Liberty vs. Reality

The Libertarian Party has been around for 35 years now, with few partisan race victories to show for it. Maybe The People hate liberty.

Or maybe the libertarian vision needs a bit of work.

Libertarian Theory Problems

For starters, liberty (as defined by libertarians) is not quite the same thing as freedom. We look at the difference in What is Freedom? Grok the difference and you might have a politically viable freedom vision to build on.

There are other theoretical problems with the primary schools of libertarianism. The Rothbard School teaches that liberty should trump all other values when talking politics. This leads libertarians to take politically untenable (and just plain bad) positions. Moreover, Murray Rothbard built his libertarian vision on a flawed theory of natural rights. In Really Natural Rights Rights I present a more general theory of natural rights, one which demands we take into account some elements of equality, nature, and morality.

The other major school of libertarianism comes from Ayn Rand, who pitted altruism against liberty. In Greed vs. Freedom Freedom I demonstrate that this is a practical contradiction. A remotely libertarian society requires a significant quantity of altruism to work. (In actual life Ayn Rand committed quite a few acts of what most people would call altruism. We have definition problem. Just what is altruism anyway? And while we are at it, what is the definition of greed? In philosophy, precise definitions matter.)

Pragmatic Considerations

Murray Rothbard’s Liberty is the Only Political Value mindset demands anarchism whether it works or not. Such extremism can backfire! Anarchy is problematic to say the least. Some modern small scale experiments are required before major commitments made.

But even less radical visions of liberty run into practical problems. Can a rich capitalist society defend itself without a large military? And what about terrorists? And can government be constrained to just doing its Proper Role? Or is minarchy just as utopian as anarchy? I will attempt to answer some of these questions.

Today, the second biggest driver of Big Brother government in the United States is the War on Terror. Some libertarian writers write that we are simply overreacting, that there are many other causes of wrongful death that kill far more U.S. citizens than terrorists. This is technically correct, but possibly foolhardy. Black Swans events could be deadly. So why don’t we just win the war on terror and be done with it? Government usually shrinks after a war is done.

The biggest driver of bad government in the U.S. is crime. So I am starting a series on criminal justice. Unlike the usual calls to restore the Constitution or even demand proper justice, this series will place reducing crime as the top priority. Fortunately, there is a huge overlap between liberty, justice, and public safety. You just need to look for it.