Anti-Libertarian Argument Makes Faulty Assumptions: Anarchy is about Rules, Not Rulers

Most objections to libertarianism consist of ad hominem attacks that is, attacking the person and/or their intentions rather than the argument. When this fails, objections generally run toward grandiose ex cathedra pronouncement about the world that not only doesn’t match with reality but has nothing to do with what libertarian anarchy advocates.

Libertarian Anarchy is About Rules, Not Rulers

Anarchy is a society or situation where there are rules, not rulers. Put more concretely, no one is under the authority of anyone or must follow rules of someone when they did not consent to it. Each person is allowed to set rules for what they own, and no more. The Non-Aggression Principle is the basis of this political philosophy.

This is how it should be understood, as opposed to the idiosyncratic definition employed by men simply looking to cause chaos.

This is fundamental. It is also completely overlooked or intentionally ignored in debates. Detractors can’t directly confront this belief, so they pretend libertarianism is about letting people do whatever they want whenever they want, sort of a free-for-all, no one own’s anything type of world.

Ironically, what most people think of is communism, a system where, theoretically, everybody owns everything – even though it always involves a small group of people controlling everything and deciding who gets what when, how, and why.

This came to mind when I came across this meme containing a lengthy quote by a man named Keith Lowell Jensen.

Logical fallacy: Assuming libertarianism doesn’t involve rules.

Jensen is making numerous false assumptions. Let’s list them all:

1. Libertarianism is about freedom, when it’s actually about natural rights.

2. Libertarianism is about being able to do whatever you want wherever you want, when it’s actually about the Non-Aggression Principle.

3. Libertarianism is about nobody owning anything, including the road, when it’s actually about property rights.

4. Libertarianism is about having no rules, when it’s actually about people being able to determine rules for their own property.

In a libertarian anarchist society, this girl would not be able to violate the rules of the road any more than she does now, because she wouldn’t own the road. The road would be privately owned and the private owner could set rules however they wished. If she doesn’t comply with them she will be removed.

None of this runs contrary to libertarianism.

Private Shopping Malls as Examples of Libertarian Anarchy

Somehow Jensen fails to appreciate that shopping malls are privately owned, yet they magically still have rules. It’s why you don’t see many political protests inside a mall; security has the right to kick them out in order to ensure the actual customers have a good experience. The mall owners can do this, as opposed to cops who must tolerate protesters on the sidewalk, because people do not have a right to be on private property they don’t own, so they must conform to rules the mall owner sets.

This is how it would operate under libertarian anarchy.

Jensen most likely has a faulty understanding of libertarianism, in which case he wouldn’t be the first. He can reeducate himself by checking out my study of Gerard Casey’s Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State.

Or he is perpetuating his daughter’s misconception of real freedom in order to dissuade her from becoming a libertarian.

I have to say, though, his argument isn’t quite as bad as the “but who would build the roads?” argument. But it’s close.

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12 Responses to Anti-Libertarian Argument Makes Faulty Assumptions: Anarchy is about Rules, Not Rulers

  1. Pingback: Anti-Libertarian Argument Makes Faulty Assumptions: Anarchy is about Rules, Not Rulers - Freedom's Floodgates

  2. mattwilson32 says:

    the shopping mall analogy was beautiful. as a reformed conservative republican, I may have to link to this blog from time to time as a way to explain to my still conservative friends in a way that they can understand on why I have changed


  3. The “rules, not rulers” bit is a common overlooked aspect. If you feel that someone has arbitrary or unnecessary rules, you have the option of not interacting with them. However, arbitrary rules of the State still carry penalties.

    Side note: noticed heavy usage of argumentum ad absurdum in that dude’s (nauseating) quote. He has a bright future waiting for him as a Salon columnist.


    • It’s difficult to state just how absurd his argument is, but unfortunately he is not the first person I’ve heard to make that argument, hence the reason for the post. It requires a profound lack of critical thinking and contemplation to come to that conclusion.


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