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There’s no such thing as a golden age of lost liberty

April 7, 2010

Spotted the link at Instapundit. It’s worth the read even though not all of Boaz’s examples are correct. Instapundit says –

Read the whole thing. I’ve had this argument, too. And I think this sort of despairing, reverse-Whig view of history also discourages people from fighting for liberty. But we’ve recovered before, and we’ll recover again — if we want to.

I disagree. I think that it points out the major problem with libertarianism / individual anarchy. A naive understanding of human nature. The idea that is only man were left alone by government all would be peaceful and everyone would prosper is to put it bluntly – stupid. Perfectly free societiesSocieties with no government of any sort don’t evolve peacefully they evolve into a feudalistic society. It’s what happened after the fall of Rome. It’s what happened after the fall of the Soviet Union (in a different form) and it’s what happened in Somalia and Albania in the 90’s. There is NO historical example of a perfectly libertarian society or anarchistic society in which the people existed in peace.

That isn’t to say that all encompassing government is good. It isn’t, but there is a certain level that is necessary for society to function.

The Classic Liberal disagrees with Boaz saying –

But what I do know is, Americans were a lot freer than we are today prior to the Progressive Era of the early 20th century. You know, when Uncle Sam didn’t steal any of your income, and licensing and regulations didn’t make it next to impossible for the common man to open his own store.

Well as Boaz says it depends on your definition of freedom. Were people more free when they were required by law to give up their seats to whites on buses? Were people more free when women were denied the vote or poll taxes were in effect? Or how about the fact that in some states married women were not allowed to own property. (Here is an interesting historical fact. My mother was attending college when I was a kid. Her grades had to be sent to my dad because he was her guardian and under the law they couldn’t send them to her.) But all that ignores the point of Boaz’s article as I understood it which is that advocating a return to a time that for many people didn’t exist is not a way to make the case for libertarianism, a better way is to make the case for limited government on it’s merits.

-elsewhere-

Government overthrown in Kyrgystan? This could mean trouble for logistics efforts in Afghanistan.

Greenspan defends himself before congress. The NY Times makes it seem like he came out on top, but I kind of doubt it. I think congress is out for his blood.

There is absolutely no potential for abuse here

DURHAM, N.C., April 7, 2010—Duke University has instituted a new “sexual misconduct” policy that can render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus. The policy claims that “perceived power differentials may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” Duke’s new policy transforms students of both sexes into unwitting rapists simply because of the “atmosphere” or because one or more students are “intoxicated,” no matter the degree. The policy also establishes unfair rules for judging sexual misconduct accusations. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging the policy.

The NY Times finally admits to the presence of care rationing (or death panels) in the health care reform bill.

Ryanair is going to charge for toilet usage on it’s flights. I suggest people just pee in the corners of the plane to increase their cleaning costs.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2010 11:22 am

    I think you make some good points, BUT.. there is no example of ANY society in which peace and safety are guaranteed. I think you put too much stock into the definition-word libertarian, as opposed to the ideas that libertarians represent. Modern libertarianism is actually a lot closer to the classic liberal ideals of the founders than modern Conservatism, which has become as much about tax and spend as the pseudo-socialism of the Democratic party. That’s not to say that libertarians are working towards anarchy; if you take the time to investigate fully you’ll find that, especially with regards to social issues, libertarian thought is typically miles ahead of both liberals and conservatives. The “Libertarian Party” doesn’t sum up the ideas of individual libertarians any better than the Republican or Democratic party do for their respective constituencies. There is a need for government, obviously, and you’ll not find many libertarians who disagree with that. However, that doesn’t mean that whenever the government comes around to establishing massive entitlement programs with the accompanying taxes, that that makes it okay, because, y’know, they’re the government! Most libertarian-leaning folks believe simply that government needs to be contained, and kept to the simplest possible EFFECTIVE organization, which certainly doesn’t mean no government at all.

  2. jenn1964 permalink*
    April 8, 2010 6:56 pm

    I would never think of claiming that there has been any society in which peace and safety are guaranteed. Al governments and all societies are created by men so they can’t be perfect.

    I disagree with you about libertarianism being closer to the ideals of the founders however. That is true for some, not all.

    I also disagree that libertarian thought is much more advanced than conservative thought. Most of the libertarian ideas I see being floated today are of the anarcho-capitalist variety, which is the school I find most naive. If you are talking minarchism then I would concede that maybe you have a point. Which goes to your point –

    There is a need for government, obviously, and you’ll not find many libertarians who disagree with that. However, that doesn’t mean that whenever the government comes around to establishing massive entitlement programs with the accompanying taxes, that that makes it okay, because, y’know, they’re the government!

    Maybe it’s where I live but the only “Libertarians” I am encountering on a regular basis are actually anarchists who do want the elimination of all government functions and who believe that a better society will grow from the ashes. I agree with you about keeping government as small as possible which puts me in the minimalist camp.

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