[ExI] Is there a potential libertarianism / democracy tension?

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 10:10:28 UTC 2011

2011/9/26 Amon Zero <amon at doctrinezero.com>:
> The exchange above seems to point to a potential tension between democracy
> and libertarianism. What I mean is that the libertarian political impulse is
> to minimise or eliminate government and tax, but what if it turns out that,
> in the end, that's not really what people turn out to want.

I would point out that the people rarely get what they want out of
their votes. People who voted for Obama, for example, did not want a
9% unemployment level.

> That the reason
> they continue to pay tax is not because they fear the guns, but because it
> seems not unreasonable to pay some tax. Sure, a lot of people don't like
> paying tax (or too much of it), or like seeing it mis-spent event less, but
> I wonder what the "average libertarian" (if there is such a creature), but
> the vast majority don't talk about taxation as if they've been robbed at
> gunpoint, in my personal experience.

Most people don't appreciate the fact that taxation is a forced
redistribution of wealth the way most libertarians understand it.
That's because most people haven't been forced to think about this
point. Every addition to government power is at the cost of the loss
of someone's liberty. Obama seems to thing, for example, that it's OK
for the super rich to lose another bit of their liberty (property) in
order to pay for his job bill.

> So, say that a libertarian party of some sort came to be running a major
> country (not to name names), government was radically pruned accordingly,
> but then the voters reacted in a strongly negative way. Are there any
> indications how libertarians would be likely to react?

Libertarians would be pleased. People who voted for them in that
instance might not be pleased, in that they might not have understood
the platform they were voting for, but that happens in every election.
I don't think most people who voted in the last election knew what
they were voting for. In the next election, they won't have that
excuse, and so I doubt that Obama will be reelected on that basis.

> The reason I ask is because libertarianism seems, on the one hand, to be
> quite a mild, democracy-abiding mainstream-ish point of view, and so I'd
> expect no more desire to subvert democracy than you'd get from the major
> parties.

There is nothing mainstream about libertarianism. Most people in
America, anyway, see it as totally natural and moral to steal from the
rich and give to the poor. Most also see it as totally moral to steal
from the rich and give to other rich who happen to be doing things
that the government approves of, such as making weapons or building
housing for the poor.

> On the other hand, however, libertarianism is sort of a
> "meta"-political movement in that libertarians hope to radically restructure
> the system itself, and that kind of revolutionary sentiment - ironically -
> doesn't tend to like being told that it's time is up.

Libertarians don't want to radically restructure the system, they hope
to privatize the system. Sell off the post office, the highway system,
the parks system, the prison system, legalize many of the victimless
crimes to reduce the need for the prison system we have today, and
return property to those it rightfully belongs to, the people who
earned the money in the first place. The liberty part of
libertarianism is the critical issue. Looking back at what the
founding fathers did, we're a long way from that...

It is radical, to be sure, in that Robin Hood is viewed as a hero by most.

I'm not sure I understand what your asking entirely... but I've done
my best to reply to what I think you're asking. If I didn't hit the
nail on the head, please ask again.


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