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Today: Sat, March 28 2015  -  Last modified: April, 26 2007
 Libertarian Theory
11 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 14
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

In contrast, top down thinkers advocate and admire a charade they call democracy; or in US-speak, Demahcracy. They like to set democracy up on a pedestal, and to make of it an idol to be worshipped.

In democracy, individuals may vote on which of a number of criminal gangs (political parties) they wish to direct a state for the time being. Then, there is a more or less complicated process of totting up the votes. This process determines which gang (or gangs) will have licence to “legally” oppress and exploit everyone for the next several years.

It’s obvious that this system entirely ignores the wishes of the minority. It does nothing at all for those who are alienated from politics, and feel that none of the political parties have any concern for them. And, the way the system operates, it usually ends up ignoring the desires of the majority, too.

 more» 
23 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 21 and final
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The analogy with cancer is, I think, a good one. For, just as cancer cells often don’t stop growing until the host dies, so the cancerous political state doesn’t stop growing until it has consumed its body politic. Just as cancer cells ignore messages sent to them by other cells, so do cancerous thinkers ignore what other people think or want. Just as cancer cells send out messages to other cells to confuse them into doing things against their and the host’s interests, so do cancerous thinkers spew out lies, scares and deceptions to confuse people into acting against their true interests. (They spew out lots of legislation to coerce people into acting against their interests, too). And, just as cancer cells fail to mature and grow up into roles useful to the host, so do most cancerous thinkers fail to grow up into productive, honest, useful members of society.

 more» 
21 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 20
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

But now, consider: What if we could make bottom up thinking the norm, rather than top down? Wouldn’t it encourage tolerance, individual freedom, the rule of honest law, respect for rights, economic progress and prosperity? What human being would not prefer these things to the results of top down thinking?

 more» 
19 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 19
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The bottom up thinker values honesty. Indeed, honesty is one of the most important values in his entire stock. Not only does he prize truth and straightforwardness. Not only does he make efforts to understand right and wrong, to do only the right, and to treat people with civility. Not only does he aim to be conscientious and trustworthy. Not only does he seek to earn his living by work and trade, rather than to live off others by theft or deception. No; above and beyond all these, he always tries to practise what he preaches.

 more» 
17 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 18
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

To put all this another way. Users of the economic means have to do a decent job. For if they don’t, they will lose customers. So, the economic means is a bottom up approach. You have to give something in order to get something back. It’s a self-correcting approach, too: for the discipline of market competition will eventually weed out the lazy and the dishonest. And thus, the bottom up approach encourages economic progress and increasing prosperity.

But for users of the political means, there is no such discipline. Nothing beyond social pressure – and even this is frequently lacking – obliges them to be diligent or honest. Having reduced or eliminated competition, they can get away with delivering services wastefully, at low quality and often in a dishonest, politicized way. Theirs is a top down approach. The customers have no come-back, so they’ll just have to be happy with what they get.

 more» 
15 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 17
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The bottom up thinker comes to recognize that many of the moral rules passed down from ancient times are good and valid. For example, Confucius’ Golden Rule: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like done to you. It’s also possible to derive some core rules from the Judaeo-Christian Ten Commandments. For example: Don’t commit aggressions. Keep your freely made promises. Don’t steal. Don’t lie or mislead.

But he recognizes, also, that many customs (mores) or traditions of particular cultures or religions – not eating pork, or not drinking alcohol, for example – are not part of the core ethics of civilized behaviour. For anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the religion or culture, these moral rules are optional.

 more» 
13 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 15/16
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The top down thinker, on the other hand, sees education, at best, as a process of preparing an individual for life in a particular culture. So, like the look-say trainer, the top down educator looks to stuff his pupils’ minds with information. He seeks to impart top down rote knowledge, rather than the tools which enable bottom up learning. And so, he is likely to turn his pupils into top down thinkers like him.

 more» 
09 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 12/13
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The bottom up thinker understands that all justly owned property comes, ultimately, from someone expending time and effort, either to create the property, to improve it, or to earn enough to trade for it. So for the great majority of us, who don’t receive big legacies from rich parents or uncles, all our property comes from our own time and effort, which we have expended in order to gain it. So, property is life. That is why property rights are so important. That’s why they mustn’t be violated. Ever.

 more» 
07 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 10/11
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The top down thinker, on the other hand, often talks a good game about human rights. But in reality, he doesn’t care about others’ rights at all. He may support, for example, cameras on every street corner, or routine interception of people’s e-mails. He may want to control even the smallest details of others’ lives. He may agitate to restrict freedom of speech or assembly. He may support policies that damage the economy, or make it harder for people to find work. He may seek to re-distribute wealth and power from the honest and productive to himself and his cronies. Or to the lazy, or to the dishonest, or to the politically connected. And he wants, of course, to impose heavy taxation to pay for his evil schemes.

 more» 
05 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 8/9
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

In contrast, the top down thinker sees law as a tool, to be used by those in power to achieve their ends. So, legislation made by politicians is to be enforced, whether or not it’s right or just. And it doesn’t matter whether the motives behind legislation are good or bad, or whether it has bad consequences for innocent people.

So, the top down thinker finds it OK to subject people to political agendas hostile to them. Or to enrich or otherwise favour certain groups at the expense of others. Or to expand bureaucracy. Or to create perverse incentives to encourage people to support a Cause. Or to hurt people they don’t like, or who refuse to follow the latest politically correct fad. Or to victimize those who have earned success through their own efforts. Or merely for the sake of ordering people around.

 more» 
03 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 6/7
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The bottom up thinker wants to see each individual treated as he deserves. So, in his view, anyone who fairly and honestly earns good things has earned the right to enjoy them. “From each according to his abilities,” declares the bottom up thinker; “to each according to his deserts.”

He will, of course, be charitable towards those who are unable to earn satisfaction of their needs for reasons outside their control. After all, if you aren’t willing to help others when they are in need, you can’t reasonably expect them to help you when you’re the one in trouble. But he doesn’t feel that he owes any charity to those whose failure to earn is due to their own laziness or dishonesty.

 more» 
01 April 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 4/5
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

In contrast, the top down thinker wants to impose political correctness on others’ speech as well as on their thinking. Cleverly, this enables him to frame any debates so the other side find it hard to put their position. Furthermore, he likes to bombard others with politically correct sound bites, that help his side of any debate. This, I think, is why we hear so much rubbish about things like “democracy day” or “international womens’ day.”

 more» 
30 March 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 3
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

Furthermore, many top down thinkers see the primary purpose of politics as being to promote a Cause or Causes. What specific policies the top down thinker favours may vary from time to time. But to him, the Cause for the time being is the common good. Even if some, or even many, individuals are unjustly harmed by actions taken to further the Cause.

 more» 
28 March 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 2
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The bottom up thinker focuses on the basic unit of all human societies; the individual. He knows that each human being is unique, and different from every other. He knows that every human being, including himself, is an individual. So he views, and seeks to deal with, others as individuals too.

 more» 
26 March 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Part 1
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

The top down thinker, on the other hand, has far less concern for truth and rationality. He tends only to accept new ideas if they fit his pre-existing beliefs. Where new facts are incompatible with his world view, therefore, he must ignore them, twist them or deny them. Evidence that there has been no significant global warming over the last 18 years, for example, won’t disturb his belief that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing catastrophic global warming. Nor will it quiet his oft-repeated chants that those who point out such evidence are kooks or “deniers,” nor is it likely to prevent him abusing the scientific method in his efforts to deny reality. Psychologists call this effect “confirmation bias.”

 more» 
24 March 2015
 
 
On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Introduction
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

These examples are by way of preliminary to my main theme: bottom up thinking versus top down thinking. I’m going to make a case that bottom up thinking produces better results than top down.

Further, I’m going to claim that the troubles of our current age are due, at their root, to a battle between two opposing mental forces. These forces are: enlightenment, which is associated with bottom up thinking, and endarkenment, which is the cause of top down thinking. I’m going to compare endarkenment to cancer. And I’m going to liken the promoters of top down thinking, that carry the disease, to cancer cells.

 more» 
18 March 2015
 
 
Nation, state and culture - Part 3
An individual view
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

And this applies on the personal level as well. So, I count as enemies those that promote or support political policies that damage me, inconvenience me or restrict my freedom in any way, or are intended to do any of these things. Those that vote for politicians and parties, that make such policies. Those that take my earnings away from me, yet give me nothing that I value in return. Those that commit or support any violation of my human rights. Those that behave as if they were a superior species to me, and want to control me. Those that demand that I make sacrifices for good sounding causes like “helping the needy” or “the environment,” yet make no such sacrifices themselves. Those that want to impose on me any kind of political correctness. Those that lie to me, or try to deceive, bullshit or browbeat me, or to manipulate my emotions against my will. Those that try to cover up the truth, or to offer lame excuses or rationalizations.

These are my enemies, not my friends or my brothers or sisters. They owe me compensation for what they have done to me; I don’t owe them anything. And by their conduct, they have forfeited all right to my concern, my compassion or my charity. I feel no more fellowship for them than a Jew would feel for nazis.

 more» 
16 March 2015
 
 
Nation, state and culture - Part 2
An individual view
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

Indeed, I find the idea of geographical community, in an age of mass migration and of the Internet, to be no longer helpful. It may have been workable in the days of walled city states, when the safety of one really was the safety of all. But today, does it really make sense to judge individuals as friend or foe simply by where they live? I think not.

And I’ve never approved of tribalism. In a cynical mood, I like to say that lovers of tribalism ought to go to Africa and start playing Tutsi v. Hutu. So, I don’t find judging friend or foe by bloodlines terribly appealing either.

 more» 
14 March 2015
 
 
Nation, state and culture - Part 1
An individual view
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

And consider, if you will, the huge progress which we humans have made over the 400+ years since Bodin died. We have made great strides in science, in medicine, in technology and communications, in our understanding of human rights, in finance, in the economy, in the ability to blow each other up, and in much else. We’ve even been through the Enlightenment, for goodness’ sake! So why haven’t our political institutions made similar progress in all these centuries? Why are we still suffering a system that allows a ruling élite to do to us exactly what it wants, with no come-back? And as for the charade called democracy, that’s the last straw, giving as it does a veneer of apparent legitimacy to the whole shebang.

 more» 
11 March 2015
 
 
Some Quotations from "Two Treatises of Government" - Part 2
by John Locke
 sub-topic» General

30. “…but government being for the preservation of every man’s right and property, by preserving him from the violence or injury of others, is for the good of the governed: for the magistrate’s sword being for a ‘terror to evil doers,’ and by that terror to enforce men to observe the positive laws of the society, made conformable to the laws of nature, for the public good, i.e., the good of every particular member of that society, as far as by common rules it can be provided for.” (First Treatise, §92).

 more» 
09 March 2015
 
 
Some Quotations from "Two Treatises of Government" - Part 1
by John Locke
 sub-topic» General

17. “…by which law, common to them all, he and all the rest of mankind are one community, make up one society distinct from all other creatures, and were it not for the corruption and viciousness of degenerate men, there would be no need of any other, no necessity that men should separate from this great and natural community, and associate into lesser combinations.” (Second Treatise, §128).

 more» 
08 March 2015
 
 
Statement by Willie Soon
by Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon
 sub-topic» General

“In recent weeks I have been the target of attacks in the press by various radical environmental and politically motivated groups. This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming.

“I am saddened and appalled by this effort, not only because of the personal hurt it causes me and my family and friends, but also because of the damage it does to the integrity of the scientific process. I am willing to debate the substance of my research and competing views of climate change with anyone, anytime, anywhere. It is a shame that those who disagree with me resolutely decline all public debate and stoop instead to underhanded and unscientific ad hominem tactics.

 more» 
05 March 2015
 
 
What is Social Justice?
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

To the extent there is a solid SJW goal, it is probably "equality" or equal distribution of privilege. What the words mean, however, is mandated and special benefits to preferred groups. There is no defined end point, no sense of when equality is and can be attained because SJWs reach back to the dawn of time when assessing the social debt owed to the preferred groups. They are remedial historians who impose the cost of centuries of wrongdoing on individuals who are innocent. They will continue to do so because there is no downside for them.

 more» 
12 January 2015
 
 
Libertarian Theory for the Real World
by Matt Zwolinski
 sub-topic» General

Libertarians disagree with each other about the exact shape of their ideal. Some want a minimal state, some want a somewhat larger state, and some want no state at all. And we spend a lot of time arguing with each other about those differences. But even if all of those arguments were to be resolved, there would still remain important philosophical questions about how to get from here to there. What’s the just way to act in a deeply unjust society? What does justice require in an imperfect situation, when the full demands of justice simply aren’t a viable option?

 more» 
07 January 2015
 
 
Our Enemy, the State - Part 4
by Albert Jay Nock
 sub-topic» General

The historical method, moreover, establishes the important fact that, as in the case of tabetic or parasitic diseases, the depletion of social power by the State can not be checked after a certain point of progress is passed. History does not show an instance where, once beyond this point, this depletion has not ended in a complete and permanent collapse. In some cases, disintegration is slow and painful. Death set its mark on Rome at the end of the second century, but she dragged out a pitiable existence for some time after the Antonines. Athens, on the other hand, collapsed quickly. Some authorities think Europe is dangerously near that point, if not already past it; but contemporary conjecture is probably without much value. That point may have been reached in America, and it may not; again, certainty is unattainable – plausible arguments may be made either way. Of two things, however, we may be certain; the first is, that the rate of America’s approach to that point is being prodigiously accelerated; and the second is, that there is no evidence of any disposition to retard it, or any intelligent apprehension of the danger which that acceleration betokens.

 more» 
06 January 2015
 
 
Our Enemy, the State - Part 3
by Albert Jay Nock
 sub-topic» General

Such are the antecedents of the institution which is everywhere now so busily converting social power by wholesale into State power. The recognition of them goes a long way towards resolving most, if not all, of the apparent anomalies which the conduct of the modern State exhibits. It is of great help, for example, in accounting for the open and notorious fact that the State always moves slowly and grudgingly towards any purpose that accrues to society’s advantage, but moves rapidly and with alacrity towards one that accrues to its own advantage; nor does it ever move towards social purposes on its own initiative, but only under heavy pressure, while its motion towards anti-social purposes is self-sprung.

 more» 
05 January 2015
 
 
Our Enemy, the State - Part 2
by Albert Jay Nock
 sub-topic» General

It may now be easily seen how great the difference is between the institution of government, as understood by Paine and the Declaration of Independence, and the institution of the State. Government may quite conceivably have originated as Paine thought it did, or Aristotle, or Hobbes, or Rousseau; whereas the State not only never did originate in any of those ways, but never could have done so. The nature and intention of government, as adduced by Parkman, Schoolcraft and Spencer, are social. Based on the idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go. The State, on the other hand, both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing.

 more» 
04 January 2015
 
 
Our Enemy, the State - Part 1
by Albert Jay Nock
 sub-topic» General

Clearly, then, we have two distinct types of political organization to take into account; and clearly, too, when their origins are considered, it is impossible to make out that the one is a mere perversion of the other. Therefore when we include both types under a general term like government, we get into logical difficulties; difficulties of which most writers on the subject have been more or less vaguely aware, but which, until within the last half-century, none of them has tried to resolve.

 more» 
20 December 2014
 
 
Liberty needs no lies
by Kent McManigal
 sub-topic» General

Telling the truth is better and usually easier, even when it hurts people's feelings. "Taxation" is theft. Cops are bad guys. The State is a silly, arbitrary, and harmful mental glitch. Supporting any of those things is a poor decision, based upon self-contradictory errors in thinking. If that hurts your feelings, you need to do some deep thinking and make the decision to go with the truth rather than with what feels nice.

 more» 
06 December 2014
 
 
Poverty, the Rule of Law, and Human Flourishing
by Samuel Gregg
 sub-topic» General

At the core of the rule of law’s reliance upon preceding commitments to goods such as freedom and reason is another key revelation: we expect the law’s internal workings to be underpinned by reason and to facilitate human freedom because we think there is something distinct about all human beings that makes them worthy (dignus) of such treatment. That should also remind us we want as many people as possible to escape the material poverty that attracts our sympathy.

 more» 
21 November 2014
 
 
Morality, Economics, and the Problem with Preferences
by Adam Gurri
 sub-topic» General

There is no way to measure satisfaction or happiness; no utils, no hedometers. And if there were, it’s unlikely that maximizing such things would be a morally defensible strategy. Economics is no substitute for serious moral philosophy, or religion, or the embedded moral wisdom in our traditions and practices. Stepping outside of the straightjacket of Pareto-style ranked preference analysis, it’s clear that most people intuitively feel many things are important beyond mere preferences. People care about non-preference consequences, as in the case of the heroin user whose life looks dire as a result of the choices they have made. They also care about duties, and about the kind of person that they have become, subjects treated in Kantian and virtue approaches to moral philosophy. This is not the space to discuss such subjects in detail, but suffice to say that economic theory alone is a highly impoverished lens through which to view morality.

 more» 
20 November 2014
 
 
Economic Means vs. Political Means
by Harrison Dean
 sub-topic» General

Individuals who become wealthy through the economic means deserve our praise. Their goods and services have benefited mankind. We know they have benefited mankind because their consumers wouldn’t give them money in exchange for their products if they didn’t have something to gain. They can lose their market share at any point if their customers decide to stop giving them their business.

On the other hand, those who acquire their wealth by the political means should be scorned. Their methods have invaded individual liberty, turned the machinery of government into an instrument of cronyism, and undermined the prosperity of the market.

 more» 
11 November 2014
 
 
Common Sense Freedom
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

Fourth and last comes the Principle of Common Sense Freedom:

Except where countermanded by justice, the law or respect for rights, every individual is free to choose and act as he or she wishes.

This Principle is a catch-all. It’s a little bit like the Tenth Amendment to the US constitution. It says, in essence: When there is no other guide, the choice in any matter affecting you is yours.

 more» 
09 November 2014
 
 
Common Sense Rights
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

My third Principle is a consequence of the Principle of Common Sense Justice. But it’s sufficiently important, that it merits its own title and statement. Furthermore, I separate it from Common Sense Justice because it occupies a different place in the hierarchy. For rights can, at need, be trumped by both justice and moral equality.

I call it the Principle of Common Sense Rights:

Provided you behave as a civil human being, you have the right to be treated as a civil human being.

 more» 
07 November 2014
 
 
Common Sense Equality
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

Neither the political right nor left offer a helpful view on equality. Yet my common sense tells me that in one very strong sense at least, we human beings are all equal. Although each of us is different and unique, we’re all morally equal; we all have the same moral rights. I express this in my Principle of Common Sense Equality:

What is right for one to do, is right for another to do under similar circumstances, and vice versa.

This kind of equality is usually called equality before the law. The idea being, that the same law and the same rules should apply to all of us. It is an essential part of the so called “rule of law.”

 more» 
05 November 2014
 
 
Common Sense Justice
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

My definition of justice, as it happens, is not so far from Ulpian’s. For me, justice is that condition in which each individual is treated, overall, as he or she treats others.

To make this idea into a Principle, I prefer to put it as a should. So my Principle of Common Sense Justice, the first and most fundamental principle for any civilization, is:

Each individual, over the long term and in the round, should be treated as he or she treats others.

 more» 
27 October 2014
 
 
LGBT Libertarianism: Queer and Free
by Will Smith
 sub-topic» General

I’m proud to be part of a philosophy that holds up the rights of all people: one that is based in ideas instead of politics. A libertarian society is one where everyone is treated the same under the law. It rewards tolerance and benevolence by crushing bigots under the boot of public opinion. It’s a society where people are treated with respect, and where love isn’t defined by a piece of paper. Libertarianism frees markets and builds a culture where everyone can flourish free from state coercion. That is how you help the LGBT community: not by making special rules and different classes of people, but by helping everyone. A freed market would do more to improve the lives of those in the LGBT community than every government program and permission combined.

 more» 
10 October 2014
 
 
In Praise of Self Development and the Work Ethic
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

It seems to me that those that criticize the work ethic actually hate competition. They’re too lazy, or too dishonest, to do things better, or quicker, or cheaper; or to make any effort to innovate. And a lot of them are so lazy and dishonest, that they use Oppenheimer’s political means to live off others’ efforts.

Oh, and most of them are collectivist, intolerant, liars and bullshitters, criminals and/or political operators. Many are hypocrites, too.

 more» 
20 September 2014
 
 
Morality and Voluntaryism
by Skyler J. Collins
 sub-topic» General

Morality is an idea that can be confusing. To some, morality is whatever their god says it is. To others, morality is what each person decides it is for themselves. And to still others, morality is a tool used by some to force their values onto others. But what if morality isn't any of these things? What if morality means something concrete, something objective? And if it does, what does it have to do with voluntaryism?

 more» 
06 September 2014
 
 
You Are Not Guilty!
by Neil Lock
 sub-topic» General

But there’s more. The guilt-trippers bombard you with guilt for just about anything. For example: wars, pollution, poverty, the decay of society. Over-population, stress, not caring about future generations. Even though you have no, or almost no, control over any of these things. How can you possibly be guilty for anything you could never have controlled, or even influenced?

Now, my friend, you’re an honest, truthful human being. Yes? You make your contribution to the economy. You take responsibility for what you do. You don’t use or support aggressive violence. You don’t support political agendas designed to harm innocent people. Yes? Why, then, are you being treated as if you were guilty? Why are you bombarded by messages trying to make you accept guilt? Something’s wrong here.

 more» 
05 September 2014
 
 
Tolerance before Empathy
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

It's tempting to ask your neighbor to show some empathy for your awkward position. But what's awful about Mr. Nosy is that he fails to show you something more basic: tolerance. Instead of preaching at you, your neighbor should admit that there are decent arguments on both sides, and butt out.

 more» 
12 August 2014
 
 
I Can't Help That I'm a Libertarian
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

It’s not easy being a libertarian. I am not looking for sympathy when I say that. I just mean to point out that rejecting the conventional wisdom on virtually (do I really need this adverb?) every political question, current and historical, can be wearying. Life could be so much simpler if it were otherwise. No doubt about that. I really don’t like conflict, especially when it can quickly turn personal, as it so often does. (I embrace the advice that one can disagree without being disagreeable.) But for a libertarian, disagreement with most people is not an option. We can’t help it.

 more» 
07 August 2014
 
 
Relationship of Politics to Morality
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

Nonviolence is not hatred. And conflating politics with morality is theoretically reckless, especially when it is done to condemn those who disagree with the content of a specific moral code. Morality resides in the benevolence one human being feels toward another; it can be expressed in a myriad of ways that should not be dictated. When morality is proscribed – particularly in tandem with downplaying the value of nonviolence – it ceases to be moral and becomes moralizing. It becomes a dangerously self-righteous and intolerant act, which does not and cannot benefit all parties involved unless, of course, all parties agree to march to the same moral drum.

Aren't we individuals?

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29 July 2014
 
 
Rand, Egoism and Rights: To Be Clear
by Jason Brennan
 sub-topic» General

Ethical egoism, by definition, cannot allow you to value other people as ends in themselves. As soon as you endorse the statement “Others are ends in themselves, not merely means to my own ends, and not merely constitutive of my self-interest,” you reject egoism. Egoism implies that other people can at most only have 1) instrumental or 2) constitutive value to you. Suppose, to be charitable, that Rand is right about what constitutes a person’s self-interest. She might then be able to show that in most cases, the rational egoist will have reason to respect people’s rights. However, that’s not good enough. As Huemer points out, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which 1) another person has neither instrumental nor constitutive value to an Objectivist egoist, and 2) the Objectivist’s objective self-interest would best be served by killing that person. In this case, egoism implies that the Objectivist *must* (or *may*, in a non-maximizing version of egoism) kill that person. Since that’s false, egoism is false. Huemer’s thought experiment is not incoherent or metaphysically impossible.

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10 July 2014
 
 
The Defense of Property
by Skyler J. Collins
 sub-topic» General

Property is defined differently among various cultures and societies. This is the result of what has been defended either by force or by reason throughout the course of history. If we favor self-ownership, privately-assigned property, for both adults and children, then we must defend it, or we will lose it. My values push me to defending my property primarily by reason, but I am not opposed to defending it by force (I am not a pacifist). Ultimately, I value my life and the lives of my loved ones more than the life or lives of those who would take them from us. If their lives are the price I must pay to save ours, I'll gladly pay it.

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07 July 2014
 
 
Liberal Authoritarianism
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

Suppose government forcing everyone to do A has slightly better consequences than the next-best alternative of leaving people alone. True to his name, the consequentialist announces, "We should force everyone to do A." A nay-sayer raises his hand and says, "What's the big deal? I don't want to do A. Leave me alone." The clever consequentialist responds, "My calculations of the overall consequences take your reluctance into account. So we should still force you to do A." The nay-sayer nays, "The overall consequences are only slightly better. Just leave me alone."

In the end, the consequentialist has to either abandon consequentialism or say, "I refuse to leave you alone. Although the difference between the best and second-best is small, you have to do A whether you like it or not." And isn't that an awfully authoritarian attitude?

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27 June 2014
 
 
What is Left-Libertarianism? - Part 2
by Kevin Carson
 sub-topic» General

We of the Libertarian Left, as we understand it at C4SS, want to take back free market principles from the hirelings of big business and the plutocracy, and put them back to their original use: an all-out assault on the entrenched economic interests and privileged classes of our day. If the classical liberalism of Smith and Ricardo was an attack on the power of the Whig landed oligarchs and the moneyed interests, our left-libertarianism is an attack on the closest thing in our own time: global finance capital and the transnational corporations. We repudiate mainstream libertarianism’s role in defense of corporate capitalism in the 20th century, and its alliance with conservatism.

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26 June 2014
 
 
What is Libertarianism?
by Sean Gabb
 sub-topic» General

The great difference between a libertarian society and the present order is the existence of the State – which is a shorthand term for a network of people who get their living at the expense of others, and whose other mission in life is to make others dance as they desire. We are systematically oppressed by the State. It steals tax money from us. It regulates every detail of our lives. Though its privileged and licensed media, it lies to us. It lies to us more profoundly through its regulated or directly-funded schools and universities. It also kills on our behalf. It may not kill us very often, but it does send off young men in uniform to commit atrocities abroad for reasons that are never honestly discussed with us. We are against the State.

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25 June 2014
 
 
What is Left-Libertarianism? - Part 1
by Kevin Carson
 sub-topic» General

We on the Libertarian Left consider it utterly perverse that free market libertarianism, a doctrine which had its origins as an attack on the economic privilege of landlords and merchants, should ever have been coopted in defense of the entrenched power of the plutocracy and big business. The use of the “free market” as a legitimizing ideology for triumphant corporate capitalism, and the growth of a community of “libertarian” propagandists, is as much a perversion of free market principles as Stalinist regimes’ cooptation of rhetoric and symbols from the historic socialist movement was a perversion of the working class movement.

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18 June 2014
 
 
Do You Really Want to Be Correct?
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

Otherwise stated: Basing a theory on evidence and reason is a risky thing. When you hold such a theory up in order to judge it against reality, you could be proven wrong. Even a simple statement of fact, such as "a trout is in the milk," carries the possibility of being empirically disproven. If there is no risk – if it is impossible to disprove a statement – then the 'fact' being presented is invulnerable to evidence; it can neither be proven or disproven. As the physicist Wolfgang Pauli explained, an unfalsifiable theory "is not only not right, it is not even wrong." (There are unfalsifiable statements but they often communicate no facts; for example a tautological claim like "sour is sour.")

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13 June 2014
 
 
Piercing the Status Quo
by Scott Thomas Outlar
 sub-topic» General

We are at the threshold of a New Age. In fact, we have already entered the sphere of its space and time. Those who sense it are coming awake, alert and alive in exponential number, and taking on the responsibility of tending the soil in their own hearts and minds. These individuals, as they come to realize their intuitive, inherent, abundant, infinite, eternal nature, begin to blossom and reach full fruition by expressing themselves through their specific gifts, talents and skills.

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24 May 2014
 
 
Rothbard's For a New Liberty
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

In light of his concern with human flourishing, it is unsurprising that Rothbard would write that “it is evident that individuals always learn from each other, cooperate and interact with each other; and that this, too, is required for man’s survival” and that “the libertarian welcomes the process of voluntary exchange and cooperation between freely acting individuals.” Hence, Rothbard’s interest in the free market, with its division of labor, as a natural habitat for human beings.

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17 May 2014
 
 
John Hospers on What Libertarianism Is
by James E. White
 sub-topic» General

Hospers offer three versions of the central thesis:

  1. No one is anyone else's master, and no one is anyone else's slave.
  2. Other people's lives are not yours to dispose of.
  3. No human being should be a nonvoluntary mortgage on the life of another.

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12 May 2014
 
 
Libertarianism Rightly Conceived
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

In other words, classical liberalism sought to, and to an extent did, ameliorate the suffering of the masses indirectly by removing burdens imposed by the state and letting natural social and market forces do their work. In contrast, the New Tories sought to ameliorate suffering directly through affirmative state measures. Where are the self-styled thick libertarians who call for ameliorative state measures or advocate the use of force except to counter aggressive force? There are none.

For this reason, Rockwell need not lose sleep worrying that these libertarians might choose some other value over other people’s freedom. No one understands better than they that no rational value can be achieved by violating individuals’ rights.

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11 May 2014
 
 
The Future of Libertarianism
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
 sub-topic» General

If some libertarians wish to hope for or work toward a society that conforms to their ideological preferences, they are of course free to do so. But it is wrong for them – especially given their insistence on a big tent within libertarianism – to impose on other libertarians whatever idiosyncratic spin they happen to have placed on our venerable tradition, to imply that people who do not share these other ideologies can’t be real libertarians, or to suggest that it would be “highly unlikely” that anyone who fails to hold them could really be a libertarian. That these are the same people who complain about “intolerance” is only the most glaring of the ironies.

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26 April 2014
 
 
In Praise of "Thick" Libertarianism
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

I continue to have trouble believing that the libertarian philosophy is concerned only with the proper and improper uses of force. According to this view, the philosophy sets out a prohibition on the initiation of force and otherwise has nothing to say about anything else. (Fraud is conceived as an indirect form of force because, say, a deceptive seller obtains money from a buyer on terms other than those to which the buyer agreed.)

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05 April 2014
 
 
What Libertarianism Is, and Isn't
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
 sub-topic» General

Libertarians are of course free to concern themselves with issues like feminism and egalitarianism. But their interest in those issues has nothing to do with, and is not required by or a necessary feature of, their libertarianism. Accordingly, they may not impose these preferences on other libertarians, or portray themselves as fuller, more consistent, or more complete libertarians. We have seen enough of our words twisted and appropriated by others. We do not mean to let them have libertarian.

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30 March 2014
 
 
Libertarian Holism
by Max Borders
 sub-topic» General

It takes a lot more effort to have a conversation across great ideological gulfs than to fire missiles across them. But we have to make the effort. Because there are certain, though perhaps unsettling, human truths we all have to face. First, there are only two forces of social change in this world that matter: persuasion and coercion. One can have all the principles and axioms she likes but the people with the jails, the guns and the jackboots may not care about your principles. Second, those committed to peaceful means of social change have only persuasion at their disposal. So if we think using violence is wrong, we’d better become master persuaders—libertarian holists—willing to stare through other lenses and find a way to connect with their values before the people with the guns, jails and jackboots do.

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26 March 2014
 
 
Libertarianism 101
by Robert A. Levy
 sub-topic» General

Libertarians understand the necessity of cooperation to attain personal goals. My colleague, Tom Palmer, observes that individuals can “never actually be self-sufficient, which is precisely why we must have rules to make peaceful cooperation possible.” Government enforces those rules. The risk, however, is that rules too extensive will produce, not a common good for all, but rather a veneer for a system of special favors to secure largesse for the politically connected at the expense of others. By contrast, individualism promotes the common good, spontaneously, as long as no commanding power preempts freely chosen actions.

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22 March 2014
 
 
Anarchist vs. minarchist debate misses the shift to post-statist world
by David McElroy
 sub-topic» General

I believe the real issue is looking to what comes next — to planning what we’re going to do when the state starts collapsing.

I might be wrong, but I’ve slowly become convinced of this over the last 20 years or so. I started looking at bits and pieces of the evidence nearly two decades ago, but I was so entrenched in “the way things are” that it was hard to wrap my mind around how much was going to change. (A book that was important to opening my eyes to the possibility was 1994's “The Great Reckoning,” by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. They turned out to have their timing badly off, but their logic and historical analysis still hold true for the longer term, as far as I’m concerned.) It’s taking even longer to put that into words and find a new paradigm to explain what’s coming. I’m just happy to see that other people have been looking toward alternatives, too, and are further down the road to figuring it out than I’ve been.

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21 March 2014
 
 
Against Libertarian Brutalism - Part 2
by Jeffrey A. Tucker
 sub-topic» General

Brutalism is more than a stripped-down, antimodern, and gutted version of the original libertarianism. It is also a style of argumentation and an approach to rhetorical engagement. As with architecture, it rejects marketing, the commercial ethos, and the idea of “selling” a worldview. Liberty must be accepted or rejected based entirely on its most reduced form. Thus is it quick to pounce, denounce, and declare victory. It detects compromise everywhere. It loves nothing more than to ferret it out. It has no patience for subtlety of exposition much less the nuances of the circumstances of time and place. It sees only raw truth and clings to it as the one and only truth to the exclusion of all other truth.

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20 March 2014
 
 
Libertarian Divisions - Part 3
by Wirkman Netizen
 sub-topic» General

The real and most recalcitrant differences among libertarians-as-such are probably these questions of “radicalism vs. gradualism” (an old term from my early days in the movement). Alas, they are not well explored, in part because of the variety and vaguenesses of the philosophies libertarians bring to ground their philosophy.

Most discussions of radicalism and gradualism are horribly simplistic. And are likely to remain so for the near future.

Which is why I consider libertarianism still a doctrine in its adolescence, and why my own position remains, vexingly, that of “agnarchism.”

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19 March 2014
 
 
Against Libertarian Brutalism - Part 1
by Jeffrey A. Tucker
 sub-topic» General

In the libertarian world, however, brutalism is rooted in the pure theory of the rights of individuals to live their values whatever they may be. The core truth is there and indisputable, but the application is made raw to push a point. Thus do the brutalists assert the right to be racist, the right to be a misogynist, the right to hate Jews or foreigners, the right to ignore civil standards of social engagement, the right to be uncivilized, to be rude and crude. It is all permissible and even meritorious because embracing what is awful can constitute a kind of test. After all, what is liberty if not the right to be a boor?

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18 March 2014
 
 
Libertarian Divisions - Part 2
by Wirkman Netizen
 sub-topic» General

What is that position? It’s the “simple system of natural liberty” (Adam Smith), and nothing but. It’s Liberty conceived as “the Law of Equal Freedom” (Herbert Spencer) or “freedom from interference” (Henry Sidgwick) and “non-aggression” (Rothbard). It is the right to liberty construed as the only basic right, with all other rights flowing from it, grounding on it, and with this one right and the resultant rights structure determining the proper scope of government.

That’s it. I find the position mightily attractive. I judge it the most interesting political idea ever stumbled upon by Distracted Man. But I am not certain that it is workable, and believe that we are so far from it now, in political and legal practice, that I do not believe we can actually know whether it will “work” — that is, will engender a sustainable social order to the benefit of the overwhelming run of humanity.

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16 March 2014
 
 
Libertarian Divisions - Part 1
by Wirkman Netizen
 sub-topic» General

So, today, there are “left libertarians” of the old anarchist type, basically communists pretending to be anti-authoritarians, and there are “right libertarians” of the classical liberal type — “right” because they believe in private property. The “left” as defined by socialists were thoroughly anti-private-property, so, on that one criterion, the classical liberals can be legitimately considered “of the right.”

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13 March 2014
 
 
Equality: The Unknown Ideal - Part 3
by Roderick T. Long
 sub-topic» General

But to ignore or mask the violence upon which socioeconomic legislation necessarily rests is to acquiesce in the unconscionable subordination and subjection that such violence embodies. It is to treat those subordinated and subjected as mere means to the ends of those doing the subordinating, and thus to assume a legitimate inequality in power and jurisdiction between the two groups. The libertarian revulsion against such arrogant presumption is ipso facto an egalitarian impulse. Those who feel no such revulsion should not expect their egalitarian credentials to pass unquestioned; they may revere equality in theory, but they fail to recognize it in practice.

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12 March 2014
 
 
Whither Libertarianism?
by Michael Enoch
 sub-topic» General

The problem is not that Libertarianism is primarily made up of affluent white males. Just the opposite. The problem is that this is seen as a problem. The problem is that people take these complaints seriously and try to integrate women and non-whites for no other reason than race or gender. Libertarianism has always been an ideology for white males. It is an intellectual forum in which they can engage in philosophical argument, repartee, camaraderie and nonviolent competition for status. It should be celebrated and preserved as a masculine, Western-oriented political movement standing against the tide of progressivism, Marxism, feminism and egalitarianism, not allow itself to be co-opted or handicapped by these poisonous ideologies.

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11 March 2014
 
 
Equality: The Unknown Ideal - Part 2
by Roderick T. Long
 sub-topic» General

Nor would an anarchistic version of socialism fare any better; as long as some people are imposing redistributive policies by force or threat of force on unconsenting others, we have inequality in authority between the coercers and the coerced, regardless of whether those doing the coercing are public citizens or private individuals, and regardless of whether they represent a majority or a minority. Nor would a Hobbesian jungle, where anyone is free to impose her will on anyone else, embody equality in authority; for as soon as one person does succeed in subordinating another, an inequality in authority emerges.

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09 March 2014
 
 
Equality: The Unknown Ideal - Part 1
by Roderick T. Long
 sub-topic» General

We can now see how socioeconomic equality and legal equality both fall short of the radicalism of Lockean equality. For neither of those forms of equality calls into question the authority of those who administer the legal system; such administrators are merely required to ensure equality, of the relevant sort, among those administered. Thus socioeconomic equality, despite the bold claims of its adherents, does no more to challenge the existing power structure than does legal equality. Both forms of equality call upon that power structure to do certain things; but in so doing, they both assume, and indeed require, an inequality in authority between those who administer the legal framework and everybody else.

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18 February 2014
 
 
Voting and Markets
by Don Boudreaux
 sub-topic» General

Go to a supermarket and observe a dozen different shoppers. Each shopper will have in his or her shopping cart a different selection (and different number) of groceries to buy than will any of the other 11 shoppers. It doesn’t matter what you think of Ms. Jones’s selection of groceries (perhaps she’s buying a bottle of white zinfandel that you find to be yucky); it doesn’t matter what any other shopper, say, Mr. Smith, thinks of Ms. Jones’s selections or what Ms. Jones thinks of Mr. Smith’s selections. Neither Ms. Jones nor Mr. Smith needs to win your approval, to win each other’s approval, or to win the approval of any other shopper or shoppers to choose what each chooses to purchase. The only agreement required is that between each shopper and the supermarket: if the shopper values each chosen product as least as highly as the price charged for the item, and as long as the supermarket is willing to sell each of the items at its posted price, all is well.

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07 February 2014
 
 
The Sucker Tax
by James Schneider
 sub-topic» General

Imagine a state of anarchy (a lack of government not a house full of boys). An evil genius announces that he will impose a sucker tax. Everyone will be taxed ten dollars, and the proceeds will be redistributed back to all the citizens in equal shares without reference to who paid the tax. In a certain sense, this tax maximizes unfairness. It serves no other purpose than to punish people in direct proportion to how much of the tax they paid. To make tax compliers feel even more ridiculous, the evil genius announces that he will make no effort to punish "tax cheats." A fair outcome of the game requires that there be no suckers. This will occur if everyone evades the tax. However, it will also occur if everyone pays the tax. Under this scenario, you probably wouldn't pay the tax (even if you believed in fairness) because you would assume that no one else was going to pay the tax.

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06 February 2014
 
 
What Would You Do for "Truth?"
by Paul Rosenberg
 sub-topic» General

Anyone who is serious about goodness becomes an enemy of the system. Anyone who is serious about liberty is already an enemy of the system. We can either accept that or evade that, but it will not go away.

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28 January 2014
 
 
Equality of Opportunity Does Not Mean Equality of Results
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

The ideas of fairness and justness are vague because sharply defining them would reveal unfairness and injustice. For one thing, to achieve an equality of results requires government to strip people (especially business ones) of the right to use their own property; it requires a forced redistribution of ‘rights’, wealth and power. An equality of results can only occur through social control by which one group of people benefit at the expense of another group. Indeed, as evidenced by the current lack of women firefighters and CEOs, even then an inequality of results continues. The imbalance doesn’t necessarily say anything about women’s equality: it may reveal nothing more than women’s preferences. It may reveal nothing more than freedom of choice.

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03 January 2014
 
 
Why States are Illegitimate
by Skyler J. Collins
 sub-topic» General

When statists use concepts like "tacit consent" and "social contract" in their arguments, they are assuming what they are trying to prove; namely, the legitimacy of the state in question. Assuming the social contract does exist, what makes the prevailing state the rightful authority in enforcing it? Since we must consider legitimacy, let us consider what legitimacy is.

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22 December 2013
 
 
Pathological Altruism
The Road to Hell Really Is Often Paved with Good Intentions, Argues New Study
by Ronald Bailey
 sub-topic» General

In a remarkably interesting new paper, “Concepts and implications of altruism bias and pathological altruism,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Oakland University systems engineer Barbara Oakley argues that intentions to help people all too often hurt them. Unintended harm is the outcome of she what calls pathological altruism. She defines pathological altruism “as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable.” In her study Oakley explores the psychological and evolutionary underpinnings of empathy and altruism and how they can go wrong. It turns out that pathological altruism is a pervasive problem affecting public policy.

 more» 
13 December 2013
 
 
Death by Methodological Individualism
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

The state exists as an engine of privilege only because the vast majority of people believe that the individuals who comprise it can properly operate on a double standard. If state agents, from the president to post office workers, were viewed as individuals who are bound to the same rules of decency as the rest of us, then the state as we know it would crumble as the illusion it is. Freedom will come when the same standard of morality is applied to the individuals who are the state; the path to freedom is methodological individualism.

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03 December 2013
 
 
IP Anyone?
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

However all of this comes out in the end, one thing is certain: the status of something as property appears to hinge on its being in significant measure an intentional object. But then it would seem that so called intellectual stuff is a far better candidate for qualifying as private property than is, say, a tree or mountain. Both of the latter are only remotely related to human intentions, whereas a poem or novel cannot have their essential identity without having been intended (mentally created) by human beings.

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30 November 2013
 
 
One Moral Standard for All
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

What am I talking about? It’s quite simple. Libertarians believe that the initiation of force is wrong. So do the overwhelming majority of nonlibertarians. They, too, think it is wrong to commit offenses against person and property. I don’t believe they abstain merely because they fear the consequences (retaliation, prosecution, fines, jail, lack of economic growth). They abstain because they sense deep down that it is wrong, unjust, improper. In other words, even if they never articulate it, they believe that other individuals are ends in themselves and not merely means to other people’s the ends. They believe in the dignity of individuals. As a result, they perceive and respect the moral space around others. (This doesn’t mean they are consistent, but when they are not, at least they feel compelled to rationalize.)

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19 November 2013
 
 
Am I a Radical Extremist?
by Skyler J. Collins
 sub-topic» General

I don't think you can be any further away from a position than by advocating for its opposite. The status quo of general opinion and the positions I take are, plainly put, antithetical. Yes, I think I do qualify for the label of "radical extremist." I wear it proudly, but look forward to the time when my radical extremism is the status quo of general opinion, when everyone, adult and child alike, has the liberty to do as they please with themselves and their property. To that end, do I labor.

 more» 
09 November 2013
 
 
Know Your Class Enemy, Know Your Class Ally
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

The much vaunted class conflict between rich and poor is political fraud on stilts. It comes from a bastardization of class analysis that is used to divide people who might otherwise unite and turn against the true threat: the state. In reality, entrepreneurs and ditch diggers, venture capitalists and waitresses are members of the same class: producers. Instead of resenting each other, they should join ranks against the class that loots their labor and lives: the rulers.

 more» 
17 October 2013
 
 
Laws poor substitute for morality
by Kent McManigal
 sub-topic» General

The vast majority of laws are written as a patch — an attempt to fix a problem created by earlier laws. This just makes more problems that will need to be fixed later. This isn’t a solution. Stop patching the flawed and broken code; that only makes things more twisted and problematic. Scrap it instead.

Install the recovery disc and start clean, and before enacting any law — even one that has a long history of being “common sense” — evaluate that law and see if it worked as advertised, or if its effects were misguided. Leave all your emotional baggage behind for this task.

 more» 
07 October 2013
 
 
The Calling: Are Libertarians Individualists?
by Steven Horwitz
 sub-topic» General

Libertarianism does not, contrary to what a small number of libertarians seem to think, require you to reject your family, your culture, your religion, or any other voluntary association in the name of individualism and liberty.

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05 October 2013
 
 
Equality and the American Public
by Norman Imberman
 sub-topic» General

When one analyzes the motives of the “true believers” in “equality,” we see that what they really want is equal results, which is beyond Utopian. An ideology of equal results is insane and immature, an ideology that can only be implemented by law (at the point of a gun). The one who points the gun in fact creates immediate conflict between himself and the victim, and a multitude of conflicts have flared up right before our eyes over the past 50 years. Government means guns, and the more government, the more guns, and the more guns, the more conflicts. It’s no coincidence that as government has grown since WWII, we have found our country involved in external and internal conflicts at a continually increasing rate.

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26 September 2013
 
 
The Many Roads to Liberty
by Alex Salter
 sub-topic» General

Libertarianism at its best, as Steve Horwitz rightly argues, is a cosmopolitan philosophy of human flourishing. That one can reach libertarian conclusions with so many different premises makes it that much more plausible, not less. There are many ways to understand flourishing, many conceptions of the good society. They are often at odds with each other, but even the most dogmatic libertarian would admit that other points of view have something going for them, even as he vehemently insists they are deficient in important ways.

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22 September 2013
 
 
The Real Social Contract - Part 3
A challenge to partisans. What if you really could have your chosen system?
by Max Borders
 sub-topic» General

Democracy is a system that leaves us all at the whim of mob rule. It may be formalized mob rule—and that mob has to share power with representatives captured by corporate interests. But at the very least de Puydt’s proposal should prompt us to think what kind of human social arrangements are possible beyond democracy.

 more» 
21 September 2013
 
 
The Real Social Contract - Part 2
A challenge to partisans. What if you really could have your chosen system?
by Max Borders
 sub-topic» General

Whatever your worry, doesn’t it say a lot about a system if it turned out that system’s very existence depended on forcing people to be members?

 more» 
20 September 2013
 
 
The Real Social Contract - Part 1
A challenge to partisans. What if you really could have your chosen system?
by Max Borders
 sub-topic» General

In short: You can live under any political system you like without leaving your driveway. Instead of joining a party, you join a political association and agree to live under its auspices—rules that track with your sense of the right and the good. A real “social contract.” The only cost of this quantum leap forward is this: You cannot force anyone to join your chosen association.

So, would you do it? If not, why not?

 more» 
17 September 2013
 
 
Anti-Human Memes and Institutions
by Skyler J. Collins
 sub-topic» General

Every modern state has their origin and growth in conquest. Private criminals may assault or rob you once or twice, but public criminals (the state) rob you over and over and use propaganda and indoctrination to convince you that its necessary and justified. And more, they not only perpetually rob you, but they use their power to control your behavior, and require you to seek their permission before doing anything at all. Want to trade with someone? You must get a statist permit. Want to defend yourself? You must get a statist permit. Want to spend the rest of your life in love with someone and start a family? You must get a statist permit. And for those goods and services that the state has decided only its actors can provide, you are forcibly prevented from providing. Statism, and its big brother imperialism, has no bounds. Whatever those who control the machinations of government say is their right to do, they have the power to acquire the means to do it.

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28 August 2013
 
 
On the Method of Huemer's The Problem of Political Authority
by Bas van der Vossen
 sub-topic» General

Here, in brief, is the question: can we use intuitions about inter-personal morality to evaluate the morality of states? Huemer clearly thinks the answer is yes. Throughout the book he uses – to great effect – this method, asking whether the things that states do would be acceptable if you and I were to do them. More often than not, the answer is no. In those cases, and absent some special justification for the state (such as that a social contract was signed, or that democracy has magically moral properties), we should condemn the state just as we would condemn individuals. Or so goes the method.

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25 August 2013
 
 
Obama and His "Most Evident" Right: Equality
by James Bovard
 sub-topic» General

Equality is the great red herring of our time. Few people actually desire equality, yet it is the standard for measuring almost every moral, political, and economic proposal. In almost all cases, the goal is not equality, but a different arrangement of inequalities. As long as society is divided into the equalizers and the equalized, there will be no equality.

 more» 
16 August 2013
 
 
Libertarianism as Moral Overlearning
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

My claim: The fundamental difference between libertarians and non-libertarians is that libertarians have overlearned common-sense morality. Non-libertarians only reliably apply basic morality when society encourages them to do so. Libertarians, in contrast, deeply internalize basic morality. As a result, they apply it automatically in the absence of social pressure - and even when society discourages common decency.

 more» 
06 August 2013
 
 
How Power Corrupts
by Bas van der Vossen
 sub-topic» General

I don’t find this explanation entirely satisfactory either. If power simply amplifies parts of us that are already there, then its corrupting effects are at best limited. But what, then, about the part that says that absolute power corrupts absolutely? Can this account deal with that? Being biased and overconfident is one thing. Being Mobuto Sese Seko or Stalin is quite another.

 more» 
03 August 2013
 
 
The Beauty and Dignity of the Productive Class
by Paul Rosenberg
 sub-topic» General

But if you are a producer, there is an inherent dignity in what you do. You are actively making the world better. You are directly creating benefit for yourself and for other human beings. What you do every day is morally virtuous and worthy of respect. And you should never let anyone tell you otherwise.

 more» 
22 July 2013
 
 
Truth and Collectivism
by Bill Buppert
 sub-topic» General

We often hear of the National Socialist and Communist uses of the Big Lie to keep populations under the boot and the self-congratulatory tone of modern democratic supporters in the West of the superiority of their societal constructs. All sheer poppycock and a rhetorical shield to hide the fist and the lash. The very fundamental elements and public drapery of anthems, flag waving and political speeches are merely props and theatrical devices used to make the pig look more handsome and the smell of offal more appealing.

 more» 
05 July 2013
 
 
Crime, Organized Crime, and Criminals
by D.M.Mitchell
 sub-topic» General

6. Any law by a secular government that prohibits the use of one’s body and mind as one chooses, where such use does not violate the rights of others, is itself a violation of the rights of consenting adults. Such laws and prohibitions are illegitimate under the principle of inalienable rights and are criminal in nature.

 more» 
23 June 2013
 
 
How To Not Be a Collectivist
by Paul Bonneau
 sub-topic» General

5) Try to imagine people as individuals. Then, treat them as individuals. Don't listen when some characteristic is applied to some group of people. If you are, say, a "white", Christian male, you aren't the same as every other "white" Christian male, are you? If one "white" Christian male is dishonest, does that make you dishonest? If you want to be treated as an individual rather than as a maligned ignorant minority, treat others as individuals. Golden rule...

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18 June 2013
 
 
One-size-fits-all system is immoral
by Kent McManigal
 sub-topic» General

It’s none of my business how you organize your community, as long as it is consensual.

As long as you give the rest of us the same respect.

Therein lies the problem.

 more» 
17 June 2013
 
 
The Three Great Errors of Most Libertarians
by J.C.Lester
 sub-topic» General

I usually prefer simply to say that I advocate libertarianism: liberty for all. I don’t mind saying that we have a strong prima facie right to have liberty and a duty to respect liberty. But that’s not intended to suggest that libertarianism is logically supported by, or even requires, deontologism. However, the real issue here is the common view that there are serious clashes in these approaches and in particular between deontologism and consequentialism. As far as I can tell, there aren’t systematic clashes in everyday practice between respecting libertarian rights and promoting human welfare. And so if one is advocating libertarianism as a practical ideology, then it’s irrelevant that we can imagine far-fetched or very rare cases where libertarian rights and human welfare clash. Therefore, it’s unnecessary to takes sides between rights and welfare.

 more» 
15 June 2013
 
 
Why the Precautionary Principle Compels Us to Renounce Statism
by Robert Higgs
 sub-topic» General

So, statists of all stripes (including classical liberals), by all means continue to reject genuine self-government and carry on with support of your blessed state. But know well that you are flirting with the most horrifyingly destructive institution ever devised, one that will almost certainly annihilate everyone in the end. Statist ideologies justify and support the state as a military/bureaucratic apparatus whose leaders are not held to the moral standards to which all other persons are commonly held. By making this wholly unwarranted moral distinction, the adherents of such ideologies place state leaders in a position to prepare for and to carry out actions that, if committed by anyone else, would be recognized immediately as the most egregious crimes against humanity. Statism, which leads people to tolerate the development, deployment, and use of WMDs, poses a grave threat to the survival of the human species.

 more» 
13 June 2013
 
 
My Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
by Andrew Cohen
 sub-topic» General

Locke tells us that as we are “all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Mill elevates the basic idea there into a jurisprudential principle, claiming that “The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection … the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” (Mill 1859, 9). And yet, governments have all sorts of laws that have nothing to do with harm prevention—and that actually do harm. Licensing laws for doctors, hairstylists, interior designers, etc, all have harmful effects. Many tax policies—perhaps especially import tariffs—have harmful effects. Forced schooling, I think, has harmful effects. I can go on, of course, but I won’t.

 more» 
09 June 2013
 
 
Classical Liberalism's Impossible Dream
by Robert Higgs
 sub-topic» General

Truth be told, government as we know it never did and never will confine itself to protecting citizens from force and fraud. In fact, such government is itself the worst violator of people’s just rights to life, liberty, and property. For every murder or assault the government prevents, it commits a hundred. For every private property right it protects, it violates a thousand. Although it purports to suppress and punish fraud, the government itself is a fraud writ large—an enormous engine of plunder, abuse, and mayhem, all sanctified by its own “laws” that redefine its crimes as mere government activities—a racket protected from true justice by its own judges and its legions of hired killers and thugs.

 more» 
20 May 2013
 
 
Libertarian Human Rights?
by Bas van der Vossen
 sub-topic» General

Some of my academic work deals with international issues. As a result, I read a lot about the philosophy of human rights. It’s hard to read this literature without noticing the nearly complete absence of libertarian input. This post is my call for a libertarian take on human rights.

 more» 
15 May 2013
 
 
A Precis on Humanism
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

The issue of humanism is vita for several reasons. Although fundamentalist religions will likely always be part of human life, there is also a growing awareness that ethics and morality, including our sense of justice, must gain a footing apart from theology or religion. The reason is that faith is ineffable, ultimately. It is too personal, too subjective, and thus it tends toward schism rather than harmony. Whereas the humanist idea that an understanding of human nature, based on science and ordinary human reason, holds out promise.

 more» 
13 May 2013
 
 
Why I Believe Things
by David Friedman
 sub-topic» General

Which gets me back to my political beliefs. I prefer to believe that people are fundamentally rational and benevolent, where by the latter I mean that they would, on the whole, prefer that good things rather than bad things happen to other people. I think it is clear that some people are like that and reasonably clear that practically everyone is to some degree like that. But it is not a full description of human beings, and I have no good basis to estimate how good a description it is, how many people to what degree fit my preferred pattern. My political beliefs come in part from modeling the world on the assumption that rationality and benevolence are the norm, the signal, everything else something more like random noise.

Which is to say that they come in part from wishful thinking.

 more» 
01 May 2013
 
 
Who's Afraid of Natural Rights? (Part II)
by Bas van der Vossen
 sub-topic» General

I for one believe property rights are natural rights. The reason is simple: I believe rights to property are justifiable on grounds that make no essential reference to the existence of the state or civil society. But I also believe that such property rights need to be specified. In our world, this is usually done by law. What this means is not that these rights are not natural (or no longer natural). Rather, it means that in order to respect our neighbors’ property rights we need to pay attention to facts about the world, including facts about the law. Such is life.

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20 April 2013
 
 
Who's Afraid of Natural Rights? (Part I)
by Bas van der Vossen
 sub-topic» General

The problem with this is that there is no reason to think that we are any better at rationally determining what natural duties we have than we are at determining what natural rights we have. What exactly does our duty to support just institutions require? Must we pay our taxes? To our state? All states? Must we obey the law? All laws? These issues are just as indeterminate as the claim that one has a natural right to bodily integrity or to freedom.

 more» 
16 April 2013
 
 
The Myth of Market Failure
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

If group-rationality failure is ubiquitous, does that mean it can’t serve as an argument for the market over the state? No, it does not. As Friedman says, while such failure can be used as an argument against laissez-faire, it’s an even stronger argument for laissez-faire. How so? The key lies in the issue of externalities, that is, in the question of who reaps most of the benefits and bears most of the costs of actions: the particular actor, or the public?

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05 April 2013
 
 
Libertarianism and pollution
by Matt Zwolinski
 sub-topic» General

The consistent application of Rothbard’s absolutist principle of non-aggression thus seems to require a prohibition on all forms of non-consensual pollution. But the prohibition of all non-consensual pollution would, it seems, mean the end of most forms of industrial production, driving, wood-burning fires, radio transmissions…in other words, the end of life as we know it. Perhaps, then, the most consistent form of Rothbardian libertarianism is a kind of very, very deep ecology. This is not, of course, the conclusion that Rothbard himself drew. And it is not the conclusion that most libertarians who follow in Rothbard’s footsteps have drawn. The more reasonable conclusion, it seems to me, is that one that David Friedman drew, and the one that contemporary philosophers who have considered the issue like Peter Railton and David Sobel have drawn—that we should reject Rothbard’s absolutist version of the non-aggression principle. I shall defend this option myself in my next essay here.

 more» 
03 March 2013
 
 
The Most Dangerous Prevalent Virus
by Christine Smith
 sub-topic» General

Many of you think Aggression is found only in certain groups or organizations that obviously operate on hateful premises, those which openly advocate the “rightness” of Aggression. But the most virulent strains of Aggression are most easily acquired in the most innocuous of places. It’s often found in family gatherings (with the well ones sometimes being the “black sheep”); religious doctrine, stances, and churches; all political activity (many who claim to be well, but who are infected, will be found there); lots of “politically correct” causes, etc. It’s also found in those who cloak themselves as teachers of such things as peace and liberty. In families, as I said, it will take the form of the parent who believes in punishment and manipulation (for the ‘good” of the child, of course), in religion often the one who is most vocally vile, condemnatory, judgmental or dogmatic (for the “good” of the followers, of course), in any other area – any who (and often with excellent vocabulary) advocate any action which is forced on another – for all sorts of “good” reasons – all those safe, secure, compassionate reasons – because – GAG – they care about you.

 more» 
02 March 2013
 
 
Snowstorms or Snowflakes?
by Lawrence W. Reed
 sub-topic» General

Collectivists devise one-size-fits-all schemes and care little for how those schemes may affect the varied plans of real people. Any one flake means little or nothing to the collectivist because he rarely looks at them; and in any event, he implicitly dismisses the flakes because there are so many to play with. Collectivists are usually reluctant to celebrate the achievements of individuals per se because they really believe that, to quote President Obama, “you didn’t build that.”

Take individuals out of the equation and you take the humanity out of whatever you’re promoting. What you’d never personally inflict on your neighbor, one on one, you might happily sanction if you think it’ll be carried out by some faceless, collective entity to some amorphous blob on behalf of some nebulous “common good.” The inescapable fact is that we are not interchangeable. Cogs in a machine are, but people most emphatically are not.

 more» 
26 February 2013
 
 
Following orders is NOT honorable
by Kent McManigal
 sub-topic» General

Any idiot can manage to follow orders. It takes a real human to evaluate those orders, and decide if they should be followed or ignored. Or even to decide if the one giving the orders needs to be stopped in his tracks.

 more» 
25 February 2013
 
 
Call Me Post-Statist
by Jim Babka
 sub-topic» General

Imagine, you don't like the hamburger you just received. Maybe you ordered it without onions, but it came with them. You can complain. In business, the customer is right. Maybe they apologize and replace the order. Perhaps they discount your bill. Even then, you have the choice to never darken the door of the establishment ever again.

On the other hand, how many IRS agents or FDA regulators say, "The citizen is always right?"

 more» 
24 February 2013
 
 
Political Problems Have Only One Real Solution
by Robert Higgs
 sub-topic» General

If one is willing to live and let live, to accept that each party may go its own way and deal with its perceived problems as it prefers, provided only that it allows equal latitude to every other party, then all political problems as such evaporate. The difficulty arises from some parties’ insistence on having their own way, however objectionable that way may be to other parties. To return to Cleaver’s dictum, adding appropriate amendments: You’re either part of the solution (by abandoning participation in politics) or you’re part of the problem (of endless political conflict).

 more» 
06 February 2013
 
 
The silliness of "borders"
by Kent McManigal
 sub-topic» General

What I don't understand are "legal borders". I mean the kind that derive from governments saying "We have these laws over here, and they have those laws over there. Our laws are better than theirs." That includes saying that "You live here, so we are entitled to a percentage of your money." And, really, that's all "national borders"- and even "state borders"- come down to. "Our laws are better than their laws" and posturing to be the "legitimate" thief.

 more» 
02 February 2013
 
 
My Vigilant Ethical Egoism
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

To this day when I encounter echoes of this point of view, my blood starts to boil. Now and then I find some support for what I mostly felt and thought only in primitive terms but each time I witness the propaganda against individualism, against egoism and self-interest, I recover my resolve to combat the ideas with which it is expressed, be that in a simple sitcom or a movie or a piece of classical literature or a vicious political speech. In other words, I have internalized the view that human beings are not evil but very capable of doing and being good in all their endeavors, even if they do often go astray and betray their better nature.

 more» 
28 January 2013
 
 
What's Need Got to Do with It?
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

Since we need freedom to live fully human lives, it can’t be the case that our freedom may properly be curtailed whenever a legislature or the majority of the voting public decides that we don’t need some particular thing, such as a greater quantity of our own money or a particular kind of weapon, the mere possession of which violates no one else’s freedom. Quite the contrary: Freedom requires precisely that each of us gets to decide what we “need” and then to pursue it in peace. The only constraint is that we not infringe other people’s freedom to do the same.

 more» 
26 January 2013
 
 
The Stateless Equilibrium - Part 3
by Predrag Rajsic
 sub-topic» General

If we now replace the word protectors with the word states, the word producers with taxpayers, and the word taking with taxing, we get something that looks much like the world in which we live. The protectors that maintain the latent fear of foreign or internal aggression are nation-states with their military and police forces that acquire resources by taxing the taxpayers, while the taxpayers[5] are all those within these nation-states earning their resources through productive activities and voluntary exchanges with others.

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25 January 2013
 
 
The Stateless Equilibrium - Part 2
by Predrag Rajsic
 sub-topic» General

In the end, some people specialize in taking, while others specialize in either producing or protecting the producers against the takers. Since takers rely only on taking for acquiring resources, they do not directly enjoy the benefits of entrepreneurial discovery. Entrepreneurial discovery is a feature of the producers and those who engage in voluntary exchanges with them. The takers are always the secondary users of the producers' creative work. They are always the second movers.

 more» 
24 January 2013
 
 
The Stateless Equilibrium - Part 1
by Predrag Rajsic
 sub-topic» General

The stateless market society—a peaceful social arrangement based on voluntary relations among individuals in which the state is not present—is not a popular idea. Many people believe that this society would lack the capacity to define and enforce property rights, and that this would result in chaos, tyranny of the rich or in a reversal to a state. This belief has led to a widespread dismissal of the stateless society paradigm.

 more» 
16 January 2013
 
 
Women, Liberty, Marketing and Social Science
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

My study of personality psychology makes me one of the doubters. On the popular Myers-Briggs personality test, there is a huge Thinking-Feeling gap between men and women. For men, the breakdown is roughly 60% Thinking, 40% Feeling. For women, the breakdown is roughly 30% Thinking, 70% Feeling.

This Thinking/Feeling disparity explains a lot about gender gaps in college major and occupation. There's every reason to think that this disparity can help explain gender gaps in political and social views.

 more» 
07 January 2013
 
 
Can You Sell Yourself Into Slavery?
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

The idea of a slave-contract is what Ayn Rand called “the fallacy of the stolen concept” – the act of using a concept (slave-contract) while denying the validity of other concepts upon which it logically depends and from which it attempts to derive meaning. In short, a slave-contract is a self-refuting idea.

 more» 
23 December 2012
 
 
Libertarianism, the Atheism of Politics
by Ayn R. Key
 sub-topic» General

Atheism is simply the lack of a belief in God and a divine morality. Libertarianism is simply the lack of belief in government and a mandated morality.

 more» 
18 December 2012
 
 
Do Libertarians Have a Problem with Authority?
by Robert P. Murphy
 sub-topic» General

A silly episode on Facebook recently underscored one of the tensions in the liberty movement: many people are attracted to libertarianism because they simply don’t like rules. This attitude stands in contrast to conservatives who also disdain big government but who don’t reject authority per se — their problem is with illegitimate authority. Although many types of individuals are united in their opposition to military empire abroad, the drug war at home, and confiscatory taxation, their underlying philosophies of life are vastly different.

 more» 
16 December 2012
 
 
The Goal is Freedom: Individualist Collectivism
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

Is the free market an individualist or collectivist social arrangement? Don’t answer too quickly. It’s a trick question.

 more» 
11 December 2012
 
 
It's All About Choices, Stupid
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

There is a phony conflict afoot that statists are fond of bringing up when they try to discredit the free society. It is about the individual versus the community. Champions of human liberty are often mis-characterized as denying the significance of human community life. As if individualists advocated that people live like hermits, apart from their fellows, in solitude.

Of course, individualists do not advocate anything of the kind. What they insist upon is that human beings be understood as choosing their associations instead of being simply herded into groups that some of them prefer to be part of.

 more» 
04 December 2012
 
 
Libertarian values bring peace
by Kent McManigal
 sub-topic» General

At its heart, libertarianism is the radical idea that other people are not your property. What could be more self-evident than that?

 more» 
29 November 2012
 
 
Goodness
by Jim Davies
 sub-topic» General

In contrast, rational, objective ethics begins properly with the axiom -- the undeniable premise -- of self-ownership, then reasons that goodness must be what enhances the self, not what abnegates it. Even though many of their practical actions and outcomes may be closely similar, such rational ethics are opposed directly to the altruist ethics of sacrifice. There is no moral obligation on anyone to help anyone else; there is, however, an obligation on everyone to help himself.

The nature of goodness, therefore, is to enhance one's own enjoyment of life by whatever actions one judges will do the job, and so 100% of everyone has ample access to virtue.

 more» 
19 November 2012
 
 
Why Anarchism Does Not Solve the Problem of Coercion: IP Version
by Gene Callahan
 sub-topic» General

I compose an avant-garde, dissonant ballet entitled, say, The Right in Autumn (its subject matter being the decline of the American conservative movement). I copyright the work by registering it with my protection racket agency. But you, as mentioned, have no truck with copyright, and you decide to put the work on at your venue, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, which you have just opened.

 more» 
17 November 2012
 
 
Immigration, Trespassing and Socialism
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

There's really only one way: If the government - and not landlords, employers, and merchants - is the true owner of the nation's homes, businesses, and stores. If the government is the legitimate owner of all the property in the nation, then and only then do you become a trespasser simply by entering any piece of property in the nation without the government's consent.

 more» 
30 October 2012
 
 
Capitalism, Socialism & Human Dignity
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

The individualism or egoism forged most fully by Norton, as well as by Ayn Rand in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, A New Concept of Egoism (1967), and others, stresses an Aristotelian idea of the human individual, not a Hobbesian one (which is found mostly in economics). An implication of this is that virtues such as generosity, kindness, gregariousness, etc., are entirely compatible with seeking to flourish as the human individual one is and self-interest is understood by reference to what is proper for a rational animal, not a beast driven to seek power over others.

This development, though not yet widely acknowledged, puts an end to the charge that egoism or individualism, as a central element of free market capitalism, must be a crass, anti-social viewpoint and must generate a social climate of mutual hostility and alienation.

 more» 
13 October 2012
 
 
Tough Luck
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

Once you start the what-if game, it's hard to stop. Name any political system. I can generate endless hypotheticals to aggravate its supporters. The right lesson to draw: Every political perspective eventually has to say "Tough luck" when confronted with well-crafted what-ifs. There's nothing uniquely hard-hearted or cruel about libertarianism. Defenders of democracy, nationalism, liberalism, conservatism, the American Constitution, and social democracy all eventually sigh, "Life's not fair," or "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"

 more» 
09 October 2012
 
 
Welfare Rights for Libertarians
by Kevin Vallier
 sub-topic» General

In other words, both classical and welfare liberals affirm a right to welfare, but offer different interpretations of it. Classical liberals think persons have a right to employment, in that government should remove restrictions on seeking employment. In contrast, welfare liberals think the right to employment requires that the government provide jobs to persons directly. This is not a disagreement about whether there are welfare rights, but rather the form they take.

 more» 
03 October 2012
 
 
The Fractionated Society of the State
by David S. D'Amato
 sub-topic» General

A fractionated society, divided along cultural, ethnic and other lines, its people estranged from one another, is not necessary or ineludible. We can mitigate or escape entirely most of the attributes of the splintered, political society by embracing a philosophy mutual respect and non-coercion. Market anarchists are upholders of this philosophy.

People who would leave their neighbors in peace, who would trade on a voluntary basis, who would refrain from forcing their views on others through politics, are all already anarchists. Libyans ought to oppose not any particular political ideology or regime, but the state itself; only in its final abolition can legitimate law and order come to fruition.

 more» 
07 September 2012
 
 
An Agorist Manifesto in 95 Theses
by Human Advancement
 sub-topic» General

Suitable for nailing to an appropriate door near you...

agora (1) - n. A place of congregation, an ancient Greek marketplace.
agora (2) - n. A market free of forceable regulation, taxation, and government
(The) Agora - The aggregate of all such markets of any size.

 more» 
21 August 2012
 
 
Palaver: What is capitalism and is it compatible with anarchism?
by James Tuttle
 sub-topic» General

It is in this spirit that C4SS would like to present its first Palaver and because it is a continued point of contention, curiosity and controversy, we have directed the first volleys of this discussion towards the questions: What is capitalism and is it compatible with anarchism?

 more» 
20 August 2012
 
 
The Myth of the Greater Good
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

Rather than solve a social problem, the ruling class had a devastating effect on the welfare of common people, who became “a puzzled flock of sheep waiting for the sheepdog to drive us through the gate.” Ironically, by claiming the collective was greater, the few were able to assume control over the many. The “greater good” devolved to whatever served the interests of the ruling class.

But the process can be reversed. It requires “individualizing” the collective and the nation so that “will, conscience and judgment” can return to every person.

 more» 
06 August 2012
 
 
Materially richer, morally poorer
by Walter E. Williams
 sub-topic» General

You say, "Williams, you're just old-fashioned and out of touch with modern society." Maybe so, but I think that a society's first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms – transmitted by example, word of mouth, religious teachings, rules of etiquette and manners – represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important legal thou-shalt-nots – such as shalt not murder, steal, lie or cheat – but they also include all those civilities one might call ladylike or gentlemanly behavior. Police officers and courts can never replace these social restraints on personal conduct. At best, laws, police and the criminal justice system are a society's last desperate line of defense.

 more» 
04 August 2012
 
 
Ten Fallacious Conclusions in the Dominant Ideology's Political Economy
by Robert Higgs
 sub-topic» General

For the past century in the United States of America, the dominant ideology has been progressivism. This belief system has not been static, of course, and its specific elements, emphases, and outlooks have changed substantially since the early twentieth century. For example, whereas the early progressives were generally racist, hard imperialist, and eugenicist, today’s are generally multiculturalist, soft imperialist, and more inclined to favor killing off the human race (to save the environment) than to improve it by eliminating the biologically “inferior” people. Nevertheless, through all its emotional and intellectual ups and downs, progressivism has retained one central element: its abiding faith that the state can and should act vigorously on as many fronts as possible to improve society both here and abroad.

 more» 
30 July 2012
 
 
The Implicit Errors in Debts to Society Arguments
by Jason Brennan
 sub-topic» General

These kinds of arguments try to establish that you owe a debt to society, and then try to establish that paying more taxes is the right way to repay this debt.

The problem is that they assume–without argument–that the society to which you owe a debt just happens to be the nation-state. There is no reason to assume that. In fact, it’s more plausible that my debts, if I have any, are both more local and more global than the nation-state.

 more» 
27 July 2012
 
 
When Does Law Become Crimninal?
by Skyler J. Collins
 sub-topic» General

There's no such thing as a social contract. Authority must be explicitly granted, and few people living today have explicitly granted power to those who exercise authority over them (and dissenting others). Every state today is illegitimate for the majority of the people it rules over. Only when their laws, already criminal, become obviously criminal do people see the illegitimacy of the state. Don't wait for that. It could be too late.

 more» 
23 July 2012
 
 
Where Do We Go From Here? - Part 3
by Butler Shaffer
 sub-topic» General

I am convinced that any emerging life-sustaining renaissance will have its primary focus on the liberation of the human spirit. It is the confrontation between individualism and collectivism that will be the focal point in efforts to civilize and humanize an uncivilized and dehumanized world. As such, extend your inquiries into areas with which many libertarians are unfamiliar or uncomfortable: poetry, art, music, dance, depth psychology, and other spiritual dimensions of what it means to be human.

 more» 
22 July 2012
 
 
Where Do We Go From Here? - Part 2
by Butler Shaffer
 sub-topic» General

But beyond these more obvious examples of a culture in entropic collapse is to be found its most vulnerable trait: the spiritual depletion of a politically-dominated society. Because the state is defined as an institution that enjoys a monopoly on the use of violence within a given territory, such power is dependent upon having no impediments to its exercise. The idea of a "limitation" on the exercise of state power is purely illusory, offered to give Boobus the feeling that his liberty and individuality are bounded by a cushion of inviolability. But the reality is to the contrary: a limitation on state power is necessarily a denial of its monopolization of the forces of violence. Almost by definition, then, the state must treat its human subjects as assets to be exploited on behalf of the purposes of the state and its institutional owners.

 more» 
21 July 2012
 
 
Where Do We Go From Here? - Part 1
by Butler Shaffer
 sub-topic» General

Libertarians have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate – both from reasoning and empirical evidence – that human beings are capable of organizing and creating ways of accomplishing whatever they value and to which they are willing to commit their own resources. All that the state can accomplish, in this regard, is to (a) restrain such efforts in order to protect the interests of those who enjoy access to state power, and/or (b) shift the costs of providing such goods or services to those unwilling to pay for them. The history of privately-built roads, alternative schools, early 20th century health-care systems, private fire companies and security firms, are just a few examples of how men and women can resort to voluntary practices to accomplish what politically-conditioned minds believe can only be done through state coercion.

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16 July 2012
 
 
The Allure of Mandates
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

Respecting the rights of others can always be construed as something costly. Your private property rights in your home require me to walk around when I want to get to the other side of it! If you refused to clean my front yard, I will need to hire someone to do it. If an airline company doesn’t provide me with free air travel, I will need to purchase the service. If farm workers refuse to work without pay, those wanting their services will have fork out wages. And on and on it goes.

So the allure of mandating services from others has to be resisted in the process of respecting their rights. This is supposed to be elementary in a free society. And the laws of such a society must not yield to such allure, lest it violates, betrays the principles of liberty on which it is supposedly founded and the securing of which is its government’s central task!

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15 June 2012
 
 
Whose Life is it Anyway?
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

So then which is it? Do people own themselves and have the right to choose between living and dying or do they belong to their country and have no such right? You cannot have it both ways. Which is one reason that any talk of human liberty coming from the political Left is hypocritical. Freedom is entirely meaningless unless it means the individual can exercise choice without being interfered by government or anyone else. The only interference that is acceptable for free men and women is that which amounts to retaliation to initial interference by others, as in self-defense.

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11 June 2012
 
 
The Right to Privacy
by James Wilson
 sub-topic» General

The right to privacy includes the freedom to give it up if one so chooses, just as the right to property means the freedom to give it away. These are VOLUNTARY actions.

But it is CRIMINAL for others to invade your property OR your privacy. That's why there are laws against burglary and voyeurism.

And it is TYRANNICAL when The State invades and steals your property and privacy.

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06 June 2012
 
 
Pick a Set of Deaths
by Jason Brennan
 sub-topic» General

In order to save the innocent civilians of LessJustia, wouldn’t it be better for God to kill MoreJustia’s unjust invasion force and MoreJustia’s leaders, rather than for God to allow MoreJustia to kill so many innocent people in LessJustia?

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28 May 2012
 
 
The Idea of Resistance Against the State
by J.G.Vibes
 sub-topic» General

The state and all of its predatory appendages like the corporate and military industrial complexes, are not groups of people with weapons who need to be overthrown, they are just bad ideas that can very easily be rendered obsolete with the right combination of good ideas. The only battlefield that the revolution can be won on is in the mind. To destroy the problems that were created with violence the most effective weapons are good ideas and nonviolent solutions, not violence and politics.

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18 May 2012
 
 
Dump the Statist Monkey Off Your Back
by Kevin Carson
 sub-topic» General

This is what the state does. This is what the state always does. The state is the political means to wealth. Every state has been, and every state will be, a class state that enforces transactions in which one privileged party benefits at the expense of an unprivileged other. The state puts a majority of us in a position of accepting exchange on terms which nobody would willingly accept absent restrictions on the alternatives available to us.

The state, in short, forces us to feed a monkey on our backs in return for the right to live at all, in return for the right to feed ourselves.

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17 May 2012
 
 
For Equality; Against Privilege
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

Opposition to privilege is simply the corollary of libertarian equality. If all are equal in authority, then no one may live at the expense of others without their consent. The word privilege is often used equivocally, but it has its roots in the idea of legal favoritism. It is composed of privus, meaning single, and lex or lege, meaning law. Thus a privilege is a government act that (forcibly) bestows favors on one person, or the few.

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14 May 2012
 
 
Non-Aggression or Nonviolence?
by Chris Dates
 sub-topic» General

How does a person come to hold the belief of absolute nonviolence? What about this belief draws people to it? Is nonviolence the logical conclusion of non-aggression? These are the question that I have been asking myself as of late, because there is a growing number of people within the liberty movement who are latching onto the belief of absolute nonviolence. I’d like to explore this idea, and try to lay out an argument as to why I think it is not only wrong, but also dangerous to adopt this belief.

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