Sunday, February 16, 2014

Distortions About Libertarianism

The web site has this at the top of its front page this morning:
Justice, prosperity, responsibility, tolerance, cooperation, and peace.
Many people believe that liberty is the core political value of modern civilization itself, the one that gives substance and form to all the other values of social life. They're called libertarian.
The problem with this is that libertarianism has nothing to do with tolerance. Libertarianism is about respecting the non-aggression principle, no more no less. There is no libertarian requirement that a libertarian has to be tolerant of anyone.

Libertarianism does not demand cooperation. If a person wants to live a hermit's life, that certainly does not violate libertarian principle.

Libertarianism does not demand responsibility. If a man wants to be an irresponsible drunken bum,  that certainly does not violate libertarian principle.

The web site is a terrible mess. It mixes sound libertarian articles with pure junk that has nothing to do with libertarianism.


  1. It depends on how you use the words. If a person is racist, a libertarian is required to tolerate them in that they should not violate any of the racist's rights. However, they are not required to tolerate them in that they must like or agree with them. A similar argument can be made for cooperation. You don't have to cooperate with anyone in that you can be a hermit. However, if a libertarian chooses to interact with people, they may not resort to any violence. So, in a sense libertarianism does promote cooperation. I think Bob needs to tone down the war on people who use these word. They are only trying to make libertarians more appealing to the general public.

    1. Under libertarian thought, a racist business owner is not required to tolerate someone. If someone doesn't like a person because of racism then they don't have to tolerate them in their business. They have not initiated any violence towards them by refusing them service. It may not be in their best interest to refuse service to certain people but it would be within their rights to do so.

      Libertarianism is not based on cooperation either. A person is not required to work with nor help anyone else. Again, it may not be in their best interest to not cooperate with others but it is not initiating violence to not cooperate.

      So I agree with Bob that Libertarianism is not based on tolerance or cooperation. The fact that Libertarianism may promote those values as a by product is in no way the same as actually promoting them which is what the site seems to be saying.

    2. "I think Bob needs to tone down the war on people who use these word. They are only trying to make libertarians more appealing to the general public. "

      I think what Robert does is justified. At first glance it may seem pedantic, but one must understand that there are constant attempts at diluting the meaning of what libertarianism stands for by people who can not accept how little it actually says, mischaracterization, and simple misunderstanding (see the P.S.).

      It is not pedantic when there seems to be so much legitimate ignorance.
      Cooperation and tolerance are positive values that OF COURSE can play a part in any healthy social relationship just as things like respect and friendship, but these values say NOTHING about libertarianism itself, and one must prevent that libertarianism is being presented as a social view that the politically correct can hijack.

      Let's face it, there are people out there, like Cathy Reisenwitz, who have already claimed that insults and insensitivity should be regarded as "coercion". This is what is likely to happen more often if something like "tolerance" is promoted as a libertarian value.

      This harping on tolerance, diversity etc is coming most of all from the beltarian crowd from Reason mag and Cato, the feel good or "lifestyle" libertarians.

      Also, i fail to see the point in making libertarianism "more appealing" by using buzz words that by themselves have nothing to do with it. It's like inviting someone to come with you to an NBA game because the peanuts are so tasty. Yes, you can certainly eat them, but that's hardly the point is it?

      P.S. is a "Cato Institute project".
      Cato has a history of intertwining garbage (such as the draft, war etc) in their "projects".

  2. I disagree. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
    Tolerance does not require withholding judgement or opinion, nor does it demand cooperation. It is, definitionally: "the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."
    We can tolerate all opinions and all lifestyles so long as they do not manifest as an initiation of aggression against another. And we can look down with utter contempt and disdain at some opinions and lifestyles, and even mock or refuse to cooperate with them... so long as we do not initiate aggression against another. That's tolerance.

  3. Taking issue with the distortions from the strict standpoint of the NAP is thin.