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12/02/2005 - 6:54pm
By non-Libertarians, we are seen as Utopians, in that we believe that there is such thing as a perfect society because people are magically good hearted without government oppression and will always do right. They believe that this is the basis for our belief system, and use this method to attack it.
There are some people that call themselves Libertarians that believe this, but I don't believe they're Libertarians; I think they're simply looking for a way to complain about something, as certain people often do.
On Mr. Huben's site is a page called the Non-Libertarian FAQ, which is a list of arguments that "Libertarians" often make and how to defeat them (I put "Libertarians" in quotes because these are arguments that I've never heard Libertarians make before). Mr. Huben is right-on with some of his rebuttals because he refutes an argument that is non-Libertarian and holds no water anyway. Regarding his other arguments, I will go through each of them here over the next few weeks and provide counterarguments.
I also plan to email him and let him know of the existance of this site. I don't know him nor have I ever spoken with him, but he seems like he's always up for intelligent conversation.
Posted by: Mike Huben
Hi, Nick. Feel welcome to criticize. I may not have much time to respond though.
A few things you might want to keep in mind...
First, if you want to criticize something I wrote, I recommend that you quote me rather than rephrase it. All too often, people put words in my mouth.
Second, every argument I rebut has been made repeatedly by libertarians. You can easily find them on the web, and if you can't, I can show you past postings.
Third, your idea of libertarianism may not be what other libertarians say. You ought not to criticize me for discussing somebody else's variant. if you don't agree with their variant, criticize them.
Fourth, there are already 6 or more critiques of my FAQ linked at my site. You may want to see if you're making arguments others have already made.
You mention my point that libertarianism is utopian. But I don't think I called it utopian for the reason you claimed. Perhaps you should cite me.
Posted by: Nick Coons
<if you want to criticize something I wrote, I recommend that you quote me rather than rephrase it.>
I would prefer it that way, thank you.
<Third, your idea of libertarianism may not be what other libertarians say. You ought not to criticize me for discussing somebody else's variant. if you don't agree with their variant, criticize them.>
I agree with that. My view on Libertarianism tends to fall in-line with the National Libertarian Party as described on www.lp.org. I can't vouche for what a rouge self-claimed "Libertarian" might say when in actuality they're not Libertarian at all and just want to complain.
That would be akin to someone claiming "I am Libertarian and I think that murder should not be infringed upon by the government." To rebut this is fine, but it's not a Libertarian ideal simply because the person making the argument claims to be Libertarian.
<Fourth, there are already 6 or more critiques of my FAQ linked at my site. You may want to see if you're making arguments others have already made.>
I will definitely do that.. thank you!
<You mention my point that libertarianism is utopian. But I don't think I called it utopian for the reason you claimed. Perhaps you should cite me.>
I mention that non-Libertarians tend to have that view. I don't believe that I stated that you specifically have made that argument.
Either way, welcome to the site! I understand your time constraints, but I appreciate your stopping in from time to time.
Posted by: Mike Huben
<I can't vouche for what a rouge self-claimed "Libertarian" might say when in actuality they're not Libertarian at all and just want to complain.>
The National Libertarian Party is a very tiny portion of the folks who represent themselves as libertarian. And rapidly dwindling as well.
But viewing the NLP as the true measure of libertarianism is as silly as viewing the Southern Baptists as the true measure of Christianity.
That's why I stick to refuting specific arguments: my refutation can stand even if you don't agree with the original argument. But if I argued against the trinity, you'd be foolish as a Unitarian to claim that I was attacking a straw man, and that Christians didn't believe in it. Likewise with folks who claim my FAQ attacks straw men.
Many libertarians are unaware of the diversity of libertarian belief out there. Perhaps I hear more of it than they do.
Posted by: Nick Coons
<But viewing the NLP as the true measure of libertarianism is as silly as viewing the Southern Baptists as the true measure of Christianity.>
I don't think that's a fair comparison. Christianity is 2000+ years old.. I don't know how hold the Southern Baptist church is, but I would venture to say not more than 150.
A more accurate comparison would be "But viewing the NLP as the true measure of libertarianism is as silly as viewing the Pope as the true measure of Catholicism," except replace the word "silly" with perhaps "sensible."
<That's why I stick to refuting specific arguments: my refutation can stand even if you don't agree with the original argument.>
Refuting specific arguments is fine, but just because someone claiming to be Libertarian made those arguments doesn't mean you're arguing against Libertarianism.
<But if I argued against the trinity, you'd be foolish as a Unitarian to claim that I was attacking a straw man, and that Christians didn't believe in it. Likewise with folks who claim my FAQ attacks straw men.>
Perhaps because Christianity is much older and much more well-known than Libertarianism that it's beliefs and principles are better understood. I would say that even many people claiming to be Libertarian don't even know what that means. And it's not specific to Libertarians.. it happens with other political parties as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger claims to be Republican, but supports gun-control and abortion, two very non-Republican views.
<Many libertarians are unaware of the diversity of libertarian belief out there. Perhaps I hear more of it than they do.>
Here's a theory I have.. I don't have any facts, just a theory.
People jump online looking for information (how to avoid paying taxes, break laws "legally", etc) and find their way in to some Libertarian information, or some whack-job who posts that the government tyrants/mobsters are oppressing the people (the latter is very common). He then claims to be Libertarian, jumps on usenet or another forum, and fights for his "God-given right" to XYZ.
There are quite a few of these people from what I can see.. all calling themselves Libertarians, none of which actually are. Someone is not Libertarian by virtue of saying they are, nor would someone be Christian, Democrat, or a record producer simply by saying they are. You are these things because your beliefs/actions are consistent with how these terms are defined.
Many of the arguments on your FAQ are great arguments, and make sense; and the arguments that they attack have serious flaws which you point out. However, being that someone said they were Libertarian before making an argument does not make them arguments of Libertirian ideals, which in turn does not make your rebuttals arguments against Libertarianism.
Posted by: Nick Coons
Or even an actual Libertarian making an argument doesn't make it Libertarian. As a Libertarian, I might argue that Linux is superior to Windows. This doesn't mean it's an argument based on Libertarian principles, nor does it reflect what Libertarians necessarily believe.
Posted by: Jason
This sums up my view of Libertarian Philo and every libertarian that I know
If you are going to argue against it, this should be the basis.
If the so call libertarian that you talk to has views that confilict with this, they are not a libertarian
Understanding The Libertarian Philosophy
by Joseph Knight
What is the proper role of government in a free society? To answer this question, we must first understand what is meant by "government."
Government is the use of force. To govern means to control. The use of force is implicit in the definition of control. Otherwise, it would be "influence" rather than control. Even the good things that governments do involve the use of force somewhere, somehow. Sometimes government uses force directly to control behavior. Other times, government uses money taken by force to fund activities which would otherwise not involve the use of force.
Understanding that government is the use of force, the question then becomes "What is the proper use of force in a free society?" To answer this question, we first look at different types of force:
INITIAL FORCE: In any group of people, from 2 to 20 billion, there is no use of force until someone uses it first. Initial force is aggression or coercion.
DEFENSIVE FORCE: Defensive force is the use of force to defend your safety, rights, or property. You have the right to defend yourself, and the right to authorize others, such as those in government, to use defensive force in your behalf. Defensive force is survival.
RETALIATORY FORCE: Retaliatory Force is punishment of someone who has initiated force. If someone assaults you, you have the right to authorize government to punish those responsible in your behalf. Retaliatory force is justice.
Some people have suggested a fourth category of preemptive force but most examples of preemptive force, upon analysis, can be placed in one of the other three categories.
Libertarians are, by definition, those who oppose the initiation of force.
Some Libertarians are also pacifists. They decline the use of any force. Libertarianism is broad enough to encompass pacifists. All oppose the initiation of force.
Some Libertarians are militant. They have no qualms about defensive and/or retaliatory force. Libertarianism is broad enough to encompass militants. The common factor is opposition to the initiation of force.
Opposition to the initiation of force (the NON-COERCION PRINCIPLE) is the essence of the libertarian philosophy.
Freedom is the absence of the initiation of force.
A robber cannot be "free" to steal your property nor can the bully be "free" to strike you. The robber and the bully have initiated force and the condition of freedom doesn't exist unless there is an absence of the initiation of force.
Consequently, a "right" cannot be something which must be had at the expense of others.
You have the right to free speech, but not to compel others to provide your forum.
You have the right to earn a living, but not to compel others to provide your living.
You have the right to believe in whatever religion you choose, but if your god requires the sacrifice of virgins, you must find a virgin willing to be sacrificed without the initiation of force.
Libertarians apply the non-coercion principle to all human behavior.
It doesn't matter if the initiators of force are in or out of government. Government doesn't confer some mystical right on some to violate the rights of others. If it is wrong for a person to commit a rape as an individual, it must be equally wrong for a person to commit a rape as an agent of government.
If somebody takes your property without your permission, it is theft (an initiation of force).
It's theft regardless of whether the loot is used to buy drugs or to feed the poor.
It is theft regardless of whether there is 1 thief or 20 million thieves.
It is theft regardless of whether the gang calls itself the "Sons of Satan" or the "Internal Revenue Service."
The proper role of government (force) in a free society then, is to defend and/or retaliate against those who initiate force. Government in a free society should not be the initiator of force.
Some laws, such as those prohibiting murder, rape, robbery, and fraud, are laws against the initiation of force.
Enforcement of such laws is the application of defensive and/or retaliatory force, and is appropriate for government in a free society.
Other laws constitute an initiation of force.
Government should not initiate force to seize the property of individuals.
Government should not initiate force to compel service to the state.
Government should not initiate force to impose lifestyles or moral codes.
Government should not even initiate force when "it's for your own good."
In a free society, you have property rights.
You can use honestly acquired property in any way that does not constitute initiation of force or fraud, trespass on the property of others, or violate agreements you have voluntarily entered into. You decide which charities to support, and don't have to sacrifice your property against your will for purposes that others decide on rather than you.
In a free society, you have personal rights.
You can live however you want so long as you don't initiate force or fraud against others or their property. You decide what risks to take, what to believe in, and how to entertain yourself.
Property rights and personal rights are really the same. Personal rights are based on property rights because you own your life, your body, and your mind.
Ownership and the use of honestly acquired property is not, in and of itself, an initiation of force and therefore does not violate the rights of others.
If someone owns an AK-47 and uses it to murder school children, it is the murder that is the initiation of force, not the ownership of the AK-47. Murder should be prohibited and punished regardless of the weapon used. Most people who own AK-47's do not murder school children or anybody else.
If you own or rent a sexually explicit video and commit a sexual assault after viewing it, it is the sexual assault that is the initiation of force, not the viewing of the video. Rape should be prohibited whether "obscenity" is involved or not. Most people who view sexually explicit films do not commit sexual assaults.
If someone owns and uses drugs, and steals to buy more drugs, it is the theft that is the initiation of force. Theft should be prohibited regardless of what the loot is spent on. The use of drugs is not an initiation of force.
In the old days people sometimes had to answer to the church for their crimes. Some thought they could lessen the gravity of their offenses by claiming possession. "Your Holiness, the devil made me do it." What we often hear today is "Your Honor, the drugs made me do it" or "Your Honor, the pornography made me do it" or "Your Honor, my unhappy childhood made me do it."
With freedom comes responsibility. If you initiate force, you should be held fully accountable. No cop-outs, no devils, no shifting the blame to others or to inanimate objects. If you do not initiate force or fraud (a subtle form of force), you should be left alone and force should not be initiated against you by government or anybody else.
It's that simple.
The Tao of Liberty!
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