Why I don’t trust libertarians when it comes to policing and neither should you.

My facebook feeds are packed with libertarians making excuses for use of force and people so very confused about the libertarians siding with the state and its guns. I am not confused or surprised. Libertarianism is a very violent and extremely hierarchical philosophy and has alway been. It has always taken the very rational Lockean hierarchy of life, liberty and property and flipped it to be about property being primary and a pre-condition for liberty and life.

“Police may use such coercive methods [as beating and torturing suspects] provided that the suspect turns out to be guilty, and provided that the police are treated themselves as criminal suspects if the suspect is not proven guilty. For, in that case, the rule of no force against non-criminals would still apply. Suppose, for example, that police beat and torture a suspected murderer to find information… If the suspect turns out to be guilty, then the police should be exonerated…” — Murray Rothbard, from the ironically titled book The Ethics of Liberty

I have always read as “If you are wealthy and have access to legal services, the police should in no way treat you like a criminal. If you are poor, the police can beat a confession out of you” This is hardly a unique view in libertarian land. There are plenty of examples of libertarian thinkers making excuses for force, when it is people like them who will benefit and people not like that that will be targets of that force. Don’t accept their claim that this is about liberty. It isn’t and never has been. It’s an extreme hierarchy where there are people at the top, which the law protects but doesn’t hold responsible and those at the bottom which the law holds responsible but doesn’t protect.

 [The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using… [W]hat was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence. Their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out, so that you can live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it…. Any white person who could bring the element of civilization had the right to take over this country. — Ayn Rand

No one should be shocked that this is her opinion here. In atlas shrugged, her hero John Galt says this:

“We will open the gates of our city to those who deserve to enter, a city of smokestacks, pipe lines, orchards, markets and inviolate homes. We will act as the rallying center for such hidden outposts as you’ll build. With the sign of the dollar as our symbol—the sign of free trade and free minds—we will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent savages who never discovered its nature, its meaning, its splendor. Those who choose to join us, will join us; those who don’t, will not have the power to stop us; hordes of savages have never been an obstacle to men who carried the banner of the mind.

It should be clear that this is what she thinks. If you don’t think like her, you’re a savage and no one need to respect your claims. Again, people at the top, which the law protects but doesn’t hold responsible and those at the bottom which the law holds responsible but doesn’t protect.

And libertarianism is also very cool with cancel culture and always has been.

“As soon as mature members of society habitually express acceptance or even advocate egalitarian sentiments, whether in the form of democracy (majority rule) or of communism, it becomes essential that other members, and in particular the natural social elites, be prepared to act decisively and, in the case of continued nonconformity, exclude and ultimately expel these members from society.” — Hans-Hermann Hoppe from Democracy: The God That Failed.

I tend to take the stance that Libertarianism is like Leninism: a fascinating, internally consistent political theory with some good underlying points that, regrettably, makes prescriptions about how to run human society that can only work if we replace real messy human beings with frictionless spherical humanoids of uniform density (because it relies on simplifying assumptions about human behaviour which are unfortunately wrong).

Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire

Charlie Stross wrote an insightful post about BtC and Libertarianism, and closes with the above paragraph, which sums up why I looked at Libertarianism when I was younger, realized it was absolutely not for me, and embraced my OMG SOCIALIST ideals.

(via wilwheaton)

Mercatus Institute Study Refutes Libertarian Conception of Freedom

The Mercatus Center, a libertarian think tank, produced a study today purporting to show that New York and California are the least-free places in the United States while New Hampshire and South Dakota are the freest:

From Mercatus Institute Study Refutes Libertarian Conception of Freedom

I’m waiting for headline “Mercatus relocates to South Dakota”. More importantly, there should be a distinction between most freedom and most opportunity to exercise your freedom.

The Limits of First Principles

You could have the government do nothing, which would mean there are no exclusive spectrum licenses and everything is wide open. Or you could have the government marketize everything, which would mean you auction everything off to exclusive owners. But either way, that would be a choice and in making the choice you’d be “managing” the development of the communications marketplace. And so once the government is in the business of managing the development of the communications marketplace, there’s no obvious reason why it should be all or nothing. Why not auction some and some some unlicensed? Why not conditional auctions?

From The Limits of First Principles

Interesting point there.

Dr. Paul: Not board-certified

Libertarian ideology rejects most of the modern regulatory systems that protect consumers, because everyone should be responsible for determining whether the hamburger contains E. coli on his own. But does that do-it-yourself dogma apply to the regulation of medicine, too? If you’re Dr. Rand Paul, practicing ophthalmologist, the answer is emphatically yes.

Dr. Paul: Not board-certified, but self-certified – Joe Conason – Salon.com

Paul is obviously well within his rights to get mad about some dumb policy and write cranky letters about it and then form his own medical board with pizza parties every day and no girls allowed. It is just not clear why he was still claiming to be certified by the ABO years after he began his crusade against them.

Dr. Rand Paul’s crusade against board certification – War Room – Salon.com

Joe Conason and Salon raise some really interesting questions about Rand Paul. The guy comes off as a crank and a bit of a lose cannon.