[ExI] The What and the Why/was Re: libertarians and inheritance

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Wed May 6 05:09:02 UTC 2009

On Tue, May 5, 2009 at 10:12 AM, Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Not at all.  A libertarian is someone who believes in and follows (as much
as possible) libertarian principles -- with the defining principle being
non-initiation of force.

### I tend to define a libertarian as somebody who does not recognize the
legitimacy of any duties towards in-group members, except the duty of
non-initiation of force. This is a bit tricky definition, and the terms
"legitimacy", "force" and "duty" are traps for the unwary. If anybody is
interested I could expound on the subject more but for now I have a
different issue: When does it make sense to stop being libertarian?

It's useful to point out additional complications in the term "libertarian".
After many years of musing on the subject I came to the conclusion that the
set of possible societies comprehensively following the above principle of
duty not to initiate force would be most congenial for me, would most
comprehensively satisfy my needs and the needs of almost all nice people,
would be on average much better than the set of societies where violence is
encouraged (like ours), and generally would be really cool and stuff. So in
this way I am a political-theory libertarian. The only reason to stop being
a theory-libertarian is if new data or new analysis showed that coercion can
actually make me better off.

On the other hand, there is a bit more practical meaning to libertarianism -
the idea of being personally nice (i.e. non-aggressive) towards others. Of
course, if you are a serious theory-libertarian, it would make sense to be a
practical libertarian as well. Yet, sometimes there are situations where
being nice is extremely damaging on the individual level - for example in a
civil war (where not being with "us" means being with "them"). You know that
a civil war is rather stupid but you can't do anything about it, so you play

I do think that you can call yourself a libertarian even when you engage in
un-libertarian activities, at least up to a point. I fully intend to live it
up on my Social Security money if I were to retire before the singularity. I
won't give this ill-gotten cash back to the poor young slobs being fleeced
for my SS check. I will take taxed-away funds, if I can. Sure, it's nasty,
and saying that "they (the previous generations) did it to me before, so now
I want payback" is a poor excuse. But I'd do it. If the society collapsed
and everybody was running in gangs fighting for the last scraps of food, I'd
join a gang (if any gang was stupid enough to want a guy like me). But I
would still believe that making a non-violent society is a much better idea,
wherever possible.

In conclusion, as long as you don't actively and strategically oppose the
formation of a libertarian society, you could call yourself a libertarian,
even as you feast on monies earned from a licensure-restricted occupation,
or otherwise benefit from violent oppression of suckers, err, I mean,
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20090506/bb2e6f23/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list