Tag: responsibility

Libertarianism is not Self-Destructive or Unsustainable

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

A recent article by an unknown guest contributor on the Bilan Report suggested that a libertarian society is unsustainable for various reasons. Among these are the ideas that all personal freedom leads to libertinism, individualism is incompatible with the NAP (non-aggression principle), and the supposed libertarian assumption that all governance is bad. The author makes many misconceptions about libertarianism in their article. In response, this piece attempts to set the record straight on libertarian philosophy.

Christianity

The author of this piece starts off the article with an explanation that “there is some level of inherent worth within the individual” from a Biblical perspective. The author then attempts to immediately downplay this importance. They say that a philosophy based entirely on individualism would not work very well.

There is no exact definition of individualism made. From later parts of the article, we can assume the author means that individualism is independence from any organization. The Biblical definition of individualism clearly does not coincide with the latter definition, though. This is because the Bible clearly outlines the importance of being a member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and part of the Church community.

Because the Bible also emphasizes the importance of community along with individualism, Biblically deduced individualism as a core of a philosophy would not lead to the disastrous consequences that the author suggests.

Individualism is not the full extent of the Biblical relationship to libertarianism either. In the first part of Bastiat’s The Law, natural rights stemming from life as a gift from God are clearly deduced. I have written on this subject before:

These gifts from God preclude any human legislation and any political leader that has ever existed. This is the core of what exists. These are human rights. Legislation does not define these – nature and nature’s God has. In the garden in Genesis, there was no government. It was anarchy in the truest sense there has ever been, no coercive governing entity. There was only a loving and gift giving God. Clearly there was no legislator dictating how Adam and Eve live their lives through the coercive stroke of a pen. Human legislation cannot ever get underneath this core, but it can restrict it. Restricting it has no benefit though, for any restriction of freedom will stifle economic growth. God set it up this way, to make it the most beneficial for everyone to be free to use their faculties as they wish.

It is foolish to downplay the relationship between the Bible and libertarianism as a few verses alluding to individualism. It goes much deeper and is much stronger. Regardless the author dismisses all discussion on Christian libertarianism by says that “it remains somewhat outside the scope of this discussion of libertarianism as a whole.” This is untrue. Ron Paul is probably the second most convert-gaining libertarian in human history (directly behind Ayn Rand). Bastiat, John Locke, and many of the founding fathers had a faith-based perspective on liberty. But such a statement by the author allows them to get rid of an opposition to their argument. They construct a libertarian strawman that is much easier to attack.

Human Action

The author of this piece also seems to get praxeological insight confused with a moral code as to how man ought to or should act. They mention the action based framework for economics loosely twice in the article:

Taken to its logical conclusion, libertarianism holds that there are no wrong choices, but simply the right to make that choice.

Drawing on heavy Kantian influences they view human action as fundamentally rational, or purposeful.

In Human Action Ludwig von Mises describes that man acts. From this action axiom, along with other synthetic apriori truths (irrefutable statements we learn and know simply from being human), we can deduce the entire science of economics as a subset of praxeology. These other apriori ideas are things such as the law of returns, the law of diminishing marginal utility, time preference, the existence of opportunity costs, etc. These come from the epistemology put forth by Kant which the author alludes to.

The culmination of all of this truth gives us a value-free economics that allows us to understand how the world is and how it works. Praxeological reasoning does not tell us how the world ought to be. It is value-free. It does not aim to. Because of this, the propositions that man faces various choices does not mean that any choice a human chooses is good or moral. The author clearly does not understand that praxeological value free truths do not intersect with libertarian ethical standards from a Misesian perspective.

From a Rothbardian/Hoppean perspective, they eventually do, especially when it comes to the Hoppean argumentation ethics. The author does not address these at all, though, and simply takes the proposition that “man makes choices” to mean that “all choices a man makes are good.” Once again, this is a strawman of libertarian philosophy brought about most likely by lack of understanding of the philosophy.

The NAP

The author then attempts to argue that the non-aggression principle, or NAP, is incompatible with libertarianism:

The principle of limiting coercion is a fundamental aspect of libertarianism but taken in context with the other principles of maximal autonomy and the ability for the individual to reason towards moral and ethical principles, it becomes contradictory. If moral principles are something that can be determined through an individual’s own use of reason how can there be an objective universal principle against coercion?

This reasoning is once again based on a false conception of what libertarianism is. Not a single serious libertarian theorist has ever argued that “an individual’s own use of reason” allows them to come up with their own moral principles. I have no idea where the author got this idea. Libertarianism does not make the slightest attempt to justify any moral standard any individual just dreams up.

If libertarianism did justify such a proposition, it would be extremely flawed. A psychopath could reason their way to a moral standard of murder being ok because it makes them feel good. The reason this is not ok is that the non-aggression principle supersedes individual standards of morality. Libertarian theorist Robert Nozick described the non-aggression principle as a “side constraint” on action. This means that we cannot do things that violate this side constraint.

Think of the rules of soccer: there is the side constraint that you cannot pick up the ball. If you could pick up the ball, it would be helpful for you, because you could through the ball into the goal. This is not allowed in soccer though because it breaks the game. The side constraint of the non-aggression principle breaks the game of reality.

Governance

The author of this piece eventually gets to the point of arguing that libertarian individualism means a complete lack of any sort of social structure. They seem to think that lack of government (a territorial monopoly based on the threat of force) means a lack of governance (an authority based on societal norms or culture). They say the following:

Libertarianism taken to its logical conclusions promotes complete autonomy. This moves beyond simply being unconstrained by positive law and a strict use of only negative law, but liberation from associations and relationships. This includes fundamental institutions such as, “the family, church, and schools to the village and neighborhood and the community broadly defined—that exert strong control over behavior largely through informal and habituated expectations and norms.”14  Ironically, the rejection of institutions and concepts that have traditionally reigned in human behavior creates a further need and additional calls for the state to intervene to regulate bad behavior. This contradiction can play out as legislation mandating acceptance of, or at least association with, behaviors that would be rejected by natural law.

While the radical individualism of Objectivists does reject the idea of any sort of cultural governance, most libertarians (often right-libertarians) see it as an important staple as a free society. Families, churches, and cultural communities are important modes of organization that can exist outside of the state. Jeff Deist expertly explains the importance of such social institutions in this video:

A libertarian society does not reject these complex social institutions. Rather, it upholds these institutions, while a society with a growing state tears these down in favor of itself. The author seems to think that liberty leads to lack of organization, causing a need for the state. The situation is constructed in an entirely backward manner, though. The state seeks to grow in power. It would rather the people become reliant on it rather than their families or churches.

The wearing away of a traditional reliance on such institutions and customs, Deneen argues, will lead to a breakdown of functioning society. Instead of creating a society based on non-aggression and free transaction, best fulfilling the desires of its people, libertarianism tends to isolate the individual and break down the institutions that maintain a proper society.

The author of this piece does not understand what being a freely acting individual means. They seem to think it means being a freely acting individual outside of the influence of anyone else. But society does exist. And it is made up of individual people. The only alternative to this radical independent individualism in the eyes of the author is the state. But as we have explained the state is the true cause of the denigration of these important social institutions.

Liberty and Responsibility

Now we will move onto the final question of libertarian libertinism. The author makes the proposition that the non-Christian libertarianism spirals into responsibility free left-libertarian hedonism. Yet at the same time, the author quotes Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard as major representatives of the libertarian philosophy. Neither of these individuals was for hedonism. Both of them were against libertinism.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is based completely around being responsible for yourself. Murray Rothbard and libertarians in the Rothbardian tradition recognize the importance of responsibility on a society. I have written recently on this matter of responsibility and how it is very important to combat libertine libertarianism.

Freedom means we do not have the right to encroach on the actions of someone else. But freedom also means you need to be responsible for your own actions. It means you need to better yourself without the force of the government. Christian libertarianism is not the only political framework that promotes responsibility. And the answer to libertinism sure as hell is not more state power. It is the promotion of a culture of responsibility.

Libertarian theory is not self-destructive. A libertarian social order is not as unsustainable as this author believes. They think that their strawman version of libertarianism would be horrendous. But it is a strawman and not an accurate representation of libertarian belief.

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Personal Responsibility and The Quest for Blame

By Fritz | United States

As the year 2018 continues ahead into the Summer Season, we have yet again in America come across what has become a rather typical news story: multiple teenagers dead in a shooting carried out by a lone gunman in a high school. Not even an hour after such news breaks, before there are even details that have been disclosed, the politicization of the event is underway.

That is true on both sides of the spectrum: Immediately there are those offering condolences, thoughts, and prayers. They are almost always quickly scrutinized and belittled by a segment of individuals who are angry (rightfully so, it is quite sickening to read or watch a breaking news story in which children are dying), but they are more than angry, a quick search of whatever hashtag is being branded on the incident will show you some pretty vile responses to someone expressing their sorrow.

Then there is the wave of gun control now statuses, where you typically will read lines such as “all assault weapons need to be banned,” “we need common sense gun control,” and now even more so, the bolder “ban all guns.” The latter is becoming more and more prevalent, as the most recent shooting which claimed the lives of 10 people, most of whom were young teenage students, was not carried out with the usual AR-15 Rifle, rather this time it was a .38 revolver and a shotgun, two guns that a few weeks ago any gun control advocate would have probably argued are completely fine because they aren’t “assault weapons.”

After a few days, what then happens is what I call the “quest for blame.” It is a natural occurrence because we all typically agree that no decent, sane human being carries out such acts of unspeakable violence. In the latest case, a number of issues have been brought up for discussion, including alleged bullying of the culprit, ease of access to guns for the culprit (they .38 and shotgun in question were legally purchased and owned by his father) and even Ollie North, the next NRA President, suggesting a combination of overexposure to violence and prescribed medication as a factor.

This is exactly what it becomes: Who or what caused this to happen? And the answer, unfortunately, is not a simple one. Some people try to pin it on a culture of violence: Television is more violent, movies are more violent, video games are not only violent but nearly at the peak of realism. Yet despite these facts, almost every major study conducted on video game violence shows no data to suggest that consumers become more violent due to the content of the games themselves.

Glenn Beck and numerous voices at The Blaze are arguing that still, culturally there is an overall lack of respecting the sanctity of human life. Beck argues that it boils down to the very issues such as abortion, where everything has been stripped down to the simple mechanics of a woman having the absolute right to control anything to do with her body, including whether or not she completes a pregnancy or terminates it. (Note: I am not arguing for or against the issue here, merely presenting someone’s opinion.)

My argument is that it well may be a blending of multiple things. Take myself as an example: At the time of High School, I had already experienced losing a parent, my father, when I was merely 4 years old; when I was 9 my 12-year-old sister was diagnosed with cancer and months later passed away; I was shy, introverted, not outgoing, quiet, kept to myself, played video games and struggled with my religious beliefs. Technically, you could profile me with that information.

At that time, I probably suffered from depression, but I dealt with the issues that life threw at me in my own way. My outlet was discovering music, and I fell in love with bands that people have never heard of and discovered Power Metal, which is my musical getaway from the world and helps me tackle my spiritual struggles.

During that time, I never sought to blame something or someone for life. It simply was. I never had a violent thought in my head, yet I played the first installments of Call of Duty and God of War. I went to the gun range with Scouts. Because of my religious beliefs and personality at the time, I was kind of an outcast and a weirdo. I dealt with my fair share of bullies, but never did I want to wish harm on people because that was the complete opposite of key things I was taught growing up.

As we all continue on, the struggle remains the same: Nobody wants to wake up and see a story of kids getting killed, but not everyone believes stricter gun laws will actually accomplish the goal of reducing violence. We then remained stalled, where we currently are, and that is not a good thing either.

You can never find a true solution, but we seemingly do not examine the entire picture in trying to find several solutions that could work for the better.


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“Planet-Lovers” Are Less Environmentally Conscious

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

A University of Michigan study recently revealed that those who identify as extremely concerned about environmental matters such as climate change tend to be less environmentally conscious in their personal lives.

We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different outcomes: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

This study reveals that there is blatant hypocrisy among greens and shows a major flaw in advocacy for government action on behalf of the planet. The environmentalists tend to not practice what they preach. They think their planet-loving virtue signaling excuses them from actually embodying a lifestyle that promotes and protects the environment.

This is because of a phenomenon called “moral licensing.” Because they go out and do the easy environmentalist things, such as buying organic foods or making a social media post about the beauty of the planet, they think they have earned points that make them better than everyone else. With these points of delusion, they excuse environmentally detrimental activities that they may engage in.

Tom Jacobs echoes this point:

Previous research has found doing something altruistic—even buying organic foods—gives us license to engage in selfish activity. We’ve “earned” points in our own mind. So if you’ve pledged some money to Greenpeace, you feel entitled to enjoying the convenience of a plastic bag.

The other major issue that this study brings to light is the personal actions (or inactions) of those who wish that the government enact certain policies. Environmentalists vote, campaign, and lobby for the state to put various protections and restrictions in place so that the environment will be shielded from the evil capitalist boogeymen that they conceptualize.

This causes a diffusion of responsibility. They will no longer be conscious of their own actions and the effects of their actions on the environment because they no longer feel they are responsible for it.

The effect of government advocacy on greens is not dissimilar to that of proponents of the welfare state. Instead of giving to charity and helping the homeless themselves, they would rather the state steal from the top of our society and give it to the bottom.

Similarly, greens don’t want to prevent themselves from polluting. Rather, they want to government to force others no to pollute. Worral says:

Perhaps that sense of personal ownership, of responsibility for one’s actions, is what is missing from the green movement – a point made by the authors of the study.

Be skeptical of the friend or colleague that advocates for green policy. Chances are, they do not practice what they preach.

An Honest Plan for the Future of Our Liberty

Michael McFarland | United States

Libertarians must become leaders in business, in politics, in education, and in science. More importantly, we must become leaders in our community, for it is in taking up that responsibility that we demonstrate how the philosophy of peace and prosperity is vastly superior to the authoritarian alternatives. That is how we win.

From the pothole filling anarchists who take it upon themselves to repair damaged roads, to the volunteers at the rec centers, and community gardens, we can see everyday examples of liberty in action.

You don’t have to wait for the election of a candidate to public office, or the passing of particular legislation to make a real impact. These things aren’t what truly matter.

Instead, I’d like for you to take a look around your community, and look for ways you can help improve it. I want you to look for actions you can take to improve the quality of life in your immediate area.

Is there trash you could pick up?

In addition, could your neighbors use some help with their yard or their home?

Also, how are the schools? After school activities? Your local religious institutions?

These are just a few examples.

The more we show how well taking responsibility for your own community works, and the more responsibility the community has for itself, then the less likely it is that the community will want to relinquish that responsibility to government bureaucrats and their goons.

Let’s not wait for the government to relinquish control. Let’s take it back by taking back our communities one neighborhood at a time. It’s time to show that government action is not necessary.

That’s how we win. That’s how we ease the fears of accepting responsibility for one’s own life, and that’s how we see more libertarian ideas penetrate this authoritarian system of control and subjugation.

#Rise #TakeHumanAction #GoldRush2018

***Michael McFarland is a guest contributor and he is currently running for Arizona State House. For more information, please visit his website at https://mcfarlandforaz.com/

Why Jordan Peterson Is A Libertarian’s New Best Friend

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

In 1996 and 2000, the Libertarian Party nominated a self-help author as its presidential candidate.

Harry Browne was a veteran, capitalist, and investment guide that managed to grab the nomination spot for the LP. His advocacy for strong Libertarian principles, refusal to take federal matching funds, and charisma made him the type of Libertarian we were all longing for after 2016.

 

What stands out about him, though, is his book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. Being Libertarian, the book was, of course, about freedom, yet the related books on Amazon are not radical manifestos or economic treatises. Rather, they are self-help books.

Why in the world would a Libertarian activist and author be writing self-help? Browne wrote this book because he realized the libertarian movement needed something more than an angel candidate or a gracious billionaire donor. No, Libertarians need to be better versions of themselves. Jeff Deist eloquently explained this view around a year ago:

Both Deist and Browne discuss the importance of becoming better versions of ourselves and improving ourselves because that is what will improve the movement. Deist made clear that when teenagers would enter Ron Paul’s office in D.C. looking to help, the orders they received were to work hard in school and get a great job. They needed to go put their lives in order and sort themselves out.

Sounds sort of like someone else we’ve been hearing an awful lot about lately.

Dr. Jordan Peterson is a prominent psychologist that has repeatedly made headlines for many of his ear-catching ideas. Dr. Peterson is into Jungian psychoanalysis, and he is translating that into layman’s terms so that young men and women internationally can better themselves in whatever way possible.

He lectures the viewers of his popular YouTube page about how they can “sort themselves out” by “cleaning their rooms.”

Oh yeah, and he is a self-help author. Ever since the release of his book 12 Rules for Life on Amazon he has kept a secure hold of the #1 most-read nonfiction book. Jordan Peterson is saying what everyone knows but don’t know that they know. He is helping his viewers reveal the truth about how to bring order out of chaos within their own lives. His ideological revolution is monumental and unprecedented.

How does this tie to libertarianism?

Something that many libertarians are seeming to forget, notably those within the LP, is that we need to be responsible for our own lives. Ayn Rand touched on this for many, yet with that came the package ideology of Objectivism, which proves questionable for anyone wanting to help the poor.

Instead, we are faced with hedonist libertinism. We have gone from “free-markets are great and we need to take control of our own lives” libertarianism to “I want the government off my back so I can do whatever the hell I want” libertarianism.

One of those sells well to those looking to improve the livelihoods of themselves and those around them. The other sells well to man-babies who’s chances of ever actually “growing up” are very, very low.

True libertarianism doesn’t mean freedom to be the worst version of ourselves. It means freedom to be the best version of ourselves with nobody else forcing us to do so.

That is how Jordan Peterson is fitting into the Libertarian doctrine. Every libertarian needs to focus on how they themselves can be a better version of themselves than they were yesterday.

We need to take hold of our fight for freedom and with it pursue meaning, not expedient self-interest or hedonism.

Dr. Peterson himself is not a full-blown libertarian, but he holds the same reservations about totalitarianism, leftism, and fascism that most freedom fighters do. That does not matter. Libertarians don’t need Jordan Peterson for political help. They don’t need him to reinforce the same natural-rights principles and laissez-faire theories. What they need is to heed his words of self-actualization.

Improved libertarian individuals will improve the libertarian movement. Jeff Deist and Harry Browne knew this, and it is about time the rest of the movement started to adopt this principle too.


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