T Nation

Thoughts on Libertarianism


"Discontent is likely to be highest when misery is bearable; when conditions have so improved that an ideal state seems almost within reach. A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed." - Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

'While modern liberalism had stressed the pursuit of individual liberty as its highest goal, (Leo) Strauss felt that there should be a greater interest in the problem of human excellence and political virtue. Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards extreme relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism:

The first was a "brutal" nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. In On Tyranny, he wrote that these ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type - the "gentle" nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic "permissive egalitarianism", which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society.'


How does the libertarian ideal of liberty differ from that of classical liberalism?


I identify myself more as a conservative than a libertarian, but I do hold some of their values.

A libertarian's idea of liberty is free from the reigns of the federal government and their regulations.



Classical liberalism is also based on limiting the power of the state. But what strikes me about libertarianism is the destructive aspects of modern liberalism that it entails. Obviously modern liberalism is divorced from many of the ideas of classical liberalism - see Strauss above on the decline of liberalism. But the "permissive egalitarianism" of libertarianism and a view of the state that has more in common with anarchism than classical liberalism is what concerns me about it.


If I do not believe that violence is the answer to everything I am a nihilist?


You've illustrated one of my points in a remarkably concise manner. Thanks orion. Libertarianism encompases some of the worst aspects of modern liberalism. The fetishistic fixation on the minutiae of personal liberty at a time when liberty is most at threat from outside forces. Even aside from that it's utopianism.


Thank god the revolutionaries did not listen to people like you back in the mid to late 1700s. You will get everything you deserve.

Seriously why focus on individual liberty at a time when it is being trounced on, that is basically what you just said.

Our founders believed in and started a Utopia, but we were not ever diligent in assuring it's survival.


My personal understanding of "american libertarianism" is that it is free-marked liberalism resurected.
People that want more free marked rule and minimum government in my country are called liberalists.
The term libertarian( frihetlig in norwegian ) are not a ideology on its own, but more of a substitut
term for anarcho. So instead of saying anarcho-socialism, the term libertarian-socialism( frihetlig sosialisme ) can be used. The term libertarian capitalism can be used I guess, but I have never heard the term in my country.


Sorry, my last post sounded like Libertarians are anarchists. They/we are not. We just believe in as little intervention as possible in both social and economic policies. Although I do not always support their stance on foreign policy (I'm talking about YOU, Ron Paul); I see it as laying down and watching other countries cough Iran cough walk all over us (you know what I mean).

Capitalism is the biggest friend of the Libertarians. For that, any government regulation regarding economics is kind of thrown out the window, which sometimes, can be a bit ridiculous.



"fuck you. I got mine" Is hard for me to get behind, probably because of my religious upbringing.


This country was founded on what amounted to Christian libertarianism. People could do pretty much what they wanted, but what they wanted to do then (as a society) was informed and bounded by biblical Christianity. Libertarianism today, social libertarianism, is the rocket fuel of big government economic liberalism. Alan Keyes, in one of the debates years ago, was the one and only person in any national political debate I have ever witnessed who got that. That otherwise intelligent folks do not, is a monument to man's ability to compartmentalize and hermetically seal from each other, several utterly conflicting areas of his world view. Systematic thought is all but dead.


You are more than free to help other people and you should. I understand your perspective, that with libertarianism there are no guarantees of help, but are government programs a guarantee of results? Are they really more effective at helping people than charities? Is there really less poverty?

/Devil's Advocate (as always)


Is this really the point? Bank robbery works. There's now money where there wasn't before. The question is, is it a third parties right to coerce a second party into charitable support of a first party with the force of civil government at the point of a jail cell?


Neither shalt thou steal.


Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Is that something you can get behind?


He may have had a religious upbringing, but it sure wasn't Christian if this is the result. Christians are commanded to voluntarily and privately give to the poor and needy. Themselves and THROUGH THE CHURCH AS THE CHURCH sees fit in the community. Nowhere EVER even once is it suggested that the saints are to send money to Rome to care for the poor. Finances to the body of Christ are a sacred blessing to be used in service to God in accordance with His Word. Not at the behest of God hating pagan politicians.

In the OT the state was the church in Israel. A theocratic arrangement no longer existing. Jesus Himself told Pilate under interrogation that His kingdom was not of this world.


Talking to the voices in your own head?

"Violence is evil" sounds pretty absolute to me and though I do appreciate the irony that some people who will dismiss the evil of theft, servitude, murder and coercion when it is done in THE NAME OF THEIR LORD, THE STATE, who is an angry and jealous God, amen, accuse me of moral relativism, I am really not that interested in the garbled definition of people who in my opinion wrestle with a form of moral insanity.



What is ridiculous is that some people believe institutionalized violence and theft is the best way to organize society.


Not bad man. I enjoy intelligent arguments even when they're wrong, which is most of the time.

I am quite certain I would be somewhere high on your list of people suffering from this "moral insanity". I assure you I understand your point, but authentic Christian morality is not relative at all. The standard is simply self consciously different than everyone else's. Of course this will be instantly written off as itself a statement of unverifiable subjectivity. I get that too which is why (guess what I'm gonna say next)... epistemology is the ground upon which all other discussion must take place.


It not only admonishes one to be generous with those not as fortunate it also says give unto Cesar what is his. No where does it say to piss and moan about it or to demagogue the situation


So then I ask you: how do you know?

Is it even scientifically or logically verifiable?


You have a Caesar?

What would be his?