Different types of libertarians?
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December 21, 2008 at 5:46 pm #775
I’ve been doing some more reading on political philosophies out of interest in some of the really thought-provoking ideas that people put up here, mostly in order to be able to put a label to my own thoughts on things…hard to pin it down like that for me, though. My approach to most things is I tend to look as deep as I can into real-life experience, the history…to actually start somewhere, then to discover where I stand & how to proceed, leaving a whole lot of room to come up with new ideas, ways of looking at it, learning as I go…remaining hands-on & connected to change, modify and improve things as they progress and a better possible way is seen that can be tested. The hardest part in all of this is always, for one reason or another, where to start.
I see the word libertarian in the TSI site a lot and I like the idea, too. Can I ask you guys what you think in general of the idea of libertarian socialism (Noam Chomsky, etc.)? I’m also interested in finding out more about what people interested in seasteading feel about anarcho-capitalism (http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter_29.html)?December 22, 2008 at 1:18 pm #4535
Libertarianism usually is described as having individual liberty as the highest goal. That is, all initiation of force against an individual should be outlawed.
This does not mix with socialism, which accepts the idea of initiating force against individuals in the pursuit of various other goals like other individuals, the collective good, the environment, or the state.
So I would be very sceptical to anyone suggesting “libertarian socialism” as a workable ideology…
Anarcho-capitalism is a bit strange as a political ideology. The only political part is actually “anarchy”, that is the absense of a state. Capitalism is just a phenomenon that is expected to occur in an anarchic society. So anarcho-capitalism is really just another word for anarchy.December 22, 2008 at 1:49 pm #4536
Funnily, my understanding of libertarianism implies that freedom is not a goal at all, but rather a necessary pre-requisite to the pursuit of any goal at all: you are either free to pursue that goal, or not ; you do not “act to achieve freedom”, you just act freely to achieve whatever, or not.
Agreed on anarcho-capitalism: it’s simply anarchism, with all autoritarian stuff removed from the economy, left to the free market. The whole thinking is identical: figure out what’s fair and what ain’t (free will good, coercion bad), and then figuring out how to do without the unfair things entirely. But the devil is in the details, and as an agorist there are things I view as autoritarian that other anarcho-capitalists think is spontaneous market practice. Chiefly: intellectual property and aspects of contract enforcement.
As for the compatibility of socialism and libertarianism, well, Brad Spangler coined the term “stigmergic socialism” for describing agorism, and it stuck. If you define socialism loosely enough, you may substitute the “people’s will” for the polycentric push (the stigmergy) of catallaxy.December 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm #4537
When trying to define things I like to take a look at the words and the language, and where they come from. The word libertarianism (or liberalism for that matter) comes from libertas, liberty. As such I´m just going to assume that this is the correct interpretation of what the ideology´s highest goal is. Like it would be reasonable to assume that the highest goal of tomatoism is to grow and/or eat tomatos.
If the goal of libertarianism is not freedom, then what is it? An ideology must have a goal, right? That is sort of the defining characteristic of an ideology, as far as I know. I guess if you assume libertarianism to be a way an individual lives his or her personal life rather than an all-encompassing political philosophy then you have a point. But that is sort of another discussion.
Defining coercion… yes, there are proably some grey areas, but mostly it is self-evident. Besides, in an anarchy, who is to say that a private company trying to enforce intellectual property is doing something wrong? It´s an anarchy after all. My guess is that they won´t even try though because it is practically hopeless, and move on to other more productive ventures.
Anarchy has some other interesting philosophical issues. For instance: how do we know that present day societies aren´t actually anarchies, they just happen to have one dominant private defense agency?December 23, 2008 at 1:34 am #4538
Agreed with Carl that libertarian socialism is a contradiction in terms.
My view of an ideal arrangement for society develops as follows. Let’s imagine a hypothetical pre-society scenario where there is maximum freedom, all individuals accept no restrictions whatsoever on their actions. This is truly a completely free society. However it is also a completely insecure one, since at any moment your property could be taken by coercion from you. As a result you have to dedicate a large amount of your time to the unproductive task of securing yourself, rather than producing innovative goods or processes.
If some members of such a society then decide to strike a mutual arrangement, whereby private property is respected, some rules regarding acceptable behavior are established, you can now devote much of your time to productive, innovative work, thereby giving you a material advantage over those who are completely free. In the long run therefore, a society with certain restrictions on total freedom will be able to out-compete the one where total freedom reigns.
This leads to my ideal scenario: all adults in society, on coming of age, sign an explicit documented contract with all other members of society. This contract clearly specifies what rules apply in society, the penalties for violating them etc. Those adults who object to elements of the contract may leave the society. The terms of the contract could change if approved by say 51% of citizens. There could be a few different types of contracts too, say, social security contracts for those who wish to pay higher taxes in return for guaranteed healthcare, etc.December 23, 2008 at 11:57 am #4542
The problem of defining libertarianism through its supposed goals, is that it misses the entire point of libertarianism, IMO, and that point is that THE MEANS MATTER. Libertarians oppose the pursuit of any goal through coercive means, and consider anyone free to pursue any goal through non-coercive means. Thus there is no common goal to libertarians, and that’s perfectly fine, because they instead agree on the means. Liberty is not its highest goal, but its highest mean, and more often than not the libertarian solution to all sorts of problems is “MORE FREEDOM !”.
That makes libertarians not simply opposed to non-libertarians, but… orthogonal. Libertarianism is not so much different from other ideologies that it would simply go in the opposite way, but is really running in the perpendicular direction. Debating upon what goals libertarians should be pursuing in order to “achieve freedom” is a non-sense to me.
Besides, in an anarchy, who is to say that a private company trying to enforce intellectual property is doing something wrong?
Good question. If the private company is doing that, whatever mean they’re using to that effect they’re obviously considering is right. Therefore, anyone can do it to them too. And thus they have to be mindful of the universality of their pretenses. Welcome to the wonderful world of natural right.
For instance: how do we know that present day societies aren´t actually anarchies, they just happen to have one dominant private defense agency?
We know it because these societies do not have unanimous consent, which is the defining property of an anarchy. That was easy 😉December 23, 2008 at 4:44 pm #4544
Thats very close to how i would put it. Not sure about changing the terms of the contract though: if a majority changes their mind on a fundamental issue, what they should do is properly exit from the existing contract, following its exist clauses, and create a new contract.December 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm #4546
Good question. If the private company is doing that, whatever mean they’re using to that effect they’re obviously considering is right. Therefore, anyone can do it to them too. And thus they have to be mindful of the universality of their pretenses. Welcome to the wonderful world of natural right
Sounds a lot like Kant to me actually… Quite far removed from natural right, but what they do have in common is an affinity for attempting to mix is and ought.December 23, 2008 at 9:37 pm #4547
Contract is a good method of agreement, but, as you say, time changes things and no contract could account for every possible event or issue. I would love to see something more dynamic in society, that could quickly & efficiently keep pace with the general population’s input on any issue.
Jesrad mentions the “people’s will” in the polycentric push of an aspect of society. In most societies, decisions are made by a fractional few “representing” the many. If we could somehow set up a system using secure information technology or other means, that could make it easier to get everyone’s vote in on anything on a real-time (or as close as possible) basis, from the larger items like law & judgments on theft or murder, to the smaller items such as should we take the seastead for the weekend over to Brazil or Canada next Friday.
The same format could be great for presenting items to vote on, if anyone could connect to everyone and put some issue forward that they have come across or thought of that would affect the society at large, and put to a vote if interested. How an idea is presented makes a great difference in how it is viewed, so the difficulty in this system would not just be in gathering a vote, but in effectively presenting information on any item, with many ideas from various viewpoints all put together. It could be up to you to research as little or as much as you like, within or without this pool of information, in order to inform your decision. More information could come about even after a vote was already made. Any item could possibly be revisited in the same or another form at some point thereafter and votes changed if the peoples’ views change.
Hopefully most would contribute & participate in these types of discussions & decisions, knowing that they have a vote after all is said & done, but others would have the freedom to ignore them as they will, content to continue their lives with the rules being made by the majority, knowing that they are able to put their own focus into the group’s decisions when willing. Another point is that with a contract the parties involved are generally disclosed with the signature, whereas with a vote the individual can have their privacy, but this can go either way, depending. Also, not every vote would necessarily have to affect every person if various, acceptable sub-groups were made possible, otherwise they would have to find their own seastead, I guess.
It is interesting to think if this type of thing could be done effectively with a modestly educated, open-minded & connected group of people.December 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm #4549
So Somalia seems to have had anarchy since 1991 and it does not look like it will stop soon. Are there any anarchists who think that this proves anarchy can be stable? Any who are packing their bags to move to Somalia?December 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm #4550
Personally I know too little about the situation in Somalia t really make any informed judgements. Of course, there seems to be a lot of piracy along the coast. But this is probably more due to other states prohibiting sailors from arming themselves for the purposes of self-defense. Aggression from various other states and state-like religious entities also seems to happen quite frequently.
And, of course Somalia alone is an anecdotal example and drawing any general conclusions about how other, vastly different regions and countries would develop in anarchy doesn´t really seem that reliable. For instance, would Anguilla immediately devolve into chaos if the government disappeared? Is the only thing holding Vince Cate back from acting like the worst forms of somalian society really the threat of force from the Anguillan government? 😉
Having said that, a quick glance at the somalian economy doesn´t really seem to paint such a horrific picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Somalia
A couple of quotes:
Despite the seeming anarchy, Somalia’s service sector has managed to survive and grow… Mogadishu’s main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security. -CIA Factbook
In 1989, before the collapse of the government, the national airline had only one airplane. Now there are approximately fifteen airlines, over sixty aircraft, six international destinations, and more domestic routes. According to a World Bank report, the “private airline business in Somalia is now thriving with more than five carriers and price wars between the companies.”
Somalia’s public telecommunications system has been almost completely destroyed or dismantled. However, private wireless companies thrive in most major cities and actually provide better services than in neighbouring countries. Wireless service and Internet cafés are available. Somalia was the last country in Africa to access the Internet in August 2000, with only 57 web sites known as of 2003. Internet usage in Somalia increased 44,900% from 2000 to 2007, registering the highest growth rate in Africa. Somalia has the cheapest cellular calling rates on the continent, with some companies charging less than a cent per minute.
Quotes from WikipediaDecember 24, 2008 at 1:56 am #4552
This type of internet enabled direct democracy has some appealing features. Firstly, the number of decision makers is far greater than a few dozen career-politician parliamentary representatives, making it far harder to use bribery to sway the outcome.
Secondly, by participating directly in the decision-making process, hopefully we will encourage the development of a better informed and more rational citizenry.
Potential drawbacks I can think of:
One modification I would like to try is to weigh the votes based on how much relevant objective information each individual voter possesses about the subject at hand. The more knowledgeable may have more votes than the scatter-brains…
Also how about the possibility of the system being hacked by crooks?
A lot of decisions are complicated by the fact that there is a limited amount of money. Voters may vote themselves free education, free massages and vacations when voting on individual initiatives, but who’s going to balance the books??December 24, 2008 at 2:00 am #4553
Intriguing. But still, you aren’t planning to move there are you? I suppose a lot depends on the quality of the human resource.
Also are there any numbers on what the level of arbitrary violence, crime is?December 24, 2008 at 2:38 pm #4558
>For instance, would Anguilla immediately devolve into chaos if the government disappeared?
>Is the only thing holding Vince Cate back from acting like the worst forms of somalian society
>really the threat of force from the Anguillan government? 😉
Well, Vince Cate is the one guy I am not worried about. Out of the other 13,000 people in Anguilla I do think there are some who would be trouble if the government disappeared.
I just find it amusing that anarchists think that if the government was gone everything would be great. Yet I bet not one anarchist has packed up and moved to Somalia to enjoy how good it is.
— VinceDecember 24, 2008 at 3:22 pm #4559
I suppose a lot depends on the quality of the human resource.
Not sure what to make of that comment, but be warned: while i dont mind discussion of controversial subjects, please stick to objective facts. TSI cares more about its public image than about anyones value judgement of some particular group of people.
Yes, i also prefer living in an area with a generally highly educated populace. Regardless of its government or lack thereof, i think that disqualifies most of somalia.
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