New political cartoon: "Libertarian Freedom"

Click on the image to biggify it.

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49 Responses to New political cartoon: "Libertarian Freedom"

  1. 1
    Jeff Fecke says:

    It was figuring this out that ultimately saved me from being a libertarian. Thank the Ceiling Cat.

  2. 2
    leah says:

    Fantastic. This is the best explanation of libertarianism (and what’s wrong with it) that I have ever seen.

    Libertarianism is logic in a vacuum. Or in other words, logic fail.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    I’m sending you to neologism jail for one day for “biggify”. Couldn’t come up with “enlarge”?

    Are you saying that only government taxes and regulations can save us from bigotry, poverty and – what exactly is “wage slavery”, anyway?

    Also, I’m not up to speed to be able to supply a definition of libertarianism, so let me ask – are libertarians opponents of all taxes?

  4. 4
    Brian says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090812/ap_on_re_us/us_militia_movement on a related note, the right wing/Libertarian militias seem to be growing again according to the Southern Poverty Law Center which is usually right about these things.

    Looks like we might learn how it feels to have people try and “liberate” us against our will sooner or later. As a nation we’ve done it to others, so I suppose it’s time some of America does it to Americans.

  5. 5
    Aaron V. says:

    Ron F. – I can argue that biggify is a cromulent word.

    That cartoon embiggens this blog, though.

  6. 6
    Kevin Moore says:

    Are you saying that only government taxes and regulations can save us from bigotry, poverty and – what exactly is “wage slavery”, anyway?

    That is not remotely the message of this cartoon. Govt regs & taxes are the least of our social burdens. Yet libertarians treat them as the ultimate source of evil, at least judging by their rhetoric, the constant parroted refrain that the “free market” has better solutions, no matter what the problem.

    “Wage slavery” is an old term, arising from the contrast between “chattel slavery” practiced in the antebellum South and the condition of labor in the industrialized North. (Bit of an historical simplification, but it works.) Workers are paid shit wages, but have few choices in the so-called “labor market,” thereby binding them to jobs that keep them at barely subsistence levels.

    Govt reg btw was a response to the deplorable working conditions of the Industrial Revolution, as well as consumer protections when Teddy Roosevelt saw his troops die more from diseases borne by unsanitary canned goods than from battle on San Juan Hill.

  7. 7
    Jeff Fecke says:

    Govt reg btw was a response to the deplorable working conditions of the Industrial Revolution, as well as consumer protections when Teddy Roosevelt saw his troops die more from diseases borne by unsanitary canned goods than from battle on San Juan Hill.

    Yes, but the market would have let them choose from expensive, safe products, and cheap products that may or may not be 43% botulinum toxin. The self-correcting market would take care of that, after one, two million deaths tops. Whereas the government would (at least in theory) inspect food production, but charge everyone a small tax. I think it’s clear that the tax is the true enemy.

    Besides, if the government would just get off business’ back, I’m sure they’d all be ethical. I mean, it’s not like a company would sell obviously tainted products just to make a quick buck. Who needs the stupid government with their “regulations” and their “Centers for Disease Control,” anyhow?

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    I’m sending you to neologism jail for one day for “biggify”.

    Why do you hate Dr. Seuss, Ron?

    And, since Dr. Seuss is a classic American author, I must further ask, why do you hate America?

    Are you saying that only government taxes and regulations can save us from bigotry, poverty and – what exactly is “wage slavery”, anyway?

    I agree with what Kevin said in comment #6.

  9. 9
    macon d says:

    Excellent, thank you! You’re so good at boiling things down to their essence, and once again, the combination and composition of word and image is perfect.

    And Aaron V., thanks also for “cromulent.”

  10. 10
    Crys T says:

    And, since Dr. Seuss is a classic American author, I must further ask, why do you hate America?

    One of the best replies I’ve read in a long time.

  11. 11
    RonF says:

    What’s Dr. Seuss got to do with “biggify”?

    I read “The Cat in the Hat” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” back when I was, what, five? But that was a long time ago.

  12. 12
    PG says:

    RonF,

    I think the idea is that neologisms are not necessarily bad things.

    Although you can’t really give Amp credit for “biggify,” as it’s been used elsewhere. (First Google News hit is from April 2007.)

  13. 13
    sylphhead says:

    Also, I’m not up to speed to be able to supply a definition of libertarianism, so let me ask – are libertarians opponents of all taxes?

    No, typically they support Pigouvian taxes. However, I think that, in real life, if anything such as a national defense had to be financed wholly or mostly by Pigouvian taxes, society would have get very creative on what it deems “unproductive” or “wasteful” activities (once we get past the obvious ones like pollution) that it will end up a far greater burden on all our freedoms. This is also why I don’t like “sin taxes”.

  14. 14
    Genevieve says:

    Love the cartoon. Also love the word “biggify,” though I love “embiggen” better. No reason why we can’t play around with the language.

  15. 15
    nobody.really says:

    What’s Dr. Seuss got to do with “biggify”?

    “I, the Once-ler, felt sad
    as I watched them all go.
    BUT…
    business is business!
    And business must grow
    regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.

    I meant no harm. I most truly did not.
    But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.
    I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads.
    I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads
    of the Thneeds I shipped out. I was shipping them forth
    to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North!
    I went right on biggering… selling more Thneeds.
    And I biggered by money, which everyone needs.

    * * *

    And then I go mad.
    I got terribly mad.
    I yelled at the Lorax, “Now listen here, Dad!
    All you do is yap-yap and say, ‘Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!’
    Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you
    I intend to go on doing just what I do!
    And, for your information, you Lorax, I’m figgering
    on biggering

    and BIGGERING

    and B I G G E R I N G

    and B I G G E R I N G ,

    turning MORE Truffula Trees into Thneeds
    which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!”

    The Lorax, 1971

    So what has Seuss to do with “biggify”?
    That’s a question I simply will not diggify.

  16. 16
    Boney says:

    Wow. You’re obviously very biased against libertarianism, so I don’t expect much support for what I’m going to say, but that’s a complete misconception.

    Firstly, besides the moral right or wrong, what’s so bad about bigotry? Well, actually, bigotry describes polygamy in an illegal society. But there’s really not much wrong with it on a legal level, just a moral one. I’m morally against it, but does that mean I think it should be illegal? Hell no.

    And Slavery. Wow. No Libertarian would support slavery, and if they do, they aren’t actually a Libertarian, they are just calling themselves libertarian. I can call myself a an Engineer as much as I want, but that wouldn’t make me an engineer, I’d have to engineer something. The same way that calling yourself a libertarian doesn’t make you one, you actually have to practive libertarian values.

  17. 17
    PG says:

    Well, actually, bigotry describes polygamy in an illegal society.

    I was really confused until I realized he thought bigotry = bigamy. Then I laughed.

  18. 18
    Boney says:

    Wow my bad. I was doing homework and was really stressed and tired when I wrote that. I probably came off entirely stupidly.

    Either way. Bigotry is bad, but no libertarian would support that either. Even if they did, there are negatives and positives to all political views, and I gotta say that the main points of Libertarianism have nothing to do with what’s in the cartoon. We’re about personal and economic freedom, and believe the government should follow it’s original intent, to protect our rights and freedoms and to provide a strong national defense. (although different people have different ideas on how.)

  19. 19
    PG says:

    The cartoon is not saying that libertarians don’t consider liberty to be “bad”; it’s saying that libertarians consider government regulation — including regulations that forbid bigotry and wage slavery, and reduce the burden of poverty — to be worse and more crushing than any of the ills that regulation seeks to ameliorate.

    You know, I was just looking at the Federalist Society website (an organization to which I have belonged), and puzzling as to the meaning of their first principle: “the state exists to preserve freedom.” It seems like libertarians mostly regard the state as a threat to liberty and rights. What does it mean for the state to “protect our rights and freedoms”? How does the state determine which rights and freedoms are worth protecting? (E.g., when does your right to pollute supersede my right to clean air?)

    With regard to your concept of libertarianism, given that libertarianism is not a solely American political philosophy (its originator seems to have been the Englishman John Stuart Mill), how can you say that “the government should follow it’s original intent”? Libertarians live under a variety of governments, and they urge all of them to abide by roughly the same principles. Not all of those government have the same origins, so presumably they also don’t have the same “original intent.”

  20. 20
    nojojojo says:

    Yeah, I was snickering at the bigotry = bigamy thing too. An understandable mistake, but kind of Freudian given that the libertarian philosophy actually does encourage bigotry, since they oppose government intrusion on personal freedom — like the Civil Rights Act and other laws that make bigotry in the workplace, etc., illegal.

    And Boney, the cartoon implies libertarians would do nothing to prevent wage slavery, not slavery. (Though libertarianism would support that too, since it took government intervention to end slavery in this country. But I digress.) I think the cartoon is spot-on there.

  21. 21
    Manju says:

    not slavery. (Though libertarianism would support that too, since it took government intervention to end slavery in this country. But I digress.)

    Well, that “intervention” would fall under Boney’s legitimate function of government: “to protect our rights and freedoms.” In a free society, Individuals may not initiate the use of force against another individual or group. A legitimate use of government is to police this…a principle outlined early in john locke’s state of nature argument and is arguably the very raison d’etre for the existence of government in liberal thought.

    Furthermore, slavery itself is a product of government intervention because how could it exist without government privileging one group of people over another. equal protection under the law is a central tenet of liberal thought from its very beginning, something MLK noticed and repeated ad nauseam, urging America to live up to its creed.

    government intervention is even more obvious in the case of Jim Crow, the very laws that necessitated the civil rights act. libertarians may very well be ahistorical when they complain about the anti-freedom and problematic legislation of morality aspect of the act, but supporters are equally ahistorical when they frame the act as an example of the virtues of government intervention…when the government is only intervening to undo the anti-freedom crimes they committed in the first place.

  22. 22
    PG says:

    Well, that “intervention” would fall under Boney’s legitimate function of government: “to protect our rights and freedoms.”

    Except Boney goes by “original intent,” and the Founders of our government quite clearly intended that some people would lack rights and freedoms that other had. Indeed, the Constitution is written to protect the right of the owners: “No Person held to Service or Labor in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labor, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due.” — Art. IV, Sec. 2.

    Furthermore, slavery itself is a product of government intervention because how could it exist without government privileging one group of people over another.

    Er, you have one person holding another person in captivity because the master has more power — physically or otherwise — than the slave. This happens quite often without the government’s intervening at all. Do you think the government was privileging Jaycee Lee Dugard’s captor over her?

  23. 23
    PG says:

    government intervention is even more obvious in the case of Jim Crow, the very laws that necessitated the civil rights act.

    Huh? If you perceive Jim Crow as merely a system of laws, then revoking the state laws requiring discrimination would be sufficient; there would be no need for the federal government to forbid discrimination. You live in some weird happyland where white Southerners were perfectly happy to eat and sleep and work alongside black people except for that mean ol’ state government preventing them from doing so.

  24. 24
    nojojojo says:

    Well, that “intervention” would fall under Boney’s legitimate function of government: “to protect our rights and freedoms.”

    Who is “our”, here? Because at this country’s founding, slaves weren’t considered people, and certainly weren’t accorded any rights and freedoms under a liberal or any other form of government. Which kind of obviates that whole not privileging one group of people over another, because you have to be considered people for that to work.

    And if you’re going to talk about anti-freedom laws enacted in the first place, you seem to have forgotten that Jim Crow was a reaction against laws that freed and enfranchised slaves after the Civil War. At which point this becomes a chicken-or-the-egg argument: which one is the government intervention that libertarianism would condemn? Slavery? The Thirteenth Amendment meant to correct that? Jim Crow, meant to correct the Thirteenth Amendment? The Civil Rights Act, meant to correct Jim Crow? Stuff like California’s Prop 209, meant to correct that?

    How ’bout we just go back in time and off the Pilgrims? Head off that whole colonialism thing — a government intervention inherited from the Old World — before it hits these shores. Y’know, protect the rights and freedoms of the people who were here already? (Against illegal immigrants!)

    There is no point in American history at which a libertarian system could have worked in the way you describe.

  25. 25
    Manju says:

    Except Boney goes by “original intent,

    except original intent allows for amendments so the clause of which you speak would be superseded by the 13th amendment.

    anyway, read MLK. the founders contradicted their own creed. boney appears to be refereeing to the natural law king referred to, “protect our rights and freedoms” principles that did find their way into the document and formed the philosophical basis for ending slavery and jim crow…he’s a little ahistorical no doubt but cut the kid some slack.

    Er, you have one person holding another person in captivity because the master has more power — physically or otherwise — than the slave. This happens quite often without the government’s intervening at all. Do you think the government was privileging Jcaptor over her?

    sure, individual acts of slavery are possible as john locke noted in the state of nature, but in order for it to become systmeic you need the power of government, or perhaps some equivalent power that trumps the government’s libertarian obligation to protect the likes of Jaycee Lee Dugard’s.

    this scenario’s”s ahistorical.

    Huh? If you perceive Jim Crow as merely a system of laws, then revoking the state laws requiring discrimination would be sufficient; there would be no need for the federal government to forbid discrimination.

    where did i say they were merly a system of laws?

    You live in some weird happyland where white Southerners were perfectly happy to eat and sleep and work alongside black people except for that mean ol’ state government preventing them from doing so.

    well then you live in a weird happyland where southern whites just happen to be racist without being influenced by huge institutional forces, the hugest being government institutionalized discrimination. government supported slavery as in the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the dred scott decison, the Fugitive Slave Laws of which you reference, Black Codes, the establishment of the kkk by the democratic party, and the countless lynching, mutilations, murder, decapitations and beating and burning to death countless number of blacks at the hands of government or individuals who had the support of governments. i could go on.

  26. 26
    Manju says:

    Who is “our”, here? Because at this country’s founding, slaves weren’t considered people, and certainly weren’t accorded any rights and freedoms under a liberal or any other form of government. Which kind of obviates that whole not privileging one group of people over another, because you have to be considered people for that to work

    i addressed that along the very same lines MLK did. this isn’t an argument against libertarianism but rather a warning of the lack thereof.

    And if you’re going to talk about anti-freedom laws enacted in the first place, you seem to have forgotten that Jim Crow was a reaction against laws that freed and enfranchised slaves after the Civil War. At which point this becomes a chicken-or-the-egg argument: which one is the government intervention that libertarianism would condemn?

    i assure you libertarianism would condemn the original enslavement of blacks, unless you get your libertarian lessons form strawman constructions. libertarianism has no prob with the 13th amendment. libertarianism is the 13th ammendment.

    There is no point in American history at which a libertarian system could have worked in the way you describe

    well, yeah, philosophical purity doesn’t work so go ahead and wack naive libertarians. but that’s not exactly what I’ve been describing here as long as i’ve been commenting, is it? on this very thread, i whacked the libertarians for being ahistorical.

  27. 27
    Ampersand says:

    well then you live in a weird happyland where southern whites just happen to be racist without being influenced by huge institutional forces, the hugest being government institutionalized discrimination.

    The profit motive was a huge part of it, too, especially when considering the origins and workings of U.S.-style slavery.

  28. 28
    Manju says:

    The profit motive was a huge part of it, too, especially when considering the origins and workings of U.S.-style slavery

    True. But even if you read the most extreme libertarians-like ayn rand–the biggest villains are those who seek profit via government influence and intervention.

    for all practical purposes, that s what American slavery was all about…state supported discrimintion.

  29. 29
    PG says:

    except original intent allows for amendments so the clause of which you speak would be superseded by the 13th amendment.

    Original intent provides for the process of amending the Constitution, but it’s frankly absurd to claim that the 13th Amendment itself is part of the original intent of the Founders. You’re getting increasingly intellectually dishonest here. The Constitution had to be amended because the original intent of the Founders was to protect the property rights of slave-owners in their slaves. The content of the 13th Amendment contradicts that intent.

    anyway, read MLK. the founders contradicted their own creed.

    MLK wasn’t stupid enough to claim that original intent supported his policy preferences of racial equality, given that the Founder quite clearly didn’t intend racial equality. King was a Christian minister, so he referred to God-given rights, but his understanding of to whom those rights applied was certainly not the same as the Founders’ understanding. It’s always poor interpretation of a text to say “I agree with your principles but think they should be put into practice this way, rather than the way you said to put them into practice; therefore I’m really putting your intent into practice if only you realized that your principles MUST result in this policy.”

    where did i say they were merly a system of laws?

    Then why say Jim Crow’s the government’s fault?

    the hugest being government institutionalized discrimination.

    There was slavery in the U.S. before there was much in the way of organized government. Colonists enslaved Native Americans before they could obtain a reliable supply of African slaves. Your causation is screwy: you seem to believe that the people’s preferences were driven by laws (that somehow just appeared on the books), when in fact the laws were written to reflect the majority of voters’ preferences.

    Moreover, you’re ignoring the extent to which libertarians prefer more local government to more distant government, arguing that the further away government is, the more disconnected it becomes from the people’s preferences. The preference of the white people of the former Confederacy (as well as some other states, such as Kansas and Delaware) was not to go to school or otherwise interact on an equal level with black people. They put that preference into law. The law didn’t come down out of the sky and impose itself on the people.

    for all practical purposes, that s what American slavery was all about…state supported discrimintion.

    No, it wasn’t. It was about getting cheap labor in a part of the world with low population density. People didn’t own slaves based on how much they wanted to support the state in racial discrimination. They owned slaves if they thought it was economically a good idea. The more local the government was to such slave owners, the more supportive it was of their slave-owning activity, thereby reflecting voter/ lobbyist preference. Western counties in Virginia split away from the Confederacy not because they thought OMG, racial discrimination is so wrong! but because few West Virginians owned slaves and they saw the Civil War as a rich man’s fight.

    Jim Crow, in contrast to slavery, was in poor whites’ interests too: instead of the slavery system in which they had to compete in the labor market against slaves, and in the sale of agricultural commodities against slave-owners, they now needed to keep the freed slaves from being able to compete for the jobs that would seem to put them in positions of authority over any whites. Segregating schools ensured that no black man would ever compete with a poor white man to teach the school in a rural district that could pay more money to its teachers.

  30. 30
    Boney says:

    You’re completely getting off the track of practicing a Libertarian lifestyle, and wanting a Libertarian style federal government with a government that doesn’t get involved. The original intent of the Founding Fathers was flawed in ways, which is why the constitution can and has been amended. Of course, the original intent included non-libertarian things like slavery (or rather, didn’t outlaw it,) but should have and is reflected by modern day libertarians.

    The point is, I want economic freedom, personal freedom and national defense in the face of foreign threat from the federal government, the rest can be handled by the people and the states. Obviously, there are small exceptions, but there really aren’t that many, IMO. (One that comes to mind is highway construction)

  31. 31
    Manju says:

    it’s frankly absurd to claim that the 13th Amendment itself is part of the original intent of the Founders.

    That is frankly absurd. Which is why i never claimed it.

    Original intent provides for the process of amending the Constitution

    right, which is why i said “original intent allows for amendments”

    The Constitution had to be amended because the original intent of the Founders was to protect the property rights of slave-owners in their slaves.

    right. which is why i said Boney’s account’s “a little ahistorical no doubt.” But instead of proceeding the weakest and least likely construction of his argument–that his belief in original intent would allow long dead articles to trump basic libertarian principles–i assumed his contextualizing of original intent within the phrase ““to protect our rights and freedoms” revealed which principles get privileged in his framework… not unlike MLK’s belief that the resolution to the nations original sin existed within the very documents that institutionalized it.

    He’s clarified his beliefs on the matter now, so i think that resolves the fundamental question as to where he stands on government intervention to end slavery, as that would be the obvious libertarian position, though if you want to pepper him to reconsider his labeling of his beliefs as originalist, i have no problem with that.

    MLK wasn’t stupid enough to claim that original intent supported his policy preferences of racial equality,

    right. who said he did?

  32. 32
    Manju says:

    Then why say Jim Crow’s the government’s fault?

    nojojojo claimed libertarians would support slavery because they’re opposed to government intervention, which is not true but an understandable misconception given the rhetoric. libertarians are opposed to govt intervention only in as much as they are initiations of force. if the govt action in question is to prevent an intitiation of force, ie murder, slavery ,etc, then not only would libertarians alllow for it, they’d demand it.

    Jim crow, i then mentioned, is an even more obvious anti-libertarian policy since slavery existed in pre-govt days while jim crow didn’t. according to wiki, “Jim Crow usually refers to Jim Crow laws, 19th- and 20th-century U.S. laws mandating de jure racial segregation” so not only would jim crow trigger the libertarian opposition to the initiation of force, but it would trigger their opposition to illegitimate government activities, as well as government treating citizens unequally under the law, making the anti-Jim crow position a slam dunk for those existing with in the libertarian framework.

    what libertarians wouldn’t touch is private discrimination, and its fair to argue merely getting government out of the business of discrimination isn’t enough after centuries of government sponsored discrimination, but to argue that libertarians would’ve supported that discriminations the first place is not plausible.

    There was slavery in the U.S. before there was much in the way of organized government

    right. John locke’s state of nature argument. govt exists to get rid of that and other intitiations of force (like murder) existing within the hobbesian war of all against all state. libertarianism addresses this scenario.

    Your causation is screwy: you seem to believe that the people’s preferences were driven by laws (that somehow just appeared on the books), when in fact the laws were written to reflect the majority of voters’ preferences.

    Its dialectic. individual racism leads to institutionalized racism via the state which in turn creates more individual racism. American slavery and Jim crow were monstrous crimes that, like apartheid or German antisemitism culminating with the holocaust, reached a critical threshold due to state involvement.

    No, it wasn’t. It was about getting cheap labor in a part of the world with low population density.

    you can’t get cheap labor via slavery, unless one exists in the state of nature, without the involvement of the state..specifically denying people equal protection under the law, a central libertarian principle.

  33. 33
    PG says:

    i assumed his contextualizing of original intent within the phrase ““to protect our rights and freedoms” revealed which principles get privileged in his framework

    Except neither you nor Boney has said how we know what “our rights and freedoms” are. The original Constitution protected the freedom to hold slaves (and to import more of them until a certain date), and protected the right in this property. You two are now acknowledging that the “original intent” of the Founders isn’t actually a guide to what “our rights and freedoms” are.

    So what is a guide? Whatever you two think our rights and freedoms are? You both think there should be freedom to discriminate on the basis of race, rather than a right to be free of such discrimination in one’s public life (e.g. in employment, the use of public accommodations, etc.). You both think there should be freedom to pay whatever wage one wishes, rather than a right to a minimum wage for a day’s work. That’s the point of the original cartoon that Booney seemed to think was somehow unfair or biased against libertarians: libertarians think bias, wage slavery and poverty are not as burdensome to the individual as government regulation. Everything you two have said in this conversation has simply re-affirmed Amps assessment in the cartoon of libertarian ideology. So what exactly is y’all’s beef with it?

    if the govt action in question is to prevent an intitiation of force, ie murder, slavery ,etc, then not only would libertarians alllow for it, they’d demand it.

    Really? So if someone is “initiating force” by leveling a firearm at me in order to get me off his property — where I am not touching him, not threatening him, just standing there and refusing to move — libertarians would want the government to prevent the property owner’s initiation of force?

    to argue that libertarians would’ve supported that discriminations the first place is not plausible.

    The libertarians wouldn’t have supported the government’s mandating the discrimination, but libertarians certainly support the government’s not prohibiting the discrimination, and are upset now that the government does bar discrimination. And again, the desire to discriminate happened first; the enactment of the discrimination into law happened second, and in some states never occurred at all.

    In many states where the law never actually required separation of the race in various aspects, discrimination still occurred on a massive scale. For example, New York state never had any laws regarding racial segregation. It never prohibited interracial marriage. Yet New Yorkers still massively and systemically discriminated against religious, ethnic and racial minorities in education, employment and admission to privately-owned establishments. Under your theory of how the world works, this is simply impossible — there can be no institutionalized racism without the state’s institutionalizing it. But reality contradicts your theory. Social practices can institutionalize racism without the government’s ever putting “Only 5% of the entering class may be Jewish” on its books.

    Indeed, I don’t think the U.S. state or federal governments ever made any laws to enforce discrimination against Jews. Will you now deny that there was widespread, systemic anti-Semitism against Jews in the U.S.? The Ivy League schools’ infamous quotas limiting Jews’ admission couldn’t have really happened on an institutional basis, because the government hadn’t required it? Must have been the work of just a few individual bigots who somehow managed to keep it going for decades?

    Yes, government enactment of mandatory discrimination can help to entrench discrimination and bigotry, but it’s by no means a necessary component, and it’s often simply more of a symptom in a democratic society than it is a reinforcing cause.

  34. 34
    Boney says:

    My point is that it is the federal government’s job to intervene, and specifically outlaw those things. (Jim Crow Laws, Slavery, although not necessarily racism)

    I wouldn’t do away with laws which require public institutions to allow people of all backgrounds and ethnicities to involve themselves, but I think that affirmative action can do more harm than good, and can actually be reverse racism.

  35. 35
    Manju says:

    Except neither you nor Boney has said how we know what “our rights and freedoms” are.

    a right is a right to freedom from the initiation of force against your person or property. that right is limited by the freedom of others. for example, freedom of press doesn’t give you the right to break into my house in order to investigate a story.

    The original Constitution protected the freedom to hold slaves

    so, per above, the right to own a slave isn’t a right at all, in the libertarian framework…since you are impeding on the rights of anther by initiating force against them.

    So what exactly is y’all’s beef with it?

    well, i popped in here to say no to nojojojo, and i since you’re quiet on that issue i guess you concur. as far as the cartoon goes, i guess the governemt bag is too small, removing govt oppression is a pretty huge thing. the great evils of humanity: American slavery, jim crow, the cultural revolution, apartheid, colonialism, the ukrainian famine, are all forms of government repression. now, once you remove goverenmet do you still have forms repression like poverty. sure. but last i checked the north Koreans are literally starving to death and the Cubans live as right less wards of the state while the more libertarian nations remain the weathiest. i guess, theoretically a pure libertarian sate may end up being a disaster for the poor (not to mention banks) but thats not the world we live in, since no pure liberation state exists. in reality, its the statists who need to answer for the gut wrenching poverty in their nations.

    Really? So if someone is “initiating force” by leveling a firearm at me in order to get me off his property — where I am not touching him, not threatening him, just standing there and refusing to move — libertarians would want the government to prevent the property owner’s initiation of force?

    if your refusing to move you’ve initiated the force against someones property. that may not justify deadly force in return, but it would justify force in the libertarian framework, only it wouldn’t be considered an initiation.

    the desire to discriminate happened first; the enactment of the discrimination into law happened second, and in some states never occurred at all.

    if we go back far enough to pre-govt days the discrimintion happenned first. that’s what justifies govt in the first place for say john locke. govt exists to restrain people for intiating force agaisnt one another.

    the enactment of discrimination via the state, first thru allowing for slavery (thus violating the first rule of libertarianism as expressed above) and then thru jim crow laws, may have happenned second but it is that act that transformed racism into a massive systemic form of oppression, at least as far as north America is concerned.

    Moreover, you’re ignoring the extent to which libertarians prefer more local government to more distant government, arguing that the further away government is, the more disconnected it becomes from the people’s preferences

    .

    Its not important. Local govts would be subject to severe restriction on what they can do as well in any libertarian system, especially regarding fundamental rights.

  36. 36
    Manju says:

    Indeed, I don’t think the U.S. state or federal governments ever made any laws to enforce discrimination against Jews. Will you now deny that there was widespread, systemic anti-Semitism against Jews in the U.S.?

    i’ll answer this later, gotta run

  37. 37
    PG says:

    if we go back far enough to pre-govt days the discrimintion happenned first. that’s what justifies govt in the first place for say john locke. govt exists to restrain people for intiating force agaisnt one another.

    Uh, what? I thought your whole shtick was that discrimination by non-government entities isn’t an initiation of force; rather, that the government initiates force by legally prohibiting discrimination in the private sector. Are you now saying that even absent state laws mandating segregation, you’d be OK with the federal government’s prohibiting segregating behavior by private actors?

    the enactment of discrimination via the state, first thru allowing for slavery (thus violating the first rule of libertarianism as expressed above) and then thru jim crow laws, may have happenned second but it is that act that transformed racism into a massive systemic form of oppression, at least as far as north America is concerned.

    I look forward to your explanation of how the Jews weren’t really massively and systemically discriminated against in the U.S. because they were never held as slaves nor subject to Jim Crow laws.

  38. 38
    Notacookie says:

    One of the things I’ve never really bought about doctrinaire libertarianism is this notion that “initiating force” is a well-defined concept.

    Consider the example mentioned above by Manju at 35. Person A is in person B’s house without B’s permission. In Manju’s analysis, A has initiated the use of force.

    if your refusing to move you’ve initiated the force against someones property. that may not justify deadly force in return, but it would justify force in the libertarian framework, only it wouldn’t be considered an initiation.

    This actually has paradoxical consequences. Suppose there’s a some piece of disputed property, bordering on both A and B’s land. Neither has clear possession. B points a gun at A and demands that A leave the disputed area. If I understand correctly, Manju’s analysis is that by definition the non-owner is the one who initiated force, either by leveling a gun, or else by trespassing.

    But that means that we can’t figure out who was the first one to resort to force, without resolving the underlying legal question about who the rightful owner is.

    This makes “don’t initiate the use of force” much less useful in resolving real disputes, since often the thing in dispute is exactly the question of who had what rights. Just saying “whoever is in the right, wins” doesn’t really answer the underlying question of who that is.

    To give a concrete example. Suppose an American company owns 49% of the stock in a Chinese company that relies on coerced labor. Has the American company initiated the use of force against the laborers? I don’t think “don’t initiate force” is a helpful principle in figuring out the moral consequences of the situation.

  39. 39
    Manju says:

    Uh, what?

    that should be slavery, a subset of discrimination, justifies the exitence of govt in the first place…the raison d’etre for govt in classcial liberalism/libertarianism is to restrain people from intiating force agaisnt one another.

  40. 40
    Manju says:

    This actually has paradoxical consequences. Suppose there’s a some piece of disputed property, bordering on both A and B’s land. Neither has clear possession. B points a gun at A and demands that A leave the disputed area. If I understand correctly, Manju’s analysis is that by definition the non-owner is the one who initiated force, either by leveling a gun, or else by trespassing.

    i think people are confusing libertarianism with anarchy. libertarianism a form of government, albeit limited. government has a monopoly on the initiation of force in this system. so if there is a dispute on who owns property, you have to take the dispute to court. you can’t fight it out on your own. so you give up your freedom to initiate force,a freedom that exists in the state of nature, and enter into a the social contract…to put it in Lockean terms.

  41. 41
    Notacookie says:

    @Manju:

    . government has a monopoly on the initiation of force in this system. so if there is a dispute on who owns property, you have to take the dispute to court. you can’t fight it out on your own. so you give up your freedom to initiate force

    I think you missed the point I was trying to make with the ambiguous-trespass and foreign-slave-labor examples above. I’m arguing that “initiate force” is a vague and amorphous concept, and that it’s a mistake to build our notions of political morality on something so unclear.

    A pedantic note: In America today, government doesn’t claim a monopoly on the initiation of force. They claim something rather narrower, which is a monopoly on the initiation of deadly force. There are many, many, private security providers in America — everything from university police departments, to the Brinks company, to your local nightclub bouncer. These private security providers can legally use a certain amount of force, even against people who are merely unruly, rather than violent.

  42. 42
    Manju says:

    I look forward to your explanation of how the Jews weren’t really massively and systemically discriminated against in the U.S. because they were never held as slaves nor subject to Jim Crow laws.

    Jews were massively and systemically discriminated against in the U.S. but since the discrimination did not by in large involve government it did not result in massive economic disenfranchisement. here in the US they were not subject to the government enabled violence of slavery, jim crow, or lynchings. since their communities were not as devastated, they were able to take advantage of the free markets, a great liberating force.

    take the example of wall street. for much of American history the street was dominated by the wasp elite, revolving around the house of morgan–morgan Stanley and its predecessor fims jp morgan as well as its sister firm drexel. you could not rise to the top if you were a jew. as late as the 1990s, when sandy weil attempted to buy jp morgan to merge it with his firm (smith barney) and was rebuffed, he went around telling everyone Morgan would never sell to a jew. in fact, as young man, sandy was told he’d never make partner at drexel, resulting in him starting his own firm which, after series of mergers, would become citigroup.

    absent anti-discrimination laws or other forms of government action, Jews were forced to create their own entrepreneurial culture and the results were spectacular. firms like goldman, lehman, bear, sollie, were created in large part as reactions to wasp racism. (they also, interestingly, did not require a college degree for many years, to the point that many of their ceo’s were absent a degree, demonstrating their class relationship with the wasp elite). they hired their own, practicing a certain level of reverse discrimination, and did business with their own. sandy’s first ibank deal was with Saul Steinberg, after years of doing retail exclusively.

    well, by the 1980s, goldman, bear, lehman , and sollie dominated the street. of the wasp elite, only morgan stanley and first boston remained in the bulge bracket, along with merill who was neither wasp nor jew. kidder peabody and drexel imploded, and former wasp powerhouses like jpmorgan,Brown Brothers Harriman, white weld, haydon stone, dillon reed were reduced to minor players.

    as capitalism advances this process has only accelerated. the rise of Jewish banking is only one sign of how free markets benefit oppressed minorities. obviously globalization is doing what all the postcolonial studies in the world can’t. venture capital has given rise to a new breed of capitalist hellbent on destroying inefficient monopolies. besides vc, the real powers in finance today are the scientific elite in firms no one has really heard of–renaissance, aqr, DEShaw, etc– where the pay dwarfs that which we see at the traditional sell sides…and more importantly the trading floors look like the MIT campus, not exeter.

    anyway, that’s high finance. the wasp only paradigm is done and now the Jewish firms are globalized, having served in a sort of intermediary position that capitalism served within Marx’s system. the paradigm isn’t exclusive to finance. immigrants flock here to make a life for themeves thru small business ownership, even those here illegally. its what makes America so attractive to ethnic and religious minorities. even within black liberation theology there’s a strong streak of this : booker t washington, malcolm x, bill Cosby. i don’t begrudge anyone relying on anti-discrimination laws but this way is more empowering. the free market is your friend.

  43. 43
    Manju says:

    Notacookie:

    i don’t tink its too vague though there may be problematic cases. if you own shares in a company that enslaves, you are responsible as a shareholder. private security forces aren’t allowed to initiate force, only to react to an initiation, just like anyone else.

  44. 44
    Notacookie says:

    In re #43:

    private security forces aren’t allowed to initiate force, only to react to an initiation, just like anyone else.

    Let me tell you a story about a college friend of mine, “Fred”. One day “Fred” went out for a late-night run across the campus with some friends. As it happens, they weren’t wearing clothes at the time. And “Fred” had the misfortune to get arrested by the campus police. (Who are a private organization, working for a private school) He tried to run away, but they were a bit faster, and they grabbed him.

    Being naked in public isn’t an initiation of force, by any meaningful definition. But property owners unquestionably have a right to forbid it, and for that right to be meaningful, they have to be able to use reasonable force to catch and punish people who break the rule.

    It’s a reasonable force, it’s a legal force, but it’s still initiating the use of force.
    And this isn’t a quirky special case. For instance, operators of stores are entitled to detain suspected shoplifters, within limits. Being *suspected* of a crime cannot possibly be “initiating the use of force”, and the detention is still legal even if the detainee was innocent.

  45. 45
    Manju says:

    Being naked in public isn�t an initiation of force, by any meaningful definition.

    in first amendment law there’s a concept called “captive audience.” i think its goes under a “time place and manner” restriction, but basically if you run around nude in public you are considered to be imposing something on people, so your behaviour can be restricted. borderline issue and probably some of the more nutty libertarians don’t recognize the restriction, but i think most feminist would consider flashing a violation of ones rights.

    plus, its meant to protect children, a group of people that has special privileges even in the libertarian system.

    For instance, operators of stores are entitled to detain suspected shoplifters, within limits. Being *suspected* of a crime cannot possibly be �initiating the use of force�, and the detention is still legal even if the detainee was innocent.

    but committing the crime of shoplifting is an initiative of force. if its later determined by the courts that the detainment was not justified, you have legal recourse..ie the detainment was illegal.

  46. 46
    Notacookie says:

    Manju –

    This was a fairly quiet part of a university campus, at around 1 am in the morning on a Sunday. Nobody out on the streets. No children, no likelihood of children, and no captive audience. Just cops out on patrol, telling students what they can and can’t do on campus property.

    I think you missed my point about suspected shoplifting. The store has *NOT* committed a crime when they say “excuse me sir, but we need you to wait here while we search your bag.” And they are within their rights to grab your arm if you try to run off — even if you weren’t guilty of anything. The relevant standard, as I understand, is probable cause, not “were you guilty.”

    At least in many US states, the store owner has a right to use reasonable force, under the circumstances I described. So that’s private citizens “initiating force” in the US today. Would a libertarian necessarily oppose allowing such measures? Consider that the other rule would be extremely inconvenient for property owners, and would make property rights significantly less secure.

  47. 47
    Manju says:

    This was a fairly quiet part of a university campus, at around 1 am in the morning on a Sunday. Nobody out on the streets. No children, no likelihood of children, and no captive audience. Just cops out on patrol, telling students what they can and can�t do on campus property

    this wouldn’t bother libertarians. if its a private campus the owners have the right to make any rule they like, not unlike our hosts here at alas retaining the right to ban anyone for any reason, no matter how brillaint, witty, loved and handsome the tageted individual may be. your right to be nude would be limited by the property rights of others. you can’t just impose it on people.

    now, if this were a public campus you may have some hardcore libertarians on your side. but in general the restriction falls within the category of the nudist imposing their nudity on others, even if no one happens to be around since someone could pop up at any moment. i think this is a circumstance where we’re arguing around the edges. suffice to say, what is resoved in a libertarian system, is the right ti be nude at home, inyour busness, in your stripclub, or if you open an art gallery, have nude pics there…since there’s no cpative audience.

    The store has *NOT* committed a crime when they say �excuse me sir, but we need you to wait here while we search your bag.�

    right, because them stopping you is related to you presumably committing a crime…which is an initiation of force. now, if they stop you even though they don’t believe a crime was committed, you would then have legal recourse.

    At least in many US states, the store owner has a right to use reasonable force, under the circumstances I described. So that�s private citizens �initiating force� in the US today. Would a libertarian necessarily oppose allowing such measures?

    like i said above, since the use of force is related to a presmed theft, libertarians would be ok with it. also, if it happenned on store property and there was an understanding that they might stop the customer, contractual rights would be enforced.

    however, if security just stopped you to harass you, then you’d have legal recourse under the principle that its illegal to initiate force against another individual.

  48. 48
    Manju says:

    btw, the weird text in some of my posts appear after i get cought in the spam filter, which informs me: “Sorry, your comment was blocked because it contains one or more of the following words: nude.”

    ..in case anyone wants to debug

  49. 49
    Manju says:

    Fred sounds like he knows how to have a good time though, Notacookie.