[ExI] libertarianism

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 20:04:59 UTC 2018

I don’t want to start a debate, but in my view one can separate what one believes is correct or right from what one believe is likely happen in the near future. I don’t always adjust the former to the latter. For instance, it’s correct for me to be kind to strangers, especially when they’re not doing anything untoward. I might not live up to that, but I try and I do believe it’s the correct stance to take.

Where does this fit in here? I consider myself a pure or radical libertarian. Whatever my forecast is for my view catching on — for example, that, say, a major country or even a middling country (no offense to anyone here) adopts libertarianism as its prominent  political philosophy — seems to be another matter.

Let me try another analogy. I’m also an atheist. And while I do see there are more atheists than ever now and it appears reasonable to expect this trend to continue and it doesn’t seem ridiculous to expect more countries to have large minorities of atheists or even to become predominantly atheist, that prospect isn’t what makes me an atheist. It’s not about how feasible it is persuade others; it’s about what I think is the correct position. (And, to be sure, I expect many theists to hold a similar attitude: they are theists because they believe it’s the correct position and not because they’ve merely chosen a view based on its popularity or its likelihood of sticking around.

Back to libertarianism, I feel the same way: it’s wrong to coerce others or take their stuff. (And vice versa.;) Or: no one has the right to rule anyone else and no one has the duty to obey anyone else. Being unable to persuade others (whether a majority or an effective minority) of this doesn’t mean I’d change my mind. (To be certain, were I the only one to believe and many intelligent people I respected thought I were wrong, then I’d have some serious doubts.)

Now one can judge one’s talents for persuasion (I certainly don’t consider myself a salesperson for political ideas) or the time one has (whether because one has other demands or one feels they’re nearing the end*) or what amount one can put into social change, this seems like it shouldn’t relate to what one actually believes is the correct view. In fact, I think that would be a strategic error when it comes to social change. Yes, much social change arises from compromises, but the compromises happen usually because someone does take a pure or even extreme view and pushes for it. If not, many radical changes — for instance, in the status of women, with regard to same sex relationships, with regard to marijuana decriminalization, with regard to getting rid of the Draft, with regard to chattel slavery (all libertarian causes) — cane about in part because agitation by radicals eventually moved the more moderate and pragmatic folks along. It moved the Overton window. Now if the radicals toned it down — because they looked ever at aiming for what was acceptable by the mainstream — my guess is they wouldn’t have pushed as hard as long. And if they tempered their position via pessimistic forecasts, then they’d have lacked the moral courage and stamina to push to begin with. They’d have become sort of genteel types who wouldn’t counterbalance either the reigning social order or the mire forceful elements to keep things as they are.

Social change is also hard to predict. The paradigm of failed prediction is the collapsed of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union. I imagine there were intelligent people in the 1980s who sincerely believed neither would happen in their lifetime. And then in a few years the whole shebang was history. (Ditto for how quickly, if more bloodily, all the empires that were around in 1900 were pretty much gone by 1960: Chinese, Ottoman, German, British, French, Austro-Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Belgian. I wonder how many British thought in 1938 that by 1960 basically all of their empire would be gone.) So I wouldn’t be so sure libertarian views can’t become more widespread quickly. All that has to happen really is enough people change their minds about the legitimacy of coercion.


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* I certainly hope Bill W and everyone here will partake of ever more time.

> On Oct 19, 2018, at 10:47 AM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
> John Clark remarked a few chats ago that he was not so sure he was a libertarian anymore (if I have misquoted you, John, please correct me).
> Now I would never give my liberty to make my own decisions, and would always ask for more of that.  Just let me know what my options are and let me choose.
> I do not want giant reductions in governments, local or national.  Local gov. in Mississippi suffers from not doing enough - such as only on state trooper per county,  How much help can that one do?  National gov. could be cut fairly severely in several places, notably defense, but it's really not going to change in my time and probably not my grandchildren's.  So I have come to terms with it.  If I were 50 years younger I would not join some radical group to greatly change government.
> I thus think I will in the future simply describe myself as moderately liberal, with strong feelings about personal autonomy, cutting unnecessary services in government, and digging out corruption.
> On politicalcompass.org, my test scores show libertarian liberal.  But I am not really antiauthority.  I am against authority that makes personal decisions for me, assuming I am simply one more simple-minded, faceless person who needs taking care of.  Our courts, police, and other authorities, I have little quarrel with.  They are needed and I will get around them at times (I won't quit speeding until I quit driving and will ignore some laws regarding what I can put in my body), but not in any way which would endanger others.  (Rule of thumb for driving - stay ahead of the cars behind you and behind the cars in front of you).
> If others would like to give an opinion on the current status of their libertarianism, I would welcome it.  
> There is a new Haidt book - co-authored.
> bill w 
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