As the blog of a libertarian skeptic, one can expect the usual healthy fear of statism, and a frank discussion of the ways and means of resisting it through the free flow of information and the unrestricted private ownership of arms.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Ahem. I suppose I shouldn't be making 4chan (a link you should not click if you are offended by anything or under the age of 18) jokes as topics/titles, but I'm weak.

I've been thinking a while now about resurrecting my otherwise very infrequently used blog as a secondary forum for discussing things that get shut down elsewhere.

Specifically, the Independence Day thread has made its less than triumphant return, and if anybody wishes to discuss it they may do so in the comments. I would especially like to see if Moriarty has anything to say.

Although it's usually a mistake to attempt to have a collegiate level debate or discussion on the INTERTRON, like I said before, I'm weak, and I'm bored out of my mind. (Right now I'm being paid to do this for chrissake. During this particular contract job I'm working, I literally have HOURS of time to myself on the clock.)

I want to answer Bagheera (which I did in the thread but DT deleted it) even though I know he doesn't talk to me because he's deathly afraid of facts and logic. Bagheera accuses Americans of being big-headed, cocky, and self-important, and because of this other people dislike Americans. These attitudes which are usually considered "negative" are considered to be opposite of the "positive" attitude of humility.

However, I say that humility is only (honestly) virtuous to those who are not smart enough to see it for what it is. It is a means of creating and maintain order in society by creating a "virtue" of self-diminishment. It keeps those weak of will or talent from becoming restless, after all, why be bothered that you have nothing to be proud of if being proud is socially unacceptable anyway?

Humility is demonstrably a negative thing because it can be said to be achieved only after one of two possible conditions has been brought about: ignorance or dishonesty.

In the first instance, a person or group does not know that they are better than they believe themselves to be. Their ignorance prevents them from realizing their full potential and are therefore less valuable to humanity thanks to their being categorically "humble."

In the second instance, a person or group does know that they are better than they portray themselves to be. This allows them to use talents as they see fit so long as they lie about what they can do or are doing. This sort of deception is also categorically "humble."

By this reasoning, America is not only objectively superior in capacity, but morally superior in that it is honest about that capacity. The annoyance of the world is underlain by the fact that not only is America cocky, but deserves to be so.*

*This desert or entitlement and the envy and jealousy that it causes is abstractly discussed (as a sociological element rather than nationalist or culturalist) by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia pp.239-246. I'd recommend anybody read the whole book. It's The Prince of the 20th century.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I've been thinking quite a bit about governments in the abstract, and my own personal place in the greater political universe.

It seems that my thought process works in two directions; I either write a small concept piece against an idea I have held for a long time (such as my essay on Limited Capitalism a few years ago) and then retreat from it with a large apology (my epic Livejournal debate post In Defense of Capitalism in 17 Parts), or I write a large apology or defense and then arrive at a small, divergent concept.

My defense of libertarianism is one of the latter type. My exposure to the furthest extreme of the libertarian ideal, embodied in the writings and followers of Lysander Spooner, I am called to question some things myself.

Perhaps I was too hasty in dismissing Robert Locke's interest of what happens to children in the libertarian state. I think perhaps the treatment of children may be the key to the entire question of government. I was recently at a meeting with a half dozen spoonerites, and the subject of children came up. I had been attempting to figure out what the devil would happen to the age of majority/consent if you eliminated the traditional role of government in the matter. The impression I received from the group was that they thought that the harms that come to individuals because of imperfections in a hands-off system are simply the cost paid for the benefits of non-interference. However, I think that the spoonerites cannot look past their distaste for govenment to see the problems, or even the very principle of justice.

I have been reading a lot of Nozick these days, and I agree with his view of justice. The realm of justice is that of proper compensation for harm. This applies to all degrees and realms of harm. If children are harmed because of lack of oversight, that is injustice. If every family is its own sovereign unit, who will be able to demand justice for the children if they are harmed by abusive parents? I know how rare abusive parents are in the real world, but to some degree that rarity is the result of the knowledge that abuse will not go unchallenged. What I am saying is that any system of human order which allows children to come to harm, either because the parents are not overseen or because the parents are given no authority to oversee their children, is insane. This is not a problem in mainstream libertarianism, but it does have a hold in spoonerism.

This whole issue arose from a question of mine to this group: What is the age of majority in a state of nature? I believe the consensus answer was: Whatever the parents believe it to be, unless the child can prove his independence earlier. My first instinct is to think of this as a problem, what if the parents are unethical and/or the child is too weak/disabled to assert their independence? There is the possibility that the problem is imagined, since in a social darwinist view natural weakness of body or character is not the responsibility of society.

What I am really concerned with is the relationship of this dynamic concept of the age of majority/consent to the role of individuals in a governed society. Legislating a broad stroke age for this and that is unjust. It prevents those of early talent from applying it and it allows those of substandard merit to do things they really do not have the ability to do effectively or responsibly. What we must deal with is what gives men rights? Does a three year old have the right to wield a loaded gun (although it would probably have to be a .25 ACP)? If a three year old human being does not have this right, why does a 30 year old? Simply because 27 sets of 365 or 366 days have passed? Time cannot be a reasonable criterion. It must be merit. I have met teenagers who are as much or more deserving of and potentially responsible for a handgun than some 20 and 30 somethings I have also met. I believe that this is the key to a realistic application of freedoms and political rights and privileges in a governed society.

The problem with communism has been that it requires a sort of perfect humanity to work (I say "a sort" because it is a specific idea of perfection, one which an objectivist such as myself sees as wrong). I think that the extremes of spoonerite thought reveal a weakness in libertarianism and indeed in the whole concept of government in the Western tradition: the assumption that a uniform application of age-based limits on action can ever be just; or, perhaps more simply, the idea that humans are (perfectly) simple enough that they each develop at the same rate every time and are due the same things regardless of anything but time elapsed in growth.

The answer to this is meritocracy. Anything that can be denied to a person for lack of ability or responsibility as a child can be denied until the reasons for denial are allayed (as long as it takes!). Anything that is allowed to somebody because they meet criteria must be allowed to anybody if they meet those same criteria, regardless of their unknown intent, presence or lack of need, or whether or not their allowance is approved of by their neighbors/peers whatever. (I'm thinking about private reflections of government monopolies.) I am certainly not the first to think that perhaps society should be governed by standardized tests; however, I should hope that at least my approach to justifying it is somewhat original.

As I have proved the natural need and grant of authority to my own satisfaction, the problem which remains is how to set up such a system of testing so that it will be just, effective, and resistant to corruption. That problem exceeds my ability to find a solution at this time. I will revisit it.

Monday, April 18, 2005


I'm sure that my one reader (thanks for the comment) thought that I was already dead after only three posts, but this is not the case. I'm never going to be a frequent blogger (which means I will never have much of a, if any, readership), but I had hoped at least to one a week. However, illness, unemployment, moving between counties, and helping my girlfriend through surgery has pretty much killed my time until now.

I don't really have any political commentary to add this week, although I have been getting involved with some local groups such as the Seattle Libertarian MeetUp group and the Spooner Society Social and Shooting Club. Both groups are made up of many fine people, and I would recommend that anybody in the greater Seattle area with an interest in liberty get involved.

Technology and all of its many-faceted coolness has been on my mind more than politics lately, not surprising as I am looking for a new job in the industry. I've been all over the techno-alternative media scene lately, checking out such things as Uberleeto, BinRev, Default Radio, Pure Pwnage, Packet Sniffers, Welcome to the Scene (which is only cool as the serious corollary to the humorous Welcome to teh Scene), and others. These things have inspired me to talk to my best friend thesaint about starting our own interweb radio show about computar machine hardware and how manufacturers varyingly sux0r or r0x0r and new developments in the industry. Essentially something which is to Tom's Hardware and other such sites what Uberleeto was to Slashdot. We'll see how that goes, and hopefully it will be out by the first week of May. (Perhaps via hackermedia's public access system.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Equating Marxism with libertarianism is just plain asking for it.

I sent this off to Robert Locke moments ago:

As a libertarian I took exception to your treatise “Marxism of the Right” and intend to pull it apart, piece by piece. Since you have done this yourself in “How the Left Thinks (Or Does’t)” some two years ago, I expect you to appreciate the effort. Let’s begin, shall we?

“Free spirits, the ambitious, ex-socialists, drug users, and sexual eccentrics often find an attractive political philosophy in libertarianism, the idea that individual freedom should be the sole rule of ethics and government. Libertarianism offers its believers a clear conscience to do things society presently restrains, like make more money, have more sex, or take more drugs. It promises a consistent formula for ethics, a rigorous framework for policy analysis, a foundation in American history, and the application of capitalist efficiencies to the whole of society. But while it contains substantial grains of truth, as a whole it is a seductive mistake.”

Starting off one’s argument with a blatant ad hominem smear usually indicates an inherent weakness in the reasoning which will be used in the attempt to support that argument. I’ll grant you that you did not try to claim that the majority of libertarians are ex-socialists, drug users, sexual deviants, et al, but it was clear that you were attempting to cast the people who call themselves libertarians in a negative light based on a minority of their ranks. Every libertarian I’ve met personally could be accused of falling into the foremost two of your categories at a maximum.

“There are many varieties of libertarianism, from natural-law libertarianism (the least crazy) to anarcho-capitalism (the most), and some varieties avoid some of the criticisms below. But many are still subject to most of them, and some of the more successful varieties—I recently heard a respected pundit insist that classical liberalism is libertarianism—enter a gray area where it is not really clear that they are libertarians at all. But because 95 percent of the libertarianism one encounters at cocktail parties, on editorial pages, and on Capitol Hill is a kind of commonplace “street” libertarianism, I decline to allow libertarians the sophistical trick of using a vulgar libertarianism to agitate for what they want by defending a refined version of their doctrine when challenged philosophically. We’ve seen Marxists pull that before.”

In the first place, I shouldn’t have to explain to you the necessities of the unprepared argument versus the prepared argument. Every political ideology from Marxism to fascism has a need for a “street” form and a refined form. Even Republicans behave that way, because in the end what constitutes the difference between “street” ideology and refined philosophy is the analogue of the bumper sticker or protest sign versus the abstract essay anthology. You cannot expect libertarians to be able to sit down with everybody they meet and have an hours-long discussion with open, highlighted copies of Anarchy, State, and Utopia and/or The Virtue of Selfishness (in fact, it is unfortunately unreasonable to even expect that proponents of a given ideology even know what its seminal thinkers and works are, but I do think libertarians do better than the average Republican or Democrat in that regard). Because of the nature of modern media, it is necessary for all political views to be crudely condensed into bumper stickers and sound bites. It’s intellectually dishonest to blame libertarians singly for a systemic problem.

“This is no surprise, as libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.”

Ah, are we neglecting to think about the difference between schools of thought and objective categories of ideas or actions? Yes, yes indeed. First, the parallelism here is specious. Collectivism for the most part can mean only one thing: a school of thought foundational to Marxism and its offshoots communism and socialism. Individualism on the other hand is most often used to discuss a personal virtue that encourages responsibility, not a school of thought. Collectivism has been, in every real world application, involuntary; individualism, voluntary. However, there are things which can be called, categorically, collective concerns. National defense is a collective concern, but it does not require a collectivist government or society to be executed. It simply requires the individual recognition that a nation will not stand if each household responds one at a time to the advance of an invading army. Society does not need collectivism or any of the redistribution by force that it entails, only an individual recognition to meet collective needs.

Furthermore, to say that libertarianism has no empirical foundation is a negative only to those who do not understand the meaning of the words (who are also, unfortunately, numerous). The closest any government has come to a libertarian form has been our own during the first three decades after the adoption of the Constitution, and I’d say that worked out pretty well. Marxism makes its claims while trying to hide the fact that every one of its attempts have met some unacceptable degree of total failure, and as such it is truly without any empirical ground to stand on; however the problem libertarianism faces empirically is not that it has been tested and failed, but that it has not been tested at all. One must give it a chance before attempting to cast it in an empirically negative light if one wishes not to look foolish.

I would also point out that I do not think it is wrong to “reduce social life to economics.” If you can make a sound argument for why society would exist without economics, I’d like to hear it, but economics is the real foundation upon which all other human intellectual endeavors rests. “Reducing social life to economics” is really simply looking for the economic motivation for social norms, which necessarily must and do exist.

You go on to speak of historical myths underlying libertarianism, but decline to give any examples of what these myths might be, let alone discrediting them. Before leaving that sentence, you also claim libertarians to have a disregard for social order equal to that of Marxists. Maybe you weren’t paying attention to Marx when he discussed the violent destruction of all established authority. Libertarians, as you should know, approach the problem of balancing social order with personal freedom by thinking in terms of the fewest number of restrictions that absolutely need to be applied to the individual in order to guarantee their safety and the orderly conduct of business. Libertarians believe that no man should be bound by any more than necessary, and I don’t see how that creates any “elect.” In any case, to imply that there is any reasonable comparison between Marxist and libertarian views of social order is clearly absurd.

“The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. Simple physical security, which even a prisoner can possess, is not freedom, but one cannot live without it. Prosperity is connected to freedom, in that it makes us free to consume, but it is not the same thing, in that one can be rich but as unfree as a Victorian tycoon’s wife. A family is in fact one of the least free things imaginable, as the emotional satisfactions of it derive from relations that we are either born into without choice or, once they are chosen, entail obligations that we cannot walk away from with ease or justice. But security, prosperity, and family are in fact the bulk of happiness for most real people and the principal issues that concern governments.”

“Libertarians try to get around this fact that freedom is not the only good thing by trying to reduce all other goods to it through the concept of choice, claiming that everything that is good is so because we choose to partake of it. Therefore freedom, by giving us choice, supposedly embraces all other goods. But this violates common sense by denying that anything is good by nature, independently of whether we choose it. Nourishing foods are good for us by nature, not because we choose to eat them. Taken to its logical conclusion, the reduction of the good to the freely chosen means there are no inherently good or bad choices at all, but that a man who chose to spend his life playing tiddlywinks has lived as worthy a life as a Washington or a Churchill.”

It seems that you are confusing philosophy with politics. We all know that philosophy underlies and drives politics, but the opposite is not true. One can say that all political matters are too some degree philosophical, but I would argue that not all philosophical matters are political. There are other good things besides freedom in nature and the philosophies which interpret it. However, freedom is the only political good. The government should not be concerned with anything but justice. It is not the government’s place to be valuing the worth of men’s lives, that’s a philosophical issue, not a political one. It is not by any libertarian doctrine that a fool is made equal to great man, as you claim. The only view libertarianism can take of the matter is that a fool is legally entitled to be a fool as well as all other rights and privileges due any other man. Likewise, the greatest of men should not be impeded on his way, but should also have no greater rights or privileges than any other man. The freedom to choose to do as one wishes, with the exception of harming others, is what government should protect. Bad decisions within that allowance will always bring their own consequences. Men should be allowed to make mistakes.

“Furthermore, the reduction of all goods to individual choices presupposes that all goods are individual. But some, like national security, clean air, or a healthy culture, are inherently collective. It may be possible to privatize some, but only some, and the efforts can be comically inefficient. Do you really want to trace every pollutant in the air back to the factory that emitted it and sue?”

Collective concerns are answered by the coordination of individuals to do the right thing. National security has been well taken care of by volunteers on many occasions, and in fact when service has been forced on the unwilling, such as in the Vietnam era, the effects have been profoundly awful. And as for the example you cite with pollution, rather than think of things in terms of litigation, what if it were required for manufacturing businesses were required to make their emissions a matter of clear public record? Consumers could effect change by buying products produced in ways which meet what they think should be the standards. Personally, I think most of the noise made about macroecological problems is just so much hype from neotribal luddites. They can go off and live in the jungle for all I care, but I don’t want them undoing all scientific progress just because they can lobby the government with sky-is-falling (or ozone-is-thinning) fearmongering. However, I’m digressing. The point here is that the idea of the collective good is flawed. There can be no collective anything without individuals. The individual is the irreducible prime of social concerns. Is there anything so valuable that men must be forced to act in a given manner? It is one thing to say that men cannot do something, it is quite another to say that they must do something. That is compulsion. That is tyranny. That is slavery. Because of this, to libertarians that is unacceptable.

“Libertarians rightly concede that one’s freedom must end at the point at which it starts to impinge upon another person’s, but they radically underestimate how easily this happens. So even if the libertarian principle of “an it harm none, do as thou wilt,” is true, it does not license the behavior libertarians claim. Consider pornography: libertarians say it should be permitted because if someone doesn’t like it, he can choose not to view it. But what he can’t do is choose not to live in a culture that has been vulgarized by it.”

Honestly when I read that paragraph I laughed out loud. Let’s hold all humanity accountable for my own personal distaste! I find you all GUILTY of being offensive to my personal sensibilities! That’s insane. If we somehow passed laws against everything that could possibly offend somebody by its very existence, somewhere, being enjoyed by somebody else who happens to be part of the rest of humanity, we would end up living in some Taliban-esque police state where every subjective thing is laid upon by morality police and destroyed. And what of the people who find that offensive? Oh no! I repeat, that is insane, and such an argument so far outside of any reasonable view of human order undermines your rational credibility.

“Libertarians in real life rarely live up to their own theory but tend to indulge in the pleasant parts while declining to live up to the difficult portions. They flout the drug laws but continue to collect government benefits they consider illegitimate. This is not just an accidental failing of libertarianism’s believers but an intrinsic temptation of the doctrine that sets it up to fail whenever tried, just like Marxism.”

Ah, I see. We’re hypocrites by trying to get back what we have paid into the system. When we’re no longer taxed to support these services, we’ll stop using them (because they won’t be there anymore, but we won’t care, because we’ll have our damn money to do it ourselves if we want, or do something else). I think that’s fair, don’t you?

“Libertarians need to be asked some hard questions. What if a free society needed to draft its citizens in order to remain free? What if it needed to limit oil imports to protect the economic freedom of its citizens from unfriendly foreigners? What if it needed to force its citizens to become sufficiently educated to sustain a free society? What if it needed to deprive landowners of the freedom to refuse to sell their property as a precondition for giving everyone freedom of movement on highways? What if it needed to deprive citizens of the freedom to import cheap foreign labor in order to keep out poor foreigners who would vote for socialistic wealth redistribution?”

Perhaps if a society needs to draft its citizens in order to defend itself, it is because those citizens don’t believe that society is worth defending. You know that during the Second World War (for which the draft was redundant) many men who were declared unfit for duty committed suicide because they could not join in the fight? Now THAT demonstrates the health and value of a society. What if the government had no ability to deny private companies the right to pursue oil where-ever they wished? That would solve the problem of reliance on foreign oil just as well. What if the government removed restrictions on the education of children so that families could choose public schools or homeschooling? Homeschooling is still illegal in some states, and even in those where it is legal it is administratively discouraged and frowned upon by society at large, but yet so many of every year’s top five in national spelling bees are homeschoolers… I can go through any example, in the end, it’s about how one approaches problems. You are trying to find solutions by forcing people to do things, which has worked some times and has failed other times. Libertarians approach the search for solutions to problems by finding how people can be freed from social, political, and legal limitations which are preventing them from succeeding in their own individual struggle to improve and achieve. Many times nobody knows whether these solutions will work or fail because there is no precedent. No government has approached given its citizens as much freedom as the libertarian ideal entails.

“In each of these cases, less freedom today is the price of more tomorrow. Total freedom today would just be a way of running down accumulated social capital and storing up problems for the future. So even if libertarianism is true in some ultimate sense, this does not prove that the libertarian policy choice is the right one today on any particular question.”

The proof of these policies is in their success in application. If they are never tried, one cannot say whether they are really effective or ineffective. Earlier you claimed that libertarianism has no empirical worth, but you’re stopping short of fulfilling the testing phase which proves or disproves the hypothesis. You have no evidence you are right and we are wrong because you will not give the policy a chance to succeed or fail. You are obstructing potential human progress for the sake of your own personal taste or moral view, which is what this is really about in the end. You personally do not want people to be free to marry others of the same sex or watch porn or whatever. It makes you uncomfortable. Well boo-hoo, that’s not harm, that’s a matter of taste. That doesn’t give you any right to dictate what people can and cannot do.

“Furthermore, if limiting freedom today may prolong it tomorrow, then limiting freedom tomorrow may prolong it the day after and so on, so the right amount of freedom may in fact be limited freedom in perpetuity. But if limited freedom is the right choice, then libertarianism, which makes freedom an absolute, is simply wrong. If all we want is limited freedom, then mere liberalism will do, or even better, a Burkean conservatism that reveres traditional liberties. There is no need to embrace outright libertarianism just because we want a healthy portion of freedom, and the alternative to libertarianism is not the USSR, it is America’s traditional liberties.”

Finding ways every day to limit freedom in the name of the good of the people or their future is exactly the sort behavior that caused all of this mess (modern American government and its perennial ignorance of the 10th Amendment) in the first place. Also, please enlighten me as to how libertarianism deviates from the principles of America’s truly traditional liberties? Spare me the anachronism of how 18th century society would view gay marriage. In principle there is nothing against it, although the common morality did and continues to lag behind the purity of principle.

“Libertarianism’s abstract and absolutist view of freedom leads to bizarre conclusions. Like slavery, libertarianism would have to allow one to sell oneself into it. (It has been possible at certain times in history to do just that by assuming debts one could not repay.) And libertarianism degenerates into outright idiocy when confronted with the problem of children, whom it treats like adults, supporting the abolition of compulsory education and all child-specific laws, like those against child labor and child sex. It likewise cannot handle the insane and the senile.”

Slavery is an involuntary thing, the proper term for any student of history for those who sell themselves is indentured servant. If somebody wishes to do this, who are others to deny him? It is a matter between consenting adults, like so many things you moralists oppose simply because they make you nervous. As for children, wouldn’t you agree that public education has done them more harm than good? Those who wish to learn will learn, those who do not wish to learn do not learn. That is the case whether one is required to be in school or not. I was homeschooled, and my mother didn’t teach me so much as she said here’s the book, read it and answer the questions. By the time I came to high school and I had to take biology and other classes which required labs (which I did at a private school which supported homeschoolers in this capacity) in a classroom environment, I would end a semester with a 104% average after having to endure being singled out by the teacher who would say, “This next question is for everybody but Adam.” That’s because I didn’t need that teacher. I could teach myself. Children don’t need compulsory education from the goddamn government, they just need their parents to teach them how to learn. Also, personally, I hated those damn labor laws. I wanted to get a job at age 10, and I could have handled one too, but nooooo. Thank you government, you protected me from assuming responsibility too early in life. I’m sure glad the government gets to interfere in such matters.

As for the insane, if they are do anybody harm, then that is covered under the libertarian view and they will be incarcerated just as any sane person would be. If they do nobody any harm, it’s not the government’s business. If they have family it’s their business, and if they are so unlucky as to be insane and have no family, que sera. That’s life. It doesn’t mean the government should force me to pay for their food and housing. I’m sure some people will still get their kicks out of setting up private charities to provide that anyway, so it’s not as though all recourse is going to dry up just because the government isn’t trying to pry altruism out of its citizens.

“Libertarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a libertarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished. They claim a “natural order” of reasonable behavior would emerge. But there is no actual empirical proof that this would happen. Furthermore, this means libertarianism is an all-or-nothing proposition: if society continues to protect people from the consequences of their actions in any way, libertarianism regarding specific freedoms is illegitimate. And since society does so protect people, libertarianism is an illegitimate moral position until the Great Libertarian Revolution has occurred.”

We’ve been over this empiricism thing before. There is no proof because it’s never been done. That doesn’t make it empirically invalid, it makes it empirically untested, and it makes you a fool for not understanding what you’re talking about (or worse, you understand and you are deliberately trying to mislead).

Why should society protect people from the consequences of their actions? What will men learn from if they do something stupid and society says, in all of its collective bullshit glory, “There, there; no harm done. We’ll make it all better.” That’s certainly not how you raise children. If a child does something wrong, you make sure that he understands what he’s done wrong, even to the point of exaggerating the consequences to impress upon the child the importance of that principle which is the bane of the welfare state: PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. OH NO!!! If people can do something bad and get away with it, they’ll keep doing it. That’s human nature.

“And is society really wrong to protect people against the negative consequences of some of their free choices? While it is obviously fair to let people enjoy the benefits of their wise choices and suffer the costs of their stupid ones, decent societies set limits on both these outcomes. People are allowed to become millionaires, but they are taxed. They are allowed to go broke, but they are not then forced to starve. They are deprived of the most extreme benefits of freedom in order to spare us the most extreme costs. The libertopian alternative would be perhaps a more glittering society, but also a crueler one.”

Oh spare me the Dickensian emotional appeal bullshit. As long as the successful are penalized for their success, and the layabouts are rewarded with free food and shelter, you will see the middle class continue to thin and the underclass expand.

“Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect libertarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes libertarianism by its own premise, as libertarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians.”

You just don’t get what empiricism is do you? First of all, libertarianism has existed as real political movement for only a paltry couple of decades, and it’s having a hard time moving against the deadlock of brainwashing (I will vote x because I have always voted x) mixed with practical concerns (I have to vote x because although I support y it will never win because nobody else will vote for it even if they believe in it also) which make up the current two party system. Libertarianism does have a broad, centrist appeal, but everybody is afraid that voting for a 3rd party candidate will only allow the candidate from the party they hate to win, so they vote for the more ‘popular’ candidate from the party can tolerate. A professor of mine once said that “libertarians are what all good republicans would be if they had the guts” or something to that effect. I suffer from it to some degree myself. I voted for Bush even though I knew Michael Badnarik was a better man, but I couldn’t stand the idea of that traitor Kerry as C in C. But I voted for a lot of libertarians in local elections. That’s where political change starts, where it’s less risky.

“The political corollary of this is that since no electorate will support libertarianism, a libertarian government could never be achieved democratically but would have to be imposed by some kind of authoritarian state, which rather puts the lie to libertarians’ claim that under any other philosophy, busybodies who claim to know what’s best for other people impose their values on the rest of us. Libertarianism itself is based on the conviction that it is the one true political philosophy and all others are false. It entails imposing a certain kind of society, with all its attendant pluses and minuses, which the inhabitants thereof will not be free to opt out of except by leaving.”

This is just as much speculation as any other concept of libertarian government, which has never been actually tried, except that it is made significantly less credible if not entirely impossible by being intrinsically contradictive in principle.

“And if libertarians ever do acquire power, we may expect a farrago of bizarre policies. Many support abolition of government-issued money in favor of that minted by private banks. But this has already been tried, in various epochs, and doesn’t lead to any wonderful paradise of freedom but only to an explosion of fraud and currency debasement followed by the concentration of financial power in those few banks that survive the inevitable shaking-out. Many other libertarian schemes similarly founder on the empirical record.”

I would say that in the “epochs” you are referencing here, these were not private banks in any modern sense, but quasi-government if not wholly government organizations of the ancient and medieval periods. You’re comparing apples to oranges across stretches of time which would cast considerable doubt on the validity of your relationship by themselves. You’ll have to do better than that, and provide specific examples.

“A major reason for this is that libertarianism has a naïve view of economics that seems to have stopped paying attention to the actual history of capitalism around 1880. There is not the space here to refute simplistic laissez faire, but note for now that the second-richest nation in the world, Japan, has one of the most regulated economies, while nations in which government has essentially lost control over economic life, like Russia, are hardly economic paradises. Legitimate criticism of over-regulation does not entail going to the opposite extreme.”

Ah 1880. One decade before anti-trust laws. Let’s regulate business! That sounds like a good idea! Oops! The Great Depression happened! Sure that was just a coincidence indicating that we have to regulate things even more! Oops! Carter-era recession! Quick Ronnie, figure out that by taxing and regulating businesses less, the economy will improve! Ugh. We pay attention. The thinking and results of its application have been sickening ever since the government decided it would dictate how business could and could not be run, and in the end what drives growth (not New Deal socialist delaying actions and mitigations of normal market cycles, but real growth) has always been the same principle: the market will find its own way to succeed if it’s allowed the freedom to do so. Sometimes that will lead to downturns, but growth as a trend will be unstoppable. Also, you don’t know your facts. Japan, according to, is not the second richest either in the realm of per capita GDP (13th), absolute GDP (3rd), or purchasing power parity per capita (9th). In fact (pun intended) I don’t think so much as one example (when you have deigned to give them) in your article has stood up to any close inspection for accuracy or validity. Not a good track record.

“Libertarian naïveté extends to politics. They often confuse the absence of government impingement upon freedom with freedom as such. But without a sufficiently strong state, individual freedom falls prey to other more powerful individuals. A weak state and a freedom-respecting state are not the same thing, as shown by many a chaotic Third-World tyranny.”

Which is why no libertarian points to the third world and says, yes, this is what we want. That’s ridiculous. It’s important that the state be able to fill its only legitimate role by protecting its citizens from internal and external threats. Any state, libertarian or not in name, which fails to do so cannot be considered effectively libertarian in fact.

“Libertarians are also naïve about the range and perversity of human desires they propose to unleash. They can imagine nothing more threatening than a bit of Sunday-afternoon sadomasochism, followed by some recreational drug use and work on Monday. They assume that if people are given freedom, they will gravitate towards essentially bourgeois lives, but this takes for granted things like the deferral of gratification that were pounded into them as children without their being free to refuse. They forget that for much of the population, preaching maximum freedom merely results in drunkenness, drugs, failure to hold a job, and pregnancy out of wedlock. Society is dependent upon inculcated self-restraint if it is not to slide into barbarism, and libertarians attack this self-restraint. Ironically, this often results in internal restraints being replaced by the external restraints of police and prison, resulting in less freedom, not more.”

No, no, no, NO. You have everything entirely wrong. I dare you, sir, to find any “libertarian” who attacks or criticizes self-restraint. Self-restraint and personal responsibility are the core of a functional libertarian state. It is undue government restraint which is the enemy concept. People by nature are orderly, as evidenced by the fact that no anarchy has existed for any extended length of time and by the fact that more or less every inch of the planet is ruled by some form of human government, good or bad, and always has been.

“This contempt for self-restraint is emblematic of a deeper problem: libertarianism has a lot to say about freedom but little about learning to handle it. Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom. Conservatives should know better.”

Your closing argument has already been addressed in the paragraph I wrote on the difference between philosophy and politics, and likewise the difference between philosophical goods and political goods. Political systems are merely a means of creating and applying laws. All things men are free to choose should necessarily be equal under the law, just as men themselves should be. That doesn’t make their choices equally good, just equally legal. It is not up to a political view (libertarianism) to determine or judge the value of men’s choices. Nature does that. If somebody does something wrong, they will know it by the result they will have to live, but then you were arguing that society should protect individuals from their choices, so that is why you cannot understand the system or the value of its principles.

Go peddle your slippery slope to the police/welfare/nanny state to somebody else. Or better yet, don’t.

Yours Sincerely in Opposition,

Adam N. Dalke, MCDST

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hypocrisy from the Left? Say it isn't so!

Well it seems that since the American public didn't really seem to care about the last hoplophobic thrust in the form of demonizing FN Herstal's Five-seveN as an "assualt pistol" or "cop killer gun," these lobbies have collectively latched on to the idea that selling firearms to people on government "watch lists" of potential terrorists is fundamentally wrong. A lot of articles on this subject have been written in the last few days, but it wasn't until I read this particularly subjective commentary that it finally came together in my head how desperately hypocritical all of this was.

Remember how all the liberals were claiming the moral high ground in the aftermath of 9/11 when the government was detaining and holding suspected terrorists without formally charging them with crimes? Oh yes, back then they couldn't say enough about the protection of their rights under the Constitution and the principle of men being innocent until proven guilty. It was unfair to treat them like criminals without proof. However, all of this has magically changed! Now, if the government thinks some people might be terrorists, it's all right and good that they be treated like criminals and be barred from purchasing firearms.

Any legislation on this matter needs to be opposed because in the end in this is not about terrorism at all. This is new cloth over the same liberal spectre, that people cannot be trusted with arms because of what they might do with them. To the hoplophobes all people are guilty of crimes they have not committed, and will commit them as soon as they have a gun in their hands. In fact, this is a step further than I think this concept has ever been, because this attempt to prevent people from owning firearms is clearly tied to a list created and maintained by the government. How long before such a list is expanded from "potential terrorists" to "potential criminals?" How long before the parameters widen so that all common citizens are caught under this edict, disarmed? Guilty until proven innocent would become the prime directive.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Zero Tolerance, Zero Intelligence

Every day I read, and there was a real gem in the last batch of news. We've all heard about some of the egregious applications of "zero tolerance" policy, everything from students punished for bringing to school inch-long plastic action figures' guns to those disciplined for imitating guns with their fingers, but somehow this is worse. An eleven year old kid forgets he has a BB gun in his bag until after he's left for school, and he dutifully turns it over to school officials when he gets there. This, of course, lands him in COURT where he is SENTENCED to be REMOVED FROM HIS HOME AGAINST HIS PARENTS' WILL and placed into the care of a "group home."

What is going on here? I can understand school officials being responsible for ludicrous treatment of non-problems, but now our judiciary is making a mockery of itself, sentencing eleven year old children for trying to do the right thing with their toys under this ridiculous system? The real problem here is that our society is sitting back and letting this happen. First of all, we need to stop accepting that school officials and the policies they make are going to be moonbatty and stupid. Every time they get away with it will encourage them to make things worse. Every time people hear about this sort of thing happening in their backyard and they don't organize a protest or a write-in campaign of some sort to whoever runs their particular asylum for the rationally challenged, they are giving tacit assent and encouragement of that practice. I don't live in Yadkin County, North Carolina, but as this is happening in my United States, I'm going to at least send an angry e-mail to school principal, and I invite others to join me:

Yadkin Success Academy
David Brown
(336) 679-4888

If I knew anything about that judge who's responsible for this, I'd write him/her (more likely the latter) too.

Monday, March 07, 2005


For the past two years I have been reading other blogs, commenting occasionally, watching the impact they have on the media, on politicians, and on the communities of like-minded people they are informing. I cannot say how much I really expect to add to this confluence, especially given the boring nature of my day to day life and my limited attention span, but I would rather be present than absent.

I am christening my blog "The New Samosatan" in honor of an obscure Syrian philosopher, orator, and writer of the 2nd century C.E., Lucian of Samosata. His obscurity is surprising, since he is responsible for writing the first science fiction novel nearly two millenia before the birth of the genre and had covered a modern concept of atheism with more meaning long before Nietzsche. Personally, his dialogue between Hermotimus and Lycinus was catalytic in my apostasy and transition to secularism (I am not actually an atheist, but a deist). I have been using his name as a pseudonym for some time, but I thought it would be presumptuous (and perhaps falsely indicative of lacking my own identity) to continue to do so in this medium, hence the more generic reference.

While I take a keen interest in Greco-Roman literature, my opinions on current events are colored primarily by the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden and Leonard Peikoff. It is unfortunate that however valuable the essays of the school of thought may be, so little real momentum has been achieved by its proponents due to internal divisions. I suppose that's intrinsic to a point of view which holds compromise in contempt. It would do wonders for this country and the world if the mostly unimportant divisions between Objectivists, Libertarians, and the Secular Republicans were forgotten long enough to accomplish some mitigation of the advance of statism.

My interests do extend beyond philosophy and politics, so I expect to comment on notable developments in the information technology industry. I actually can become as animated in a debate about hardware manufacturers as I do in debates of policy.

While this introduction might be lighter than does justice to its purpose, I am going to get some sleep.