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Today: Wed, September 17 2014  -  Last modified: April, 26 2007
 Libertarian Theory
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?

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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?

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.")

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.)

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.”

 more» 
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?

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.”

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.)

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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...

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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?

 more» 
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.

 more» 
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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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12 April 2012
 
 
Introduction to Microethics
by Bryan Caplan
 sub-topic» General

My prescription: Ethicists should reallocate most of their effort to microethics. Start with simple cases where right and wrong are obvious. Is it wrong to punish an escaped murderer by torturing his infant child? Is it wrong to welsh on a $20 bet? Is it wrong to steal an alcoholic's liquor? To refuse to give all your surplus income away to needy strangers? Then build from there. Once you've got these conclusions under your belt, you can move on to slightly harder cases - like movies. Last night I saw the surprisingly watchable Assassination Games, and I'm still pondering the ethics.

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31 March 2012
 
 
The Simple Mr. Oppenheimer
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

In an admirably accessible manner, Oppenheimer's The State explains the dynamics set in motion by the political means. It is in the nature of parasites to multiply and drain ever more of the hosts' resources. As the political means comes to dominate, those using the economic means see diminishing return from their productivity and, so, they have little incentive to produce beyond subsistence. Why should they labor to feed a thief? Society stagnates, leaving less for the parasite to siphon. And, so, inherent within the State is its own demise.

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30 March 2012
 
 
Altruism isn't Generosity
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

A big error has haunted humanity for centuries: it’s the equivocation between generosity and altruism.

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26 March 2012
 
 
Hating the state and loving liberty
Which one to emphasize?
by Steven Horwitz
 sub-topic» General

Libertarians have a number of public relations problems. Some are the result of people not understanding our ideas. Others, however, are our own fault: We sometimes fail to express our ideas clearly or attractively. In particular, we have a habit of emphasizing what we’re against rather than what we’re for .

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18 March 2012
 
 
Justice at a Distance
by Fernando Teson
 sub-topic» General

2) Our position is cosmopolitan: everyone has the duty not to interfere with personal projects. Persons have natural moral rights that correspond to those duties of noninterference. A legitimate state is one that respects these moral rights. No actual state meets this test, so no actual state is morally legitimate.

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16 March 2012
 
 
How Not to Treat Ideas
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

All of this may indicate why so many people in public life don’t really argue about the merits of ideas or positions on various issues but focus, instead, on the motivations and character of those advancing the ideas. And to undermine those ideas, then, will not require better ideas, sound criticism and so forth but, instead, the calling into question of the motivations and character of whoever defends them. Never mind if an idea has merit, ask, instead, what explains that someone holds it and is the motivation benign. Besmirching the thinker is what works, not criticizing what he or she thinks! So as to impugn Ron Paul’s or Mitt Romney’s or Newt Gingrich’s position, link it to some kind of questionable motive. He holds his foreign policy views because he has loyalties to certain foreign countries since his parents or associates were born there! He opposes the Federal Reserve Bank because he hates bankers who help his adversaries, not because the ideas are right and those who oppose them are, well, wrong.

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04 March 2012
 
 
Thet Selfish, Greedy Ayn Rand Does It Again
by CLS
 sub-topic» General

The writer was named Frederic Douglas and this little tirade about being selfish was in a letter he wrote to Thomas Auld. Auld and Douglas had a difference of opinion. Douglas felt he should be allowed to live for his own sake. Auld felt Douglas should be required to live for the sake of others—in particular for Auld, who legally owned Mr. Douglas, and from whom Douglas escaped to freedom in the North.

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03 March 2012
 
 
Responsibility and Private Property
by David Greenwald
 sub-topic» General

Responsibility means that one is accountable for one's actions, but this is impossible if the authority for decision making does not lie with the actor himself. In its fullest sense, responsibility means the acceptance by the actor of the full burden of this accountability, an awareness that he cannot pass the buck, so to speak, but alone must bear the moral weight of the consequences of his actions. A society of responsible citizens, then, is not one in which the masses play follow the leader; rather, it is one in which, as a rule, the individual makes no attempt to place outside himself the locus of accountability for his own decisions, nor asserts the right to have others relieve him of it. Responsibility is therefore strongly associated with such qualities as maturity, self-control, and intellectual autonomy, while it correlates negatively with dependence, subservience, and social conformity. This is why it is axiomatic in libertarian philosophy that liberty and responsibility must necessarily go together, and why Viktor Frankl said that the Statue of Liberty in New York should be offset by a Statue of Responsibility in California.

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02 March 2012
 
 
Noble cause corruption: Do the ends justify the means?
by Bruce Bayley
 sub-topic» General

The bottom line: noble cause corruption — and thus, teleological ideologies in general — dramatically increase the likelihood of a serious situation that could easily turn horribly messy, ending your career in law enforcement and, potentially, scarring or ending the lives of you and/or others.

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22 February 2012
 
 
No One Should Be Forced to Act against His Conscience
by Sheldon Richman
 sub-topic» General

Logic drives us to conclude that government should never compel anyone to act against his or her moral convictions. The good sense of this becomes clear when we get down to particulars. If a Catholic may not be forced to pay for birth control in violation of conscience, why should that Catholic — or anyone else — be compelled to finance mass murder in violation of conscience? No one can reasonably insist that personal convictions should be disregarded in the case of mass murder.

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17 February 2012
 
 
Should Occupy Use Violence? I Dunno - Should the Cops?
by Kevin Carson
 sub-topic» General

The violent actions of the state deserve to be evaluated using the same criteria by which we judge the morality of the violent actions of any other grouping of individuals. Alexander Berkman, in “The ABC of Anarchism,” argued that the death and destruction caused by the institutionalized violence of the state was many times greater than that caused by anarchists or other revolutionaries. Who do you think has thrown more bombs — anarchists, or government military forces?

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07 February 2012
 
 
The Corporate State: A House Divided Against Itself
by Kevin Carson
 sub-topic» General

A global superpower founded on the principles of information control and fear and distrust of its own people cannot long endure. We already saw one superpower so founded collapse from the weight of its own internal contradictions. I expect the second one to fall within our lifetimes. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

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26 January 2012
 
 
What Makes a Fascist?
by DataPacRat
 sub-topic» General

However, with all of that said, there are some differences between political systems which tend to respect peoples' civil liberties, and those which routinely violate them; and while there are plenty of people who simply try to keep their heads down and get along as best they can, there are also some people who actively prefer tyranny. In order to fight them and keep them from accomplishing such things, it would be of a great help to understand them.

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25 December 2011
 
 
Capitalism & Socialism Rightly Understood
by Tibor R. Machan
 sub-topic» General

If Professor Alperovitz wants to defend socialism or some hybrid of true capitalism and true socialism–whatever that might be–he should do this up front. He should acknowledge that socialism involves state coercion, especially on the economic front, and capitalism doesn’t. The various non-economic human associations he misidentifies as socialist do not involve coercion, which makes them fit within a capitalist but not within a socialist political economy.

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17 December 2011
 
 
Our Family: A Possible Taxonomy
by Andrew Cohen
 sub-topic» General

1.1.1.1. Minimal State Theorists or Minarchists: A family of “Right” Libertarian views that take government to be an element of the state that should be used only to protect negative liberty.

1.1.1.2. Anarchist Libertarians: A family of “Right” Libertarian views that believe negative liberty is better served with the absence of government than with its presence.

***

1.1.2. BHLs: A family of libertarian (and hence liberal) views that also share a deep concern to prevent suffering (and perhaps promote at least minimal individual well-being). Some in this camp may approve of limited government interventions to end suffering; all agree that allowing individuals extensive (negative) liberty is likely to create the least suffering possible. Some may favor pretty strong, if not absolute property rights (the latter is more likely with 1.1.2.2 than 1.1.2.1).

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03 December 2011
 
 
"I don't agree with his theories"
by Manuel Lora
 sub-topic» General

Going deeper, things become even messier. How does one measure the value of the good that a piece of legislation imparts on society? What if that good is a bad for some? What if the good is not as good for everyone to the same extent? What if people change their minds? What if they change their minds right after an election? Were it subject to quantification, what if one person has 100 units of displeasure and 99 people have one unit of pleasure each? How can we measure the greater good? What is “the” good? These might seem contrived questions, and yet they are the core of it all.

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07 October 2011
 
 
Divided, We Stand - Part 2
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

From a radical libertarian perspective, however, the main problem with decentralization is the same problem that haunts secession; it never seems to go far enough. Carried to its proper and logical extreme, decentralization should result in government of the individual, by the individual, for the individual, and not merely in acquiring a better master. Equally, secession should allow not merely states or cities to withdraw from a centralized government but also the individual.

In either case, the concept of "We the People" is a powerful obstacle to both secession and decentralization. Until the concept is thoroughly discredited and disgraced, the US government will draw upon the legitimacy being transmitted by the concept. It will pretend to be in a partnership with "the people" who will render to it obedience and respect. Under "We the People," true political change cannot occur.

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06 October 2011
 
 
Divided, We Stand - Part 1
by Wendy McElroy
 sub-topic» General

A key obstacle to freedom is the ideas that oppose it, ideas that are now entrenched into society as a form of dogma. "We the People" is one of them.

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