ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context : OnLibertarianism

Quora Answer : What do liberals think of libertarian ideas?

Dec 3, 2016

Well, here's my opinion.

What people call "Libertarians" today, are really "Propertarians".

They aren't people who are highly biased in favour of liberty. They are people who are highly biased in favour of property. They still believe that society needs constraints. But they assert that property is the only good way of configuring those constraints.

So, for example, the libertarian doesn't believe that the government should punish you for throwing pollution in the river. But if the river is wrapped in a property right, and becomes part of someone's estate, then its fine for the government to punish you for violation of the river-owner's right not to have someone throw pollution in their river.

This sounds like a joke. But you'll find something like this is the basis of most libertarian policy for dealing with the destruction of the environment or any other commons : you mustn't protect the commons while it is a commons, but hand it over to rich people, and THEN the government can (and must) protect it.

Read most of the rest of propertarian literature and you'll see it's mainly a bunch of clever suggestions for how other public services and public goods can be refactored into the form of property and contracts.

Self-proclaimed libertarians don't believe in "initiating violence". But are happy to shoot you if you try to take their stuff away from them. Why the contradiction? Because they've asserted that their car is actually part of their person, and so taking it is the equivalent of trying to chop their leg off.

This seems to be how the propertarian trick works. Claim that property is part of the person, and suddenly that thing which they said was illegitimate : using the threat of force to constrain people's behaviour, suddenly becomes legitimate. Because now, when John scrumped my orchard he "initiated" the violence, and me using violence to constrain / punish him is acceptable.

Now many people who are attracted to libertarianism genuinely care about freedom and making society better. And that's fine. I have no quarrel with those people. I just point out that any liberal is ALSO against oppressive government and abuse of the individual. We can all agree and work together on that.

But the philosophy codified under the name "libertarianism" is pure hypocrisy. It's a set of arguments with one aim : to justify why people who HAVE a lot of stuff should be allowed to keep it. And to claim that stuff-ownership has the highest priority of any moral constraint.

Quora Answer : What are the fundamental flaws in libertarian thinking?

Mar 30, 2017

The most fundamental is that they believe that private property, as an institution, is not coercive and doesn't rely on the threat (and reality) of violence to sustain it.

You can't eat apples from the orchard which is conveniently full of fruit. Or help yourself to stuff that people handily keep in houses. The reason you don't do it is not "voluntary". It's because you're scared of the violent retribution which is intended to coerce you into respecting the existing property regime.

This regime is not something you chose. You were born into it. Your compliance is under duress. And you have no freedom to change it.

Failure to recognise this is the greatest flaw in the thinking of people who claim they live by non-aggression, want a world run only by freely entered into, voluntary contracts and think freedom is the highest priority social goal.

Quora Answer : Is it an internal inconsistency or absurdity that the most well armed individuals in human history call themselves libertarians, and claim their non-aggression principle is the foundation of their ideology?

Oct 23, 2017

It's disingenuity.

If I say "all n*****s are lazy" and a black guy called Steve (justifiably) shoots me because I assaulted his character and reputation, a Libertarian will be horrified. Steve is seen as "initiating" the violence because his mere reputation (or the wider perception of black people in general) is not considered something that justifies violence to defend it. Instead my speech takes priority.

Whereas if Farmer Giles shoots me when he sees me scrumping apples from his orchard, a Libertarian is perfectly happy. Farmer Giles's property IS something that he does consider important enough, or magically enough part of a "self", that Giles can claim that his violence is mere retaliation for an initiation of aggression.

Now, both reputation and property are actually human-made, cultural abstractions. Neither is really of a piece with a body or a self. And there's no reason to think that "self-ownership" has anything to do with either of these situations. So violence is justified in neither case.

But the Libertarian takes, as a given, that property is "special". And does count, such that assaults on it are the initiation of violence warranting violent retaliation. Whereas reputation is not and does not.

The Libertarian position is internally consistent. But is based on arbitrary grounds. There's no prima facie reason to assume that property is special in such a way.

Quora Answer : If liberty means freedom, why are liberals actually leftists that support egalitarialism and so are closer to communism than capitalism?

Apr 7, 2018

There's no contradiction.

Egalitarianism is closer to freedom than capitalism is.

People who support capitalism try to tell you that capitalism is more free than all the constraints the egalitarianism puts on you.

They are lying. It's a con.

Property rights are the single largest source of constraints on your freedom today.

The world is full of stuff that you can't take. Places you can't go. And things you can't do.

All because property regulations forbid you to.

People who are defenders of property and capitalism are actually the people who want to keep you more restricted, and less free, than the people who want to guarantee you access to some of those things. Even if that guaranteeing of access creates some obligations on you and on others.

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