Arnold Kling  

Where I Differ with Some Libertarians

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I don't know what exactly inspired this post (probably Bryan's writing on patriotism and political correctness). Anyway, here are a couple of issues where not all libertarians agree.

1. I just cannot buy into pacifism as some libertarians express it. It seems to me that some libertarians link arms with the far left as blame-America-firsters, with scathing attacks on America's military and its foreign policy. I am not sure what constructive solutions come from this stance. Sure, it would be great if nationalism and tribalism would wither away, we could have open borders, and no wars. But that is not the world we live in.

I think that one of my favorite Presidents for foreign policy was Eisenhower, who kept us out of Vietnam and spoke out against the military-industrial complex. But he believed in national defense, and in an imperfect world, so do I.

2. I think that there is a Randian strain in libertarianism that sees charity as wrong (bad for the recipients), and I disagree. I do not buy into the view that charity is necessarily bad for the recipients. To distinguish my viewpoint from the Randians, I describe myself as a civil societarian, by which I mean to support all sorts of layers of social organization, including businesses, religious organizations, watchdog groups, private rating agencies, and private charities. The one organization that I want to curb is monopoly government.

I certainly would like to try phasing out government charity and instead having that function be private. I would be willing to bet that, for any level of economic development and human capital distribution (in other words, do not try to use the 18th century as a controlled experiment for the 21st century or some other country as controlled experiment for the U.S.), private charity works better than government redistribution. I would like to see that hypothesis tested.


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy




COMMENTS (47 to date)
Taimyoboi writes:

3. I have trouble with strains of libertarianism that abandon entirely the concept of virtue for liberty, or that fail to recognize that these two are often in tension.

darjen writes:
I think that one of my favorite Presidents for foreign policy was Eisenhower, who kept us out of Vietnam and spoke out against the military-industrial complex. But he believed in national defense, and in an imperfect world, so do I.

I would contend that what we have now doesn't really have much to do with defense. There is nothing wrong with defending ourselves. But that is not how our military has ever been used... at least as long as I have been alive.

Andy writes:

Randians don't think charity is wrong.

See for example Ayn Rand's interview with Playboy in 1964:

"My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue."

Michael OBrien writes:

Couldn't agree more with these two points, Arnold.

Faré writes:

I think Rand is only reframing in a rational way a truth that has been long known in charitable tradition, but forgotten due to the insidious propaganda of socialists, egalitarians and other government apologists: that the generous donor should be careful what it is he is actually buying with his charitable "gifts", and that giving the undeserved is indeed malevolent and a sin.

Why indiscriminate charity is immoral
http://fare.livejournal.com/104397.html

John Goodman writes:

Arnold, were the founding fathers pacifist? Of course not. Were they uncharitable? Hardly.

What you are criticizing is a corruption of classical liberal values. Insofar as true libertarianism springs from classical liberalism, these issues present no problem.

Alex Tabarrok writes:

Rand never said charity was wrong as a quick Google search would discover. In addition to the Playboy quote Andy gave above,

"The fact that a man has no claim on others (i.e., that it is not their moral duty to help him and that he cannot demand their help as his right) does not preclude or prohibit good will among men and does not make it immoral to offer or to accept voluntary, non-sacrificial assistance..."

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/charity.html


Hyena writes:

Above commenters have said that Rand didn't object to charity. That is true. However, self-described Objectivists often do, citing other parts of Rand and arguing that charity essentially weakens the recipient.

Kling is correct and let's not confuse "Randianism" with the sayings of Ayn Rand.

A. writes:

Rand liked to play semantic games with altruism for example, probably to claim some originality and get attention, and many Randians are not libertarians.

Andy writes:

Hyena, I'm not sure what you mean by Randianism then.

Charity is not immoral in Ayn Rand's philosophy, as she clearly stated multiple times.

There is a split in objectivism over whether objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, or if it is something else (ie the Branden/Kelly side of objectivism) where it is possible to take philosophical positions opposed to those of Rand and still be objectivist. If anything "Randianism" would seem to me to be the first of those, so I remain convinced that Arnold Kling's second point is at least mis-phrased.

[N.B. Andy: Your future comments will be withheld until you email us at webmaster@econlib.org from a valid, two-way email address that we can verify. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Les writes:

Libertarians may differ about whether giving charity is a moral duty or simply a voluntary act, rather than an obligation.

But it seems to me that libertarians consider generosity only with one's own money.

Liberals, on the other hand, seem to be generous not with their own money, but rather with other peoples' money

Julien Couvreur writes:

My limited understanding of Rand is that only selfless charity, or charity as a sacrifice, is against the nature of man and thus unethical. Voluntary charity is fine, as voluntary action by definition improves your life.

Mercer writes:

" blame-America-firsters, with scathing attacks on America's military and its foreign policy. I am not sure what constructive solutions come from this stance. "

Do you think the US has never made a military or foreign policy action that has had negative results? If you don't think that our policies have been perfect what is wrong with pointing them out? The "blame-America-first" phrase has been used to try to shut down any criticism of our foreign policy. I don't see how anyone can call them self a libertarian and exempt the largest branch of government from scrutiny.

Most libertarians who attack our foreign policy are not pacifists. They want a defense policy geared to defending US territory instead of a military with bases in over a hundred countries around the world. That is basically what the foreign policy of the US was for 150 years. Our current expansive policy is a lot more expensive. I think it is a waste of money that is not making the US more secure.

Mark writes:

First, Hyena states: "Kling is correct and let's not confuse "Randianism" with the sayings of Ayn Rand."

Rand was not a "Randian," as correctly noted by others. Objectivism (ala Rand) is not opposed to charity; Randism may be (I don't know.). Other commentators have done a good job of clarifying Rand's position.

Second, with that said, I have a question for Arnold, who stated, "I do not buy into the view that charity is necessarily bad for the recipients."

How do you know? As in your arguments opposing Keynesian fiscal stimulus, we don't live in parallel universes to test outcomes of different policies. So seeing what life would be like with and without charity is not feasible. Charity may indeed make the recipient worse off, we can just never know since we'll never be able to assess outcomes when a different choice is made.

Therefore, what makes you believe that fiscal stimulus, which proponents argue will ease unnecessary suffering of millions, should not happen, while charitable giving of individuals, which likely helps (seemingly) far fewer, is legitimate?

I'm not necessarily opposed to charity (and I see a lot of problems with fiscal stimulus spending); I'm just trying to clarify for me what I perceive as an inconsistency in your reasoning.

Mark writes:

Let me clarify my question. I am not saying that government taking money by force to spend on special interest projects is the same as me using my own resources to help others.

My question is how can you be certain that charitable giving of material aid (even emotional support in many instances - it's called enabling) is not detrimental to recipients, but on the other hand you are so uncertain whether fiscal stimulus can work given we don't live in parallel universes to test its efficacy? We don't have the luxury of parallel universes for either.

joecushing writes:

If you punch enough people in the face, one may shoot you. The punching doesn't make the shooting right but you can't deny thay you wouldn't have been shot if you weren't punching random people in the face. Nobody hates us for our freedoms. Nobody blows up buildings because they are envious. They do this because we kill their people and control their governments by force. Americans take away from others, the freedom we are suposed to stand for. If we brought the troops from the 700 bases home along with the CIA and the bribe money, events like 9/11 wouldn't happen. We would be safer. It doesn't matter if the attackers are wrong too.

Jacob Oost writes:

Rand, shmand. It's like arguing over "what Keynes really meant" when somebody disses the concept of "Keynesian stimulus." The real issue is stimulus, what Keynes actually taught is a side issue (it's still worth discussing, it just ain't the discussion at hand).

And I do not share Rand's indifference or antipathy towards charity, in fact I regard it as a moral imperative. But I am a Christian. Which probably means it's no surprise I too have disagreements with libertarians on many issues (immigration used to be one of them, but Dr. Caplan really influenced my POV on this over the past year or so, not that I was ever anti-immigrant, I just believed in restricted immigration).

Like Dr. Kling I'm not dogmatically pacifist. I just say I'm anti-war, because I am. I don't like war. I think it's destructive and horrible for everybody but arms merchants and their workers. It is only made "necessary" when trade between nations breaks down. I view war as the end stage of a long conflict that never would have escalated had the nations in question been trading freely with one another all along.

I'm also extremely skeptical about going arm-in-arm with so-called anti-war leftists, who I find aren't that opposed to war at all, but rather pick and choose which wars to be outraged by. War waged by communist Russians in Afghanistan for imperialist purposes? Ignore. War waged by capitalist America in Afghanistan to retaliate against heinous mass murder? Evil! The list goes on. They are perfect Orwellian double-thinkers, not to be trusted and certainly not to be allied with. Their motivations and desired ends for being "anti-war" are totally different from those of libertarians.

But probably my big, elephant-in-the-living-room disagreement with libertarians is abortion. I'm staunchly pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception, and being a libertarian, I believe strongly in the right to life, regardless of whether the person is born or unborn. I think that libertarians, like most people, are largely ignorant of the realities of abortion (i.e. what an abortionist actually does, what an aborted baby looks like, the special interests involved in the debate, etc.) and so don't give it much thought. Kind of like how people weren't outraged about war or the holocaust or lynching or the exploitation of child labor until they'd seen photographs of it and heard from direct witnesses. Abortion was a non-issue to me until I attended a seminar on it from the point of view of a man whose girlfriend had had an abortion. The issue had to be humanized until I understood it. I don't think any textbook could have swayed me (but I could be wrong).

It's my view that the authentic libertarian viewpoint on abortion is to be pro-life with the possible exception of those ultra-rare circumstances when a pregnancy is equally threatening to both baby and mother.

The other big disagreement is about the authority of government. What right does government have to even exist, let alone enforce its rules? I see debates like this played out on this site and elsewhere in libertarian circles. For me, the answer is in the Bible: governmental authority comes from God. Without this Divinely-given authority, all governments would be illegitimate. I would take the Rothbardian stance on government were it not for my Biblical beliefs. And I don't believe it just because it's in the Bible, but because it makes sense to me, that governmental authority can only come from the Highest Authority. This is where most libertarians, who tend to be agnostic, inch away from me and look at me sideways. To bring God into the discussion is utterly foreign to many if not most libertarians. That's a big difference between me and them. And most Christians aren't that libertarian, or interested in science (or Kubrick, or Lynch, or Fellini, etc.). It's awfully lonely, being Jacob.......

Mike Sproul writes:

Arnold:

You didn't mention the view that likens both the Fed and private banks to counterfeiters, and treats fractional reserve banking as fraud.

I'd like to think you disagree with libertarians who take these positions, but I'm actually not sure where you stand.

Jacob Oost writes:

Oh yeah, and you've called yourself the world's only Keynesian libertarian.

Jeffrey Rae writes:

@ Jacob Oost

I assure you that you aren't alone.

Mr. Kling:
It was Eisenhower who first sent "advisors" to Vietnam. Also it was the CIA, under Eisenhower, who installed the Shah in Iran. Second, American foreign policy deserves all the invective thrown at it. Why is the solution to every problem to bomb the crap out of some country that might not let out multi-national corporations rape and pillage? And as far as the military goes, criticism is certainly due people like Lt. General William 'Jerry' Boykin(Ret.).

Tim Lee writes:

On (1), I wish you'd linked to a specific example of the view you're criticizing. I can't think of any prominent libertarian pacifists. All the libertarian foreign policy scholars I can think of support a strong national defense. Some of them just think our current military budget--which is roughly the size of all other nations' military bugdets put together--is excessive, and that our current military engagements are largely counterproductive. I don't think either of these views can reasonably be characterized as pacifism.

Phil Rothman writes:

I agree wholeheartedly with Arnold's point #1. When libertarian reasoning leads to conclusions such as Bryan Caplan's (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/12/the_popularity.html) about the moral equivalence between the acceptance of the American and German publics vis-a-vis the "atrocities" committed by their governments in WWII, an inquiring mind is likely to conclude that such reasoning leads to clear moral confusion. Libertarian thinking as exemplified by David Henderson's (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/12/response_to_arn.html) simultaneous declaration that he's "not a pacifist" but also, it seems, does not approve of any US military action in the post-WWII period, suggests a type of non-pacifism that many would have difficulty distinguishing from pacifism; defense policy guided by his principles of self defense is likely to be as successful as that of, say, France in WWII.

On Ike and Vietnam: the US had over 900 military advisors in Vietnam by the end of Eisenhower's second term and he counseled President-elect Kennedy that Southeast Asia should receive a high priority.

Peter Ramins writes:

Mr. Kling, going from your passage there, I surmise that should I find myself standing in front of a hornets' nest with a stick, I should blame the nest and the individual hornets if an angry cloud of striped terrorists erupts after I poke the nest.

America's foreign policy has been about poking nests with sticks for decades. A good many of us citizens think that should change. That's not 'blame America first', that's simple common sense.

Mike writes:

"Eisenhower, who kept us out of Vietnam"? In which history book did you discover that? Like a luckless Santa Claus, we took up the reigns of Vietnam from the French because they were in the morass of the war in Algeria. I find it difficult to agree with any of your opinion after a gaffe like that.

prometheefeu writes:

On 1 I would take it further. The police protects us against violence and we have a collective responsability to provide for this common defense against thugs, thieves and others who would violate our rights. What of the men and women in other countries who are victims of oppressive governements? Do we not have a responsability to protect them against violence? I think the military should play a role in that.

I also disagree with an opposition to all governement charity. Like Hayek said in the Road to Serfdom, it is possible for liberal governments to provide a minimum income so nobody ends up starving. You just have to be careful to keep it at the minimum (just enough to feed, house and cloth yourself, nothing more) and you should stay away from conditionality of that aid in order to not create perverse incentives.

Sam writes:

Responses to several, if it is not too late:

1. Eisenhower might not be "one of my favorites" but is "one of my least unfavorite" presidents, because he acted from pure pragmatism and betrayed his voluntary oath (a double oath, once as officer and once as president) to the Constitution. But he did NOT limit the US foreign and defense policy nearly as much as he should have, even if more than those before and after him. I'd rather be robbed by a pragmatist than by a true-believer, for he is more likely to leave me with something, whereas the true believer KNOWS he can do better with my resources than I can - and indeed may find it best to pop me because of his beliefs (political, economic, or religious).

2. Too many "libertarians" DO "bash America first" - but perhaps it is because they expect BETTER of America than of the rest of the world. But since they do not state that as the basis of their criticism, they DO come across as Anti-American. And the foreign and "defense" policy of the United States is indeed an embarrassment to a free people - but exactly what is to be expected of people who have submitted to be slaves of the state. Still, it is far better than the foreign policies of any of the other great powers - which is (of course) a sad commentary on the world.

3. Jacob Oost, you are wrong to so separate libertarians from christians, and to claim that you disagree with libertarians because libertarians support abortion. There are many of us who are libertarians BECAUSE we are christians: and by "libertarian" I mean free-enterprise anarchists who are opposed to the state because it exists in violation of God's Word. The arguments used to claim that the New Testament supports human governments and requires them to exist have long been disproved, time and again. There are many libertarians that believe that abortion is nothing more than violent aggression for no justifiable reason - and not all of us take this position because we are christian. Abortion violates the most fundamental liberties of a sentient being, for the poorest of excuses.
4. Prometheefeu, the police do NOT protect us from violence, and indeed, they create as much or more violence as they prevent. At best they take vengeance on those who commit violent acts, but almost always in such a way as to do little or nothing to prevent further violence or warn off others from similar actions. Like the rest of the state, they are worse than useless. And if the state is NOT justified, then "charity" by the state is even LESS justified. Your "liberal government" a la Hayek still gets the money it provides as "charity" by theft: by using or threatening the use of force to make people give them money.

odinbearded writes:

@Sam

The arguments used to claim that the New Testament supports human governments and requires them to exist have long been disproved, time and again.


I can honestly say I've never heard that argument, and I'm related (distantly) to John Howard Yoder. Could you maybe link to some of those discussions?

(I'm not being facetious or sarcastic. I really would like to find them.)

ird writes:

Where exactly are all these Randians who say charity is always bad for the recipients? I've been a libertarian for a long time, and I've never heard that one. I've heard a lot of people--Randian or not, libertarian or not--say that charity *might* be bad for the recipients, or even that it's *often* bad for the recipients. In fact, that's a pretty mainstream view. Hell, that was the Republican motto during the push for welfare reform under Newt Gingrich. But who ever says it's *always* bad? Sounds like a smear to me...

Elder writes:

joecushing said: "Nobody hates us for our freedoms."

There are many who do. Our successes are an affront to their religious, economic and/or governmental systems. They ascribe diabolical motives to our goals, cheer our failures and align themselves with our enemies.

DCLawyer68 writes:

Arnold,

I share many of your concerns. I think Libertarians go too far when it comes to national security, homeland security and even some economic matters. For example, Prof. Epstein notes that network related problems, e.g. roads, often need government intervention more often than hard core libertarians admit.

Consequently, I label myself as a classical liberal instead. Strong on defense, o.k. with airport security and an intelligence community with the capability of keeping us safe, but also favoring private sector approaches unless clearly unable to deliver the goods.

Luap Leiht writes:

I would like to see the defense budget cut in half from $700 billion per year to $350 billion per year.

Does this make me a pacifist? I don't think so since it would merely return spending to year 2000 levels. If this means we can't engage in quite so many nation building exercises, so be it.

We are out of money. We have been out of money for quite some time. The only question now is how high we will run the credit card before regaining our sanity.

Spending is out of control. For my children to have any chance of a decent life, we need to cut Medicare, Social Security, and Defense.

Perry writes:

About nationalism being necessary: I agree, but perhaps, more
enthusiastically than you.

The idea of having one planetary government - a fundamental progressive goal - isn't all that bad on paper. Getting there is a little tricky, though.

Until almost all the players use enough of the same rules, one world government is off the table, making nationalism is the natural fallback position. There isn't anything wrong with that, especially as long as the forces for freedom, individual autonomy, and natural rights are sitting at the table.

The USA needs to fulfill that role with its allies at every possible turn That's good nationalism, in this view.

wormme writes:

Voluntary socialism is angelic. Involuntary socialism is the opposite.

Kevin Carson writes:

It's interesting that you frame anti-interventionism as a display of naivete or unwarranted optimism about human nature. I would turn it around: taking any of the national security state's claims at face value, or trusting it to do what it says it will do for the ostensible reasons it claims as justification, requires trust in human nature to the point of naivete. We are anti-interventionist because we don't believe anyone can be trusted with the kind of power the U.S. state claims for "national defense" [sic].

And in fact the U.S. government has shown its "defending peace and freedom" rhetoric to be completely at odds with the real nature of its actions, and shown itself as a threat to be defended against as much as the other major powers. You can find, laid out as an exquisitely footnoted legal brief, country by country, the U.S. state's record of supporting death squads, military coups, and aggressive wars on false pretexts, in a book by William Blum: Killing Hope.

Finally, we don't oppose "America." As Robert Higgs said, we oppose the government.

Jim Doyle writes:

I think that there is too much offense in our defense. It is a judgment call but it would be hard to argue that some of our “defense” is not required. Once we win a battle we never seem to leave. Examples would be Europe and Korea. Certainly these folks have the means to protect themselves and should. Alliances could be a much stronger and economic approach to defense. I mean real alliances where both parties have responsibilities. It is also ludicrous to think that defense only resides within our borders. Today’s weapons and capabilities means we have to be able to base or have allies willing to allow us to base outside of our borders.

Unfortunately missile defense, clearly something we should be pursuing is being put off the table (START treaty) because we wish to keep our potential enemies happy. That is indeed pacifism or just idiocy.

I think libertarians can come in various shades like very other viewpoint. If you wish to preserve liberty than the power of the individual to make choices, keep his property as long as it harms no other is a common thread. Charity is noble and most important voluntary.

The government has limited duties and should just stick to those. Most issues would go away if we got back to that. Much of the debate that goes on today is about how government needs to force this behavior or force a certain “fair” outcome all of which is not it’s job.

Within our country people are not all virtuous and thus police and the rule of law are necessary. Outside our borders same applies. I do believe that it is best to leave others alone but I am not naïve enough that doing this means they will do me no harm.

Robert Campbell writes:

According to Rand, there is no generalized moral obligation or imperative to give to charity. There is definitely no obligation to give to charity at high cost to oneself. Consequently, there can be no legal obligation to give to charity that a government can rightly enforce through taxation or conscription.

Rand also thought that some forms of charity promote dependence, and are therefore better avoided. There are unflattering portraits of left-wing social workers in two of her novels, but she made it clear when asked that she was not against social work as a profession.

None of this is controversial in Rand-land.

"Andy" suggested, without giving specifics, that persons not aligned with the Ayn Rand Institute might think differently about giving to private charity than persons so aligned. I'm not aware of any such differences. The fracture lines have more to do with whether Ayn Rand was morally perfect, Nathaniel Branden is Satanic, Leonard Peikoff is entitled to function as an Objectivist Pope, Ayn Rand Institute functionaries should rewrite Rand's previously unpublished statements, and Iran should be carpet-nuked on a Friday during prayer services.

Except for the last item, none of these differences are germane to the present discussion.

Robert Campbell

Han Solo writes:

Your biggest mistake.

Ayn Rand was NOT a libertarian, she was an objectivist.

You need to learn more about REAL libertarian ideas before you argue with them.

jackbenimble writes:

I have a lot of libertarian leanings but where that political philosophy really goes off the rails is their often expressed advocacy for "open borders".

If libertarians were ever able to gain power and implement their libertarian form of government including open borders, the resulting influx of perhaps a billion poor ignorant people from the third world would quickly overwhelm the small government libertarians. They would be ejected from office and replaced by large government types who promised the new constituency of recently arrived poverty stricken immigrants a heaping serving of socialism at the libertarians expense.

The libertarian utopia would last not more than a couple of election cycles. Any political philosophy that contains the seeds of its own rapid and abrupt undoing is badly flawed and totally unrealistic.

Mayura writes:

I've never heard that libertarians oppose charity in general. They differentiate between private, voluntary, charity, and government-enforced welfare and redistribution. The latter is not charity at all - forcing individuals to part with their money to fund programs deemed "for the general good" by government.
Also, Rand did not consider charity to be necessarily selfless or virtuous. People who donate money to charitable institutions or help friends out in need, or hand a dollar to a homeless person, derive utility from their actions. Not tangible utility, but perhaps they get "a warm fuzzy feeling" from helping a fellow being, or they get the satisfaction of adhering to their principles. The point here is not to demean acts of charity. But a common misconception is that if people were allowed to act in their own self-interest, no one would perform "selfless" deeds of charity. People would still be charitable even if they were not forced to be because many (not all) human beings want to and derive satisfaction from being charitable.

Ken Royall writes:

I agree with the 2 main points. I will also say that Libertarians are politically unrealistic. For example, open borders would need to come with eliminating the welfare state, as most Libertarians would agree.

However, realistically we know we are *not* going to eliminate the welfare state although it can and should be reduced. To advocate open borders given the current political and societal realities is foolish.

There is also little acknowledgment from Libertarians of the downside and potential consequences of their stated positions. For example, legalizing drugs. It is all happy talk about reduced crime, new tax revenues, and increased liberty with no discussion of the societal harm that comes with increased drug use. Legalization might make sense for some substances, but an honest discussion is needed.

LJP writes:

In my view, these almost-theological, scholastic disputes are all so minor and of such low priority that they can safely be deferred to well beyond the grave. Right now, we've got a debt of $14 trillion and a U.S. President is who deeply hostile to limited government and free enterprise. Correcting these pressing issues should command our complete attention. Counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin can wait.

MERLIN writes:

The heart of the matter is that libertarians do not seem to have a theory of the nation-state. The open borders crowd rely on the simplistic "exchange creates wealth" to explain indifference to borders. For them the USA seems to be just a hunk of geography, and they are content to accept anyone who cares to walk across the border from a neighboring third-world country with long-standing greivances against the US, with a government actively promoting dual citizenship, campaigning in US elections, and supporting race-based groups who claim a substantial portion of US territory for themselves and work aggressively to violate US election laws. When I try to raise this issue with open-border libertarians I usually get infantile responses asserting that they "don't care about government", and question the government's right to exist, as if shrugging off the existence of government would make it disappear. This utopian silliness reflects not only an abscence of a theory of nation-states, but an abscence of a definition of government. Government is nothing other than whatever entity has a dominating control of the means of coercion. Right be damned, governments do exist and will always exist, and the more monopolistic the ownership of the means of coercion, the more completely will government dominate society. The nation-state is a governmental entity unified by geography, religion, tribalism, and in the case of the US a devotion to a Constitutional contract, limiting government and promoting individual freedom. The Consitutional contract of the US nation-state is steadily being eroded by politicians seeking ever greater personal power. One method of achieving that end is to open the borders randomly to people, however worthy, who have no connection to the US nation, its Constitution, or its historical existence, and are even actively hostile to that existence, but arrive open handed ready to accept any government largess coming their way. We recently had welfare reform; the influx of semi-literate peasants without employment opportunity in agriculture or construction is a perfect "reverse" welfare reform which is definitely expected to provide a voting edge for the party most willing to violate the Constitution and redistribute wealth. What we are seeing is not immigration but colonization. The new nation-state being created is not one that libertarians will like.

david writes:

Thanks Arnold. I was beginning to think that I was the only member of the pro-war wing (kidding sort of) of the libertarian movement.

Jacksonian Libertarian writes:

I see I am not the only one who thinks the Utopian Libertarians, could use some realism.

Brad Potts writes:

Randian libertarians are way to quick to associate wealth and productivity with objective merit. While it is true that productivity and often wealth symbolize elevated contribution to society, the more complex an economy becomes, the less likely it is a matter of personal qualities and a matter of relative positioning.

While that still provides its own reasons for limiting government intervention, as people need to be free to move in, around, and out of markets, the moral arguments that come from libertarians often tend to be crass and overly sympathetic to the wealthy.

Random Dude writes:

@jacob

I'm also extremely skeptical about going arm-in-arm with so-called anti-war leftists, who I find aren't that opposed to war at all, but rather pick and choose which wars to be outraged by. War waged by communist Russians in Afghanistan for imperialist purposes? Ignore. War waged by capitalist America in Afghanistan to retaliate against heinous mass murder? Evil!

Funny. I always assumed that these two were entirely linked and that this was the origination of the entire leftist "anti-war" movement in the U.S.

The left wasn't necessarily against war, merely that the wrong side was winning. In their case, the wrong side was America and free-market capitalism.

"No war but the class war" really only could happen if the U.S. lost the cold war.

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