Bionic Mosquito’s rebuttal of Sherman Richman‘s piece on why libertarians should cheer the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage really gets to the heart of the problem with “thick” libertarianism. In addition to highlighting the same indifference to the property rights of people who don’t share Richman’s views as I did in my critique, BM points out Richman’s underlying belief is this: When his cultural views conflict with someone’s property rights, his views trump their rights.
Richman does not care about the baker’s or photographer’s property rights in such circumstances. He has written often that libertarian philosophy should embrace treating others respectfully (including to not insult or condescend), see here and here – please take a few seconds (it won’t take more) to consider his arguments in the context of gay couples and bakers of wedding cakes.
This is the foundational principle behind what is known as “thick libertarianism.”
Richman (and other left-libs), insist that it is necessary to integrate culture into libertarian theory when it is the culture of which they approve: no matter the behavior, don’t condescend, don’t insult, don’t exercise property rights in a discriminatory (racist, sexist, whatever) manner. Ask them how they feel about integrating a more traditional Judeo-Christian culture into the libertarian philosophy – I bet you will find it has no place in their libertarian world.
BM’s comment gets to the heart of the matter. “Thick” libertarianism is a continuation of the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” view, except it places libertarianism and the NAP as secondary, optional belief in favor of cultural values.
As BM remarked, they are a libertarian as long as it fits their vision. Once it does not, however, the NAP is tossed aside amid a great deal of rationalization.
If someone wants to promote socially liberal values, they are free to do so. But there is no libertarian stance, per se. One is wearing a different hat when they promote it.
What thick libertarianism is trying to do is create an all-encompassing theory of how society should be organized, yet without using the violence of the state, something that is about as likely to happen as Edward Snowden being granted the presidential medal of freedom tomorrow before breakfast.
Why is this important to know? Because when push comes to shove, when it comes down to the wire, it tells you which “libertarians” are going to take your side when your views become subject to the wrath of the state, or when what you do becomes socially unpopular. There are fake libertarians who will, if the opportunity and moment arrives, cheer and support state violence against other people because it is promoting their vision of society.
It’s important to know who you can count on if and when things get ugly; that means watching and listening to what people do and say. The most dangerous enemy is not one who openly declares their opposition to you; it is the capricious ally whose loyalty changes with each new opportunity, the misguided fanatic, and the charlatan – people who claim to be friends but will turn on you when they are most needed.
As Michael Corleone said, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
At this point, I do believe the topic has been exhausted.