Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why I'm Not Quite a Libertarian

If I were going to consider living in a government-free society, being who I am and still craving civilization, I would have to choose as cohabitants people who can govern themselves, people who choose to be good and honest, to work hard and be productive, to be kind and forgiving and respectful.

I wouldn’t choose people who claim to be seeking liberty by claiming a right to self-indulgence. So, while I have some libertarian leanings, especially in economics, I’m very much anti-libertine. Every time the libertarians insist on freedom to freely trade and use mind-altering drugs, mostly liberty-taking addictive drugs, I separate myself from them. Similarly when they announce their support of prostitution, which is about as close to slavery as we see in today’s society. You can’t get civilization going that route.

If I’m going to live in a neighborhood with no police and no judiciary, I want to know I’m with people who would never give me need for the police or judges. I want to know my neighbors keep their word and keep their contracts, or I’m not willing to give up some kind of enforcement mechanism for when they break faith with me.

Until I can somehow choose the perfect citizenry for such an experiment, I’m for limited government, but I’m not for no government.

Looking at it on the Spherical Model, it’s like this: Civilization, up in the northern hemisphere and especially above the 45th parallel, requires certain behaviors that come from a spiritual perspective. The more the society voluntarily lives the requirements for civilization, the less government enforcement is needed. So, if we start by persuading people toward civilization, there is less chaos, so it’s easier to raise the political and economic spheres into their respective northern hemispheres. Government is limited to essential protections for life, liberty, and property. Markets are free from unnecessary imposed controls (anything beyond basic protection of property rights is arguably unnecessary).

If you work on political and economic spheres first (and there’s plenty to do—or rather undo—with those right now), you struggle against those who are worried about safety and/or economic chaos. So, work on the Civilization Sphere first, and the others are then more likely to follow.


  1. The only problem is a theory put forward by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. He maintains that morality tends to involve patience, putting off self-indulgence for something better down the line. He points out that children have high time preferences and tend towards immediate gratification, but as they mature they see the benefits of saving and patience their time preferences shrink. As capital is accumulated in society and saving becomes associated with wealth, society's time preference also shrinks. As people become more patient in economic matters, it carries over to moral ones. Because government grows and systematically infringes on property rights more and more, government involvement in the economy actually causes the process to reverse and for time preferences in society to increase, thus the increase in immorality. Maybe it is near impossible to affect the Civilization sphere without fixing the Economic one.

    "The state — a judicial monopoly — must be recognized as the source of de-civilization: states do not create law and order; they destroy it. Families and households must be recognized as the source of civilization." -Hoppe

  2. Further, those libertarians arguing for legality in drug use and prostitution do not claim to use it for themselves. Libertarians who do advocate legality are not Libertines. I advocate for their legality as well. Property rights cut both ways though. You can exclude anyone from your property, both home and business, anyone you deem morally unfit. And everyone in your community can do the same. Boycotts, social ostracism, covenant societies are all ways you can non-violently fight immorality without infringing on property rights.

  3. I believe Ron Paul when he makes the argument that it isn't for himself. But in the New Hampshire project movie clip (not the whole movie, just the 7-minute preview) there was indeed someone who explained that he planned to break unjust laws, and the ones he intended to break related to drug use. So, again, I wouldn't want to tie myself to people who choose such unwise things when there is no governing authority to protect me when they break their contract with me.