Leftist or libertarian?

You can’t be both.

Let’s again, take Rand Paul’s statements on the Civil Rights Act.

The relevant part of the law prohibits discrimination in private establishments. Let’s take a elderly white woman who is renting out a spare bedroom. The woman gets two applicants who want to live in her spare bedroom: 1) a 18 year-old black male and 2) another elderly white woman. The Civil Rights Act prohibits the woman from discriminating in this case.

It should be clear that this law is totally un-libertarian. To repeat in the simplest terms possible, it’s telling the woman who she is allowed to have live in her house! If the government can do this, there is no logically consistent limit to the government’s ability control (formerly) private property.

This law is clearly only justifiable by leftist logic. For example, “after three-plus centuries of slavery and another century of institutionalized, state-sponsored racism . . . the exclusion of blacks from public accommodations wasn’t just a series of uncoordinated private decisions by individuals exercising their freedom of association. It was part and parcel of an overall social system of racial oppression . . .Paul’s grievous error is to ignore the larger context in which individual private decisions to exclude blacks were made. In my view, at least, truly individual, idiosyncratic discrimination ought to be legally permitted . . . but the exclusion of blacks from public accommodations wasn’t like that — not even close.”

To restate this line of reasoning. Slavery and state discrimination were so bad that simply ending these forms of public discrimination was insufficient. Further, idiosyncratic discrimination against one group is tolerable, but if too many people feel this way, then the state must intervene and prohibit private association. (It’s left unstated why it’s ok to discriminate privately until money changes hands, at which case the state must step in.)

Anyway, this leftist logic comes from . . . a libertarian.

The headline at the link promises a libertarian case for the Civil Rights Act, the only one I found was a Leftist case.

If this is what “left-libertarianism” is, you can why the whole concept is bullshit. The obvious end-point of this logic is a state that controls private property and private transactions. The core tenet of libertarianism is immediately swallowed by leftism.

Update: Here’s more confusion:

We could go further than this. Why is “free association” necessarily relative to something territorial? Indeed, there seems to be some tension here between the restrictions of absolutely respecting territorial boundaries and upholding people’s personal freedom. In theory, territorialist notions of property rights (coupled with the expansion of territorial claims in a scarce world) can amount to a defense of excluding someone from the possibility of having any rights at all, since you effectively have to either own land or be invited on to someone else’s land in order to occupy a given space and associate freely. This gets us into much more general questions, but it does relate to segregation: there is good reason for believing that a rigidly territorially segregated society is inherently unfree.

Now, defending private property has become “rigidly territorial?”  As I read this, a society that strongly protects property rights might become a “rigidly territorially segregated society” would therefore be “inherently unfree.”  So, following the Civil Rights Act logic, the only way to free such a society is to have government arrest people, at gunpoint, for thinking improperly and acting on their improper thoughts.

Private property is apparently fine, until it’s misused.  At that point, its misuse must be corrected by the State.

Again, to repeat the lesson, libertarianism loses when it’s combined with Leftism.

(I should note that libertarianism becomes unworkable because society is so unlibertarian.  “Public” discrimination would not have been possible in a libertarian ideal.  Everyone can agree that ending public discrimination was good.  But the Civil Rights Act went further.  It used the power of the state to punish private discrimination that was only practiced on private property.  This action is the absolute antithesis of any meaningful libertarianism.  Hence my conclusion that left-libertarianism is not, at root, libertarian).

I can’t come back to this quote from Hoppe often enough:

The restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic increase in social “discrimination” and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the multicultural-egalitarian life style experiments so close to the heart of the left libertarians.  In other words, libertarians must be radical and uncompromising conservatives.

As I said in my review, “[p]rivate property, for Hoppe, means discrimination.”

5 Responses to Leftist or libertarian?

  1. I think it’s right-libertarianism that is the logical contradiction. As Moldbug and others have pointed out, libertarians make an artificial and theoretical unjustified distinction between the state and other property owners.

    Some forms of left-libertarianism are at least internally consistent. One could describe the maxim of left-libertarianism as, “The political structure should be designed, and the state should act, so as to maximize individual autonomy across all people.” Of course this will allow for state intervention, but according to the theory, only to increase autonomy (by banning private discrimination, etc.). Of course, in practice such a theory will end up justifying any state intervention (“We must fund schools, so we can educate people to be follow autonomous decision makers, and to break down the old controlling patriarchal system”, etc). Nor do I personally agree with the end goal.

    • Foseti says:

      Devin, I agree with everything you said.

      My point is precisely that, as you say, “[o]f course, in practice such a theory [i.e. left-libertarianism] will end up justifying any state intervention.” Hence, “left-libertarianism” is in no way libertarian.

      I would say that your argument and my argument combine to illustrate Moldbug’s point that libertarianism doesn’t really work.

      • On further thought, there is a version of right-libertarianism that makes at least logical sense and is coherent – minarchism. The idea of minarchism is that because a primary property owner answers to no higher authority, it must be democratically controlled to prevent arbitrary amounts of oppression. But because it is democratically controlled, it is very inefficient. Therefore all practical functions and responsibilities should be in the hands of secondary property owners. The state should only handle cases that involve the use of force. And even use of force should probably be delegated.

        The problem with minarchism is that it only works if the population believes in minarchism. That was the case in 1800, but not today, and probably never again. Democracy itself has too many undercurrents that undermine minarchism.

        As for left-libertrianism, there is a branch that is quite different than the version I gave above. Left-libertarians like Artae, Kevin Carson, or Rod Long basically agree with the hard right-libertarians 100% in theory. They just want to start by rolling back the corporate/military state first, rather than the welfare state. And they think that the end result of left-anarchist policies will be less inequality, violence, racism, etc, smaller firms, lessened corporate powers (due to the end of limited liability). I think that they are simply wrong in this prediction. A pure market/propertarian system would end up quite unequal, patriarchal, corporate, and particularist (or as the left would put it, racist).

      • I should add – as soon as the market purist left-libertarians start denouncing the Civil Rights Act, they are no longer really left-libertarians. They may think themselves left-libertarians, but they are in denial. They would certainly never be welcome for employment at any left-wing institution ever again.

  2. […] response to my post, Aretae writes, "if you’re lynched for your skin color/sexual preference, it […]

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