David R. Henderson  

Does Libertarianism Reject Anti-Semitism?

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Economist Steve Horwitz has just published an article titled "Libertarianism Rejects Anti-Semitism." I disagree with his argument and the title.

The essence of libertarianism is the peaceful interaction of humans. It's quite conceivable for humans to interact peacefully and not like, and even intensely dislike, each other. This dislike could be based on race, gender, or semitism. One can easily imagine an anti-Semite dealing with people completely peacefully.

How about an anti-Semite who doesn't advocate coercion against Jews? That's easy to imagine too.

Steve confronts the issue head on, writing:

Part of the problem is that too many libertarians think that claiming to believe in the Non-Aggression Principle is sufficient to establish someone's libertarian bona fides. If this summer should teach us anything, it's that the NAP, while a good rule of thumb and summary of an aspect of ethical teaching, is not enough. Libertarians have apologized far too often and far too long for those who claimed that their anti-Semitism or racism is compatible with their libertarianism because it's just a "private view" and they don't wish to enforce it with political power. That excuse making needs to end.

It's true that claiming to believe in the Non-Aggression Principle is not the same thing as believing in it. But then that's the point he should make. Also, if he thinks this is just an "excuse," Steve is missing the point.

Steve immediately follows the paragraph above with this:

Anti-Semites and racists have rarely separated their personal views and their political ones so neatly, as the underlying hatred and distrust eventually become political because they are ineffective when done only in private. One need only look at the history of some of the former "libertarians" at the center of events in Charlottesville to see this.

He's right that this is rare. I'm not sure he's right that expressing distrust and hatred is ineffective when done only in private. Someone who is anti-Semitic, for example, will probably not knowingly marry a Jew.

But in any case, the point is that these are logically separable. Someone can be anti-Semitic and be against the initiation of force. Someone can love Jews, as I do (I married one and am the father of another) and be in favor of initiating force (as I do not.) The issues are completely separable.

In Steve's next paragraph, he writes:

Plus, exercising those views through political power is not the only way to engage in aggression and the threat thereof. Ask the members of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville if seeing neo-Nazis and alt-righters walking around and observing their synagogue felt like aggression, or the threat thereof. Ask Heather Heyer if political coercion is the only kind of coercion that matters.

He's right, of course, that the only way to engage in aggression is not through political power. As he points out, Heather Heyer is dead because of private coercion. But, as Steve well knows, the non-aggression principle is not just about government coercion; it applies to private coercion also.

Also, while he may be right that having anti-Semites and walk around observe a synagogue would feel like aggression to some, we should distinguish clearly between feeling aggressed on and being aggressed on.

Here's how J Peterson II put it in a comment on Steve's article:

Steve, libertarianism is a political philosophy. Even if it's a moral philosophy about non-aggression, that's still irrelevant to anti-semitism except to say you don't get to beat me up for being a anti-semite or for being a member of a certain social group.

Just because it might make sense to be a libertarian *and* also be against X, Y, or Z or for X, Y, Z doesn't mean X, Y, or Z must be included within libertarianism. They might be *related* to matters of political philosophy but they are not a necessary part of that concept or "locus". Just because X, Y or Z aren't part of libertarianism doesn't mean X, Y, and Z *don't matter*. Libertarianism doesn't account for "all that is good." There are certainly very important social issues that are outside the scope of libertarianism. As a civilized human being I can take positions on those issues, it's just not in my role as a libertarian. Whatever position I take there won't be because of my libertarianism, but for other reasons.


In short, Steve has made a category mistake.


Comments and Sharing






COMMENTS (39 to date)
Jake writes:

I am with Steve on this one. The mainstream has a tendency to label us as "conservative" and "alt-right" and we need to speak out strongly against that.

The core of our ideology is not hateful or abusive. We need to fight for that and exclude those who advocate oppression.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Jake,
We need to fight for that and exclude those who advocate oppression.
I am with you on this.
That is not the issue, however. I think you should read my post more carefully. One must distinguish carefully between those who are anti-semitic and those who advocate oppression. Being anti-semitic does not necessarily make one an advocate of oppression.
The mainstream has a tendency to label us as "conservative" and "alt-right" and we need to speak out strongly against that.
We do need to speak out strongly against that. But in doing so, we should not make false claims.

Ike writes:

David, I understand the point you're trying to make, but you're the one who is missing the category.

Anti-Semitism is about curtailing liberties. And it is about categorizing people on the basis of a group identity instead of as individuals.

Given the number of alt-Righters who claim Libertarian backgrounds, this is an important distinction to make.

Do you really want to publish an article in this climate with the title "Libertarianism and Anti-Semitism are, like, totes compatible"?

Andy Hallman writes:
It's quite conceivable for humans to interact peacefully and not like, and even intensely dislike, each other. This dislike could be based on race, gender, or semitism. One can easily imagine an anti-Semite dealing with people completely peacefully.

Is it easy to imagine because it's logically possible or because it routinely happens? Places where people intensely dislike each other tend not to be peaceful. The intense hatred eventually manifests itself in violence.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Ike,
Anti-Semitism is about curtailing liberties.
Not per se. It’s about being against Jews. One can be against all Jews and still grant that they have the same rights we all have. It’s a small category, admittedly, but I bet it’s not an empty category. And you aren’t going to establish the nonexistence of the category by pointing to the most hateful aggressive anti-Semites like the ones who showed up in Charlottesville.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Andy Hallman,
Is it easy to imagine because it's logically possible or because it routinely happens?
The former. It doesn’t have to be routine for my point to hold.

Ike writes:

@David

I still maintain that it is not a libertarian ethos if you are dropping people into groups to determine their value and worth.

That indicates that you are not really respecting them as individuals.

David R Henderson writes:

@Ike,
That indicates that you are not really respecting them as individuals.
You’re absolutely right.
But there are many people I don’t respect as individuals--and I still respect their rights.

Jerry Brown writes:

"But there are many people I don’t respect as individuals--and I still respect their rights."

I think Ike points out the flaw in your argument- if you are disrespecting members of a group that they belong to as a matter of their birth alone, you cannot be regarding them as individuals. And if that is okay by libertarian standards, well I don't really need to learn any more about libertarianism in order to reject it.

David R Henderson writes:

@Jerry Brown,
And if that is okay by libertarian standards, well I don't really need to learn any more about libertarianism in order to reject it.
And you otherwise would have accepted libertarianism? I didn’t get that from your past comments on this blog.

Jerry Brown writes:

No, But I respect many aspects of libertarian thought, while still thinking it does not adequately deal with the fact that people are social in nature and have certain obligations to societies they live in.

But if you are going to maintain that it is not inconsistent with libertarianism to stick peoples into categories based on who their parents were rather than what their individual characteristics and choices and abilities indicate, then my opinion of libertarian thought is affected. Negatively.

a libertarianism is a humanism writes:

It seems that the contentions fall broadly into two camps, and I think therein resides a lot of the confusion. The competing contentions are:

(1) That libertarianism can, in fact, be boiled down to one pillar of belief, and that belief is the NAP. Therefore, libertarianism is perfectly compatible with "non-political" anti-Semitism as a logical matter; and therefore, to denounce the allegedly "non-political" anti-Semitism as incompatible with libertarianism as defined is prima facie illogical and, by extension, is to commit a category error; and

(2) That libertarianism, as understood by Mises, Hayek, and others, cannot, in fact, be boiled down into one pillar of belief, namely the NAP, but must rather be understood as a web of interlocking beliefs and assumptions about human society, economy, thought, and political action in general, and that this web necessarily values the primacy of each person's moral agency. "Non-political" anti-Semitism may not violate the NAP, but libertarianism isn't only the NAP; in fact, the libertarianism that isn't the NAP is diametrically opposed to the premises of anti-Semitism. Therefore, anti-Semitism is a blemish on the libertarian movement and is, in fact, not libertarianism at all because it violates the deeply held assumptions of liberalism classically conceived.

Many who support, on logical grounds, the possibility of the anti-Semitic libertarian seem to fall into camp (1). Those, like Horwitz, who deny - also on logical grounds - the possibility of the anti-Semitic libertarian fall into camp (2).

Neither is making a category error. They're talking about different things - and are, in fact, talking past each other.

That is, (1) libertarianism seeks to be purely a political philosophy and has no pretensions to make any moral claims on a person's character beyond the NAP ; in contrast to (2), in which libertarianism as conceived by our classical liberal forebears is not a pure political philosophy and does actually make moral claims on a person's character - such as acknowledging that a person's individual moral agency extends beyond some purely hypothetical nexus of their personhood extracted from ambient social space and that that fact requires us to disavow any possibility of a libertarian who denies moral agency like the anti-Semite does - and all that as a matter of course.

Taken in reverse: Eichmann had Jewish friends, but was quite effective at herding The Jew into cattle cars.

Like Horwitz, I think to take position (1) is a mistake both intellectually and strategically.

Intellectually, few outside the blinkered hardcore of libertarian absolutists actually, in practice, gives primary precedence to the NAP. Revealed preferences are quite powerful. Rothbard himself discusses this at great length in The Ethics of Liberty and I defy anyone to argue that he came to satisfactory conclusions. Everyone should remember their Nozick. That is, the world - and how we understand it through philosophical abstraction - is more complicated than the NAP can admit. Moreover, I find it rather strange that libertarians can so blithely wave away the moral agency of their persons and claim that they're only making political demands. Society, economy, politics - these things are intertwined; are not, as pretty much everyone who spends even ten minutes in the real world can tell you, separate, nor can they be separated. You can try to separate them at your peril - the result is the Chris Cantwells of the world.

Which leads me to strategy. It makes no strategic sense to defend the hypothetical and - in my view, seeing as how I fall into camp (2) - impossible anti-Semitic libertarian. You're making a strategic mistake in allowing the rhetoric of human freedom to accommodate those that want to annihilate that freedom and the moral agency that makes it possible. These people are not your friends; they'll only win you more enemies. Denounce them. They are against everything you believe in. That doesn't mean you need to barge into their compounds in the mountains and confiscate their guns; that also doesn't mean you need to believe they shouldn't exist. What it means is: you don't have to work with them; you don't have to concede ground to their rhetoric; you can purge them from your midst. Politics is an ugly and dirty game; don't make it any dirtier by associating with anti-Semites, however much they may quote your favorite economists. A more human and humane libertarianism is possible.

David R Henderson writes:

@Jerry Brown,
Got it. Thanks for clarifying.

RPLong writes:

To me, libertarianism is about setting limits on the size and scope of government. Most people intuitively understand the concept of the separation of church and state: I don't share my neighbor's religious beliefs, but regardless of that, I don't believe the government should have a say in what my neighbor believes.

Having a bias or belief about the value of human beings based on their race, gender, religion, or creed is a religious belief for all intents and purposes. If we as libertarians are in favor of freedom of belief, then we must be in favor of freedom of even very wrong or twisted beliefs, like anti-Semitism.

That is, we should be in favor of the freedom of belief, not in favor of the belief. And as long as we're in favor of the freedom, then we're taking the libertarian side of the issue. It's tempting to make libertarianism an all-encompassing philosophy, but it can't be. To me, it is solely about setting limits on the size and scope of government. I have other kinds of beliefs informing how I think about right and wrong.

Jerry Brown writes:

Professor Henderson, it is part of the nature of interesting writing, such as you do with your articles, to focus on areas where there may be disagreements. Not the very, very much larger percentage of areas that almost everybody agrees with- that would be very boring- and you are not at all boring. Unfortunately, the nature of my commenting follows the same sort of trend, where my comments are usually focused on those parts of your writing I disagree with, and not the many points you make that I do agree with. Perhaps it would be better to write more comments about the points you make that I very much agree with.

"President Trump's Tragic Sunk Cost Fallacy" by
David Henderson was a great post where there is total agreement. Thank you for writing it.

Eric Hanneken writes:

Jerry Brown,

Libertarianism is an opinion about the right answer to a specific question: When is the use of force justified? You might as well have a negative opinion about ethical veganism, because it also doesn't have anything to say about anti-semitism.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Jerry Brown,
Thanks. I very much appreciate what you wrote above.
@RPLong,
Thanks. You have got us back to the issue I was addressing.

Jerry Brown writes:

Eric Hanneken, I have never understood why vegans hate vegetable life to such an extent. I for one am opposed to unjustified use of force against vegetables. Hopefully one day vegans will see the error of their ways.

If you wish to define libertarianism as only the answer to when the use of force is justified, then that is fine with me- I don't care how you want to limit a group that I am not sure I want to join anyways. But the nice thing about libertarians is that they will generally respect my right to disagree, even if they think I am stupid. As opposed to racists and anti Semitists. And be sure that I am not calling anyone here either of those things.

The commenter labelled 'a libertarianism is a humanism' @2:17 makes a lot of good points and one of those is the distinction made between two views of libertarian thought. I would speculate that as a practical strategy maybe the second school should be more the focus of advocates who are interested in getting more people to understand and agree with them. But that is just an opinion.

Brian writes:

"I think Ike points out the flaw in your argument- if you are disrespecting members of a group that they belong to as a matter of their birth alone, you cannot be regarding them as individuals."

and

"But if you are going to maintain that it is not inconsistent with libertarianism to stick peoples into categories based on who their parents were rather than what their individual characteristics and choices and abilities indicate, then my opinion of libertarian thought is affected."

Jerry Brown,

I'm not sure how you conclude this. It is possible to treat people as individuals and still observe that they possess characteristics similar to other people (which then forms a group). And those characteristics often allow us to anticipate certain behaviors before we observe them.

Suppose I know from experience that people who label themselves alt-right invariably get on my nerves if I hang around them long enough. I might decide to avoid such people as soon as they identify as alt-right. Am I possibly missing out on some edifying interactions with alt-right folks? Sure. But I'm also sparing myself a lot of likely aggravation.

Now, it's hard to see how avoiding alt-righters is contrary to libertarianism. My avoidance of them does not deny their moral agency nor their claim to equal rights.

So now apply this to racism. Suppose I avoid blacks or Jews or Chinese because I find them annoying (for whatever reason). How does this violate a libertarian ethos? Is it different than avoiding alt-righters? If so, how?

David R. Henderson writes:

@a libertarianism is a humanism
I got your point until the end. And then I think you went off track. You wrote:
You're making a strategic mistake in allowing the rhetoric of human freedom to accommodate those that want to annihilate that freedom and the moral agency that makes it possible.
I absolutely agree that one should not accommodate those who want to annihilate freedom. The issue that I raised, though, is about anti-Semitic people who don’t want to annihilate freedom. It’s easy to point to the Chris Cantwells of the world. He has shown himself to be pretty strongly anti-freedom, I would say.
Also, you have package-dealt it, as the late Ayn Rand would have said. You write:
What it means is: you don't have to work with them; you don't have to concede ground to their rhetoric; you can purge them from your midst. Politics is an ugly and dirty game; don't make it any dirtier by associating with anti-Semites, however much they may quote your favorite economists.
I never advocated working with them and certainly I did not advocate conceding ground to their rhetoric. I simply advocating making distinctions.

Mark writes:

Here's the problem with cultivating libertarianism as a broad worldview beyond merely a political position on when force is justified: which is easier? Convincing a racist to abandon his racism, or convincing him to leave Jews (or whatever race) alone and in return they'll leave him alone? I think the former is easier.

What should matter most to a libertarian is not that others share his opinions, but that they do not violate the rights of others regardless of their opinions. Achieving the latter is much more important than the former, even if kne's opinions are entirely correct. For that reason, libertarianism as a mere political stance should take precedent over libertarianism as a philosophy of life.

More over, why stop with anti-semitism if we are to define libertarianism as a philosophy of life? Is libertarianism consistent with Christianity? Islam? Utilitarianism? Atheism? It's hard to believe a worldview narrow enough that it excludes a broad category of opinions on racial generalization, but still somehow includes the many largely mutually exclusive religions and philosophies popular in the modern world. My suspicion is libertarianism qua worldview would sinply end up being defined by its advocates as consistent with religious, philosophical, and moral beliefs that are socially acceptable at the current time.

Philo writes:

@ Jerry Brown:

You missed, or pretended to miss, Eric Hanneken's point. Libertarianism, like many other quite respectable "isms" does not cover ethics with complete generality. Some theories do not at all purport to deal with ethical matters (heliocentrism, plate tectonics, the theory of biological evolution, metaphysical dualism); to have a low opinion of them because they do not forbid anti-Semitism would be obviously absurd. And, although libertarianism does put some limits on one's treatment of other people, it is not viewed by most of its adherents as a complete ethics: it is quite consistent with libertarianism to hold that there are other moral imperatives besides the non-aggression principle. With this understanding of the status of libertarianism, it would also be absurd to reject it because it does not forbid anti-Semitism (cruelty to animals, thoughtlessness, selfishness, excessive sarcasm, etc.).

Jerry Brown writes:

Philo, you are right that I missed that point completely, and it is a good point. Quite possibly I was considering Libertarianism as a more comprehensive view on human behavior, rights, and ethics than others do. Thank you for explaining that. I guess if libertarianism is confined to the question of when is the use of force justified then it leaves many other ethical considerations to be answered other ways.

john hare writes:
Mark writes: Here's the problem with cultivating libertarianism as a broad worldview beyond merely a political position on when force is justified: which is easier? Convincing a racist to abandon his racism, or convincing him to leave Jews (or whatever race) alone and in return they'll leave him alone? I think the former is easier.

I somewhat disagree. Quite a number of people have strong racist views and yet treat people of that other race well. Getting a racist or antisemite to behave has a lot to do with the consequences of misbehaving. If they are known to fight back, violence against them decreases rapidly. If they can take their business down the street, discrimination against them decreases.

Getting someone to change their world view can be far more difficult. This is my observation from the other side of the tracks where people with strong prejudices work together anyway.

Weir writes:

If I'm interested in getting more people to understand free speech as a principle, what are they going to understand if I say that the logic of free speech doesn't apply to those crime novels that I don't personally like to read? If I'm interested in getting more people to understand free markets as a principle, and I say that the logic of free markets doesn't apply to those brands of breakfast cereal that I don't personally like to eat?

Free markets are a political principle. Free speech is a political principle. A constitution isn't a list of likes and dislikes. It's a framework. For government. It won't tell you how to wash your car or boil an egg. If I want people to understand a principle I have to stick to the principle.

Greg G writes:

Philo,

You make a really good point that almost no one regards libertarianism as a complete ethics. Many libertarians who don't think that libertarianism would prohibit anti-Semitism for themselves would reject anti-Semitism for themselves on some other ethical principle.

But many libertarians do talk about the nonaggression principle as something that automatically trumps all other ethical considerations. I think that is the reason why so many people tend to think of it as a complete ethics.

It makes a big difference whether or not you view the nonaggression principle as a really good heuristic or something that always gets to trump other ethical considerations. I read you as taking the former position. Please clarify if I am misunderstanding you.

In any event the Nazis were happy to make the argument that they were killing the Jews in self-defense. Good principles are never a substitute for good judgment.

Julien Couvreur writes:

@a libertarianism is a humanism

"you don't have to work with them; you don't have to concede ground to their rhetoric; you can purge them from your midst."

Yes, free-association is great. Am I correct to assume that, out of intellectual consistency, you don't work with collectivists/statists/communists/nationalists or other folks who openly support and practice coercive policies?

We can debate thin vs thick conceptions of libertarianism. But don't both agree that NAP violations are incompatible with libertarianism and a free society?

So why are we talking about a small group of folks with mistaken or irrational preferences (as long as they don't violate the NAP) when we are surrounded by people supporting and committing actual NAP violations?

In a free society, people are free to have mistaken and irrational preferences and ideas, and to debate those ideas (as RPLong pointed out). That includes crazy anti-Semites, although nobody celebrates them as poster boys for such a society.

In terms of strategy, my take is that intellectual consistency takes precedence over short-term political convenience. As you pointed out, I don't have to associate with such people. But as a libertarian, I do have to refuse using violence against them, and that means allowing their NAP-compatible free speech and free association.
As Henderson points out, that is distinct from agreeing with their views. That distinction is lost in public discourse, but such toxicity and inconvenience should not compromise our core principles.

If you think that associating with them is unacceptable in some sense, that it implies some kind of moral failing, I must go back to my first question. Do you associate with any non-libertarians?

Greg G writes:

Julien,

>---"We can debate thin vs thick conceptions of libertarianism. But don't both agree that NAP violations are incompatible with libertarianism and a free society?"

Sure they do. They just disagree on which specific actions really are violations of the NAP. It's rare to find any serious dispute between people where each doesn't think the other is the aggressor. Getting people to agree that aggression is bad could hardly be easier. But it doesn't get you very far in settling real world disputes.


>---"If you think that associating with them is unacceptable in some sense, that it implies some kind of moral failing, I must go back to my first question. Do you associate with any non-libertarians?"

All non-libertarians are not the same. (And by the way, there are a quite spectacular variety of different beliefs among self described libertarians as well.) This type of thinking in dichotomies where the rest of us see spectrums is a big reason why libertarianism doesn't connect with more people.

Julien Couvreur writes:

@Greg G

Thanks for your reply.
I'm glad to hear that thick and thin libertarians both agree on NAP as a core principle. Now, is Henderson correct in arguing that anti-Semitism per-se is not a NAP violation?

I'm afraid you're going on a tangent with your second point, as it does not address the apparent contradiction I pointed out. I agree that all non-libertarians are not the same.
The question remains with any sub-group you choose: if you advocate not to work with a group of arguably NAP-respecting folks, do you refuse to work with communists (for instance)?
If not, that suggests you put core principles on the backseat (lower priority).

David Seltzer writes:

Love the robust discussion. I'm Jewish and don't really care if someone is antisemitic or generally bigoted. One is free to think and feel as they choose. Neo-Nazis demonstrated in predominantly Jewish Skokie in 1977. SCOTUS upheld the Neo's FA rights. Hate speech is ugly but things change when threatened or harmed. At that point, force is met with greater force, as happened in the past.

Peter writes:

@David

Thank you for writing this

Here's the locus classicus of the argument (which I accept) that we have reasons, as libertarians, to hold values not directly entailed by the non-aggression principle:

http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/10/03/libertarianism_through/

Incidentally ...

"Neo-Nazis demonstrated in predominantly Jewish Skokie in 1977."

Nope. This is one of those things everyone believes happened, but it never did. The Nazis went to court to get the right to march in Skokie, and the court ruled in their favour, but the proposed march never actually occurred.

Greg G writes:

Julien,

Anti-semitic feelings themselves are not NAP violations if they are not acted on but that's rarely the way things work out in real life. And it's certainly not how they worked out in Charlottesville which was the context for the Horwitz essay.

Everyone works with some people whose principles they disagree with and everyone makes judgments about when that chasm gets too large. I have yet to meet two people who drew the line in exactly the same place once you got down to various individual cases.

Communists do not claim to respect the NAP. They recognize that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is a dictatorship.

What I am suggesting is that "core principles" settle a lot fewer disputes than you think they do. Libertarians tend to think the NAP trumps all other ethical principles. Non-libertarians are more likely to value multiple ethical principles more equally and admit that this sometimes results in difficult judgment calls when these clash.

Market Fiscalists writes:

There is surely a difference between saying "Libertarians accept the right of people to be anti-Semitics as long as they don't use violence" and "Libertarians can be anti-semitic".

Any Libertarian movement that was worth being a member of would surely reject anti-Semitism and other forms or racism.


Thomas Boyle writes:

As an aside on the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), I consider myself a libertarian, but I also think the NAP is nonsensical.

If I find someone has set up camp on my property, the NAP says I can't have him ejected because I would be the first aggressor. Libertarians quickly counter that he was the first aggressor, by entering private property - but the problem with this is that it defines "mistook private property for a public space" as "aggression". Most people don't understand "aggression" that way. Similarly, someone who quietly picks up my property and walks off with it - possibly even returning it if asked - is hardly an "aggressor" in the common sense of the word. On the other hand, someone who screams hateful rhetoric is widely perceived as an "aggressor", although libertarians would reject that view. If you're going to define the NAP in a Humpty-Dumpty way (it means you must respect property rights, and any other rights libertarians respect, or you're an aggressor) then you're just playing word games.

Libertarianism, I suggest, is the belief that government-organized acts of violence are not justified by the whim of a ruler or the mere preferences of the majority - a much stronger justification is required (and we can debate what that would be).

Julien Couvreur writes:

@Greg G

I'm afraid that arguments ad-Charlottesville (which I would phrase as the murder allegedly committed by a white nationalist demonstrates that white nationalists are NAP-violators) demonstrates too much. It leads to arguing ad-Islam (a terror attack committed by a Muslim demonstrates that Muslims are NAP-violators) among other fallacies.

I'm sorry to insist but you still haven't addressed the apparent contradiction that concern me. Since we agree that communists are NAP violators (and regardless of the NAP's difficulties), are those libertarians (like Horwitz) who suggest not working with anti-Semites also suggesting not working with communists? Citations or examples are appreciated.
If not, why?

Julien Couvreur writes:

@Thomas Boyle

Yes, the NAP is a short-hand for a legal theory of property rights. For the purpose of this discussion, and since Horwitz refers to it, I think we can defer attempts at redefining libertarianism in context of this discussion, however worthwhile they may be.

Since you admit that "libertarians would reject the view [that hateful rhetoric is NAP-violating]", and that Horwitz is a libertarian, my question remains.
If Horwitz wants to say he rejects the NAP, or wants to redefine it as you do, let him make that argument. Since he says there are other values in addition to the NAP (which Henderson clearly agrees, and me too), then my question remains: do those value supersede the NAP?

Greg G writes:

Julien,

There is no reason that I should speak for libertarians like Horwitz, especially since I don't describe myself as a libertarian. It's not that I think I value liberty less than anyone else. It's just that that term has come to conventionally signify some views that I don't hold. Even so, I am relatively well informed about libertarian ideas for a non-libertarian. You could call me libertarian curious. In any event, I speak for myself, not Horwitz.

I'm trying not to duck the "apparent contradiction" you see. It's just that it doesn't look like a contradiction to me. The vast majority of self-described libertarians can find reasons to violate the NAP for at least a few of the things they want government to do. The anarcho-capitalists avoid this inconsistency, but not without creating a lot of other problems.

The majority of people everyone deals with can easily be said to support violating the NAP in some way. But not all to the same degree. Some are much worse than others. It's always a judgment call. You can't avoid that and you shouldn't think you can.

My judgment is that Nazi's, KKK members and people who advertise their anti-Semitism and racism are a bridge too far for me. Secretly holding those views and never acting on them isn't a big deal but how would I know about that? Advertising those views is inherently threatening people.

To my knowledge I have never worked with a communist. Some communists, like some libertarians, will advocate the philosophy with out ever doing anything about it. I don't really want to say that there is no left libertarian communist out there that I would never work with on anything but I don't expect it to happen. I would need more details about the whole situation.

Yes, it's true I require less information for some NAP violations than others. You can call that a contradiction if you like but I see it as the way everybody makes these decisions. We all use heuristics. Some are more aware of it than others. I make judgment calls and I admit they are judgment calls. I don't claim they are logical proofs from eternal moral principles.

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