Libertarianism

I Can't Help But Be a Libertarian

Would be easier to go along and get along

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It's not easy being a libertarian. I am not looking for sympathy when I say that. I just mean to point out that rejecting the conventional wisdom on virtually (do I really need this adverb?) every political question, current and historical, can be wearying. Life could be so much simpler if it were otherwise. No doubt about that. I really don't like conflict, especially when it can quickly turn personal, as it so often does. (I embrace the advice that one can disagree without being disagreeable.) But for a libertarian, disagreement with most people is not an option — we can't help it.

Strictly speaking, reason doesn't permit us to choose our beliefs. If you follow the steps of an algebraic problem and see why X=4, do you have a choice about whether to believe that X=4? Of course not. To see the validity of the steps that yield the solution X=4 is to believe that X=4. Belief is not a separate step.

If you grasp that an inference logically follows from factual premises and self-evident axioms, can you really elect to disbelieve it? I don't see how. If you look outside and see it is raining, are you free to decide whether to believe it is raining? Not really.

Free will operates at the level of choosing whether or not to honestly seek out and consider relevant evidence and arguments — not in accepting the conclusion that follows from that evidence and those arguments. (This is not to deny that two reasonable people can draw different conclusions from the same evidence and argument. Further evidence-seeking and argument are the means to resolving the disagreement — plus good faith on both sides.)

Once a conclusion is seen, the story is not over. Intellectual confidence and humility can coexist in a person. Believing in the soundness of an argument should not keep one from being open to reconsideration and even disconfirmation. (Confirmation bias is a bane of humanity.) Any honest libertarian checks his premises and inferences routinely and is open to the possibility that he has hitherto overlooked something important. Critics notwithstanding, the libertarian philosophy is not dogma or revealed truth. Nor is it something received from an authority. It's a discipline. I think this is what Leonard Read meant when he said that studying liberty is a life-long project. It is never finished. But note that this intellectual process requires freedom, although I am not saying that the entire case for a fully libertarian society can be spun from the fact that thinking (or discourse) requires freedom.

So I maintain that I, like other freedom advocates I know, can't help but be a libertarian. My understanding of what it means to be human, of the conditions under which reason-bearing, language-using social animals can flourish, of the nature of violence, and of the essence of the state all lead me to conclude that individuals should be free of aggression, essentially the initiation of physical force. And that means all persons should be unmolested as they peacefully go about their lives, formulating plans and aspirations, justly acquiring possessions (for we are not ghosts but material beings in a world of scarcity), and engaging in voluntary cooperation — such as trade — with other persons. Sound theory and historical episodes tell me that this is practical as well as "moral," though as one who is inspired by the ancient Greeks, I believe the moral is the practical.

As I say, being a libertarian (this is not limited to libertarians) means frequent disagreement with the people around you, most of whom take the political landscape for granted as though it were a natural and eternal feature of life. Younger libertarians may revel in this conflict. They may even enjoy political nonconformity for its own sake. But as many of us get older, this aspect of being a libertarian also gets old. I, for one, would rather not be in perpetual conflict with the rest of the world. I'd love nothing more than complete harmony with my neighbors and family.

But what can I do? For obvious reasons, expressing views I don't hold is out of the question.

I could take the path of least resistance and keep quiet about what's going on in the world. Sometimes that has great appeal. But then I think about the injustice inflicted on the victims of systematic, mechanized, and legal aggression (random street crime is bad enough). I think, "I wouldn't want to be in their place" — but  then I recall that as a taxpayer and as one otherwise subject to state aggression, I am in their place, if to a lesser extent. I think of how people are kept poor (or poorer) and miserable by the most common forms of political imposition, and how insult is added to injury by telling the victims it's really for their own good.

Whether were are talking immigration control, occupational licensing, or any of the myriad other interventions devised by the political class and its "private-sector" patrons, the havoc wreaked on individual lives and free associations is incalculable. The same goes for the misnamed drug war — it's a war on people, not drugs — and other disruptions of private, consensual conduct that the government sees as intolerable vices. Anything like full restitution to all the victims would be impossible. The perpetrators will get away, as they usually have, scot-free.

And then there's war. How does one stand by in silence when one is forced by the tax collector to underwrite aggression around the world against the poorest individuals imaginable? Innocent people — so many children — are killed and maimed, their homes and communities shattered, with the bombs, bullets, mortar shells, tanks, airplanes, helicopter gunships, and drones paid for by you and me through a government that claims to act in our names — while lying as a matter of course.

Who can know these things and not speak out — no matter how wearying that may be?

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. Free will operates at the level of choosing whether or not to honestly seek out and consider relevant evidence and arguments ? not in accepting the conclusion that follows from that evidence and those arguments.

    Thinking is HARD!

  2. …reason doesn’t permit us to choose our beliefs.

    I knew that Welch feeds the staff and contributors their talking points.

  3. Vile cunt Liz Cheney calls Obama “despicable” for admitting US tortured prisoners during Bush regime:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201…..1-torture/

    1. Turd Burglar.

    2. Vile cunt

      Talk about projection!

    3. He is not despicable for admitting we tortured under Bush, something we already knew and the Bush administration admitted to, but because he does not admit that we tortured under his watch as well. Yep, he is despicable.

    4. Hi Dave……!

    5. “Vile cunt” is an oxymoron. Ms. Cheney’s political beliefs, though, are as despicable as the Drone Mass Murderer In Chief’s.

      1. It’s not an oxymoron to me. I prefer mens’ big gaping bungholes.

    6. Vile cunt Liz Cheney

      I approve of your flippant use of the word “cunt”.

      Though if we really want to the word to enter the American lexicon might i suggest you not use it as a form of aggression on those you hate but instead use to refer to things you like.

      For example:

      Look at this adorable little cunt.

      http://38.media.tumblr.com/tum…..o1_500.jpg

      1. Whoa, Dude, that is ONE UN-HOLY Vile Pussy!!!! NEVAH in Mah Entire Life haz Ah Seen such a VILE, DISGUSTING, SCARY, FRIGHTENING image!!! SHAME on you!!!

  4. I think its easy being a libertarian. Its my nature.

    1. But can you pass the Libertarian Purity Test with a 198%?

      1. Wouldn’t that make someone twice as Purely libertarian as Tony?

        Unpossible!

  5. Rol that beautiful bean footage.

    http://www.TotalAnon.tk

    1. I’m assuming the anonbot is programmed to reference bean footage when cunt appears frequently in the scrubbing software that analyzes the comment thread.

  6. Once when arguing with a progtard I was told that the only reason I was a libertarian was because I thought I was smart enough to run the whole world by myself, without any help.

    Apparently libertarians believe in a single global dictator empowered with absolute authority.

    1. “I thought I was smart enough to run the whole world by myself, without any help.”

      what are orphans, chopped liver?

    2. Well, witness our resident trolls, they believe that since they believe “things should be run” that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is therefore only arguing about the nature of how “things should be run” and not whether or not “things should be run” at all.

      When I explain to progressives that I’m libertarian only because I want to “run” my own life as I see fit without meddling for those who believe “things should be run” and think others should be free to do with their own lives as they see fit they become quite agitated because they apparently don’t know how to respond to an opinion that doesn’t fall into the “things should be run” paradigm.

      The progressive worldview is incredibly simplistic, relying firmly on absolutes, while claiming nuance.

      1. When I explain to progressives that I’m libertarian only because I want to “run” my own life as I see fit without meddling from those who believe “things should be run” and think others should be free to do with their own lives as they see fit, they become quite agitated because they apparently don’t know how to respond to an opinion that doesn’t fall into the “things should be run” paradigm.

        Fixed.

      2. For sure – and it really says a lot about them personally that they believe it’s just an argument over who should be dictator.

        Often I’ve found that progs and liberals (being different) shape their political beliefs based on reaction and personality. They’d have two different responses to two situations where the actions are the same though the actors are different.

        And you can tell I’ve had this conversation before, with all kinds of strawmanning and name-calling. I’m against communism, so I support slavery. I think “social democracy” is unsustainable nannyism, so I must be Hitler Nazi man. They never connect that I am (we are) opposed to arbitrary authority altogether as a moral principle rather than a “choice of ruler”.

        On that note, if anyone should be king, it should be me because I’m a liberarian haha.

      3. Okay, more haha.

        I think a lot of progs *want* to be the rulers. Since Progressive-progressives are just Marxists, they follow his “top men” (academic vanguards ruling the people) argument. And since Progs are the best people in the universe, they should be in power.

        It’s two different arguments – they argue they should rule/choose the king and we argue that no party/person should have power.

        1. Not most of them. I think it is a different problem. Remember the chimps that bit a guys face off because he brought cake for his ex-pet chimp and did not share? Progs are just stuck at the emotional level of chimpanzees and can’t think of any other ways the world could work.

      4. It doesn’t matter how many times we invoke emergent/spontaneous order. They cannot bring themselves to believe in it for the same reason that creationists can’t believe in evolution.

        Human beings are hard-wired to believe that nature and society run only because of human planning; the idea that society is self-organizing is as crazy to a progressive or conventional conservative as the idea of atheistic evolution would’ve been to a 12th-century Catholic intellectual.

        Like atavistic collectivism or the historical tendency to expropriate rather than trade, the only way to overcome these tendencies is through education.

        1. For a little bit of fun, ask your prog friends where they stand on Jane Jacobs vs Robert Moses.

    3. I can run my own world, thank you very much.

    4. I think being a libertarian means that you have to use words like “progtard”. On this commentariate it doesn’t hurt to also be a “former” Republican, with a Freudian penchant for firearms, and a neo-con world view.

      1. Oh. I almost forgot. Being libertarian in this commentariate also means that you have to forget the Nolan chart. Instead you must use a redefined version of the right/left spectrum in which the left represents ALL authoritarians, and the right represents Teh Freedom Lovers.

        1. Yeah, no condemnation of Socons and Neocons (particularly on the foreign policy front) in the comments sections here….

          1. Look at any foreign policy thread and tell me that the neo-cons don’t outnumber the libertarians by at least four to one. It’s like a team red circle jerk.

            1. Look at any foreign policy thread and tell me that the neo-cons don’t outnumber the libertarians by at least four to one. It’s like a team red circle jerk.

              The only frequent commenters I’ve seen espouse neocon foreign policy are John (occasionally), Cytotoxic, and Tulpa.

              Feel free to post something more substantial than “go to any of the literally hundreds of threads on foreign policy” to prove your point though.

            2. I like to think of myself as a recovering Democrat.

              1. Yep. I got here from being an-ACLU type lefty.

                1. Case in point Baked Penguin. The ACLU, while full of lefties, should be considered an ally. Do you have a problem with their mission, or just the fact that many of them are Democrats. Do you feel the same way about the NRA?

                  1. Case in point Baked Penguin.

                    Truly, he must be so/neocon.

                    1. No, he’s probably a partisan. Like you. Go Team!

                    2. No, he’s probably a partisan. Like you. Go Team!

                      Uh huh.

                    3. You sir, are a fucking idiot. But it’s a good line. Anytime principled libertarianism begins to bother you, just pretend we are all closet GOP with a war boner.

                      If that makes you feel like a man.

                  2. “The ACLU, while full of lefties, should be considered an ally.”

                    A very unreliable and inconsistent ally. They are libertarian only when it advances their socialist agenda.

                    1. How is defending the 1st amendment socialist? Does a Jewish lawyer defending the KKK’s right to peaceably assemble further state owned means of production? If so, how?

                      Or do you just use socialist as an epitaph because others on your news echo chamber do it too?

                    2. The ACLU is largely on the correct side, but from time to time they stake out a claim that is opposed to the libertarian principle of negative liberty.

                      For example, in the Hobby Lobby case the ACLU filed a brief defending the govt’s position that Hobby Lobby should be forcibly compelled to provide access to four particular contraceptives that Hobby Lobby feels are abortifacients. Now, the liberty position is that no entity to should be coerced to provide anything they wish not to, regardless of whether those objections are religious or merely economic in nature. But that fact that the objections were indeed religious should fly further in the face of the ACLU’s supposed defense of freedom of worship and the first amendment.

                  3. Case in point Baked Penguin. The ACLU, while full of lefties, should be considered an ally. Do you have a problem with their mission, or just the fact that many of them are Democrats. Do you feel the same way about the NRA?

                    My point was that I was interested in civil liberties prior to becoming a libertarian. Also, I missed the part where I have a problem with their mission, probably because I never said that I did. The only problem I have with them is, as BigT has already pointed out, they’re inconsistent.

                    My problem with the NRA is similar – they’ve gone against other civil liberties when “supporting 2A”. Alan Gura’s 2nd Amendment Foundation is much better.

                  4. Eric,
                    The ACLU should not be considered an ally. The ACLU does not take second amendment cases, the IRS, or the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve. The ACLU is very selective in the case choice. I recommend you check out Mr. Baldwin’s mission statement when he founded the ACLU. If there is any organization that is contrary to the libertarian cause, it is definitely the ACLU.

                  5. The ACLU does not defend the First Amendment. Its latest membership drive, and the one that caused me not to renew my membership, focused on the “civil right” to violate freedom of association of business owners via the euphemistically named public accommodation.

                    The intellectual left typified by the ACLU and Chomsky view freedom as the consequence of democratic action–we vote ourselves rights collectively–rather than the natural state of the human ego. It’s a perverse idea when you get down to it, as the philosophy holds that rape & murder are only wrong because a plurality of voters believe them to be wrong, not because the human ego fears harm and naturally holds to what we call self-ownership.

                    For its socialist flaws, the ACLU is at least as good a friend to libertarians as the NRA. The NRA is at best fair-weather, and there are far better–though less politically powerful–RKBA advocates out there.

                    1. Since I’m bashing them, should also say that the NRA is openly statist, as when they called for having more police officers on campus to prevent school shootings.

                      As though having a bunch more armed cops around kids wouldn’t lead to greater loss of life & freedom in addition to the massive expense. That and the fact that when campus cops are present in the incredibly rare instance of school shootings–thinking Columbine here–they don’t exactly go charging into the fray when people are shooting at them.

        2. So, basically strawman and either-or.

          If Libertarians are not authoritarians, they need to redefine what constitutes “authority” in order to assume power.

          This is a false choice at its core – “Right and Left” is in itself a false dichotomy based on a seating arrangement in parliament houses where the socialists sat on the left side.

          Just because one is opposed to authority does not mean they automatically seek another authority. It’s not fascism/corporatism vs. communism, but rather how concentrated is power in few/singular entities.

          Some rightists will latch onto “libertarian” because they want to be associated with the label rather than harboring the belief, much the same way that dictatorial people will latch onto “liberal”. People who are power seekers seek power and will do anything to get it.

      2. How often do you engage someone with progressive views that can rationally counter libertarian ideas? When you’ve done it enough without an honest answer, you tend to think of them as prog-tards.

        1. No argument about your frustration with progressives. I have them too. I also feel the exact same way about conservatives. And even libertarians often too.

          Most people who strongly believe in any “ism” are a fucking pain in the ass, and are best not engaged in earnest if one wants to keep their sanity.

          1. Eric – I think sometimes it’s an intuition thing (sometimes mendacious), but often people go on how they feel. Libertarians do it too – personally, my “conversion” was more clarification than anything. The old dichotomy didn’t have consistency so when I saw the term libertarian (true liberal), the label fit me.

            But yeah, strict adherence to “isms” is lame. Haha, it reminds me that it’s always difficult to “justify” why I’m libertarian.

            And note – the other response wasn’t didactic or mean, just what I thought on why some authoritarians pick the labels and arguments they do.

            1. No worries Chmercier. I agree with your response.
              Besides, pot stirrers on this site generally get asked to die in a fire, so earnest engagement is welcome 🙂

              1. Thanks – and I’ll give it to the readers/commentors here at reason.com – they tend to be civil and engage in conversation. A lot of it is nuance and experience.

                I’d be curious to see how many people got into libertarianism from either liberal or conservative paths. Me? I was/am liberal, and libertarianism is the closest thing to liberalism for all people that I’ve found rather than it being the “tax the peasants” “liberalism” so many progs espouse. And yeah, there are differences between liberals and progressives :).

                Maybe I should say that somewhere – true liberals are libertarians in training? hahaha

          2. While yes, strict adherence to “isms” is a failing. And yet upthread you castigated a few of the commentators that sometimes register deviations from the strict adherence to libertarianism (i.e. foreign policy hawks).

            Conventional wisdom is that libertarianism is pro-choice, pro-immigration, and anti-war. Yet here you’ll find on those issues significant discord with the party line on said issues. Yet you identify that as a failing of those that hold those views while simultaneously castigating anyone who remains true to a broad “ism” philosophy. Which is it?

      3. Not a neo-con, don’t own any firearms, and I am not a ‘former’ Republican, nor am I now a Republican.

        But…keep building those straw men if it makes it simpler to criticize.

        1. I would love to see you post more often then. Until then, the most prolific posters will build the straw man.

          1. I would love to see you post more often then. Until then, the most prolific posters will build the straw man.

            Which ones?

            1. There are too many to name, but you’ve mentioned a few. Oftentimes it’s not even what’s said, but what’s not said. For example, in this recent thread on John Kerry’s dealing with Israel:
              https://reason.com/archives/201…..erry-doing

              wwhorton plays the antisemitism card (search it if you want), and nobody says shit about it. It’s the same kind of race baiting PC bullshit you see from progressives that regularly gets Tony blasted to shit on these threads. There are many here who attempt to be balanced I know, but you can’t tell me that conservatives don’t regularly get a pass, while liberals are targets.

              1. Oftentimes it’s not even what’s said, but what’s not said.

                Yeah, ok.

                wwhorton plays the antisemitism card (search it if you want), and nobody says shit about it.

                Umm, did you read the post that was in response to?

                1. I did, and it wasn’t the most PC of statements, but who gives a shit. Calling someone an antisemite is the same as calling them a racist. To discredit the person, not their viewpoint.

                  1. To discredit the person, not their viewpoint.

                    I know this may be difficult for you to grasp, but this:

                    And another hebrew bag-licker when you’ve checked in.

                    is hard to call anything else but antisemitism. Saying that “it wasn’t the most PC of statements” is, shall we say, and understatement.

                    And the commentariat not “saying shit about” means precisely squat. Judging an entire group by what goes unsaid is hogwash.

                    To discredit the person, not their viewpoint.

                    Hmm….

                    How does this:

                    I think being a libertarian means that you have to use words like “progtard”. On this commentariate it doesn’t hurt to also be a “former” Republican, with a Freudian penchant for firearms, and a neo-con world view.

                    fit into that little chestnut Eric?

              2. Conservatives don’t regularly get a pass and liberals are targets.

                See, that was easy.

              3. There are too many to name, but you’ve mentioned a few. Oftentimes it’s not even what’s said, but what’s not said.

                We’re all a bunch of socons and neocons because we don’t talk about Mexicans, pot, or ass-sex.

                1. We’re all a bunch of socons and neocons because we don’t talk about Mexicans, pot, or ass-sex in every single thread.

                  FTFY

      4. with a Freudian penchant for firearms

        Afraid of guns, prog asshole?

        1. Bait taken fuckwad. I own three. But they are tools, not totems against the negligible length of my dick.

          1. I think you’re a fucking liar. Back to DailyKos, fuckwad troll.

            1. Pssst, I hear these guys at world net daily are looking for a new blogger since Chick Norris blew out his sphincter on his Total Gym XLS.
              Perk: Joseph Farah offers 25 cent mustache rides to the most closeted male intern too!

              1. Was that supposed to be amusing? You are fucking useless, concern troll.

                1. Don’t like getting your intellectual circle jerk interrupted Dave? Like I said, there’s always worldnetdaily. They don’t even pretend to be libertarian. Pure red blooded Amuricans over there hoss.

                  1. I’m not even American, asshole, but I can still see your nothing but a prog concern troll.

                    1. Not an American??? Well, that’s ok, this country is a melting pot Dave!

                      Also, worldnetdaily will still resonate with you. They just don’t like foreigners from south of the border, if you know what I mean. You pronounce your name Dave (as opposed to Daa-veed), right? If so welcome to America!

                    2. LOL, trying to be funny again? You aren’t much good at it.

      5. I prefer “proglodyte”. Sure, there are some former Republicans here (not I), and many with a high degree of affinity for firearms, but if you’ve come looking for neocons, you’ve come to the wrong place. Except for Cytotoxic, or whatever.

    5. Gotta love the projection.

    6. All REAL Libertarians BLEEVE that the one True Libertarian Dictator of the Intergalactic Libertarian Empire shall be… The SQRLSY One!!!!!!!! (Thank Yew, Yer Welcum)

  7. I question the phrasing that “individuals should be free of aggression, essentially the initiation of physical force”. I think he means that individuals should be free from aggression. It’s not necessary to be a pacifist to be a Libertarian, even if they aren’t mutually exclusive.

    1. Pacifism and libertarianism aren’t mutually exclusive, true, but pacifism requires one of two things that don’t really fit in well with libertarians, A. gross naivete (bordering on willful ignorance); or B. freeloading of those who will do violence.

      1. Not really. Pacifism means being willing to take the consequences of non-violently opposing aggression, or even just accepting aggression and not responding to it. As Gandhi proved in India, it can work well against those who can be shamed, or at least care about not being booted out of office by those who can be shamed.

        It can mean getting treated badly, though.

        1. As Gandhi proved in India, it can work well against those who can be shamed

          I usually forget about him because I generally think about things from the perspective of an American. American enemies (whether we “made them” or not) have usually had no shame.

          In reference to him, there is a third option, C. relying on the conceit of human decency. Which only works if the people you are facing share that concept, or at least have some variation of it.

          It’s worth noting that Gandhi was not a doctrinaire pacifist.

  8. Excellent article Mr. Richman. I don’t always see eye to eye with some of your writings, but this one explains why that is ok. This is something we can all identify with.

    1. Seconded. Kudos to Mr. Richman.

      1. Bonus points for lush beard.

    2. Agreed. I read a lot of his stuff at the Freeman, and I’m glad Reason is printing his columns.

      1. I liked Richman’s columns at the Freeman as well.

    3. Yes. Good article, Mr. Richman.

  9. Being libertarian is not what I find difficult. I do not even mind being outside the political mainstream. Talking with people who refuse to look past their assumptions about libertarianism is what I find difficult. Sure, I can point out the fallacy of their assumptions, but five minutes later, they are back to asserting that because I want the immigration and/or drug laws changed, then I must be okay with making murder legal. Or that if I want government to stop harassing people, then I must support corporations harassing people. It is never ending. Sure, I can and do walk away, but after a while, when nearly everyone has that “he is one of those” attitudes no matter what the subject, it gets a bit tiring.

    1. I never use the word ‘libertarian’ in discussions with people precisely because of the ignorance and prejudice you mention.

      1. Assuming you want to get along with folks, I recommend that:

        When self-professed ‘liberals’ ask how you vote, say “democratically.”

        When conservativez raise the subject, say “the Obama years have been disasterous. America needs to make a radical change in 2016.”

        this^ pattern generates few arguments and (often) free drinks.

        1. “How do you vote?”

          “Mostly with a touchscreen, nowadays.”

        2. I use the “Obama turned out the be a Neocon, just like Bush” works well too for the liberals.

          If you really get them started, tell them how Obama and the Dems made it harder for women to get birth control in 2012 (over 18, rescinded the OTC brands, etc.).

      2. Yeah, it sucks being strawman’d in any discussion before I’ve even had time to say anything.

        1. I rarely get strawmanned. Most people I engage in a political discussion don’t know what libertarianism even is.

          1. “Most people I engage in a political discussion don’t know what libertarianism even is.”

            That doesn’t seem to stop most of them from claiming to know, and simply making asses of themselves (such as Eric, upthread).

            1. Sevo – “That doesn’t seem to stop most of them from claiming to know, and simply making asses of themselves (such as Eric, upthread).”

              Yeah. A couple instances aside, this has been my norm. If you’re not socialist, you’re a nazi and a slave-owner. I’ve actually had that argument leveled at me – I oppose subsidies, therefore I think we should bring back slavery.

              And the Somalia thing. They never connect that competing warlord kings is different than having a federalized constitutional government with lower taxes.

              1. Somalia: Because nothing discredits libertarianism like a formerly-colonized Muslim country that tries communism and then collapses into civil war.

                1. PapayaSF – Haha, yeah. Then again, they’re also the same people that say communism failed because communist countries weren’t communist enough…

        2. As opposed to H&R, where we strawman you because you’re Canadian. Now go eat your back bacon, hoser.

          1. Jealousy of our pork is not becoming, Mr Penguin.

        3. Yeah, the strawmanning sucks.

          However, I was at a gathering not long ago where I said I was libertarian and this person went on about roads and how they were going to be a public defender (personal stake in the public sector).

          I said that the judicial system we have is there to defend the accused and that roads are a public common. Different than being opposed to regressive taxes and social puritanism. They got my point, fortunately.

          Her assumption was that “libertarian” equals “social conservative”. At least she listened to me.

      3. People definitely have some weird assumptions about what libertarians actually think. “Economically conservative, socially liberal” is my go-to.

        1. Economically conservative, socially liberal is fine for someone who is new to politics. However, it’s an imperfect analogy. It’s also what draws people to think they’re libertarians without really understanding the nature of power and rights (see how the Tea Party’s message was co-opted by republicans drawn to their small govt message).
          That said, the term Libertarian completely transcends the current political nomenclature. Libertarians are simply opposed to most positive rights. This generally puts them in opposition to the vast majority of American politicians and even most of the electorate.

          1. Libertarians are simply opposed to most positive rights.

            Hmm, I thought it was all positive rights, as the term is an oxymoron.

  10. Yeah. Saying you like the idea of no public schooling definitely shocks people.

  11. Amen.

  12. The problem with X equaling 4 is that Y=4.1, and Z=3.9, and A=4.01, and B=3.99, and n=infinity. And B is more important than A and AZYnX. Simply X may 4, but X isn’t that important (the fact that it is raining outside right now has very little importance the next week, and next to none a thousand years hence). The upshot is the universe is chaos; the fact that we might stumble on an X=4 only has so much importance, it is contextual, and the context will likely change. Simply, arguments between libertarians and non-libertarians comes down to those who accept the world is chaos, and to suppress fear, and not lash about wildly, throwing haymakers in the dark, versus those who tremble in fear, resort to superstitions, and unleash broadcast Force in all directions. The difficulty is trying to talk the person – who (or their hired agent(s)) has you in a headlock, searching for your wallet, shouting catechisms in your ear – out of their superstitions. Believing that A=A with near certainty isn’t going to help much when A most certainly B, but the person who has you in a headlock doesn’t want to hear it.

    Being logical and believing you are right is small potatoes stacked up against the 95+% of the superstitious who believe they are right, or illogical, and have the guns. That’s the sad state of being a libertarian.

    1. Not that it matters, but there were a load of great than and less than signs that apparently didn’t make it through filters.

      1. I just skipped the wall of text once I got to about the second sentence. :-p

  13. It was a nice read. Thanks Sheldon.

  14. He’s an idiot on war. States or people that can’t defend themselves will perish or be kept in chains.

  15. ” consider relevant evidence and arguments”

    Sheldon do libertarians consider evidence like Enron, love canal, Bhopal, etc., etc., etc., to be in favor or disfavor of Libertopia? Do you think you can get fucked over by a private company or is it only possible to receive injustice from the dreaded government?

    Did the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, rural electrification, establishment of the National Park System, the Apollo program inexorably end up producing tyranny? These things probably were put in place by Josef Stalin.

    1. Enron

      Cronyism.

      love canal

      Blatant government malfeasance, you clearly don’t know what actually happened.

      establishment of the National Park System

      Considering it has relied heavily on the use of eminent domain since the ’30s, yeah, the NPS has produced tyranny.

      1. commie kid = fucking ignorant liar

    2. Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act

      air and water were getting cleaner before these acts and they are not used to put pretty draconian regulatory takings.

      rural electrification

      Caused more pollution then the Clean air act prevented. You have any idea how much electricity is lost over long distance power lines? How much pollution and energy is used to make and install those power lines? There are other ways to generate energy in rural areas. And without government subsidy they would have been more efficient and less polluting.

      the Apollo program

      ICBM development….arguably our nuclear weapons program was used as a defense against another nuclear power. But do you honestly think our ability to nuke anyone anywhere in the world had nothing to do with the expansion of US interventionist foreign polices?

      1. Correction:

        air and water were getting cleaner before these acts and they are now used to put pretty draconian regulatory takings.

        rural electrification

        I should also point out a little thing called !!!!SPRAWL!!! I don’t think sprawl is a problem (people are moving into urban areas not away and have been for the past 100 years) but it is pretty funny that a progressive is arguing for the very thing that causes sprawl is somehow an example of needed government intervention.

    3. Worst troll ever.

      AS, it’s like you’re not even trying anymore. You still got some saps to bite, which is sad.

    4. Redmanfms said it well: All those were state-run (government) fiascos.

      Or will you cite the Ecuadorian oil spills too, not realizing they have a nationalize oil program (the socialist government runs it).

      Also – communist countries have the worst environmental records. Aral Sea. Acid rain. Toxicity of waters. Overfarming lands. Dumping nuclear waste in the oceans, into forests and rivers.

    5. Nobody is arguing that we get rid of civil liability.

      In fact, most libertarians consider liability to be a cornerstone of libertarian legal and economic theory.

      In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Nozick argues that people be required to hold liability insurance to cover the costs of risks created by activities they are engaged in. (i.e. Bhopal is a perfect case)

      Given the interests of the insurer, the insurer would generally attempt to optimally price risk and reduce liability. Very risky activities would become very expensive to insure. Putting in place safety measures would reduce insurance costs. And the beauty of it is the industry pays for it’s own regulation.

      Cost to taxpayers: 0
      Compensation to victims of accidents: 100%.

      1. In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Nozick argues that people be required to hold liability insurance to cover the costs of risks created by activities they are engaged in.

        Yeah.

        We’ve gone through this before, and the argument from authority shit still doesn’t fly, but force (which is precisely what a requirement entails) being used to make anyone purchase a product is profoundly at odds with liberty.

        You never did explain to me how this proposal differs from the Obamacare mandates…

        1. So if you’re against liability insurance, what do you do when a damages are extremely large and the company doesn’t even have 10% of the assets pay them?

          The victims should just suck it up?

          1. So if you’re against liability insurance

            Where’s that Bastiat quote….

            I’m not against insurance, I’m against forcing people to buy it.

            So, are you going to get around to explaining how forcing people to buy liability insurance is different than the Obamacare mandates?

            …what do you do when a damages are extremely large and the company doesn’t even have 10% of the assets pay them?

            Cute hypothetical. When has this actually happened?

            The victims should just suck it up?

            So, just so I understand your position here, you think that because you can construct a hypothetical in which liability cannot be covered by existing assets (which is a bit of a stretch) every single person in the country should be forced to buy an insurance product. Is that about the sum of it?

            You realize you are actually making a really strong case for Obamacare (well at least for the insurance mandates), yes?

            In the real world no solution is going to cover every potential outcome. Some of us recognize this and err on the side of liberty, and some us (you), don’t.

            1. Cases where liability can’t be covered by existing assets happen ALL THE TIME, actually. Example: Union Carbide paid only $1,500 for each death resulting from the Bhopal disaster.

              But the real kicker is that most businesses are protected from liability by regulation. That’s the deal they make. The government regulates the industry, and in exchange for following certain rules, the company is absolved of liability. When a disaster happens, the government steps in a compensates the victims, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the cost.

              1. Cases where liability can’t be covered by existing assets happen ALL THE TIME, actually. Example: Union Carbide paid only $1,500 for each death resulting from the Bhopal disaster.

                Given that UC and its parent company Dow still exist, clearly not all existing assets were liquidated.

                The settlement was for $470,000,000 (a settlement that was apparently influenced heavily by the US government), which would have been closer to $10,000/victim (still paltry), had the government of India apparently not skimmed.

                So Bhopal isn’t an example of inadequate assets, but multiple levels of government malfeasance and government/corporate collusion.

                But the real kicker is that most businesses are protected from liability by regulation.

                Well holy shit, you finally found the nugget.

                My solution involves ending limited liability. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s a much more liberty oriented than demanding that every person in a country purchase a product and invite exactly the kind of corrosive government/corporate collusion that makes liability a problem.

                This would be equivalent to mandating that all companies pay the same price for liability insurance, regardless of their safety records.

                Clearly, we can trust that a mandate to purchase an insurance product that enforced by the government would never result in anything untoward…

                1. So you think $1,500 is a reasonable payment to make for killing a person? Brown people don’t matter much to you, do they?

                  Anyway, Union Carbide was exempted from liabiliuty for the reasons given above. They got sued anyway, and eventually the plaintiffs manages to get a puny settlement.

                  If you want another example, most doctors in private practice carry liability insurance, because if they get hit with a malpractice suit there is no way they could afford a multi-million dollar settlement. Any one of them would be bankrupted in such an event. Many states make a minimal level of liability insurance mandatory for doctors already. There are also, pretty commonly, wrongful death and personal injury suits all the time where the defendent gets bankrupted. It’s not at all uncommon. Do you think a mom and pop grocery store could afford to pay damages if someone died of food poisoning from their butcher shop?

                  Of course you need to end limited liability. But OBVIOUSLY you have to do something about cases where people are doing highly risky activities where the potential damages far exceed their assets.

                  It’s either make them purchase liability insurance, or else have minute regulations governing their day-to-day operations. Making them purchase liability insurance costs the taxpayer a lot less, and is less onerous to the company.

                  You must pay for the risks you impose upon others.

            2. As for ObamaCare … health insurance isn’t *liability* insurance. Liability insurance is specifically about risks that you impose on OTHERS. Health insurance is just to pay for risks to yourself.
              More importantly, the community rating aspect of the ACA means that the price you are paying is not commensurate with your actual risk. This would be equivalent to mandating that all companies pay the same price for liability insurance, regardless of their safety records.

    6. You do know that most people who do so refer to “Libertopia” ironically, right? The standard for a policy change in the direction of freedom should not be “will the outcome be perfect?” It’s not as though competing philosophies, which often do promise the sky, ever come close to perfection.

      And yes, private companies can do a lot of harm…but they also need to compete with one another, and comply with laws–even if those laws were “Libertopian” minimal ones. And if I don’t like a company’s way of doing business, I can often stop doing business with them…unless the government is there forcing me to. Governments, on the other hand, are monopolies by default.

  16. When I explain to progressives that I’m libertarian only because I want to “run” my own life as I see fit without meddling for those who believe “things should be run” and think others should be free to do with their own lives as they see fit

    They really stumble over that “others should be free to do with their own lives as they see fit” part.

    Does

    not

    compute.

  17. I don’t think I have ever explicitly claimed to be a libertarian. A few people have diagnosed me as such, but for the most part I decline to talk economics or politics with the cargo cultists.

  18. That should probably read, “I don’t think I have ever explicitly claimed to be a libertarian in a discussion In Real Life.”

    This is my support group. Otherwise, I might go goofy.

    1. In retrospect, I should have never started using the term libertarian. I didn’t talk politics with a friend for quite a while, and the last time we had a conversation, she started pulling all these phrases such as “privilege”, etc.

      Apparently, she’s been reading reddit, Jezebel, Salon, etc and picking up all these terms. The discussion was just a pile of strawman arguments I had to refute before I could ever get to the meat of the issue.

      1. While I’ve donned the libertarian helmet often in conversation, I find that it’s easier to just say you’re liberal and go from there into particulars.

  19. I tell people that I’m a registered Independent, philosophical libertarian, and a voting anarchist.

    And that you should vote with a side, not for a team.

  20. “Do you think you can get fucked over by a private company”

    Yes. I quite agree. Private comapnies do a lot of bad stuff: Ripoffs mostly, but not exclusively. Private (and publically traded) companies posion people, customers, and the environment. Private companies engage in deceit, commercial fraud, collude to fix prices, and discriminate against various groups.

    “is it only possible to receive injustice from the dreaded government?”

    No but, IMO, an evil government is much worse than an evil corporation, although I’m open to the possibility that there may be exceptions — arguably Exxon gone evil might be worse for mankind than San Marino gone evil. Can we at least agree that some governments AND some corporations are harmful?

    1. “Can we at least agree that some governments AND some corporations are harmful?”

      Yes, but private harm is easy to fix:
      1) No corp has guns to force you to do anything.
      2) Corps that do harm typically go out of business promptly.
      3) You can sue a corp for harms.

      1. Sevo – this point often gets lost.

        The government has napalm, tanks, and trillions of dollars at its disposal.

        MdDonald’s has McNuggets and Microsoft had Vista. Not exactly terrifying.

        And yeah, proggies will use OIL COMPANIESSS – but most of those are nationalized worldwide, so they just argue against themselves.

  21. The saddest part of being a libertarian is when your Dad, who you’ve always admired for working his ass off his whole life and being an independent thinker, tells you, upon reaching 65, that he’s worried that “they” may take “his” Social Security.

    I do, on occasion, make some headway trying to reason with a statist by talking about the various non violent, victimless activities that will land you in jail, or by letting them know that when they hear about the evil rich, it’s actually THEM that are talking about.

    But as for anyone getting a gov’t check, belonging to a union, or who identifies themselves as part of a griefer group, it’s hopeless.

  22. I could take the path of least resistance and keep quiet about what’s going on in the world. Sometimes that has great appeal. But then I think about the injustice inflicted on the victims of systematic, mechanized, and legal aggression

    This is exactly why I get on Reason, among other places, and try to convince libertarians that the political system of government is the epitome of injustice. Markets are the best practical and most moral producer of the services that protect life, liberty and property. There is no bureaucratic reform, public or law or constitutional amendment that will change the nature of the state, which is institutional evil to it’s core.

    Some minarchists who agree that no reform will change the nature of the state, will tell you that the state is acceptable so long as every so often there is a revolt, that we must endure of cycle of expanding and then collapsing freedom. I reject the necessity of this vicious cycle as a regular component of civilization the same way the Austrian school rejects the necessity of the “boom and bust cycle” as a regular component of capitalism.

    The state does not make your life, your liberty or your property any better. It makes you better off in the same way a rapist makes you better off when he whispers loving words in your ear. It offers an out, allowing the victim to rationalize that they somehow aren’t a victim after all and maybe Mr Rapist is just trying to help.

    1. “Mr Rapist is just trying to help”
      Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

      Government loves me, This I know,
      For the Government tells me so,
      Little ones to GAWD belong,
      We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
      Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
      Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
      And gives me all that I might need!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      DEA, CIA, KGB,
      Our protectors, they will be,
      FBI, TSA, and FDA,
      With us, astride us, in every way!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      1. SQRLSY,
        An outstanding song. You have a gift there, mi amigo. May I use it?

  23. Do you think you can get fucked over by a private company or is it only possible to receive injustice from the dreaded government?

    Walmart (or General Electric, or Ford, or Insert Kkkorporation Here) will never send a paramilitary death squad to my house in the middle of the night.

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…..Lim.C3.B3n

      As long as you’re not in South America.

      On December 13, 1998, seventeen civilians, including 7 children, were killed when the Colombian Air Force (CAF) dropped a cluster bomb in the hamlet of Santo Domingo, Colombia, after AirScan, Occidental’s security contractor, from a private aircraft, incorrectly identified it as a hostile guerrilla target. Groups such as FARC and the National Liberation Army were active in the area. Three employees of AirScan were flying the Skymaster plane from which they provided the Colombian military with the coordinates to drop the bombs. The operation had been planned by the CAF and AirScan at Occidental’s complex in Ca?o Lim?n.[65] A lawsuit was attempted in April 2003 against Occidental by Luis Alberto Galvis Mujica, a witness and survivor of the accident.[66] Plaintiffs claims were dismissed by the trial court.[67][68] The dismissal was appealed to 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sent the case back to the trial court to resolve a single issue.[69] The trial court declined to reconsider the case, thereby reinstating the dismissal. The case is once again on appeal.

      1. The government military used a private security firm’s intel, which was either faulty or malicious.

        The Columbian government and Occidental had common enemies – cartels and the NLA. This doesn’t prove that businesses run the show.

        If anything, the Occidental probably trusts the Columbian gov’t too much.

  24. Give me liberty or give me death. Or some free shit. Yeah, some free shit’ll work.

    1. WHERE in the Sacred and Holy Name of Government Almighty is Mah FREE SHIT?!?!? PWEASE tell me WHO to vote fer?!?!?!

      1. It ain’t about who to voter FOR, it’s about who to vote against. The guy who has his hand over his pocket, that MF is your enemy.

  25. Former Republican here,
    I was brought to libertarianism out of a rather profound disillusionment with the dogmatic conservative right,
    In educating myself I realized the wing nuts weren’t much better then the proggies,
    Learned that the war on drugs is a farce, immigration requires a fair reformation, and the scourge of crony capitalism is a problem that most people do not understand,
    I followed team Bush loyally until I started questioning the reasons of why the economy tanked in 08, it led me to the writings of Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, etc etc and I haven’t looked back since…

    1. I’m glad to hear this and my “conversion” was similar.

      Welcome to HampersandR!

      1. Thank You PH2050,

  26. I think it would be interesting to see how people here came to libertarianism.

    Was it through being conservative, or liberal?

    Was it an article/book?

    Or through personal experience?

    Mine was: I was pretty liberal, into punk rock and all that, and loved reading history. Then I read Marx and matched it up to the history I knew, then dumped the “socialism” thing (Marxism/Socialism hates free speech, freedom of movement, etc.)

    Then I read a couple articles on Reason.com, some Thomas Sowell, “Anthem”, and excerpts from Weber and Hayek. On top of that, I got my Bachelor’s in History (the state’s crimes are rampant in history).

    I also worked and lived on my own mostly for about 3 years before going back to uni ate age 22. I did the math one time and saw that I did okay living in my means while the people (and there were many) who said the poor should be paid more often spent their money very unwisely.

    1. Ive said it here before, I primarily credit reading CS Lewis.

    2. I was born a libertarian.

      1. CS Lewis – nice!

        And we found the True Scotsman! I jest, of course 🙂

    3. Former Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal who couldn’t rationalize blue team/read team to fit any sort of consistent reasoned ethics. Typically voted Red Team, with much intelectual self loathing. Then read a little Ayn Rand, actually listened to Ron Paul, and found my way to Austrian economics. Now I’m circling anarchism, since even Libertarianism accepts the State as necessary, if not ethical. You can’t actually square self ownership with democratic Libertarianism.

  27. Of course you can’t help it?belief is involuntary. It’d be the same if you were anti-liberty.

  28. I like the sound of that dude, makes sense.

    http://www.TotalAnon.tk

  29. I can’t help it either, Sir! I went to the Ethical Culture Fieldston School where I studied physics in the same lab as Oppenheimer, and then to Reed College where I studied Phil and Econ in the same classroom as Steve Jobs- and Dr. Demento! Currently running for NH State Rep. of District 11, and a member of the HN Free State Project- lover of Thomas Woods, Stefan Molyneux, peter Schiff, Joe Salerno, Andrew Napolitano, Roger Garrison, Bob Murphy, and all the geniuses at the Mises Institute… Go baby!

  30. OOPS- please forgive typos… classrooms, not classroom- NH, not HN…

  31. If you have a monopoly on the guns and the cages, you can bet you’ll be the one using them against your enemies at some point. If you can force every transaction to use paper you created as currency, you can bet you’ll create a lot more of it. If you can look at the communications of every individual, you can bet you’ll wind up using that information against people who resent you having a monopoly on the guns, cages, currency and spying.

  32. Sheldon really had me going, talking about logic and all, until the last few paragraphs were all an appeal to emotion. Good show Sheldon, you almost had me fooled you were actually a libertarian.

    1. 99% aint’ gonna cut it these here parts!

  33. If you grasp that an inference logically follows from factual premises and self-evident axioms, can you really elect to disbelieve it?

    You name me one thing that is truly self-evident in politics and we’ll talk. Things that are self-evident (I prefer the word obvious) are things that shouldn’t be contentious.

    individuals should be free of aggression, essentially the initiation of physical force.

    But not all individuals. Not criminals. Not people who step one foot on your lawn. I get that “initiation” is all-important–once someone “initiates” violence, then all matter of jack-booted government thuggery is permissible. But we must think about whether the distinction is all that important. Some of us think there’s something to an ounce of prevention.

    Libertarianism (your flavor of which you only very vaguely define) does not proceed automatically from a set of eternal truths. It proceeds from some axioms (which are questionable at best) and then goes on to totally contradict itself (I need courts and police and property and corporate personhood–but you can’t have healthcare or education because, uh, freedom!).

    You’ll forgive us nonlibertarians, with our mentally stunted inability to think outside the box, for wondering whether your philosophy isn’t a collection of gimmes to the wealthy (including serfdom for everyone else) justified by flimsy and contradictory moral dicta.

    1. A criminal not respecting the initiation of force, does not create the ethical basis for an argument suppporting the creation of a state exercising the initiation of force in a criminal manner. It can be proven that killing and stealing are not preferred human behavior, do you disagree with that…axiom?

      You equate the existance of a criminal with the NEED for a state of criminals (the exercise of the unethical powers of initiation of force and theft); this is a leap you make without questioning it’s efficacy or it’s violation of the first principle. There is a name for that fallacy, don’t know what it is, but you ignore that there may be solutions to the existance of a criminal other other than the creation of a state of criminals to battle criminals.

      To say that since a murderer exists, murder by the state is ethical, since a thief exists, theft by the state is ethical is to disagree with the axiom. The criminals activities remain unethical and those harmed have an ethical right to respond to protect their self and their property. Be the aggressor the State, You, or a Criminal. But I repeat myself.

      Would an analogy for your argument be that if one cashier is stealing from the till, that theft is ethical and more people shoud do it? Seems a few steps of ‘reasoning’ were skipped.

      You might start back again at step one: The initiation of force is unethical and not preferred human behavior. Please disprove the axiom.

      1. You can’t prove or disprove an ethical commandment. I can show where libertarians consistently contradict it though. Is a person stepping on your lawn really initiating force? Or are you shooting him for it initiating force? Does the fact that he “initiated” in such a trivial and harmless way all of a sudden make force completely acceptable in response? Doesn’t that make force not only permissible but morally good at the mere step of a foot? So why aren’t there a thousand other circumstances in which it might be good?

        Because to those of you who permit a small amount of government, you want it doing only those things that are actually (and not metaphorically) violent, like shooting and imprisoning people. But for some reason taxation to pay for anything else is immoral. Doesn’t make any sense.

        1. Got it, so you can’t agree that stealing and killing is bad for humans.

          I’m enlightened, thank you. If you agree killing and stealing is bad, then you can’t do the good things you think are necessary.

  34. Me, I just sleep easier at night and have an easier time looking at myself in the mirror in the morning knowing I haven’t advocated hurting people or stealing their stuff. But hey, that’s me.

  35. Very Ayn Rand. I like it.

  36. as Lori implied I’m alarmed that a person able to make $9501 in 1 month on the internet . browse around this site W?W?W.J?u?m?p??62.C?o???m

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