"If It Weren't for the Housing Inspectors, No One Would Have a Roof"

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The audio of the Gillespie-Goldberg debate is up at the website of the America's Future Foundation, along with more pics of the combatants and the crowd.

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  1. The link needs the ‘a’ taken out of “.orag”

  2. The audio quality is just awful. Also, anything not overdriving the microphones was not picked up at all. I would have liked to know what was going on when Nick was passing out T-Shirts. Oh and;
    Nick,
    What were the “toys for small children”.

    And of course none of the audience questions can be heard.

    I’ve listened to it twice. I was surprised at the intensity of Jonah’s anti-neocon/pro-libertarian opening remarks. I whish Nick had been a bit more abrasive. But only a bit, “the ‘appeal to tradition’ that underpins your whole argument is just bullshit” is a pretty good broadside.

    One point I wish Nick had made better, or more explicit:
    Goldberg seems to think there is a strong cultural anarchy vein to libertarianism, an insistance that all tradition and “ancient wisdom” be discarded. But this is flat out false. Nothing in libertarianism requires it’s adherents to embrace the Bohemian creed. Libertarians believe in self-governance, the ‘devolution of authority’ as Nick so eloquently put it. There is nothing in libertarianism that prohibits you from practicing the most austere forms of Puritanism. What libertarians object to, is having your (elitist/arbitrary/white-man’s) traditions imposed on others.

  3. Good point Warren. Republicans and Democrats both have a philosophy on how people ought to live. Libertarians have a philosophy on how people ought to govern.

  4. No transcript? why not?

  5. Gillespie finally gave Fonzie his jacket back. 🙂

  6. Yes, I agree that you can’t fairly call libertarians “anti-traditionalist”. I think where that line of thinking goes wrong is with the purely political roots of libertarianism. We’re the true heirs to classical liberalism, which, of course, traces back to the founding. And the Founders would say that they looked back to some British traditions and to the Greek democracies and to the Roman republic. Not that we’ve inherited ALL of those traditions!!

    Now, if you want to think about it from the Postrelian point of view, libertarians do tend to be “dynamists” and technology optimists, which I would say does mean that we’re more open to change and to tossing some traditions.

  7. For instance, my family gave up the tradition of owning slaves, not bathing, wearing wool in the height of summer, and speaking languages other than English (well, some of them did, anyway–others spoke English before coming here).

    Some of my ancestors even gave up wearing kilts. Unbelievable that they’d turn their backs on that sort of tradition, isn’t it?

  8. Pro L, from your list I presume that your ancestors were, like mine, from the Celtic fringes of Britain who moved to the South or Appalachia. If so, then you need to include some of our other Great Family Customs: feuding, cattle-stealing, and the home production of truly foul whiskey. (I’ve had one drink of moonshine once in my life, and that was 4,312 times too many.)

    Personally, I’m really grateful to whatever ancestor of mine first said “F— that noise” and moved away to indoor plumbing and higher education.

  9. Karen,

    Scots and Germans, for the most part, with some English folk mixed in for good measure.

    One interesting tradition in virtually all of my main family lines that has survived is a heavy emphasis on books and reading. Not sure why. Do bookworms tend to interbreed?

  10. If It Weren’t for the Housing Inspectors, No One Would Have a Roof

    Classic Header. Captures the real essence of the libertarian difference in a sound bite that is easily understood by almost everyone.

  11. If It Weren’t for the Housing Inspectors, No One Would Have a Roof

    The USDA announced that they are cutting back on beef inspections. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except they also refuse to allow beef producers to do their own inspections for Mad Cow Disease because, “Voluntary testing, the agency contends, would undermine its official position, which is that U.S. beef is safe.”

    http://beef-mag.com/mag/beef_private_testing/index.html

  12. If It Weren’t for the Housing Inspectors, No One Would Have a Roof

    is that anything like “If it weren’t for the new york times, no one would have anything to blog about”?

  13. Libertarian idiology breeds identity politics within the conservative movement!??!?!

  14. joshua,
    I know what you mean. Jonah was really pitching wild. My theory is, he was reared in a strict conservative household, and internalized it’s dogma at a young age. Unfortunately for him, he was born with the libertarian gene. But he can’t come out, even to himself, because it would mean facing up to the fact that his most sacred truths are a pack of lies. It was really fascinating listening to him, he’s gotten much more libertarian in his rhetoric, and much more hostile to conservatism. Still, he’s desperately clinging to self-identifying as a conservative, and throwing up straw men in the effort.

    I’m going to start paying more attention to his stuff now. I predict he will reject conservatism and come out as an unabashed libertarian in the next couple of years. Either that or he’ll eat his gun.

  15. You have to give points to this one for irony – a debate between a conservative that’s disowned Russel Kirk and a libertarian that’s disowned Murray Rothbard.

    If only this debate had been held in Hollywood, that would have been the icing on the cake.

  16. What I always want to ask modern conservatives is, “Just what is it you are trying to conserve, anyway?” When Buckley, Kirk, et al launched National Review, statist faux-liberalism was triumphant, with only the civil rights movement and socialized medicine as unfinished projects of the New and Fair Deals. The NR crowd was anti-communist, but there were plenty of “liberal” Cold Warriors, from Sidney Hook to Scoop Jackson. The left wing epithet for the cons was “reactionaries.” The ambitious among them wanted to roll back the growth of at least the national government. When this label was slapped on Margaret Thatcher, she famously replied , “..there’s a lot to react against.”

    The regnant cons surrounding GWB don’t seem interested in rolling back government at all, as much as they are in making sure that they can place sympathetic placemen at the levers of power. I suppose this may be the bad influence of all those neo-cons, fruit of the Trotskyite tree that they are. Besides classical liberals hounded out of the Democratic fold by social democrats too chicken to use the name, American conservatism has always had its quota of virtuecrats. The progressivism of pols like the La Follettes and Roosevelt I had its original home in the GOP, going back to the Temperance and Abolition movements. The War on Some Drugs and the pro-life movement are just as much descendants of that political strain as they are of traditional, law’n’order conservatism. There’s also nothing essentially “conservative” about an interventionist foreign policy. Non-interventionism is the traditional American position. One can, of course, dispute if that would have been wise from 1945-1991, of from late 2001-on, but it was a change from the historical default position.

    Anchoring one’s political principles on tradition is dangerous, though. One could make a pretty good argument that the expansion of government championed by both Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson and Lyndon Johnson have become American traditions. Would that mean that we could never transform Social Security, replace the Fed with a different currency regime, or repeal Medicare? A conservative is doomed to talking about reform, if that is the case, while a libertarian can still make the case that these were illegitimate from the start and still are.

    Kevin

  17. the conservative V libertarian name needs to be changed to libertarian who calls himself a conservative V libertarian who calls himself a liberal.

    and Warren I can’t agree with any of this:

    But he can’t come out, even to himself, because it would mean facing up to the fact that his most sacred truths are a pack of lies.

  18. Warren, the frightening thing is that you may well be right.

  19. Some thoughts after further review,
    Nick does in fact repeatedly make the point I wanted him to emphasize. It’s only this sentence he omitted “What libertarians object to, is having your (elitist/arbitrary/white-man’s) traditions imposed on others”. I think that would have put a finer point on it. (A point I would expect to score with Jonah) Beyond that, there wasn’t much debate on substance, the points of contention were mostly strawmen. But there was this:

    Jonah stated, that he becomes less libertarian as the politics gets more local. In the previous AFF debate, Nick rejected this position calling it “grassroots tyranny”. In this debate Nick makes a more refined retort; people voting with their feet is adequate to secure liberty, as long as they truly are able to leave if they wish.

    I myself would like to hear a debate on this point alone. I am very much in agreement with Jonah on this, but mindful of Nick’s objections. When I was involved with the Libertarian Party of West Michigan, I had this same debate with one of my colleagues. I’ve not explored the issue with any great depth. I think it is important to resolve from libertarian fist principals, in order to preserve a self-consistent libertarian framework.

  20. I agree Warren.

    Personally, I’d put federalism, or local autonomy, as a higher political value than anything else. Libertarianism is fine for some, but many would prefer to live in communities that limit the activities of their neighbors. I’d rather live in a town where nobody does drugs, abuses alcohol, takes their clothes off in public, or has loud parties after 8. The town would also have a giant ten commandments display in the town square, censor smut, and have lots of prayer in schools. Lots of people agree and would like to live there with me, but in this country such a town isn’t possible. Of course, nobody would be forced to live or go there.

    If libertines prefer a town where religion is banned in the public sphere and drugs and porn flow freely, that would be fine, but I’d rather not live there.

    I have never seen why so many view the libertarian organization of society as having a privileged place, as it can limit a populace’s right to govern its community according to its values just as any other system limits its citizens’ rights.

    People can have a very hard time letting a place exist that operates contrary to their own values, even if they never have to go there. The Federalist system may be the toughest to implement, as we so often see it selectively promoted.

  21. I’d rather live in a town where nobody does drugs, abuses alcohol, takes their clothes off in public, or has loud parties after 8.
    My grandma used to say, “People in hell want ice-water”. Presumably, you would have regulations making all these criminal activities. The question is, how would you enforce them.

    The town would also have a giant ten commandments display in the town square,
    Good idea. May I also suggest you name your town Fundyville.

    censor smut,
    Oh no, sorry can’t let you go there. When it comes to free-speech and free-press, I’m a total whack-job libertarian. I believe that the first and fourteenth amendments guarantee my right to sell bestiality pictures to your kids, even in Fundyville.

    and have lots of prayer in schools.
    Yeah OK, but first we’d need to make a good deal of progress with the libertarian program to overhaul education. If I’m living across state, I don’t want my taxes supporting your jr. monastery. I expect that you are equally eager to put a stop to your hard-earned being used for sex-ed or whatever. But tell me, will you allow creationism in the science curriculum? Because I’m not so happy allowing you to abuse your kids.

    Lots of people agree and would like to live there with me, but in this country such a town isn’t possible. Of course, nobody would be forced to live or go there.
    Which brings us to Nick’s point. It’s all well and good that “nobody would be forced to live or go there”. But what about the people already there that want to leave? It’s not good enough to say, “they are free to leave” if you add, “just as soon as they pay their back taxes”.

  22. Req and Warren show the paradox to be found in libertarian theory. What if what seems liberty to some looks like oppression to others>

    Req has in theory the right to choose a community that reflects his values, and to have those values respected.

    Warren would like to respect them, in theory, but he does not like Req’s choices, and calls them oppressive…

    And whata if Req’s values included the genital mutilation of young girls? Or marrying them at thirteen? Those are community values, of long tradition to people who engage in their practices.

    So..

    so, quite often when we say that “people should be free to do as they wish” we add the caveat “as long was we approve of their choices” And “you’ll be free as soon as you adopt our values and traditions, not before”

    On the other hand, sanctioning any kind of behavior because it is freely chosen can make us complicit in practices that we abhor.

    It is a conundrum, all right.

  23. Adriana,
    My response to Req was deliberately provocative. You correctly identify the issues. However, I believe that there is a resolution consistent with libertarian principals. I just haven’t reached it yet and wanted some discussion to help me work it out.

    I think it would make an excellent panel discussion.

  24. Warren:

    It is good you realize that there is a problem to be faced, not swept under a rug, supposing that once the Governemnt is gone there will be no more conflits, everyone will be nice to everyone else, and the seas will turn to lemonade.

    (Forgive me for teh sarcasm, but I have seen too many libertarians substitute enthusiasm for thought).

    I think that it was Isaiah Berln who said that Utopia was impossible because everyone has a different idea what Utopia would be like.

    It is the same problem with multiculturalism, it works only if all cultures are basically the same with different gastronomic variations. Or with those who say that “all religions are the same”, the result of not having had to deal with Aztecs for too long…

    Not only people want different things, but some of the things they want, they should not have and should be forcibly forbidden from trying to get.(things like cannibalism, say -ah, you say that you’d never. Right, but there are others who would be quite willing to, given half a chance). And some people are not swayed by reason when they want their desires satisfied.

    I think that I pointed out on another thread when they discussed complete freedom of choice for parents to choose schools for their children without *any* interference from the Government, and I pointed out that such a position left no answer when the parents chose a madrassa who’d teach the kiddies how to be martyrs in the jihad. (not a minor quibble. Extremists movements have a knack of indoctrianitng children and getting willing soldiers that way – I think that I mentioned Countess Markiewicz and how he taught young Irish boys to shoot guns, beat Boy Scouts, and be ready to fight and die for a Free Ireland).

    Some people are going to make terrible choices. Some of those choices are going to affect us negatively, and it is good to remember then that we have a right to self-defense.

    So, you can start the debate now.

  25. Adriana, what Countess Markiewicz taught the Na Fianna Eireann wasn’t substatially different than what Baden-Powell set out for British Scouting.

    As for raising the madrassa boogey-man, you have never answered the fact that where we actually do have religious schools participating in voucher programs we see responsible muslim schools, not jihad crazy mujahadeen factories. Back when the states were passing their Baine amendments, the charge was made that kids educated in Catholic schools wouldn’t be as “American.” Maybe you ought to self-check whether you hold such an attitude against muslims.

    Kevin
    (educated by the Catholics, right into atheism)

  26. I think Nozick hinted at some of these potential problems towards the end of Anarchy State and Utopia – what if you let all communities become legally autonomous with the result that some become tyrannical? The easy argument is that if people didn’t like those they could choose one of the millions of others available. But that’s only if they’re allowed to just up and move. Also, there’s the problem of potential abuse of the young, as we’ve already seen in some of the Mormon communities where 13 year old girls are married off to older men who already have numerous wives – which in turn leads to horrible consequences for the young males.

    On all these issues, the school choice in particular, it’s important to distinguish between speech/thought and action. People can have all kinds of crazy ideas and promote them but if we decide that we are going to prosecute them for their speech and not their actions themselves, then we’re actually going to get a more tyrannical society than the one we are trying to avoid.

    And cannibalism is obviously a violation of the libertarian ethic of ‘initiate no aggression against thy neighbor’ – it’s a red herring. There is a serious argument to make about some of these issues but let’s make the serious ones, not go off into silly irrelevant tangents or fail to distinguish between thougt and action.

  27. However, I believe that there is a resolution consistent with libertarian principals. I just haven’t reached it yet and wanted some discussion to help me work it out.

    The answer is property rights…and a town controlled by covenants and restriction rather then zoneing.

    When you buy a home in this hypothetical libertarian town you enter into a contract.

  28. joshua,
    I don’t see how that’s any different than agreeing to abide by the zoning board.

  29. joshua corning:

    So let’s differentiate between thought and action.

    You can think about cannibalism but not practice it

    How is that different from:

    You can think about marijuana but not smoke it…

    You can think about gay sex but not engage in it….

    You can think about legalized prostitution, but not hire a prostitute…

    You can think about shooting guns, but now own one…

    As for cannibalism, it is not a red herring. It was a common practice in America prior to the arrival of Colon. (The Spaniards were quite shocked at the way the Aztecs bought and sold human flesh in the market). We have lived in civilization too long and we forget what “natural conditions” are like.

  30. Adriana,
    Cannibalism? I think you must be new to libertarianism. Libertarians value personal liberty, and we ordain a government for the purpose of protecting (not granting) that liberty. You are free to act and live as you choose, but your rights could never include the right to deprive another of his rights. There is nothing in libertarianism that condones murder.

    OTOH, if what your talking about is merely the practice of eating the dead after they’ve died. Then yes, there’s no reason to legislate against this practice. Indeed libertarianism is unequivocal in restricting the power of government from doing so.

    You would need to show that someone’s inalienable rights were being violated (at which point, regulation would become mandatory). Offense and disgust, even when widely shared, are insufficient grounds for prohibiting a behavior.

    The concept of federalism, is where power residing in the federal government, while superceding that of the states, is far more restricted. The question I’m asking concerns what limits libertarianism places on the most autonomous forms of government.

  31. Adriana,
    Let’s take a look at it. Many men read pornographic magazines. Some might even harbor rape fantasies when doing so. But in 99 percent of cases most pornographic reading or viewing leads to masturbation, not rape or assault. Similarly, people play violent video games, watch violent movies, entertain fantasies of taking the law into their own hands. Yet, 99 percent of the time they don’t when entertaining these fantasies. That’s why we don’t prosecute violence in movies or sports and why we should leave pornography alone as well. Now, in cases of rape or violence, the libertarian position is clear – we throw the book at them. But we don’t want to prosecute the guilty for whatever fantasies they might have had before or what these were based on as there’s no proven link here. There’s no way to prove it. And if we tried to prosecute people for their thoughts or all entertainment that could ‘possibly’ lead to violence, well, we’d have 1984 or something worse. Have you read that book?

    Perhaps I’m confused about your example of cannibalism. From my understanding, cannibalism is something that is practiced from one group to another – it’s not intra-tribal, it’s inter-tribal. So, if we had a federal system of laws, that at least dealt with basic issues of negative rights – protection against assault – then cannibalism would definitely be something that would fall under this basic negative right.

    I suppose the example would be more complicated if the cannibalism that was going on was intra-tribal, and there was no system of laws that superceded any of the laws of these small autonomous communities. But then again, who would sign on to a community where it said, “Oh, btw, we might eat you or your children?” (which is why it hasn’t been historically an intra-tribal phenomenon). Of course, if absurdly, you wanted to be eaten that would be your choice, but if you wanted your children to get eaten, this makes the strong case for federalism as opposed to absolute autonomy of small communities, as implausible and bizarre as the example is. And if, very implausibly as well, cannibalism would somehow become a normative behavior and make it back into modern communities as a means of ‘intertribal’ warfare then I think this also makes the case for federalism as opposed to total autonomy of small communities.

    There are probably more realistic examples available of potential problems of a system of absolute rule by the neighborhood association – where the neighborhood association has total autonomy. You could sign onto to a particular association’s rules but what if there were clauses that said, “In 25 years, we will vote on the rules again – so some of these might change.” You might find that 25 years later, what you signed on for has become significantly altered. Or how about this. You can sign onto all sorts of bizarre things. But children born into these communities might not agree. They can up and leave but what if there are restrictive clauses on these, making the move prohibitive or at least much more difficult than you anticipated. The most realistic example I can think of here is where fundamentalist Mormons have married their young daughters off to older men with many wives, shafting both the girls and the young men in the community. This is has happened in Colorado City and some other small Mormon towns where they are basically run like mini-theocracies. When I think of examples like these, I can see the case for federalism, where the answer ‘property rights’ comes up a bit short. I’m sure other people could think of similar examples. Suppose also, there was no law governing behavior between autonomous communities. How would these conflicts be solved? My guess is that various sorts of common law like rules would develop between these communities and eventually they’d be led back into something like federalism – and one more utopian fantasy would be laid to rest.

    P.S. I’m not Joshua Corning. Never met the man, and I believe we follow a different system of spelling rules.

  32. My example of cannibalism is extreme (and unlikely in civilization as we know it), but it illustrates the point that too many people use their freedom to do damage to others.

    In any case the point is made that there must be an authority above such communities which makes it clear that certain behaviors are **not allowed** – A higher authority with enforcement powers.

    (The same that I pointed out about the madrassas. There has to be soemone to say *this kind of teaching is not allowed*, same as schools for pickpockets, a la Oliver Twist.) The pressence of that higher authority can be as small or as large as you please, but it has to be there.

  33. Adriana,
    How does cannibalism illustrate that point? Is cannibalism practiced in any semi-free liberal democracies that you know of? Has it been practiced in any quasi-libertarian societies that you know of? Note, the Aztecs that you mentioned before weren’t libertarians.

    I think I agree with you however that some sort of federal authority would be preferable to a society of millions of totally autonomous small communities. But I’m open to considering the opposing view which I assume would assert that the tyranny that we find under federalism is greater than the tyranny we’d get under a system of millions of totally autonomous communities. Any anarcho-capitalists out there want to make that case?

    Your argument about madrassas seems to be smuggling in another topic and point about private schooling in America. That’s a separate issue. Private schools already exist under our federal system. And if someone goes out and bombs a bus we throw their assas in jail along with their ringleaders. And note the authorities would have more time to pursue truly dangerous criminals like this if they were spending less time pursuing consensual ‘crimes’ (mainly drugs and prostitution, which I gather from your other comments you also think should be illegal, along with pornography), which ties up most of their time.

    You fail to address though this distinction between thought and action. Is it ever important? Do you see the dangers of prosecuting people for their thoughts instead of their actions? And just out of curiosity would you recommend banning the Koran in America? If not, why not? Doesn’t it teach violence?

    Your point about the presence of authority – ‘as small or large as you please’ is exactly the point I’m trying to get at. At what point does the size of presence of the higher authority tip the scales so that its presence actually creates more tryanny than it is trying to dissolve? That’s the other point you need to address – that is if you are actually interested in a discussion rather than just chanting out the same answers. (Please note as well Kevin’s point that there are already Muslim schools in America that don’t teach jihad).

  34. Adriana,
    Just to clarify your point, what exactly is your point about the schools? Are you actually suggesting that private religious schools should be banned? Or just Catholics and Muslim schools? If not banned, what are you suggesting? Would they need to be under the authority of a sectarian principal? Police officers stationed in the hallways? Would this go for churches and mosques as well? Would religious materials taught in the classroom or churches need to be reviewed by a government censor first? How would you propose monitoring teachers who taught outside the curriculum, if the curriculum was indeed censored by the government. Would you propose stationing officers in the classroom? Do you see any possible church and state conflicts here? Do you see any dangers in allowing the governmental authority to grow so large that they would actually be curtailing our liberties and endangering our lives more so than if they allowed people to talk about what they wanted as long as they didn’t commit aggression?

    Your other comments seem to conflate things like cannibalism, an act of aggression, and consensual activities like marijuana smoking or prostitution. Do you see an important distinction here?

  35. Reg’s wish for Borkian “local autonomy” to trump libertarianism is, at least in its extremeness, quite badly reasoned. And Warren’s response seems terribly lackluster and seems to concede that Reg has a point. He really doesn’t.
    The right to smoke crack or watch porn in no way infringes upon anyones legitimate choices. There is no fundamental right to set moral standards for “your” community. You own no such thing. To pretend you do is to think unethically. And I take it as quite axiomatic that the realm of ethics, by definition, concerns INDIVIDUALS. They are the ones who think, act and have rights.
    This is not to say that strict individualism must not at times give way to pragmatic concerns, and bend to them (I would be wary of abolishing public education tomorrow, despite its unimpressive results). But we must not conflate pragmatism with any fundamental conflicting of rights claims.
    What if local standards approved of slavery? How is this different from many of Reg’s other supposed community standards/”rights”, in principle?
    Adriana does NOT correctly identify the issues. No such essential paradox exists in libertarian theory. It doesn’t really matter if something “looks like oppression”. It only matters ethically if something IS oppression. And coercion is not a matter of opinion, it is empirically verifiable.

    And so, the answer (Joshua) isn’t a “contract”, unless you mean a broad ethical social contract, what Locke would call the “law of common reason” – It’s the ethics of individualism and its corrolary, individual autonomy.

  36. diogenes jim bob:

    I suggest that the idea “the Government should keep completely out” is not a wise choice.

    You seem to be suffering from the tendency, which was already decried by Edmund Burke of believeing that there is no middle ground between unbridled license and brutal despotism.

    I say that in whatever arrangements are made, there has to be a provision that allows to forbid schools that teach its pupils to rise violently agaist the current political system. How it is done, I do not know. But I imagine that with so many bring minds here, a way could be devised to keep out the bad schools while allowing the others to flourish with minimal interference.

    Unfortunately schooling of children is one of those areas where absolute freedom of choice can have bad consequences for the rest of us. Same as you are not allowed freedom of choice about doing without flush toilets in the city, nor turning your apartment into a rat refuge.

  37. Adriana,
    Okay, I see my questions will go unanswered by you. I thought you were actually interested in dialog but I guess not. Well, I’ll just answer a few of yours and leave it at that.

    I didn’t advocate no government. Government has a duty to protect us from aggression. And it does that well if it’s not distracted by going after consensual crimes or spending time trying to bust people for their thoughts or what someone thinks they ‘might’ do. I thought behaviorism went out in the sixties – the belief that you put some idea into someone’s head and they automatically act on it. Pavlov’s dog was never referred to as Pavlov’s Human, as far as I know. Reason, evidence, and study after study has refuted such nonsense but I guess it’s still alive and well in some quarters.

    As for the middle ground between unbridled license and despotism, sure there’s a middle ground – you can do any crazy thing you want to do as long as your actions don’t harm me physically or violate my own right to do the crazy things I want to do. That’s a big field to walk around on.

    Your argument that schools should be forbidden to teach their pupils to rise against the current political system is flawed in numerous ways. Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave as you speak as he believed that revolution might be necessary every generation or so if the political system becomes too tyrannical. Secondly, you fail to even consider this option – the system could potentially become so tyrannical as to warrant revolution (hello, American Revolutionary War?). I believe that what you are preaching actually looks like not a middle ground but a far turn towards despotism. In your fear of others and what they might do, you would advocate a system that would turn out to be the very thing that you and your ilk fear – a rule by thugs.

    I doubt many libertarians here are going to want to spend their time thinking of ways to increase state control of the schools. Maybe you can find that on a neo-con or democratic blog. But if you don’t have any idea of how this would work, at least ask yourself about the possibility that you might be actually creating greater harm than good to our society with a bigger role for big brother in the schools than there already is.

    The last time I checked we are allowed to have dirty apartments. Of course if it gets so dirty as to be a health hazard to the neighbors then it becomes a violation of the libertarian rule of do not initiate harm against others.

  38. diogenes jim bob:

    If you had the connexion I have, you too would take your time answering. When your phone hangs up regularly you give up on dialogue no matter how fascinating.

    Sure, the system could become so tyrannical so as to deserve revolution. True, but do you think that schoolchildren should be the ones to carry it out? Don’t you think that it is the height of irresponsibility for adults to let children into the front lines that they have no intention of attending themselves?

    Furthermore, how close are we to such a tyrannical system? How inminent is that danger? Closer by the danger shown today by the existence of madrassas? I remind you, that danger is not for a few years, but right now. Your attitude is like a man who cites the dangers of flooding when the firemen pour water on a fire. Yes. There may be a risk later on. But the problem now is the fire. There will be time to rectify later.

    You yourself said that the Government has a duty to protect us from aggression. Do you think that the students at the madrassas are not seeking to engage in aggression against us? You want to put safeguards in how they do it, fine. Talk with the ACLU about it – they may have a few ideas. But there is one thing to ask for safeguards, and another to sit calmly thinking that things will work themselves out when children are taught to hate, knowing full well taht children do not grasp the difference between merely holding an opinion and acting on it (any parent will tell you how dangerous it is to mention certain things, even in jest to one’s children because they go right and do it.)

    The more I talk with libertarians, the more they remind me of nature enthusiasts, for whom Nature is always wise, and wonderful, and it all balances, and if anything is wrong it is because man messed with the enviroment and added chemicals, or interfered with the natural course of events in any way. A view of nature that fails to account for elephantiasis, malaria, Guiena worm, smallpox, dengue fever, etc. etc. etc.

    So I tell you what I tell them. Sure, it will balance in the end. But there is no guarantee that by they time it does you will be there to see it. Maybe the balance demands that you should die a painful lingering death.

    I would be more willing to let the free play of ideas sort out the good ones from the bad if I had some assurenca that when the dust settled I would be here to see it. Since I have no such assurance, I prefer to tinker with the natural order and hope that whatever damage results can be fixed later on.

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