This is why the far-right Reagan/Bush globalists kept tying LIBERTY AND FREEDOM to all of the above. When we educate on public policy whether right or left-leaning---these wolves in sheep's clothing cannot win. When we educate our children and grandchildren on what fooled us---they will not be fooled again.
Reagan told the Republican base he was ending FREEDOM AND LIBERTY by being the same English royality and East India global corporation from which REPUBLICANS fought the American Revolutionary War.
THERE IS NO LINK BETWEEN ECONOMIC FREEDOM TIED TO ACCUMULATING EXTREME WEALTH AND POWER AND HUMAN RIGHTS. THEY ARE ONLY TALKING ABOUT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE 1% ALWAYS MEANING NO HUMAN RIGHTS FOR THE 99%.
'Economic Freedom Empowers People'....................Research Manager, Index of Economic Freedom, and Senior Policy Analyst
Center for Trade and Economics (CTE)
WAKE UP------IF YOU ARE REPUBLICAN OR CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT WE MUST KNOW WHEN PEOPLE ARE SPINNING PROPAGANDA. It was social Democratic regulations and taxation on big corporations that kept them from becoming these monopolies allowing for the strongest small business economies in US history.
The Link between Economic Freedom and Human Rights
By Anthony B. Kim
About the AuthorAnthony B. Kim Research Manager, Index of Economic Freedom, and Senior Policy Analyst
Center for Trade and Economics (CTE)
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, President Bush urged the nations of the world to work together "to free people from tyranny and violence, hunger and disease, illiteracy and ignorance, and poverty and despair." That message echoes the enduring confidence that Americans have in freedom as a moral and liberating force for all peoples. It is the foundation of true democracy and human rights. Freedom is the engine that drives sustainable economic growth and provides increased access to prosperity for all people everywhere.
Economic Freedom Empowers People
Economic freedom is essentially about ensuring human rights. Strengthening and expanding it guarantees an individual's natural right to achieve his or her goals and then own the value of what they create. Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate economist who has made considerable contributions to development economics, once noted that "Development consists of the removal of various types of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity for exercising their reasoned legacy." People crave liberation from poverty, and they hunger for the dignity of free will. By reducing barriers to these fundamental human rights, forces of economic freedom create a framework in which people fulfill their dreams of success. In other words, the greater the economic freedom in a nation, the easier for its people to work, save, consume, and ultimately live their lives in dignity and peace.
This relationship is well documented in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, which measures economic freedom around the globe. The Index identifies strong synergies among the 10 key ingredients of economic freedom, which include, among others, openness to the world, limited government intervention, and strong rule of law. The empirical findings of the Index confirm that greater economic freedom empowers people and improves quality of life by spreading opportunities within a country and around the world. As Chart 1 clearly demonstrates, there is a robust relationship between economic freedom and prosperity. People in countries with either "free" or "mostly free" economies enjoy a much higher standard of living than people in countries with "mostly unfree" or "repressed" economies.
Citizens in nations that are built on greater economic freedom enjoy greater access to ideas and resources, which are the forces that let "all of us exchange, interact and participate" in an increasingly interconnected world. Access, another form of freedom that has practical promise, is an important transmitting mechanism that allows improvements in human development and fosters better democratic participation. A new cross-country study, recently commissioned and published by the FedEx Corporation, measures the level of access that a nation's people, organizations, and government enjoy in comparison to the world and to other countries. The study looks into trade, transport, telecommunication, news, media, and information services in 75 countries.
There is strong positive linkage between degrees of economic freedom and levels of access. As Chart 2 shows, greater economic freedom allows people to have more access to necessary means to success such as new ideas and resources. Reinforcing each other, greater economic freedom and better access to ideas and information combine to empower people, improve their quality of life, and expand opportunities for nations to benefit from global commerce.
Higher economic freedom also has a strong positive correlation with the United Nation's Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide.By creating virtuous cycles and reinforcing mechanisms, the prosperity created by economic freedom results in reduced illiteracy (through greater access to education) and increased life expectancy (through access to higher quality health care and food supplies).
Economic Freedom Paves a Path to Political Liberty
Debate over the relationship between economic freedom and political freedom and the question of causation has been somewhat controversial due to the complex interplay between the two freedoms. Yet it is well recognized that economic freedom leading to economic prosperity can enhance political liberty. As the late Milton Friedman, the father of economic freedom, once noted in his book Capitalism and Freedom:
Economic freedom plays a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. In the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.
As we have witnessed over the past decades, economic progress through advancing economic freedom has allowed more people to discuss and adopt different views more candidly, ultimately leading societies to be more open and inclusive. Although transformation has been somewhat slower than one might hope, the process has been facilitated by the battle of ideas and greater access to information, guided by forces of economic freedom and innovation. Economic freedom makes it possible for independent sources of wealth to counterbalance political power and to cultivate a pluralistic society. In other words, economic freedom has underpinned and reinforced political liberty and market-based democracy.
The cause of freedom has swept around the world over the last century. It is the compelling force of economic freedom that empowers people, unleashes powerful forces of choice and opportunity, and gives nourishment to other liberties. As the 21st century progresses, freedom's champions must confront both the dark ideology of extremists and those who would restore the failed socialist models of the past. Confidence in, and commitment to, economic freedom as a liberating force must continue to serve as the foundation of open societies and human rights.
Anthony B. Kim is Policy Analyst in the Center for International Trade and Economics at The Heritage Foundation.
We will segue from military and its privatization of military prisons to US privatization of prison policies. First let's take a day to look at elections and how both Republican base and Democratic base keep backing the same candidates who from Reagan/Clinton had goals of taking away from each group what it felt was THEIR RIGHTS.
Most citizens understand that Reagan was an imperialist empire-building, colonizing, extreme wealth and corporate power guy----we knew that from educating on what the political philosophy NEO-LIBERALISM meant. We heard Clinton embrace neo-liberalism and Biden declare his human right to accumulate as much wealth any way he could---as far-right Libertarianism. I think my week of educating on Pragmatic nilism seeing religion with its morality, ethics, and attention to Rule of Law getting in the way of extreme wealth opened the door for believing HUMAN RIGHTS and NATURAL LAW means the opposite to far-right 1% Wall STreet global corporate pols. Republicans were fooled by thinking a Reagan neo-liberal was going to lower taxes for main street when the rich have always soaked the peasants for taxes. Republicans sold on deregulation and consolidation into monopolies as being LIBERTY AND JUSTICE while not educating to global corporations and empire-building killing all local economies to take market-share. There has never been free-market under the confines of global empire-building wealth accumulation.
Meanwhile, the Democratic base allowed itself to believe a Clinton/Reagan neo-liberal---that somehow a neo-liberal working towards extreme wealth and corporate power would REALLY protect the social Democratic priorities of labor and justice. The far-right neo-liberals hate labor and justice so we knew from 1993 for both Republicans and Democrats that Reagan/Clinton---then Bush/Obama were working against ALL of the public policy principles these base voters wanted. Yet, we watched as national labor and justice organization leaders came out every election for Clinton/Reagan Wall Street far-right neo-liberals. We watched as Republican base supported this and added the Bush/Cheney global war machine to this mix. Now, it is Republican base wanting to arm because they feel threatened by government when the government is now completely controlled by the corporations and privatized military they supported.
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MADE THE MISTAKE ALL CITIZENS MAKE OVER GENERATIONS---WE DO NOT SEE OUR CITIZENSHIP AS SOMETHING FOR WHICH WE MUST WORK. EDUCATING OURSELVES SO FAR-RIGHT RICH DO NOT PUT ON WOLF'S CLOTHS AND PRETEND TO BE SHEEP ---IS BASIC CIVICS. THEN, EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN SO THEY DO NOT FALL FOR THE SAME TRICKS AGAIN.
If we KNOW HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATURAL LAW mean pragmatic nilism and the right to extreme wealth and power then we look very closely at groups and people using these terms. If they partner with Clinton/Obama then they are supporting the extreme wealth idea that there are no human rights and natural laws of morality, ethics, and Rule of Law that confines. So, if HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN comes out for Hillary because they supported GBLT rights REALLY working for GBLT or are they simply the 5% to the 1% for GBLT population? Many GBLT saw this trick and went with Bernie but we now know those GBLT partnered with Clinton just as those labor union leaders, those national women's organization leaders, and the national immigrant and people of color organization leaders are not working for the 99%. No only are they not working for the 99%---but they embrace all these militaristic, nilistic, enslaving goals of the far-right 1% Wall Street Liberatarian Marxism.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN----WORKING GLOBALLY TO ADVANCE FAR-RIGHT EXTREME WEALTH AND CORPORATE POWER THROUGH PRAGMATIC NILISM AND GLOBAL CORPORATE CAMPUS MARXISM.
Every population group is harmed under far-right militaristic global corporate Marxism----but it does not take a rocket scientist to understand GBLT citizens will not be protected. Privatized military are not going to care about Don't Ask and GBLT in the military----we just watched a decade of women in the military systematically subjected to sexual misconduct with leadership NOT INTERESTED IN BUILDING OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THIS---besides----if people are going to be drafted into mandatory conscription profit-driven global military are not going to care who the winners and losers are.
The Affordable Care Act and Trans Pacific Trade Pact attack public health and push towards preventative care only and globally HIV/AIDS are known to be too expensive and will not be covered----so who are these Human Rights Campaign leaders protecting when they endorse Hillary? Not 99% of GBLT citizens
BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTED GBLT RIGHTS---SOCIAL DEMOCRATS ALWAYS HAVE-----THESE ARE THE 5% TO THE 1% OF GBLT CITIZENS---WONDER HOW THAT ENDS WELL WITH GLOBAL 2% REPLACING THIS 5%?
Human Rights Campaign Endorses Hillary Clinton for President
She has stood with us, and now it’s our turn. Her fight is our fight
Support Hillary Clinton
There is so much at stake for the LGBTQ community in the 2016 presidential election. Think of all the progress we’ve made under President Obama’s leadership and what could be rolled back, including:
- Historic support from the Administration for nationwide marriage equality,
- The end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”
- Non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ employees of federal contractors,
- Landmark hate crimes legislation,
- Greater visibility for transgender people,
- President Obama’s call for an end to abusive practice of “conversion therapy,”
- The Administration’s support for LGBTQ students,
- Support for HIV prevention and affordable treatment.
What is the Equality Act?
Even after a marriage victory at the Supreme Court, in most states in this country, a couple who gets married at 10 a.m. remains at risk of being fired from their jobs by noon and evicted from their home by 2 p.m. simply for posting their wedding photos on Facebook. No one should be fired, evicted from their home, or denied services because of who they are or whom they love. All LGBTQ Americans deserve a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families and this bill will help ensure that all employees are hired, fired or promoted based on their performances.
'It took me a long time to articulate why, but that’s what I’m going to do now.
This essay is the result of an evolution in my thinking, one which has led me farther from “right” libertarianism and strict anarcho-capitalism toward what could be described as radical, leftist anarchism, or maybe even libertarian-socialism'.
Just as Clinton neo-liberals spend these few decades PRETENDING TO BE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS now they are preparing to PRETEND TO BE LEFT-LEANING LIBERTARIAN MARXISTS.
If we know the far-right neo-liberals and neo-cons have control of both Republican and Democratic Parties then we know they are not going to install left-leaning Marxism. If we know Stalin and Mao were both far-right Libertarian Marxist we know what CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA have planned with their brand of Libertarian Marxism. All of this is REPUBLICAN policy as it is simply the 1% in their march to accumulate as much wealth as they can now enslave the 99% ---no left-leaning socialism or communism involved.
So, Republican votes are being made to think this is all Obama's fault and he is the socialist----while Clinton/Obama neo-liberals are out trying to capture the FEELING THE BERN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT to the far-right Libertarian Marxism.
WHETHER WE LISTEN TO HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN, GLOBAL GREEN CORPORATION PARTY, NOAM CHOMSKY ALLOWING HIMSELF ON A RACHEL MADDOX MSNBC KNOWING IT IS RAGING FAR-RIGHT NEO-LIBERAL---
all of this is simply capturing the US political dialog to FAR-RIGHT LIBERTARIAN MARXISM and it harms 99% of Americans. It only takes a global 2% to administer a 1% under far-right authoritarian Marxism and VERY, VERY, VERY strong global military and security/surveillance which Baltimore and Johns Hopkins is central.
NO ONE DOES HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATURAL LAW----PRAGMATIC NILISM AND ANTI-FORMALISM BETTER THAN WALL STREET BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT AND A VERY, VERY, VERY NEO-CONSERVATIVE JOHNS HOPKINS AND THEIR 'LABOR AND JUSTICE' CORPORATE NON-PROFITS AND POLS.
We can tell for now who these candidates are by watching who the media allow time to interview----who news print allows space for campaign articles---who are allowed into primary election forums tied to Wall Street Development corporations.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Right-libertarianism (or right-wing libertarianism) refers to libertarian political philosophies that advocate capitalist economics, negative rights, and a reactionary reversal of the modern welfare state. Right libertarians strongly support private property rights, and defend unequal distribution of natural resources and private property. This position is contrasted with that of some versions of left-libertarianism, which maintain that natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Right-libertarianism includes anarcho-capitalism and laissez-faire, minarchist liberalism.
The term left-libertarian
has been used to refer to a variety of different political-economic philosophies, emphasizing individual liberty. A related concept is libertarian socialism. According to Gaus,
The term "left-libertanism" has at least three meanings. In its oldest sense, it is a synonym either for anarchism in general or social anarchism in particular. Later it became a term for the left or Konkinite wing of the free-market libertarian movement, and has since come to cover a range of pro-market but anti-capitalist positions, mostly individualist anarchist, including agorism and mutualism, often with an implication of sympathies (such as for radical feminism or the labor movement) not usually shared by anarcho-capitalists. In a third sense it has recently come to be applied to a position combining individual self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources; most proponents of this position are not anarchists.
This is why we do not hear Global Green Corporation candidates educating against US International Economic Zones and what global corporate campuses will look like----if they were indeed green and social they would long ago have outed this march towards US cities as International Economic Zones and this move towards Marxism tied to a rebranding of Clinton/Obama far-right neo-liberalism.
Saturday, Jun 14, 2014 08:30 AM EST
Why I left libertarianism: An ethical critique of a limited ideology
I value many contributions libertarianism makes to challenging power. But here's why I no longer associate with it
I considered myself a libertarian for at least 10 years. The first time I heard the term was in 2000, watching Harry Browne in the third-party presidential debates. I knew next to nothing of libertarian philosophy, but the little I did understand, I identified with. My high school held a mock presidential election and I hung up “vote for Harry Browne” posters and encouraged my friends to write him in on their ballots. It was the first and last time I would participate in any kind of political campaign.
When I turned 18, I registered to vote with the Libertarian Party, despite my parents’ warning that I would lose the chance to influence primary elections. I was also aligning myself with a third party, and everyone knows third parties don’t win elections.
I never voted for a Libertarian presidential candidate. In fact, I don’t think I ever voted for any presidential candidate. There is a chance I sent in an absentee ballot from college voting for George W. Bush, but I can’t remember if I ever actually mailed the thing. Either way, I missed out on the great American ritual of walking into a booth, scribbling on a piece of paper and throwing it in a glorified trash bin.
I moved further and further toward what I considered true libertarianism, eschewing the capital “L” and politics in general. I read Rand and Rothbard and Mises, scoured countless articles and listened to hundreds of podcasts. I understood libertarian philosophy. I remember the moment when I realized anarchism was the only legitimate conclusion. It was like Bertrand Russell’s “Great God in Boots!” moment. Only mine was committed by a nobody… and also not wrong.
Anarchism was libertarianism fully realized. Political libertarianism was a deformation of the ideology, only attractive to those who valued the sentiments of libertarianism but weren’t principled enough to carry it to its logical (and moral) conclusions. Once I realized this, there was no going back.But anarchism isn’t a part of libertarianism. Anarchism is its own broad political and social philosophy. Libertarianism is just one school of thought that can (and should) lead you to statelessness. So I stopped calling myself a libertarian, preferring “anarchist” when labels were necessary. I still considered most of my beliefs to technically fall under the umbrella of libertarianism. But somewhere in the last few years even that association has faded.
It took me a long time to articulate why, but that’s what I’m going to do now.
This essay is the result of an evolution in my thinking, one which has led me farther from “right” libertarianism and strict anarcho-capitalism toward what could be described as radical, leftist anarchism, or maybe even libertarian-socialism.
I’m going to make broad generalizations. It’s hard to criticize a body of thought like libertarianism. There is no one set definition of what a libertarian is or what they believe, so for any criticisms there will be countless exceptions. You can easily play the “no true Scotsman” game with everything that follows. Yes, many libertarians do think X, but they’re not really libertarians. Therefore, I ask that you view my points as criticisms of general themes and attributes I’ve found in libertarian thought, rather than an indictment of everyone who self-identifies as libertarian. Particularly, they’re criticisms of elements of my own belief system when I considered myself libertarian.
I was hesitant to write this piece because I routinely see libertarians smeared and ridiculed in mainstream dialogue, specifically by leftists who support the current political institutions. That is a bandwagon I absolutely will not jump on. As Tarzie writes:
I believe that anti-libertarian fear-mongering is increasingly being deployed as a stratagem of liberals and other statist lefts, in an effort to immunize the Democratic Party from any genuinely leveraged opposition from anti-imperialists and civil libertarians. In other words, the primary aim of stigmatizing libertarians is the fortification of state violence, as well as fortification of the primacy of the state itself. Its leading proponents are careerist idiots acting in the worst possible faith. This article is not an act of bad faith. I’m writing this because I value many of the contributions libertarians make to challenging power. But I see the limits of libertarianism.
Furthermore, criticizing the ideas and the people I identify (or previously identified) with is a point of pride. Who better to levy judgments? If anyone is going to criticize the things I care about, it’s going to be me.
The ethical rebuttal
The limits of libertarianism begin with ethics.
Libertarians confine their moral reasoning to something called a “legal” or “political” ethic. This ethic, based on property rights and the non-aggression principle, is the cornerstone of libertarian morality. But it is an intentionally limited moral framework.
Murray Rothbard describes it here:
For we are not, in constructing a theory of liberty and property, i.e., a “political” ethic, concerned with all personal moral principles. We are not herewith concerned whether it is moral or immoral for someone to lie, to be a good person, to develop his faculties, or be kind or mean to his neighbors. We are concerned, in this sort of discussion, solely with such “political ethical” questions as the proper role of violence, the sphere of rights, or the definitions of criminality and aggression. Libertarians typically push matters outside of property rights and violence into the realm of aesthetics, which Rothbard described as “personal” morality. On these issues of personal morality, libertarian theory is silent.If you accept the premises of self-ownership and property rights, it is a logically consistent and powerful framework. But if you allow yourself to have wider moral sensibilities, the framework is woefully inadequate — if not outright grotesque — in certain cases.
Take Rothbard on parental obligations to children:
The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die. The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.)
At least Rothbard recognizes that children are subject to the non-aggression principle, but outside of direct aggression (or maybe just aggression that results in death or mutilation) he reinforces that libertarian theory has nothing to say. A parent can starve their child to death. We might find this morally reprehensible, as Rothbard surely did, but it’s outside the purview of the political ethic.
Walter Block, another prominent libertarian theorist, has attempted to narrow the case where abandonment is permissible (no one is willing to “homestead” the abandoned baby), but rejects that the non-aggression principle applies to children. Why? Because children aren’t full humans with all the same rights as adults. They exist in a superposition between animals and humans. Which means it’s permissible to aggress against children.
Both Rothbard and Block accept that some degree of child abuse either violates the NAP (in Rothbard’s case) or delegitimizes parental ownership (in Block’s case), but what constitutes abuse represents a “continuum problem” for libertarians. Some attacks on children are okay but not too much. It’s a big gray area.
It’s embarrassing that many libertarians have so little moral clarity on this issue. Especially when compared to a website like Jezebel, which has no problem taking a hard stance on aggression against children. These quotes from a piece criticizing a Kansas pro-spanking bill could just as easily be directed at libertarians and their continuum problem:
It wrongly reinforces the idea that there is such a thing as a good kind of spanking. It suggests there is a bad, abusive kind that should be illegal, but also a good, loving kind that only causes bruises and welts but must be tolerated because it helps nurture more effective, obedient citizens. It’s just a different “style” of parenting, no better, no worse!
Yeah, a “different” style that just happens to be legalized assault. Even worse, it indefensibly suggests that there’s some kind of logic to hitting that can be measured in actual strikes — 10 you’re fine, 11 you’re a child abuser? Should we let the domestic abuse shelters in on the secret?
Make no mistake: There is no such thing as “good hitting” versus “bad hitting.” There is no positive outcome from violence toward children.
This is a human rights issue — again, this is legalized assault against those we are bound to protect.
Treatment of animals is also outside of the political ethic. There are no animal rights — unless the animals request them — so humans are free to treat animals however they want. The same is true of the planet in general. In order for the Earth itself to be considered under libertarian philosophy, it must be private property.
Other major social issues such as religion, race, gender, sexuality and class dynamics are either analyzed only from within the property rights framework or not at all.
Lew Rockwell, too, affirms this position:
Libertarianism is concerned with the use of violence in society. That is all. It is not anything else. It is not feminism. It is not egalitarianism (except in a functional sense: everyone equally lacks the authority to aggress against anyone else). It has nothing to say about aesthetics. It has nothing to say about religion or race or nationality or sexual orientation.
Of religion, Rothbard says:
There is no necessary connection between being for or against libertarianism and one’s position on religion. … Libertarians believe that liberty is a natural right embedded in a natural law of what is proper for mankind, in accordance with man’s nature. Where this set of natural laws comes from, whether it is purely natural or originated by a creator, is an important ontological question but is irrelevant to social or political philosophy.
I find it hard to accept that religion and the origins of mankind are irrelevant to social philosophy. Perhaps only to an intentionally limited philosophy, with a large socially conservative bloc.
Granted, libertarianism — as a body of thought — doesn’t have to comment on every social issue. It can say nothing of race and gender and class. It can be silent on nonviolent forms of hierarchy and inequality. But then it stands incomplete as a social philosophy. That’s fine, especially if that is a conscious and intentional choice on the part of libertarians. We will focus our ideological work on this area and let other systems of thought cover everything else. But it certainly wasn’t something I was aware of when I considered myself a libertarian. On the contrary, I thought libertarianism offered a robust and complete analysis of society. I suspect others do, too.
And this isn’t just a case of convenient specialization. Many libertarians are actively hostile to those who step outside — or attempt to expand — the scope of moral reasoning. Libertarians who are outspoken against aggression against children, take strong stances on religion, or analyze other social issues have faced resistance from others who would prefer to cleave only to the foundations of “true” libertarianism.
Christopher Cantwell dismisses the expansion of libertarianism by saying:
Libertarianism does not address race, gender, religion, sexuality, or any other class the left would like to see protected from offense. Nor should it. Libertarianism makes the radical assertion that these subjects are irrelevant outside of our own personal preferences, and that our own personal preferences are not how the whole of human society should be organized.
Libertarianism addresses one thing, and one thing only. Force. Libertarianism claims to do nothing other than answer the question of when violence is permissible. … If your philosophy includes something other than this, you’re more than welcome to that philosophy; just call it something else. Please stop trying to further undermine our efforts by inserting nonsense interpretations into our philosophy, because they have no place here.
Jeffrey Tucker describes these libertarians as brutalists.
They reject larger humanistic social perspectives in favor of the strict and narrow adherence to the libertarian core.
I can understand the desire to keep libertarianism laser focused, but it is rarely presented as a highly specified and limited body of thought. Libertarianism is not understood as a specialized field like chemistry or biology. It is supposed to be an ideology that describes and prescribes human social behavior. But to that end, its core framework is inadequate.
The problem is choice
Besides all it leaves out, the framework also includes a facile conception of consent.
Within the libertarian ethical framework, choice is binary. Either something was consented to voluntarily or it was not. This conception of consent marks the line between good and evil. On one side of the line are socially acceptable behaviors and on the other side are impermissible behaviors.
Theft, rape, murder and fraud all lie on the nonconsensual side and are therefore not good. The other side includes all forms of voluntary human interaction which, again because we’re limited to a political ethic, we can’t really say much about. It’s all fine.
But there is some gray on the good side. Is a rich CEO really in the same ethical position as a poor Chinese factory worker? In the libertarian view, yes. There are plenty of differences, but if that Chinese worker voluntarily chose to work for that factory, they’re not ethical differences.
Like the starving-your-child issue, any moral objections you might have are outside the scope of the libertarian ethic. They reflect your personal morality, which has no business being used to dictate social behaviors.
But choice isn’t binary. It’s a spectrum. There’s a gradient that we can use to measure how constrained a choice really is. On one end is outright force and on the other is pure, unconstrained freedom. But in between is a fuzzy gray area where economic, psychological, cultural, biological and social forces are leaning on human decision making.
Most libertarians would admit that this spectrum exists, but there is still strong sentiment within libertarianism that any non-coercive relationship is good. And — within the political ethic — even if it isn’t “good,” it’s still permissible. That’s why you see libertarians defending sweatshops.
A poor Chinese factory worker is far more constrained than a rich white businessman. His range of possible options is tiny in comparison. He is less free. The same may be true depending on your race, gender, class or sexual orientation. The way you were treated growing up — by your parents, teachers and peers — may contribute. The way people like you are represented in media and entertainment may contribute. Social prejudices and cultural norms may contribute. These factors don’t mean people are being outright forced to do anything, but simply that they’re constrained by their environment. We all are, in different ways.
We don’t lose any ground or sacrifice any claims to a rational moral framework by admitting that. We can still say that one side of the spectrum — the unconstrained one — is good for human beings and the other side is bad. And we can still conclude that the use of force is only a legitimate response to human behavior that falls on the far end of that bad side (theft, rape, murder). But by accepting the spectrum we can examine other relationships that, while they may not include force, can be exploitive, hierarchical and authoritarian.
As before, without admitting that this spectrum exists, libertarianism leaves an entire range of human social behavior off the table.
Finish with a flourish
All of these deficiencies of libertarianism result in one thing: a limited vision for the future.
Libertarians want a world without a state. Beyond that, the philosophy says little about the shape of human culture. It should be based on property rights and non-aggression. How can we combat racism? Property rights and non-aggression. How should humans approach sexuality and gender? Property rights and non-aggression. What is the place of hierarchies in society, whether it’s families or workplaces or financial classes? Property rights and non-aggression. What role — if any — should religion and superstition play in society? Property rights and non-aggression.
I recognize that a consistently applied libertarian ethic would make the world a much better place than it currently is. And I recognize that I’m essentially criticizing libertarians for only wanting to take down the greatest threat to human flourishing on the planet. In a world full of people who defend the status quo and apologize for power, those with radical ideas deserve the least criticism.
But for libertarians who see the dismantling of the state as the ultimate goal, I have to disagree. It is not enough.
While eliminating the state is a massive multigenerational project, it is in many ways only the first step. Human flourishing is the ultimate goal. And if libertarians think they can dust off their hands and head home just because the state is in ashes, they’re wrong. The state is the most obvious and brutal source of power and hierarchy, but it’s far from the only one. The state is a giant engine for deforming human culture, and what’s left over once it’s smashed isn’t a foregone conclusion. It will be up to humans to reshape and remake culture and society in the way that suits us best. This will have to include examinations of race, class, gender, sexuality, relationships, religion, social institutions and traditions in the absence of the state apparatus. It will have to include disassembling other forms of hierarchy — both violent and nonviolent.
Having this perspective now and beginning the work on every other issue facing humanity isn’t a waste of time or moral misprioritization. Toxic social and cultural norms are much less concrete an enemy than the state, but they must be battled all the same.
The degree to which I’ve moved away from libertarianism is the degree to which I think the ideology is ill-equipped to fight those battles. Once you move your goals beyond the elimination of the state, the ethical framework of libertarianism falls far short. Its black-and-white view of choice is shallow and inadequate when judging the nuances of human interaction and of how power and exploitation affect us.
My goal isn’t a society based on property rights. My goal is human flourishing. I want an ethical, free and humane planet. A world where humans take care of each other and other living creatures. I want a world of flattened hierarchies, including the nonviolent ones. A world with human dignity. That may be a future where property rights — as we think of them today — don’t exist. It may be a post-scarcity world full of abundance. It may be a world where our familiar social structures — both macro and micro — are vastly different. It’s up to us to build it.
To those of you who consider yourselves libertarians, I say this: You don’t have to reject your current beliefs. But you must expand them. Libertarianism’s narrow views do a disservice to yourself and to the world. Widen the circle of your radicalism until it encompasses all of society. Leave no status quo unexamined. There is work to be done and radicals needed to do it.