiting in the 2004 election cycle. He at least seems on board with this transparency bill, which might be pointless but at least has potential to move things in the right direction.

  6. If I was forced to pick three…

    ACLU
    Americans for Tax Reform
    NRA

  7. On the left:
    1) An end to the drug war
    2) A less aggressively interventionist forign policy
    3) An emphasis on free speech.

    Of course, there are lefties who repudiate all those positions. I’m also sympathetic to the left’s suspicions of institutions, although I’m not sympathetic to their tendency towards collectivism. Ultimately, I suspect that’s the biggest difference between libertarians and both the right and left. They tend to think in terms of groups and collectives (villages, racial groups, nations, whatever), and libertarians tend to think of things in terms of individuals.

  8. All you have to do is look at the current favorites to be candidates for president in 2008, and there is only one vote you can make in this poll:

    Cooties.

  9. FD&S:

    I agree—it seems to me that to even be labeled “leftist” means that you necessarily support government intervention in principle. “Anti-authoritarian leftist” seems a little bit like “Anti-Jesus Christians”. This might be a more accurate label:

    “Anti-Authoritarian* Left”

    *Wherein I don’t like said authority’s decisions.

  10. As a former anti-authoritarian leftist, I rather enjoy the writings of John Ralston Saul, Chalmers Johnson (not sure if he qualifies yet as a leftist), Joseph S. Nye Jr., Lloyd Axworthy, Betty Friedan, Gwynne Dyer, and Seymour Hersh.

  11. The basic phrasing of the question leaves one wanting.

    Perhaps Libertarians should be leaning Libertarian.

    When judging the left or right, neither party is pro-liberty, economic or civil. But, within each group are people who hold some liberty dear. Each politician should be judged individually. For instance a SCOTUS member who hints that he didn’t like Kelo, but holds there are no real rights the government ought to respect in general, well, that’s not pro-liberty.

    Or lefty politicos who only supports an individuals right to be free from the needs of survival, is not truly pro-liberty.

    Shouldn’t Libertarians be smart enough, and intelligent enough, to recognize that someone like Bush or Nixon are as anti-liberty if not more so, than someone like Carter?

    It strikes me that the quest for “Groupthink”, a group that thinks just like “me”, is a promise that no candidates will ever actually agree with me.

    I remember looking up “famous” contributors to politicians. Ted Nugent, the supposed republican, seemed to give his money based on the individual politicians priorities, so he gave to candidates of different parties. Drew Carey, the supposed Libertarian, gave only to Republicans. One of these men operate along party lines, and one does not. One was truly libertarian minded, and one was merely republican who was ashamed of himself.

    I suspect supporting a “party”, a groupthink party, will lead to one thing only. Giving up ones libertarian leanings in favor of something more dogmatic, and less Libertarian.

    Reject neither the left nor right, embrace neither the right nor the left, but instead look to the individuals on the playing field, to see where they really stand.

    Which is how I find myself liking both Bob Barr and Russ Feingold.

  12. I’m wracking my brain (wrack, wrack!) but I can’t come up with more than one from each side, already mentioned by MP: NRA and ACLU.

  13. Along these same lines, some good news from Reddit:

    The late Harry Browne’s “The 7 Vital Principles of Government” is currently #13 on Reddit. Which means that a whole bunuch of people are reading this excellent piece…and “voting it up” on Reddit. Very encouraging indeed!

  14. “Maybe Tom Coburn (R-OK) on the right.”

    I can’t stand alongside anyone who is opposed to lesbian schoolgirl orgies.

  15. “Reject neither the left nor right, embrace neither the right nor the left, but instead look to the individuals on the playing field, to see where they really stand.

    Which is how I find myself liking both Bob Barr and Russ Feingold.”

    Yeah, because nothing’s more libertarian than the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, AKA McCain-Feingold.

  16. There were several Green types walking around with LP 2004 IL5 candidate Frank G. (awesome guy)

    That was interesting. There were common themes:
    social issues
    drugs
    anti corporate welfare
    anti war in iraq

    of course, dynamic “Postrellian” (read: not “might makes right” types) libertarians would freak out most, due to its trial-and-error, life-as-iterative process Weltanschauung – something that even the “might makes right” ones don’t seem to like.

    In Econ, there are definite alliances to be forged with new keynesians and Austrians. And both are firmly against the Chicago school, it seems. (Mind you, this isn’t the Mankiw keynesianism that bushie goes for).

    As for this citizen’s feelings about lefty or righty alliances, i’d get worried whenever you want government and social control (be it for “Heathers” or ID in school or socialized medicine or conspicuous faux religious ferver).

    Offhand, i can’t think of anybody on either side. You get good rhetoric but little minimalist government action, or you get really loony left pretty quick.

    And looking at the track record for preemptive strikes where the leaders didn’t present a real case for aggression (they did, among their true believers have a “wink and nod, every intelligent person knows the real reasons” understanding), we have statist forces all around.

    Maybe it’s a fear of the unknown, or the foreign. Maybe it’s a post 9/11 thing. But there definitely seems to be a fear of the dynamic, organic/evolving nature of life. People seem want to have more control and foolishly look to government to provide them with the control.

    Hofstede and Bond’s work on corporate cultures and social cultures used a term (don’t know if they coined it), “uncertainty avoidance”:
    “the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations.” (Hofstede, 1991, p. 113)

    (more: http://www.via-web.de/283.html. the paragraph beginning with, “To prevent uncertainty societies set up laws and rules like companies do. Duties and rights (internal and external) are controlled by authorities.”)

    Cheers and sorry for the long post,
    VM

  17. I can’t stand alongside anyone who is opposed to lesbian schoolgirl orgies.

    SR finds a hole in my thinking, I stand corrected.

  18. The democrats gives nothing but lip service to civil liberties and broadly support the war on drugs. And they are utterly horrendous on regulation and taxes.

    So, I don’t think there is a home for libertatian philosophies on the left.

    Club for Growth
    National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
    NRA

  19. Evan,

    Thank you for making my point. I only agree with about 25% of things Bob Barr has said, but I was happy to see him out slugging as a consultant with the ACLU in favor of liberty. I despise campaign reform from Feingold, but love to see him slugging it out against anti-civil libertarians these days, aka patriot act/imperial president supporters.

    Support them when you agree, oppose them when you disagree. Don’t judge them by the membership card in their wallet.

  20. I didn’t expect this discussion to be so politician-centric…

  21. Tendencies on the left I prefer:

    1. They’re cooler
    2. They’re more fun
    3. They have better taste in beer

  22. Of course, if we had proportional representation at any level of American government, we’d get to see this played out in shifting alliances issue-by-issue. Instead, libertarians and Euro-style market liberals and leftists and Social-Democrat types alike are stuck with trying to change two pretty unpalatable parties from within. A left-libertarian alliance or anything like it, even if it were to somehow succeed for one election cycle, would fall apart quickly because the system isn’t built to handle government by shifting coalitions.

  23. If you think libertarians belong on the right, please list three right-wing leaders, groups, or broad tendencies that you’d be happy to embrace.

    Leaders (or potential ones)

    1. Ron Paul
    2. Ted Nugent (though some of his views on social liberties are questionable.)
    2a. Aaron Zelman.
    3. Drew Carey.

    I cannot honestly think of anyone who actually holds office, with the possible exception of Bill Masters

    Right-Wing Groups that lean libertarian:

    1. NRA (feel free to replace with GOA
    2. Republican Liberty Caucus
    3. ???

    Broad Tendencies

    1. Pro-gun. Sorry, but this one’s a deal-breaker for me. I fundamentally cannot support any ostensibly “pro-liberty” organization if they advocate even the slightest increase in gun control.
    2. Vaguely pro-market. Republicans, at least, don’t give a flip if I shop at Wal-Mart or want to start my own business.
    3. Support private property rights. Hell, even Sean Hannity, who I consider nothing more than a baby-faced fascist has gotten behind this.

  24. On the left:
    1. Cut back military spending.
    2. Cut warmaking.
    3. Cut homeland security.

    On the right:
    1. Phase out social security.
    2. Stop tax evasion by illegal immigrants.
    3. Get federal government out of the social services department entirely (I think this is mostly #1 again, but there are some other things like getting the federal gov’t out of the public school business).

    On the center:
    1. Transparency.
    2. Declassification of government documents; more rigorous standard to keep documents classified.
    3. Term limits / tear down other barriers to 3d parties.
    4. Focus on observable, bona fide competition in markets, rather than market “freedom.”

  25. It seems the ones that are not in power and want the votes make the pro-liberty cherps. But just wait will they want to keep it and then expand that power.

    I’ll go with the cooties announcement myself.

  26. I would embrace the anti-authoritarian left, if you would just show where it is. Honestly, point out someone on the left who believes in free speech (i.e. free political speech unencumbered by campaign finance laws, not just free speech for pornographers), believes in property rights (i.e. has the balls to stand up to the greens concerning overbroad environmental regulation and other do gooder regulations), believes in freedom of choice and the consequences that go with it (will stand up to the tort lawyers), believes in gun rights, believes in free markets (i.e. is willing to stand up to the welfare and educational bureaucracy) and has enough confidence in western civilization to stand up to those opposed to it (i.e. is unafraid to tell Islamists that they are wrong and if they don’t like it to leave the country) and I will vote for them.

  27. The trouble I have with alliances is that they always fall apart the second people start waking up and noticing the differences. Libertarians allied with Republicans to put Reagan into the White House, over the last 20 years, and the GOP has become more and more a subsidiary of the militarists and the Christards, libertarians (i.e. the ones who don’t want to embarrass themselves by joining that den of paranoid schizophrenics known as the LP)find themselves without a home. What do we get for our trouble, a more authoritarian Right.

    What will happen when and if we form this alliance with the “anti-authoritarian Left?”

  28. Bill Maher used to get my blood pumping (in a good way) with his libertarian rants, but in recent years his have morphed almost exclusively into stock left-wing anti-Bush rants — not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he now generally has little to do with freedom or libertarianism. Still, he’s someone on the “left” I could probably get behind.

    RS: “I can’t stand alongside anyone who is opposed to lesbian schoolgirl orgies.”

    Boy, do you have my, um, interest piqued. What are you talking about?

  29. I think the key word here is anti-authoritarian.
    the left and the right don’t have ANY anti-authoritarians.

    All the libs are happy to enforce by law any of their pet projects-for the “good” of society.
    Then they never have the balls to vote against a war for fear they are perceived as “soft” – war in Iraq or war on drugs.

    The Right- won’t let go of their war , defense, spending for the “Safety of the American People”

    Corrupt, lying, scheming, murdering bastards the whole lot of them.
    I can’t think of one I’d vote for.

  30. Just because the ball went in the basket doesn’t mean you used the correct form in taking the shot. That’s the analogy that comes to mind when I think of a guy like Russ Feingold. Yeah, he sometimes comes out with the correct position, but his underlying philosophy of authoritarian leftism is still dead wrong. Contrast that to a guy like Ron Paul who comes at every decision for the right reasons. Because at the end of the day, it’s the reasons that matter. Ron and Russ might come to the same conclusion on the War in Iraq, but Ron comes to it for the same reason that is going to cause him to hold the correct positon on taxes, guns, free speech, and just about every other position under the sun. Russ on the other hand, might as well have come to his position accidentally, because the flawed philosophy behind it isn’t going to do us any good on issues that have to do with, for example, speech instead of war.

  31. Boy, do you have my, um, interest piqued. What are you talking about?

    Google is your friend.

  32. Libertarians should compromise by supporting corn subsidies:

    1) It would get votes from the Midwest
    2) It would please agribusiness
    3) Corn syrup is yummy

    Anybody who thinks that this is a serious post should have his head examined.

  33. We can always keep voting for gridlock. I think that’s the best we’re likely to get.

  34. Newt! Who else has ever been willing to just shut down the freakin’ government?

    My biggest complaint with the Dems is that they share all the weaknesses of the GOP, plus they add a few more.

  35. Occasianally I talk to a lefty who seems to agree with my libertarian arguments, but they’re always the ones who have a more amorphous idea of what their own politics mean.

    Case in point, I was talking to a co-worker about using publicly traded pollution credits and she thought is sounded like a great idea. It didn’t bother her that it was a fre-market based solution. But I think she mostly identifes herself as on the left because she hates religious conservatives; I don’t think she spends much time thinking about her position in policy and ideology terms.

    There may be a few points where libertarians and the anti-authoritarian left converge, but it’s hard to think it’s anything more than a coincidence.

  36. Right now, and probably for the foreseeable future, I think where a libertarian stands on the Terror War and/or the Iraq War will be the determining factor when choosing between the GOP or the Democrats. Libertarian types who are more or less sympathetic to Presidnet Bush’s aims and/or methods, like Glenn Reynolds and I think R.C. Dean, who comments here pretty regularly, will side with the GOP, while libertarians who think overthrowing Saddam Hussein was a mistake or is too costly, or think the threat of terrorism is exaggerated or is just a vehicle for expanding executive branch power, will side with the Democrats.

    If there had been no 9/11 I think the GOP would be pretty clearly the more sympathetic party to libertarians; would the Democrats have even considered the sort of reform of Social Security that Bush attempted but failed to achieve? What about tax cuts, regulations, and affirmative action? People here are right to bitch and moan about spending under Bush and the GOP congress, but can’t we assume spending would be even greater under the Democrats? The Democrats may be marginaly better on stuff like gay marriage and the Drug War, and maybe immigration, but it seems like a pretty thin margin.

    As fyodor jocularly suggests, where the Democrats are more attractive to libertarians is on a cultural level; Republicans are not as hip as the Democrats, are more likely to be religious, are easier to tar as racists, and so forth. But on a policy level, the GOP has the advantage. (Some may point out Clinton stuff, like NAFTA, the budget and welfare reform, but how much credit for that goes to the GOP Congress? I think at least half, and I think Clinton is not very representative of the Democrats.)

  37. “Left” doesn’t necessarily mean “Democrats.” Nearly all the libertarian-leaning lefties I know are independents. If Long was arguing for Libs to join the Democratic Party, I wouldn’t have bothered to link to his essay.

  38. Bah. Left wing, right wing, same carrion bird in between. A plague on both their houses.

  39. Yah, I’m siding with the cooties on this one.

    Not sure if that sounds right, but…

  40. If there had been no 9/11 I think the GOP would be pretty clearly the more sympathetic party to libertarians…

    I doubt it. In 2000, Bush and co more or less stated that their reformed notions of “conservatism” had nothing to do with “limited government.”

  41. I think I join many others when I express disbelief in the existence of “left-libertarianism” or an “anti-authoritarian left.” Isn’t the whole point of the “Left” some sort of material egalatarianism that can only be the result of state action, primarily the redistribution of wealth? I suspect that “libertarian-leaning lefties” are just lefties who talk about gay marriage or drug legalization or abortion more than they talk about wealth redistribution, maybe because they got bored with all that Marxist materialism. Because that shit is boooring. (It turns out that all the things in life that are interesting are just “the superstructure.”)

  42. People here are right to bitch and moan about spending under Bush and the GOP congress, but can’t we assume spending would be even greater under the Democrats?

    Given that no Democratic government since LBJ has increases spending as quickly as Bush and the GOPers in the last three congresses, I doubt such an assumption is valid.

    For the record, I say “cooties.” Lunchstealer has the only feasible solution (gridlock). I say get a Democratic Prez and keep congress republican (at least half of it). That way the GOPers can vote against bloated budgets and still feel good about themselves, while the Dems can stop domestic “security” measures that are too toxic.

  43. Ah Jesse, but that’s the problem, If you want to get anywhere in American politics you have sell yoursel and your votes to one of the two parties and whoever controls it.

    Third parties? In this system? Been there, done that, been laughed at over it.

    Replacing our current system with a parlimentary system? That’s about as likely as Realist’s fear that illegal immigrants will give the southwest back to Mexico.

  44. Unverifiable claim: the phrase “Pick your poison” was coined in a voting booth.

  45. From The right:

    Right to keep and bear arms
    Property Rights
    Free Markets

    From the Left:

    Secular Humanism
    Sexual Liberation
    Non-interventionist foreign policy.

  46. I think I join many others when I express disbelief in the existence of “left-libertarianism” or an “anti-authoritarian left.”

    There’s many species of libertarian-leaning lefty, but the most common is probably those Whole Earth Catalog or Wired types who aren’t very interested in Washington politics, who reflexively identify with the left for cultural reasons and/or out of fear of the authoritarian right, and who agree with self-identified libertarians about 70-80% of the time — i.e., about as much as a libertarian-leaning conservative. They have decentralist and individualist instincts, and an appreciation for spontaneous order. Many of them have small-business experience. They read blogs like bOING bOING and Smart Mobs. Actually, some of them write for bOING bOING and Smart Mobs.

    I don’t think they have a political spokesman. Jerry Brown might have come close, in the early days of the ’92 election, before he started courting the protectionist vote. A lot of them backed Dean in 2004, but aside from his opposition to the Iraq war I think that had more to do with the nature of the Dean movement than with anything the candidate had to say.

  47. I can’t think of one I’d vote for.
    The Last Time I voted was for Harry Browne in ’96.
    Well I told you once and I told you twice
    But ya never listen to my advice
    You don’t try very hard to please me
    With what you know it should be easy

    Well this could be the last time
    This could be the last time
    Maybe the last time
    I don’t know. oh no. oh no

    Which is closer, Right or Left?
    The current batch of so-called Republicans are a pretty sorry lot, and perhaps politicians are mostly too dishonest to measure accuarately, so I’ll use editorials instead.
    I read and appreciate right-wing editorials (e.g. “humaneventsonline”), and often agree with the whole editorial, but more often disagree with part, sometimes all, of it (typically the religious). Left-wing editorials seem disingenuous at best, and often just laughable.
    Summary: the Right is sometimes very weird, but the Left is pretty consistenly hysterical, dishonest and, for lack of a better word, stupignorant. I prefer weirdness over hysteria and dishonesty.

  48. Isn’t the whole point of the “Left” some sort of material egalatarianism that can only be the result of state action, primarily the redistribution of wealth?

    In Europe that would be a fair statement. But in America there has always been a strong anti-authoritarian element that is “Left” only in as much as they hate the Right more. Typically these people despise religious humbug, militarism, corporate welfare, state-sponsored discrimination, etc. There is a still a “leftist” tendency that believes the government should be in the business of providing equality of opportunity, not equality of results. In America we also have a long tradition of “left-wing” entrepreneurs and businessmen who tend to be less interested in wealth redistribution than in social change. Is there anything like that in the Old Country? I think it’s fair to say that the American left is more libertarian than leftist movements in most countries. Look at Tony Blair – he is a libertarian nightmare on practically every point.
    One area where the Left really falls down in my eyes is Federalism. I don’t how you can really preserve personal freedom when we live in a country with one of the largest and most powerful federal governments in the world. I can’t think of anyone on the left who has been a serious advocate of returning power to the states and reducing the role of Washington.

  49. I came to liberatarianism from the left.

    I’m ok with the EPA and environmental law in general.

    I’m for reducing the government in most other ways across the board.

    But I’m less offended by spending on social stuff – education, welfare, health care etc –

    than I am by spending on law enforcement and military stuff.

    Ultimately, I’d prefer to take from the feds the ability to spend money on just about everything.

    I suspect that there are a lot of left-liberty people like me out there.

    eric

  50. Culturally, I would say that the South Park guys are about as libertarian as it gets, although the creator of The Simpsons always struck me as having libertarian impulses, as well. Musically, there seem to be very few libertarian-leaning artists out there. Hell, even the band Rush isn’t reliably libertarian anymore.

    Politically, libertarianism is simply a non-issue on both sides. Government exists largely to perpetuate itself, and it will willingly put itself out of business. That is most likely why the Republican Revolution of ’94 turned into Compassionate Conservatism in just a few years. Once Republicans had a taste of total power, they became just as intoxicated as the Dems ever were.

  51. That should read “NEVER willingly put itself out of business”…

  52. eric suggests that he is into environmental regulations, and spending on social programs, but not on law enforcement and the military. To my mind, this is libertarianism turned upside down, and may very well be philosophically incoherent and practically unworkable.

    To me, libertarianism (as opposed to anarchism) suggests that a state is neccesary, but mainly or only to protect people and their property from the violence of bandits, foriegn invaders and the like. Health care, food, education, are not government functions.

    eric, do you really think the state should clothe and feed everyone, but sit on its hands when the robbers or the foreign armies show up?

    Also, I think all that spending on social services and all those enviromental regulations are impossible without a powerful law enforcement arm. Who will stop businessmen from making widgets out of spotted owls, and who will make sure they pay their taxes so all those schools and health clinics can be financed? You can’t have a welfare state without force.

  53. Meaning no offense to Reason, but The Onion is obviously America’s finest libertarian publication, and they seem to come at it from a leftish perspective.

    Then there’s the ACLU on the left. No, not pure libertarian, but good enough.

    And given the sorts of cases that IJ takes on (small business rather than big business, consumers, urban minority businessmen, etc.), you could argue that IJ approaches ecnomic libertarianism from a leftish perspective, or at least pitches it to leftish constituencies.

    So, if you take the civil liberties stances of the ACLU, the economic platform of the Institue for Justice, and the hip cultural perspective of the Onion and South Park, well, there you go.

    That’s my brand of libertarianism, anyway.

  54. The left suck.

    I’m going right – guns, property and moustaches.

  55. Ever since libertarians and leftists went their separate ways back in the 19th century, libertarians have specialized in understanding governmental forms and mechanisms of oppression, and the benefits of competitive, for-profit forms of voluntary association; while leftists have specialized in understanding non-governmental forms and mechanisms of oppression, and the benefits of cooperative, not-for-profit forms of voluntary association.

    I RTFA’d. What a long article, but that guy comes a lot closer to my take on libertarianism than most of the posters here. To try to put a reasonably succinct spin on what the article says:

    – consolidation of power bad, whether it comes from gov’t or from the private sector

    – deconsolidation of gov’t power should be accomplished by defunding the gov’t incrementally; this consolidation should drain both the military and social sectors in parallel to maintain left/right parity

    – deconsolidation of private power by gov’t should be done by requiring consumer information, requiring transparency and breaking up consolidation by antitrust law, rather than by substantive regulation or by socialization (that is, gov’t ownership).

    Big ups to Jesse for posting this article. It is nice to read an artile where it basically says how I feel. that is rare for me.

  56. Let’s take “liberal” out of this for a moment.

    The Progressives, like myself, have a hard time with Libertarianism in that the philosophy does not take “progress” (yes, and admitted subjective term) into account. Libertarians are more concerned with their ideoogies than with real facts on the ground. For example, Progressives believe that it would be progress if we could clean up the environment for future enjoyment – to make a better world for our progeny. Libertarians don’t really have any way of addressing cleaning up anything because it doesn’t have a place in their ideology. I think the trouble with libertarianism is that it is a limited philosophy that does not address too many real concerns – or at least not in a pragmatic way.

    How does a real libertarian address war? Poverty? Disease? They don’t. They are really just Social Darwinists, like many young people who think themselves immortal.

    JMJ

  57. both sides of the spectrum are hopelessly, thoroughly infected with cooties.

  58. Thoreau,

    The ACLU has long since become a paid subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Yeah, the will represent the occassional Klansman or some equally irrelevent and odious figure from the far right just to give the show that they are for principles and all. When it comes down to it, the ACLU has a very limited view of “rights” and that view almost uniformly fits with the Democratic agenda. The day the ACLU stands up for a land owner getting screwed by regulatory officials or comes out for the right to own a gun, I will start believing in them.

  59. Clarification: my points were not “what the article said.” Rather, those points were my opinions about the issues discussed in the article. Sorry for the lack of clarity — I certainly don’t want to put words in the mouth of the article’s author who seems like he may be as smart as me or even smarter.

  60. How does a real libertarian address war? Poverty? Disease? They don’t. They are really just Social Darwinists, like many young people who think themselves immortal

    Agreed. But it’s better than being a hippie and wasting other people’s money.

  61. I’m a little late, but to respond to a early comment:

    Obama won’t make the cut. He is well on the road to being an institutionalized moderate Dem who values compromise over principle.

  62. Jersey hasn’t been paying attention.

    War: Most libertarians think you need a state to deter and defend the nation from attack. Also, states that freely trade with each other are less likely to go to war with each other. There was an article here recently about this and the more famous democratic peace theory (aka liberal peace theory.)

    Poverty: Libertarians think free markets lead to less poverty. This comes up pretty much daily on libertarian websites like this one.

    Disease: A free market and low levels of regulation will be more likely to produce medicines and costs for health care which match the needs and desires of the public. People on this site talk about health insurance and medical advances (stem cells, for example) all the time.

  63. Wow. This is really difficult.

    Ron Paul
    Pat Toomey ex-(R) PA
    Gary Johnson

    I can’t think of a single democrat. Not one. I can’t even think of a democratic policy (that they take action on and don’t just pay lipservice to) that I would list.

  64. The Progressives, like myself, have a hard time with Libertarianism in that the philosophy does not take “progress” (yes, and admitted subjective term) into account.

    Quite to the contrary, we look around and at history and realize most progress has been the result of uncoerced initiative, made possible by the freedom to pursue one’s happiness.

    Libertarians are more concerned with their ideoogies than with real facts on the ground.

    Sigh. I suppose such misconceptions necessarily come with the territory of having a consistent philosophy. So, Mr. McJones, would you toss aside, say, freedom of speech, if someone claimed the “facts on the ground” showed this freedom to be detrimental? Libertarianism is based on the logical conclusions of a set of principles. Most people actually believe in these principles but are willing to toss them aside when they’re inconvenient. As I’ve said before, these principles would not be worth holding to were it not for the fact that experience shows them to be quite beneficiary.

    For example, Progressives believe that it would be progress if we could clean up the environment

    If who cleans up the environment? “We”? No, “Progressives” want to force others to clean up their own property. As far as shared property such as the air, I personally stray from pure libertarianism because I think it cannot adequately address problems relating to an inevitable commons. Others may disagree, but it’s mere glibness to think that others are blinded by an ideology while you can see clearly.

    I think the trouble with libertarianism is that it is a limited philosophy that does not address too many real concerns – or at least not in a pragmatic way. How does a real libertarian address war? Poverty? Disease? They don’t.

    Again, such criticism goes with the territory. “There’s a problem,” the statists always say, “and so we must DO somthing!” And doing something always means through the coercive means of the government. But experience shows that governmentally coerced activism posing as “pragmatism” generally does more harm than good. What could be more pragmatic than reducing the greatest agent for harm in the world? If people stopped relying on government so much, there’s certainly the possibility that they’d be more motivated to address these problems in a more realistic manner. Maybe not, but taking government coercion out of the equation is at least a good first step.

  65. So, Mr. McJones, would you toss aside, say, freedom of speech, if someone claimed the “facts on the ground” showed this freedom to be detrimental?

    Given his stated positions on “dirty” bumper stickers and reprinting the Danish Muhammed cartoons, JMJ is more than willing to scrap free speech.

  66. EDIT: …Danish Mohammed cartoons…

  67. I became briefly intrigued at the “concept” of Howard Dean, specifically when he was quoted in the Economist as having said that George Bush was running the American economy on the Argentine model.

    When I saw him (televised) on the campaign trail, awash in a sea of AFSCME sweatshirts… Well, you know…

    ———-

    I stand by my definition of politicians: monomaniacal, self-aggrandizing sociopaths, which is a long-winded synonym for “cooty”

  68. EDIT: …Danish Mohammed cartoons…

  69. How does a real libertarian address war? Poverty? Disease?

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Poverty: Since we advocate allowing people to keep the fruits of their labour instead of confiscating it for some “higher” purpose, productive people are happier and wealthier.

    Since we also advocate removing barriers for entry to economic activity (such as licensing and business permits) people would be freer to provide goods and services in high demand, including ones aimed at those who are poor. As result everyone becomes effectively more wealthy.

    Disease: Well, we would end the artificial shortage in doctors and medicines created by state and federal licensing boards. Dirty little cartels like the AMA (motto: Better a thousand should die ratehr than one doctor not be able to aford a lexus) would be denied the use of policemen to keep out scabs.

    Environemnt: have you ever noticed that privately owned woodlands (primarily found in the Southeast) are in far better ecological shape than the Federally owned lands in the west? End the practice of the government renting land that they own to favoured companies who then only have incentive to loot as much wealth out of it during their lease. People who own somehting take much better care than those who merely rent it.

    Jersey, I hate to break it to you, but whenever our ideas are put in place, even when there is a poor amount of technology and hostile environments, people do very well.

    On the other hand, the entire 20th century, with its boom and busts, interminable wars and political crises are very much the inevitable product of progressive policies. I wish you guys would give up on this sick idea that you can create a new heaven on earth by force.

  70. Jersey McJones,
    libertarians don’t address these problems directly because they believe that reducing the intereference from the government would allow people to find their own individual ways of addressing them.

    For example, reducing the legal barriers to starting a business would allow the poor to find their own best route out of poverty. In Phoenix there’s been some effort to crack down on street vendors – who just happen to be mostly Mexican – alledgedly over health concerns. But doing this blocks some from making a living this way.

  71. Mitch,

    In the first part of my post I wasn’t talking about the American left in general, I was talking about the anti-authoritarian leftist tradition which would probably not even be considered leftist in Europe. “Deadwood” liberals is the latest trendy name.
    What do you mean by “state-sponsored discrimination?” – well Jim Crow laws, forbidding gays to marry, segregation of blacks in the military, that sort of thing. Obviously most of the left is not principled on this issue and refuses to accept that the battle is mostly won but there are a few. Historically I’ve never seen any stomach for fighting government discrimination on the right, unless its fighting left wing overreach.

    What exactly do you mean by “social change?” The people I know who talk about social change are mostly talking about raising the minimum wage, passing anti-discrimination laws, affirmative action, and making sure there are no Wal-marts in town. Maybe that isn’t exactly redistribution of wealth, but I don’t think it is libertarian-friendly. Again, you’re talking about mainstream leftists. I think the exercise here is identify the elements on the left that skew more libertarian, but find themselves on the right due to their dislike of Republican social policy and an economic policy that favors existing corporations over genuine free market competition.

  72. I think that “embracable or cootie-ridden” isn’t really a useful scale to apply. (Hell, I don’t even “embrace” libertarian politicians.) Any viable idea movement is a broad endeavor, so engaging with anyone with whom we have some common ground is useful.

  73. vanya,

    Why do you limit “state-sponsored discrimination” to discrimination against blacks and gays? Much affirmative action is state-sponsored discrimination against whites and Asians. And why limit it to race and sexuality at all? A “progressive” income tax can be seen as “state-sponsored discrimination.” You aren’t talking about an “anti-authoriatarian left,” but various civil rights movements fighting for equality or preferences for various groups. Many of these fights are just, but I wouldn’t characterize them as “anti-authoritarian;” their complaints are not that there is an authority, but what that authority is doing; many of them want the state to pick winners and losers, and their gripe is that the state is making the wrong picks.

  74. I’ll just put in my 2 cents here because I think its pretty simple. Times are ripe for large scale political re-alignment if someone can make it happen. You can’t expect current left or right leaning leaders do do anything to help us. I would suggest a broad, green-libertarian coallition.

    Greens are in a position to deliver on libertarian principles that sound hypocritical when you apply them to large corporations. Small-scale businesses and self-governing communities show people that libertarians are not simply apologists for business interests. There is, of course, the authoritarian impulse even in greenish political types, and I think that offering Roe vs. Wade to the right as a peace offering is the only way to go on this. I believe that states should decide whether or not to allow abortion. If they want their state to be a medeival hellhole, I say we let them rot from the inside out. They’ll get the idea eventually.

    I think that this is the only way to get the bigotted motherfuckers running this country to leave people like me alone. Since they are the ones in charge of the government, we need to show them that giving up their total control is not going to mean giving us total control of them.

  75. What JmJ doesn’t do is actually read any libertarian materials to understand all the various ways we have addressed every single issue, up to and including how we clean up the place.

    And furthermore, he doesn’t understand that we adhere so strongly to, say, our economics, because they have been empirically shown to work, whereas “Progressive” economics have been shown to create modern-day France at their best.

    He also hasn’t looked at environmental cleanliness versus income at any point in the past 50 years, either.

    That being said, it’s easier to refute these zeebs than deal with the “Because God Said So” types, which is why I’ve focused more on converting those on the Left to at least make common cause on certain issues. They, however, have been steadfastly blinded like JmJ to how they could achieve their goals with different means and have preferred to become an irrelevant force in American politics.

    Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be talking about Democrats having a chance in the next election if Republicans hadn’t tired of shooting themselves in the foot and decided to puncture major organs.

  76. I find most of the 2008 candidates from both parties to be lacking in their appeal to libertarians. Mark Sanford may have been a strong candidate for the GOP, but he’s stated rather clearly that he won’t run. As a disclaimer, I am a supporter of the idea that libertarians should, at least for the time being, align with the left, although in particular I want to encourage more libertarians to follow the example of Frank Gonzalez (www.electfrank.com/) and actually run as Democrats. I think this helps with the goal of educating voters more than running as third party candidates that are often ignored by the media.

    My personal opinion is that if you’re going to vote in the presidential primary for either of the two parties, pick the Democratic Party and support Russ Feingold. While others have pointed out his failings, particularly McCain-Feingold, I think it’s clear that he’s the best candidate out there when it comes to protecting civil liberties, ending the War in Iraq, and having the balls to actually use the veto to enforce spending restraint. Help him get the Democratic nomination and feel free to still vote for the Libertarian Party candidate in the general election.

    Other high-profile politicians I like are former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, current New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson, current New Hampshire Senator John Sununu, and former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles (who lost the 2004 Senate race but may make a come back in the future). I was a Paul Hackett supporter and I was very angry to see the DSCC force him out. Looking at the House, I like Ron Paul, but find most of the other so-called ‘libertarian-leaning Republicans’ to be lacking in actions, not just rhetoric. There are a number of low-profile members of the Congressional Black Caucus, particularly Danny Davis from Illinois, who I admire. Although they do display some unfortuante paternalistic tendencies, Congressman Davis in particular has been a strong voice in opposition to the War on Drugs.

  77. aside from some purely commercial technological advancements

    Ha ha ha ha ha, that’s funny. Yeah, aside from that.

    But statists can always fall back on (wait for it) ROADS. Okay okay, let’s just limit governments to making roads. Then at least they can’t fuck up too bad.

  78. If the US cut back its military to what was really neccessary, then there would be less war. If the US had had to have a draft b4 it could have invaded Iraq, then there would have been no Iraq invasion. In their hearts, I think everybody knows this. It is only when you have a lot of extra soldiers and weapons lying around that you get tempted to use them where unneccessary.

    Dave, what planet are you living on?

    The US military was substantially cut back during the 1990s (remember the “peace dividend”?). The Army lost about 6 divisions. The Navy shrank from over 600 ships to just about 400 today. The Air Force mothballed several squadrons of aircraft, not to mention the fact that hundreds of Minuteman missles were decomissioned.

    Indeed, if Bill Clinton hadn’t been able to reduce the overall military budget by a third, he never would have been able to cut the deficit.

    So the ’90s were wonderful time for military budget-cutters, yet Peace failed to break out. Perhaps it’s because the US military isn’t responsible for most of the worlds’s conflicts.

    Historically speaking, the relative size of the US military is the last thing our leaders consider before going to war.

  79. “There is, of course, the authoritarian impulse even in greenish political types, and I think that offering Roe vs. Wade to the right as a peace offering is the only way to go on this. I believe that states should decide whether or not to allow abortion. If they want their state to be a medeival hellhole, I say we let them rot from the inside out. They’ll get the idea eventually.”

    What kind of crrrrazy alternative universe you been livin in, where libertarians align with the greens, offer up Roe v Wade as a “peace offering” and anything, ANYTHING, is accomplished by it?

    A couple things: 1) if you’d ever gone to a Ralph Nader speech, you’d already know damn well that libertarians align with the greens like vinegar aligns with baking soda. Those fuckers are authoritarian to the bone, if nothing else. 2) Republicans don’t want to overturn Roe v Wade. They want it on the fray, to keep in their pocket so that they can whip it out and use it as a wedge issue to win votes whenever they want. So, that’s no “peace offering”.

  80. I didn’t expect this discussion to be so politician-centric…

    Otherwise, it’s just the inverse of the usual “I hate the left/I hate the right” stuff that comes up. Or not even the inverse, going by some of these posts.

  81. Jersey’s comments on my responses are bewildering.

    As for war, I thought I made it clear that if there is a war the libertarian state would have a military to deal with it. I agree that wars can be unavoidable and unpredictable. I don’t think libertarians have a foolproof plan to prevent all wars. Who does?

    As for poverty, he acts like we already have a free market, and it has failed. Firstly, we don’t have a truly free market. Secondly, if you compare the freest markets with the least free markets, across the world and throughout history, you see a correlation between freedom and wealth, and lack of freedom and poverty. More freedom equals more wealth. Maybe Jersey is complainig that libertarians don’t have a foolproof plan to make sure every single person is rich. Who does?

    As for disease, my responses are similar; nobody has a plan to end all disease, and the U.S. which has more freedom produces more drugs than other places which have less freedom. Jersey’s implication that because some drugs come about through government-funded research that those drugs could not have been devised with private money is odd.

  82. Fyodor,

    Do you know ANY history? Uncoerced, my ass.

    andy,

    Tahnk you for pointing out what I don’t know without ever pointing out exactly what it is I don’t know.

    JMJ

  83. Why? How do you get that from that? Driving on a public highway with distracting profanity emblazoned on your vehicle should be a fined offense. What that has to do with First Amendment rights is beyond me. You have no “right” to drive in the first place, Akira. Look it up.

    Talk about your lies of omission. You left out all the hemming and hawing over how horrible it would be for the youngings to see “dirty” words plastard on someones car. That, and you danced around the your statements regarding how an Americian secularist magazine republishing the Mohhammed cartoons in the states would somehow inflame the Right over illegal immigration even.

    (That last one made as much sense as your comments on how gun owners (whom you catagorize as rustics) only want firearms so they can shoot minorities.)

    As for whether or not the first amendment covers bumper stickers, let’s look it up…

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Nope doesn’t say …except roads… anywhere in the the text.

    Also, can you site evidence to show that driver distraction by bumper stickers poses a menace to our national roadways?

  84. Driving on a public highway with distracting profanity emblazoned on your vehicle should be a fined offense. What that has to do with First Amendment rights is beyond me. You have no “right” to drive in the first place, Akira. Look it up.

    A) So you get to decide what is “distracting” (since apparently you do not think all bumperstickers fit the bill) and you have no idea what it has to do with the 1st Amendment? Rich.

    B) We only have no right to drive, legally speaking, because the government denies it to us. Depending on how you mean this, it is either a tautology or a committal of the logical fallacy known as “appeal to authority.” The current legal state of affairs obviously says nothing about whether there should be a right to drive.

  85. Dave W,

    How would you propose to keep people from making too much money? Do “true libertarians” support some kind of ceiling on how much property or income an individual or company can have? Who decides when someone has too much? And, after it is determined that someone has too much, how do you get that excess from them, and who ends up with it?

  86. Uhh, yeah, sure, I’m all good with aligning with someone on the anti-authoritarian left… I just can’t find anyone who belongs to that club anymore. Anyone else know of someone…anyone really, on the anti-authoritarian left?

  87. EDIT:

    JMJ’s quote should be initialized.

    “someone’s car”

    “…illegal immigration.”

    “Can you cite…”

  88. LoganFerree,

    Craig Benson? Speaking as a New Hampshire native, I have to say I find this a curious choice to say the least. Or are you working from the principle that incompetent leadership is the best leadership since it discredits government in general?

  89. Evan,

    You provided my favorite comment on the thread so far.

    “1) if you’d ever gone to a Ralph Nader speech, you’d already know damn well that libertarians align with the greens like vinegar aligns with baking soda. Those fuckers are authoritarian to the bone, if nothing else.”

  90. “How does a real libertarian address war? Poverty? Disease? They don’t. They are really just Social Darwinists, like many young people who think themselves immortal”

    Jersey is hilarious. It’s like he thinks that if he says something enough times, it will make it true. I’ve never seen such a strong willingness to be and remain ignorant.

    “Well, this is what I mean. You’re philosophy simply avoids war, when we all know that war is often unavoidable and highly unpredictable.”

    That “philosophy” doesn’t avoid war—it just makes it less likely. Dense, dense, dense, you are.

    “Okay, but what happens what you have those “free markets” but you still have poverty? Again, you are putting ideology ahead of reality.”

    Well, hey, why don’t we see what happens first, Jersey? Anyhow, the idea is that the state is not a poverty-buster. There will always be poverty, and there is no state program that can eliminate it.

    “Well, since most all medicines and therapies start out with public funding, you’re wrong. Proven wrong”

    No, Jersey, your logic is fatally flawed here. Let’s say that there’s a little town in the middle of nowhere. One day, I declare that I’m going to be the only one to design, make and sell automobiles for our little town. Since I’m a good car maker, everyone agrees. So, for years and years, the only cars in town come from me.

    Does this mean that cars necessarily can only come from me? Of course not.

    As such, your assertion above is a logical fallacy. Nothing is proven except your ignorance of logic.

  91. Are “true libertarians” anything like “real scotsmen?”

  92. vanya, this may be from my perspective as an out of stater, but Craig Benson openly courted the Free State Project and I had been given the impression from most libertarian blogs that he seemed to hold true to a libertarian ideology. I’m sorry if I was wrong.

  93. fyodor:

    Tendencies on the left I prefer:

    1. They’re cooler
    2. They’re more fun
    3. They have better taste in beer

    Man, which lefties are you hanging out with? All the lefties I know are vegans, teetotallers, believe that every ounce of food you put into your body is some kind of medicine. They won’t smoke, or associate with someone who smokes. Fun is generally considered a four letter word. But what fun they do have is sitting in a room listening to the Indigo Girls and ‘relating’.

  94. How would you propose to keep people from making too much money? Do “true libertarians” support some kind of ceiling on how much property or income an individual or company can have? Who decides when someone has too much? And, after it is determined that someone has too much, how do you get that excess from them, and who ends up with it?

    1. Antitrust. The decisions of when a company has too much “market power” should be done the same way the courts did it before the Reagan administration.

    2. Tax wealth instead of income or consumption. The tax can be flat, so long as the baseline is wealth, rather than income or gains.

    3. Shift tax burdens from individuals to businesses. The balance between individual taxation and business taxation should be changed to what it was in 1950 or 1900.

  95. Do you know ANY history? Uncoerced, my ass.

    Ah, well insulting me and getting puffy certainly settles the matter.

    Look, my point was not to convince that you’re wrong and we’re right because that’s obviously not going to happen, and I accept that.

    You could use some of that type of acceptance yourself, methinks.

    My point was to show you how your view of libertarians was incorrect. You may disagree with our conclusions, but we have no problem incorporating the concept of “progress” into our view of how the world works. Erroneously in your view, of course, but we are not somehow oblivious to the entire notion, as you implied.

    Pointing such things out can be fruitful for a civilized conversation, y’see.

    Oh but I know, you’re right and we live on another planet.

    Whatever.

  96. What? What planet do you live on? The Romans didn’t “coerce” to bring roads, schools, water, and peace to the ancient world? The Brits? The Chinese? Us!? This is not only wrong, it’s silly. You can point to a few examples, but almost all major progress in human history, perhaps aside from some purely commercial technological advancements, came from governmental coercion, aggression, or investment. Period. You’d have to be utterly historically illiterate to believe otherwise.

    Major progress?

    Electricity – Private
    Lighting – Private
    Printing Press – Private
    Library – Private
    Radio – Private
    Telephone – Private
    Personal Computer – Private
    Photography – Private
    Video – Private
    Flushing Toilet – Private
    Refrigerator – Private
    Automobile – Private
    Locomotive – Private
    Aircraft – Private
    Penicillin – Private

  97. “Culturally, I would say that the South Park guys are about as libertarian as it gets, although the creator of The Simpsons always struck me as having libertarian impulses, as well. ”

    But The Simpsons makes light of the super-rich Montgomery Burns. (“Simpson, eh?”) No doubt the creators want to create a Soviet-type command economy.

    I drifted into the anti-authoritarian Left b/c I didn’t like religious conservatives. But it seems to me as if many “pro-business” libertarian types are just saying things as if they’re meant to impress their manager or boss, as if they’re angling for a promotion. Anything that hurts a corporation’s ability to make money is “statist” or “authoritarian.”

    How’s that Enron trial going, by the way? Was Enron part of the much-vaunted “Free Market”?

  98. Electricity – Private
    Lighting – Private
    Printing Press – Private
    Library – Private
    Radio – Private
    Telephone – Private
    Personal Computer – Private
    Photography – Private
    Video – Private
    Flushing Toilet – Private
    Refrigerator – Private
    Automobile – Private
    Locomotive – Private
    Aircraft – Private
    Penicillin – Private

    But thank god for those Roads….

  99. Look, other than the roads, what have the Romans ever done for us?

    OK, and the aqueducts.

    And they kept the peace.

    But other than the roads, peace, and aqueducts, what have the Romans ever done for us?

  100. Having been chastened by experience and Reason Magazine, I’m kind of skeptical in regards to the whole “do we align ourselves with leftists or rightists” thing. The problem as I see it is that, realistically speaking, compromise is necessary. If libertarians are to make any headway, it’s not going to be by hermetically sealing themselves from mainstream american politics. That means, we have to work with SOMEONE. And yet, neither the left nor the right will ever recognize our positions as equally valid. If we partner-up with one side we’ll just be used in the same way we were with the republicans. So, unless the libertarian movement can enter into political alliances as an equal, compromise of this sort will never work.

    I think we should work more closely with the moderate, centrist wing of the mainstream political parties to promote the regula “social liberalism fiscal conservatism.” That way, people may still disagree in certain particulars, but at least a workable alternative to extreme statism can be offered. Therefore, maybe McCain and Feingold and their ilk, despite the libertarian difference of opinion in many areas, are who we need to be looking at rather than the ideologues we deal with on a regular basis.

  101. How’s that Enron trial going, by the way? Was Enron part of the much-vaunted “Free Market”?

    Actually, no. Enron was part of the trading cartel created by the government’s restrictive policies on energy.

    Much like NBC or Clearchannel aren’t part of a free-market.

  102. thoreau:

    for that matter, what have the aqueducts ever done for me, except give me some purdy pictures to slap on my Windows desktop? What, you think that humans wouldn’t have figured out how to get water from point A to point B if the aqueducts hadn’t been commissioned by the Roman government? Psshhhht. And roads? Same thing. Somehow, I think that the free market just might have been able to figure out how to pave some strips of land to make them more easily manueverable for carts. These aren’t exactly novel concepts.

  103. What, you think that humans wouldn’t have figured out how to get water from point A to point B if the aqueducts hadn’t been commissioned by the Roman government? Psshhhht.

    Somebody needs to watch more Monty Python…

  104. for that matter, what have the aqueducts ever done for me, except give me some purdy pictures to slap on my Windows desktop? What, you think that humans wouldn’t have figured out how to get water from point A to point B if the aqueducts hadn’t been commissioned by the Roman government? Psshhhht. And roads? Same thing. Somehow, I think that the free market just might have been able to figure out how to pave some strips of land to make them more easily manueverable for carts. These aren’t exactly novel concepts.

    You’re in the People’s Front of Judea, aren’t you?

  105. Splinter!

  106. Penicillin – Private

    does anybody know if this one is true? According to the wiki, Fleming had his job at St. Mary’s teaching hospital in London, but I can’t figure out whether St. Mary’s got its funding from the public or private sector (or both) in 1928.

  107. “Somehow, I think that the free market just might have been able to figure out how to pave some strips of land to make them more easily manueverable for carts. These aren’t exactly novel concepts.”

    No they are not, but when the central government in Western Europe broke down in the 4th and 5th Centuries and there was no longer a strong central army to stop banditry, they sure stopped getting built for about a thousand years. The free market can only operate with a central government to maintain order and protect property rights. Further, things like roads just don’t do well under the market. If you truely have free market roads, you end up with a lot of rent seekers charging what the market will bear for every stretch of road they own. A good example of this was the Rhine River in the middle ages. The Rhine was the highway of the 14th Century. All along the Rhine, huge numbers of indpendent dutcheys and fiefdoms owned a piece of the highway, built a castle and charged a toll to everyone who went by. It was an enormous drag on the economy. When one government finally took it over and ended all of the separate tolls, the economy boomed. Yes, the market can build a highway, but that does not mean it will do so in the most efficient manner.

  108. The wiki makes it clear that the scaling up of penicillin from an experimental drug to a large-scale treatment was primarily a result of gov’t efforts related to WWII>

  109. Not to get sci-fi on folks, but does Jersey’s comment about how he’s for “progress” and libertarians are for their “ideology” (as if progress isn’t an ideology in itself) remind anyone else of The Operative from Serenity?

    Operative: “I believe in something that is greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.”

    Mal: “So me and mine got to lie down and die so you can live in your better world?”

    To Jersey, “progress” is all that matters and he doesn’t seem to be adverse to having the state overlook our rights so he can have his progressive world. Meanwhile, most libertarians ideology is driven by freedom; the desire to make their own choices for regardless of what the despotic beuracrats or the fickle mob demands. The beauty of being driven by freedom is you can choose to do or choose to do not. When “progress” is the only goal that drives you, then choice must be curtailed by those who “know better” lest you don’t advance toward whatever illustrious utopia you are progressing toward. After all, YOU might make the “wrong” choice.

    That’s what’s so nauseating about Jersey’s comments: His smug implication that we all must enslave ourselves to the State (preferably one he approves of) so he can have his “perfect world.”

    Libertarianism isn’t perfect. But I’ll take my chances with that than anything Jersey has to offer.

  110. does anybody know if this one is true? According to the wiki, Fleming had his job at St. Mary’s teaching hospital in London, but I can’t figure out whether St. Mary’s got its funding from the public or private sector (or both) in 1928.

    It was private, then later swallowed by the state health system.

  111. thoreau:

    Oh, was that some monty python reference? Ugh. Wouldn’t know. I’m firmly planted in the “nobody needs to watch more monty python—if anything, they need to watch less camp. I’m also in the “the next nerd that starts shreeking ‘NEEE, NEEE’ is going to get a punch in the crotch” camp.

    I do realize the peril of talking shit about Monty Python on a tinfoil-hat-libertarian blog; I can already envision the flood of irate nerdly comments that I’m going to get thrown at me. But, alas, I just really hate Monty Python.

  112. That’s OK, Evan.

    What’s funny is that John showed up to argue with your serious response to my Monty Python quote.

    Send in the llamas!

  113. The wiki makes it clear that the scaling up of penicillin from an experimental drug to a large-scale treatment was primarily a result of gov’t efforts related to WWII

    Ah. So progress is no longer invention, rather distribution.

    Well thank FSM that the government was there and ready to distribute the nothingness that it was creating.

  114. Was Enron part of the much-vaunted “Free Market”?

    Do you really believe that the environment Enron existed in was a free market?

    Maybe you should ask some Europeans what they think of Enron style business. But first, learn how they say “Business as usual”, in French, German or Italian.

    At least in the US people who pull that shit go on trial.

  115. Peter K,

    You said

    “How’s that Enron trial going, by the way? Was Enron part of the much-vaunted “Free Market”?”

    Without meaning to you made a very good argument demonstrating how much better the private sector is then the government.

    Enron no longer exists and those responsible for fraud are being prosecuted or are already convicted and in jail.

    Now tell me how many people have been fired from the FBI, CIA, or DOT after their failures in the 9/11 attacks? Do a google search on the interior department, and Indian trust fund for another example of how the government steals money from poor people and no one is ever punished for it.

    But I guess it is ok to rob from and oppress poor people in the indian trust fund case because it is the government that is doing the robbing and oppressing.

  116. Evan,

    My knowledge of Monty Python is more limited than yours. Sorry to waste your time responding to a non-serious posting.

  117. Questioner: The wiki makes it clear that the scaling up of penicillin from an experimental drug to a large-scale treatment was primarily a result of gov’t efforts related to WWII

    Goiter: Ah. So progress is no longer invention, rather distribution.

    I didn’t mean to imply this. I am just want the facts on the table. I am willing to believe that St. Mary’s wasn’t subsidized in 1928 (tho a link would have been nice). Whatever the ultimate, true public/private split on penicillin itself, there was a clear gov’t role in making this drug the blockbuster it became. It is difficult to believe you about St. Mary’s hospital, when you are so quick to minimize how important WWII was in the development of this particular drug.

  118. On the right:
    Ron Paul
    Newt Gengrich,
    Federalism
    The NRA

    On the left:
    the porn industry,

    Of the top of my head this seems reasonable, I am sure some of you will let me know if I am wrong.

  119. Beer – Private
    Whiskey – Private
    Aspirin – Private
    Diswasher – Private
    Microwave Oven – Private
    Screws – Private
    Engine – Private
    Air Conditioning – Private

  120. Believe what you’d like Dave, and do your own damn research.

  121. Believe what you’d like Dave, and do your own damn research

    Which means that you don’t have a cite. It also means that you are probably incorrect or lying. Real scholars can cite when challenged.

  122. Dave,

    Why don’t you sue him? It’ll all come out in discovery. 🙂

    Joking aside, it is difficult to find any developments that were done without government support – governments have their tendrils in so many things that independently doing anything significant is nigh impossible.

    On penicilin, of course when government officials needed to patch up injured soldiers so that they could more effectively destroy property and murder people they embraced and promoted penicilin. This in no way means that there would have been no widespread adoption of anti-biotics without government support.

  123. Well, I think that “cooties” is really the honest answer for me, but it’s also a pretty boring one for the sake of this exercise, so…

    On the left…

    1) the ACLU (sort of)
    2) various groups/individuals that take separation of church and state VERY seriously
    3) the anti-prohibition crowd

    On the right…

    1) The NRA? Um. Geez. I dunno. I guess. But that group is pretty cootified overall. Besides, yeah, I whole-heartedly and without reservation support your right to bear arms, but the fact that you’re so enthusiastic about shooting stuff frankly creeps me out a bit.

    2) All the people on the right who talk a good game on free markets. I guess we’re marginally better off with these folks than without them, but, let’s face it, their proferred justification for the free market is rarely based on individual rights, but rather on the social good it provides. And we all know that can lead to all kinds of shenanigans.

    You know…screw this. I’m going back to “cooties.”

  124. Forceps – Private
    Hybrids – Private
    Assembly Line – Private

  125. Having not read the last seventy-five posts, I will toss this out:

    Nobody is moved to enter public service as the result of a “calling” to LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE.

    The libertarian (if that is what we wish to call him/ her) who believes in letting people fuck up their own lives, on their own initiative, without assistance from the government, is doomed to forever lurk, powerless, at the fringe of political discourse.

    Maybe “our” obnoxious “Don’t Nanny Me” buzzing will have some infinetesimal impact on public policy, but don’t hold your breath.

  126. Being a libertarian means never having to say “I agree with you 100 percent!”

    As a kid, aside from appreciating the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, my pro-liberty ideas mostly came “from the left.” Example? Gore Vidal on civil liberties and against imperialism. I liked the idea of liberty, early on, not merely “for myself” but as a way of expressing respect for others, and for encouraging human potential. Authoritarian attitudes didn’t impress me, and conservatives generally exuded authoritarianism. But then, I was a kid; that in itself warps one’s views of things.

    Growing up, I came to realize that the left had unreasonable hatreds and fears of private property (which I could see was my purchase on separateness — I didn’t want to be forced into any group), and a huge blind spot for state power… “when they were in charge.”

    But still, on the left, I’ve enjoyed many writings and rantings by Noam Chomsky (though he’s obviously whacked on gobs of issues) and Alexander Cockburn (who seems to be getting better with age). I used to read Chris Hitchens, but anyone that fooled by The Way of Empire has gone too far. (But the, “going too far” is something left-wing writers do at least as often as right-wing authors.)

    I have no real love for any current right-wing writers, and certainly not from the pundit class. But then most of my reading is literary, or philosophical, or economic. Left and right are not the main foci of my life.

    And I wouldn’t recommend them being the focus of any libertarian’s.

    I have little use for leaning either left or right. Libertarianism should be a centrist doctrine. It isn’t now, I know, but that’s largely a cultural and political artifact of a strange time. It won’t succeed until it dons the mantle of centrism, of moderation.

    And its radicalism is seen as moderate, centrist — not abandoned.

  127. Which means that you don’t have a cite. It also means that you are probably incorrect or lying. Real scholars can cite when challenged.

    I refuse to give a nit any of my sources or background info, well, because they are a nit. Find it yourself and stop piggybacking on other people’s work.

  128. “My knowledge of Monty Python is more limited than yours. Sorry to waste your time responding to a non-serious posting.”

    good point about the roads not being built by any private citizen, while there was not a government to protect a free (or less than free) market.

    I could be wrong but it seems to me that some form of government is necessary, it’s one legitmate function is to provide protection for it’s citizens, or be part of the oganizing of said protection. Not a whole lot of which is as necessary with an armed citizenry, but still.

    I am sure there is a clearer way of saying that.

  129. How’d you all miss this McClassic?

    […] it’s better to be like feral animal than a civilized human being.

    Back in its context, this says that a “civilized human being” is one who blesses, agitates for, or, even better, openly participates in the brutal theft and flagrant squandering of the majority of the products of the labor of the workin’ man–so long as that’s not done in any vulgar, capitalist, “Free Market” way; organized mass violent expropriation is the classy move. A “feral animal” is one like us who sees that happening and says, “Shit ain’t right. We should free those people.”

    Surely now we libertarians can admit that the left are our moral betters, acting as they do from such divine lordly principle. Not LIKE FERAL ANIMAL(sic)!

    We’d better admit it, or the suddenly much-linked Roderick Long might sneer down at us again from his new post in the rhetorical guard tower of the Eternal State.

  130. On penicilin, of course when government officials needed to patch up injured soldiers so that they could more effectively destroy property and murder people they embraced and promoted penicilin. This in no way means that there would have been no widespread adoption of anti-biotics without government support.

    Government medical research (like that other useful gov’t thing called the interstates) are often done on a security pretext, when they should be done for more forthright reasons.

    Still, between 1928 and 1941, pharmaceutical companies had a big opportunity to help penicillin along. They decided not to and the development was very slow. It should be born in mind that gov’t regulation of the research was much laxer then, so you can’t really blame the FDA for once. I have a really hard time seeing this history as a vindication of free enterprise as the be-all and end-all. I think it does prove that government intervention is sometimes neccessary when it comes to medical research. Am sad that it took a war to get’er done on the penicillin.

  131. Since I am a centrist, I can comment from the other direction.

    The party most likely to incorporate idea(l)s from the libertarians… Greens. The fair trade movement is a big part of the same group as the Greens, and it is a free market solution to a societal problem the greens think needs a solution (see http://www.rmi.org/ as a starting place).

    Yeah, there are old hippy-commies involved too, but the kids tend more towards the emergent decentralized solutions (a refinement on the classical libertarian view of the world).

    The Greens and the Libertarians are the two largest independent parties. A coalition almost makes them able to elect people. If that is your goal.

  132. I am attracted to libertarianism because I really really don’t like being told what to do. I really really don’t like people taking my stuff.

    And I like guns a lot too.

    And growing up, I had pride in being American, and as such viewed the Soviets as an enemy. And libertarianism seems to me to be the antithesis of Communism.

  133. That being said, it’s easier to refute these zeebs than deal with the “Because God Said So” types, which is why I’ve focused more on converting those on the Left to at least make common cause on certain issues. They, however, have been steadfastly blinded like JmJ to how they could achieve their goals with different means and have preferred to become an irrelevant force in American politics.

    Precisely. If JMJ could just chill out with his superior dance for a little bit, and actually read some of what we say looking for common ground, he might actually find some. Instead, he’s going for constant sniping and gainsaying everything here. He consistently reinforces the notion that ‘progressives’ will spend so much time being pissed at us for not hating profit that they’ll never listen to anything else we have to say.

    If he is typical of the progressives, they’ll be no less hostile than the right.

  134. If you think libertarians belong on the right, please list three right-wing leaders, groups, or broad tendencies that you’d be happy to embrace. Ambidextrous readers are welcome to list potential allies of both the left and the right, and of course you’re free to announce that both sides of the spectrum are hopelessly, thoroughly infected with cooties.

    I’m not familiar enough with any politicians on either the left or the right, so broad tendencies are probably my best bet to get over that mountain… I mean, three? …you want three? I’m havin’ a hard time comin’ up with one!

    In the broadest sense, I support the Democrats because of their current opposition to executive power. …I expect their opposition will change once they get back in the White House, but because they’re out at the moment, I support them for that in the broadest sense, so that’s my number one. I don’t think there’s anything else on the left I can associate in a general way with anything I can support.

    I still think of the Republicans as the party of smaller government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, etc. …I think the current administration and the Republican leadership has Benedict Arnolded those principles, but, for the time being, I think of that as a combination of character flaws, being in charge of the purse strings for so long and the willingness of the GOPs grass roots to give the party a free pass for the duration of the war on terror.

    …but the grass roots will survive both the Iraq War and this leadership, and when they do, one of the major parties, in a very general way, will have to pick up the flag of smaller government again. …it’ll probably be the party in opposition. It seems to me that there’s something very libertarian about always supporting the loyal opposition.

    Till our fallen banner gets picked up by someone, I say a cooties pox on both their houses.

  135. Not that a war could’ve spiked the need for anti-biotics at all or anything.

  136. “How’s that Enron trial going, by the way?

    Seems we hear this every once in a while. Can someone please explain to me the point of this rhetorical question? The best I can make out is that those who ask it think the Enron trial is some great embarrassment for those who believe laissez-faire economic policies? Like asking a war supporter, “How’s that Mission Accomplished going?” or some such?

    Was Enron part of the much-vaunted “Free Market”?”

    Someone has already pointed out that Enron operated in a highly controlled market. But what if Enron was part of the free market? This is supposed to show that capitalism doesn’t work or something? One big business is run into the ground by frauds, and suddenly capitalism doesn’t work? Oh yeah, that’s right, I’d be starving with no roof over my head without governments to make war to spur pennicillin research.

  137. A coalition almost makes them able to elect people. If that is your goal.

    People get elected all the time, and there’s not a damn thing we can do to stop it! 🙂

    Okay, you mean elect people more to our liking, right? Helping to elect Greens in order to elect Libertarians would not be much of a bargain as we disagree with them vehemently with them as much as we may agree with them. Not that I would rule it out, but as I say, it would hardly make the world a better place from our POV. And besides, 3% plus 4% hardly amounts to much anyway.

    As for “fair trade,” I didn’t read your link, but if the Greens want to bring it about without any government involvement, then it really doesn’t have anything to do with elective politics. I’m sure they can do their charity work just fine without your suggested “coalition.” If, OTOH, they want to use government coercion, then of course libertarians would be against it. But then, you probably don’t even believe what you’re saying. At least I hope not.

  138. And besides, 3% plus 4% hardly amounts to much anyway.

    Holy shit, the LP is polling 3%? That’s a 10x improvement!

  139. No they are not, but when the central government in Western Europe broke down in the 4th and 5th Centuries and there was no longer a strong central army to stop banditry, they sure stopped getting built for about a thousand years.

    And then the state came back into the fore- leaving us with…government banditry which exists to this day.

  140. I am just here to pick at nits.
    No they are not, but when the central government in Western Europe broke down in the 4th and 5th Centuries and there was no longer a strong central army to stop banditry, they sure stopped getting built for about a thousand years.

    Are you saying that between 500 and 1500CE there was no central government in Europe? I think that the Holy Roman Empire belies this claim.
    The lack of co-ordinated road building had more to do with lack of economic drive by the ruling elite than anything else. Why spend money to build roads for peasants and merchants to increase your tax base when it is cheaper to conscript peasants into warring against your neighbors and taking thier lands and assets. The Kindgom owned the lands, not the people. When the governement stifles almost all of the economic structure by overtaxation and minimalizing private ownership the economic engine has a tendency to stop working. In this instance, the central government was the bandit.

  141. Free trade is fair trade, so long as it’s voluntary. The definition of “fair”: everyone involved agreed on the terms.

  142. Can someone please explain to me the point of this rhetorical question

    I think it goes something like this: Enron lied, cheated, and stole to make money and hurt a lot of people doing it. Enron is a privately owned company (despite the state control of their market). Free markets favor private companies. Ergo We shouldn’t have free markets because they favor private companies who lie, cheat, and steal to make money and hurt a lot of people doing it.

    I don’t believe it either, but that’s their point.

  143. It always trips me out to see the hard core libertarians grunt “URRR” at all government while they drive on government roads protected by government police breathing air protected by government intervention eating meat without maggots thanks to the government (whom the private industry folks had to beg to come in and police them after they screwed up so bad folks only bought European meat) and protected by government armies from foriegn armies. By the way, did I mention that you actually have a say in government, but absolutely no say at your private workplace. Long live liberty! If libertarianism is the tendency to want to promote more freedom of lifestyle for folks, then God bless ’em. But if it means being a tool for corporate interests by damning any collective organizing to tame such interests then it can kiss off, really.

  144. Screws – Private
    Engine – Private
    Air Conditioning – Private

    Ohh, ooh, I got one:

    Privates – Public

    Make of that what you will.

  145. And yet, neither the left nor the right will ever recognize our positions as equally valid. If we partner-up with one side we’ll just be used in the same way we were with the republicans. So, unless the libertarian movement can enter into political alliances as an equal, compromise of this sort will never work.

    An excellent suggestion, other-Eric. Though I really don’t see there being enough libertarians to make up components of political alliances.

    I suspect our best bet is to try to contaminate both parties with our ideas to move the entire political debate in a non-statist direction. Of course, there currently are libertarian groups in both major parties, and they’ve been less than effective, going by results. I don’t know what the solution is – scaling up? Getting a more effective batch of libertarians in? A libertarian MoveOn (though, again, something more effective)?

  146. It always trips me out to see the hard core libertarians grunt

    Hey, at least they’re in favor of leaving you in peace to trip. 😉

  147. eric the .5b,

    Thanks. I totally agree with you. It just seems the whole “with whom do we align” is a moot point until we’re seen as equals. If compromise is a practical necessity (it is), we don’t want to be the only ones compromising– that is, becoming tools for one party/ideology or another is self-defeating. But again you’re right. I don’t have any suggestions of what to do.

    Ken,

    “eating meat without maggots thanks to the government (whom the private industry folks had to beg to come in and police them after they screwed up so bad folks only bought European meat)”

    Sounds like market solution to the problems of tainted meat to me. It also sounds like the meat industry used the government to save their own asses when they should have gone under (neo-mercantilism, right?). What’s more, need I say it again?, most libertarians agree there are legitimate functions of a government– mainly, the protection against enemies foreign and domestic (thus the need for police officers and the military).

  148. Fyodor
    “As for “fair trade,” I didn’t read your link, but if the Greens want to bring it about without any government involvement, then it really doesn’t have anything to do with elective politics.”

    Well, first, read the link before you comment, but if want government policies that encourage freemarket solutions, you are talking about government’s role in the market(it will always have one, sorry to tell you), so having people who believe in decentralized market solutions to problems in your government is better than those who believe in centrally planned solutions.

    “But then, you probably don’t even believe what you’re saying. At least I hope not.”

    What a strange assumption. That would be like me assuming that since you believe in Santa Claus (aka, the pure freemarket) that you don’t believe he keeps a list of who is naughty or nice (i.e., who is a nanny statist).

    I do believe that libertarians are more likely to find an audience for their ideas among Greens than other parties since there is overlap on some very substantive portions of their platform.

    Together they might get to about 3%, but with a good candidate a libertarian/green coalition might pull in substantial numbers from the center Dem/Rep parties. Running on market driven solutions to environmental issues, fur instance.

  149. It might not amout to much, but Pandagon today has some nice things to say about the LP candidate for Alabama governor on her blog today. It helps that the Republican is Roy “Graven Image” Moore and the Democrat is or is about to be under indictment, but the majority of the comments were quite favorable. I’m sorry I can’t post a link; my one HTML class is a blurry memory. It’s a pretty easy blog to find, however. I recommend the post highly.

  150. Ken,

    Can you be more, um, specific?

    To be specific myself, corporate interests can be expressed badly when they’re expressed through coercion (sabotaging the competition) or fraud. (Third part externalities such as pollution of the commons, is inevitably a more complicated matter.) Government, OTOH, can be very good when it’s limited to doing what it’s supposed to do, punishing those who have violated others’ rights.

    But obviously we have a government that goes way beyond that, and most corporate/business activities are centered around mutually voluntary decisions. That’s why libertarians’ animus is aimed mostly at the former. But parse it down to actual issues, and you might find we’re not as uniformly pro-business and anti-government as your caricature makes us out to be.

    That said, if you want us to kiss off over genuine policy differences, well I suppose the feeling would be mutual…

  151. It always trips me out to see the hard core libertarians grunt “URRR” at all government while they drive on government roads…

    Hey, we wake up with the infrastructure we’ve been given, not the one we want!

    I’ll go on record (for the minute amount it’s worth) and say I’ll give all those government services up right now. I’ll freely associate with like-minded folks to build and maintain roads, protect and defend our private property, uphold a torts court system to handle “externalities,” support food companies that produce and serve safe food, and arm to the freakin’ teeth and contract with as necessary to scare off trespassers and state agents alike.

    Long live liberty! If libertarianism is the tendency to want to promote more freedom of lifestyle for folks, then God bless ’em. But if it means being a tool for corporate interests by damning any collective organizing to tame such interests then it can kiss off, really.

    Scratch some libertarians and you’ll find corporate apologists. We’ve got to keep working on them, admittedly. However, dismissing everyone as being in big-moneyed pockets is absurd. Being against business subsidies, eminent domain, private pension takeovers by the state, patents/trademarks (no large consensus on this one!), and other forms of corporate welfare isn’t necessarily supportive of Giant Mega Transnational, Corp.

    Regarding Mr. Walker’s curiosity, I’m happy to embrace anyone or any group who’s firmly stated philosophy is to not only slow down and stop the power and reach of the state and other forms of aggression, but to roll them back until they reach zero. Maybe zero +1, in order to accommodate the inevitable psychotic tendencies of criminals and those they delude into supporting them.

  152. Well, first, read the link before you comment

    Like anyone else, I have choices to make regarding what to do with the limited resource known as my time. If you think my comment was useless since I admitted not reading the link, why did you bother responding?

    Anyway, I just went to the link and there was absolutely nothing on that page to explain what you’re talking about. I suppose I should try every link off of that link?

    Whatever’s on those links, I can tell you that the only way government can “encourage” any type of “solution” is through coercion. Unless you mean using the “bully pulpit” or somethng like that. Law IS coercion. If that coercion is used on anyone who has not previously violated someone else’s rights, libertarians would be against it, and it would not be a “freemarket solution,” by definition. The answer to poverty in the world is less interference in the market, not more.

  153. By the way, did I mention that you actually have a say in government, but absolutely no say at your private workplace.

    What a curious and utterly untrue thing to say.

    What “say” do I have in government? And before you say “vote”, I say “bullshit”. My vote has absolutely zero impact on the making of government policy.

    At least I know my boss and can talk to hime or someone else when I’m dissatisfied. True, he might not care, but, You know what?, worst comes to worst I can quit .

    Oh, I know that a pretty poor option, but, you know what?, when the goverment enacts a policy I don’t like I don’t even have that lousy option.

  154. “To Jersey, “progress” is all that matters and he doesn’t seem to be adverse to having the state overlook our rights so he can have his progressive world. Meanwhile, most libertarians ideology is driven by freedom; the desire to make their own choices for regardless of what the despotic beuracrats or the fickle mob demands. The beauty of being driven by freedom is you can choose to do or choose to do not. When “progress” is the only goal that drives you, then choice must be curtailed by those who “know better” lest you don’t advance toward whatever illustrious utopia you are progressing toward. After all, YOU might make the “wrong” choice.”

    “That’s what’s so nauseating about Jersey’s comments: His smug implication that we all must enslave ourselves to the State (preferably one he approves of) so he can have his “perfect world.”

    FATALITY

    Akira wins.

  155. i could never go left because of guns and taxes… the two issues on which i vote. not that i love operationally being part of the right, but the left has a horrendous record on both my issues…

    and, how is confiscatory fiscal policy through excessive social spending and over-taxation anti-authoritation? it’s the height of coercion, which in view is about as authoritarian as it gets… (there may be an answer in the thread above but i haven’t been able to read them all yet).

  156. I think if we belonged on the left or right, we wouldn’t be libertarians…

    Though the women on the left are usually much hotter.

  157. Three organizations on the left that I embrace, as a quasi-libertarian:

    ACLU
    Democratic Freedom Caucus
    Drug Policy Alliance

    Three broad tendencies of the left that libertarians can embrace:

    civil liberties
    reproductive choice
    opposition to corporate welfare

    Two Democratic politicians that libertarians can embrace:

    Couuncilman-Elect Mike Bozarth (D-St. Joseph, Mo.)
    U.S. House candidate Frank Gonzalez (D-Fl. 21)

    Some other Democratic politicians whom a libertarian might find somewhat palatable, if not perfect, are (in addition to those Logan Ferree mentioned above) Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Mt.), fmr. Gov. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wi.). I know, I have a hard time getting past Sen. Feingold’s co-sponsorship of BCRA, but he votes with the ACLU more often than any other senator, voted for the Coburn Amendment, which would have stripped some of the pork out of the recent transportation bill, voted against reauthorizing the ban on so-called “assault weapons,” and is rated quite highly by the Concord Coalition.

  158. Fyodor,

    There are some very quick links off that page (and many more extensive ones) so that you can explore the positions of anti-authoritarian left leaning folks.

    I wouldn’t want to assume you would be interested in expanding your view of how the government-economy relationship works, but your statements make me think that you do not really want to get beyond a simple less-is-more dichotomy. Less may be more some of the time, but smarter can also be more.

    Government coercion can be both negative (e.g., fines or prison for certain behaviors), and positive, thru rewards (e.g., tax breaks, access to infrastructure based on certain behaviors). The anti-authoritarian left might be those who think that government should emphasize positive coercion over negative, given that coercion is inherent in government(even in libertopia).

    Having smarter government policies from a libertarian perspective will require convincing others of the wisdom of minimal interference. Showing those that believe in smarter interference the evidence for less being more is far more likely to succeed, that is my main point here. But insisting on no interference makes it so you can’t shape the nature of the interference that will be implemented. It kind of leaves you out on the fringes with something to complain about, but it doesn’t do much to improve your life.

  159. Both left and right start out by asking the wrong questions, usually reach the wrong conclusions, and if I do agree with either side it’s usually for completely different reasons.
    But people on the left throw better parties, so I would rather side with them.

  160. Fyodor
    Your thoughts are valuable.
    Here is what I mean: for private enterprise to flourish (and I think that no society will make it without it) one MUST have government to help it. So libertarianism must NOT be defined as “everything the govt does is bad.” Govt. and Free enterprise are very vaulauble.

  161. Ken,

    In the late 17th century, the most prosperous (per capita) colony was Pennsylvania, which had the distinction of having gone several decades without any functioning government at all.

    You don’t need government for free markets to work. If the government keeps its interventions to a minimum and uses it to defend private property rights etc. then it can foster a nearly free-market which can be extremely prosperous. However, it is not a prerequisite.

    The only problem with historical anarchies is that they either get conquered by neighboring states or decide to form a government in the face of attacks by a neighboring state. In the case of Pennsylvania , the latter is what happened: I belive the experiment in anarchy was ended in the face of Indian attacks during the French Indian War – I don’t know if the Indians in question were in the pay of the French or the British, but they were in the pay of someone. Anyway, this prompted the colonists to create a state funded militia to defend themselves, and thus ended a great experiment. It’s a weird type of circular logic that the only thing you really need a state for is so that one group can defend itself from other states.

  162. Of course, one cannot promote anarchies without discussing Somalia. So I post a pretty insighful article titled, “Better Off Stateless: Somalia Before and After Government Collapse” which argues that as bad as things are there now, they are much better than during the time they had a government.

  163. JMJ–

    I said clearly what you didn’t understand: the arguments we’ve made on every single bloody issue you’ve raised.

    If you want to be an ignoramus, fine. But Burning Man is much more interesting if the Man isn’t made of straw. Otherwise, you’re just another “ya ya, look at me, I’m not you” who can be safely ignored except as an example of the kind of idiocy I get from the left, as opposed to the idiocy I get from the right (cue Virginia Postrel and Eric S. Raymond on Iraq).

  164. Came across this quote from CS Lewis the other day, and I think it germane at this point in the discussion:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33029.html

  165. After reading everything in this thread….Man, but I’m just crawling with “cooties”! I can align with neither Left nor Right, and mayhap not libertarian either. Sheesh! When does the next starship depart? 🙂

  166. Would you lot stop getting Monty Python wrong!

    It’s SPLITTERS!

    Jesus, some people….

    Also, I’m not a yank. Are ‘cooties’ what you get when you sleep with a ‘friendly’ girl?

  167. Mark, “cooties” refers to either:

    1) Head lice, or:

    2) An unspecified undesirable “something” that little boys who aren’t even aware of Definition #1 think they will “catch” if they come into physical contact with little girls.

  168. Thankyou Mr Darkly.

    The beauty of language never fails to amaze me.

  169. What is the shortest colloquial statement of libertarianism you have?

    “Leave me alone, I’m not hurting anyone” – ?

  170. In the old days there was some commonality with the left on abolishing the draft and legalizing drugs. But, they didn’t really mean it. If the US drafted into the Peace Corps most lefties would be damn proud to be a part of the draft. The real opposition is to war and they saw the obvious. Eliminate the draft and the source of warm bodies dries up. Well, that sort of happens in war anyway. The drug thing was bullshit too, just a cover to excuse the partying.

    I think the left is worse because they cry for personal freedom and then want everyone else to pay for it. At least the right demands that you go inherit your own money.

  171. We libertarians belong very much in the right. So with that in mind, here are my choices for leaders I support:

    1) David Dreier, 2) Dana Rohrabacher, 3) Ron Paul, and may he rest in peace 4) Ronald Reagan.

    The left used to play a good game on civil liberties, but now most liberals are even worse here than they are on economics. (Just look at Hillary Clinton and John Kerry).

    At least conservatives will somewhat cut taxes, and just need to be prodded a bit on personal issues. In time, I believe they will come back to the winning philosophy of Reagan/Goldwater that we libertarians can gladly get behind.

  172. Two organizations come to mind

    The ACLU for defending liberty here, and reminding us that rights means rights for everyone, not just those we personally approve of.

    Amnesty International for standing up to government at its most brutal.

  173. Anyone who suggests that there is no such thing as a left-leaning libertarian should educate themselves about the political spectrum.

    The Libertarian Party falls on the right, but the philosophy of libertarianism has little to do with the left-right scale. The up-down scale is the one that is focused on.

    To say that there is no left-leaning libertarians is laughable and only shows your ignorance about politics in general.

    And to whomever said Ted Nugget, you should be slapped with a fish.

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