Thursday, June 12, 2008

Steven Colbert could be a libertarian

Having the Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr on his show, Steven Colbert, the American satirist said the following,
"I, myself, am a Libertarian," he said. "I don't want big government to infringe on my right to tell other people how to live. [link]
Colbert, of whom, I'm a big fan was obviously kidding. I mean, that's what he does. But funnily enough, he could be a libertarian. A weird one, but still a libertarian.

See Libertarianism, is quite explicitly a political philosophy. A subset of moral philosophy and not an overarching social Philosophy. This essentially, I believe, is the difference between Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism. The former covers a range of things while the latter only deals with the proper role of violence in social life. That is, it only concerns with how the monopoly of force, vested in the state, should be used -- the primary and only concern of politics.

Murray Rothbard, sums this up nicely in an essay about Myths and Truths about Libertarianism,
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. [link]
This means Libertarians are a diverse bunch. Practically anybody could become a libertarian so long as you don't want to use force -- directly by your own initiation or indirectly through the state -- to achieve your goals. So even a racist, or even someone like Steven Colbert could be a libertarian, although if you have those tendencies you probably wouldn't be.

Like my friend Ron Paul likes to remind us, freedom is a package deal. If you believe in it, you have to tolerate and accept the fact that people will do things you don't like.

The video featuring Barr and Colbert was in Youtube, but unfortunately it seems to have been taken down. You can see it from the Comedy Central site, but their player kind of suck.

Special Note : What may appear as peaceful activities by the state -- taxation, regulation of any kind is actually not peaceful. It's an initiation of force, think of what will happen if you don't pay your taxes (and you get caught) you will be forced to pay, if you don't do that, you will be put in jail and if you resist arrest, then a gun will be leveled to your head.


Nicolas Chauvin said...

I don't understand how you can actually say these things without realizing that they are ridiculous. You sound like sittingnut. Doesn't that, at least, suggest to you that perhaps there is something wrong with libertarianism? That you should carefully investigate the flaws in it, rather than parroting its copy-and-paste ideology?

Your "taxation is theft" is approximately at the same level as its intellectual ancestor and opposite, the equally ridiculous "property is theft". Taxation is not theft. Taxation is the cost of services that government provides. Regardless of whether those services are provided efficiently, or whether the amount of taxation is fair, the fundamental point is that taxation is part of a legitimate contract between the state and the taxpayer. The "put in jail and guns pointed at you" argument is puerile. That's not "initiation of force", that's "enforcement of contract". Do you think that enforcement of contract constitutes initiation of force in general, or only when the state is a party?

Your concept of "initiation of force" is ridiculous in the first place. Take the war in Sri Lanka. Who initiated force? Everybody's ideology is defensive -the defenders of somebody-or-the-other from the vile aggressor.

The fatuous quotes about libertarianism are equally ridiculous. "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". Well, duh. I think virtually any mature ideology you care to name would agree that this is the only proper role of violence, discounting the ones that would say that even "defensive" use of violence is wrong. This is not something that separates libertarianism from the herd. It's foolish and disingenuous to say "Practically anybody could become a libertarian so long as you don't want to use force". This is not Something Special about libertarians. It's not a competitive advantage. All the grown-ups agree about this. Who wants to use force to invade the person or property of others? I don't see any raised hands.

If you're going to talk about libertarianism and how wonderful it is, at least try to talk about something which your common-or-garden liberal would not consider a given.

And try to notice that Colbert is making fun of libertarianism here. He is kidding, yes, but at your expense.

Deane said...

Dear Nick,

That comment was about as intelligent as one would expect from a dead french guy, which is not that much. You are clearly well within your limits.

Of course Colbert was making fun of libertarianism, he makes fun out of everything. That's what he's paid to do, have you seen his show?

In Any case, you seem to have put out your muddled perspectives, based on something you read elsewhere.

I never said taxation was theft here, merely it was an initiation of force, an act of coercion if you will. Libertarianism concerns with proper use of that coercion, or like I said how monopoly of force should be exercised. So if taxation is used for the purpose of protecting me or my property against aggressors,enforce contracts I went into under my free will, one may justify that tax. Most taxes don't, hence it amounts to robbery.

And no, most ideologies don't recognize this fact, you and your fellow garden-liberals for example have myriad of justification for the use of violence (welfare programmes, subsidies, labor laws, alcohol laws, so on) where as libertarianism is specific on where coercion is permissible.

"Who wants to use force to invade the person or property of others?"
unless you have been sleeping for the the past few centuries (I understand you are dead, but even so) you will realize, a lot of people (including undoubtedly you and your garden-liberals) would want to do that by a third party called the government. You want to tax part of some people's wealth to give to others, so on.

You and other grown-ups you know, obviously don't have the cognitive ability to understand this.

I wasn't trying, on this post, to talk about how wonderful libertarianism is, I was making a technical point that it is explicitly and only a political theory. Which even some libertarians doesn't seem to appreciate.

Rest in piece,