Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goodbye Libertarianism

I'm giving up libertarianism. Or rather, I've long given up on it and am declaring it now. The fact is, some people by virtue of pure luck are gifted with resources that others are not. Those with few resources will need help from those with plenty. I find it extremely fishy that most libertarians have coincidentally, by the uncaring lottery of the fates, been born into an unearned bounty.

The practice of libertarianism is fraught with contradictions. The libertarian businessman does not want to be taxed, but still desires the trained work force built up by public expenditure on education. One cannot just pick and choose to be free of obligations in some areas and to have others obligated to provide for one in others.

Aristotle said that a creature that is unable to live in society or has no need because he is sufficient unto himself must be either a beast or a god. Since we all are clearly not gods and hope not to be beasts, we need each other. The libertarian would not disagree with this and state that we should be free to associate and treat with each other in mutually acceptable ways. The picture that this paints is of an idyllic commune where apples are traded for eggs and a musician is paid for his craft with a pint of homebrew. But modern reality is not so simple. Can libertarian ideas support a complex economy? In my mind, no, but I'm not sure if that is actually the case. (I've not been keeping up with my reading.)

Applying libertarianism to national defence is a recipe for market failure. "Libertarian practice" in this case would propose that individuals to hire defence service providers from a free market. Those who cannot afford this service or for whom this service would constitute "non-cost effective" overhead will have to go without. So those with few belongings would be open to expropriation by those who do not subscribe to the enlightened libertarian philosophy. But if everyone would follow the libertarian creed of not curtailing the freedoms of others, there would be no need for national defence. So "libertarian practice" is basically irrelevant to national defence.

(Digression: The Roman system of conscription kept Rome strong until that system broke down. From the beginning, only land owning citizens were obliged to provide men and equipment for the military. This is very much consonant with the idea that you get what you give: your blood and your steel for the protection for your property. We need more "you get what you give" in public policy.)

What about education? The free market will leave a legion of poorly educated unwashed masses angry at the unfairness of their fates and directing their fury at the enlightened libertarian lords who might be sipping champagne while pontificating on the finer points of libertarian philosophy. That will not end well.

So does it work? It doesn't look that way. Am I knocking over a straw man? Probably. Or do I just lack a sufficient understanding of the intricacies of libertarianism. Even more likely. But I guess by and large people are pragmatic with a pragmatism will be seasoned by something between the antipodal tendencies to either "maximize one's utility" or to "be a blessing to the world". "Libertarianism" today simply smells too much of pragmatic self interest for my tastes.

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