Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Neocon Behind the Charge that Libertarians are Hedonists

 As an addendum to my post on Jeremy Egerer and specifically his claim that libertarians "seek civilization in earthly pleasure," i.e. libertarians are hedonists, Murray Rothbard points out that the charge was initially made by the original neocon, Irving Kristol. Rothbard, long ago, demolished this myth:
This myth has recently been propounded by Irving Kristol, who identifies the libertarian ethic with the "hedonistic" and asserts that libertarians "worship the Sears Roebuck catalogue and all the 'alternative life styles' that capitalist affluence permits the individual to choose from." 
The fact is that libertarianism is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life.
Political theory deals with what is proper or improper for government to do, and government is distinguished from every other group in society as being the institution of organized violence. Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit, except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism.
It should not be surprising, therefore, that there are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of "bourgeois" conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory. 
Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that "liberty is the highest political end" – not necessarily the highest end on everyone's personal scale of values.
(ht Bob Roddis)


  1. It's funny. I interviewed Dr. Woolsey, an economic professor who had met Dr. Rothbard several times, and he told me that there was a somewhat hedonistic crowd that followed Dr. Rothbard in the 60's or 70's, I can't remember which. They weren't libertarians necessarily, he said, but they were people, I am thinking now, that may have had a mistaken view of what he said. I feel certain that Dr. Rothbard didn't approve of their lifestyle, assuming what Dr. Woolsey said was true. Dr. Woolsey, off-mike, said some negative things about Dr. Rothbard and the way, he alleged, Dr. Rothbard treated people that no longer supported his causes or his positions, and in the context of his claim that orgy-lovers followed Dr. Rothbard, all of this left a bad taste in my mouth.

  2. This is an astounding charge with no basis in reality.

    To think that any card carrying member of the two parties in charge would lay "hedonism" at the feet of a group of people that have little to no say in how the gov't in currently run is laughable, aside libertarian inherent morality in respecting property rights(including those not born).

    Almost anyone with the most limited knowledge of both gov't and economics could understand that the bastards yelling "hedonists!" are actually the hedonists themselves. They are attempting to label the least hedonistic people in terms of philosophy such so as to distract from those whose hedonism is so consuming that they must control as much as society as they can to fulfill their lust.

    It is the "gift" that Keynes, one of the most committed and founding members of our gov't styled "neohedonism", gave to gov't to allow them to practice it-ON THE BACKS OF EVERYONE ELSE none the less. All those in gov't and supporting it are worshipers of this new religion created by Keynes.

    I wish I could pop this fellow in the mouth for even suggesting it in regard to libertarians.


    Only a bastard wanting everything NOW and screwing future generations could utter: "In the long run, we are all dead." to justify his economic philosophy of "screw the future".

    Keynes is king/founder of neohedonism, and those that follow him are the real hedonists.