The word "libertarian" by itself simply means someone or something relating
to the broad concept of "liberty
". No other shade of meaning is inherently implied by that word.
In specific contexts, however, the word "libertarian" begins to attain a practical and tangible meaning. There are branches within specific fields of jurisprudence, metaphysics
, parenting techniques, search algorithms
, athletic competition rules, etc that are identified as "libertarian". There isn't a single political movement that defines itself as "libertarian", with that term at various times being applied to a diverse spectrum of political ideas, from collectivist movements that reject property rights (ex. Joseph Déjacque
) to individualist movements that consider individual property rights to be of paramount importance (ex. Ayn Rand). One should therefore avoid using the word "libertarian" by itself without a clarification.
Regardless of the definition intended by the author of the "Critiques of Libertarianism", this rebuttal is presented from my own point of view, which does fit into the broad spectrum of the modern "libertarian" movement within the United States, but does not represent it completely. That point of view can be described as a gradualist
approach to Rothbardian Anarcho-Capitalism
that holds a utilitarian
) justification for the Non-Aggression Principle
and other aspects of Natural Law
Libertarians are a small group whose beliefs are unknown to and not accepted by the vast majority.
Whether we are a "small group" or not would depend on what level of preference for "liberty" would qualify one to be a "libertarian". To say that libertarian ideas are "not accepted by the vast majority" would require you to limit our ideas to just the most unpopular ones - a straw-man
argument. Few libertarian ideas for the foreseeable future (ex. next 10-20 years) are rejected by the vast majority of the population - most Republicans would love to shrink government to below 10% of GDP, and most Democrats would love to legalize most or all victimless crimes. What libertarians propose is a compromise between the various points of view: "we'll let you have your freedom if you'll let us have ours".
Relativistically speaking, USA is already one of the most libertarian nations in the world in terms of business
/ economic freedom
, civil liberties
, free press
, right to self-defense
, and other indicators. You could say that libertarians are to USA what USA is to the rest of the world!
They are utopian because there has never yet been a libertarian society (though one or two have come close to some libertarian ideas.)
There is a huge difference between having an idealistic long-term vision and being "Utopian". My philosophy does hold the complete absence of government coercion as its ideal, but I do not expect it to happen overnight, and I do recognize that most people would still voluntarily choose to associate with something that resembles a government. I am not out to "destroy all governments", merely to make it possible to escape them.Minarchist
ideas can be pursued gradually, with different local jurisdictions experimenting with alternative methods of reducing the size and power of coercive government. My belief (which is based on substantial historical and econometric evidence) is that freer societies will over time experience competitive advantage over less free ones, including the benefits from tax competition
and the "brain drain
" effect, until the less free societies will simply run out of competent people to tax. That isn't to say that I see ever-greater libertarianism as a historical inevitability
, because it is possible for market forces to be "defeated" through government violence, like restrictions on immigration, or a world government that would put a limit on tax competition between local jurisdictions.
Why should I accept that "right" as a given?
The concept of "Natural Rights
" is intended to be based on empirical
observation of human behavior (i.e. econometrics
) under the single axiom that the societal ruleset that produces the greatest materialistic competitive advantage is the one most desirable. (I call this epistemological
theory "evolutionary pragmatism", though other schools of libertarian thought have other empirical formulations of Natural Rights, most notably Ayn Rand's Objectivism.) For example, a society that fails to recognize the (negative)
right to life is very unlikely to evolve beyond the hunter-gatherer level of economic development, while a society that punishes murder is likely to do much better. Similarly, a society that falsely attributes non-existing rights would experience a competitive disadvantage - Buddhist sects that believe killing an earthworm is unacceptable aren't known for agricultural efficiency. Of course the accuracy and scope of history are not perfect, but it is possible to use reasoning, economic modeling, and other tools to "bootstrap" a rational and objective legal foundation.
Is that a fact around the world, not just in the US?
Natural Rights are not limited to one country, one planet, or even one species of "rational economic actors", for as long as the fundamental facts of human nature remain in effect. If the entire human civilization were to some day evolve into a single being consisting of pure energy, then individual rights would no longer apply, but they do in the meantime.
Are there counter examples for that idea?
Contradictions don't exist, as Ayn Rand would say
, and when one encounters what seems to be a contradiction one is required to re-check his premises. A rational social philosophy must remain true in all situations, including emergencies 
, which is why I do not accept the Non-Aggression Principle as an axiom in of itself. One example of this that I have written about recently the free rider problem
of reproduction and the alleged need 
for social pressure to encourage natalism
Are libertarians serving their own class interest only?
There are many libertarians who have experienced financial losses, poverty, ostracism, imprisonment, and even death in the pursuit of what we believe to be right.
1. The original intent of the founders has been perverted
2. The US Government ignores the plain meaning of the constitution.
3. The Declaration Of Independence says...
While very good arguments can be made demonstrating this, it is ultimately a moot point. My philosophy would be still be relevant even if the so-called "founding fathers" of the United States had never existed, and if the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and even the Magna Carta
had never been written. Natural Rights, like the laws of mathematics, exist whether there is a piece of paper to enumerate them or not!
(To be continued. Please don't let my humble efforts to debunk this keep you from initiating your own.)