Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Defense of Libertarianism by Jeff Colonnesi

I'm a sort of libertarian, but I see it as more of a critique than a plan for fixing society. I say that mostly because there are factions of libertarians. Some insist on open borders, which I regard as totally idiotic and self-destructive, so any libertarian of that sort is living in a dream world. And I've always considered all political philosophies to be something approached asymptotically rather than put into force right away, which sort of matches what Jeff says below. Now, I also agree with Jeff that we were pretty close to libertarianism in this country for the first few years.

I've always thought that the existence of slavery was instrumental in bollixing up our libertarian constitutional start-up. It confused the issue on the very idea of citizenship and rights, and when it was abolished, that led to even more Federal intrusion. Lincoln may have been a great man, but we needed a greater one to figure out how to get rid of slavery without massive violence.

And while I see no problem with a standing army and other armed forces, any country that dispenses with them is just asking to be invaded, like we were in the War of 1812.

The important thing about any political philosophy is that it must adapt  itself to reality instead of pretending that it already does. Below, Jeff takes a stab at keeping libertarianism realistic.

Guest post by Jeff Colonnesi:

The US, from 1774 through 1789 was probably the closest to what current libertarians would consider ideal on a federal level. The Westward expansion of the US, from 1807 through the late 1800s (before the formation of many of the western states) was close to it on the state level. The US under our current constitution was close in its early years as well, except with the ability to tax it increasingly began to intrude on the individual.

Both had their problems. Chief among them was that local governments (towns, villages and cities) often passed laws that were draconian over the area they controlled. During the westward expansion they also had to deal with the US military which was a law unto itself in the territories.

The problems were made larger than they would have been because of the slow speed and high expense of travel, let alone pulling up stakes and relocating. Communication, limited across much of that time to the speed of travel, didn’t help things.

Libertarianism can and does work. The problems with it have nothing to do with the philosophy and everything to do with the lact of acceptance by many of its adherants that it cannot be achieved instantly. You cannot go from where we are now to where we would like to be without steps in between.

The classic “muh roads” argument is a spotlight on this. Of course a libertarian society can and would build and operate roads. Would they look like ours now: the miles of straight, flat multilane freeway originally put in place as a in depth defense grid (providing ready to use airfields for in depth defense)? Probably not. But they would exist. But to go from here to there, where private companies owned and operated them, requires a leap of understanding that doesn’t lend itself to a campaign spot. Talk to voters about a road system where they have to pay tolls every mile or two and they envision gridlock. Talk to them about a system where their car has a transponder and is billed for the roads it travels, and they envision big brother watching. But talk to them about removing registration fees and cutting fuel prices by 40% and (after loving the idea) they want to know how the roads would be maintained.

Libertarianism is not easy in our situation. We, even libertarians, have become so used to paying a huge burden in taxes and having government take care of a huge portion of the infrastructure of modern society, it’s hard to wrap our own minds around a different way, let alone explain it.

That’s why the old standby central planning solutions – fascism, socialism, communism – are gaining so much ground. They are easy to explain. It’s easy to convince people – like talking to a teenager – that someone else can take care of all the little details of life while they just enjoy it. Just trust the expert, the politician, the parent – they know what needs to be done and will take care of it. Of course they also “know” what’s “good for you” and what isn’t, and they will decide that as well. Then, like a teenager, people run smack up against the limits that were imposed by that system, yet they don’t understand what they need to take on in order to shed those limits.
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Quibcag: I found the illustration at Zerochan [link].

10 comments:

  1. 1774? What about the RedCoats? If you were in Lexington or Concord?

    The British Empire eliminated Slavery without violence, see Wilberforce. But they effectively compensated property owners for seizing property and creating a person.

    The "it cannot be achieved instantly" misdiagnoses the problem. If you could get a bunch of libertarians and ONLY libertarians into a locale (nation) it could be achieved instantly. The problem is there are few if any greenfields. Those without states have chaos or warlords, or some other kind of indigenous government hostile to liberty.

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  2. I think the USA started out totally what today would be considered libertarian. But today the whole movement seems at odds with reality and occupied by nonsensical people

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  3. The classic “muh roads” argument is a spotlight on this. Of course a libertarian society can and would build and operate roads. Would they look like ours now: the miles of straight, flat multilane freeway originally put in place as a in depth defense grid (providing ready to use airfields for in depth defense)?
    Germany's Autobahn system gave them the advantage of quickly and efficiently moving around military surface vehicles. Gen., then Pres. Eisenhower liked that, hence the Interstate Highway System we have today.
    Talk to voters about a road system where they have to pay tolls every mile or two and they envision gridlock.
    Because it would have. Cash tolls every mile or few miles would not work, drivers would avoid them, gridlock is one reason.
    Talk to them about a system where their car has a transponder and is billed for the roads it travels, and they envision big brother watching.
    Yes, look at the controversy over faceberg, twitter and Google's ''privacy policies'' (and with Windows 10, Microsoft too). ''Big brother'' can be corporate as well as government - and the two are often intertwined.
    But talk to them about removing registration fees and cutting fuel prices by 40% and (after loving the idea) they want to know how the roads would be maintained.
    Tragedy of the commons, the main Achilles heel of libertarianism, nearly everyone will pass off the responsibility for maintenance to someone else, who will do the same. The only practical arrangement is some form of compulsory system - which of course only works in White/East Asian countries where officials won't pocket most of the money for the commons. You'll get to see that in action next month down in Brazil...

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  4. Libertarianism like socialism omits something to make it feasible. Human nature. Voluntary participation sounds wonderful, until your country gets invaded and nobody wants to fight. Private road systems sound great, until the rich fucker has a beautiful paved weatherproofed road to where he lives, works and travels, and you have a shitty unpaved cowpath that is unpassable when it rains.
    Most libertarians like socialists are unaware of modern technology that is about a century old. Like our power grid for instance. In order to operate at all, there has to be a complete circuit to and from the power plant. Paying for ten or twenty miles of cables to bring electricity to your house would be unaffordable to anyone who wasn't loaded with cash. Having a totally private system that private individuals financed, would require a crazy quilt of wires going to and from every house that could afford it and going past every house or neighborhood that couldn't which would be a lot if you didn't subsidize it. Garbage collection seems trivial, until you don't have it and mountains of trash pile up around town. Having everyone dump their own trash would mean no schedule of pickups and delivery, which would make managing a landfill virtually impossible. Water treatment plants to provide clean water are hugely expensive. What charitable Billionaire is going to pay for this so that the peasants won't get cholera?
    Libertarianism is a child of the 1960s, where every stupid idea we suffer Today was thought up by wealthy well off spoiled brats who didn't have to worry about the future and thought anything was possible. However, in this dark Cyberpunk Future we live in now, where Megacorps run by Oligarchs crush competition and look down on the hoi polloi like ants from the penthouse of hundred story skyscrapers, we can't afford these idealistic fantasies anymore.

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  5. J. sinister has what looks to me to be a pretty good critique on libertarian-ism. He brings up forcefully the problems it entails.

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  6. Steven Dutch had an early critique on it. Michael Huemer has a direct critique on Ayn Rand that makes a lot of sense.

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  7. Joshua Sinistar nails it! Libertarianism was a brief dead end that's long gone now.

    So how about something on Trump?

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  8. http://www.dailystormer.com/why-the-libertarian-moment-is-over-and-the-nationalist-moment-is-upon-us/

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  9. I think it can be said that libertarian-ism and also Marxism had the advantage that they seemed to have intellectual basis. You can't accuse everyone of having bad hearts. No. It must be that they sincerely thought they were on the side of truth and justice. It is only the result of Time showing these movements for the ill-founded delusions of madmen that now traditional Judaic Christian values are on the rise.

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  10. OT: Scott Adams on The Lizard Queen:
    Clinton will probably win the vote of women. Her problem is men. If you ask a man why he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton, he might say something about her policies and her history. But the persuasion filter says the real reason men don’t like Clinton is that they can’t stand listening to her. Her speaking style reminds men of every bad relationship they have ever had with a woman. We’re all irrational sexists on some level, and Clinton sounds to many male ears like a disgruntled ex-wife, or perhaps your mom who had a really bad day. That’s a problem if you need the male vote.

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