The Man Behind the Curtain

It seems my previous misgivings about the publisher of a certain “libertarian” site were not entirely unfounded.

Honestly, at first I thought the comment was mere sarcasm or facetiousness. But then I found this and this.

All together again, class: If you believe in the NAP, then you’re a libertarian. If you don’t, you’re not, and you shouldn’t run a site with the word in the masthead, especially when you’ve previously called yourself something else. It’s called intellectual honesty.

Sounds rather simple.

But I’m curious; what are your thoughts?

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15 Responses to The Man Behind the Curtain

  1. mattwilson32 says:

    I think this is a great discussion to have. I’m not sure being a libertarian is yes or no proposition, it probably more of a specrum. I’m a minarchist, I also believe in the NAP. I’m not anti-ancap either. If I could reconcile a plausible way to have a stateless society I would jump at it. All the explanations I have come across so far are less than encouraging, and I can’t think of any myself. There are, however, a few ways of making taxes voluntary,and a state that makes no laws, and therefore no force. Of course, since we won’t see any of that in our lifetimes, we must work with what we are given. This is a great blog if for no other reason than it encourages the free exchange of ideas. I hope I’m not the only one to respond. I like learning new things.

    Like

    • The Question says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you find the blog useful.

      What troubles me with this particular individual aren’t his beliefs, per se. It’s the intellectual sloppiness inherent in his arguments and the mischaracterization of what his opponents say. He calls himself a minarchist and constitutionalist, but uses the word “libertarian” on his site. All I ask for is intellectual honesty.

      For an example of how intellectually honest (and polite) people should debate, check out this recent exchange between Walter Block and Bionic Mosquito. http://bionicmosquito.blogspot.com/2015/05/apologies-to-walter-block.html. These are the kinds of exchanges I value and seek.

      Concerning practical solutions to our current problem, below is a comment of mine that was published on lewrockwell.com sometime ago.

      I think a vital question has to be asked that isn’t really addressed or discussed by a lot of libertarians and minarchists. What is their ultimate desired outcome? Do they want to merely return to a limited government and stop there, or is returning to a limited government just a part of the road down to the intended goal of a libertarian anarchist society? In other words, at what point do they want to stop trying to reduce government power?

      The question is important because it clarifies short-term versus long-term goals. A person can be a libertarian, for example, and still support the Tenth Amendment Center, which uses the concept of nullification to restrain the federal government when it violates the Constitution. As long as their eventual goal is a state-less society and reducing the power of the federal government is merely a step towards achieving that goal, they remain a libertarian and nullification is simply a tool. If that person’s ultimate goal is a limited government that adheres to a written constitution, however, then they are not a libertarian but a constitutionalist.

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      • mattwilson32 says:

        I definitely agree with your assessment of the article. He seems to have a seething hatred for ancaps. Your question about the ultimate desired outcome is a good one. I’m not sure if there is a single good answer because there are so many types of libertarian. Anarchy is the most pure form of course, similar to utopian for a socialist. If you look at the tree of libertarianism, the ideas of what that means can be drastically varied. For me, “state” does not have to equal “force”. In our current environment, of course it absolutely does. If the goal is eliminating force, that’s a great and Noble goal. There are those that think since it’s not a possible goal it’s better to reduce the govt we already have using our current constitution. they are still libertarian, because any political philosophy bent on maximizing freedom and minimizing govt will fall onto some branch of the libertarian tree. In the same way, socialists, fascists, modern liberals, progressives and communists all fall into that utopian tree, bent on maximizing govt and minimizing freedom.

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      • The Question says:

        I’m not sure if there is a single good answer because there are so many types of libertarian.

        That is a very important point often lost in discussions. Libertarian societies would simply adhere, or closely adhere to, the NAP. Other than that, they would be extremely diverse.

        I will have to write about this in a future post.

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      • mattwilson32 says:

        I was thinking the same thing. Haha. I’ve had trouble lately finding topics that interest me to write about

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    • “If I could reconcile a plausible way to have a stateless society I would jump at it” – I think this is a wonderful political view to have and I think it is the main hangup of those who are close to being libertarian. Reading Hans Herman Hoppe’s “The Private Production of Defense” is a great way to familiarize yourself with the idea of individual market offered security as opposed to monopoly issued coercive collective security. Also Rothbard’s “Ethics of Liberty” has a section in the back of the book where he refutes many of the principled arguments against total libertarian anarchy, such as Nozick’s concept of the “immaculate state”. I hear “Chaos Theory” by Robert Murphy is very good as well, though I haven’t read it. Here’s a clip of him discussing private law.

      I hope you’ll forgive some of us libertarians for our intransigence on the use of or identification with the word by those who are not “fully” libertarian, but history is full of examples of words, defining movements, being diluted and co-opted by others to the detriment of the original movement. The term liberal is a noteworthy example of this, for now it has come to mean nearly the opposite of its original usage. The term libertarian is under just such an attack at the moment with both liberals and conservatives claiming membership.

      I hope you do continue to look into the possibilities of a stateless society, and I hope you’ll consider the possibility that the very concept of government is a cancer on society, which will, if given any power whatsoever, invariably grow larger and more burdensome and oppressive, and will certainly not be held back by a piece of paper or group of people given to the same power. To get rid of cancer you must eradicate all cancerous cells, and I believe getting rid of government coercion requires the same effort. To be clear, I’m not saying the people who believe in government must be eradicated, I’m saying they must be convinced a better way of societal organization and cooperation exists without the presence of a monopoly of force.

      At present, I am all for decentralization and state’s rights, because that is the first logical step toward a libertarian society. I think we need to break up centralized authority until we reach the point where each individual is sovereign.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mattwilson32 says:

        I will definitely try to read those books.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hoppe’s book is less than 30 pages so its probably a good one to start with. All are available for free in pdf format in case you want to save money. See links. I downloaded a free voice reader app for my phone that I can listen to while driving to and from work everyday that handles pdfs like these. Its turned into my most valuable and productive reading time. Lol

        https://mises.org/sites/default/files/14_1_2_0.pdf

        https://mises.org/sites/default/files/Chaos%20Theory_2.pdf

        http://anarcho-capitalist.org/wp-content/pdfs/Rothbard%20%28Murray%29%20-%20The%20Ethics%20of%20Liberty.pdf

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      • mattwilson32 says:

        ok. I read Hoppe’s book and the section on self defense in Chaos Theory. As a person in the insurance industry, I can say that replacing the state with insurance companies for the reason of defense would not work for several reasons. A proper response would take more space than I should use in a comment section. I will have to make this a topic of blog. I normally blog about things in a way that non political people can read and understand, but will have to make an exception for this one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I look forward to reading your post, but keep in mind that an insurance company may be run completely different without the current web of government protection, inflation, and compulsion.

        Also it is only one idea of a company who may take up the helm of security. Security, adjudication, and criminal confinement may form independent companies or they may combine services along with insurance.

        A lot of things can happen if exchange is left completely open to any and all forms of voluntary association, but I’m convinced that if there’s a big enough want for something in society (like security and dispute resolution), then the market will provide, and the market is much more capable, at least in my opinion, of providing higher quality services at lower costs.

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      • mattwilson32 says:

        Another problem we face is that a majority of people have faith in the govt. Most people in america actually depend on the govt to survive. We need to find a way that they will accept, to show that there is a better way without govt. That’s the hard part. That could take 100 or more years

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      • I agree it will be very hard to convince some people they don’t have a right to the services of others. They must be convinced that these programs that they’ve become dependent on have only entrenched them in permanent poverty immediately while impoverishing everyone else in the long run.

        I don’t believe anyone is a lost cause, but admittedly, some causes will be harder to “find” than others. Maybe it will take the passing of a generation or two. All we can hope for is to lay the groundwork for our kids and future generations.

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