Degrees of Liberty

Where on the liberty-statism continuum do you fall? Do you even know?

Many people are vaguely aware of the political systems that fall on the statist side, including totalitarianism, monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, theocracy, communism, socialism, fascism, crony-capitalism, mercantalism and, yes, even democracy. Yes, I know I mixed political systems and economic systems in that list of examples. That is because on the statist side of the continuum they are inextricably wound together, which is one of the major flaws of statism.

But what is on the liberty side of the continuum? Can you name a few examples? No?

The below excerpt from an article by Walter Block might help you start clarifying your thoughts and may aid understanding why a group of people who all claim to be in favor of liberty might have disagreements. In the nutshell, some liberty-minded people are more liberty-minded than others.

Here is the excerpt in blue text (bold added by me):

The way I see matters, libertarianism is based upon the Non Aggression Principle (NAP). This states, simply, that it is illicit for anyone, at any time, ever, to initiate (or even threaten) violence or invasion, against anyone else or his legitimately held property. (The latter is based for virgin territory on homesteading, and for everything else on licit title transfers, voluntary ones such as barter, purchase, rental, hiring, gifts, gambling, etc.) So who are the ballplayers in this field?

First come thelibertarian anarchists, or anarcho-capitalists, as they are the only ones to adhere to a philosophy strictly respecting the NAP. The name in my mind most associated with this perspective is Murray N. Rothbard. He was the most rigorous exponent of this view, in addition to being my friend and mentor. I certainly count myself in this category. In this view, all "legitimate" (see below) government functions, without exception, should be privatized. Since there is no unanimous support for the state (its taxes are not equivalent to club dues), it is an illicit organization. Its leaders are no better than gangsters. But with far better public relations.

Next comes limited government libertarianism, or support for very minimal government, or minarchism. I list this next since they are second in their respect for, and adherence to, the NAP. The most famous people associated with this view are Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Ludwig von Mises and Robert Nozick. Most if not all of them pay lip service to the NAP, but none of them carry through on this fully, and without exceptions, in my view. Here, the typical position is that government should have one and only one function: to protect the persons and legitimately held property against all incursions (note the similarity to the previous perspective). To this single end, there are only three legitimate institutions that the state may inaugurate: police to keep local bad guys off of us, armies to ensure that foreigners do not invade us (not to be the policemen-imperialists of the world), and courts to distinguish the criminals from the victims, to force the former to
compensate the latter, and to ensure that valid (NAP compatible) contracts are enforced.

Third in this hierarchy are what I call the classical liberals (does Jonas count himself in this category?). To the police, courts and armies adherents of this view would add a few more functions: taking care of so-called public goods such as contagious diseases, asteroid strikes, maybe highways (eminent domain laws, "expropriation" in Canada, would be justified to deal with the hold out problem) and a few others. Many in this group at least in the U.S. are constitutionalists, and would thus support government Post Offices, mints, etc. The people in my mind most associated with this view are Richard Epstein and Thomas Sowell. The latter’s economic and social views clearly place him as a classical liberal. But he is such a war-monger that I cannot count him as a libertarian, and since I am including classical liberals under this rubric, I must exclude him from that category.

Fourth is what I characterize as weak market supporters (does Jonas count himself in this category?). The names in my mind most representative of this perspective are Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek (the Canadian version of this would be the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, my employer from 1979-1991). When they are good (in their adherence to the NAP) these two Economics Nobel Prize winners are very, very good. Some of the best defenses of the free market system come from the pens of Hayek and Friedman. When they are bad, they are horrid; they support numerous additions to the state functions over and above those accepted by the classical liberals. I characterize the first three of these groups as libertarians, but not the fourth. These scholars accept so many additional functions for government that at their worst they merge into, ugh, centrists.

Seasteaders are another brand of libertarians not listed. Seasteading advances a theory of competitive governance not ideological governance. It is based in the same reality as the competitive marketplace. The "best" system is not defined in ideological terms. It is defined in terns of success or failure. We don't care what you call it.

So far, none of the ideological libertarian forms are successful, even with plenty of time to become successful.

________________________________
From: Nina Ortega <ortegan@...>
To: "bayareapatriots2@...m" <bayareapatriots2@yahoogroups.com>; "lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com" <lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 8:38 AM
Subject: [BAP2] Degrees of Liberty

Where on the liberty-statism continuum do you fall? Do you even know?

Many people are vaguely aware of the political systems that fall on the statist side, including totalitarianism, monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, theocracy, communism, socialism, fascism, crony-capitalism, mercantalism and, yes, even democracy. Yes, I know I mixed political systems and economic systems in that list of examples. That is because on the statist side of the continuum they are inextricably wound together, which is one of the major flaws of statism.

But what is on the liberty side of the continuum? Can you name a few examples? No?

The below excerpt from an article by Walter Block might help you start clarifying your thoughts and may aid understanding why a group of people who all claim to be in favor of liberty might have disagreements. In the nutshell, some liberty-minded people are more liberty-minded than others.

Here is the excerpt in blue text (bold added by me):

The way I see matters, libertarianism is based upon the Non Aggression Principle (NAP). This states, simply, that it is illicit for anyone, at any time, ever, to initiate (or even threaten) violence or invasion, against anyone else or his legitimately held property. (The latter is based for virgin territory on homesteading, and for everything else on licit title transfers, voluntary ones such as barter, purchase, rental, hiring, gifts, gambling, etc.) So who are the ballplayers in this field?

First come thelibertarian anarchists, or anarcho-capitalists, as they are the only ones to adhere to a philosophy strictly respecting the NAP. The name in my mind most associated with this perspective is Murray N. Rothbard. He was the most rigorous exponent of this view, in addition to being my friend and mentor. I certainly count myself in this category. In this view, all "legitimate" (see below) government functions, without exception, should be privatized. Since there is no unanimous support for the state (its taxes are not equivalent to club dues), it is an illicit organization. Its leaders are no better than gangsters. But with far better public relations.

Next comes limited government libertarianism, or support for very minimal government, or minarchism. I list this next since they are second in their respect for, and adherence to, the NAP. The most famous people associated with this view are Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Ludwig von Mises and Robert Nozick. Most if not all of them pay lip service to the NAP, but none of them carry through on this fully, and without exceptions, in my view. Here, the typical position is that government should have one and only one function: to protect the persons and legitimately held property against all incursions (note the similarity to the previous perspective). To this single end, there are only three legitimate institutions that the state may inaugurate: police to keep local bad guys off of us, armies to ensure that foreigners do not invade us (not to be the policemen-imperialists of the world), and courts to distinguish the criminals from the victims, to force the former to

compensate the latter, and to ensure that valid (NAP compatible) contracts are enforced.

John,

None of the idealogical forms of libertarianism has been tried, so I don't think you can say that they have not been successful. It is more accurate to say that the statists have been very successful in obtaining and maintaining power, which by definition pushes out liberty.

If tried, I believe that any of the forms of libertarianism would be far, far superior to what we have now anywhere in the world.

Nina

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.
It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
Great nations rise and fall.
The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”
-Alexander Tytler

I'm looking at the larger picture. If you can't sell the product it doesn't succeed. Whether it was "tried" or not is immaterial. Obviously, various iterations of "libertarianism" exist in various forms, already in various organizations, but there has not been an overwhelming adoption, according to any of the ideological terms. It faces the more sophisticated competition from statism in big-money government.

Meanwhile, statism has had widespread adoption in operational terms. Ideology does not drive the police-state. It is opportunity to get power and money. They don't waste their time with ideology. They do what it takes to get the revenue. Statism is business and it makes a lot of money for a lot of people.

________________________________
From: Nina Ortega <ortegan@...>
To: bayareapatriots2@yahoogroups.com; "lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com" <lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 10:43 AM
Subject: [lpsf-discuss] Re: [BAP2] Degrees of Liberty

John,

None of the idealogical forms of libertarianism has been tried, so I don't think you can say that they have not been successful. It is more accurate to say that the statists have been very successful in obtaining and maintaining power, which by definition pushes out liberty.

If tried, I believe that any of the forms of libertarianism would be far, far superior to what we have now anywhere in the world.

Nina

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.
It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
Great nations rise and fall.
The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”
-Alexander Tytler

From: John Bechtol <javlin@...>
Subject: Re: [BAP2] Degrees of Liberty
To: "bayareapatriots2@yahoogroups.com" <bayareapatriots2@yahoogroups.com>, "lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com" <lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com>
Date: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 9:25 AM

Seasteaders are another brand of libertarians not listed. Seasteading advances a theory of competitive governance not ideological governance. It is based in the same reality as the competitive marketplace. The "best" system is not defined in ideological terms. It is defined in terns of success or failure. We don't care what you call it.

So far, none of the ideological libertarian forms are successful, even with plenty of time to become successful.

________________________________
From: Nina Ortega <ortegan@...>
To: "bayareapatriots2@yahoogroups.com" <bayareapatriots2@yahoogroups.com>; "lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com" <lpsf-discuss@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 8:38 AM
Subject: [BAP2] Degrees of Liberty

Where on the liberty-statism continuum do you fall? Do you even know?

Many people are vaguely aware of the political systems that fall on the statist side, including totalitarianism, monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, theocracy, communism, socialism, fascism, crony-capitalism, mercantalism and, yes, even democracy. Yes, I know I mixed political systems and economic systems in that list of examples. That is because on the statist side of the continuum they are inextricably wound together, which is one of the major flaws of statism.

But what is on the liberty side of the continuum? Can you name a few examples? No?

The below excerpt from an article by Walter Block might help you start clarifying your thoughts and may aid understanding why a group of people who all claim to be in favor of liberty might have disagreements. In the nutshell, some liberty-minded people are more liberty-minded than others.

Here is the excerpt in blue text (bold added by me):

The way I see matters, libertarianism is based upon the Non Aggression Principle (NAP). This states, simply, that it is illicit for anyone, at any time, ever, to initiate (or even threaten) violence or invasion, against anyone else or his legitimately held property. (The latter is based for virgin territory on homesteading, and for everything else on licit title transfers, voluntary ones such as barter, purchase, rental, hiring, gifts, gambling, etc.) So who are the ballplayers in this field?

First come thelibertarian anarchists, or anarcho-capitalists, as they are the only ones to adhere to a philosophy strictly respecting the NAP. The name in my mind most associated with this perspective is Murray N. Rothbard. He was the most rigorous exponent of this view, in addition to being my friend and mentor. I certainly count myself in this category. In this view, all "legitimate" (see below) government functions, without exception, should be privatized. Since there is no unanimous support for the state (its taxes are not equivalent to club dues), it is an illicit organization. Its leaders are no better than gangsters. But with far better public relations.

Next comes limited government libertarianism, or support for very minimal government, or minarchism. I list this next since they are second in their respect for, and adherence to, the NAP. The most famous people associated with this view are Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Ludwig von Mises and Robert Nozick. Most if not all of them pay lip service to the NAP, but none of them carry through on this fully, and without exceptions, in my view. Here, the typical position is that government should have one and only one function: to protect the persons and legitimately held property against all incursions (note the similarity to the previous perspective). To this single end, there are only three legitimate institutions that the state may inaugurate: police to keep local bad guys off of us, armies to ensure that foreigners do not invade us (not to be the policemen-imperialists of the world), and courts to distinguish the criminals from the victims, to force the former to

compensate the latter, and to ensure that valid (NAP compatible) contracts are enforced.