Friday, December 13, 2013

Anti-Libertarian Absurdity

Welcome to your life
There's no turning back
Even while you sleep
We will find you
Acting on your best behavior
Turn your back on Mother Nature
Everybody wants to rule the world
--Tears for Fears

Nice discussion of the absurd argument against libertarianism put forth by many intellectuals. The daisy chain of thought goes like this:

(1) Humans are social animals that require deep social connections to thrive. They develop much of their sense of self via their social environment. Humans live better when working together in a framework of mutual respect and reciprocity rather than in isolation.

(2) Big government is the only political system compatible with (1).

(3) Libertarians oppose big government.

(4) Therefore, libertarians reject (1).

The absurdity, of course, is that libertarians do not reject (1). Axiomatically, people cannot advance their standard of living without exchange with others. That trade may be material or psychic in nature.

Instead, it is because libertarians accept (1) that they reject (2). The basis for (1) is voluntary cooperation among individuals. (2) is incompatible with (1) because the basis of (2) is involuntary coercion--some individuals forcing their way on others. The social connections that develop in settings of voluntary cooperation degenerate in settings of coercive force.

Stated differently, (2) undermines the very sort of social flourishing (1) describes.

As the author observes, intellectuals "just can't envision a society where the state isn't free to use violence to compel nonviolent citizens can function."

Libertarians propose peaceful exchange, non-aggression, and no goverment-supported factions as the best path to prosperity. Statists propose (2) as the best path to prosperity.

It is the logic behind these two competing propositions that should be on the table.

Statists, of course, prefer to avoid this debate.


dgeorge12358 said...

The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings, and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.
~Justice Louis Brandeis

fordmw said...

The 'right to be left alone' is the right to pursue interests without aggressive interference by others.