Talk:Libertarianism

Return to "Libertarianism" page.

I intermittently attended to sourcing as many of the quotes on the page as I could over the last day, but don't have time to proceed further on them now. I am adding the remaining quotes here, and might gradually do more of them within a few weeks. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 20:25, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

UnsourcedEdit

A sufficiently notable or reliable source was not found for these quotes, and one should be provided before moving them into the article.
  • Republicans campaign like Libertarians and govern like Democrats.
  • Oh, for an honest Libertarian who would say "Yes, in Libertopia we'd have rampant quackery, organ-seizure, baby-selling, slavery in all but name - BUT THAT'S FREEDOM!"
  • Warning: Some ideologies on the Net are smaller than they appear.
  • How noble libertarianism, in its majestic equality, that both rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the privately owned streets (without paying), sleeping under the privately owned bridges (without paying), and coercing bread from its rightful owners!
  • Libertarian UberMensch smites devolved, parasitic, running-dog, statist lackies that want our women!' Atlas Shrugged in a nutshell.
    • Mike Huben
  • Electing even a few Libertarians to a governing board, is akin to having a designated driver in a roomful of drunks.
    • Doug Klippel, LP County Chair, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Liberals want the government to be your Mommy. Conservatives want government to be your Daddy. Libertarians want it to treat you like an adult.
  • Republicans don't want anyone having more fun than they do, and the Democrats don't want anyone making more money than they do. Libertarians want you to make money and have fun.
  • The legacy of Democrats and Republicans approaches: Libertarianism by bankruptcy.
    • Nick Nuessle
  • I'm skeptical of libertarian's claims based solely on logical deduction, especially in the social sciences. This is especially true in economics where many have pointed out the incredible premises that are required to show that laissez-faire achieves even a minimal sort of optimum.
    • David Shea
  • Well, if flip answers could win victory for libertarianism, we would have been in power long ago.
  • Libertarianism is the philosophy which says that you can run your life better than the government can, and you have the right to be left alone in order to do it.
    • Anonymous
  • There may be two libertarians in the world who agree on absolutely everything, but I am not one of them.
    • Anonymous
  • There once was a man from Nantucket,
    Who wanted to sell me a bucket,
    But he could not, because.
    There were too many laws,
    So he threw up his hands and said, "Vote Libertarian!"
    • Anonymous
  • Legalize freedom — vote Libertarian!
    • Anonymous political slogan used by members of the Libertarian Party (USA)
  • Right-wingers say "To Hell with the poor." Libertarians say "To Hell with everybody but me." It's like the choice between being boiled alive in water, or boiled alive in acid.

off topicEdit

These following quotes, though I did find sources and/or correct a few of them, or one might yet find sourcing for some them, did not seem to address the topic of libertarianism, per se, so much as to that of other tangential topics such as Property or Government ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 20:25, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Private property ... is a Creature of Society, and is subject to the Calls of that Society, whenever its Necessities shall require it, even to its last Farthing, its contributors therefore to the public Exigencies are not to be considered a Benefit on the Public, entitling the Contributors to the Distinctions of Honor and Power, but as the Return of an Obligation previously received, or as payment for a just Debt.
    • Benjamin Franklin (this was also removed because it has various topics and does not seem clearly related so much to the topic of libertarianism, per se, so much as to that of property)
  • Far from advocating a "minimal state", we find it unquestionable that in an advanced society government ought to use its power of raising funds by taxation to provide a number of services which for various reasons cannot be provided or cannot be provided adequately by the market.
  • I am the last person to deny that increased wealth and the increased density of population have enlarged the number of collective needs which government can and should statisfy.
  • As long as you continue to tar social democracy with all the crimes of communism, I feel equally entitled to tar the free market with the crimes of slavery, segregation, colonialism and genocide; piss me off and I'll add fascism and the Nazis.
    • Greg Erwin
  • If a Martian were asked to pick the most efficient and humane economic systems on earth, it would certainly not choose the countries that rely most on markets. The United States is a stagnant economy in which real wages have been constant for more than a decade and the real income of the bottom 40 percent of the population declined. It is an inhumane society in which 11.5 percent of the population, some 32 million people, including 20 percent of all children, live in absolute poverty. It is the oldest democracy on earth but also one with the lowest voting rates among democracies and the highest per capita prison population in the world. The fastest developing countries in the world today are among those where the state pursues active industrial and trade policies; the few countries in the world in which almost no one is poor today are those in which the state has been engaged in massive social welfare and labor market policies.
    • Adam Przeworski (1992) as quoted in A Future for Socialism (1994) by John E. Roemer, p. 94

unsortedEdit

I did not even get around to going through this massive list of mostly recent additions — I might eventually go through more of these which seem appropriate to the page for sources, but have cleaned up the page about as much as I am likely to be able to do for at least a few days. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 20:25, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Right-wing libertarians understand that state control of all economic activity is tyrannical: that the power to determine if and how people make a living is the power to enforce conformity. But they don't see that the huge transnational corporations that own and control most of the world's wealth exercise a parallel tyranny
  • The laissez-faire argument relies on the same tacit appeal to perfection as does communism.
  • The libertarian fantasy is very simple... As a matter of political theory, it says we reverse the process John Locke described in The Second Treatise on Government: we dissolve Civil Society and return to the State of Nature which the libertarians imagine will be a benign wonderfully free place without any obligation to and coercion by sovereign political community.
    • G. Eyclesheimer Ernst
  • In a world torn by every kind of fundamentalism — religious, ethnic, nationalist and tribal — we must grant first place to the same economic fundamentalism that libertarians support, with its religious conviction that the market, left to its own devices, is capable of resolving all our problems. This faith has its own ayatollahs. Its church is neo-liberalism; its creed is profit; its prayers are for monopolies.
  • I always thought a "right" was a made-up social convention, and a "natural right" was a made-up social convention that we deny we ever made-up.
    • James R. Dew
  • As it happens there is light to be shed on the libertarian position on breathing. Ayn Rand is always inspirational and often oracular for libertarians. A strident atheist and vehement rationalist — she felt in fact that she and three or four of her disciples were the only really rational people there were — Rand remarked that she worshipped smokestacks. For her, as for Lyndon LaRouche, they not only stood for, they were the epitome of human accomplishment. She must have meant it since she was something of a human smokestack herself; she was a chain smoker, as were the other rationals in her entourage. In the end she abolished her own breathing: she died of lung cancer.
  • Public goods, quasipublic goods, and externalities are fairly common in the real world. They are common enough that it is necessary to take proposals for government intervention in the economy on a case-by-case basis. Government action can never be ruled in or ruled out on principle
  • contrary to their chosen nom de guerre, libertarians aren't interested in liberty that much. Their primary concern is to defend private property, and the result is that liberty only enters the argument at points where it can be conveniently re-defined in terms of private ownership.
    • Alan Haworth
  • Libertarians sometimes argue that the coercive authority of the state extends only to the prevention of harm and the protection of property rights. In the Russian context, the word "only" here strikes a very false note. Limited government, capable of repressing force and fraud, turns out to be mind-bogglingly difficult to erect in a chaotic setting.
    • Stephen Holmes
  • You know, getting on the Net has done more to turn me off Libertarianism than — well, than anything....
    • Dan Clore
  • The key to understanding this, and to understanding Libertarianism itself, is to realize that their concept of individual freedom is the "whopper" of "right to have the State back up Big business". That's a wild definition of freedom.
    • Seth Finkelstein
  • The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
  • Anarcho-capitalism, in my opinion, is a doctrinal system which, if ever implemented, would lead to forms of tyranny and oppression that have few counterparts in human history. There isn't the slightest possibility that its (in my view, horrendous) ideas would be implemented, because they would quickly destroy any society that made this colossal error. The idea of "free contract" between the potentate and his starving subject is a sick joke, perhaps worth some moments in an academic seminar exploring the consequences of (in my view, absurd) ideas, but nowhere else. I should add, however, that I find myself in substantial agreement with people who consider themselves anarcho-capitalists on a whole range of issues; and for some years, was able to write only in their journals. And I also admire their commitment to rationality — which is rare — though I do not think they see the consequences of the doctrines they espouse, or their profound moral failings.
  • But once we concede that people do care about status, it necessarily follows that the status competition that makes people buy expensive consumer goods in order to impress other people constitutes a failure of the market economy - a failure as real as traffic congestion, or pollution, or any other activity in which the individual pursuit of self-interest leads to a collectively bad outcome. Suppose that we could somehow agree to stop competing over who has the fanciest car; everyone could then work a bit less, spend more time with their families, and raise the sum total of human happiness. Or to put it a bit differently, Americans (or at least the top few percent of the income distribution) have gotten into a sort of arms race of conspicuous consumption that, like most arms races, consumes huge quantities of resources yet in the end changes little.
  • A favorite Wired icon for the information feedback loop, a dragon curling in a circle to swallow its own tail, could become more apt as a symbol of the timeless libertarian paradox: Monopoly verging on feudalism emerges from unregulated competition to bite libertarianism in the posterior.
    • Jedediah S. Purdy
  • Libertarianism dominate the net. On Usenet when your opponents don't reply to you on any given point, that means you've won. And most Libertarians are no-lifer geek
    • Tim Starr
  • There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses.
  • There are two Hayeks. One, the modest and imaginative social theorist... The other Hayek is Hayek the libertarian; Hayek the paranoid and splenetic reactionary; the Hayek who fulminates against his pet hates — 'the counter culture', 'permissive education', 'dropouts', 'parasites' and so on — like any dyspeptic ten-a-penny rednecked blimp. This Hayek is unconnected with the former, and should be ignored.
    • Alan Haworth
  • My contacts with Libertarians always leave me with a certain amount of contempt for their philosophies, which all seem to rely on the assumption that, if you can string together enough vague and high-sounding rhetoric, you can ignore both (1) all of human history and (2) what everyone else on earth now wants
  • There is a libertarian sentiment in this nation that takes for granted all the benefits we enjoy from our mutual association, that may recognize our heritage of freedom and may enjoy the progress and mode of existence that America represents, but that says "It is here only for my taking — I owe it nothing, except to get for myself whatever I need or want."
    • Eyler Coates, Sr.
  • "Fierce individualism," a brief description of Rand philosophy, is pure authoritarianism, as pure individualism always must be. If any one individual can make a decision that affects others, and do so without consultation, then those affected must obey. The combination of "freedom" and "individualism" masks this truism.
    • Frederick Thayer
  • (Libertarians)... cannot simply say "Well, individuals have a right to do anything that does not harm another" because that answer simply dissolves int another value-laden debate about what counts as "a harm" in the first place.
    • James Boyle
  • ... liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuses of power...
  • Behind every model of government failure is an assumption that voters are poorly informed, serious competition is lacking, and/or transaction costs are excessively high. Economists are very suspicious of similar assumptions regarding economic markets. This skepticism should be carried over to models of political-market failure.
    • Donald Wittman
  • Even those who identify themselves as libertarians follow an overtly anti-rationalist philosophy, as even a brief acquaintance with the work of Friedrich Hayek should make clear. The argument against reason in this literature is straightforward: it is impossible for any individual to acquire enough reliable information to make a rational decision, any actions founded on rational thought will therefore be delusional, any attempts at reason should therefore regarded as dangerous, and all action should instead be guided by tradition.
    • Phil Agre, "The Crisis of Public Reason"
  • Libertarians and their "I've got mine, Jack" philosphy are people who were born on third base and think they've hit life's triple. In America's egalitarian society it should surprise no one this cramped, neo-Victorian philosophy has not caught on.
    • Russell Sadler, commentator, Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon
  • A capitalist democracy necessarily performs a complex straddle when it comes to the role of business. On the one hand, we want business to succeed - to innovate, to create jobs, and to provide a wide choice of consumer products. One the other hand, the whole history of capitalism tells us that business, left to its own devices, commits assaults that are not necessary for commerce to thrive but are merely opportunistic. Corporations poison the air and water, treat workers like throwaway parts, deceive investors, and lobby against the mildest social reforms... The only counterweight is an aroused citizenry and an effective, accountable government. If this be class warfare, so be it
  • Americans feel themselves overburdened by a welfare system that is in fact, by the standards of other rich countries, both lean and mean. The relative generosity of the European welfare regimes may cost them some excess unemployment, but that does not explain why the rich European economies did not match the American boom of the 1990s. More important reasons are excessively tight monetary policy, failures of industrial competition, and restrictive controls on the labor market. The welfare state seems to encroach on the economy only when it grows to Swedish proportions. What really distinguishes the US is the equanimity with which the majority contemplates the poverty of a minority.
    • Robert M. Solow
  • Institutions and infrastructures shape our lives while remaining largely out of sight. We inductively learn that the world works in a certain way, but we don't understand how much complicated effort goes into producing and reproducing the institutions and infrastructures that *enable* the world to work that way. The result might be called first-world myopia. People in the first world live in a dream. We think that we determine our own fates, that we are free and autonomous individuals, when in fact we live in bubbles whose preconditions would scare us if we knew just how numerous they are. If there's a rock in the road, we just assume that it's someone's job to pick it up. The supermarket will have food in it. Airplanes fly. You can get parts for your car... First-world myopia means that you can forget, or never even know, about the elaborate institutional systems that make it possible to live in a bubble... First-world myopia, by contrast, can be downright dangerous. Think of all those "experts" who flew to Russia in 1989 to advise the Russians about how to create a market democracy. Those people were dangerous fools. They had no idea what life was like in a society without functioning institutions. They really believed all this drivel about the free market meaning an absence of government.
    • Phil Agre
  • Environmental laws give power to the people. Republicans and Right-Libertarians can huff, puff and scream about what they consider strict regulations, but when they cry out for reform, for a quicker process, they're really calling for a restriction of the rights of people to be involved in the planning process.
    • Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC-Berkeley
  • It is a true slight that a man who occupies himself dissecting ten thousand mites gets the same pleasure of libertarians.
    • William J. Westmiller
  • The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state ....[As Henry Home (Lord Kames) has written, a goal of taxation should be to] 'remedy inequality of riches as much as possible, by relieving the poor and burdening the rich.'
  • These days, however, the main problem comes from the right — from conservatives who, unlike most economists, really do think that the free market is always right — to such an extent that they refuse to believe even the most overwhelming scientific evidence if it seems to suggest a justification for government action.
  • Unfortunately for Right-Libertarians ethical egoism, the claim that we will all be better off if every one of us does what is in his or her own interest is incorrect. This is shown by what are known as "prisoner's dilemma" situations, which are playing an increasingly important role in discussions of ethical theory... At least on the collective level, therefore, egoism is self-defeating — a conclusion well brought out by Parfit in his aforementioned Reasons and Persons.
  • Markets are interested in profits and profits only; service, quality, and general affluence are different functions altogether. The universal, democratic prosperity that Americans now look back to with such nostalgia was achieved only by a colossal reigning in of markets, by the gargantuan effort of mass, popular organizations like labor unions and of the people themselves, working through a series of democratically elected governments not daunted by the myths of the market.
  • On the conservative side, today's libertarianism is far more dogmatic and devoid of qualification than the liberalism of Adam Smith or J.S. Mill. Like Marxism, libertarianism is a utopian worldview based on an economic-determinist vision of history. Unlike Marxism, libertarianism is highly specific in its predictions about the transition to the utopian world order, rendering it vulnerable to fact.
    • Michael Lind
  • (Libertarians advocate)... "extreme capitalism": the obsessive, uncritical penetration of the concept of the market into every aspect of American life, and the attempt to drive out every other institution, including law, art, culture, public education, Social Security, unions, community, you name it. It is the conflation of markets with populism, with democracy, with diversity, with liberty, and with choice — and so the denial of any form of choice that imposes limits on the market. More than that, it is the elimination of these separate concepts from our political discourse, so that we find ourselves looking to the stock market to fund retirement, college education, health care, and having forgotten that in other wealthy and developed societies these are rights, not the contingent outcomes of speculative games.
    • James K. Galbraith
  • Libertarian policy prescriptions are based on just a few principles, outwardly appealing in their seeming simplicity ...'simple rules for a complex world.' The first ... is that social problems can be resolved by creating a market. Are schools failing? Create a free market in education. Is there pollution or waste of resources? Create a market in the resource or the right to pollute; ... Is there a shortage of human organs for transplants? Let people sell their body parts. Not enough babies for adoption? Allow people to sell their babies ... These principles of 'economic correctness' are increasingly mouthed in the universities and especially in conservative think tanks, but their obvious long-term implications may strike ordinary Americans as horribly cruel. They need to hear this economic gibberish first-hand... Free-market rhetoric is powerfully persuasive only to a certain kind of elite audience; uncoupled from nationalist appeals...it begins to lose its power to motivate general audiences in a positive way.
    • James Arnt Aune
  • Aune goes on to focus closely on the rhetorical practices of several major libertarians: the legal scholar Richard Posner, the novelist and Greenspan mentor Ayn Rand, the philosopher Robert Nozick, and the polemicist Charles Murray. He shows how the "realist style" of economic argument works, combining the definition of any "object, person or relationship as a commodity"; reliance on quasi-logical argument; appeals to irony (via reference to the "inevitable perversity of well-intentioned social programs"); failure to respond to opposing arguments (because "in real science, when fundamental questions are settled, only cranks dispute them"); and perhaps above all, the avoidance of empirical investigation. Once one decodes these devices, cracking the arguments becomes a parlor game, not more difficult than crossword puzzles nor less routine.
    • James K. Galbraith
  • "'Rugged individualism'... is only a masked attempt to repress and defeat the individual and his individuality.... [It] has inevitably resulted in the crassest class distinctions... [and] has meant all the 'individualism' for the masters, while the people are regimented into a slave caste to serve a handful of self-seeking 'supermen.'"
  • ... you Libertarians are amazing. You've managed to construct an entire political ideology based on the phrase 'FUCK OFF.'
    • Richard James Winters III
  • But what's even worse, you've been robbed of the most important thing of all, the ability to think rationally; to weigh and measure and compare concepts... How? The US Libertarian Party has redefined your vocabulary. The most basic concepts. For examples: individual, society, freedom, government regulation and taxation, theft, Nazi, socialist, the standard R-L continuum, and more. In short, they have created a separate political reality for you, rich in feelsgoodism. In short, if anyone outside of the Libbie Reality attempts to communicate with you, each side will hear only gibberish. In propaganda terms, this means the propagandist need not adjust your values, because standardized values and logic operating with these new definitions will result in the desired conclusions. And of course, this also renders the victim immune from outside rebuttal. Even common historical facts, such as encyclopedia quotations will, and must, seem like gibberish. So this is a very safe and comfy world, nobody can challenge you.
    • Doug Bashford
  • The ideology of radical libertarianism is both mistaken and harmful — not least, to legitimate free expression in the service of truth. The error lies in exalting freedom "to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values.... In this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and 'being at peace with oneself'" There is no room for authentic community, the common good, and solidarity in this way of thinking.
    • Pontifical Council For Social Communications, Ethics In Internet
  • One of the great weaknesses of standard libertarian theory is that it tends to push too hard by elevating presumptions into absolutes.
    • Richard A. Epstein, "Skepticism and Freedom"
  • The most ardent antigovernment libertarian tacitly accepts his own dependency on govenment, even while rhetorically denouncing signs of dependency in others. This double-think is the core of the American libertarian stance.
    • Holmes and Sunstein
  • It's odd that libertarians are in favour of all sorts of liberties which don't involve property, but turn into absolute authoritarians on the concept of property. I'm massively in favour of liberty, but I don't think that the construction of 35 million tiny dictatorships is the way to go about it.
    • Daniel Davies, d-squareddigest, January 2, 2003
  • How is property given? By restraining liberty; that is, by taking it away so far as necessary for the purpose. How is your house made yours? By debarring every one else from the liberty of entering it without your leave.
  • The function of State coercion is to override individual coercion, and, of course, coercion exercised by any association of individuals within the State. It is by this means that it maintains liberty of expression, security of person and property, genuine freedom of contract, the rights of public meeting and association, and finally its own power to carry out common objects undefeated by the recalcitrance of individual members.
    • L. T. Hobhouse, "Liberalism", Chapter 7
  • No one doubts that pure libertarianism is simple, but that's just why it remains on the ideological fringe — because it boils down the most difficult questions in human affairs to a simple equation, a What Would the Market Do bumper sticker.
    • Ross Douthat, The American Scene :: 2/12/2003
  • I believe in the Free Market Fairy And the Tort Sprite too. They'll keep our power cheap and our air and water clean. All you have to do is close your eyes and tap your money clip three times.
    • Gen. JC Christian
  • Libertarianism has also been defined with some plausibility as the form taken by liberalism as common sense asymptotically approaches zero.
    • Richard Carnes
  • Moralistic or rights-based libertarianism has little appeal to the general public, as R. W. Bradford says, because it relies more on dogma and declarations than on evidence, reasoning, and dialogue. It reaches sweeping and detailed policy conclusions in a suspiciously easy way, with scant attention to the real world. Some of them, like Murray Rothbard's conclusions about contracts, bankruptcy, extortion, blackmail, and crime as private transactions between perpetrators and victims, as well as the supposed "heroism" of the scumbags defended in Walter Block's notorious book (Defending The Undefendable, 1976), are outlandish on their face.
    • Leland B. Yeager, In Defense of Utility


  • Libertarianism fails for me, not because I don't value freedom, but because it exalts ideology over practicality, just as its communist and anarchist cousins do.
    • Kevin Brennan
  • Libertarians make a priori arguments about the relative performance of governments and the markets in health care when there is so much empirical evidence.
    • John Quiggin
  • Libertarians are wolf in sheep's clothing.They know Freedom for the wolves means death for the sheep.
  • In reality libertarianism as an impartial ideal of maximum freedom and justice seems to be a kind of fantasy. We are all born into a world in which property is neither evenly distributed nor freely available. This situation came about through history, in which piracy, imperialism, genocide, slavery, etc. have all had an important part. No individual is free just to live their own life, since (for instance) there is no free land to farm. We all depend on others (especially if we are poor or handicapped by low social status, low intelligence, unpopular ethnicity, or disability, etc.) A government that adopts a completely laissez faire approach effectively sides with the pirates, slave-owners, etc. and their descendants.
    • Duncan Richter
  • A libertarians is a liberal who have never read a book in his life except Lord of Rings and Atlas struggle
  • Libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.
    • Robert Locke
  • Libertarianism means so many things to so many people that whatever you say about it, some libertarian somewhere will take offense. "You are confusing libertarianism with libertinism." "You don't understand, it's only a partial philosophy of life." "Libertarians aren't liberals!" "You're not talking about my kind of libertarianism!" My mailbox is full of subject headers with these declarations.
  • [Libertarians:] A group of supposedly free market government haters who work in defense companies and do a great deal of free work on a government created network to convince people that the profit motive is all powerful.
    • Stirling Newberry
  • Libertarian capitalism... is a curious ideology in many ways... On the one hand, the sanctity of private property and private contracts is held to be a matter of inalienable natural right, guaranteed by the fundamental facts of morality, if not a basic part of Objective Reality; capitalism is the Right Thing to Do. On the other hand, much effort is devoted to arguing that unfettered laissez-faire capitalism is also the economic system which will produce the greatest benefit for the greatest number, indeed for all, if only people would just see it. Natural right therefore coincides exactly with personal interest. A clearer example of wishful thinking could hardly be asked for.
    • Cosma Shalizi
  • Libertarians, hearing such a description, run gagging to the sink. There are no nations, no communities, no families. Only self-seeking individuals exist, and the "common good" is a term invented by fascist oppressors. This is the only answer they have for any social question, from drugs to pornography to fast food. This shopworn and counterintuitive platitude from the Enlightenment is so self-evidently stupid as to require no refutation, though David Hume supplied one in his great essay on "The Original Contract." Nonetheless, people such as Ayn Rand and the nerds and geeks who cling to her in the naive belief that her rotten novels will turn them into supermen could never understand the fact that human beings are social animals. This is a part of human nature which no libertarian theory can eradicate, and my advice to them is to find another planet where they can all live in solitary caves, where they can snort coke and watch porn videos to their hearts content. Their ideas are irrelevant, not just to present circumstances, but to the human condition.
    • Thomas Fleming
  • Libertarian rhetoric about "getting the government off our backs" makes the positive correlation between individual rights and state power difficult to comprehend. Better guidance comes from classic liberals, who insisted that, when organized constitutionally, liberty and authority can be mutually reinforcing. Consider David Hume's famous essay, "Of Commerce." In this classic defense of liberal political economy, Hume argues that Britain should deregulate commercial and industrial life and welcome the accumulation of private wealth, because such a system will increase the resources "to which the public may lay claim."
    • Stephen Holmes
  • But libertarians do not condemn all coercion or aggression... Libertarians clearly endorse the coercive enforcement of personal and property rights and contractual agreements... it is misleading to suggest that the coercion required to enforce the rules of a libertarian society will be less than in other systems. Whether libertarianism requires less (or more) coercion depends upon its popular support and the degree to which members of a libertarian society see its principles as legitimate and accept the many restrictions that they imply.
    • Samual Freeman
  • It is true that libertarians often try to claim Mill as their own. Yet the briefest acquaintance with Mill's work shows that his version of human freedom went far beyond non-interference — what Isaiah Berlin called "negative liberty." Mill saw an important role for government, believing that people needed educational and economic resources to lead their lives along paths of their own construction.
    • Richard Reeves
Last modified on 25 March 2010, at 22:51