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Subject: Libertarianism is dead, a post Mortum. rss

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Josh
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This isn't yet another snide jeer at the expense of devotees of the Libertarian ideal, it's instead a quick comparison with the Libertarian ideal, historical precedent, and modern advancements and why I think it is time to relegate Libertarianism to the dusty files along with Objectivism, Communism, and whatever the heck Plato was on about.

Short short version:The libertarian ideal is about diffusing governmental power as much as possible, with the idea that locally focused government with few levels and direct impact will be better managed to meet the needs of the people it governs.

I'm not here to argue about the right or wrong of that ideal, just the viability.

Short short history: Power accumulates, and then diffuses in cycles. This happens throughout history and one need only look at things like the French Revolution, various Chinese revolutions, The Bolshevik revolution(see a pattern?), but notthe US revolution, we were a different basket of eggs. The usual cycle is a slow but accelerating accumulation of power in the hands of an elite few that eventually hits a point where it becomes so extreme that the masses of society lose their 'buy in' and simply burn it all down to start over. These revolutions may be more or less successful, and sourced from the low income masses or even some of the dispossessed elite themselves. The fact is, the cycle is pretty reliable. Whenever power is diffuse it will eventually accumulate once more ad nauseum.

Short short technological update:We are better at doing things. Tech allows for better communication, more distant interaction, more detailed analysis and faster response times than ever dreamed of even thirty years ago. Those in power (unsurprisingly) leverage this. Be it offshoring a huge chunk of your company because you can run it from your living room phone, to analyzing mountains of data for very precise distracting to manipulate votes, to complex stress testing to hit upon the perfect level of 'disposability' in a product for reinvestment and upgrade cycles. We have the means to concentrate power and influence like never before.

This leads to the problem. If the Libertarian ideal is achieved and the power of the government stripped back to just what is required for operation and no more, the *power* does not vanish. The power will simply shift to a new location, likely private businesses with the most capital, but it will shift *somewhere* The only way to prevent this would be to take a luddite stance and deliberately make it more difficult for society to function so that the functionality could not be abused. Down that path lay stagnation and decline.

So there's my short-short thesis. I think the Libertarian concept is DBA(Dead Before Arrival) that doesn't mean the idea of slowing the accumulation of power is not worth championing. Nor does it mean watchfullness is not of value. I just feel it would be good for all involved if Libertarianism was spoken in terms of tendencies rather than goals.
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Mac Mcleod
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Good thoughts but libertaranism as a way of limiting power was dead already. The government must have more power than the wealthiest and most powerful or else it can't do that job.

And a government that powerful is inherently antithetical to libertarian philosophy. Yet most of libertarian thought really relies on either a government that powerful or a moral code that strong to function.

And history has shown that neither really exists or they are bloody dangerous for the minority.
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Seth Brown
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Shadrach wrote:
Short short version:The libertarian ideal is about diffusing governmental power as much as possible, with the idea that locally focused government with few levels and direct impact will be better managed to meet the needs of the people it governs.

I think the Libertarian concept is DBA(Dead Before Arrival) that doesn't mean the idea of slowing the accumulation of power is not worth championing. Nor does it mean watchfullness is not of value. I just feel it would be good for all involved if Libertarianism was spoken in terms of tendencies rather than goals.

What you call the libertarian ideal is, for me, just the most obvious and frequently cited method for achieving the actual libertarian ideal, which is more freedom. The party leaders or vocal lunatic fringe may fall short of the ideal, and many may have lost sight of the ideal, but that's true of all political parties or religions.

I disagree, therefore, that it ought to be tendencies rather than goals. I think having a strong bias towards more freedom whenever possible is an excellent goal. Sometimes the public interest will require abridgement thereof, but why not have goals of curtailing restrictions on freedom down to those which have a strong argument for necessity? I don't think it's unhelpful at all; I think it's a fine quality for a candidate, and I'd like to vote for candidates who will evaluate domestic policy with this goal in mind: Absent a very compelling reason, citizens should have more freedom.

(Obviously there are arguments to be made for restrictions on individual freedom that provide a public good that gives everyone more de facto freedom in the form of autonomy and actual choice. There is plenty of room for debate about how best to give people freedom. But I think having freedom as a highest goal is a fine thing.)
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Mike Stiles
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To me the Libertarian ideal has always been that, an ideal. The parties (Lib and GOP) that have claimed to embrace it have never really done a good job, for one reason or another.

Maybe this is because it's like Anarchism; a fun hobby, and beautiful in never needing to directly be challenged by actual power.

~~~

Short version: It was never really alive, it's probably stronger now than it's been since the 70's... for what it's worth.
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Grand Admiral Thrawn
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I just want to write a skit where the oldest ruler, Alulim, attempts to explain the need for his new kingdom, and libertarians enter the scene Monty-Python-style to stop him.
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rekinom
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Shadrach wrote:
If the Libertarian ideal is achieved and the power of the government stripped back to just what is required for operation and no more, the *power* does not vanish. The power will simply shift to a new location, likely private businesses with the most capital, but it will shift *somewhere*


A feature, not a bug.

Optimally, in the libertarian ideal, power would shift to individuals in the form of choice. When choice doesn't exist, other businesses have an incentive to enter that market. The problem with this is if geography or scarce natural resources create a lasting natural monopoly where there isn't enough incentive for others to enter the market. This is a market failure.

Chevy is/was a powerful company, but if I choose not to do business with them, their power has no direct impact on me. I can just buy a Audi or Tesla instead.

Until a powerful government enters the picture. Chevy can influence the government to bail them out, forcing my taxes to support their failing business. Chevy can influence the government to raise protectionist tarriffs on the Audi I want to buy making it more expensive or say that Tesla is not allowed to own dealerships to sell their cars, forcing me to go through a middleman that will raise the price. This is government failure.

A powerful government is simply captured by powerful interests. As P.J. O'Rourke says, "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."

Libertarianism is an ideal that, on one level, favors the risk of market failures over the risk of government failures. On another level, libertarianism prefers individual choices over collective prescriptions.

We live in a mixed economy. Saying libertarianism is dead is just as silly as saying socialism is dead.
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Jon Badolato
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maxo-texas wrote:
Good thoughts but libertaranism as a way of limiting power was dead already. The government must have more power than the wealthiest and most powerful or else it can't do that job.

And a government that powerful is inherently antithetical to libertarian philosophy. Yet most of libertarian thought really relies on either a government that powerful or a moral code that strong to function.

And history has shown that neither really exists or they are bloody dangerous for the minority.


This is it in a nutshell. If government is pared down its power is reduced. Some other entity will naturally fill the power void. If history is any indication, that would be private corporations which sadly aren't known for their powerful moral compass when push comes to shove. And with little to no government regulation of corporate abuses, they would no doubt increase. Libertarianism is a fun thought experiment, but has no real world applicability beyond checking that the government does not abuse its power with which it has been endowed.
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Josh
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rekinom wrote:
A good post


I understand what you've put forth, but you miss the key pivot of my post. Technology has upset the balance of the gamble. PReviously both market and governmentsl actors were somewhat bound by environment. OR the government it is still the csse. The US gov't is stuck in the US, it can't just wander off, though of course individual actors can.

Conversely market actors are almost complete unbound. Entering a market, extracting value and leaving a steaming pile behind are the most effective means of satisfying the business motive-profit. It isn't a case of 'bad actor I buy somewhere else'. It is a case of abuser gets more resources, sells low, crushes business, offloads costs, and now has more power to counter competition/governmentsl controls. The cycle is so an old one: see East Indies. We've just become much better at it.
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rekinom
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Shadrach wrote:
Conversely market actors are almost complete unbound. Entering a market, extracting value and leaving a steaming pile behind are the most effective means of satisfying the business motive-profit. It isn't a case of 'bad actor I buy somewhere else'. It is a case of abuser gets more resources, sells low, crushes business, offloads costs, and now has more power to counter competition/governmentsl controls. The cycle is so an old one: see East Indies. We've just become much better at it.


Can elaborate on what you mean by the East Indies?
 
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Mac Mcleod
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rekinom wrote:


Shadrach wrote:
If the Libertarian ideal is achieved and the power of the government stripped back to just what is required for operation and no more, the *power* does not vanish. The power will simply shift to a new location, likely private businesses with the most capital, but it will shift *somewhere*


A feature, not a bug.

Optimally, in the libertarian ideal, power would shift to individuals in the form of choice. When choice doesn't exist, other businesses have an incentive to enter that market. The problem with this is if geography or scarce natural resources create a lasting natural monopoly where there isn't enough incentive for others to enter the market. This is a market failure.

Chevy is/was a powerful company, but if I choose not to do business with them, their power has no direct impact on me. I can just buy a Audi or Tesla instead.

Until a powerful government enters the picture. Chevy can influence the government to bail them out, forcing my taxes to support their failing business. Chevy can influence the government to raise protectionist tarriffs on the Audi I want to buy making it more expensive or say that Tesla is not allowed to own dealerships to sell their cars, forcing me to go through a middleman that will raise the price. This is government failure.

A powerful government is simply captured by powerful interests. As P.J. O'Rourke says, "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."

Libertarianism is an ideal that, on one level, favors the risk of market failures over the risk of government failures. On another level, libertarianism prefers individual choices over collective prescriptions.

We live in a mixed economy. Saying libertarianism is dead is just as silly as saying socialism is dead.


Or like volkswagon, without a government to enforce the rules, Chevy can lie and tell you whatever they want to about the car. They can produce one run for reviews and another cheaper run for consumers. Without product liability, they can make cars which are unsafe to drive.

We rely on the government to make automobile makers give us good information about their cars and when auto makers lie- to punish those auto makers.

In a libertarian setup, there is literally no restraint on the wealthy and powerful to abuse everyone less wealthy and powerful than they are.
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Mac Mcleod
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rekinom wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
Conversely market actors are almost complete unbound. Entering a market, extracting value and leaving a steaming pile behind are the most effective means of satisfying the business motive-profit. It isn't a case of 'bad actor I buy somewhere else'. It is a case of abuser gets more resources, sells low, crushes business, offloads costs, and now has more power to counter competition/governmentsl controls. The cycle is so an old one: see East Indies. We've just become much better at it.


Can elaborate on what you mean by the East Indies?


He's referring to

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company

It was a company more powerful than governments. It was horribly abusive for centuries. It had it's own army.

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rekinom
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maxo-texas wrote:
Or like volkswagon, without a government to enforce the rules, Chevy can lie and tell you whatever they want to about the car. They can produce one run for reviews and another cheaper run for consumers. Without product liability, they can make cars which are unsafe to drive.

We rely on the government to make automobile makers give us good information about their cars and when auto makers lie- to punish those auto makers.

In a libertarian setup, there is literally no restraint on the wealthy and powerful to abuse everyone less wealthy and powerful than they are.


This is a strawman fallacy. Libertarians, even the anarchists, still believe in liability.

Volkswagon is a great example of a government failure. Regulators from multiple countries failed to detect the deception. It was ultimately detected by a group of academics commissioned by a non-governmental organization.

The ultimate solution in this case, consisting of liability, a lawsuit, and a settlement, all enforced by government courts, is the typical suggested minarchist libertarian solution to this kind of problem. The large regulation apparatus you are saying is necessary failed to prevent the problem in the first place.
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Mac Mcleod
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rekinom wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
Or like volkswagon, without a government to enforce the rules, Chevy can lie and tell you whatever they want to about the car. They can produce one run for reviews and another cheaper run for consumers. Without product liability, they can make cars which are unsafe to drive.

We rely on the government to make automobile makers give us good information about their cars and when auto makers lie- to punish those auto makers.

In a libertarian setup, there is literally no restraint on the wealthy and powerful to abuse everyone less wealthy and powerful than they are.


This is a strawman fallacy. Libertarians, even the anarchists, still believe in liability.

Volkswagon is a great example of a government failure. Regulators from multiple countries failed to detect the deception. It was ultimately detected by a group of academics commissioned by a non-governmental organization.

The ultimate solution in this case, consisting of liability, a lawsuit, and a settlement, all enforced by government courts, is the typical suggested minarchist libertarian solution to this kind of problem. The large regulation apparatus you are saying is necessary failed to prevent the problem in the first place.


It's not a strawman. Only a government with power to enforce fines can enforce liability. If the company is more powerful than the government, then the government won't be able to enforce liability.
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rekinom
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maxo-texas wrote:
rekinom wrote:
Can elaborate on what you mean by the East Indies?


He's referring to

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company

It was a company more powerful than governments. It was horribly abusive for centuries. It had it's own army.


It also had a royal charter, which gave it the power to make peace or war.

Libertarians, at least the minarchists, believe in a government monopoly on the use initiation of force. A large government sponsored organization abusing government delegated powers is kind of a big "I told you so".
 
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Stephen Rost
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maxo-texas wrote:


In a libertarian setup, there is literally no restraint on the wealthy and powerful to abuse everyone less wealthy and powerful than they are.


Why do you believe there would there be no restraint? What in your mind restrains a government, given a monopoly on law creation, from becoming a complete totalitarian state? Could not some of those same factors work to keep the power of wealth in check?
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Josh
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rekinom wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
rekinom wrote:
Can elaborate on what you mean by the East Indies?


He's referring to

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company

It was a company more powerful than governments. It was horribly abusive for centuries. It had it's own army.


It also had a royal charter, which gave it the power to make peace or war.

Libertarians, at least the minarchists, believe in a government monopoly on the use of force. A large government sponsored organization abusing government delegated powers is kind of a big "I told you so".


Who was going to stop them?
 
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Mac Mcleod
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spookyblast wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:


In a libertarian setup, there is literally no restraint on the wealthy and powerful to abuse everyone less wealthy and powerful than they are.


Why do you believe there would there be no restraint? What in your mind restrains a government, given a monopoly on law creation, from becoming a complete totalitarian state? Could not some of those same factors work to keep the power of wealth in check?


Nothing restrains the government except the people in the long term.

The government really is "the people". Corporations are not. The only way to check corporate abuse is if "the people" stop it. And that means giving a government sufficient power.

But governments often tip over into dictatorship. It's always a risk.
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rekinom
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Shadrach wrote:
rekinom wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
rekinom wrote:
Can elaborate on what you mean by the East Indies?


He's referring to

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_India_Company

It was a company more powerful than governments. It was horribly abusive for centuries. It had it's own army.


It also had a royal charter, which gave it the power to make peace or war.

Libertarians, at least the minarchists, believe in a government monopoly on the use of force. A large government sponsored organization abusing government delegated powers is kind of a big "I told you so".


Who was going to stop them?


In a perfect world, the Indians. The East India Company was modeled on the Dutch East India Company. Forgive me, this is from memory from reading Will Durant's Story of Civilization a long time ago... When the Dutch discovered India, a Indian king sent a letter to the Dutch king saying "Hey, we have got all this nice stuff to trade." The Dutch read that and said, "Let's go steal his shit!" The English were then all, "Man, we got to get in on this shit-stealing business. The Dutch are getting the good shit." And the East India Company was formed.

Another way to stop them is ... I don't know... Don't give them a royal charter in the first place with the power to make war!

Finally, if an Englishman commits crimes somewhere else, hold them accountable or at least extradite them.

It's not a good example to discuss libertarianism, because minarchist libertarians want the government to have a monopoly on initiating violence, which were immediately thrown out the window in the charters for the VOC and EIC.
 
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"Finally, if an Englishman commits crimes somewhere else, hold them accountable or at least extradite them."

So when is your nation going to start?
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Stephen Rost
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maxo-texas wrote:

Nothing restrains the government except the people in the long term.

The government really is "the people". Corporations are not. The only way to check corporate abuse is if "the people" stop it. And that means giving a government sufficient power.

But governments often tip over into dictatorship. It's always a risk.


Government is certainly composed of people, as are corporations, but I take issue with your full equivalence:

government = “the people”


For it seems that given such a definition, a government could never do anything against the will of the people because it is the will of the people.

Put another way, if government = “the people,” then how could it be possible for a government (the people) to tip into dictatorship?
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rekinom
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growlley wrote:
"Finally, if an Englishman commits crimes somewhere else, hold them accountable or at least extradite them."

So when is your nation going to start?


1776
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Oliver Dienz
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rekinom wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
Or like volkswagon, without a government to enforce the rules, Chevy can lie and tell you whatever they want to about the car. They can produce one run for reviews and another cheaper run for consumers. Without product liability, they can make cars which are unsafe to drive.

We rely on the government to make automobile makers give us good information about their cars and when auto makers lie- to punish those auto makers.

In a libertarian setup, there is literally no restraint on the wealthy and powerful to abuse everyone less wealthy and powerful than they are.


This is a strawman fallacy. Libertarians, even the anarchists, still believe in liability.

Volkswagon is a great example of a government failure. Regulators from multiple countries failed to detect the deception. It was ultimately detected by a group of academics commissioned by a non-governmental organization.

The ultimate solution in this case, consisting of liability, a lawsuit, and a settlement, all enforced by government courts, is the typical suggested minarchist libertarian solution to this kind of problem. The large regulation apparatus you are saying is necessary failed to prevent the problem in the first place.


And what rule/law would Volkswagen have been found guilty to have violated if there would be no government regulation?
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Stephen Rost
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odie73 wrote:
And what rule/law would Volkswagen have been found guilty to have violated if there would be no government regulation?


Fraud.

VW falsely claimed their vehicles met a certain standard for emissions. Ultimately, the accusation of fraud shouldn't depend upon who wrote the standard. It is the fact that VW deceived their customers for which they should be held liable.

If a breakfast cereal box claims, "Now, with more marshmallows," but it is found that it in fact contains less marshmallows, it is still deception, irrespective of the absence of a government marshmallow standard established by a state-run marshmallow protection agency.
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Mike Stiles
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spookyblast wrote:
odie73 wrote:
And what rule/law would Volkswagen have been found guilty to have violated if there would be no government regulation?


Fraud.

VW falsely claimed their vehicles met a certain standard for emissions. Ultimately, the accusation of fraud shouldn't depend upon who wrote the standard. It is the fact that VW deceived their customers for which they should be held liable.

If a breakfast cereal box claims, "Now, with more marshmallows," but it is found that it in fact contains less marshmallows, it is still deception, irrespective of the absence of a government marshmallow standard established by a state-run marshmallow protection agency.


That's some "Bill Clinton lied before congress" kind of logic really, without the standards they wouldn't have lied to break them, you think people actually pay that much attention to it?
 
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Oliver Dienz
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spookyblast wrote:
odie73 wrote:
And what rule/law would Volkswagen have been found guilty to have violated if there would be no government regulation?


Fraud.

VW falsely claimed their vehicles met a certain standard for emissions. Ultimately, the accusation of fraud shouldn't depend upon who wrote the standard. It is the fact that VW deceived their customers for which they should be held liable.

If a breakfast cereal box claims, "Now, with more marshmallows," but it is found that it in fact contains less marshmallows, it is still deception, irrespective of the absence of a government marshmallow standard established by a state-run marshmallow protection agency.


And they only claimed that their vehicles would meet those emissions because the EPA made them to. Or have you seen any automakers post their cars' emissions before the EPA?
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