Sunday 26 August 2012

What do libertarians think they are?


Libertarians always line-up with 'Liberals' on the hot button moral issues of the day - but present themselves as tough-minded rationalists about the economy, defense, federalism and the like.

In other words, Libertarians claim to be more effective and efficient Leftists: the have exactly the same 'ultimate' utilitarian aims in life, but claim to be better at reaching them. 

And this is why libertarianism is merely a hobby for a tiny minority of dissociated smart lads - because to be a Libertarian entails having a dual personality as regards ends and means: one part of the mind entranced by the vague, unbounded dreams of Leftism; while the other part operates like a hard-eyed manipulative Machiavellian.

Libertarians are fundamentally Leftist, hence fundamentally irrational; and Libertarians are superficially rationalist, hence anti-Left.

Libertarians imagines this combination means they have straddled and integrated Left and Right - but this is crude contradiction: incoherence, not synthesis.

Sadly, this criticism also applies to the secular Right in general: utilitarianism just is Leftism, their rationalism fights their Leftism; their secularism propels them into Leftism.

So there are only two side - the Religious Right and the anti-Religious Right (i.e. the Left). Everything else is incoherent, self-fighting, self-defeating.



Crosbie said...

Libertarians try to replace authority with a system of rules. The 'non-aggression axiom' is an example. To the extent that they try to completely replace convention and human authority with sets of rules for human conduct, libertarianism is liberalism reductio ad absurdum.

Many good writers are former libertarians. Absurd as it is, given that our society is completely liberal, perhaps this reduction to libertarian absurdity is the only way out of the trap of rule-based thinking,

James Higham said...

to be a Libertarian entails having a dual personality

... and not a little cognitive dissonance.

Bruce Charlton said...

JRRTR READER SAYS: "I've often thought that a libertarian society is just about impossible in practice. Imagine that one somehow came into being. It could not maintain itself. A libertarian country would require a certain critical mass of popular support. I cannot see any people that truly desires little to no government. Given that libertarian theory touts a lack of compulsion, there is no way to force the would-be residents of such a land to support the new regime. To do so would mean either an end to libertarianism. Otherwise, the libertarian state would cease to exist because others would replace it with something else. In either case, libertarianism is self-destructive.

"What I find more difficult is the question of whether or not it is wrong in and of itself to promote such utopianism. This especially applies to the school known as anarcho-capitalism. These folks, many of them well-intention, and I suspect pushed over to the extreme after dealing with run-away big government, want to replace the entire state with free market transactions. It would seem to be irresponsible at best to advocate such a patently impossible dream world.

"Mind you, I have no affinity for what is commonly called "big government" in the abstract, much less the monstrosities we have today in the West. Be that as it might, I have no objections to government involvement in certain facets of society."

FHL said...

JRRTR READER brings up a point I'd noticed with my flirtations with the libertarian ideology. I believe Dr. Charlton has brought it up as well.

I still have libertarian tendencies, most of which I don't think are a bad thing (flee Egypt through the Red Sea and never look back, but take their silver...).

But then there are the "pure libertarians," for which Liberty is the all-consuming-good which cannot be questioned and must be promoted to its fullest extent.

But what on earth do these pure libertarians expect to keep society libertarian? How will it not collapse into a monarchy, oligarchy, kleptocracy? And what, I ask of them, could prevent it from becoming simply the exact same way it is right now? Wouldn't there need to be some form of organized pressure and stable transcendent laws and a great deal of physical force involved in enforcing the libertarian standards of this society?

From a purely secular view, at the heart of the matter, I think life in general is libertarian, no matter where you live: you can always choose to do whatever you wish, the only laws you must truly obey are those of physics. But of course, others can do the same. And -does it need to be said?- these freedoms flaunted by you and the others are bound to come into conflict sometime; if neither side yields, the conflict will be violent.

Bruce Charlton said...

@FHL - The problem is similar to utilitarianism, in which happiness is the thing to be magnified. Everyone is supposed to accept a compromise whereby the total amount of freedom/ happiness is greatest and/or it is most evenly distributed.

But for any specific individual, there is a desire to marginally increase the amount of one's own freedom/ happiness - because the benefit is immediate and significant, but effect on reducing the total will be minuscule.

But when everybody is trying to slightly improve their own position at the expense of the general good, then you get... pretty much what we have...