Skip to comments.Why I'm Not a Libertarian
Posted on 09/22/2012 2:37:20 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
............my reaction to Mises' work underscores my particular problem with libertarianism in general: the fact that it has little to no soul,reducing man to a rational,pleasure-seeking animal. The central premise of Human Action, the basic theory of Mises' praxeology,is that all men are united by one logic,one universal bent toward happiness, which they seek in the most advantageous way possible. In short,man,though capable of making poor decisions,will even in failure choose the most logical poor decision known to him;he furthermore always desires one object more than everything else at any given moment,and the object of his desire is revealed only by his logical action.
Praxeology, the study of human action, doesn't concern itself with whether men want the right things;it concerns itself with man's attempt to become happy. Instead of making value judgments,as religions and ethics do,it says that men simply want to experience happiness,and then concerns itself with whether or not a certain approach to society results in the desired ends.
Surely all thinkers can agree about man's primary pursuit: both St Francis of Assisi and the banking tycoon did what they did because it brought them happiness. And voluntary cooperation,libertarians say, is the best method by which men may achieve their goals;but cooperation toward what? Mises says that division of labor brings societies together and provides them with luxuries unprecedented;he says this is the reason why men banded together in the first place,and gave themselves a collective name (I'm more inclined to believe that men united in self-defense).But if man's community,his happiness,can be largely predicated upon material gain,if men cooperate and behave ethically mainly because of production,and worldliness constitutes our entire civilization,then it's only fair to say that living man died long ago. His society is little more than a comfortable coffin,his family a breed of intelligent gnats..................
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
Libertarianism is based upon hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism by it’s very nature is Godlessness.
Is all pleasure hedonism? What is, and what isn’t?
God Himself is libertarian in His behavior toward us. He has the power to forcibly stop us from doing evil, or to make us do good, but instead leaves us free to act as we will & to suffer the earthly consequences of poor decisions.
Economics doesn’t tell what one should choose, it explains what those choices will cost.
Tell that to the countless folks who were ripped off by indulgences.
That’s like someone who rejects Christianity because its message is redistributionist. Or because it believes we have Original Sin. That is knocking down one aspect and thus throwing out the essence.
Mises was not saying pleasure was good or necessary for humans. He was saying that’s how we behave. And if that’s the case, a tyrannical gov’t and the serfdom that results would be far, far worse than a rights-based, law-based minimal gov’t. Minimal gov’t requires humility and virtue in the soul, and statism believes we have none.
“Libertinism” and “libertarianism” are not the same thing. You have them confused. The corollary of what you just said can be taken to mean that the government is God, or should be. I doubt that’s what you meant.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/george4.html for a good discussion on libertine vs. libertarian.
Thanks for taking the time to post an excerpt which I trust summarizes an article that I don’t have time to read now but want to which analyzes a book that I want to read later and probably won’t have time to for at least another 15 years (our fifth is due in 8 days and my wife is still in her early 30s). [I probably could have skimmed the article rather than writing this post—but oh well and the writing is educational for me as well].
In practice, many libertarieans may be hedonists. That said, I am sure that both Mises and the author of the article are well enough read to know that in western philosophical circles the observation that all men desire happiness runs strong in the tradition from Socrates to Aquinas (and after in those who do not want to break with the tradition, which probably include Mieses and the author of the article). From Socrates on those in the tradition are careful to distinguish themselves from and deal with the arguments of the hedonists—who after all were Socrates’ contemporaries.
It seems to me that the flaw in Mises is that he neglects a theological fact called by Catholics “disordered appetites—one of the effects of original sin.” Everything we desire, at least in some very remote sense, is of itself appropriate to us, but the degree to which we desire it and the way in which we desire it in comparison to other things is usually not appropriate (having a family is part of natural happiness—therefor I desire women, which is good, but maybe more than is actually appropriate—if my desire for women becomes unclear enough so that it is a general desire for people the desire has been perverted). Chesterton called Original Sin the only revealed supernatural truth that is demonstrable in such a way that it should be universally admitted (I am paraphrasing).
A rather broad statement—if you don’t read the fine print you may think that you are getting ripped off, but buyer beware, and how do you know that those who do read the fine print are getting ripped off?
How do you know they were ripped off?
Maybe God really did let them out of Purgatory early.
I think you will enjoy other comments from the author [by necessity left on the posting length editing floor]; they are worthy and essential in rounding out his argument.
Small l libertarians believe in the constitution as written, they believe in the right of man to make up his own mind, and to take responsibility for his own actions, without interference from the government.
This is why my grip is very loose to conservatism.
Conservatism for the most part, wants to control our lives through laws and regulations, very similar to what the libs want to do, just from the opposite side of the political spectrum.
I have proven this point time and time again with both conservative friends and family. Once the truth is exposed to them, for the most part, they revert to alinsky tactics and refuse to discuss any further.
Mises argues that economics must be value free; or, as objective or scientific as possible. By this is meant, to predict behavior of persons independent of the values of those persons. I would presume that, with sufficient knowledge, the behavior of a good person would be predicted to be different than the behavior of a bad person.
While economics must be value free, there are limits to what individual economists may do. An economist should not, for example, offer economic advice to an evil government.
Is man ruled by pain and pleasure, as postulated by Jeremy Bentham? Well, I suppose if we define “pain” and “pleasure” broadly enough, the answer would be yes. But, in the plain English meaning of these words, no. Man is capable of seeing the long-term or indirect consequences of behavior. Therefore, man can accept pain and avoid pleasure.
Indeed, because there are times when what is, in the short-term, painful or pleasurable, is also, in the long-term, the opposite, that we have norms of ethics and morality (pertaining to individual behavior), and, more so, economics (pertaining to social behavior or the government).
So, rather than undermine ethics and morality, economics (NOT Keynesian or Marxian economics) provides a scientific justification for ethics and morality.
Spoken like most libertarians -- seldom wrong and never in doubt -- completely convinced of their superior intellect.
This is all stuff and nonsense.
There isn’t a WORD in HUMAN ACTION that implies that man is just a pleasure-seeking animal.
HUMAN ACTION demonstrates how the human mind chooses among what is DESIRABLE. It nowhere says that what man desires is only PLEASURE. The rational laws of choice (praxeology) apply to the highest, most altruistic DESIRES just as much as they apply to desires for pleasure or material things. They are all desires, and the human mind and will evaluate them all according to the same laws.
True...but keep in mind that there is an eternal punishment for making the wrong decisions. So in the present age, God seems a libertarian, but not so much so in the one to come.
That's okay, I still have yet to see a libertarian refute the arguments against private roads.
The fact there are a lot more Conservatives and liberals than there are libertarians suggests that the others are getting most of the pleasure, sarc.
The libertarians base their belief on the constitution, basically the idea is that a few men has no right to dictate to every one else , the right to the pursuit of happiness, etc.
Most libertarians believe it is their right to decide for them selves how to live their own life and the ones who take it serious also believe you have that same right.
The problem with people tacking a name onto them selves is stupid because what ever name it is can be misleading because every one can or at least used to be able to think for them selves and no two people thinks exactly the same.
Some people can be very liberal on certain things but conservative on others.
Your response is a perfect example of alinsky tactics..
put down, cut down, let down and shut down, without delivering anything of value to the discussion..
However, I am of a superior intellect, so that part is correct... :)
OK......... I’ll bite..
What is this argument against private roads anyhow?
This sounds like it could get interesting...
(warning, I live on a private road)..
Just another long, fancy sounding call for government to force us to follow the right path. The problem is , who forces the goverment to follow the right path. The Bible, as well as subsequent history, is full of examples of governments following the wrong path, and forcing the wrong path on their subjects, and that sort of government outnumbers any righteous variety.
They call this sort of thinking “progressivism.” It’s shown up in various incarnations, some claiming religious justification, some claiming class justification, but the worst ones are the ones who claim to be forcing us on the right path for our own good.
Thanks Cincinatus’ Wife.
I disagree, God is not a libertarian but he is the Father of Liberty. The liberty he bestows upon us is not freedom from his benevolent will but from the tyranny of sin and the sinful wills of each other.
The Founders allowed for so much, in this land of the free. They realized there were large differences among themselves, so of course they had to invent a system that allowed for vast differences to co-exist.
Nevertheless, as a philosophy, Libertarianism reduces things to a point where meaninglessness is a problem. To say that everyone should be free to their own pursuits, and take it to the nth degree, is not exactly expressing the moral/spiritual undergirdings of our Founding, is it?
Yes, God gave us freedom to choose, even wrongly, and the Founders based everything on that, and made the people sovereign, not the government.
However, unless people are engaged in expressing that moral/spiritual undergirding the Founders understood, the ability to hold any kind of system together, much less the one the Founders made, disappears.
For examples, look at the Democrats. (No, Republicans aren’t perfect, but they aren’t the Democrats, either). Look at what they have become. Look at what they are trying to force upon us, against our will.
They have long violated the beliefs of our Founders. For them, it’s all about POWER and CORRUPTION.
They have now succeeded in corrupting the news media, with the willing help of the media itself, who wanted to be corrupted and who want Obama, Reid and Pelosi to rule us rabble out here with an iron hand.
You say Libertarians have the answer?
They are busy supporting same sex marriage and drug legalization. Not all of them, but enough of them. They couch the marriage issue in different lingo...they call it “marriage equality”.
There is a moral component here, people. If Americans lose the moral compass, and the ability to unite at least a majority to vote accordingly, our Founders understood America as they founded it WILL NOT SURVIVE BECAUSE IT CANNOT.
The pain you feel today is the strength you'll have tomorrow.
“Jeremy Egerer is a convert to biblical conservatism from radical liberalism and the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.”
All the long winded sophistry on this thread by Libertarians to the contrary, Libertarians in real life are hedonists. I see it all the time here in Alaska, we are swamped with ‘em. While against gun control, they are anti-religion, atheists, new age, dupes of Dan Brown’s Di Vinci code stuff, for the legalization of marijuana - they are a bunch of dopeheads - could care less about the push to homosexualize America (many of them queers themselves), the push for same sex marriage,etc. and etc.
These long haired hippy type antichrists come up from places like California in droves to “get away from it all” and head out into the bush to practice their hedonist lifestyle. As a Christian first, and political conservative second, I loathe all of it. Ask one of ‘em what party they identify themselves with, and they will tell you to a man they Libertarian.
I loathe Libertarians. They are hedonists not conservatives. I wish they’d go back to California where they came from.
Yes. Morality is essential to freedom and democracy.
Just look at “popular culture.” The president goes on Leno and Letterman rather than govern.
Given the quality of his "governing" decisions lately, I'd as soon he go on Leno and stay there.
But Obama “M-M-M” has no talent other than what his handlers fabric.
He’s an empty suit.
An empty chair.
Yep. He does not understand that in his case they went Alinsky on him not because he won an argument, but because he is an incredibly annoying person.
They can’t make the distinction between persuasion/process and the end goal or results.
To reach a goal..say convincing someone of your opinion, you can’t bludgean them. Yet, most Paul supporters don’t know how to argue to persuade. They are out to win.
And..if we join this battle with the Left to simply win then we will lose because the purpose is to educate politely and persuade others of our argument, not conquer them.
there are varying degrees...
are all republicans conservatives?
of course not..
not all libertarians are ron paul nut jobs...
if you look at the libertarian party platform, most of it mirrors the republican party platform.
The 2 area's where it does not are also the 2 area's I disagree with.
But, the libertarians will stick with their platform, unlike the republicant’s, who once elected will abandon said platform, and turn into socialists.
small l libertarians are liberty loving constitution believing persons. I do not need a petty bureaucrat telling me what I can do, what I can or cannot put into my body, what I must believe and how I should act.
Those decisions are mine and mine alone.
The only exceptions are when I interfere or trespass upon someone else’s civil rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)..
As I understand it, though, the problem with Mises is more that he's a top-down rationalist thinker. You also need some bottom-up empiricism to understand the world, and people who embrace Mises as their hero-thinker don't always recognize that.
For me the problem with libertarianism is similar. Libertarians try to get outside what's going on and build a system from the ground up, but we're born into a situation where some assumptions and commitments have already been made and some unpleasant realities have already been learned from experience.
The rational-ideal model doesn't always have much to say about where we are now, where we should go from here, or how to procede. A road map of Utopia isn't that helpful when you're trying to get from one real world place to another.
Food for thought indeed. The philosophy of Libertarianism appears great, but what nation on this earth has ever been a purely Libertarian government/society?
The pain you feel today is the strength you'll have tomorrow.
Statism | | | Leftism ------+------ Conservatism | | (GE) | Libertarianism
All of ideology is instinct (borne of r and K-selected reproductive strategies), not reason or logic. Libertarianism is just the normal outlier reproductive strategy you would see in any population, where r and K strategies mix - that’s why Libertarianism is such a small minority strategy, despite it’s promise to be something everyone should be able to agree upon, if logic were guiding us. (Though the strategy may gain some favor under conditions of low population density due to resource limitation.)
You are driven to Libertarianism by instinct, you then construct arguments which generate good feelings in you (according to your political/r/K instincts), and which you feel should construct good feelings in others, and judge Libertarianism correct, because of those good feelings. I know, because I was a diehard Libertarian until a few years ago, and did the same thing.
I defected because I realized true Libertarianism fosters the growth of Liberalism in a society through tolerance, which is deadly for that society. It’s why Liberals will tolerate Libertarians (That alone should give you pause). Liberalism rises, probably no matter what, but Libertarianism speeds it up considerably.
In the end, true reason and logic should yield one conclusion. Liberalism destroys whatever society it grows within, like a cancer. Thus it needs to be stopped no matter what, and anything favoring it should be avoided. I finally concluded that rather than tilt at windmills, promoting an ideology which would never go anywhere for reasons of biology and evolution, the US would be better served if everybody just allied with Conservatives, and sought the destruction of Liberalism.
I think it is pretty much the only way to have a chance at saving this Republic.
I also have to say, my last interaction with the Libertarian movement was bizarre. Cato has a gay guy who is out and out nuts running their online journal. I assume he is a Lib trying to push Liberalism from that side, especially in light of the “bleeding heart Libertarianism” crap they were pushing. Get to know the movement leaders, and I think you’ll find yourself more Republican.
You speak of feelings.....
I speak of the constitution-—
Feel good or not’ the only way to reverse current course is through strict constitutionism’not some feel good kinda adhere to the constitution like the past 25 years of republicans..
Demon rats and republic ants both have one thing in common’ they only buy into parts and pieces of the constitution, discarding what interferes with their goals.
Both parties have proven they will not shrink government, both parties have proven they back entitlements’ both parties have no problem passing laws that infringe on our personal liberties.
My point wasn't to support Republicans, or ignore the Constitution. My point was that the social aspects of Conservatism are necessary, from a biological standpoint, to keep Liberalism in check. Ostracizing the r-selected Liberals is a necessary means of maintaining a society's competitiveness and greatness. Fail to do it, and down you go.
Of course, making single mom's suffer by pulling welfare to a bare, bare minimum, imprisoning “impregnate and run” fathers for child abuse, and strengthening marriage as solely between a man and woman aren't in conflict with our founding document. Nor are most aspects of Social Conservatism, which all were considered normal at our founding.
Like I said, I was Libertarian, and spent my early adulthood just like Faust with a whole group of Mephistos. I'm not instinctively judgmental. I don't support the whole of Conservatism today for any reasons other than an understanding of biology, and a desire to see the Republic remain great. Deviate in any way, and you help Liberals begin the decline.
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