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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-06-30 02:05am
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Purple wrote:
Archaic` wrote:
From my perspective on libertarianism however, I see governments as having certain moral responsibilities in terms of healthcare, education and other fields, to provide a certain base threshold of care and support for its citizens. Not a "minimum base threshold", but a high quality gold standard. I also feel that the government does have a social responsibility to protect the public from harm, which a smoking ban would fall under, though which things like blue laws and censorship largely would not (excepting cases only where actual harm takes place in the production of the materials, such as bans against child porn and snuff films).

You sound about like me. And in European terms that would make you a socialist.
In essence, the idea being that the government should not only not stomp on peoples freedoms but should at the same time also be obliged to supply the necessities for people to actually practice and enjoy said freedoms in the first place. The idea being that education, health care and things like that are not a luxury to be worked for but an essential right that should be guaranteed to you as a base from which to build on.

I have to admit, being described as a socialist feels pretty weird,. Partly because the ones I see labeling themselves as socialists here in Australia tend to be the left-wing anarcho-communist cranks, but mostly because I identify strongly with the Austrian school and the ideas of Friedrich von Hayek (who I feel is often misquoted by the far right, who seem to ignore his view that the government must intervene to perform tasks which free markets were not suited to, or were incapable of).



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-06-30 03:46am
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Nah, you're not a socialist. I'd say you were more of a social democrat (social democracy here describing the system they have in Sweden and Norway: quite a lot of personal freedom and quite a lot of government support).



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-06-30 01:47pm
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Archaic` wrote:
I've always considered myself a "small-l" libertarian, though by the definitions presented in Akhlut's post above I probably wouldn't even be considered a libertarian at all. There's certainly a huge breadth of meaning attached to that term, with US meanings tending far far to the right wing compared to international perspectives.


Akhlut wrote:
Small-L libertarianism, in the US, at least, is essentially the idea of paring back the government to the minimum needed to ensure the good functioning of society.


:P

As for your own, personal politics: I have no clue what the political labels are in Australia, so I'm not going to apply any label to you.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-06-30 05:31pm
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One also has to distinguish between educated libertarians, like some (most?) professors of economics, and reactionary libertarians, like Ron Paul supporters. For example, the gold standard: it is something that a Ron Paul supporter would back, but most (libertarian) economists wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, for reasons Friedman laid out in Capitalism and Freedom.

Another example: moral justification for libertarianism. An educated libertarian might argue that most markets naturally self-equilibrate, that equilibrium generally directs resources to where they're most valued, and when governments intervene, they distort incentives, enable rent-seeking, and generally redirect resources to less efficient uses. (He'd also argue that externalities and other market failures occur less often and are more transient than is frequently believed.) An uneducated libertarian (Ron Paul supporter) might argue that it's wrong to single out some people who are successful, take what they own, and give it to people who are less successful.

(A more sophisticated argument, perhaps made by an educated libertarian, would attempt to undermine utilitarianism by pointing out the strong moral distinction between harm caused by passive nonintervention and harm caused by active intervention.)

An educated libertarian is also much more likely to be cosmopolitan, not nationalist. Free trade? Outsourcing? All great! --- the gains to Mexican workers, e.g., are far greater than the losses to American workers. It might be difficult to get a lower-class Ron Paul-supporting, flag-waving factory worker behind that proposition.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 11:14am
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I'd like to note on Surlethe's post that the Chicago School, which consisted of highly educated economists, were ardently reactionary and supportive of dictatorships so as long as they helped them implement laissez-faire policies. Basically they loved when whole nations turned into giant playgrounds for their economic reforms (while they themselves of course never resided in these dictatorial nations, preferring the safety of U.S. borders).

Ron Paul supporters, on the other hand, might be a bit wary of such ideas. I'm not sure who is more dangerous - the uneducated prole who just hates "DA GUVMINT" or the educated professor of economics who, while snoring at the prole's lackluster understanding of his perfect theory, is willing to support any evil so as long as it helps him to enforce his economic model on others.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 12:02pm
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Formless wrote:
Kingmaker wrote:
SDN is a pretty terrible place to ask this question.

Why?


Because you'll get a reasonably accurate answer - that it is, for the most part, horrible.

Surlethe wrote:
One also has to distinguish between educated libertarians, like some (most?) professors of economics,


I'm not aware of many Austrian professors. Most of the ones I've met are pretty much Keynesians.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 12:03pm
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(@ Stas) I think that's a strawman of their position. Do you have any support for this assertion from Friedman's own writing, or the writings of other prominent economists of the Chicago School?



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 12:07pm
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Xeriar wrote:
I'm not aware of many Austrian professors. Most of the ones I've met are pretty much Keynesians.

My experience was, even the Keynesians are more libertarian on average than the population. For an illustration, take Greg Mankiw, a noted neo-Keynesian, who served on the CEA for Bush II. Or that upwards of 95% of economists favor unilateral abolition of trade and capital flow restrictions --- a number that has to include most Keynesians.

That was just my experience, though.



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

Daily Nugget of Wisdom from Goldman Sachs:
"I say 'keep the change' purely for my own convenience."

"A space shuttle on the back of an aircraft carrier in New York City is perhaps the most American thing you could have without the help of a deep fryer. I'm surprised anyone in the US opposes it." - Gandalf

WARNING: May become overexcited by mathematics or monetary policy.

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 01:22pm
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Surlethe wrote:
(@ Stas) I think that's a strawman of their position. Do you have any support for this assertion from Friedman's own writing, or the writings of other prominent economists of the Chicago School?

Friedman wrote:
Hong Kong was governed by officials of the British Colonial Office, not by selfchosen representatives. In the past couple of years, in trying to persuade the world that Britain has not done a dastardly deed in turning Hong Kong over to the communists, the British administration has tried to institute a legislative council and to give some evidence of political representation. However, in general, over the whole of that period, there has been essentially no direct political representa tion.

That brings out an enormous paradox, the one that as I said caused me to rethink the relationship among different kinds of freedom. The British colonies that were given their political freedom after World War II have for the most part destroyed the other freedoms. Similarly, at the very time officials of the British Colonial Office were imposing economic freedom on Hong Kong, at home in Britain a socialist government was imposing socialism on Britain. Perhaps they sent the backward people out to Hong Kong to get rid of them. It shows how complex the relationship is between economic freedom and political freedom, and human freedom and political freedom. Indeed, it suggests that while economic freedom facilitates political freedom, political freedom, once established, has a tendency to destroy economic freedom.

http://www.cbe.csueastbay.edu/~sbesc/frlect.html
This lecture pretty much suggest that political freedom is adverse to Friedmanite economic freedom (no mark-ups - I genuinely believe that classic bourgeois and nowadays, neoliberal concept of economic freedom should be quite correctly called economic freedom and nothing else).

As to why Friedman would defend the Chilean miracle, whose lackluster colors don't shine that brightly after decades passed and statistics have shown Chile wasn't having top notch growth in Latin America, and many components of the "miracle" are rather questionable... That's easy. He was Pinochet's personal advisor:
http://wwww.naomiklein.org/files/resour ... etters.pdf

Undeniably, Friedman was quite happy about dictatorial imposition of capitalism, in fact not just capitalism par se (Chile wasn't fully socialist at all) - but an extreme laissez-faire regime. His "I don't like Pinochet, but it's good the dictator did what I told him" and "political freedom tends to destroy economic freedom" pretty much espose his autocratic leanings in bright daylight.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 02:09pm
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Xeriar wrote:
Formless wrote:
Kingmaker wrote:
SDN is a pretty terrible place to ask this question.

Why?


Because you'll get a reasonably accurate answer - that it is, for the most part, horrible.

Oh, I suspect as much. But rather than ask sarcastic questions like "are we just not using enough vaguely positive buzzwords for you?" I'm in a mood to let Kingmaker write his own epitaph. :P



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 02:36pm
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Formless, I have to ask you a hypothetical question.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that "libertarianism" in some general sense was less bad than the N&P community here made it out to be. Or that not all forms of it were equally bad, or something along those lines.

Suppose there was some logical and relevant argument justifying this.

Would the N&P community be likely to notice, or likely to dismiss the argument out of hand? Looking at past threads on the subject, I really have to wonder. It seems to me that this is a bad place to get a complete picture of what libertarianism is, simply because the prevailing attitude is so hostile to it that anything good which might be said about it isn't likely to get a good hearing here.

Let's face it; N&P does have problems with the tendency to create an interlocking consensus that turns the place into an echo chamber. One can congratulate oneself all one likes on the echoes being right, and surely to some extent they are. But one must be able to ask:

"If I was wrong, would I ever notice?"


So yes, anyone who really wants to know what libertarianism is would be well advised to get at least one more cross-check, rather than relying entirely on the opinions of people who hate it and reside in an intellectual space which tends to socially reward people for expressing hatred of it.

Not because "oh, it's not like that you're so mean waaaah!" or whatever. Just because it's a bad idea to get all your information on something from people who hate it and egg each other on into denouncing it in ever more vigorous terms. Even if they're right, it's good to have that cross-check.

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 02:42pm
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Quote:
I'm in a mood to let Kingmaker write his own epitaph.

How about:
He refused to argue politics with strangers on the Internet

Seriously, it's just a stupid one liner making fun of SDN's inbred political climate. I don't care if you make fun of libertarianism. Most of them need it. The only reason libertarianism is as popular as it is in the US is because it makes a convenient intellectual cover for the "I hate taxes but like free stuff" crowd. Without them Ron Paul would be an afterthought and the most prominent libertarians would be people like the assorted Friedmans i.e. very, very odd.

edit: also, what Simon_Jester said.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 02:50pm
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Who asked you, Simon? Serious question. I don't care whether or not you can give an answer, because frankly I'm tired of having the well poisoned by libertopian assholes who pre-emptively state that we're a biased bunch of fucks not just here in N&P but in SLAM and OT as well. At some point, you have to wonder who really has the closed minded bias here.

Also he didn't merely say "don't take our word for it", Kingmaker outright stated that you shouldn't ask us at all. So really, do me a favor; butt out and let Kingmaker write his own epitaph.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 02:53pm
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Kingmaker wrote:
Quote:
I'm in a mood to let Kingmaker write his own epitaph.

How about:
He refused to argue politics with strangers on the Internet

Seriously, it's just a stupid one liner making fun of SDN's inbred political climate. I don't care if you make fun of libertarianism. Most of them need it. The only reason libertarianism is as popular as it is in the US is because it makes a convenient intellectual cover for the "I hate taxes but like free stuff" crowd. Without them Ron Paul would be an afterthought and the most prominent libertarians would be people like the assorted Friedmans i.e. very, very odd.

edit: also, what Simon_Jester said.

Oh, okay, so you freely say it was a one liner. I don't think that's something to be proud of, but whatever.



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"Still, I would love to see human beings, and their constituent organ systems, trivialized and commercialized to the same extent as damn iPods and other crappy consumer products. It would be absolutely horrific, yet so wonderful." — Shroom Man 777
"To Err is Human; to Arrr is Pirate." — Skallagrim
“I would suggest "Schmuckulating", which is what Futurists do and, by extension, what they are." — Commenter "Rayneau"

The Magic Eight Ball Conspiracy.

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:01pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that "libertarianism" in some general sense was less bad than the N&P community here made it out to be. Or that not all forms of it were equally bad, or something along those lines.

Suppose there was some logical and relevant argument justifying this.

Would the N&P community be likely to notice, or likely to dismiss the argument out of hand?

If someone was actually able to make a "logical and relevant argument" then most definately it would be noticed. However if the greatest thinkers of the proto-libertarians couldn't, then I don't see what you or anyone else could present that would change the perception of libertanianism. Especially the euro POV. Just like with anarchism, communism, fascism and most politics based on religion.

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:17pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Formless, I have to ask you a hypothetical question.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that "libertarianism" in some general sense was less bad than the N&P community here made it out to be. Or that not all forms of it were equally bad, or something along those lines.

Suppose there was some logical and relevant argument justifying this.

Would the N&P community be likely to notice, or likely to dismiss the argument out of hand? Looking at past threads on the subject, I really have to wonder. It seems to me that this is a bad place to get a complete picture of what libertarianism is, simply because the prevailing attitude is so hostile to it that anything good which might be said about it isn't likely to get a good hearing here.


Getting past the groupthink here can certainly be a hurdle, especially when Wong himself instigates it, but it's not impossible. Usually once someone presents a strong argument they can ensure that it gets referred to in future discussions on the matter, and that it has to be addressed in order for the other position to move forward.

But economic libertarians haven't presented any such thing. They don't seriously address problems of e.g. political corruption and the rise of the rentier class, and how to prevent said class from instituting a government more suited to its whims once they 'own' everything.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:26pm
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Surlethe wrote:
My experience was, even the Keynesians are more libertarian on average than the population. For an illustration, take Greg Mankiw, a noted neo-Keynesian, who served on the CEA for Bush II. Or that upwards of 95% of economists favor unilateral abolition of trade and capital flow restrictions --- a number that has to include most Keynesians.

That was just my experience, though.


They support a number of policies that are shared by libertarians, this does not make them libertarians. It's not like the whole of libertarian thought is rooted in rotten, useless ideas. Over-regulation can be bad. The minimum wage is not necessarily the best way to handle poverty. Protectionism is not a net boon for society. Government is not the answer to all problems. Acknowledging these things does not make you a libertarian.

Ask them about universal health care, instead, and you'll get a different response from that of the typical libertarian, though I know libertarians who are coming around to the benefits of universal health care.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:30pm
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My opinion is that the broad category of political philosophies that call themselves "libertarian" contain a lot of garbage; I don't expect them to be 100% full of garbage because few things ever are, but that's beside the point.

As a rule, though, I think that it's a bad idea to get all your ideas about anything from one place. Especially from a place where the intellectual tone is dominated by people who hate the thing. There are exceptions to that rule, but they're really only to be found in the extreme limiting case.. And I don't have a lot of faith in the ability of people who have talked each other into hating something to know whether the thing they hate is one of the exceptions.

Even if they're right, there's ontological well-poisoning going on. You don't want to merely settle for getting your facts from people who are right. You want to get them from people who would notice quickly if they stopped being right.

In this case, there's a strong tendency here to identify "libertarian" with "American anarcho-capitalism," as N&P politics tends to be America-centric even though so many of the prominent speakers in it are talking about the American system from outside.

Now, that makes sense in the original context of SM93's question- since he knows nothing about politics, and is apparently in the US, odds are whatever libertarians he's met and listened to were anarcho-corporatists. Which means they're reasonably subject to the critiques of anarcho-corporatism we normally see here. Certainly Ron Paul is.

But if we're actually interested in "what is 'libertarianism,'" the answer has to involve more than a recital of the standard problems of anarcho-capitalism. Just as an answer to "what is 'communism'" has to involve more than a recital of the crimes of Stalin.

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:36pm
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There are more than a few reasons to ask "why" that you need to understand, Simon. Its not just an invitation to clarify, though it certainly is. Its also a way of getting through the groupthink and get the silent libertarians among us to demonstrate that we aren't accurately describing their beliefs; or alternatively to fail on that account and demonstrate that our bias is wholly rational. And yes, I do think the latter is more likely: I admit my bais based on experience *, but that doesn't mean I'm unfair. Looking through this thread I count multiple people who state they have moderate libertarian tendencies or who think that it at least looks good on paper. That's hardly a hostile environment to dialogue. So if it is in fact a perception of hostility that is keeping the libertarians among us silent, that's as bad for dialogue as groupthink on our part. No?

This is why I ask that you refrain from playing devil's advocate: you aren't one of the people being asked to come out and show these things because to my knowledge at least you aren't a libertarian. Regardless of your opinion of the tone around here, I'm trying to change the tone rather than point it out.

* Point of fact, I actually know someone in real life who has social libertarian tendencies who was once on the Ron Paul mailing list for a time. Then he got banned from their community and labeled a troll. Why? He asked the wrong question (it should be noted that his economics recognizes Marxist criticisms of capitalism as valid). Now, this thread appears to indicate that Ron Paul fans aren't the most intelligent bunch, but it does tell me that bias works both ways.

Edit: added clarification



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"Still, I would love to see human beings, and their constituent organ systems, trivialized and commercialized to the same extent as damn iPods and other crappy consumer products. It would be absolutely horrific, yet so wonderful." — Shroom Man 777
"To Err is Human; to Arrr is Pirate." — Skallagrim
“I would suggest "Schmuckulating", which is what Futurists do and, by extension, what they are." — Commenter "Rayneau"

The Magic Eight Ball Conspiracy.


Last edited by Formless on 2011-07-01 03:45pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:44pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Would the N&P community be likely to notice, or likely to dismiss the argument out of hand? Looking at past threads on the subject, I really have to wonder. It seems to me that this is a bad place to get a complete picture of what libertarianism is, simply because the prevailing attitude is so hostile to it that anything good which might be said about it isn't likely to get a good hearing here.


Exactly. If you head over to say HPCA, various flavors of libertarian sentiment is the consensus and socialist thought and proposals are thoroughly and quite effectively ridiculed and/or heckled. It is an approximate political mirror image, although I must say rather more polite than SDN. Self-segregation of extremists into their own forums isn't really a loss as direct debate between them would be pointless anyway. However it's a shame that the extremes have made both places impractical for discussing centerist positions.

Regarding neoconservatives, the position of 'the place is going to be a dictatorship anyway, it might as well be one that allows economic development and tortures to death only a few thousand people, as opposed to a communist one that liquidates a double digit percentage of the population while impoverishing the rest', seems fairly reasonable to me. In most of these cases there were no good options.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 03:58pm
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Formless wrote:
There are more than a few reasons to ask "why" that you need to understand, Simon. Its not just an invitation to clarify, though it certainly is. Its also a way of getting through the groupthink and get the silent libertarians among us to demonstrate that we aren't accurately describing their beliefs; or alternatively to fail on that account and demonstrate that our bias is wholly rational. And yes, I do think the latter is more likely: I admit my bais based on experience *, but that doesn't mean I'm unfair. Looking through this thread I count multiple people who state they have moderate libertarian tendencies or who think that it at least looks good on paper. That's hardly a hostile environment to dialogue. So if it is in fact a perception of hostility that is keeping the libertarians among us silent, that's as bad for dialogue as groupthink on our part. No?
This thread has been kept safe for "you're not accurately describing the belief system" in part by deliberate effort, which is part of my point- it takes deliberate effort to do that in N&P, because the ratio of active N&P posters skews strongly in favor of people who dismiss libertarianism out of hand to the point where 'libertarian' becomes an insult independent of what the person in question is actually saying.

That doesn't stop some of the genuine caricature-libertarians from showing up, mind... but the actions of caricature-libertarians on N&P often serve only to reinforce the bias and create an difficult position for anyone who calls themself a libertarian without being an utter shit.

Which is what concerns me- this is not an especially safe environment to explain what non-shit forms of libertarianism look like, any more than the Ron Paul mailing list is a good place to explain how social democracy works. Whether social democracy is better than libertarianism or not is beside the point; this is about group dynamics, not about the content of the arguments.

And I think that needs to be addressed on a more permanent basis than "look at this thread we're fine in here." Recall the recent outbreak of threads that all started with something vaguely related to US politics and turned into closely parallel Marx-based denunciations of the US (glares at Stas).

It's something we really need to watch.

Quote:
* Point of fact, I actually know someone in real life who has social libertarian tendencies who was once on the Ron Paul mailing list for a time. Then he got banned from their community and labeled a troll. Why? He asked the wrong question (it should be noted that his economics recognizes Marxist criticisms of capitalism as valid). Now, this thread appears to indicate that Ron Paul fans aren't the most intelligent bunch, but it does tell me that bias works both ways.
Of course it does- and the Ron Paul mailing list is not necessarily the best place to cross-check what 'libertarianism' is, because it's a self-caricaturizing extreme version of the social theory.

My point is that N&P's intellectual climate is such that the range of 'socially accepted' political views is actually rather narrow. We have seen so many threads devolve into the same relatively short list of people saying the same things in denunciation of the same things that it's really quite hard to deny this with a straight face, in my opinion.

Granted that everyone involved believes that the excluded views are wrong, and can make cogent arguments to justify that belief. It still lends itself to tunnel vision and sloppy thinking, because people are human and it's quite possible to let bias in favor of a self-consistent and basically sane set of beliefs blind you to details.

So yes, I still think this is a poor place to go for a sole source on libertarianism. Places which are thoroughly devoted to promoting a set of ideas they call 'libertarian' would be at least as bad, if not worse; every person should get at least one set of second opinions before deciding they know everything important about a subject.

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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 04:18pm
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Simon, you still aren't getting it. The question was not directed at you. We're talking cross purposes: I'm trying to use a communication strategy to bypass the group dynamics you are describing, but that strategy does not work when you jump in here to play the White Knight on the behalf of libertarians. It only works when the libertarians among us are given their chance to speak for themselves. Understand?

You can either complain ineffectually about the climate of this place, or you can adopt/encourage new communication strategies to change the climate bit by bit. I'm doing the latter, because point of fact you haven't said a single thing that's new to me or that I have a hard time understanding. Acting like someone's an idiot is about as insulting as just calling them an idiot, you know.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 05:01pm
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Stas Bush wrote:
http://www.cbe.csueastbay.edu/~sbesc/frlect.html
This lecture pretty much suggest that political freedom is adverse to Friedmanite economic freedom (no mark-ups - I genuinely believe that classic bourgeois and nowadays, neoliberal concept of economic freedom should be quite correctly called economic freedom and nothing else).

Exactly as Friedman labels it. So you think when he says

"[Hong Kong] shows how complex the relationship is between economic freedom and political freedom, and human freedom and political freedom. Indeed, it suggests that while economic freedom facilitates political freedom, political freedom, once established, has a tendency to destroy economic freedom,"

he's implicitly damning all the freedoms but economic freedom? Because it sounds to me like he's saying that the world is more complicated than he had originally thought and he's wrestling with that complexity. In fact, as I note below, he continues on to try to argue that economic freedom is necessary for the other freedoms, as he had in Capitalism and Freedom, while acknowledging what he had not in the book: that political freedom sometimes reins in economic freedom.

Quote:
As to why Friedman would defend the Chilean miracle, whose lackluster colors don't shine that brightly after decades passed and statistics have shown Chile wasn't having top notch growth in Latin America, and many components of the "miracle" are rather questionable... That's easy. He was Pinochet's personal advisor:
http://wwww.naomiklein.org/files/resour ... etters.pdf

One visit and subsequent letter a personal advisor makes?

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Undeniably, Friedman was quite happy about dictatorial imposition of capitalism, in fact not just capitalism par se (Chile wasn't fully socialist at all) - but an extreme laissez-faire regime. His "I don't like Pinochet, but it's good the dictator did what I told him" and "political freedom tends to destroy economic freedom" pretty much espose his autocratic leanings in bright daylight.

Are you sure we're reading the same speech?

"I have nothing good to say about the political regime that Pinochet imposed. It was a terrible political regime. The real miracle of Chile is not how well it has done economically; the real miracle of Chile is that a military junta was willing to go against its principles and support a freemarket regime designed by principled believers in a free market.

... [blah blah blah paragraph comparing Chile to China and Tiananmen blah blah blah] ...

"In Chile, the drive for political freedom, that was generated by economic freedom and the resulting economic success, ultimately resulted in a referendum that introduced political democracy. Now, at long last, Chile has all three things: political freedom, human freedom and economic freedom. Chile will continue to be an interesting experiment to watch to see whether it can keep all three or whether, now that it has political freedom,that political freedom will tend to be used to destroy or reduce economic freedom."

That doesn't sound like "autocratic leanings" to me. That sounds like Friedman using Chile to vindicate his belief that greater economic freedom will eventually lead to greater political and human freedom.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 05:21pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
In this case, there's a strong tendency here to identify "libertarian" with "American anarcho-capitalism," as N&P politics tends to be America-centric even though so many of the prominent speakers in it are talking about the American system from outside.


This is a big part of the problem in itself. In a larger historical context, "libertarian" can mean two different and largely contradictory positions.

The traditional libertarian point of view is socialist -- you can trace strains of this lineage back as far as Rousseau and even Machiavelli's writings on the republic, into Proudhon's mutualism and then the anarchist views of Bakunin and Kropotkin which developed roughly alongside Marx and Engels (though they took different paths). That tradition would fall under the "libertarian socialist" or left-libertarian school of thought.

What goes by capital-L Libertarian derives more from the American-influenced individualist schools of thought which are only superficially reminiscent of the European tradition. The modern strains of anarcho-capitalism (which the black flag anarchists and syndicalists don't like in name or principle) are far more influenced by neo-liberal economic views, the near-worship of Hayek and Friedman and Rothbard and such, and Ayn Rand's bizarre philosophy. This school better fits the mentality of American exceptionalism and individualism, so it's not hard to see why it's more intuitively popular even without a deeper nuance.

In modern-day discussions most people will have very little knowledge or experience of the former, and thus identify "libertarian" with the latter right-leaning tradition -- and almost a caricature of it at that. I don't agree with right-libertarian viewpoint, and as Chomsky said it would simply replace the state with a more brutal tyranny based on economic power instead of political, but as Surlethe suggests there is more to the ideology than the knee-jerk distortions normally used to argue the point.



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 Post subject: Re: Libertarianism - Good or bad? PostPosted: 2011-07-01 08:26pm
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Surlethe wrote:
That sounds like Friedman using Chile to vindicate his belief that greater economic freedom will eventually lead to greater political and human freedom.

This.

The idea that greater economic freedom leads to greater political and human freedom is, I feel, a central argument of any stripe of libertarianism (even the wackjob ones). The concept is basically that if a person is relatively poor, they're going to focus their efforts on essential needs first and foremost, namely shelter, food, and water. It's asserted that greater economic freedoms should lead to greater economic prosperity over the long term. The newly prosperous then, now that they no longer need to worry about their essential needs, can and will focus their efforts on acquiring their psychological needs, namely the demand for greater political and human rights. Within a few years, I guarantee you some libertarian somewhere will find a way to spin the "Arab Spring" into evidence of this principle in practice. I honestly doubt that it is, and I suspect it's got more to do with the taste of political and human freedoms they experienced thanks to the internet and online social networking, but I'm sure someone will make the claim.

Where I feel the economic freedoms => social freedoms argument falls down in its application by US Libertarians is that many don't seem to consider that the essential needs should really also include items like healthcare and education. Making the market "more free" alone simply isn't enough, there needs to be social programs in place to ensure a safety net, such that no one in the population should need to worry about those essential needs. What also doesn't really seem to be considered is that this is a generational thing, a long term change. Finally, it's a principal which can only realistically work in countries which already have a degree of social freedoms. In a state where the regime has entrenched military power and isn't afraid to use it to suppress its citizens, you are more likely to get a bloodbath than you are a velvet revolution.

ThomasP wrote:
What goes by capital-L Libertarian derives more from the American-influenced individualist schools of thought which are only superficially reminiscent of the European tradition. The modern strains of anarcho-capitalism (which the black flag anarchists and syndicalists don't like in name or principle) are far more influenced by neo-liberal economic views, the near-worship of Hayek and Friedman and Rothbard and such, and Ayn Rand's bizarre philosophy. This school better fits the mentality of American exceptionalism and individualism, so it's not hard to see why it's more intuitively popular even without a deeper nuance.

Though I can't speak for all of those, from my readings of Hayek I would suggest it's not near-worship of his writings, but more near-worship of strawman caricatures of his writings by people who have never read them, and whose only information on them are cherry-picked out of context quotes from extreme right wing pundits and shock-jocks.



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