Tag: objectivist

The 7 Most Important Schools of Libertarian Thought

Jack Parkos | United States

When people think of libertarians, they often tend to think “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” or “a Republican who likes weed”. However, neither of these statements are fully true. The libertarian philosophy actually goes very deep; in fact, there are several factions of different libertarian schools of thought. The libertarian ideology is far more intellectually diverse than American conservatives and liberals. Below are some of the different major schools of libertarian thought. Though many more exist, these seven best capture the wide array of beliefs.

Classical Liberalism

Classical liberalism is one of the earliest schools of libertarian thought. Originating in the philosophy of John Locke, classical liberalism holds that all men are born with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property and that the sole purpose of government is to protect those rights. The Declaration of Independence is an echo of classical liberal thought, as many of America’s Founding Father’s were classical liberals. Generally, they place emphasis on natural law, republicanism, and skepticism; many classical liberals are firm believers in the U.S. Constitution.

Key classical liberal figures include:

  • John Locke
  • Thomas Paine
  • Many of America’s Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington

Anarcho-capitalism

Anarcho-capitalists base their philosophy on the moral principle called the “Non-aggression Principle” (NAP). The basis of the NAP is that people do not have the right to initiate force against others. On the contrary, the only acceptable use of force is in self-defense. They also believe that the mere existence of the state violates the NAP, as it acquires all its income through coercive means (taxation). Thus, they believe that no government should exist. Instead, they believe that voluntary communities and private entities should fill the government’s role.

Key anarcho-capitalist figures include:

  • Murray Rothbard
  • Hans Hermann Hoppe
  • David Friedman

Minarchism

Minarchism basically falls in between anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism. It holds many similar beliefs to anarcho-capitalism but criticizes the idea of a lack of government. Minarchists believe that the free market can cover almost all government programs. However, they maintain that a minimalist government is necessary for the protection of rights. Minarchists typically believe, with some variation, that government should be limited to a “Night-watchman State” consisting of police, military, and courts. Robert Nozick, author of “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” argued that out of anarcho-capitalism, minarchism would naturally arise, as monopolized private police and courts would form a “state” of sorts.

Key minarchists include:

  • Robert Nozick
  • Friedrich Hayek
  • Ludvig Von Mises

Objectivism

Objectivism is a philosophy that author Ayn Rand outlines in her books “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead”. To begin with, objectivism is an extreme Laissez-faire capitalist belief with huge emphasis on individualism. Rand believed that man was best off serving his own self interest and should not need to help out the needy. In addition, it describes the pursuit of one’s own happiness as life’s most important goal. Accordingly, she, like many objectivists, rejected selflessness and altruism as an inefficient direction of resources.

Key figures in the Objectivist movement include:

  • Ayn Rand
  • Leonard Peikoff

Bleeding Heart Libertarianism

Bleeding Heart Libertarians can be considered more “moderate” libertarians. In some cases, they are associated with the libertarian left. The official site for bleeding heart libertarians says they believe in “free markets and social justice“. Bleeding Heart Libertarians tend to believe in social equality and egalitarianism. They often still believe in social safety nets and a welfare state, and fall on the progressive side on social issues.

Arguably, the most famous bleeding heart libertarian is Gary Johnson. Much of the moderate side of the Libertarian Party also falls under this category.

Libertarian Socialism

Libertarian socialism is a form of left libertarianism. Typically, it is a form of Marxist theory that believes in social liberties and limited to no government. However, they also support a voluntary sharing of resources in a communal way. They also tend to oppose the power of strong corporations and hierarchies. Libertarian socialists often believe capitalism to be a tyrannical force and compare the “economic” elite to the state. As a result, they believe in ending authoritarianism and bringing in systems of direct democracy (sometimes unanimous) that distribute wealth more evenly.

This mode of thought draws much criticism from most other branches of libertarianism. Conversely, many libertarian socialists firmly believe themselves to be the only true libertarians. This partly dates back to the origin of anarchism and libertarianism in 19th-century Europe as a term to describe the left.

Key libertarian socialists include:

  • Emma Goldman
  • Peter Kropotkin
  • Noam Chomsky

Paleolibertarianism

Paleolibertarians believe that while the state should be limited or abolished, society should still hold culturally conservative views. Paleolibertarians are thus very supportive of Western and American culture and are concerned about threats to it.

The paleolibertarian movement began in the 1990’s as a coalition of paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives that Rothbard (above) and paleoconservative presidential candidate Pat Buchanan formed. Basically, the goal was to stop interventionism, globalism, and social democracy.

Paleolibertarians usually oppose mass immigration and foreign wars. Many more radical paleolibertarians may consider themselves “Hoppeans”, following the anarcho-capitalist philosophy of Hans Hermann Hoppe.

Key paleolibertarians include:

  • Murray Rothbard
  • Lew Rockwell
  • Hans Hermann Hoppe
  • Ron Paul
  • Tom Woods

The movement, of course, is even more diverse than this. Countless versions of libertarian thought exist within it, and it would take ages to explain them all. Without a doubt, the area of thought is rich with diversity and variation. No two libertarians are alike, but all have one thing in common: a desire to live free.


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All You Need to Know About The American Capitalist Party

Kaycee Ikeonu | Canada

Libertarians and Objectivists are often lumped into the same general category in political discourse as “libertarians”, despite the fact that Objectivists often try to distinguish themselves from the broader libertarian label. The founder of Objectivism, for example, Ayn Rand, famously described libertarians as “hippies of the right” and completely rejected comparisons between the two ideologies. However, with the formation of a new pro-liberty party, the American Capitalist Party, comparisons to the Libertarian Party are to be expected.

The American Capitalist Party was founded on the principles of reason, individual rights, limited government, and laissez-faire capitalism. It’s co-founders are Mark Pellegrino and Joe Sanders, and it’s philosophy is heavily influenced by the works of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism.

So what makes the American Capitalist Party different from the Libertarian Party?

Superficially, it is obvious that both parties are advocates of individual rights and limited government. According to Mark Pellegrino however, it is the philosophical base of both parties that makes them significantly different. In an interview with the Objective Standard, Pellegrino argued that the ACP views man as a rational animal influenced by reason and reason only. He says:

“The defining difference between the ACP and the Libertarian Party is our respective orientations toward liberty and government, which, in turn, are based on our respective views of human nature and morality. In short, the ACP views men as rational animals—beings who live and prosper by using their minds to understand the world, to produce values, and to trade by mutual consent to mutual advantage. We regard such activities as moral because they advance human life. And we see liberty as a necessary condition for exercising the faculty of reason because, in order to act on your rational judgment, you must be free to do so.”

Pellegrino contrasts this philosophy from that of the Libertarian Party, claiming that the LP has no strong, common philosophical grounding. He says:

“Libertarians don’t see rational thinking, rational action, and moral rights as absolute requirements of human life. Rather, they regard freedom from force—or the “non-aggression principle”—merely as a requirement of economic action and thus as politically good.”

It is evident that the philosophy of the American Capitalist Party is based on a specific moral framework. But this view of politics could be a bit too extreme for mainstream Americans to handle. For example, consistent with the views of Ayn Rand, the ACP advocates the complete separation of the state from the economy. This includes the abolition of many government-run programs, including schools, hospitals, social programs, and regulations. Perhaps the most extreme form of this is the abolition of government regulation in the economy. The ACP website states:

“We support an immediate abolition of all environmentalist legislation that restricts the right of U.S. companies to produce energy, and the establishment of a free market in energy…We confidently maintain that a free market in energy, similar to a free market in computer technology, will attract brilliant minds dedicated to meeting mankind’s energy needs across all technologies—and that to do so effectively, government must be legally restricted from any and all forms of interference.”

Mark Pellegrino acknowledged that these policies wouldn’t be implemented overnight, but would be phased out over time. Insofar as campaigning is concerned, Pellegrino says Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, and Texas could be the first “battleground states” for the ACP.

The ACP is indeed a unique party quite distinct from the Republican, Democratic and even Libertarian Parties. But one could ask if it’s niche and concentrated philosophy would be attractive to most Americans today.

To learn more about the American Capitalist Party, click here.


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How Ayn Rand’s Objectivism Shaped Libertarianism

By Josh Hughes | United States

Ayn Rand’s philosophy was very essential for the development of libertarian ideas as well as the Libertarian Party in the mid-to-late 20th century. While Rand and other Objectivists often feuded with libertarians in their time, it is undeniable that, in hindsight, the two have successfully coexisted and made great contributions to each other.

Ayn Rand’s Background

Rand was born 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. She lived with her family through the Bolshevik revolutions of the 1910s, and personally experienced the horrors of Communism when her father’s business was taken by the state and her family faced starvation many times. She learned about America while in schooling and decided to leave for the land of opportunity in 1925, originally intent on being a playwright.

Rand’s Beliefs

As someone that lived through one of the most collective regimes in modern history, Ayn Rand had a unique appreciation for individualism. She first started expressing her beliefs as a fiction writer, specifically in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her ideas centered around the idea that man as an individual is the single most important thing in the world. More specifically, whatever made him happy was the most important purpose of his life, and his success his “noblest achievement.”

With such an egocentric philosophy comes many stipulations. Ideally, an Objectivist society would exist only within a very free state. One of Rand’s biggest beliefs is the necessity of Laissez-faire capitalism. In fact, it’s the only economic system viable for humanity’s success. She claims that state and trade must be separated the same as state and church, and that man, in realizing his potential and strength, will demand his freedom in trading. A government, she asserts, has one job: to protect the rights individuals and nothing more, something the Founders and many current day libertarians would agree with.

How Objectivism Shaped Libertarianism

It’s pretty obvious that a lot of these ideas sound very similar to libertarianism, more specifically a night-watchman minarchy state. As close as they may seem, however, Rand and her Objectivists frequently feuded with Libertarians in her time. Her specific thoughts can be read here, but the main idea is she was against libertarians because they try to combine anarchy and capitalism, which, in her opinion, cannot coexist. She consistently refers to the Libertarian Party as “right-wing hippies” that have moral convictions of those on the left, yet they advocate for limited government. Her views on foreign policy are iffy, and she often clashed with libertarian figurehead Murray Rothbard on ideas.

Whether or not Rand would still hold those values is impossible to find out, yet it would foolish to say the two philosophies and ideologies haven’t strengthened each other throughout the years. Many libertarians consider themselves Objectivists, due to the fact that the philosophy stands so firmly on the ideas of limited government and individualism. It’s important that we are knowledgeable of what laid the foundations of the Libertarian Party in the 1970s. While Objectivists and Libertarians have had their fair share of quarrels and disagreements, it’s an interesting philosophy that is invaluable for libertarians to look into in order to help shape their views.


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Your “Rights” are Ultimately Meaningless

By Ryan Lau | @agorists

Enlightenment-era philosopher John Locke was a vocal supporter of the idea of rights. His famous works outlined life, liberty, and property as the three basic natural rights in the world. Though granted by an all-powerful force (nature or a creator), a government would protect these rights. However, Locke’s perception of the very idea of rights is simply inaccurate. In the grand scheme of things, a right to perform an action means very little, as it cannot stop an ensuing consequence from occurring.

First, it is worth noting that government is a downright awful guardian of rights. Inherently, the state takes away both the liberty and the property of nearly every individual it claims to protect. When it signs into a law a bill regarding a victimless act, the state usurps liberty. And, when that state takes time and money from the people via conscription and taxation to execute and enforce said law, it usurps property. Thus, with nearly every action it takes, a state is in violation of two of the three Lockean principles. This, of course, throws a wrench into the idea of a government protecting rights.

Now, if a government is not the solution, what is? Surely, there must be a way to guard these rights. After all, they have been touted as the cornerstones of a free society for hundreds of years. Yet, as stated above, the allegedly free society’s function relies on restricting the very rights it claims to protect. This progression of thought leads many, including me, to abandon the notion of a successful state, instead believing that an anarchist community will best guard rights.

Alas, a society without rulers will clearly have its flaws, too. In the absence of police and prison, there will be some people able to infringe more upon the rights of others. Simply stated, the existence of a right will never stop someone from infringing upon it. The idea of a right is actually quite similar to the idea of a gun-free zone. If a shooter has an intent of murder, then a sign that tells them they cannot shoot will in no way prevent them from doing so. Though the sign has a good intention, it does nothing, as the gunman has a stronger motive.

The exact same concept applies to the idea of a right to life. Sure, all humans, according to Locke, have a right to life. Yet, that right seemingly dissolves when the gunman pulls his trigger. The right to life, in itself, does no more to actually guard lives than does a gun-free zone sign. In fact, it may be less effective, as the sign may be a slight crime deterrent in a few instances. Hence, a society without a state operates only marginally better than one with a state, when both claim protection of rights as an ultimate goal. Sadly, this renders the very idea of rights to be insignificant to a society’s mode of function.

If not rights, then what should determine the workings of a society? In short, the answer is based on morality and on true, informed consent. More specifically, it involves ensuring, on a local level, that every individual is treated in an acceptable manner, by their own standards. It is wrong to assume that a singular definition of “right” will work for a large group of people. In fact, such an assumption may be one of very few objective wrongs in this world. Such an assumption allows for the great inhumanity of misunderstanding.

In the vast world we humans live in, it is impossible to count the sheer number of cultures, ideologies, and philosophies that exist in it. This is because that number is in constant flux, rising with every birth, and falling with every death. How, then, can we ever trust a state to seek the interest of all of them? The thought is a naive impossibility, especially with the state’s inherent tendency to rob. A single anarchist idea will fail, in nearly the same way. It simply does not come even close to representing the vast scope of ideas present in the world. The only idea that can truly guard the subjective needs of all, is no idea at all.

Without a designated philosophy, a written or unwritten code of ethics, individuals can be free to form their own. Yet, unlike with a state, or even an anarchist community, a true lack of designation allows for people to create multiple unions with those of differing values. In a state, trade barriers often limit the access people have with those bound by other states. In anarchist communities, strict economic and social guidelines may do the same. It is only when no community is given preference, that all can thrive at once.

In such a realm, may some violations of individual standards still occur? Of course they will. Such is human nature, and the imperfect state of our planet. Yet, when we abandon the universal concept of rights, and instead focus on the needs of the individual, we move away from imperfection. In the gunman scenario before, imagine the scene occurring in a hospital bed. The victim is terminally ill, yet the hospital’s policy prohibits a swift end to the victim’s suffering. Now, the gunman is no evil force; he is rather trying to meet the needs of the sick man. Objective rights would state that the gunman is evil, and violating the sick man’s right to life. Yet, voluntary action and individual need trump the very concept of rights in every situation concerning an individual’s own self.

Objective standards for a society are an incredibly dangerous chasm, in which most of us have fallen. Rights are merely a long-standing manifestation of this chasm. Yet, hope still exists for the world, and by moving away from a preference for objective standards, we begin to return to a moral existence.


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Faith and Love: Rand’s Critical Error

By Kaihua Zhou | United States

Ayn Rand, the founder of Objectivism, extolled the virtues of the free market and individual liberty. Conservatives such as Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Ted Cruz are on record as admirers of her literature. To liberals, Rand personifies their anxieties: unbridled selfishness oppressing the weak. In reality, Rand’s vision, while extraordinary in its scope, possesses its limitations.  Perhaps the greatest limitation is its conception of faith and love.

In a 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, Rand posits the following:

I am primarily the creator of a new code of morality which has so far been believed impossible. Namely, a morality not based on faith, not on arbitrary whim, not on emotion, not on arbitrary edict, mystical or social, but on reason…

I’m challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that man’s moral duty is to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others.

Such sentiments fell dramatically outside mainstream thought in 1959, and they remain so today. It is for this precise cause that Rand remains so controversial.

Rand’s view has a degree of merit. If taken to an extreme, selflessness can father oppression. One need only recall their terrors of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Pol Pot’s Cambodia to see the consequences of collectivism. When states determine that their citizens live only for the sake of advancing their cause, tragedies occur.

However, Rand’s counter-proposal can lead to its own pitfalls. To quote again from the 1959 interview,

You don’t love everybody indiscriminately. You love only those who deserve it.

Instead of altruism, Objectivists hold that one must love conditionally.  This begs the question: who deserves love? Does a captured enemy combatant “deserve” it? Do individuals struggling with substance abuse “deserve” love? What about unrepentant criminals? Within society, there is a spectrum of moral qualities.  Consequently, individuals vary in their ability to contribute to society.  It is fair to say not all are equally worthy of love, but even so, all possess human dignity and are entitled to certain liberties. With that dignity comes moral obligation, and a degree of unconditional love. Such is the faith-based morality that Rand deplores.

In a strictly Judeo-Christian context, the Holy Bible records multiple examples of this. In both the Old and New Testaments, moral failures are repeatedly condemned. David referred to Goliath as an “uncircumcised Philistine”  (1 Samuel 17:26) and Christ had no qualms challenging the corrupt, referring to Harold as a “fox” ( Luke 13:32).  These are powerful examples of recognizing evil. Even so, the testaments also proclaim imago dei, an equality among God’s children. Thus, they all deserve a degree of love. Malachi 2:10 states that ” Have we not all one father? have not one God created us?”.  Similarly, Christ commanded his disciples to forgive their trespassers and to love one another ( Matthew 6:14-15, John 15:19). Thus a faith-based morality can recognize faults in character, while maintaining that there are universal moral obligations.

To be absolutely clear, this is not equivalent to blind naiveté. A prosecutor, for example, can recognize the villainy of a crime lord, while respecting a defendant’s rights. Nor does the idea require collectivism. Citizens can fulfill their moral duty without being forced by the state to do so. Rand was right to praise the freedoms of individuals. Where she erred was failing to see the subtleties of love and faith.


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