[ExI] Is there a potential libertarianism / democracy tension?
lubkin at unreasonable.com
Tue Sep 27 14:56:22 UTC 2011
Amon Zero wrote:
>What I'm curious about, is why (or indeed if) it is ok for
>libertarians to advocate taxation to support "Night Watchman" State
>functions (army, police, courts), but other arguably essential
>functions such as healthcare are beyond the pale?
>The two answers I'm familiar with are that (A) no taxation is ok at
>all, army etc should also be private, and (B) army/police/courts are
>essential or can be privatized, whereas (e.g.) healthcare is not or cannot.
>Since we're highly unlikely to argue one another around to each
>other's point of view I won't be tempted to deconstruct your
>arguments (assuming i could!), but I am genuinely curious what
>principle draws a line between armies and hospitals. I could
>understand the line being drawn there by some libertarians and not
>others, but I have been given the impression that this is tantamount
>to a definition of libertarianism; that tax for armies/police/courts
>is ok but nothing else is. Would you agree?
The philosophical approach is that the only libertarian principle is
non-initiation of force or fraud and the only legitimate government
function is enforcing that principle. Thus armies, police, courts,
The pragmatic approach is asking whether a completely private
version of this function can work. I see minarchists as agnostic
on AnCap -- open to the idea but not convinced. They are
swayable by argument and evidence.
One important aspect of "armies" is what do you do with them.
I take defense of others to be a legitimate use of force, as a
delegated self-defense. Hence, police and armies. If my neighbor
is putting his wife into a wood chipper, I think I can reasonably
conclude that this isn't consensual and take action on her behalf.
If Saddam is doing the same thing, which he did, there is a fair
question -- and subsequent divide among libertarians -- of what
to do about it.
Some libertarians will argue that military has a legitimate role
only in *defending* and only in defending *us*. Others see a short-
or long-term threat to the nation that warrants action. Others make
a defense of others argument.
But uniting all three is (I think) no objection to a domestic group
voluntarily forming their own army and deploying it overseas for
defense of others missions.
More information about the extropy-chat