Sunday, October 2, 2016

Realist Left with Answers for Libertarians

Realist Left in a great new video responds to libertarians in this video:

This is an excellent critique. I add some points below.

I would classify libertarians into the following groups:
(1) Randians

(2) Austrians
(i) the Anarcho-capitalists, like Rothbard and Hoppe;

(ii) The minimal state Austrians like Mises (with his praxeology);

(iii) Austrian supporters of Hayek’s economics, with a minimal state;

(iv) The “orthodox” Austrians (probably supporters of a minimal state) who have a moderate subjectivist position (like Israel Kirzner and Roger Garrison);

(v) statist Austrian radical subjectivists Ludwig Lachmann (though there seem to be few of these people left);
(3) Non-Austrian libertarians (but influenced by Austrian economics to some extent and neoclassical economics)
We can probably place many of the “Free Bankers” in this category.
(4) Neoclassical libertarians (but sometimes influenced by Austrian economics)
(i) followers of Robert Nozick’s libertarianism;

(ii) followers of David D. Friedman’s anarcho-capitalism, and other non-Austrian anarcho-capitalism (e.g., Jan Narveson);

(iii) other non-Austrian, neoclassical influenced libertarians (e.g., Tom Palmer, Bryan Caplan and Tyler Cowen).
Libertarians tend to base their political thought on these ethical theories:
(1) Rothbard’s natural rights ethics (for my refutations, see here, here, here, and here).

(2) Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argumentation ethics (for my refutation, see here).

(3) some kind of utilitarianism or consequentialism.
Both Rothbard’s natural rights ethics and Hoppe’s argumentation ethics are utterly flawed and cannot possibly function as the ethical foundations for any political philosophy.

As it happens, some type of consequentialism is actually the best and most defensible foundation for a rational and secular ethics, as I have argued here, but once we see how flawed Austrian and neoclassical economics is, and the severe problems with libertarian social and other political thought, consequentialist ethics lends support to some kind of Social Democratic system.

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  1. Enter the "real" realist left, otherwise known as the Youtube channel Real Progressives into the discussion:

    The notion that taxpayer dollars are needed to fund government programs is a fallacy. Argued by an MMT guy, no less.

  2. He seems to have a more glowing view of the US Founders than I think is warranted. The Constitution was drafted in a secret meeting, and the one time any state ever got to vote on that document - Rhode Island - it went down in flames~! To say nothing of strong evidence the whole revolution was about protecting the Slave Trade to begin with.

    1. True, eve the Founders who wanted something done about slavery knew the question had to be put off until the war of independence was one. Then they just kicked the can down the road until the Civil War gave anti-slave people an opportunity to end it once and for all.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I think that's giving them more credit than* is due:

  3. I am not really a big fan of the word "rights". The left and the right both base their politics on considering something a right, as if a right is something that self evidently exists.

    There are no rights, there are only interests, and all we do in politics is fight to protect our interests and of those we support.

    1. Every right comes with an equal and opposite obligation and both are granted at the behest of your peers.

      Too many discussion on rights forget the obligations bit. And that is the same as taking without giving first.

  4. I'm thinking about taking down the video and redoing it given a major mess up in accidentally inserting a piece of audio in the middle of it, and perhaps shortening the intro which in retrospect seems too long and sometimes too convoluted (bringing up "Turkish Statism" doesn't really matter, should cut down the Cullen Roche description, not mention the Consequentialist/Deontological ethics as I barely went into it, etc.). I guess this is simply the growing pains of creating videos, and hit-and-miss with connecting with the audience, and with finding the right video editing software that isn't prone to glitching! In any event, in future videos, I'll want to break down Libertarianism in further ways than just a response videos. There are so many things more that I wanted to say, but 35 minutes is already pretty long, and probably too long for a video.

    On your points, these are all decent ways of categorizing them based on the general philosophical/ideological school that drew them to Libertarianism in the first place. My 3 distinctions were based moreso on the Political distinctions. As you know, Austrians can be all three, Randians can be Moderate or Minarchist, Neo-classical Libertarians can be moderate or near-minarchist, and many of the anarco-capitalists are either Austrian-influenced or not really influenced by any of the above philosophies, and gets there through a more ethical line of reasoning ("Voluntarism"), etc.

    And I also think that there's a more general group of people that do not commit firmly to any of these philosophical underpinnings, but self-identify as Libertarian or Libertarian-leaning "I'm more of a Libertarian.." because of the desire for less or small government, beliefs that markets work better or that 'government' is being too burdensome... but when you pin them on specifics, you can actually convince them to expand government in a lot of areas. These are basically social liberals with no firm beliefs of economics. I've known many supporters of Ron Paul and the LP before he arrived on scene, because of its stance on social issues, but when pinned down on economics they were easily closer to social democracy. I would include this group of people in the "moderate Libertarianism / Classical Liberalism" camp as well. It's well-noted that it's this group of people that is most prone to being convinced in the Realist Left/Alt Left way of doing things, and indeed I've seen many people self-identify as "Libertarian" only to basically become American Liberals a few years later.

    I do understand that there are some consequentialist Libertarians out there, including David Friedman. Mises himself was a utilitarian. But I really don't think the vast majority of Libertarians today are consequentialists, although given I believe most people can be swayed by consequentialist lines of reasoning, they will often employ them when trying to convince someone else, especially of the more neo-classical, Friedman-esque variety (i.e. "Free Markets and Capitalism always work better than Statism and Socialism"). Most are deontological, particularly the voluntarism strand, but also the Rothbardian natural rights strand which forms the differing "original principles" of which the deontological ethical system is based upon.