I just got back from Walter Block's talk. Listening to him speak helped me
to solidify something that has been bugging me for months. It is my
objection to Objectivism.
We are governed by one and only one set of laws. The laws of physics (and
some could argue the abstract laws as well such as math, and even things
like natural selection and chaos theory). These laws cannot be broken, and
are perfectly enforced!
What a lot of libertarians happen to forget is that whenever we talk about
the the rights of men, we are actually in a negotation with each other! Most
every libertarian I have spoken to seems self-righteous and seems to believe
in absolute principle as a truth that we are uncovering, but we haven't quite
uncovered it... but that with effort we will. I wholeheartedly disagree. We
are not exposing universal unbreakable truth! We are stating what makes the
most sense, from our extremely reasonable and well thought out perspectives,
and we want others to hear us, because we think they will agree.
Physicists are uncovering absolute truth (we think, but there are differing
thoughts on that too). What we as libertarians are doing is something quite
else. We are CREATING a notion of rights that appear to us to be very
reasonable for human consumption, causing peace, happiness, and prosperity for
all at the expense of no one. Laws that I find very wise, simple, easy to
work with, and quite utilitarian, and I would enter into gentleman's
agreements to uphold and enforce them.
But please recognize that rights are in fact just gentleman's agreements, as
evidenced by the fact that they can and do get tresspassed upon! They
are not bestowed upon us from on high. Some people believe Earth has rights
and people don't. I hear that Mars believes this quite strongly. Some believe
that humanity is a single organism, and that doing the best thing for humanity
is the thing that is compulsatory for everyone as individuals to do. Whatever.
None of these beliefs are right or wrong. Some may be very ineffective at
getting the most out of life for one or more people, but they are not right or
wrong. There is no such thing as absolute or objective right and wrong. And
the sooner we get that through our heads, the better. Our beliefs are only
representative of a conscious decision to see things from a particular static
viewpoint. A viewpoint that we have consciously chosen. And in making the
conscious choice to see things from one static viewpoint (principle of non-
agression and property rights), we squarely take on the consequences of that,
which I believe are things like having a small ineffectual party.
When you fixate on the belief that your decision about abortion is absolutely
right, arguable to any reasonable man, fully defendable, and objective, you
are completely deluding no one but yourself. If there even IS an objective
reality (and I'm not saying that there isn't), no one can possibly know it,
because each of us can only see our subjective viewpoint. Objectivism is
terribly ineffectual. No one can know the truth, so the philosophy has no
net impact on reality.
What you are doing when you believe in objectivism is alienating those with
other belief systems, those people who have chosen to hold different values,
or to hold their values in a different order (e.g. utilitarianism above
property rights, etc).
That's a very bad negotiation technique. It's clear to me now why there are
so few libertarians.
Most people understand this fact. Most people understand clearly that they
are not God, that they cannot choose values for other people, that there IS
NO PERFECT OBJECTIVE ORDERING OF VALUES. To say that property rights are more
perfect and important than utilitarianism is truly just a whimsical selection
of values. And to enforce your viewpoint of law upon another, in self-
righteousness, is JUST AS EVIL AND CORRUPT as what current lawmakers do in
enforcing their beliefs and laws upon us at gunpoint. Let me say that again,
because that is what this is all about. Believing that the libertarian system
of rights is "right" and enforcing it against people who don't believe the
same way is JUST AS EVIL AND CORRUPT as what current lawmakers and enforcement
branches of government are doing to us right now. (To be even more correct,
I don't believe in the concept of evilness or corruptness. They are illusions
in our minds, not reality.).
We argue from simple sterile situations, and sweep under the carpet stuff that
isn't so easy. Things like determining what the actual facts were. I submit
that NO ONE LIVING REALLY KNOWS whether or not slavery actually occured. We
rely on our beliefs about what we are told. And there will ALWAYS be people
with conspiracy theories about everything. Who is right? No one knows!
Appeal to authority is just as irrelevant as appeal to law or as appeal to
popular vote. It's all just opinion.
So please, let's stick to the matter at hand. Negotiation for our liberty.
We must stop being self-righteous. We must respect other people's belief
systems, even when we have different ones.
We believe that our principles offer a system that is best for everybody
involved, not just for ourselves. However, if we are unconvincing, then we
must move on towards negotiation.
Because in the real world, there is no absolutism. What has the objective
absolutism of Ayn Rand gotten us? Nothing. I think Ayn Rand was misguided.
PS: Having said all of this, I still would like to live in an anarcho-
capitalist society. I value the rights of others as much as I value the
rights of myself, BECAUSE AND ONLY BECAUSE that is the most peacable and
prosperous way to live.
PPS: Due to this critical difference in philosophy, or at least in behavior
of fellow party members, I may soon drop my association with (Capital-L)