Some Critical Comments on Roderick T. Long’s “Why Libertarians Believe There Is Only One Right”,J. C. Lester


http://www.libertarian.co.uk/?q=node/778

Some Critical Comments on Roderick T. Long’s “Why Libertarians Believe There Is Only One Right”

J. C. Lester

Philosophical Notes No. 86

ISBN: 9781856376570
ISSN 0267-7091 (print)
ISSN 2042-2768 (online)

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London W1J 6HL

© 2013: Libertarian Alliance; J.C. Lester

J. C. Lester is a Senior Fellow with the Libertarian Alliance.
He is a libertarian philosopher and author of Arguments for Liberty: a Libertarian Miscellany (University of Buckingham Press, 2011)
and Escape from Leviathan: Libertarianism Without Justificationism, paperback (University of Buckingham Press, 2012).
His magnum opus is A Dictionary of Anti-Politics: Liberty Expounded and Defended (forthcoming).

FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY

Abstract

This article explains various imprecisions and clear errors concerning libertarianism in Roderick T. Long’s essay.1Contra Long, I argue as follows.Non-aggression is not the fundamental libertarian right—liberty is.There are non-libertarian rights, but they don’t override liberty.Assumptions are inevitable because justifications are impossible.Rights should not be “defined” but, rather, morally and metaphysically theorized.Moral and legal permissibility need to be clearly distinguished.Long has unwittingly adopted libertarian, normative conceptions of “aggression” and “force”.It is possible to accept the right to liberty on no grounds whatsoever, and also conjecture that liberty/deontologism and welfare/consequentialism are systematically compatible for conceptual and causal reasons.Long’s rejection of positive rights is privileging and not conceptual.Property needs to be derived from an explicit, non-normative, theory of libertarian liberty.Long’s overall account is “mysterious” and “one-sided.”

Introduction

I first ought to say that I agree with what I take to be the spirit of Professor Long’s fundamental thesis—apart from the various qualifications that follow.But, as agreement is intellectually barren, I have only elaborated on our differences.These are primarily differences that I have with almost all other libertarian theorists.However, I have yet to succeed in making many of them even notice the existence of these three main ideas:2

  1. An objective, pre-propertarian theory of interpersonal liberty as ‘the absence of imposed costs.’
  2. Critical-rationalist libertarianism.
  3. Causal and conceptual compatibilism concerning liberty/deontologism and welfare/consequentialism.

I have tried to avoid repeating myself and so usually do not tackle similar points in Long’s text when they later arise.I indent the relevant parts of his text and then respond immediately below them.

Comments

Libertarians believe that there is, fundamentally, only one right:the right not to be aggressed against.

Surely something more like the ‘right to liberty’ ought to be the fundamental libertarian right (but how is it best theorized?I say, the—pre-propertarian—‘absence of initiated imposed costs’ or ‘absence of proactive impositions’).Therefore, non-aggression/invasion/trespass (or, if that is not possible, the minimization of aggression) is a conceptual consequence of the right to liberty, albeit intimately and even inextricably related.

The libertarian position comprises two distinct claims:first, we have a right not to be aggressed against (call this the Positive Thesis); second, we have no otherrights (call this the Negative Thesis).

We only have an enforceable right to interpersonal liberty (but such liberty needs some theoretical explanation).The right to non-aggression is another way of expressing this right (but this relationship also needs to be explained).There are no other rights that override the right to liberty (but there are various other kinds of rights).

A crucial feature of libertarian political theorizing is the insistence that not just the precise nature, but the very existence,of political authority requires justification and cannot simply be assumed.

Not if one is a critical-rationalist libertarian.If critical rationalism is the true epistemology, then justification is impossible and assumptions are inevitable—but criticisms and defences are possible and desirable.

Very briefly, critical rationalism can be explained as follows.All observations are theory-laden assumptions (we cannot perceive reality directly).All arguments rest on, and thereby amount to, assumptions (and all valid arguments are tautologies).Logically, we can never support or ‘justify’ assumptions because of an infinite regress (or circularity, or arbitrary stopping point).Therefore, the only logical epistemological position is testing and criticism to try to detect false assumptions.To ask a critical rationalist to ‘justify’ his assertions is analogous with asking an atheist to name the ‘true religion.’A critical rationalist can sometimes usefully explain his assertions (their implications, logical and empirical), but that explanation will itself make assumptions, and be incomplete.

If we start from the basic natural rights that human beings would have in any social context, including a state of nature,…

I conjecture that the right to interpersonal liberty is desirable.The attempt to base that right on nature, looks like a combination of the justificationist and the genetic fallacies.

How, then, are rights to be defined,…

Should philosophers be attempting to define things?This suggests that, 1) we are concerned about mere words (but words don’t matter: “Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools”), 2) we are searching for some common usage (but that is unlikely to solve a real philosophical problem), or 3) we are producing a stipulative definition (but that means that it cannot be refuted). Hence, I had rather say that we are theorizing about what rights there really are (metaphysics) or ought to be (morals).

(Note that the permissibility of enforcinga right does not entail the permissibility of exercising that right.I have the right to publish and distribute Nazi propaganda; it would not be permissible for me to exercise that right, but it would nevertheless be permissible for me, or my agent, to fend off by force anyone who proposed to suppress that right.)

I find this use of “permissible” confusing.If you have a right to do something, then exercising that right must be legally permissible (assuming the law does not flout that right) even if it is not morally permissible (according to some people, at least).

For aggression and force are conceptually linked; aggression is initiatory force – or conversely, force is that mode of conduct which, if initiated unilaterally, counts as aggression.

An act of theft is an aggression/invasion/trespass against the legitimate owner.It need not involve “force” (except, perhaps, in the broad sense that physics uses the term).Also, a policeman might defensively initiate force against a thief who had himself used no force (by online fraud, for instance).Lacking an explicit and coherent theory of liberty, many libertarians (unwittingly) use “force” and “coercion” in technical senses that tacitly presuppose, and thereby cannot explicitly explain, libertarian rights.

It should be noted that “aggression,” as used here, is a descriptive concept, not a normative one; hence the libertarian prohibition on aggression is not a truism.(Admittedly, the term “aggression” has pejorative connotations – and deservedly so!But so do terms like “torture” and “genocide”; that doesn’t make them normative concepts. In such cases, the pejorative connotation is not part of the stipulated meaning of the term, but derives from the recognition that what the term describesis in factevil.)

But “what the term describes is in fact evil” suggests that evil, or immorality, is factual or positive.

If we take “aggression is initiatory force” literally, then it is descriptive but inaccurate.If we take “aggression is initiatory force” to mean what some libertarians mean by “initiatory force”, then it is tacitly normative by presupposing that only violating libertarian property rights (whatever they are) counts as “initiatory force.”

Some libertarians accept this thesis on primarily deontological grounds, pointing, e.g., to the Kantian injunction not to treat persons as mere means to the ends of others, or the Lockean principle that we are not “made for one another’s uses.”Other libertarians accept the thesis on primarily consequentialist grounds, pointing to the beneficial results of voluntary relationships and the harmful results of coercive ones.

And critical-rationalist libertarians accept this thesis of a right to liberty on no grounds whatsoever, simply holding it as an assumption or conjecture for criticism.However, they often also hold the conjecture that human liberty and human welfare do not systematically clash because they are systematically complementary in a variety of conceptual and causal ways.

…the ban on positive rights derives from conceptual constraints inherent in our negative obligations, not from any privileging of negative obligations over positive ones.

It looks like privileging to me.We make observing liberty an enforceable obligation.But we could, instead, make it a weak obligation and make promoting universal healthcare (or whatever) an enforceable obligation.

Hence it follows that we are committed to recognizing, as instances of initiatory force, someforms of interference with one’s control over external resources, even if no bodily assault on one’s person is involved.But if such forms of interference constitute initiatory force, then it must be permissible to interfere with them;hence it follows that we must also recognize some forms of interference that do notconstitute initiatory force.In short, we are committed to a system of property rights – that is, a set of principles determining when one may, and when one may not, interfere with a person’s control over some external resource.

As “initiatory force” (and ‘coercion’) cannot do the job, I derive external property with “imposed costs” (having first derived self-ownership) in a completely non-normative way:

  1. Interpersonal liberty exists to the extent that people do not impose costs on each other.
  2. I make object X without imposing a cost on you.2
  3. If I deny you the use of X, I merely deny you a benefit.
  4. If you use X against my wishes, you impose a cost on me.
  5. If liberty exists (how, or whether it ought to, is immaterial), then you do not use X against my wishes.
  6. What you do not use against my wishes I have control over.
  7. What I have control over I own in a de facto sense.
  8. If liberty exists then I own X.4

Libertarian property rights are, famously, governed by principles of justice in initial appropriation (mixing one’s labour with previously unowned resources), justice in transfer (mutual consent), and justice in rectification (say, restitution plus damages).

However, as I have just explained, it is possible to derive what libertarian property objectively is, or would be, under assumed circumstances completely non-morally (without mentioning rights or justice).

The truth or falsity of libertarianism, however, is not my present concern.I claim to have shown only the following:

1. Whether or not the Positive Thesis, that we have a right not to be aggressed against, is true, there is certainly nothing mysterious or one-sided about finding such a thesis plausible and attractive.

What is mysterious is the account of ‘aggression’ as “initiatory force”.Libertarians usually have a good tacit understanding of liberty/non-aggression but a poor explicit theory, which critics often use as a rod to beat us with.

2. Given the Positive Thesis, together with some highly plausible auxiliary premises, the Negative Thesis, that we have no rights otherth[a]n the right not to be aggressed against, necessarily follows, and so there is nothing mysterious or one-sided in embracing it.

Rather, we have no rights that override the right to liberty.This is somewhat mysterious (see previous point) and also one-sided (see next point).

3. Giventhe Positive and Negative Theses, the libertarian view of property rights is more defensible than the welfare-statist view, and so there is nothing mysterious or one-sided about preferring the former to the latter.

If the libertarian view of property rights were to lead to general deprivation and misery while the welfare-statist view were to lead to general flourishing and happiness, then it would be mysterious and one-sided to prefer the former to the latter.And that is what welfare-statists do assume; hence they do find it mysterious.

Notes

(1) Described as “draft” but, in effect, long-published online.

(2) As found, for instance, in Escape from Leviathan (2012 [2000]), but in published form dating back at least as far as my PhD dissertation in 1991.

(3) Strictly speaking, insofar as you would have used the same particular raw materials in any way, my use of them would impose on you a very slightly higher search cost for similar raw materials.But, to look ahead, it would clearly impose an immensely greater cost on all to disallow such use and security of possession.The fruits of everyone’s labours would be liable to seizure.Efficient economy would not be possible.It clearly minimizes imposed costs to avoid this.

(4) Escape from Leviathan, p. 78.

Bibliography

J. C. Lester, Escape from Leviathan: Libertarianism without Justificationism, University of Buckingham Press, 2012 (2000).

Roberick T. Long, “Why Libertarians Believe There Is Only One Right”, draft manuscript, retrieved 8th March 2013, praxeology.net/onerightREVdraft.doc.

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21 responses to “Some Critical Comments on Roderick T. Long’s “Why Libertarians Believe There Is Only One Right”,J. C. Lester

  1. Of course someone can be a libertarian without believing in rights (or natural law) at all.

    One could hold that, for example, the greatest good of the greatest number (in the long term) would be best served by the support of the rule that the bodies and goods of others should not be violated (NOT that they had a “right” not to be violated – aggressed against) . I am not a utilitarian – but fully accet that it is perfectly possible for a “rule” utilitarian to be a libertarian (just as it is for other forms of consequentialist to be a libertarian).

    It is also, of course, possible to believe that people (including private associations – churches, clubs, fraternites, trading companies and so on) have a right not to be aggressed against (for example not to be robbed) WITHOUT believeing that they are economically beneficial.

    For example someone could say (without contradicting themselves) “I believe that socialism would mean slightly less poverty and higher living standards – but I still oppose socialism because it means robbing people and robbing people is WRONG, it violates their right not to be robbed”.

    Most libertarians are not “reductionists” – we do not collapse political philosophy into economics.

    We hold that their is such a thing as “justice” (to each their own – the nonaggression principle) INDEPENDENTLY of whether a certain economic policy reduces poverty or increases it.

    But most libertarians are ALSO supporters of free market economics.

    In that we believe (in the long term and generally – perhaps not in certain “lifeboat” situations) that following justice (supporting the right not to be robbed – even if you are a lazy landowner of a vast estate, who spends his day counting vast mountains of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck [and who only got the estate because his great grandfather pimped his wife to Henry VIII, who stole the land from the Church..... - or whatever], and the person trying to rob you is a starving man with 15 children and a sick mother to support) will turn out, in the long term, best in reducing general poverty and so on.

    In short (to switch to Aristotelian langauge) we do not believe that we have to choose between the virtue of justice (supporting to each their own) and the virtue of benevolence (helping the poor and so on). We can have both – indeed the universe exists in such a way that supporting justice (private property) turns out to have the most benevolent consequences.

    However, we must remember (as I am sure Dr Lester does) that some libertarians do not care about such things as “natural justice” or “rights” and think only in economic terms. And that some libertarians reject economics – and think only in terms of natural justice (natural law), and/or rights.

  2. Of course, to the libertarian, legal “right” ( justice) is opposed to the violation of body or goods, is opposed to aggression. As opposed to a Hobbesian lawyer – who regards a crime as simply doing something that is opposed to the “will” (the commands) of the state. For example wearing brown shoes – when the state says everyone must wear black shoes.

    And it is not that the Hobbesian (or the 20th century Positivist) makes a destinction between “law” and “justice” – on the contrary, to such a person the statement “this comand of the state is unjust” is meaningless because (like a Calvinist or Muslim talking about God) the commands (the will) of the state are what “justice” is. For example if the state commands that everyone is to be raped on Wednesday afternoon – then that is “the law” and that is “justice”

    Almost needless to say – a libertarian does not support such things.

    To a libertarian in the natural law and/or natural rights tradition – “law” is the effort to apply (in the very dificult practical circumstances of time and place) the principle of justice – the principle of each their own. And “law” as in command (whim) of the state that has no connection with the principle of justice (indeed holds it open contempt) is not right law at all.

    For example……

    The Austrian Civil Code of 1811 is not perfect (things do not tend to be perfect in this life), but it (like some other later Civil and Criminal codes) is a serious effort to try and apply the principle of justice (to each their own) to the complex circumstances of time and place., It is, therefore, LAW (as Bastiat and other libertarians would nave understood the term).

    On the other hand – the sort of ravings that come out of the modern British (or other) governments, banning X, Y, Z, non aggressive activities and demanding people do A, B, C things that they do not wish to do and have no good reason to do) are NOT law (nothing to do with legal right) – because they are not an effort to apply the principle of justice (the nonaggression principle of to each their own) to the circumstances of time and place – they (most of the commands of the modern state) are just arbitrary whims.

    The virtue of justice does indeed mean respecting the law – but only real law (law that makes a serious effort to respect the principle of justice itself – by trying to apply it to the complex circumstances of time and place), respecting “right” actually means being in OPPOSITION to arbitrary whims (commands) of the state, which show total contempt for the principle of justice. And (for example) follow the mortal enemy of justice, “social justice” (not to each their own – but to each as the state thinks FAIR, the state as daddy “distributing” the cake…), instead.

    But a libertarian may reject “rights talk” and still be a libertarian.

    For example, such a libertarian may say (as Dr Lester points out) “economics shows that things turn out best if we act as-if there was a right not to be robbed – but if economics showed something different I would give up libertarianism and become something else”.

    Such a person may be a shallow as …. (well as shallow as shallow can be), but they remain a libertarian (till when and if some economic theory leads them to reject libertarianism).

  3. I would not agree, that socialism does not work, socialism failed under the labour government mainly due the the greed of those in local government, simple arithmetic in rulal england concludes the reason this has failed is due to the excessive amounts of money taken out of the community by those in government, even some small rural medical practices are costing millions to run, police taking 60% of all rate revenue, doctors salaries in some areas now topping between 200 and 300,000 per year, no political system can systin a system of government where a minority, who falslely claim to be socialists bleed the local economies dry, anyone knows where government takes out more money out than a local economy can produce causes bankrupcy, hence why we have the situation we have today, a minority far to “Flush” nd the majority who pay living in poverty, this is not an example that soicialism does not work, but a daming indictment that socialisim has been hijacked by clever communists hood winking the public, how ever did we get to the stage, were these devious polititians turn up on your door, saying vote for me, it’s a bottle of champange in one hand, cigar in the other, property port folio, few million in the bank, this is the real senario, is this the new socialisim, might as well live in India! We all know, even in middle england the only people able to live now are those on the payroll of the state, helping themselves to as much as they can grab.

  4. of course this weeks FOI disclosures, show a situation that might be considered under the right to property, despite the Conservatives governments promise at the last election, it appears employment recruitment agencies are springing up all over the more depressed parts of europe, wanting to recruit migrant staff for jobs in the U.K. I don’t understand the logic to bringing in migrant workers in areas of high unemployment in the UK, paying them low wages and then topping these up with wealfare payments, particularly when the wealfare buget is popping at the rivets, I have to say paul, in my heart of hearts, I can’t see where private companies will resolves these difficulties either, the UK has become so poor, people can no longer maintain their houses, buy replacement domestic goods, pay for gas or electric, buy a new oven or carpet for that matter, do these look like signs the recession has any chance of lifting, one must only conclude, no chance of this storm dying at the moment, we are just seeing the calm before the real storm starts to commence! What would you’re thoughts be on this issue paul.

  5. Karl I fudementally disagree.

    I do not think that statism fails because the wrong people are in charge – I believe it is failure of PRINCIPLE.

    Socialism (both Marxist and National) has failed in every country it has been tried – that can not be because the wrong people keep getting in charge.

    The basic IDEA is wrong – “others have attacked the abuses – I attack the doctrine” (not that I am a Martin Luther fan).

    Nor do I believe that the United Kingdom is a example of free enterprise.

    As you know Karl – government spending is almost half of the entire economy, the rest of the economy is saturated with regulations, and the financial sytem is a Bank of England credit bubble joke

    Certainly the U.K. is better than North Korea or Cuba (come to that it is better than France) – but it is hardly a free enterprise place.

  6. I would agree on the point you make, for example, Hitler hated statism in conflict with his own ideas, he simply created even bigger total control statisim, Firstly of course the UK is not a free enterprise culture, I know that many of my former relatives owned businessess legislation is a killer, Point of fact, many former business people won’t touch business now in the UK it’s a nightmare of red tape, rules and regulations, it all bollocks, I have several relatives now who earn their income via self enterprise, the regulations are completely dire, a madman couldn’t have thought them up if he tried, licence for this, licence for that, health and safety obsessions, Danger, Danger, red tape here, red tape there, red tape every F-ing where. Bank of england is a joke I must agree, the banks in the UK don’t fuction at the moment, it’s sad to say, I guess privately they know there are just to many laws and regulations for businesses to succeed, people in some cases now are scared to take on staff on account the red tape and legislation. Of course Paul what you say about socialisim is not correct, like everything, those, in the Golden Circle will tell you they love it, they would probably make the same reply in both Cuba and North Korea, it all depends on your place in the scheme of things, the new creation of the wet middle classes created by the last labour governments will never give up thier new found Nero lifestyles, and that is the simple answer, they also want the same lifestyles for their families and offspring as well, I see no change here, until the economy is totally bled to death by them, that is not far away, when things get tight, they just bring in even more new laws to extract revenue from an already bankrupt economy!

  7. Paul, when you let the infant school Mistress take control of the economy of
    the economy this is what materialises, then we have the gret beast of CS and
    the creation of the DVLA monster which will eventually bankrupt the motorist and the transport sector!

  8. The vast administrative state – half way between free enterprise and socialism.

    It is not as bad as socialism (which never works), but it is not good either.

  9. I was focusing on the semantic issue of what a single ‘libertarian right’ must primarily be about (namely, liberty itself rather than non-aggression—and so we need a clear theory of liberty). I did not mean to discuss the metaphysical and moral issues of whether there is such a right and its nature. That said, even rule-utilitarian libertarians would seem to advocate a prima facie right to liberty. And I advocate a conjectural right to liberty.

  10. Julie near Chicago

    As will surprise no one, I’m pretty much in agreement with Paul’s statements (and his own position as well) above. I just want to point out that his remarks go to the heart of Miss Rand’s objection to libertarianism as a political movement: That it had no proper grounding in (political) philosophy; which it could not have, because it had no grounding in moral philosophy.

    In short, various “libertarians” have very different bases for their libertarianism (Paul’s point), and many of them justify libertarianism on the grounds of “social utility” first.

    So libertarians are really those whose unifying principle is really just something like “that government is best which governs least,” not of course to coin a phrase. Just as conservatism (at least in America) is centered, I think, on the idea that we have a political heritage that’s supposed to be about “Freedom,” and it’s something to be proud of, and to try at a minimum to live up to. (Lots of kinds of conservatives, though. Some, maybe the majority but maybe not, think that Christianity in some form is another important part of our heritage. End of story, or I’ll end up writing a book. *g*)

    Karl wrote, “I would not agree, that socialism does not work, socialism failed under the labour government mainly [because]….” For some reason I imagined a very thin and half-rotted rope across a chasm…perhaps one pound of weight would merely cause it to sag slightly, but it would break if you loaded it up with only a few pounds. And it would break sooner if those few pounds were jiggling up and down, and back and forth, causing stresses and strains on the rope with every slight jiggle.

    Full-on socialism would never bear the weight of the activity of a bunch of free people…because free people jiggle every which way, and socialism just isn’t constructed to take the strain. So to even approach a workable socialism for a reasonably-sized political body (even, I’d bet, an extended family) you have to get them to hold still.

  11. Juile, I will just give a short note on my opinion on the situation, only as I
    observe from the ground level, firstly, conservartism, is also failing badly,
    everything you look at in deficte, the buget post mortum 1.3 trillion in debt,
    and yet we still have strikers outside parliament today, state workers wanting
    even higher pay, you could give them all the gold in fort knox each as a yearly salary, it would still never be enough, the greedy state sector have
    put the economy on a course for “Self Destruct”, all you hear from them is
    we must have free child care £60.00 per day minium, we must have this we
    must have that, free pensions, this is not socialisim in any context, The New
    Labour government who initiated all these policies did in fact cause the
    problem. they were not socialists in any sense of the word, niether were the
    greedy unions, many who are millionaires, they were all a long way, away,
    from socialism in any context of the word.
    Of course, when the conservatives came to power they made many false promises, but in reality they are spending far more than the Labour goverment were when they left office, the buget projections are demented, there is simply no money to pay for it, I now live in a county, were people injured with broken bones are waiting three hours for an ambulance, these institutions are insane especially that DVLA mad house, they are already in the red, and they just keep brining in rediculous law after rediculous law, it seems we now have two court systems now, one the local courts and the DVLA who as far as I can see are issuing a second second sentence, they are bonkers, taking peoples licences and then spending thousands in court costs and appeals only to return them as they were taken illegally. I hope this will give you some idear at least. Sorry about spacing my tab setting just went haywire again!

  12. of course, julie, as with the recent scandal, with the NHS and other deparments, recent FOI disclosures, we have people working in highly complex areas of state office, they do not possess a qualification in any academic subject whatsoever, yet alone post graduate subjects, they are earning £40.000 a year on the backs of these infantile NVQ’s, the education system is up the creek, multi box, tick exams, housing in absolute crisis, these new laws, banning people from jobs with a minor blemish on the CRC certifiactes are effectively putting the wrong people in the wrong jobs, take a professional driver, 20 years experience, he problably won’t get the job if he has a CRC, they take on someone who can’t speak english and is guaranteed to crash the vehicle within a few months that’s how mad it is, they were recruiting staff at a hopital, the criteron for job selection was based on endorsements on licences, rather that apitude and ability to perform the task. The country has gone crazy! The buget today must at least tell you something of the situation.

  13. Julie near Chicago

    I know, Karl, you folks have it worse there than we do here. But wait, we’re running hard and no doubt will catch up with you soon! :(

    But aside from the immorality of ENFORCED socialism (as opposed to private communes or socialistic groups), there’s the historical fact that the socialism always breaks down economically sooner or later. And it doesn’t make the people “better off” in any meaningful way that I can see. And before anybody brings up Sweden, I’ve read somewhere lately that there’s a lot of non-socialistic crony-ersatz-”capitalism” that goes on in Sweden behind the scenes. And that even Sweden is easing away from the socialistic system.

    Oh–as far as conservatives and libertarians are concerned–my only point there was that both are groups most of whose members have a major point of agreement, and that the two groups are also alike in having no reasonably coherent fundamental philosophy to which they all subscribe.

  14. Julie near Chicago

    By the way–

    “But surely the NAP is a point of agreement for all libertarians. I mean, that IS the founding principle, no?”

    No. Not if you believe the social-utility “libertarians” really ARE libertarians. Because “social utility” ( and eminent domain doctrines) both bring force or the threat of it to bear on individuals, in the name of “the system of roads” or some such thing, without which we certainly wouldn’t be able to get from A to B at all, ever. And the less said about Eminent Domain, the better, at least if we ever manage to throw it overboard.

    I love Milton Friedman as a person, I really do, and Prof. Epstein too; I think both are good people, and strive hard for intellectual honesty. And they’re both very, very bright. And they both WANT liberty and WANT to be libertarians…but…that non-initiation-of-force thing really is the worm in the woodpile. (Along with a lack of imagination. “But who will take care of the roads?” — “But who will see to the hospitals?” Even eight years ago I thought the second question was an implicit refutation of the argument implied by the first. *Sigh*….that was then….)

    Still, they’re fellow-travellers in many respects, and have probably drawn more people into the meadows of libertarianism than anybody else except for Ayn Rand.

  15. Julie, you make fair comment, but I have lived under conservative governments and socialist governments, many of my deceased family owned businesses, they never had it so good under the old style socialist governments, just look at the business rates now, the red tape, the laws, business can bearly function it’s suffocated under various laws, banning ladders, banning this and banning that, it’s like laws are being made in some crazy mental asylum, specifically to destroy small business. Many people in business are now unable to get a living wage, that’s the reality of the situation, I think it’s all going to end up one way, “Meltdown” there are empty shops everywhere, simply being replaced by charity shops, what does that tell you.I was gifted with a good photograpic memory, 2006,New Labour changes to Mental Health Laws, powers of detention, there are about 600 people in the country who need to be detained, that figure has now risen to over 50,000 a year with a buget projection of over 14.5 billion a year, already in the red, while this is going on we have people wating three hours for an abulance in freezing conditions, If that not bad enough the local economy is loosing millions in revenue as no one can work outside due to the bad whether conditions, many people have lost months of income as a result of this, I not stupid about the USA my mother lived there, she was a citizen in the 50′s when she married into the air force, it was better then than now, but like you say going down hill fast.

  16. I have being doing a little research on Sweeden as far as I can see they have
    little option, immigration has taken it’s toll, thier buget is in trouble as well, I
    used to think sweeden was an advanced country in the 70′s when I used to
    read about it, I didn’t like the look of things on You Tube, seems many countries are goinf the same way!

  17. Interestingly, julie, they having a saying for it here now, people who make waves and get in the way get “Nutted Off”!

  18. Someone can be a untilitarian without believing in eminant domain.

    A utilitarian need not believe that government should do lots of stuff, the older (he was more free market in his youth) J. Bentham (13 departments of state and so on) believed the state should do lots of stuff (as did his follower Edwin Chadwick – who even engaged in slanting reports to try and justify more statism), but a utilitarian does NOT have to be like that.

    Mises (at times – although it was a philosophy that made a poor fit with some other aspects of his beliefs) said he was a utiltarian and so did Henry Haziltt – and they were not like that.

    And even if one believes that government should do lots of stuff there is no reason why it should not pay the market price for land for its projects – no need to take the land by FORCE. Although, with a state project, the money for the land buying is from the taxypayer – so it is wrong even if landowners sell willingly.

    Indeed even if people insist on not accepting the money – one can (even with a road or a railline) just build ROUND them.. For example when the landowners in the town of Stamford did not want to sell land to the railway company they mangaged to prevent Parliament FORCEING them to sell – that did not mean there was no East Coast Mainline (it just took a different route).

    There really is no need for E.D. – there really is not (at least not in peace time – war is a another matter).

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  20. Pingback: Director’s Bulletin, 26th May 2013 | The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG

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