Sunday, April 6, 2014

Toleration Is Not a Concern of Libertarianism

By Chris Rossini

The hits keep coming from FEE. Max Borders has a piece that intermingles "toleration" and libertarianism.

Borders writes:
Toleration is what separates libertarianism from competing doctrines, at least when it comes to society and culture.
Borders makes it sound like toleration is a part of libertarianism. That it's an element of it.
Toleration starts with conscientiously agreeing not to obstruct another’s path.[...] Our toleration is also dispositional. A more robust toleration involves a mien of empathy, respect, and open-mindedness. It requires us not just to leave other people alone in their pursuits, but also to consider their perspectives and circumstances. (my emphasis)
Borders is way off the tracks, and there's no reason for me to re-create the wheel.

Lew Rockwell said it perfectly in his piece last week:
Libertarianism is concerned with the use of violence in society. That is all. It is not anything else. It is not feminism. It is not egalitarianism (except in a functional sense: everyone equally lacks the authority to aggress against anyone else). It has nothing to say about aesthetics. It has nothing to say about religion or race or nationality or sexual orientation. It has nothing to do with left-wing campaigns against “white privilege,” unless that privilege is state-supplied. (my emphasis)

Let me repeat: the only “privilege” that matters to a libertarian qua libertarian is the kind that comes from the barrel of the state’s gun.
In other words, libertarianism is not concerned with "empathy, respect, and open-mindedness". There are no "requirements" to consider another person's "perspectives and circumstances".

These have nothing to do with the use of violence in society.

No aggressive use of force. That is the the libertarian concern. It's immaterial if you are disrespectful, closed-minded, and unwilling to take into consideration another person's perspective. Working on, or changing those characteristics are not the concern of libertarianism.

Chris Rossini is on Twitter


  1. While the NAP is certainly the simplest way to describe libertarianism, libertarianism nonetheless implies tolerance. It doesn't require that you like other people or their actions in any way, shape, or form, but you have to tolerate their existence and their activities that are not on your property.

    When Obama says "We will not tolerate...", do you think he's implying "if you do that on U.S. soil? He's making an explicit threat for the use of force. It's the same when the "Christian right" says they won't tolerate some activity or state of being. They are implying the use of the guns of government to stop those activities.

    If you make the statement "I won't tolerate that person or activity on my property or in my presence", and you're willing to leave a place where an unwelcome activity is occurring, that's a much softer statement than a strict "I won't tolerate...." " I won't tolerate" implies a willingness to violate the NAP.

    1. Your point about how others use the word tolerance to mean something different than "us", including you and this author refutes your statement that "..libertarianism nonetheless implies tolerance".

      Because you and the author have to redefine tolerance to mean something narrower in order to make such a statement. Progressives (and most people concerned with "tolerance") always use the term "tolerance" to imply a willingness to violate the NAP.

      Tolerance says nothing about property rights, so a libertarian does not have to tolerant of others doing things that he does not approve, it depends on whether his property rights are violated.

      So others use tolerance something different and unconditional and by using that same word and saying that "as libertarians we're for it" is kind of a bait and switch and misleading.

    2. "It doesn't require that you like other people or their actions in any way, shape, or form, but you have to tolerate their existence and their activities that are not on your property."

      What you're describing is simply the NAP and private propery rights. There is no need to call this "tolerance."

      The tolerance that we are talking about now it is left-wing kind of tolerance, where you have no judgments about other people or exclude them from your own property for certain unsympathetic reasons.

    3. Every axiom implies other principles if it is a consistent and truly basic axiom. Just because you want to accept a bizarre, skewed redefinition of tolerance, doesn't make the principle it once represented any different. If it does, you should also be arguing that we don't have any "rights" because the left-wing has redefined that word as well.

    4. "If it does, you should also be arguing that we don't have any "rights" because the left-wing has redefined that word as well."

      I hate to break it to you, but that is why we are already talking about NEGATIVE rights vs POSITIVE rights. So that we can differentiate between rights as seen by leftists and how we see it. Rights that require force (positive), and rights that require absence of force (negative).

      You can keep using old fashioned words or old fashioned definitions all you want, but if your interest is ease of communication, you better accept that "tolerance" is now commonly accepted in its left-wing variety, just as the word "liberal" is.

  2. "It requires us not just to leave other people alone in their pursuits, but also to consider their perspectives and circumstances"

    Is this Borders dude retarded? Has he given due consideration to MY perspectives and circumstances before writing this hurtful article? Did he? Really? Or perhaps he wishes to imply that I am not among those people that he wishes to "leave alone" and that I will be forced to do something as per Borders' whims?

    That guy is either an authoritarian in disguise or an illogical fool. FEE is going down the drain really really fast ...

  3. @Anon 8.56
    But that's speech. Speech is always full of metaphors.
    Saying "this is intolerable" doesn't mean that I intend to get up and get a gun and blow someone away.
    It usually means I want to get up and move some way off from the offending person.
    Re Obama. Obama holds political office. He's not a private person and when he says something as the head of the world's only superpower, that's obviously something related to force.

    You cannot compare that to someone in a private capacity using the same sentence. It doesn't mean or imply the same thing. It could mean anything from "I find this offensive and will leave" to "our organization cannot put up with this" or " our belief doesn't support this" none of which are antilibertarian at all.

    So you are comparing not just apples and oranges but apples and a piranha.

    1. For the sake of argument, let's say I'm a racist (for the record, I am not), and I am intolerant of your race. If you are on my property, and I tell you to leave, but you do not, I will exercise force to remove you from my property.

      Let's also say that you enjoy irritating me, so you stand one foot outside my property and stare at my front door. Your insolence makes my blood boil because of my racist nature. The NAP REQUIRES that I tolerate your presence. I can't force you off of property that does not belong to me, and no matter how much my blood is boiling, I can't do anything about it. I am forced to tolerate your existence one foot outside my property.

      That's not a misuse of the word tolerance, and it's not a stretch of its definition.

    2. I like your example Unknown. It's further proof that the NAP is sufficient, and that tolerance after its acceptance is a byproduct of first adhering to the NAP, logically the NAP and private property rights are the sole criteria needed to live without violence- anything else is superfluous.

    3. They are only superfluous in the sense of defining the axioms of libertarianism. The implications are important, and they can be an important part of "bringing other people into the fold." The tolerance definition I posited has been used for decades to help explain libertarianism to non-libertarians. Some libertarians may now be using a definition that is a more "positivist", left-wing definition of tolerance. We should be attacking their skewed definition of tolerance rather than making a bizarre argument that the NAP doesn't infer tolerance.

      You can say we don't need anything other than the NAP, but that's like giving someone new to physics Newton's three laws and saying "you go figure out the rest of physics." Not many of us were born libertarians. It's a path that many find difficult to comprehend. Just giving people the NAP is not enough.

    4. "They are only superfluous in the sense of defining the axioms of libertarianism."

      Well that is my whole point.

      I don't believe there has ever been a time when someone got up and said, "NAP, that's all you need to know!", then sat down to applause. (but I might be wrong!)


      If I understand what your issue is with Rossini's write up, it seems to be that you think he ignores the fact that the NAP itself requires tolerance, which is why I like your note.

      I'm not sure if that was his intention or not in his write up, you'll have to ask him.

      Maybe he considers the NAP to entail the tolerance you speak of ipso facto. Ask him.

      Thing is, when he's writing here at EPJ, he's really not writing to the "masses", we really represent a small group of hard core adherents for the most part-so that may have impacted this write up.

      Obviously most of us have concerns over a rebranding of the word 'libertarian' and especially any possible attempt to establish positivist rights as a result.

    5. I felt compelled to add one thing to my comment:

      When I say "tolerance", I mean it in the sense that you don't respond to anything that bothers you with a NAP violation.

      It doesn't mean you have to "tolerate" things in any other sense.

    6. @ Unknown April 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM
      The tolerance you are talking about is ipso facto part of the NAP, as Nick stated.
      You can have any deeper discussion about the NAP with anyone and explain how this "tolerance" looks.

      However, if you simply state the NAP is "not enough" and we also need to talk about tolerance, you are implying that the tolerance you're speaking of is NOT part of the NAP, and you are merely confusing matters and will make people believe you are talking about the Tucker/Reisenwitz Doctrine of "tolerance", that is to say the left-wing type of tolerance.

      Are you interested in confusing matters? Is that your aim?
      Because i do find it interesting you come up with this suggestion of the NAP "not being enough" in precisely the moment that the Tucker/Reisenwitz Doctrine is making the rounds.

  4. Completely untrue, this is a false dichotomy. I need not tolerate someones opinion, why can't I can simply walk away? This doesn't imply that I have to aggress against them simply because we disagree. In your use of the word, disagreement precedes violence.

  5. "The Road to Serfdom at 70" - David Gordon explains what's wrong with the humanitarian instinct getting intertwined with power.

  6. My definition of tolerance is not using force against someone outside of self defense aka NAP. I openly hate paleoconservatives/Buchanites, neoconservatives, liberals, theocons/warvangelicals and their supporters. Those people have no qualms using the government thugs in blue to enforce their will their track records have shown this. Which is also the difference I wont use force against someone unless they come at me first which sets apart libertarians from the four other groups I mentioned.

  7. Chris.

    Read david gordon here.

    Respect. Is a big part of the foundation of libertarianism. If you just say NAP. How do you restrain yourself from aggression. You have to respect everyones right to not have an act of agression committed against them dont you? Not respect one more than another just respect thier humanity equally. How you define an act of agression i suppose could debated. But being disrespectful can be associated with agressive behavior.

    I am staying out of this one. Lew and grodon have us covered. Not sure where all this drama stems from. Seems to come and go in cycles.

    1. "If you just say NAP. How do you restrain yourself from aggression"

      If you just say "law", how do you restrain yourself from aggression? Because of the consequences of using violence.
      It doesn't matter WHY you do it, but THAT you do it.

      "But being disrespectful can be associated with agressive behavior. "

      No it can't. Disrespectfulness covers so much that to use the word in relation to aggressive behavior is meaningless. If i call someone an asshole, i am being disrespectful. Am i also using aggression? To use words like respect in relation to aggression is muddying the waters.

  8. Cathy the feminist, Jeff tucker, etc have a simple message for you libertarians - they will not tolerate your intolerance!

    1. They can go straight to hell.

      In a libertarian society they would have to tolerate it. If they wouldn't and violate the NAP against me i would have a 12 gouge waiting.
      If they wouldn't violate the NAP then they can rant however much they want. They'd probably boycott me (but Cathy won't ostracize me because she thinks it is coercive and cruel), but the funny thing is i would probably boycott them even before that, as i despise cultural marxist ideologies such as feminism.

  9. "It requires us not just to leave other people alone in their pursuits, but also to consider their perspectives and circumstances'
    I will NEVER consider a dirty rotten statist's perspective or circumstance.(theft and aggression is immoral).
    And IMHO, I'm the best Libertarian there is.

  10. The onslaught is always against truthful history. It has nothing to do with "respect", "tolerance" etc. - that's the pretext. The real reason is history must be suppressed and distorted so that certain powerful people are seen as an oppressed class and given a free ride, so they can eventually enslave everyone on the egalitarian plantation where some animals are more equal than others:

    "When Dr. Tony Martin introduced “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews” as a reference book for a one-day discussion in his African American Survey course, all hell broke loose. Martin, a professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College and noted for his scholarship on Marcus Garvey, came under attack by Jewish organizations and leaders for using the Nation of Islam published book and for the audacity to even suggest that Jews were involved in the slave trade. Despite the call for his resignation, Dr. Martin launched his own counter-attack and called on his Jewish detractors to address the issue instead of using a media smear campaign to avoid dialogue.

    Final Call (FC): What is the Jewish “onslaught?” Dr. Tony Martin (TM): There are two Jewish onslaughts. There’s an onslaught against me personally, and I put that onslaught in the context of the wider Jewish attack against Black progress over the last several decades. I’ve even reached back into the origin of the Hamitic “myth” about 1,000 years bef"ore the slave trade started when Jewish Talmudic scholars invented one of the most offensive of al the racial myths concerning Africans – namely that Africans were supposedly cursed by God through Noah when He cursed the descendants of Ham in the book of Genesis."

  11. @Phat

    "can be associated." Yes, but then you enter a field where my "frankness" or my "satire" becomes your "disrepect." By the way, is there any reason to "respect" someone who shows by their behavior they do not respect you? Why?

    If you constantly lie about history and someone gets exasperated and says something nasty, does that mean they are intolerant.

    If you call people insane, bigots, haters - is that in itself fairly intolerant, when the people in question are using evidence and reason and facts? Can facts be bigoted or is it the interpretation of the facts, and your fear that someone's interpretation might make you lose the victim status you enjoyed until now?

  12. Why are these long time libertarians like Richman and Tucker making this more complicated than it is? It's as if they are ACLU First Amendment types who suddenly announce that they're all for free speech, except for maybe pornography and criticizing the government. Other than that.....

    Libertarianism only CONCERNS the ESSENTIAL but basic superstructure of social life, property and the NAP. This is simple. As Rothbard explained:

    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.

    Let's take baby steps here. Maybe people just won't accept the NAP and all is hopeless. However, if we could just get people to practice the NAP, we could worry about the other inevitable imperfections in human beings later. Further,there are scores and scores of sanctions that do not involve the initiation of force that might be applied to people who are acting like jerks. You could, as we've discussed, ostracize them and/or just avoid them. Of course, some would say that such behavior would be “mean -spirited”.? As compared to, for example, genocide or slavery. And now is not the time to write a manual on what amounts to good vs. bad “shunning”. It has nothing to do with libertarianism other than it's permitted. The by-laws of your voluntary community will the primary guide for your behavior. Libertarians tend to fail explaining that aspect of implementation but that is not a knock against the narrow range of activity that libertarianism actually concerns.

    Nick Badalamenti is right in point out that 99% of the time, despite the continued existence of racism, society statistically speaking doesn't see continual violence as a result. In fact, social democracy in multi-ethnic or multi-religious societies invariably leads to voting for ones' own group, the biggest of which wins the election and then practically owns the government-controlled economy, leading to ethnic conflict and slaughter. The NAP would put an immediate end to that.

    Since we're probably never going to be able to rid the human race of its various hatreds, let's worry about the “simple stuff” like getting rid of the initiation of force.

  13. I have a solution to "inappropriate shunning". Appropriately shun the "inappropriate shunners". Problem solved.

    1. I thought the pressure of social norms (such as the expectations of family, the church, etc) were a big part of the libertarian-approved (informal) governance structure. Consider Yelp reviews or Ebay seller ratings. There's nothing mean-spirited or un-libertarian about "shunning" those you do not want to interact with. I would assume a harmonious and stable libertarian society would *require* (logically, not by force of law) ostracizing or shunning those who do not adhere to the principles of the community.

      Now I'll have to give some thought to how that can be communicated or accomplished without succumbing to the temptations of collectivism.

    2. If there is such a thing as "inappropriate shunning", then there is also such a thing as "inappropriate freedom of association."

      We have to start asking ourselves, why is it inappropriate for anyone to make decisions regarding his associations? Why MUST one, morally speaking, be willing to associate with everyone?
      We can mention the typical groups: blacks, gays, women. But we can also mention: ugly people, smelly people, people who make rude jokes. People all over the world make such decisions in their relationships. Aren't we judgmental all the time relating to our own preferences?

      Why do people seem to insist on wanting to associate with people that don't want to associate with them? The world has never been "one happy family" and so this desire is simply unrealistic and baseless.