A visual summary of Kinsella’s “Who is a Libertarian?”


This is a visual summary of Stephan Kinsella’s essay “Who is a Libertarian?” by Marco de Wit.

de Wit adds a quotation from Hoppe, “Here the praxeological proof of libertarianism has the advantage of offering a completely value-free justification of private property. It remains entirely in the realm of is-statements, and nowhere tries to derive an ought from an is. The structure of the argument is this: (a) justification is propositional justification—a priori true is-statement; (b) argumentation presupposes property in one’s body and the homesteading principle—a priori true is- statement; and (c) then, no deviation from this ethic can be argumentatively justified—a priori true is-statement.” [Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Economics and Ethics of Private Property, p. 208]

de Wit adds: “To avoid any possible misunderstandings I must note that Kinsella stops at propertarian libertarianism. He does not use it as a foudation for paleolibertarianism. For example, he opposes government enforced limited immigration.”
de Wit Kinsella
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7 responses to “A visual summary of Kinsella’s “Who is a Libertarian?”

  1. More diagrams?

    A politial libertarian is someone who accepts the tradtional principle of justice (i.e., the nonaggression principle) of to-each-their-own. Their body and goods are their own – no robbing, rapeing, and murdering.

    The political enemy of the libertarian is someone who rejects the non aggression principle (to-each-their-own, the traditional view of justice, or right) and supports “social justice” (i.e. to-each-what-the-rulers-believe-they-should-have) instead.

  2. What’s the problem with diagrams? Adults profit from them.

    BTW your definition is incomplete and thus false. Most people accept those Ethics for the personal or micro sphere. A libertarian is someone who applies them to agency (the macro, so to speak, sphere).

  3. “Social Justice” is about “justice” (legal right – when it is justified to use force) not something vague about general ethics.

    Giving stuff to others is nice (the virture of benevolence – charity, as in “faith, hope and charity”), but that is nothing to do with “justice” i.e. a LEGAL RIGHT to stuff. A libertarian may be charitable or them may not be charitable – it has got nothing to do with whether they are a libertarian or not.

    As I said – a libertarian is someone who believes in the traditional principle of justice ( i.e. to-each-their-own), the political enemy of the libertarian is someone who follows “Social Justice” (i.e. to-each-what-the-rulers-think-they-should-have seeing all income and wealth as a pie to be “distributed” according to the “fairness” of the rulers).

    The technical word for someone who claims that libertarianism and Social Justice are compatible is LIAR.

    However, none of the people in the above post pretend that libertarianism is compatible with Social Justice (they do NOT lie about this).

  4. Rod Long’s definition of ‘libertarian’ is superior in description of use, and in political utility: anyone and any idea that wants to reduce the size and scope of the state and expand individual liberty.

    That is, in practice, how the term is used. The terms “Rothbardian” or “anarcho capitalist” certainly narrow the definition adequately, so why we must cling to a particular term with religious fervor makes little sense – other than as an emotional claim on the legitimacy provided by the popularity of the term. (I am fairly sure that would be an act of involuntary appropriation, yes? :)

    But ‘libertarian’ has evolved in daily use to refer to broader application – in effect it’s been appropriated by conservatives, classical liberals and various libertarian factions, in the same way that Austrian Economics has been appropriated by the anarcho capitalist movement. (And that is why economists now distance themselves from that term.) We cannot both complain about the wide appropriation of the term ‘libertarian’ and appropriate ‘Austrian Economics’ as our own. It is a contradiction.

    (I had to register the domain ‘propertarian’ before it was further abused – just to distance my work from Rothbardian libertarianism.)

    Regarding the general argumentative structure in the diagram it’s accurate. However, Rothbard’s and Hoppe’s generations needed to deal with rational arguments alone because they lacked empirical evidence, and because the Marxists had created an argumentative structure that required equal refutation.

    Our generation (my generation) can rely on scientific and empirical arguments because we now have the data. And scientific and empirical arguments are superior to rational arguments alone both in theory and in practice. This is the difference between

    I don’t really want to criticize the master, but any framework that does not address the entire scope of human ethics, or give the causal reason for that scope can in fact DEFINE private property, and illustrate the NECESSITY of private property in a division of knowledge and labor. But that narrow framework in the absence of a complete definition of ethics, cannot constrain ALL property to the category of private property in a division of knowledge and labor. Property itself must exist as a commons (a norm) in order for any anarchic model to function – so commons must exist. Furthermore, to make a claim as praxeologically logical, even if not necessary, any anarchic model must bear the empirical test of proving that the benefit of seizing opportunities from market action alone are greater than a mixture of violence, theft, fraud, omission, free riding, rent-seeking, privatization, political appropriation and war. And that is difficult enough to pass the test of reasonableness, without even resorting to the obvious empirical evidence to the contrary.

    Praxeology does not accomodate opportunity costs, nor does Rothbard’s ethics – both ignore them. Yet, the existence of property requires absorbing opportunity costs in vast numbers, in the hope of future returns. And while the institution of private (several) property may in fact be necessary for human cooperation it is not sufficient for human cooperation – if only because the opportunity cost of cooperating or not cooperating via organization outside of market constraints is both high and unequally distributed. That is before resorting to the obvious fact that while we live in nuclear families we have uniform preferences for property definitions, because we have uniform reproductive interests -even across classes. But once we undermine the nuclear family, we no longer have uniform reproductive interests even as genders, and certainly not as classes. We are too unevenly distributed for that. As such our political preferences wil (and do) reflect our reproductive strategies. And that evidence continues to amass in all voting records in all nations that keep them.

    The problem with our rhetoric, is that its complexity largely exceeds the ability of our sentimental adherents to make use of it. Otherwise such a diagram, and the arguments it depends upon, would not be necessary.

    The counter argument (and the one I propose) is that our arguments are overly complex because they are insufficient. That is different from being WRONG or false. But it does mean that they are insufficient.

    Something must explain why we fail to expand our influence. The empirical evidence is that we have failed. Either we failed because our argument is insufficient or because it is wrong. Given the veracity of our arguments for those of us who understand them, it is unlikely that they are wrong. And I am certain that they are insufficient. And that insufficiency is the reason for their complexity.

    The problem is not articulating libertarianism in it’s different arguments more clearly. It is that they are unclear because they are incomplete. They are incomplete because we tried to solve the problem of PRIVATE property as an ethical model given our homogenous reproductive strategies, rather that PROPERTY as an ethical model given our different reproductive strategies.

    Cheers.
    Curt Doolittle
    Kiev.

  5. That was a long comment – I have no problem with long comments (I often write themselves).

    However, I do not see the words “libertarianism is the support for the traditional principle of justice, to-each-their-own” in this comment, and these are the words that matter in this context.

    Whether or not to-each-their-own is economically a good thing or a bad thing is not the point at issue (that is a debate for economics) – the point of importance is that a libertarian has to believe in to-each-their-own (or they are not a libertarian).

    As for “the state” – private criminals can also violate property rights (not just the state).

    The libertarian is the enemy of the supporter of “Social Justice” (income and wealth as a sort of pie for “distribution” according to some doctrine of “fairness”) – whether that Social Justice person is from the state or the Mafia.

    After all Saul Alinsky did not learn his tactics from Gramsci or from the Frankfurt School people (these writings were not available in English in the 1930s) he leant his tactics (and a lot of the “fairness” justifications for those tactics) from the Chicago Mob (Frank Nitti and co).

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