Libertarian History/Philosophy

Another Silly Jab at Libertarianism

A world "designed to work perfectly" was no part of major libertarian thinkers' intention.

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News Hour/Flickr

The problem with responding to Alan Wolfe's feeble attempt to critique libertarianism is that one might appear to be defending the particular people he targets: namely, Rand Paul and Ayn Rand. (Rand Paul was not named after Ayn Rand. At least Wolfe avoided that error.) I want to defend the libertarian philosophy without defending Rand Paul or Ayn Rand because:

  • Rand Paul doesn't claim to be a libertarian, which is good because he isn't. For example, he is not a consistent noninterventionist in foreign policy; he's merely more cautious than his rivals and prefers that Congress be asked for declarations of war. Let's not conflate constitutionalism with libertarianism. As Paul said in 2010, "They thought all along that they could call me a libertarian and hang that label around my neck like an albatross, but I'm not a libertarian." That should dispose of the matter, unless one has evidence he is lying or has changed his mind. Even if, relatively speaking, he is more pleasing to libertarians than any other major political figure, that does not make him a libertarian. So Wolfe is wrong when he writes, "If Paul were to win the Republican nomination, libertarianism's unfitness for the modern world would be revealed for all to see." Libertarianism's fitness or lack thereof has nothing to do with Rand Paul.
  • Ayn Rand, for all the virtues of her philosophical system, was hardly a model libertarian, a label she also rejected. She endorsed the limited monopoly state as well as intellectual property, which is problematic for a politics rooted in freedom; she lacked insight into the nature of historical capitalism; and she was not a principled noninterventionist in foreign policy (though she was better than some of her followers.) Wolfe writes that Rand, "for all her talk of freedom, was an authoritarian at heart. She was intolerant of dissent and conspiratorial to a fault." But contrary to Wolfe, her personal failings cannot be held against her political philosophy. Surely he can see the distinction between political philosophy and personal conduct. Rand's chief political principle was that no person—including the persons who run the state—has the right to initiate physical force against another person. (Wolfe doesn't mention that.) If Rand was intolerant of dissent or conspiratorial to a fault (whatever that means), what does that have to do with this principle? She neither aggressed against those who disagreed with her nor called on the state to do so. Anyone who disliked her intolerance was free not to to associate with her. Clearly, Wolfe is using the term "authoritarian" equivocally. An authoritarian state necessarily aggresses against people. A person with an authoritarian personality need not. The kind of government Rand favored—although too much for a consistent libertarian—would not have been authoritarian. 

So even if we were to grant everything Wolfe says about Rand Paul and Ayn Rand, it would tell us nothing about the libertarian philosophy. I will leave it to others to examine Wolfe's belief that libertarian electoral politics are impractical because most people won't accept the philosophy. (However, he asks a good left-libertarian question: "How, exactly, does one get government 'interference' out of business when business wants it there most of the time?")

Before proceeding, I must perform an act of charity, which is more than Wolfe does in his article. The title of the Reuters post is "Why libertarianism is closer to Stalinism than you think." Since the word "Stalinism" appears nowhere in the piece, I will assume that a flamboyant editor wrote the headline. So let's not hold Wolfe responsible for it. The article is bad enough already.

Speaking of charity, you'll not find it [from Wolfe]: 

To keep them [pure libertarians] pleased, Paul must from time to time speak directly to their fears. His effort to hold up a Senate vote on extending the NSA's authority to collect Americans' telephone records served that need well.

Is Wolfe saying that Paul's defense of Americans' privacy is merely a cynical political move? Has Wolfe evidence to support that charge? And how does he square it with his contention that Paul is a libertarian, since libertarians genuinely detest government surveillance? It sounds as though Wolfe supports extending the NSA's authority to collect phone data on every American and that he believes opposition is based on irrational fear.

Behold Wolfe's indictment of the libertarian philosophy:

For libertarianism is among the most rigid of modern ideologies. The theorists who formulated its core principles were seekers after political purity. They created an ideal world designed to work perfectly — but only if human beings acted consistently. Society, to them, was like a Swiss watch: Let every part play its designed role, and the whole thing would run on its own accord.

This is pure polemics void of serious content. It's just silly to say that libertarian theorists sought political purity as though that were an end in itself. What they sought was a world without aggression; where free and peaceful social cooperation (including but not limited to voluntary exchange in the market) was extended to all areas of life; where no one could treat others like property. The theorists sought to formulate a philosophy that consistently served that end.

Anyone familiar with the major libertarian thinkers would surely know that a world "designed to work perfectly" was no part of their intention. They were attempting nothing of the kind. In fact, they were not trying to design any kind of world at all. Major libertarian thinkers all had some version of F. A. Hayek's views on the impossibility of designing—planning—society, a view based on the limits of human knowledge and of reason. It would be contradictory to advocate freedom while trying to design the world because free people would inevitably disrupt the designer's plans. (Hayek emphasizes that point in The Road to Serfdom.) No libertarian sees society as anything like a Swiss watch, and suggesting such a thing marks one as ignorant of libertarianism. Society runs "on its own accord" not because people "act consistently" or play their designed roles, but rather because freedom generates bottom-up institutions (including but not limited to the price system) that coordinate endlessly diverse individuals' joint activities.

Admittedly, rigidity is present, but only in this respect: You may not treat other people purely as means to your ends because they are ends in themselves. You may not tread on them. If it pleases Wolfe to equate that prohibition with a religious view of sin, so be it. Others will see it differently.

If you want more of Wolfe's polemics, see this piece of nonsense:

[According to libertarianism,] individuals are free to act in their self-interest — indeed, are required to [!] — but if they grow lazy or are swayed by emotions or altruism, society's best achievements will come crashing down around them.

I would comment but I have no idea what this means. He adds that "however inspiring libertarian principles may be to the truly committed, they are elitist at their core." I wish Wolfe had attempted to substantiate that claim. If no one may treat another as property—if all are "equal in authority"—how can the philosophy be elitist?

(Incidentally, I've criticized Wolfe before. See "Market, State, and Autonomy.")

This piece originally appeared at Richman's "Free Association" blog. 

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  1. Rand Paul is not going to win over women voters with that face.

    1. Not if that’s his smolder.

    2. I think you’ve pointed out a quality of women voters no one would dare to discuss.

    3. Does he even squat, bro?

  2. First they ignore you then they…

    1. Oh, I’m sorry. Were you saying something?

      1. Starting the first day of the week with a chuckle is always good. Thanks.

  3. All of these arguments “designed to work perfectly” arguments reveal the implicit assumption behind all of the thinkers like Wolfe: that society should look and work the way Wolfe wants it to, and Wolfe would only be willing to allow people freedom if they had the assurances that all those free people would act in such a way that society would come out to his liking.

    And, he they can’t get that guarantee, he’s quite fine with using force to get it.

    Then, he’ll ridicule libertarians for thinking that freedom could give him exactly what he wants.

    On the other hand, I think it’s quite telling when they implicitly admit that they can only get the society they want by using force against peaceful people. Apparently, everyone doesn’t agree with them.

    1. this is a very good point. the “yeah maybe libertarianism would work in a perfect world” argument has always bugged me but ive never quite been able to articulate why (maybe because it is such a profound misunderstanding [sure, let’s go with that]). i guess the right response is “what do you mean by a perfect world?”. people should be free to do what you want?

      1. if only we had better people

        1. I honestly think we would if most folk didn’t decide that their charity work was done the moment they filed their taxes. I’ve used that hypothetical in Paul Sr’s Manifesto many times in debate: If all social programs crashed for some reason would you give of your personal time and/or money? That loss of personal connection and (voluntary) sense of responsibility for others makes us all worse off- financially and ethically.

          1. I was being facetious. I agree with that. I’ve actually said that same thing during conversations with liberals. They get very angry and insist that it isn’t true that the fact that the government steals their money to give to whom they decide needs it doesn’t have any impact on charity.

            1. Of the many, many, many, many offensive things about progressives, the fact that they are cheapskates using their desire to enlist other people’s money in charitable deeds as proof of their moral superiority… that ranks pretty high on the list.

          2. They don’t want to get their hands dirty with those filthy poor people.

        2. A better world would have libertarian re-education camps

      2. Totally pure textbook libertarianism wouldn’t work in the presence of people who wanted to dominate others and had the strength to do so. Also, there are unpleasant consequences of pure libertarianism in regard to the “losers” of the free market game, which we always assume private charity will take care of but that is another assumption we’re making. Ironically, while the free market is extremely beneficial in a collective sense, for many individuals the results are worse than the alternative.

        1. That ignores human agency, and sees people as passive objects that are effected by external events.

          1. No it does not. The existence of human agency does not imply everyone will exercise it well. There will always be some people who are not useful for satisfying the market’s desires, and these will either be taken care of by private charity or die.

            Below you compared the free market to evolution. Evolution required shitloads of species going extinct. Plenty of eggs get cracked to make the spontaneous order omelette.

            1. So if non-libertarians killed 35M of their own people in one case, how many are acceptable? The State and its agents kill a thousand or more Americans every year. You act like those people willng to dominate don’t exist and kill people who oppose their will this very second in out society. But you are wrong. So given that you’re wrong, how can libertarianism be worse?

            2. Evolution required shitloads of species going extinct.

              Evolution requires nothing. You are anthropomorphizing a concept. As Daniel Dennett eloquently argued, evolution is an algorithm. That having been said let’s not pretend that in equal measure to extinction that various species haven’t evolved mutually symbiotic relationships with each other because it is inconvenient to your argument.

        2. Totally pure textbook libertarianism democratic republics wouldn’t work in the presence of people who wanted to dominate others and had the strength to do so. Also, there are unpleasant consequences of pure libertarianism democratic republics in regard to the “losers” of the free market voting game, which we always assume private charity will take care of themselves but that is another assumption we’re making. Ironically, while the free market voting is extremely beneficial in a collective sense, for many individuals the results are worse than the alternative.

        3. “which we always assume private charity will take care of but that is another assumption we’re making.”

          Given that the same people voting to give away money via the government are the same people who would theoretically be opening their wallets voluntarily that seems like a reasonable assumption to make. Progressives are actually quite conservative in the traditional sense of the word. They are terrified of change and will fight against it invoking whatever boogeyman necessary to keep the status quo.

        4. And, yet, all modern governments are staffed by people who want to dominate others, and have the strength to do so. Modern governments have unpleasant consequences in regards to the “broken eggs” of the welfare state game. Ironically, while a government-dominated society is extremely beneficial in a collective sense, for many individuals the results are worse than a more libertarian alternative.

          The benefit of a more libertarian society is that there wouldn’t be a single dominant sphere of influence (fedgov). Depending on the segment of society, you’d have multiple organizations of lesser power. So those who want to dominate others simply don’t have enough strength to wreak as much havoc.

          1. So Somalia then

            1. Ooh, Somalia.

              The problems in Somalia are the result of a failed state under which conditions for most people were worse than without. When the people are dependent upon a government, it’s inevitable collapse is bound to produce withdrawal symptoms.

              IAC, Somalia’s current problems are due to competing would be rulers, not a lack of rule.

              1. From what I’ve read, it seems like there was also a bit of a caste system involved. So soldiers were the top caste, and farmers were the bottom caste. The Soviet Union propped up a lousy dictator, and gave them a bunch of AKs.

                So after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Somalia had a bunch of soldiers with guns, but no stable government.

                Which basically led to a bunch of bandits. Since they couldn’t exactly invade Kenya or Ethiopia*, the bandits turned to raiding Somali farmers, which led to all those Somali farmers to declare “Fuck this shit,” and move to Minneapolis.

                *Forget about that ‘We are the World’ BS, the Ethiopian government was a dictatorship that was deliberately starving it’s own people. And then used the crisis to get foreign aid.

        5. Most societies produce some bad effects when the people with power choose to dominate others, or kill others, or steal fr others, etc.

          Libertarianism is hardly unique in that respect.

        6. At the point we say that levitate charities wouldn’t do “good enough” at taking care of poor people, is the point we admit that the idea of us democratically choosing to take care of poor people, is really just forcing people to be more charitable than they really want to, and forcing them into some democratically arrived at concept of charity that they don’t really agree with, and, really, just forcing other people to take care of people so we don’t have to bear the burden of our own social desires on our own.

          If people don’t want to take care of poor people, then it’s amazing politicians get so much traction appealing to that almost constantly.

          1. is really just forcing people to be more charitable than they really want to

            Welfare serves two purposes. The first is the intended purpose of “helping” the suffering (and I’d argue does a damn poor job of it). The unintended consequence is that it’s a source of power for politicians as they decide who pays, how much and where the loot goes to. If something increases a politician’s power (read ability to get reelected), you can bet your ass they will do everything they can to increase that power.

            SO…where once the welfare state provided gruel to the starving (as some food is better than no food), we get politicians claiming that eating gruel is below one’s basic human dignity and the “losers” deserve to eat steak. Money flows, power grows.

            I really believe there should be shame associated with receiving charity. It’s incentive to better one’s self. In a charity based system to provide for the poor, there is no such incentive to grow the system and people will only donate the minimum required to allow the “losers” to survive long enough for them to better their situations.

            The welfare state has removed all the shame and made living at the expense of others comfortable.

            1. You are ignoring the actual origin of social welfare by Bismarck. Throw the peasants crumbs so they don’t get pissed off at how tilted the playing field is.

              Assume the world is full of type A (live to work) and type B (work to live) personalities. Assume a Smithian-type world of free markets, level playing field, and division of labor. Everyone can survive and support their families and such. Type A’s will tend to achieve a lot more and be at the top – and ultimately own most productive assets. Type B’s will stop working hard once they have enough to survive so they can spend time with their families.

              That sort of world (and inequality) is probably fine for most type B’s who just don’t care much about work/markets/etc. But not for type A’s. While those type B’s are off enjoying their families (and driving up labor costs – because there really are a lot of type B’s in the world), those type A’s are at work – resenting the hell out of the type B’s and trying to figure out how to increase the value of their assets.

              The easiest way is to tilt the playing field – so that type B’s are forced to work longer merely to survive.

          2. “If people don’t want to take care of poor people, then it’s amazing politicians get so much traction appealing to that almost constantly.”

            It’s not the people being charitable that the politicians are appealing to, it’s the recipients of said charity and their advocates.

        7. I’d ask why, but I suspect the answers will be boring.

        8. Also, there are unpleasant consequences of pure libertarianism in regard to the “losers” of the free market game

          All systems have losers. A libertarian system would have fewer.

          Charity provided for those losers prior to the assembly of the welfare state, I don’t think it’s a huge assumption to think it could again, especially with the reduced number of losers that libertarianism will certainly bring about.

        9. I tend to agree with this. This is beside the point that most people are not naturally libertarian inclined but more utilitarian inclined which makes sense as a consequence of our evolution as social animals.

          Perhaps one out of a hundred people are sociopaths, they do not have the same morality and ethics that a normal person would. So they would have no issue violating people rights in a voluntary society (or try to take over) if they could.

          These things and the fact that beyond a hunter gatherer society Anarcho Capitalism has never been shown to work in the real world leads me to the conclusion that hard libertarianism is not viable in a practical sense.

      3. We have not always had welfare and there are plenty of tribal societies who take care of the lessor able just fine. Families tend to look after their own. I have no doubt that without the welfare atate many would step up to the plate to help those who can’t help themselves. As far as those that can take care of themselves but want a handout anyways, fuck ’em they can starve.

        1. Hell, even China is not a “welfare state” in the American sense.

    2. Several times when I’ve attempted to discuss libertarianism with leftist friends, they ask what kind of society libertarians would want to have. When I respond that libertarians don’t have a particular type of society in mind, that any kind of society resulting from the free choices of its members would be compatible with libertarianism, they accuse me of “dodging the question.”

      Something about the way the human brain is wired leads people to assume that the goal of political philosophy or ideology must be to create a specific type of society.

      1. I used to suffer the same questions. I finally started by asking them what type of society they’d like. Then I’d answer that that society would be fine with me as well, as long as it were free from government coercion. Then I’d ask another person in the conversation what society they’d like to see and I gave the, the same answer as the first person.

        They usually walk away with a little better understanding of libertarianism.

      2. Of course they do, the key word is ‘planning’. They think you need to ‘plan’ society. Hence, well you know the rest.

        1. Yep. They also like to pervert the saying “choice or chance” by calling centrally-planned government coercion “choice” and letting people make their own choices “chance”.

          Choice or Chance: Great Communities Don’t Happen By Accident

          1. Planning is of course a natural part of how humans function. Urban planning for example helps us set up communities, cites, countries and even empires. We all ‘plan’ for something. We plan for vacation for example. Although, personally, I’m more of a spontaneous type much to my wife’s frustration.

            My point is the left takes it a notch higher. They want to ‘plan’ where human nature goes through public policy that amounts to nothing more than ‘social engineering’ doomed to fail and cause even chaos. Mostly because A) the government is a lousy arbitrator and organizer of human virtues and vices which inevitably leads to all sorts of economic and social imbalances sometimes to the point of unfairness and B) no matter how smart or self-righteous one takes oneself to be, you can never, ever, never, regulate choice from people who are their own moral agent. Unless. Unless you insist on the power of the state to coerce them into what you believe. The Plan if you will.

        2. And their “plan” is usually a certain number of years long.

          1. 5 is the perfect number.

        3. They think you need to ‘plan’ society.

          The concept of spontaneous order is counter intuitive to most people. And yet it is a demonstrated scientific theory. Denying it is akin to denying evolution.

        4. Listen, our betters decided that cigarettes were the most evilest evil in the history of evil, so they did their best to eradicate them from polite society. Look how healthy we are now! Everyone is healthy. Except for those trans fat eaters. They will be eradicated within a few years as well, and then everyone will be thin up to their standards.

          1. It’s amazing how that works, eh?

            We’ve talked about the smoking thing on and off here. The classic case of a slippery slope becoming reality.

            When someone warned about all the possible unintended consequences, the faux-rationalist busy bodies responded, ‘Oh, you’re crazy! No would ban it in private spaces!’ ‘We would never force people go outside and smoke like animals in the cold!’ and the like.

            And yet here we are 30 years later. Doing those very things warned against.

            People can be arrogant as they be stupid.

          2. High fructose corn syrup.. public enemy #1.. or maybe, 3.. I forget..

          3. Yep, classic goalpost-moving. First the tobacco, then the trans-fats, next will be high-fructose corn syrup… and most likely after that, artificial coloring agents. Before long, every Walmart will be like Whole Foods and cereal will be $15 a box.

    3. I feel the same way that you do Brian. I don’t think that the kind of society I advocate would be perfect. I just think I have a lot more evidence that societies that operate on the principles I find important– social democratic welfare states that moderately redistribute income from the rich to the poor, don ‘t invade other countries, don’t spend hundreds of billions of dollars on their military, and tolerate the diversity of their citizens– tend to be nice places to live

      Don’t you think that a person putting forth an argument like. “You may not treat other people purely as means to your ends ” is at least somewhat guilty of the type of Utopianism he decries? What if I’m a narcissist and pour 10,000 cans of motor oil on my property and you have a septic tank next door. Hey, it’s my property so you can fuck off– you know, mate.

      1. What if I’m a narcissist and pour 10,000 cans of motor oil on my property and you have a septic tank next door. Hey, it’s my property so you can fuck off– you know, mate.

        FAIL

        1. Interesting site. Thanks for the link.

            1. Although I think it will – whooooooooosh! – go right over that clown’s soft and slightly deformed head.

              1. FEE is a great site and a good place to get most of the basics of libertarian thought. I have always been Liberty minded but finding a copy of The Freeman a decade back really set me on a path of learning about economics that corrected a whole bunch of really bad ideas I had collected. Reason finished off the job and now I even own my own monocle factory.

                Their series on “Cliches of Progressivism” is excellent.

        2. That article is in response to a perceived or ridiculous danger. What if the polluter is the ridiculous party and doesn’t agree that a plume of motor oil seeping downward and outward is a threat to one’s neighbors– or doesn’t give a shit? Or, closer to home, what if a CEO doesn’t believe combusting fossil fuels contributes to global warming?

          I guess a libertarian society would answer such a threat by disembarking an elite force of cadres intended to enforce mutually beneficial exchange between liberty seekers. I’d arm them, probably, if I were you.

      2. Actually no, your pouring motor oil has a tangible negative effect on my property, so even in an anarcho-libertarian society that would be considered illegal.

        1. Wouldn’t protecting property rights very strictly create a world in which no pollution of any kind could be created anywhere? Smith’s property rights would be violated every time Jones creates pollution that spreads beyond Jones’ property. If property rights were that strictly enforced it would create an environmentalist’s utopia.

          With that in mind, I really don’t understand is why some folks think that protecting property rights means other people get to dump pollution on your land.

          1. AmSuck is a dumbass – in the Red Forman specific usage of the term. My foot is shakin’ .

          2. There are two ways to handle that. One is to apply Coasian bargianing and allow the polluter to pay those people for the right to pollute. Obviously, the amount that is paid would depend on how bad the pollution is and what the costs are. The pitfall of that is that one intransigent person could totally prevent some minor activity with lots costs by refusing to bargain.

            However, the answer to that is the second method, which is to permit the pollutor to go ahead and require compensation after the fact. Possibly with some penalties.

            Between those two – bargain with neighbors for the right to pollute and then compensate any remaining holdouts after the fact, I think it’s a pretty workable system, and one in which the actual costs of various forms of pollution will drive who ends up doing what. In other words, whatever industry better damn well be extremely profitable if it’s going to be leaking cancer-causing compounds, and industries that locate themselves in places where nobody is around will have a competitive advantage.

        2. So, what would you do about it? Sue? What if I tell you fascists that you can stick your court order up your ass?

      3. or, hey, what if someone murders someone else?

        When something like that can possibly happen, you know that your concept of society is just a utopian fantasy.

        1. Hey, that’s a good punt, Brian. A 55-yarder!

          1. I know it’s not an appeal to ignorance, but we can’t all rise to your standards.

      4. I just think I have a lot more evidence that societies that operate on the principles I find important– social democratic welfare states that moderately redistribute income from the rich to the poor, don ‘t invade other countries, don’t spend hundreds of billions of dollars on their military, and tolerate the diversity of their citizens– tend to be nice places to live

        I just think societies that pursue liberty are nice places to live…and…they take care of the poor better than the sewers you espouse, don’t invade other countries unless they are first attacked, spend less on their military than the sewers of which you speak, tolerate diversity significantly more than the sewers you love.

        AND has the added benefit of not having murdered 100,000,000 people in the last century. (But, I’m sure that wouldn’t happen THIS TIME in your utopia.)

    4. All of these arguments “designed to work perfectly” arguments reveal the implicit assumption behind all of the thinkers like Wolfe: that society should look and work the way Wolfe wants it to

      It reveals, more fundamentally, that Wolfe thinks that the proper level of political discourse is “society” as a whole. Therefore, he sees everything through the lens of what it does for “society”. Both Marxists and conservatives think that way. What they don’t understand is that libertarians don’t primarily care about “society”. Society is an arbitrary group of people bound together in some arbitrary political unit.

      What confuses people like Wolfe even more is that libertarians will point out that individual liberties are also “good for society”, mostly to make people like Wolfe happy. They think that’s the libertarian justification for upholding individual liberties and try to criticize it. They don’t understand that it’s just sort of a nice side-effect. Finally, old Marxists like Wolfe then don’t even understand how individual liberties are “good for society” because they never understood free markets. That’s why they come up with weird arguments about “Swiss watches” and “altruism is bad”.

      You’re never going to get Wolfe to understand any of this. However, one can and should challenge him to back up his more outrageous statements with citations.

    5. I other words, as I have noticed many times, Wolfe is engaging in psychological projection.

  4. Am I the only one whose opinion of Richman changes article by article? This was well written and I fully agree with it. I’ve always wondered: do the self-appointed political and intellectual elites oppose libertarianism because they comprehend that should all individuals become empowered or be given the opportunity to empower themselves the elites would not be needed? Or is it that they actually believe that they alone can empower or at the very least provide sufficiently for an entire nation? When I debate Liberals, it usually takes me one question to make then stumble. How does any government accurately and fairly reflect the beliefs and values of three hundred and fifty million Americans, across fifty States, spanning three thousand miles and two mountain ranges, as varied as we are, with one president, fewer than six hundred legislators, and nine supreme court justices?

    1. To be perfectly honest, I’ve stopped reading Richman’s articles in any kind of detail. It does seem like this one just sort of stopped part way through, though.

    2. All one has to do is put me in a room with my Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren-loving buddy to know that.

    3. You’re not the only one, but I’ve always enjoyed Richman’s writing. I’m a long-time Freeman reader, where I first met him. My opinion of him doesn’t change based on whether or not I fully agree with him, I still respect him. I feel the same way about Ron Bailey here and George Will in the Outside World.

    4. Am I the only one whose opinion of Richman changes article by article?

      No.I read Richman because sometimes he gives me a new angle to look at a particular subject.

      Sometimes I like what he says, sometimes I think he’s a fruit loop.

  5. The Road To Serfdom. Wish they’d stop reading this as a how-to manual.

  6. Sounds like a solid plan to me dude, lets roll with it.

    http://www.Goin-Anon.tk

  7. “They created an ideal world designed to work perfectly ? but only if human beings acted consistently. Society, to them, was like a Swiss watch: Let every part play its designed role, and the whole thing would run on its own accord.”

    That doesn’t sound like libertarianism, it sounds like the fantasy of a central planner. Does this Wolfe fellow quote any actual libertarians or does he simply rely on how he *feels* libertarians are?

    1. They cannot conceive of individuals running their own lives without running anybody else’s. They cannot conceive of a world without coercion, and think that individualism is truly selfish and greedy in the sense that if any individual wants something for themselves, they will use the power of the state to grab it, because individuals trump society. Thus it seems self-contradictory to them, for how could all those individuals actually survive without cooperation? Cooperation only comes from elites doing the grabbing and coercion on behalf of all society. The concept of spontaneous emergent society is nonsense; society comes from elite guidance.

      You might call statists the creationists of the political world.

      Not sure how clear this is. I sometimes have a very clear mind-picture of something and am incredibly inarticulate in turning it into words.

      1. At the root of every leftist I know is the conviction that most people are too dumb to look out for themselves. To then this means that elites making choices for individuals is necessary and better for everyone.

        1. More to the point, statists do not believe that society emerges spontaneously, that it is always the result of plans and designs and implementation by the elites.

          Thus the very concept of individualism is inconceivable to them.

        2. I think sometimes it is more personal. They look within themselves and see a selfish greedy person who links less of those around him and thinks that if everyone else was like him the world would fall apart. Hence the need for someone or something to make him and everyone else do right.

    2. “That doesn’t sound like libertarianism, it sounds like the fantasy of a central planner”

      Yeah, Wolfe’s whole article sounds like a whole lot of projection to me.

    3. That doesn’t sound like libertarianism, it sounds like the fantasy of a central planner.

      Yep. Classic projection on Wolfe’s part.

  8. By as a practical matter, Rand Paul is getting criticism from the intelligentsia (the stupidsia?) because they think he’s *too much* of a libertarian. So it’s the “libertarian” parts of his philosophy they’re going to focus on.

  9. Of course he wasn’t named after Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum.

  10. I want to defend the libertarian philosophy without defending Rand Paul or Ayn Rand because:.

    they don’t think like Sheldon Richman.

    1. Yeah, if this is what Richman wrote (’cause I haven’t RTA), he’s doing a disservice to his own argument that libertarians are not obsessed with philosophical purity.

  11. Now I think when libertarianism goes to an extreme, or when they defend non-libertarian policies with libertarian rhetoric, then there’s a problem.

    As to the first objection, since the pendulum is so far into the arbitrary government area, we can kind of hold off on opposing the anarchist strain of libertarian until there’s even a tiny chance of any of it being enacted.

    And of course libertarians get to advocate things outside their philosophy, but if they give the idea they’re speaking *as libertarians,* it will cause some confusion.

    1. Eg, rather than focus laserlike on school choice, we hear the idea of students having rights to disobey school disciplinary rules. The problem with such rules is in those cases where partents can’t pull their kids out of the school, so that’s the angle to use – in a school of choice, I would say the students pretty much should obey the rules.

      1. And while Reason’s cultural criticism is, ah, interesting, and they’re not obliged to be all libertarian, all the time, sometimes they give the impression that they’re embracing libertine-ism.

        Eg, calling for legalized porn would be libertarian, celebrating the transformative power of porn is libertine-ian.

        1. And celebrating Belle Knox is libertine-ian, soo.

          1. Too B for me. I like DD better.

            1. OT: thanks for fighting the good fight for so long over at popehat. Suffering the parsing language of lawyers is no simple task but you perseverd long after many of us threw our hands up and said “Fuck it”.

              1. I actually enjoyed it. And I eventually tied them in knots by making them follow their own logic. Perverse fun.

                1. I had fun with Patterico. I basically forced him into saying “the law is always right because it is the law,” then proceeded to demand he extol the virtues of slavery and Jim Crow because they too, at one time, were the law.

                  Funny that he chose that exact moment to disappear.

                  1. I have to say this: Some years ago I said something sarcastic about Gabby Gifford’s shooting including Sarah Palin’s name and got hammered by the right-wing Twitterverse. They’re vile little creatures.

                    Anyway, Patterico came to my defense and pretty much put that fire out for me. He’s good people even if a tidge too far right for me.

                  2. I remember that. He was also at one time a raving Prohibitionist. He is edging away from that. Slowly.

                  3. sloopyinTEXAS|6.21.15 @ 9:13AM

                    I remember that. He was also at one time a raving Prohibitionist. He is edging away from that. Slowly.

                    1. I remember that. He was also at one time a raving Prohibitionist. He is edging away from that. Slowly.

                      My husband and in-laws are traditional Republicans but over the years they’ve all been moving more toward libertarianism, my husband in particular after the Bush years. He is ex-military and giving up the Gotta Keep America Strong stuff is hard.

                      I see some hostility from hardcore socons who push back agains the “childishness” of libertarianism, but many on the right have really given up on stuff like the WoD and gay marriage.

                      My point, I guess, is that I’ve had a lot more success debating those on the right than I have debating lefties.

                    2. He is ex-military and giving up the Gotta Keep America Strong stuff is hard.

                      There is nothing wrong with having a strong military. The problem is, I’m guessing your husband signed up to protect his kith and kin and not to serve as an extended member of Hamid Karzai’s Praetorian Guard.

              2. Actually thanks to both of you for that, it had been fun reading the comments there. Tarran too. Though that first article / comment set was messy. We owe Ken for foisting our trolls on him. Maybe they can set Clark on them.

                1. Oh also sloop hope everything went well and family is ok?

                  1. All is well. We should be leaving the hospital in the next couple of hours.

                    I may even get to play golf this Fathers Day.

                    Which also reminds me: Happy Fathers Day to all of the libertarian daddies out there. Keep fighting the good fight and raise your kids to be good people.

                    1. Back atya and congrats!

                    2. Happy Fathers’ Day to Banjos. After all, you wouldn’t be a new (again) father without her! 😉

            2. I personally like all tits. Feel free to send all your rejects my way if they look anything like Belle.

        2. They’re not mutually exclusive, Eddie.

      2. Excellent points

    2. when they defend non-libertarian policies with libertarian rhetoric

      To what are you referring?

  12. What Wolfe (and my Liberal/Progressive friends) fails to understand is that I don’t expect of desire a “Perfect World”, I just want a world in which bumptious officials are screwing things up less than they are in this one. I don’t think there is a philosophy that will allow a “Perfect World” to emerge; even if I ere Emperor of the Earth, and could order everything to my liking, it wouldn’t be my idea of perfect, because I’m not the kind of f*ckhead who likes doing that much work.

    It’s as if they can’t process the statement “Look, we tried it that way, and it doesn’t work worth a dam. Can we do something else, please?”. In their heads, there ALWAYS has to be a Plan. if it isn’t THEIR Plan, it HAS to be somebody else’s Plan. The idea that we could make a loose framework that would allow a free people to enjoy life without a plan just bounces off their solid biscuit heads.

    1. Spontaneous emergent order is something the Whig/Progressive seems to never be able to understand. Frankly, as I grow older, I become more fully convinced that liberty and demotism (of any kind) are incompatible. Can we just have a Stuart restoration in the Anglophone world?

      1. Oh, please, no. The Stuarts were AWFUL. And the Jacobites, based on what I’ve read, a bunch of wooden-headed idiots.

        I mean, if you’re going to wish, how about wishing for an American Raj, so all the busybodies and planners can get it out of their system on SOMEBODY ELSE.

        *evil chuckle*

        1. an American Raj

          Isn’t that Afghanistan? And aren’t we having the same success their that the previous Raj had?

          Though, we certainly need an American Flashman.

          1. If someone’s building Robot Masters, I want one.

    2. The very idea of “utopia” is anathema to the libertarian ethos: utopianism presumes that all value is objective and can be “implemented” in such a way that every single person will equally benefit by its result.

      Libertarianism, as far as I understand, recoils from such ridiculousness, realizing that since every individual is unique, and since most, if not all, value is subjective, there can never be a world “according to plan” or pure “equality.” The most libertarian individuals strive for is a world that limits arbitrary rule and one which elevates not so much any one individual above others but the concept that people, ultimately, act individually and should be treated as such.

      I don’t believe there is anything utopian to the above statements, as reality has come relatively close to respecting these core concepts with the English Enlightenment and its compliment derived during the founding of the U.S.

  13. When I get criticized for being a libertine I embrace it. I AM a libertine. There is nothing wrong with having an excessively enjoyable life. And the knowledge of numerous women. Men envy it and women crave it.

    Women want men other women want. That is how to solve the libertarian female problem.

    1. Even though you don’t normally drink beer, do you prefer to drink Dos Equis when you do?

      1. Sadly my stomach can no longer handle it. Heinikins and XX when I was drinking.

        Smoking though…. I’m considering a move to Boulder. There is a school that teaches fusion. I could use some interns.

        http://protonboron.com/portal/…..ncy-meter/

    2. Libertarianism is Alpha politics.

      1. And you use the term “alpha” sincerely. Wonderful!

        But seriously, please don’t associate libertarianism with your reductive bullshit misogyny.

        1. Another libertarian on the issue:

          http://therationalmale.com/201…..ent-107710

          But you have been seduced by the Female Imperative. And the Females are allied with the Marxists as far as their view of government goes. Government is the stand in for the Beta they despise. Well my wife despises them.

          You have to understand that female and male strategies are different. And you also have to get that 80% of men back the female strategy. The other 20% are getting some. A LOT actually.

          1. Yep, you got me. I’m a victim of false consciousness. Only you and your tiny minority of trillby-wearing neckbeards see the world as it truly is. If only my mind were as easily manipulated by your manly alpha manliness as these females of which you have banged so many.

            Be sure to mention how your wife agrees with you a few more times so I’ll know that you’re married and that your pathetic views are serious and also that you’re married.

            1. Hugh Akston|6.21.15 @ 10:22AM

              No. You are not a victim of false consciousness. You merely have a consciousness that is the main line of human thought,

              There are three lines. Female, Beta, and Alpha.

              The Female and Beta align. The Alpha is different. They are about 20% of men and 10% of all humans. Women like mating with Alphas and getting Betas to take care of them. There have been studies. Women prefer Alpha scent. Look it up.

              Marxism is Beta. Capitalism is Alpha. Small government is Alpha.

              None of this is perfectly true. It is generally true. And there are reasons for it which are too extensive to deal with here. Your study might begin with The Female Imperative.

              1. That was a lot of pseudoscientific bullshit. You could get that published. Send that into Buzzfeed or ED. Tell them that you’re an Alpha and require more females.

    3. You must be super-secure about it if you go around out of nowhere announcing how awesomely happy you are and bragging about the legions of women you bang. Sorry, females. The legions of females you bang.

      1. One of the reason the wife was interested in me is that she saw me in action and I told her of my exploits before we got hitched. Yeah. I’m secure about it. My Dad used to tell me of his high count. Mom knew it.

        Women want a man other women want.

        1. By all means continue to regale us with your bro mantras bro. It can only make us take you more seriously.

          1. Don’t matter if you do or don’t. Reality is what it is and your belief in what ever you believe will not change it.

            As an engineer my preferred dealing is with reality.

            1. You know, Zoidberg, it’s crazy but when you talk this way your obvious deficiencies as a male seem… less obvious. Your genes seem less detrimental. You even stink more.

        1. I assume that as a part of their fashion show they make pierogis?

        2. Can’t say I’ve had the pleasure. I’ve had others.

          You ought to look into sexual politics. Why the two main parties divide on sexual lines (not perfectly). Republicans are Men. Democrats are women.

          Why?

          Also why men are anti-Prohibition and Women favor it.

          There is a LOT to be learned from the sexual divide.

          1. the sexual divide.

            That sort of juvenile phrasing is why women avoid posting in this garbage chatroom.

            1. Crusty Juggler|6.21.15 @ 10:41AM

              Well Crusty. You may not like it. That does not change the evidence.

              So you have to ask yourself why does liberty not appeal much to women and only to a minority of men? Is there something in the make up of those people that makes “Big Brother” attractive – at least the theory of it?

              What is it about human nature? Start with women have children and feel deep responsibility for them. It all flows from that.

              Doesn’t mean that what they want in the way of government will actually meet their needs. But it does explain why they want what is promised.

              Libertarians promise nothing. But deliver extraordinary results. (if you judge this country by results until the advent of the Roosevelts).

              1. I was making an attempt at humor; I thought that was obvious.

                Are you saying that libertarian men should brag about how much pussy they did get/can get in order to attract women?

                I would think the gender divide between men and women when it comes to American politics is that Democrats are considered to have warm hearts and Republican are considered to have cold hearts and libertarians are considered to have no heart at all.

                1. “libertarian men should brag about how much pussy they…get in order to attract women?”

                  I just don’t even know what to say about this…other than, OMG, he figured us out! Now everyone else is going to know and I’ll be powerless against my overwhelming desire to have sex with every manwhore I see. Dammit there go my plans this week.

                  1. Someday I will teach you all about women. However, I will give you a free lesson: women are all the same and they love being told so.

              2. Your ideas have no practical value even if they were true. It’s inane rambling.

          2. “the sexual divide”

            Oh that thing where slightly more single women than men like Democrats? And where the difference disappears altogether when women are married?

        3. “My name is Legion for we are many

          1. 2nd row, dead center, strapless gown.

            You?

          2. Top row, third from left.

            But only if she likes motorcycles.

          3. The 1st row one-strap off-white gown YPW legionnaire but I am intrigued by the red-headed giantess. Need a different angle to be sure.

    4. Women want men other women want. That is how to solve the libertarian female problem.

      Stick to fusion. You know nothing about it, but that’s still more than you know about libertarianism.

      1. What, you don’t think libertarian sperm has brainwashing qualities?

        1. Maybe it does, and MSimon has been drinking his own “Kool-Aid”.

      2. The first sentence is absolutely true. It is basic human nature.

  14. “The kind of government Rand favored?although too much for a consistent libertarian?would not have been authoritarian.”

    Rand’s view of government IS the consistent libertarian view. Rand believed in a government which has a monopoly on the use of ‘retaliatory’ force. This is not a view of an aggressive government. The libertarian philosophy is dogmatic. It doesn’t change from day to day. There is no mechanism or caveat in the philosophy by which it can change. Therefore if one defines aggression as x, y, and z, then one has to consistently defend people from x, y, and z. This is why one creates a monopoly. There is no philosophical problem with monopolies. The libertarian emphasis is strictly on aggression, and it would be inconsistent to allow some people to commit aggression, while preventing others from doing so. This doesn’t mean you can’t have private courts or private security services; but it does mean that if you act consistently, you will oppose those courts, security services, and everyone else who commits aggression; and if you have the strongest force, you will be a monopoly. Even Rothbard recognized this requirement. (Page 293, ‘The Law and Courts’).

    https://mises.org/sites/default/files/For a New Liberty The Libertarian Manifesto_3.pdf#293

    1. There is a difference between non-aggression and pacifism.

    2. What I’ve never understood about the “private courts” idea is how I can be forced to be subject to the jurisdiction of someone else’s private court.

      Say I’m passing through Galt’s Gulch, and I am falsely accused of a crime by a resident of Galt’s Gulch. I am arrested by Galt’s Gulch Security, Inc., and hauled before the Galt’s Gulch Justice Company, and they wrongly find me guilty and sentence me to 20 years in Galt’s Gulch Prison, LLC.

      Other than the fact that they are using force against me, why should I go along with all that? They have no right to use force to arrest me, hold me, try me and imprison me.

      Since they’ve violated the non-aggression principle, am I not now justified in breaking out, and killing anyone who gets in my way, as I am defending my own life and freedom?

      1. Oh, that’s not the only issue with it. Nozick’s “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” goes to great lengths to cover all of that (it’s an excruciatingly tedious read). To me though, having to explain all the intricacies of a private court system is like talking to the Cleveland Browns about winning the Super Bowl. How about we just win one game and see how that goes.

        1. I think one can advocate for the end to the security state, the end to the war on drugs, the allowance of school vouchers, the restoration of liberty and freedom, etc, etc, etc without worry about how or even if private courts would work.

      2. I’m rather more fond of the “Armed, thus Polite, Society” principle. Said resident will not transgress me with false accusations, since his transgression will free me to stop his aggression by kicking his ass.

        I also think that the more powerful individuals get, the less likely that anyone will try to transgress another. One Terminator isn’t much of a threat if there are 50 guys with Iron Man suits ready to stomp his metal ass.

  15. This isn’t the way to sell philosophy, but if I were being frank with someone I would guarantee them that libertopia would be filled with gnashing teeth and frustrated people and agitators unhappy at other people pursuing their freedom.

    1. Yeah, nothing like telling a country full of self-righteous puritans (left and right) that they have to let other people behave as they please as long as they’re not violating anyone else’s life, liberty, or property.

      1. There really aren’t that many of them. They are just disproportionately represented in politics due to being loudmouthed, unprincipled, and not concerned with being despised in social settings.

        1. Yeah, it’s funny because I signed up for our neighborhood block watch Facebook page when we were having some issues a couple years back. Boy you can tell who those nanny’s are for sure. And they are the most vocal and it’s always the same people. Assholes.

  16. “[Libertarian theorists] created an ideal world designed to work perfectly ? but only if human beings acted consistently. Society, to them, was like a Swiss watch: Let every part play its designed role, and the whole thing would run on its own accord.”
    This is as wrong as it is possible to get and still be talking English.

    1. It sounds like the result of an accurate summary of libertarian philosophy being run through the filter of a leftist brain. Libertarians do believe that “if you let everybody play their role, the whole thing would run on its own accord.” What he gets wrong is thinking that those roles are in any way designed or specified by the philosophy.

      1. Everyone is free to cooperate to design their own idea of how the world should work. As long as it’s voluntary for everyone.

      2. What about the guy whose self-chosen role is to murder and eat people?

        Oh well that’s different! Put him in chains. And everyone gets to pay for the service of putting him in chains, even though taxation and redistribution is evil.

        The philosophy is infantile and apparently deliberately not thought through.

        1. You portray the philosophy as infantile and not thought through by presenting an act banned by the principles as an arbitrary exception, instead of a necessary consequence of the fundamental principles.

          You think that it hasn’t been thought through because you haven’t even begun to inquire about the results of that thinking. There is plenty of work that has been done about non-coercive government financing and public sector defense that you ignore.

  17. The theorists who formulated its core principles were seekers after political purity.

    The funny thing is that political purity is a problem with libertarianism, just not from the core libertarian theorists. But to know that, Wolfe would actually have to engage with libertarians and know what he’s talking about.

    1. All ideologies have their purist. You could certainly say that it is a luxury libertarianism can’t really afford given how far away the goalpost currently are. Liberals probably get incrementalism better than anyone.

      1. All ideologies do have their purists, but it seems like all libertarians exist in a superposition of faithful and heretic. Maybe that’s just from seeing it from the inside.

        1. Yeah, I get that. I for one do not believe in letting the perfect be the enemy of good. I would get more done in life if I always followed that mantra:)

      2. Liberals probably get incrementalism better than anyone.

        They also stick to the script. It’s a function of wanting what other people have.

  18. This is a great Richman article. He does a thorough logical take down of this IDIOT Wolfe’s arguments, which seem to be based exclusively on what Wolfe feels or imagines Libertarians to believe rather than reality. Wolfe missed the classes in grade school where he was told “show your work,” or “write about what you know” and “show, don’t tell.” To write an entire piece without a single quote or attribution to support his characterizations of what he writes about is a failure of writing. To Wolfe, writing is only about spelling and grammar. Clarity of thought is unknown to him.

  19. So who was Rand named after? Did his parents name him after someone they knew? Did they just make the name up? Pull it out of hat? I’d like to hear the rest of that story.

    1. RAND CORP of course

      1. Ah, I see.

        1. Per dad:

          “My wife had the children and she had the privilege of naming the children,” former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, wrote during an “Ask Me Anything” question-and-answer session.

          “[H]is name is not after Ayn Rand,” Paul wrote. “His name is RANDALL despite some things that have been around on the Internet. He was called ‘Randy’ at home, and he became ‘Rand’ after becoming a physician.”

    1. Well, the answer is right in the article. The feminist voices of dissent in Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan, just aren’t glamorous enough, as determined by our pop culture kingmakers, for Western feminists to raise their banner along side them.

      You see, darling, it’s all about seeing and being seen!

      1. Their feminism is not left wing. i.e. special rights for women.

      2. Also, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan are not attractive enough. You have to look like Rula Jebreal (special points for marrying a gazillionaire, we love that). Also, genital mutilation is icky and we do not want to talk about that.

        1. Jebreal’s criticisms of Islam are akin to a foodie dining at her favorite restaurant and noting the soup is a bit cold.

    2. You want them to fly to Saudi and protest topless like they do in Europe or even just drive around in a car? That would be dangerous and actually speak truth to power.

      How dare you suggest these brave warriors actually behave like brave warriors!!11!

      Why do you hate women?

      1. They’re basically overgrown toddlers who never learned that being momentarily deprived of a toy is not the worst thing to ever happen.

      2. “You want them to fly to Saudi and protest topless like they do in Europe or even just drive around in a car? That would be dangerous and actually speak truth to power.”

        Fly all the way to Saudi Arabia for that? That’s far, tickets are expensive, and infidels can’t enter Mecca anyway. Their culture (and laws) must be respected, as all cultures are relative anyway. Besides.. There’s a devastating hash tag for that.. The house of Saud will read that twitter feed one day, and recalibrate..

        “How dare you suggest these brave warriors actually behave like brave warriors!!11!”

        They’re not warriors.. They’re diplomats.. Their pens are mightier than any sword, and swords are forbidden, as they sharp, and may pop their bubble.. or, in Saudi Arabia, remove a head..

    3. Simple. Islam is “brown”, thus untouchable with criticism. In a contest between brown and female for the support of Western feminists, brown wins. It doesn’t matter. Brown must not be touched by the finger of criticism.

  20. “Why libertarianism is closer to Stalinism than you think.”

    It’s funny that they would use the word Stalinism in place of Communism.

    1. That struck me too. It’s a pretty reliable tell that you’re hearing a true believer lefty (and indeed that fellow turns out to be a “former” communist.)

    2. Because.. Communism has never been properly implemented (honestly!) by any of the long line of vicious psychopaths and sociopaths that failed to comprehend the historical dialectic.. The “new man” has to come first, apparently.. Or you get “Stalinism”, which is closer to libertarianism than you think.

  21. Other people are always a problem, those assholes persist in doing what they want instead of what I want. The heart of the problem is a disagreement over what people should want. If you start from the premise that we’re all just here by accident and Life serves no Higher Purpose, it’s easy enough to think people should be free to do whatever the hell they want that makes them happy (as long as they don’t interfere with other’s freedom to do the same) even if it’s not something that would make you happy. We’ll all be dead and gone soon enough so enjoy life while you got it.
    .
    But if you believe Life serves some Higher Purpose, a good person – like a good lawnmower or a good ham sandwich – is good by virtue of performing its function well and that function is not “doing whatever the hell they want that makes them happy”. So what is our purpose in life? If we are all here to serve others, what are the others here for? If we are all here to serve God or serve the State, what is God or the State here for?

    1. It’s people like Wolfe that I think of as the true Objectivists, they see people as objects, as a means to an end, without necessarily questioning what exactly those ends are. What is Wolfe’s idea of a perfect world, what function does it serve, what function do people serve, what makes a “good” person? I suspect that at some point in arguing a contrary opinion, the term “false consciousness” is going to come up – you’re too stupid to know your function and that true happiness lies in performing your function well. We know what will make you happy and we will force you to pursue happiness in the correct manner – even if you’re not happy with that. Especially if you’re not happy with that.

    2. But if you believe Life serves some Higher Purpose, a good person – like a good lawnmower or a good ham sandwich – is good by virtue of performing its function well and that function is not “doing whatever the hell they want that makes them happy”. So what is our purpose in life? If we are all here to serve others, what are the others here for? If we are all here to serve God or serve the State, what is God or the State here for?

      I’m a nontheist so I don’t reject the existence of any God(s) or any other non-human entities. But I do reject the notion that they have any righteous authority over us whatsoever if they exist. If another person can’t make you bow down to them and force you to serve their purpose, then what right does some dude in the sky have?

      If you believe in the story of Eden, then the apple from the tree of knowledge was our red pill. It was transformed humans as lab rats in a utopian experiment of some entity into free beings of our own determination.

      1. If you believe in the story of Eden, then the apple from the tree of knowledge was our red pill. It was transformed humans as lab rats in a utopian experiment of some entity into free beings of our own determination.

        Eve took it first and had to persuade Adam. The serpent seduced her with the promise of knowledge.

        1. Ha! I was just the other day explaining to my nephew re: Thor that Loki is the good guy in the story just as Lucifer was the good guy in the Bible. Both Loki and Lucifer gave Man knowledge forbidden to Man by the Gods.

          1. IMO, Lucifer is a job description.

            1. IT Administrator?

      2. I’m an atheist but I (only half-jokingly) refer to myself as a devout Jobist. If you’re familiar with the book, Job was treated badly by God but just shrugged his shoulders about it because he knew it wasn’t his place to question the will of the Almighty. Until Job’s comforters showed up and explained to him that God surely was punishing him for his sins – they knew that’s the way God works. Since Job knew he hadn’t sinned, he felt God at least owed him an explanation for why he was being afflicted. That’s when God showed up and told Job He didn’t owe Job a damn thing. The important thing, however, is that God also went on to chastise Job’s comforters for committing the sin of presuming to know the mind of God. God explaining Himself to you would be like you trying to explain to a goldfish how a nuclear power plant works – no mere mortal can posssibly hope to understand God.
        .
        So that’s my “religion”, if there is a God, you are committing a sin by presuming to know What God Wants. If there is no God, then I am my own God – and it’s equally wrong of you to tell me that you know better than me what’s good for me. In either case, telling me you have some sort of moral authority to tell me how to run my life draws the same response: “Go to Hell”.

        1. draws the same response: “Go to Hell”.

          Careful, the State of New York might charge you with the practice of necromancy if you keep talking like that.

          1. Hell, for me, would be living in a place where tin-pot dictators feel free to tell you how large a soda you can drink and whether or not you can drink it from a Styrofoam cup, how greasy and sugary your donuts can be, whether or how much you can pay some random person to drive you somewhere, and a thousand other decisions that are none of their damn business. Frankly, I’d rather be fed feet-first into a woodchipper than live in New York.

            1. tin-pot dictators feel free to tell you how large a soda you can drink and whether or not you can drink it from a Styrofoam cup

              You know neither of these actually happens in NY, right? Also, taxi cartels already exist in every other place in America and donut regulation is coming to you soon thanks to Obamacare. The problems you describe are an *American* problem – they may be somewhat magnified in NY but I wouldn’t get all comfortable yet wherever else you are.

  22. A Matt Welch tweet from early yesterday evening: “There are now 1275 comments on our post about the feds stifling @reason’s free speech”

    I am glad he did not add the caveat “750 of those were from some nut-bag named Hihn.”

    1. did they edit the comments before he posted that? We wouldn’t want Postrel to come on here and see the toilet humor. It might put her off her brunch.

      1. Reason commenters are garbage people with garbage thoughts. Vile garbage people.

        1. Are you trying to make me hard?

        2. I prefer “feted fever-swamp (of scum and villainy)”, And.. I’m not a “Vile garbage people”.. I’m a vile dreg.. I blame our underfunded schools.

  23. Politics are like a belef in God; everyone has an opinion. If you could collect all the truly altruristic people in one place you might have a slim chance of creating a Utopia. People on the Right talk about the Constitution like it was the word of God. If only people weren’t so ignorant. In the beginning only land owners were allowed to vote. The members of the House were voted on to protect the land owners interest. The members of the Senate were appointed by the states. They consisted of each states movers and shakers or thier proxies. The Presidents job was to command the Navy, enforce the laws written by Congress and act as head of state when dealing with foreign goverments. The Supreme Court was to make sure laws that Congress wrote did not conflict with the Costitution. Our country was set up to be a Republic not a Democracy. A democracy is probably is worst form of government on earth. WHY. Because every lazy illiterate non producing piece of scum has an equal voice to every hard working caring person in this country. Our forefathers held my views on Democracy. If anything about todays society remotely resembles what the founding fathers envisioned please point it out. Not one and 10 can tell you what is in the bill of right or locate half the states on a map but you really think they should be deciding what is best for our country. The day I finally gave up is when Obama proudly announced he was going to visit all 57 States then promptly was elected in a landslide.

    1. The Constitution isn’t the problem. Washington D.C. ignoring it with absolute impunity is.

    2. Not one and 10 can tell you what is in the bill of right
      .
      Ask ten people what rights are granted to you by the Bill of Rights and most of them will mention freedom of speech and press or the right to keep and bear arms. Good luck finding one that will tell you the Bill of Rights doesn’t grant you any rights at all, the Bill of Rights is simply an acknowledgement that you are endowed by your Creator with certain inalienable rights that the government cannot infringe upon. I think the internalization of the idea that all your rights – and all your everything else – comes from government is one of the worst problems we have. Government is just people and it’s the same people who are too stupid to live without goverment that are the government.

      1. That was one of the interesting things to me about the whole Gitmo controversy. Do they have rights or don’t they? Many Conservatives who otherwise would say that exact same thing were claiming that the prisoners had NO rights because they were not American citizens. Well, are they human beings? Cause if so, seems like they would have those same rights for those same reasons. I think you could make the argue about the specifics (i.e. maybe it takes longer to bring one of these cases to trial due to their nature then a typical criminal case) but not the essence.

        1. Same with the drone-striking and whatever else the CIA is up to – just because they’re not Americans doesn’t mean the US government can do whatever it wants to them. I would argue that the Bill of Rights, by its nature, lays out fundamental human rights. Or at least fundamental human rights as Madison et al understood them. Whether or not they are breaking US law or international law or the laws of whatever country they are operating in, they are certainly disproving the idea that the US operates on some higher principles than other countries. What right do you have to criticize Iran for executing gays or China for repressing the right to peacefully assemble or half the world for censoring free speech unless you believe there is some Higher Law that restrains government? If that Higher Law should restrain the governments of China and Iran and France, it certainly should restrain the US government – the one that right in its Constitution acknowledges that there is indeed a Higher Law.

          1. One question I never hear come up in these debates is: How inhuman do you have to be before these human rights no longer apply?

  24. Rio 2016 construction is a mess. It’s going to be interesting to see what the IOC does if they don’t finish on time.

    Many important venues which were already done and dusted with a year to go at the London Olympic Park in 2011 are still only in their initial phase. Some arenas in Rio have not even begun taking form yet. Meanwhile, whole road systems, bridges, underpasses and a rapid bus line with dedicated bus lanes and new bus stations taking visitors to the Olympic Park are all still waiting to be built.

    Venues being built from scratch include the Velodrome, at the entrance to the park, where huge metal structures lie inside a concrete skeleton, surrounded by sand and piles of construction materials. In contrast, London 2012’s Velodrome had been fully completed by February 2011, 18 months before the Olympics opening ceremony.

    Nearby, while the Tennis Centre’s 10,000-seater stadium is beginning to take shape, the other two arenas, seating 5,000 and 3,000 spectators, and the seven smaller tennis courts are nowhere to be seen. The ?39.4 million complex, with a total of 16 courts, needs to be ready for December for the venue’s first test event. It will be like building an entire Wimbledon in just six months

    1. At the other end of the park, the Aquatics Centre is still having its metal structure bolted into place, while no work has been started installing its two pools or other facilities. Despite the race against time, there was no sign of activity when MailOnline flew over last week.

      These are works which are entirely funded and projected by Brazil’s federal government. In contrast, the buildings within the Olympic Park which are funded by public-private partnerships, including the Media Centre and the International Broadcast Centre, which will house 1,000 journalists, as well as the Athletes Village outside the park, were a scene of frantic activity on the day we visited.

      Many ‘cariocas’ – Rio residents – cynically suggest that many public works are being deliberately stalled in order for corrupt politicians to favour friends and pocket more money when delays reach a critical stage. It is a common practice, claim many, for politicians to leave publically-funded works until they enter an ’emergency phase’, at which point more money can be demanded and the normal tendering process is suspended – although there is no evidence that such practices have been happening in connection with the Olympics. This allows those in charge to give contracts to whoever they want and ask for more money, which has often resulted in the siphoning of millions of public funds.

    2. No planet needs more than one ‘velodrome’.

  25. This is as instapundit calls it battlefield prep. Both left and right feels threatened and borderline intellectuals like Wolfe need to try to marginalize – wave off anyone rethinking their own left/right politics – before it gains in popularity.

    We’re transitioning from the then they ‘ridicule you’ phase to the ‘fight you’ phase. I’d expect more yammering about the horrors of libertarianism as we get closer to the election.

    I’ve never put a bumper sticker on my car in my like but I’m tempted by the this one: http://www.zazzle.com/the_libe…..8604605542

    1. Yeah, that’s hilarious:) There’s a T-Shirt too.

    2. The ignore and ridicule phases have been alternating back and forth for over 80 years. More likely Wolfe is just trying to boost his own rep by beating up on something his fellow leftists despise.

      1. Isn’t signaling the whole reason for the existence lefty blogs?

      2. I think the issue is that the mainstream left finds itself agreeing with libertarians on issues like gay marriage, drug legalization, and criminal justice reform. So now they need to argue that libertarians are right for the wrong reasons, and libertarians only support those issues as part of some grand conspiracy.

        1. Not exactly. You’re extremists. Maximum liberty in all situation. Except in the real world, some policies need to be shifted in the direction of more liberty, and some in the direction of less. More liberty is needed with respect to drug policy, and less liberty is needed with respect to regulation of the financial sector. If people were allowed to murder, even you’d say that less liberty for murderers is what’s needed, so perhaps you can understand the concept of not being an extremist.

          1. Are you trying to get me to quote Goldwater? Yeah, we’re extremists in pursuit of liberty, and that’s no vice. But we try to pursue liberty through well reasoned arguments, and democratic means. Unlike most other political philosophies where they kill the wreckers.

            And how’s that regulation of financial sector by Top Men working out for you?

            President Obama got elected in part because of the housing crisis. I would think that he would have have broken up too big too fail banks, brought back Glass?Steagall Legislation, and jailed some Goldman Sachs execs for defrauding investors. Wall Street wouldn’t have liked it, but it would have been extremely popular to toss some of those jerks in jail.

            And how much of that actually happened?

          2. Hey stupid, liberty for murderers is an oxymoron. Also, try looking up the NAP before commenting about libertarianism.

  26. Liberals simply cannot conceive of a world without state–sanctioned coercion. Therefore they project their desire to remake mankind through violence on libertarians.

    We all mock Tony, but he actually gives us a solid insight into the mind of a liberal when he accuses libertarians of wanting to “impose liberty” on people.

    1. But you never–ever–explain how you get to your laissez-faire, no-welfare-state society when most people in society want the opposite. Some openly disdain the idea that people should be able to choose for themselves democratically.

      1. Re: Tony,

        But you never–ever–explain how you get to your laissez-faire, no-welfare-state society when most people in society want the opposite.

        Do they, Tony? Most don’t know any better. The Soviet people really did want a Soviet economy – until it caved under them.

        Some openly disdain the idea that people should be able to choose for themselves democratically.

        They don’t choose for themselves – they choose for others. That is what Democracy means: the tyranny of the 50% plus one.

      2. “Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”
        ? James Bovard

  27. he accuses libertarians of wanting to “impose liberty” on people.

    Well, if you think about it, liberty IS difficult. It requires work, self-discipline, research, learning, thinking, and some sort of personal philosophy that hard work and self-discipline are moral choices worth making. It’s easy to let someone else tell you what to do. MOST people are not self-starters. In that sense, liberty IS an imposition. Libertarians just want to be free to work hard and not have the fruits of their labor taken from them.

    “Two roads diverged in a woods and I, ?I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”)

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for using Frost’s line in its proper context.

    2. Very good very wise. You make me believe there is some hope after all

    3. The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty ? and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.

      HL Mencken

  28. I thought this was interesting on why Rand is getting so much push back:

    http://therationalmale.com/201…..ent-107710

  29. True Scotsmen…

  30. The conflicts within libertarianism are not about the garden in the state of innocence, but around what happens when the serpent appears, or a Cain kills Abel. When someone does treat someone else like property.

    Whether it is creative people in Galt’s Gulch, or an isolated farmland populated by pacifist quakers – or consider the Amish – you can have islands of anarchocapitalism. It ends when someone rejects the customs – the unwritten or even written rules which allow everyone to live together in peace.

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  32. What they sought was a world without aggression; where free and peaceful social cooperation (including but not limited to voluntary exchange in the market) was extended to all areas of life;

    Am I the only one who thinks Richman is simply a pacifist who wraps himself in a veil of libertarianism?

    I pretty sure they (libertarian thinkers) sought to maximize liberty and not “a world without aggression.” A world without aggression will obviously never exist, nor is such a libertarian precept. Aggression is perfectly libertarian as long as it’s not initiated.

    One can argue that a more peaceful world is a byproduct of liberty, but the goal is liberty not a world without aggression. Peace, while optimal, isn’t even a requirement to enjoy liberty.

    1. Am I the only one who thinks Richman is simply a pacifist who wraps himself in a veil of libertarianism?

      If Richman were actually pacifist, then he would at least be principled. However, he advocates pacifism in one context while giving his full-throated support to a brutally violent ethno-nationalist irredentist insurgency in another.

      Or perhaps Richman is just the modern-day Mithridates IV when it comes to the “poison of nationalism”.

      1. Revolutionary defeatist.

      2. Well at least he just called him silly.

      3. Seems to be common on the reason staff. Fails to recognize that pacifism is either asking to get slaughtered or to outsource one’s defense to others while arrogantly berating them for their aggression.

    2. I think “a world without aggression” is an ideal to strive for in libertarianism, not a realistic goal of any libertarian thinkers. I think most, if not all libertarians acknowledge man’s aggressive nature, but think a libertarian world order would limit it. Also I think you mean force, not aggression. Aggression is the initiation of force, retaliatory force is not aggression.

  33. Arguing with liberals about government is like arguing with religious people about their god.

    If God didn’t create the world, then who did? If God didn’t give us life, then who did? If you don’t believe in God, then what god do you believe in? The concept of things simply happening without a higher power involved simply does not compute.

    Liberals cannot comprehend society shaping itself or doing things without being coerced. If government doesn’t build roads then there will be no roads. If government doesn’t enforce food standards then all food will be poison. If government doesn’t control the schools then there will be no education.

    It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.-Bastiat

    Liberalism is a religion, and government is its god.

    1. We only believe those things because it’s the only way they’ve been done before. Until you demonstrate that a superior society can emerge from your starting place, then you are the ony arguing from a place of faith.

      And claiming that a society can achieve universal education, a floor on the level of poverty allowed, a national transportation infrastructure, and all the other things, without government, is just as goofy as believing Noah’s Ark is possible.

      If circumstances never allow you to make such a demonstration, then what use are your ideas at all?

      1. Re: Tony,

        We only believe those things because it’s the only way they’ve been done before.

        Ah, I get it – you’re reactionary.

        Until you demonstrate that a superior society can emerge from your starting place, then you are the ony arguing from a place of faith.

        A superior society of atomic supermen, perhaps?

        Are you looking for a superior society, Tony?

        And claiming that a society can achieve universal education, a floor on the level of poverty allowed, a national transportation infrastructure, and all the other things, without government, is just as goofy as believing Noah’s Ark is possible.

        So you’re saying that a superior society is one where the government despoils its populance to give it goodies.

        Got it!

        1. Strict anti-sodomy laws, and laws against condoms used to be the law of the land. Do you think we should keep those laws? After all, that was how it was always done.

    2. One could also note that problems, absent government, often solve themselves when people can use alternate means. Note the recent problems with contaminated milk powder in China. Considering that China is (ostensibly) reg’d out the ass, this happened with the connivance of some Top Man somewhere. Imagine the same situation absent gargantugov. 1) People would source their milk powder elsewhere (which they did; there was quite a run on it from mainlanders going to Hong Kong), and 2) manufacturers would either be sued into poverty or, if someone was particularly vengeful, wake up on fire.

      Having no regulation breeds corruption. Super-corruption requires someone holding power that can be bought, but I repeat myself.

  34. So this kid‘s wound just got salt rubbed in it.

    Uppity teenagers. Leave ’em unchecked and the next thing you know, they’ll believe it’s okay to think for themselves. We can’t have that.

    1. Nobody in that graduating class should go to the ceremony.

      Or stand on the stage and give the school admin the finger. Whichever.

  35. “Even if, relatively speaking, he is more pleasing to libertarians than any other major political figure, that does not make him a libertarian”.

    Some people would rather have it all than an ‘imitation’ which Rand Paul seems to cater too. The challenge we have is create a national mood and acceptance of viable Libertarian candidates.

    Gary Johnson, Libertarian 2016

  36. It’s just silly to say that libertarian theorists sought political purity as though that were an end in itself. What they sought was a world without aggression

    Yes, but intellectual honesty demands we also hug trannies and celebrate politically-defined ‘diversity’

    1. So transgender people need not apply for membership in this live-and-let-live paradise?

      Libertopia isn’t unappealing just because of its stated qualities, but of the quality of bigoted shitheads who would dominate its population. I simply don’t trust that your community wouldn’t descend into rampant aggression even faster than your average ungoverned population.

      1. You’re out of your element, Donnie

        It was a reference to older thread where someone argued “tolerance isn’t enough”

        I know it excites you to pretend tolerance is bigotry

      2. If Michael wants to put on a dress and call herself Michelle, then fine, whatever, no skin off my nose. That’s just me being polite. But we’re getting into Monty Python levels of crazy. “You don’t have a uterus, what are you going to do raise the baby in the corner?

      3. Yes, because there are no intolerant or bigoted people in those other parties… Strawman much?

        You really should read this bilge before you hit ‘submit’.

  37. So the admirers of Ayn Rand are not libertarians because she disagreed with Roy Childs’s (early) interpretation of anarcho-capitalism?

    This is an awfully stark line to be drawing in the sand for an essay that goes on to argue that libertarianism is not a “rigid ideology.”

    Unfortunately, Rand herself rejected the label “libertarian” because it the anarcho- streak was too much for her. Personally, I always thought being a libertarian was a little more big-tent than that. But there is a little schizophrenia in a movement that declares Rand one of its “founding mothers,” then pitches her under the bus when some outsider notices her influence.

    1. There’s a big overlap and admiration for her work, but both parties agree she’s not a libertarian. It’s obvious to those who know both sides but to superficial hacks like Wolfe…not so much.

  38. Insert Goedel reference here.

    It applies multiple places above.

  39. For libertarianism is among the most rigid of modern ideologies.

    You have to admit he’s kind of got a point here.

    For progressives, they’re all for freedom of speech, but when someone says something that they disagree with, well, then that’s where the limits of your speech hit head-on with their highly flexible ideology.

    1. Are you saying libertarian are progressive? I’m confused…or you are… 😉

      1. No, we’re just saying libertarians wouldn’t react with “That’s racist!” or “Slut shaming!” or some other SJW [blank]-shaming cause of the day.

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  41. I love Reason and I like much of what is written here but it is easy for people to discount what Libertarians have to say because there are so many types of them….. A quick review of wikipedia only confuses one as to what a Liberitarian actually is… Both the Democrats and the Republicans both have tried to bring them in to the fold, and before the Democrats wnet Socalist they had a lot in common with your day to day Libertarian. I am a conservative with “some” quirks, I would legalize all drug but I also have no problem policing the world… I guess I am a Neocon-Libertarian. HA!

  42. The unfortunate thing about this rebuttal is that you linked thousands of people to the article and thus made it more popular on the site. I hope it doesn’t increase outside readership. The arguments are less-than-infantile, they’re non-existent.

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