I Am Not a Libertarian

Leonard Nimoy once wrote a book entitled “I Am Not Spock”, and fan outcry was so great that he felt compelled to make the title of his next book “I Am Spock”. Whether he truly loved the character, as he insisted late in life, or was disenchanted by the role but felt he couldn’t publically acknowledge this, is beyond my ability to determine.

Regarding my political stances:

In short, I am neither a Libertarian nor a libertarian, although I am somewhat sympathetic to the political organization and share many of my conclusions with the philosophical school. As to why not: I don’t align myself with any political organizations in the case of the former, and I don’t believe the philosophy is capable of being applied by any existing society of human beings in the case of the latter.

I think order arises from below, not imposed from above, and that there can be an ‘above’ only to the degree that it first rises from the lowly. I think government is incapable of forcing people to make the right decisions, and that it shouldn’t attempt to do so. I think humanity is not a communal superorganism, athough its evolutionary path might once have been leading towards that end, and that society is only composed of the choices and behaviors of countless individuals rather than being an effective entity in itself. I think a well-designed government provides only the benefits which higher organization is necessary for and then carefully limits its ability to prevent individuals from choosing wisely.

But I also believe that choices should be ‘rewarded’ or ‘punished’ in the only reliable, objective, and ultimately fair way: by permitting their natural consequences to occur without interference. It’s the Prime Directive, it’s wu wei, it’s letting hands burn themselves once so that they will be twice shy.

And one of the consequences of that stance is that people cannot be protected from the negative consequences of their own choices.

I believe we have progressed, or more accurately regressed, to the point where too many people are incapable of directly managing their lives wisely and well. We’ve gone past the point of no return. Trying to apply a libertarian social model to the existing population pool would be doomed to failure. So would NOT trying to apply a libertarian social model. Our society, as a whole, cannot be salvaged. Parts of it may be capable of saving themselves, but I am not sanguine regarding that possibility. It is not a question of whether a collapse will come, but when, of what nature, and how much will be lost in the process.

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8 Responses to “I Am Not a Libertarian”

  1. “I don’t believe the philosophy [(libertarianism)] is capable of being applied by any existing society of human beings in the case of the latter.”

    Why? Because if it is just because people have a screwed up ideology at the moment, that doesn’t mean you are not libertarian, at least in the sense many people use the term.

  2. regressed
    So you think there is a similar situation from our past we have returned to?

  3. “So you think there is a similar situation from our past we have returned to?”

    I suspect, but cannot prove, that this sort of problem has occurred many times before in many different civilizations.

    Lately I’ve been studying why (we think) certain past societies have destroyed themselves to various degrees. While not precisely the same circumstances apply to each, there are certain similarities, certain repeating themes, so that while each may have fallen for distinctly different reasons those reasons are analogous on a high level of analysis.

    And I think it’s happening again.

    “at least in the sense many people use the term.”

    Many people are idiots. More people are grossly imprecise in their use of language. And much of language has been shaped to prevent accurate discussion of some concepts, rather than facilitate it.

    I hold theories of social organization that are “bottom-up”, rather than “top-down”. Libertarianism is also bottom-up rather than top-down. But it is not quite accurate to say that I am a libertarian.

    Among all of the fine details of such, one reason why I think a state of liberty is absolutely necessary is so that people can depart it.

  4. So, it is.

    I think this is necessarily an example of grossly imprecise use of language. There is just a wide range of positions that people consider libertarian. (Terms can encompass a wide range and still be precise, e.g. “odd number”, or “18th century”.) Within “libertarian”, we have further subdivisions, like “minarchist” or “anarcho-capitalist”.

    “Among all of the fine details of such, one reason why I think a state of liberty is absolutely necessary is so that people can depart it.”

    That is also one of the reasons why David Friedman, a well known libertarian, thinks it is necessary.

  5. “(Terms can encompass a wide range and still be precise, e.g. “odd number”, or “18th century”.)”

    The definition of ‘odd number’ is quite precise, even though the thing it defines is infinite.

    ‘Libertarian’ is not so well-defined.

    I do not claim that the systems libertarian thought rejects are unworkable. Some of them are; some of them are difficult to implement; some of them are difficult for humans to implement; some of them are difficult to implement in various cultures. But many of them can be made to function.

    You may argue that I am a libertarian after all, but I do not believe my convictions on the relative utility of group control vs. individual freedom are defined in such a way for the label to be useful.

  6. But many of them can be made to function.
    Could you be more specific?

  7. Well, I can come up with a definition of libertarian that most people would agree (by shaving down on the fuzzy side, if that makes sense), but never mind that, because I see you are not the kind of person I’m thinking of.

  8. “Could you be more specific?”

    Well, to be specific in a general way, Collectivism. Socialism, and so forth.

    Basically, any way of thinking that has some collective group play the Guardians in a Platonic sense. Most of them do not provide any way to guard the Guardians, and the Guardians cannot guard themselves.

    There’s only one way to solve the problem without recursively extending it.

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