Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Libertarians I – Introduction – 90

Libertarianism A Brief Definition

Libertarianism is the advocacy of individual liberty, especially freedom of thought and action. Philosopher Roderick T. Long defines libertarianism as "any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power [either "total or merely substantial"] from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals", whether "voluntary association" takes the form of the free market or of communal co-operatives. David Boaz, libertarian writer and vice president of the Cato Institute, writes that, "Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others" and that, "Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property--rights that people have naturally, before governments are created."

Economist Karl Widerquist writes of left-libertarianism and libertarian socialism as being distinct ideologies also claiming the label "libertarianism". However, many works broadly distinguish right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism as related forms of libertarian philosophy. Also identified is a large faction advocating minarchism, though libertarianism has also long been associated with anarchism (and sometimes is used as a synonym for such), especially outside of the United States. Anarchism remains one of the significant branches of libertarianism.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states a strict view of libertarianism "holds that agents initially fully own themselves and have moral powers to acquire property rights in external things under certain conditions," and that "in a looser sense, libertarianism is any view that approximates the strict view." Also noted is that libertarianism is not a "right-wing" doctrine because of its opposition to laws restricting adult consensual sexual relationships and drug use, and its opposition to imposing religious views or practices and compulsory military service. The Stanford Encyclopedia further describes versions of libertarianism, such as “left-libertarianism” stating that this philosophy also endorses full self-ownership, but "differs on  unappropriated natural resources (land, air, water, etc.)." "Right-libertarianism" holds that such resources may be appropriated by individuals while "left-libertarianism" holds that they belong to everyone and must be distributed in some egalitarian manner.

Also stated is that libertarianism is attractive because "(1) it provides significant moral liberty of action, (2) it provides significant moral protection against interference from others, and (3) it is sensitive to what the past was like (e.g., what agreements were made and what rights violations took place)." Libertarians generally advocate the maximization of freedom of thought and action with few exceptions. One exception shared by libertarians is that the actions of an individual should not infringe upon the freedom of any other person, a premise believed by many libertarians to be expressed best through the non-aggression principle.


There are right-libertarian (property rights, minimal or no central government) variants and left-libertarian (“commons” and communitarian) variants as well as minarchists who advocate a minimal state and anarcho-capitalists who believe nearly all government functions can be privatized. The central unifying concept of libertarianism is the conviction that decisions should be made through reason rather than faith or ideology per se. Libertarians themselves overwhelmingly fail to follow this standard competently.

The critique of the libertarians in this blog will be conducted along these topical lines:

Libertarians have the wrong heroes; the ideal exemplars are profoundly inconsistent
Libertarians are astoundingly stupid about human nature, specifically, the human personality
     The proof is their awesome deafness to the grand masters of human nature
Libertarians quarrel among each other to the point of babbling and incoherence
Libertarians do not understand power at all; therefore they deserve none
     Libertarians talk about reason and logic but are amateurs at logical argumentation
     Libertarians know nothing about the wise application of power
          coming from wisdom literature
          coming from game theory
              coming from new forms of logic (such as contract bridge bidding conventions)
The Libertarian philosophy is dangerous and potentially ruinous to civilization
     Libertarianism is directly responsible for the greatest non-warfare crisis in human history*
     As this crisis developed, libertarians were easily co-opted, manipulated, and herded like cattle

             * an amazing accomplishment for so small and quarrelsome a group

CONCLUSION: Libertarians cannot preserve Quiddity

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