Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spergitarians, One More Time

A post or so ago I wrote about 'spergy libertarians' or 'spergitarians,' who are tone deaf to reality and argue that things like public sex or filthy language don't violate the NAP (non-aggression principle) and therefore must be permitted by libertarians. It's as though they want libertarianism to remain restricted to a small group, and not to spread to other people.

I pointed out that such people are motivated in a number of ways:

1. They want to feel special, and extra-virtuous, so they want to exclude other people and as a result feel superior to them.

2. They want to dominate the movement themselves, so they of course don't want to bring in converts, who might eclipse them and reduce their fame and influence.

3. Like leftists, they enjoy signaling their own virtue to each other, and that's more easily done in a small group with well-delinieated principles.

4. Outsiders who join the movement might be more practical and rational, and would therefore act to modify libertarianism in such a direction, thereby spoiling the effectiveness of the first three points.

But I forgot one very important factor, and a correspondent enlightened me thus:

You have a point with the "spergitarian" post, but you missed an important part of those arguments. One which you yourself used there. 

Shock value. 

Sometimes it stimulates conversation and debate. However when used incorrectly it stifles it. 

People have to work together for a society to function. To do that, there has to be an agreed upon, enforceable standard of public conduct. Justice Potter Stewart once said “I know it when I see it” in reference to pornography. That’s fine in a court decision, but public standards of a society cannot be so vague. When a child is exposed to an act, that vision is forced onto that child’s mind. Telling them it’s wrong when they see it repeatedly destroys the parent’s ability to teach them right from wrong.

Talk of permitting vulgar and obscene behavior that virtually all sensible people would rightly object to shocks the listener, especially outsiders, and gives the speaker the added delight of shocking everybody. This sort of thing was at the forefront of the "sexual revolution" and drug usage of the "counterculture" movement of the Sixties. Shocking everybody, especially old fuddy-duddies like one's parents and other authority figures was delicious, especially when it could be argued that you were making some kind of virtuous ethical point.

Much like the issue of nudity, there is a difference between a philosophical debate among a small group in person, one on a small publication with limited exposure, one on a widespread public forum and one in the spotlight of a political stage. Some within this movement don't understand (or don't believe) that. As long as theirs is one voice among many it's not a problem. It's when they are the only voice that it causes an issue. Some of their problem (personal viewpoint here) is that they are usually atheists. It's not the "not believing in God" that's the problem. It's not recognizing that many rational people do believe, will continue to believe, and (absent an imposed outside legal framework) will fall back on the teachings of their religion to settle differences. Without recognizing that, they cannot see that a significant number of people would, given the majority in a group, expect everyone in that group to abide by their religious or moral teachings. They think that simply waving a "magic pen" and writing down their philosophy will make everyone nod in agreement and find common ground.

So add to the list the urge to shock. The indirect exhibitionism of insisting that exhibitionism be tolerated. That's part and parcel of the left-libertarian or flaky libertarian or spergitarian game plan, and it's just another indication that the difference between them and standard liberals is trivial. As it is often put, a distinction without a difference.
Quibcag: The well-brought-up kids are from Detective Conan, AKA Meitantei Conan (名探偵コナン)


  1. And it brings up another paradox. In the anarchic world, there would be no commons, only private property, but in many places were that to be implemented, there would be far more draconian rules imposed on behavior because you cannot violate the NAP yourself on your own property except in extreme cases.
    You can see this to some extent based on which apps Apple allows on the iOS devices. They ban apps merely "offensive to a large number of people".
    When that applies to roads or the sidewalk?

  2. There are good arguers for libertarian-ism. Off hand I can think of Michael Huemer [an intuitionist but he agrees with Ann Rand on important points] and Bryan Caplan and Friedman. The ones that have good arguments against it are the very famous Edward Fesser. Dr Ross was once part for the movement but went away but today I think he classifies himself a "a kind of libertarian." Steven Dutch has some pointed critique on the movement. The more powerful thinkers here are the one that argue the libertarian doctrines are flawed.