Bionic Mosquito tackles a very interesting question:
If all men are created equal to choose their own law, then to insist that libertarianism is universal is invalid – unless by libertarianism we mean each individual is free to choose his law. If it is libertarian for each of us to choose our own law, then there is no such thing as a single universal law for all; if libertarianism (as you interpret its application) is universal, then I am not free to choose my own law (and for this, a strongman will be required).
And in this, we find the difference in the decentralization vs. universalist camps. If it is ever to be found, liberty will only be found in decentralized society and decentralized law.
I think this brings up another challenge that plagues libertarian thought. Libertarians tend to discuss hypothetical situations from a clean-slate presumption, in which the state does not exist. They describe the ideal, rather than the real.
And yes, I’ve been guilty of this, though in many cases it is acceptable to do so as a way of demonstrating how unnatural our situation is.
Declaring that “in a libertarian society…..” ignores the fact that we do not live in a libertarian society. Avoiding that frees us of the constraints that reality imposes on our ideas and proposals.
One might as well say that “in paradise…”
How does one get to that point?
This forces libertarians to acknowledge a conundrum highlighted in BM’s post; how do you contend with a society and community already governed by a state and is full of people who do not support libertarianism or its ideas?
I’m sure the standard response would be “they can be ruled any way they like, but they have no right to decide that for me.”
Again, this ignores the problem. Who has the right to do what is irrelevant; it’s all about who has the power to enforce their will, and libertarians have little to none.Therefore, libertarians have to either convince or persuade others to support or passively accept their plans.
But what if they won’t?
Perhaps we’re getting to a genuine hurdle for the philosophy. It’s not a problem with its tenets, per se. It’s that you’ve got to get enough people willing to go along with it.
How do you do that in a society and culture in which the state has so much power and influence and is all but guaranteed exclusive authority to educate people during the formative years of their life?
How do you convince people to embrace freedom when the state offers control and restrictions, but with free goodies?
Some people will reject the Trojan horse and seek freedom. Some. However, the majority will not, unless it is in their interests to do so and they can be persuaded to believe it is.
So what do you do?