Initial Thoughts On Libertarianism Today

by Natasha Petrova

Initial Thoughts On Libertarianism Today

Jacob Huebert has penned a very informative introductory text to libertarian philosophy called Libertarianism Today. It was a pleasure to read, but this left-libertarian market anarchist has some qualms to raise. A detailed review is in the works, so this will be a brief exploration. Quotations from the book will be provided for the reader’s edification. The reader is encouraged to read the whole book.

On pg.39; Jacob states:

Some libertarians argue that libertarianism is not just about property rights and the non-aggression principle, but requires promotion of certain liberal social values.

This left-libertarian market anarchist supports a thick approach to libertarianism. One that emphaizies a broad conception of liberty requiring the promotion of liberal cultural values. The dialectical libertarian model of Chris Matthew Sciabarra serves as an inspiration for this too. The book never mentions thick and dialectical libertarianism. It briefly mentions left-libertarianism, but the coverage is not too extensive. In fairness to the author; the book is intended as an introductory text and broad overview. Not a comprehensive encyclopedia of libertarian thought.

These thinker’s liberal social views may or may not have merit, but they are not part of libertarianism per se. Again, libertarianism itself is compatible with both liberal and conservative social values.

Is it really? Insofar as conservative social values tend to promote collectivist conformity, deference to traditional or established authority, or self-sacrificial dutifulness, there is a conflict with the individualistic orientation of libertarianism. Implicit in the libertarian conception of individual rights and non-aggression is a liberal sensibility. A society with the conservative social values mentioned above is less likely to sustain it.

On pg.39 to 40; Huebert goes on to say:

To suggest otherwise is an ideological mistake and probably also a strategic mistake. It redefines libertarianism to mean something it has never meant to most modern libertarians, and it narrows the audience for libertarianism to only those people who share this liberal worldview. For many people, the beauty of libertarianism is that it lets everyone pursue their values, as long as they do not feel a need to force their views on the rest of the world.

Redefinition of a paradigm or fundamental change is sometimes necessary to make ideological progress. The subjective comfort of most modern libertarians matters less than pinning down a proper conception of liberty. An abandonment of this liberal worldview could have serious consequences for marginalized populations that run afoul of traditional social norms. It’s also not true that only those with a liberal worldview will then be enticed by libertartarianism. Open minded conservatives could still find a reason to jump on board.

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2 responses to “Initial Thoughts On Libertarianism Today

  1. Libertarianism (like Classical Liberalism) is “hands off” – the bodies and goods of others. And if these others have a million times more stuff that you (or are vastly better looking – remember Hartley’s novel “Facial Justice”) that gives a person no justification what-so-ever for stealing their stuff or attacking them.

    As for conservative and liberal social values.

    Clearly forbidding people to “parade disapproval” (shun) others whose conduct they do not approve of (as J.S. Mills seems to want to forbid it – in an off hand comment in “On Liberty”) is NOT compatible with libertarianism.

    For example, there is no “right to a job” – if I do not wish to employ someone who has left his wife and children to suffer (so that he can chase other women down-the-pub) I am NOT violating his rights – as he has no right to be employed by me (if I wish to have nothing to do with me).

    Ditto if he was self employed running a shop – if I do not like the man, and prefer to pay higher prices (or walk further) to shop elsewhere I am NOT aggressing against him.

    I may be “harming” the person by no longer employing them or by not being a customer – but I am not aggressing against them (that is why the non aggression principle of Common Law, is a better guide than a harm principle).

    Do liberal social values lead to a better society than conservative ones – or do conservative social values lead to a better society?

    As long as social values do not involve FORCE this does not concern libertarianism-as-such.

    For example, it is no concern of libertarianism-as-such if many people in San Francisco choose to “celebrate” homosexual acts. It only becomes anti libertarian if force is threatened to make someone employ a homosexual (who does not wish to do so) or to serve them as a customer (when they do not wish to trade with them) – ditto any other group covered by “anti discrimination laws” (a radically anti libertarian concept – as to “discriminate” means to CHOOSE and libertarianism is about freedom of choice, and rejects such concepts as “common carriers” and “public accommodations”).

    Also it is no concern of libertarianism-as-such if conservative minded Mormons give one tenth of their income to their church (which they do). It only becomes a matter for libertarianism should Mormons choose to use (or threaten) force to MAKE people hand over a tenth of their income to their church (people who do not want to be a member of it).

    As for the “freedom” of Herbert Marcuse – the “freedom” to supported (by force) by others when one has “dropped out”, and the “freedom” to have qualifications and positions one has not earned…….

    This is not freedom (not liberty) at all – in fact it is expressly designed to undermine the foundations of liberty (family and so on – the foundations of civil society) what Frankfurt School (“Critical Theory”) Marxists call “capitalist” society.

    This did not start with the Marxists.

    As far back as Rousseau (and before) the foundations of civil society (of liberty) were attacked in the name of “freedom”.

    But this leftist “freedom” is a lie – it is, in fact, totalitarianism. Or rather a way of getting rid of traditional society in order to clear the way for tyranny.

  2. Julie near Chicago

    “Insofar as conservative social values tend to promote collectivist conformity, deference to traditional or established authority, or self-sacrificial dutifulness, there is a conflict with the individualistic orientation of libertarianism.”

    Let me just change one word in this quote. Let’s see if we think it is still true, shall we?

    “Insofar as liberals’ ([n the modern American sense] social values tend to promote collectivist conformity*, deference to traditional or established authority**, or self-sacrificial dutifulness***, there is a conflict with the individualistic orientation of libertarianism.”

    *E.g., so-called PC, which is the enforcement of adherence to liberals’ prescribed and proscribed word-usage.

    **E.g., “No rebellion against our dictates will be tolerated. And if you don’t believe use, remember–we can seize your property or throw you in the clink to make our point to everybody else.” For instance, the EPA, the IRS, the Creature’s Executive Orders…. (Note that this is the only way to make “Social Justice,” so-called, stick.)

    ***Self-sacrifice is the very hallmark of Social Justice, and we’re sure you want to be a Good Person. But don’t worry, if you can’t bring yourself to it, we’ll help you along as in above: **.