Leftist or libertarian?

May 23, 2010

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.”

Immigration again

May 23, 2010

Walter Williams asks if everyone in the world has a right to live in the US.

Roderick Long responds, "yes, of course each individual on the planet has the right to live anywhere she chooses, so long as she violates no one’s rights. . . . being a u.s. citizen does not magically confer special rights on some human beings that are not enjoyed by others."

I don’t know what Long thinks happens when you become a US Citizens, but in reality, you do get a lot of other "rights" that you didn’t have when you were a citizen of, for example, Zimbabwe.

Now, I’ll acknowledge that most of these "rights" (like free healthcare) are bullshit rights. In a just society the "right" to use the state to appropriate healthcare from someone else would not be considered a right, it would be considered theft.

Alas, we do not live in a just society. Ours’ is not even close.

Once again, the real world intrudes on the beautiful theory of libertarianism.

Democracy summarized in one picture

May 23, 2010

From Mr Auster

Reactionary essays

May 21, 2010

At Cato Unbound.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a better one sentence summary of the difference between the reactionary attitude to government and the modern attitude to government than this one:

The rule of the virtuous person is displaced by the explicit control of the centralized state.

The lead essay concludes:

The only true locus of human liberty is to be found in the institutions of civil society, yet our dominant philosophies both regard its requirements for stability, self-sacrifice and generational continuity as an obstacle to individual liberty. So long as we continue to define liberty badly, we will continue to lose it.

The response essay contains:

The ideas offered by Phillip Blond are not so different from those of his honestly claimed intellectual forbears, Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin. It was Carlyle who coined the epithet “dismal science” in his attack on economists like the liberal John Stuart Mill, because they failed to appreciate the attractive stable paternalism of West Indian slave plantations. The conservative elite offers to take paternalistic care of their subjects, and to protect them against the scary and unpredictable forces of the market. The paternalism and protectionism, the insulation of the poor from market forces, make the Tory seem “Red” by comparison with the surrounding commercial society. Indeed, part of what is so striking about Blond’s essay is how thoroughly and self-consciously it returns to the conservatism of those reacting against commercial and democratic modernity in its earliest days.

Of course, there is much to object to in this passage from the reactionary perspective. Are the West Indians better off under "freedom"? Haiti has been on an incredible downward trajectory for well over a Century. Does no one need answer for this crime? And so on . . .

Any chance Moldbug could write reaction?

The failure of conservatism, nicely illustrated

May 21, 2010

Today’s WSJ runs an opinion piece which nicely illustrate the failures of conservatism.

Mr Wallison condemns the Obama administration for taking over the financial sector of the economy: "and now the financial regulatory bill that would control another sixth [of the economy]."

The problem is that the financial sector has already been taken over by the government . . . and the WSJ supported the takeover.

When Congress bailed out the banks, the financial was nationalized. What remains to be seed is how Congress will exercise their new authority. But, make no mistake, the bailouts gave them the authority. If the WSJ didn’t want the banking sector nationalized, it should have been against the bailouts.


May 20, 2010

This is way better than any of these.

Rand Paul and civil rights

May 20, 2010

Apparently Rand Paul is in trouble for not saying that he loves the Civil Rights Act of ’64.

The truth is that if you unreservedly support the Civil Rights Act of ’64, you – by implication – support unlimited government.

The Act allows government to say what you are allowed to do and not to do on your own property. If the government can do this, it can do anything.

Rand Paul has principles and he seems unwilling to throw them under the bus – therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if he can get elected to the Senate. In a truly democratic contest (on a state-wide scale) between one principled person and one normal politician (i.e. an unprincipled person), the principled person is severely handicapped.

Quote of the day

May 20, 2010


Are we going to let government’s wartime central planners control our lives 70 years after the fact? I don’t think so. Not in my case anyway, regardless of what my fellow shoppers say. Sometimes embracing a life of freedom involves taking risks and paying the price. You can have my lard when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

A call for shame

May 20, 2010

I’m also a big fan of shame:

we need a healthy return to shame and its ensuing enforcement of norms and mores. We need to stop allowing science to excuse the new cultural relativism and instead start shaming people into upholding traditional productive norms and mores, regardless of the genetic heritage of whatever peoples we are talking about. Most people, white people included, are not that smart. These middling people need limits on their behavior. Laws are useless. Racial homogenization only creates new despised classes. The only answer is shame.

American society used to shame people for poor decisions. Then we decided that feelings were paramount and shame went by the wayside. And now we find ourselves in our current cultural decline.

In which it is confirmed that I am no longer crazy

May 20, 2010

Crazy-all-the-way-to-the-bank, that is.

Last night my wife suggested that I may need a spot different from under the mattress to store our gold now that it is worth so much.

We got married almost 5 years ago. At that time, gold was worth less than $500/oz (I know remember because she bought me some – she encourages my eccentricities). Now it’s worth close to $1200/oz. That’s what happens to people that save money (i.e. responsible people) when government doesn’t control the money supply.


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