Problems with Libertarians

I was going to always avoid politics here, but its too late. I have been thinking about libertarians in general and Ron Paul in specific and organizing my thoughts against him. However, I do not intend to write much about politics, as fiction and philosophy are so interesting to me. However, philosophy frequently overlaps politics, and this is an election year….

The major issues I have with Ron Paul libertarianism (as I heard it in the presidential debates, and experienced it talking to his supporters) are three. First, the apparent abandonment of the principal by which laws are justified, secondly, the curious insistence that Ron Paul is the ultimate expression of constitutionalism and the embodiment of the American founding, and lastly, his followers seem to frequently think and behave like cult followers.

First Point: I believe that the law is always founded upon someone’s idea of what is moral. If you remove all moral thinking you actually remove all basis for law. The result is generally anarchy which in turn usually breeds tyranny. Without founding laws upon someone’s morals, (if it is one person’s morals, then it is a monarchy, if several persons, an oligarchy, if it is based on the majority opinion of a people who rule themselves, it is a democracy) how can the law say that murder is wrong, or that selling national secrets is wrong, or that rape is wrong? Every argument against these things starts with a form of morality whether the person making the argument uses that word or not. For instance, rape is wrong because it forces one persons will upon another person. The morality here is fairly obvious, just not stated explicitly. It is: “Anything that takes something without consent from someone else is wrong. Anything that does not affect someone else is acceptable.” This seems to me to be the basic morality of the libertarian position. I tend to think it is not comprehensive enough, but that is not my point. It seems to me that a Ron Paul libertarian would, if given their way, make it so that communities who have a different, more extensive, set of morals (like believing that drugs should be illegal) cannot enforce them, while at the same time denying that their laws are based on morality.  I believe that this is an untenable position. It is better to admit that laws are based on what society thinks is moral and then to constantly debate what is moral and immoral and should therefore be legal or illegal.

Second point: This point actually meshes with the last point. It seems to me that somehow, through machinations unknown, a man who has sat in congress for years, who has had no applicable effect on the thinking of his colleagues or the execution of laws, who indulged in the egregious habit of earmarks just like everyone else in congress somehow claims to be ideologically pure, for small government, and a good choice for a leader. He is supposedly a pure conservative, when in fact his actions, regardless of excuses, have been almost identical to the behavior of his colleagues.

Third Point: At some point when a man’s supporters behave like followers of cult leader, speak like followers of a cult lead, and insult anyone who criticizes their leader, it seems to me to be fairly safe to think many of them are cult members. To prove me wrong, any Ron Paul supporters who reads this, I challenge you: in the comments below, describe one moderate to major flaw in your candidate: one thing that makes him less than 95% perfect for the presidency whether from personal life or legislative career. (Of course you can also make the case why he is good for the presidency.) No excuses unless the excuse leaves you at least moderately uncomfortable.

I will start. (I only support Mitt Romney because he is the republican, and I think on the presidential scale that’s the best you can do. I think America needs reforming on the local scale by people like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, and on the federal scale we pick the least bad of two for now.) However, I do now support Mitt Romney. I will probably volunteer for his campaign and at some point I may even send him some of my hard earned money.  However, it deeply disturbs me that although I agree with most things he has said since 2008, he has no political record that matches with these beliefs. I understand the excuse that people change their positions and that he had to deal with a very, very, leftist state, but these excuses make me still feel uncomfortable, and I deal with it while wishing that he was better. I also realize that every politician is going to have done things I don’t like, and I support the ones who do things the most like what I believe. Someone who follows a politician without knowing and dealing with their human shortcomings is remarkably similar to a cult member.

I just found this article, another longer discussion of the problems of Libertarianism (as opposed to my rant).

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10 responses to “Problems with Libertarians

  1. “…If you remove all moral thinking you actually remove all basis for law. ..”

    The moral basis of law in only half the story.

    We are trained to focus exclusively on those who are bound by laws/ morality to the point where we become completely blind to those who make themselves exempt.

    • Well, usually the only people who enjoy a lawless and moral-less society are strong people with weapons. Should I assume you are 6’5″ and well armed? Seriously though, this certainly highlights for all my other readers an extreme version of my first point. If morals were just invented to control people (as an excuse for laws) then the result is anarchy followed by the tyranny of the well-armed.

  2. Abandon TV posted a response more than 1200 words to this. I prefer comments to be more concise, so I won’t approve it. However, if Abandon TV would like to make their point on their blog and link in the comments, I would be happy to permit such a comment comment. Just thought that in all fairness I should let anyone interested know.

  3. Dylan Thomson, your blog article, for lack of a better word, is a piece of crap, and I encourage others to read it to see first hand how incredibly unsubstantiated and effete an attack on Ron Paul it really is. I think the guy who accused Ron Paul of being gay had more teeth to his argument! I will address the three points you make in your article, anyway. First, his actions have not been ‘almost identical to his colleagues’. His voting record has been remarkably constitutional and libertarian for thirty years. He’s voted down every big spending bill, every bail out, every unprovoked war, and has introduced legislation to ‘End the Fed’, which is the title of one of his books. You speak from ignorance when you talk about his earmarks, as you have not even provided Ron Paul’s explanation for it, which is satisfactory. He argues that the Federal Government steals some of his constituent’s money, and he (rightfully and morally) takes some of it back. As for your third pathetic point, you accuse Ron Paul supporters of comprising a cult. A cult is a misguided religious group, which is a subjective characterization, but fair enough. Well, it is not Ron Paul supporters who comprise a misguided religious group. If anyone is a cult, it is people like you who are smitten with Mittens, that neo-conservative flip-flopper without a principled bone in his body. In any case, the status of a man’s supporters is not an argument against the man. Here, you commit a logical fallacy called ‘guilt by association.’ By the way, I will meet your challenge. I do not agree entirely with Ron Paul’s position on the gold standard. Indeed, most people I know who support Ron Paul don’t agree with him 100%. But even if they did, that wouldn’t make Ron Paul any less of a candidate!

    • Patrick, This is twice now you have insulted me which is generally not a good way to convince anyone of anything. Also, thank you for condescending to answer my three points… except I can only count two responses, my first and most important point in entirely philosophical and has nothing to do with Ron Paul, and you failed to mention it. And accusing me of being smitten with mittens is hilarious, since I directly, in my post, describe how exactly opposite to that feeling I am. I am forced to be content with Mitt because a vote for anyone else is a vote for a lawless and terrible president and also because I believe that American reform must start at the state and local level, and Washington will follow. Also, what do you not like about Ron Paul’s position on the gold standard? Your response is so generic that it seems desperate.

  4. Hi. I stumbled upon your blog by accident. I thought I’d share, this blog presents some very good arguments against libertarianism (or propertarians, as they should be called):

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2012/06/debunking-austrian-economics-101.html

    FYI, I’m against keynesianism and social democracy, but this is a good resource.

    Cheers.

  5. Also, I would strongly recommend reading David Graeber’s “Debt: The First 5000 Years”, as it puts huge holes in the common libertarian argument about money and markets and has you thinking about economics in a completely different way (Graeber is an anthropologist, not an economist, go figure). The common libertarian narrative is that market economies have “always existed” and that states emerged only when a few jerks got together and formed them, which then lead to states propping up a ruling class. What Graeber contends is that libertarians have it backwards; historically speaking, the emergence of social classes is what lead to the creation of states, and states created market economies as a weapon of keeping populations in control. Even if you don’t agree with Graeber’s initial point-of-view, his facts are pretty telling.

  6. Pingback: Perfect Candidates | The Dusty Thanes

  7. Pingback: The Libertarian Fad | The Dusty Thanes

  8. John Adams said in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
    Given this nation’s precipitous spiral into postmodernism, we are no longer able to continue as a Democracy. And as much as I would like to see us governed by the original intent of the Declaration and Constitution, I can’t see it being possible.

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