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Neolibertarian
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, December 17, 2004

I've been occassionally asked to give a brief description of Neolibertarianism. Something against which people can compare their own values, to determine whether they are, in fact, Neolibertarians. Very well....

Here's the short version:

  • Pragmatic domestic libertarian; Hawk strong on defense

  • Hobbesian libertarian

  • Big-Tent libertarian

Any of those will do, in a pinch. To expand just a bit, though...

The libertarian ideal of a truly limited government is an utopian dream. In the real world, where powerful interests—individual and collective—compete for the reins of power, there will be violations of the ideals libertarians hold. After all—as a result of their disavowal of power—libertarians are uniquely unqualified to defend their ideals against political opposition.
In his book "The Autobiography of an Idea: Neo-Conservatism Selected Essays 1949-1995", Irving Kristol wrote...
"In our urbanized, industrialized, highly mobile society, people need governmental action of some kind if they are to cope with many of their problems: old age, illness, unemployment, etc. They need such assistance; they demand it; they will get it.

The only interesting political question is: How will they get it?"
Indeed, all the "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop!'" we can muster will not be enough to assuage the natural human desire to "vote themselves largess out of the public treasury", or otherwise seek their own interests.

So, doctrinaire Libertarians are fighting an uphill battle against human nature. And they do so, precisely because they refuse to accept human nature as a part of their political calculation. Economics is the study of how humans allocate scarce resources. Politics is merely a social correlary to economics—the study of the allocation of values.

As Kristol noted—and despite anything Benjamin Franklin may have noted about the trade-off—people will demand security, and they will sacrifice liberty to get it.

Pragmatic libertarians—Neolibertarians—cannot win, but we can ameliorate the loss.

Irving Kristol, in formulating the currently-dominant strain of Republican thought in his essay "A Conservative Welfare State", also wrote:
"The welfare state is with us, for better or worse, and...conservatives should try to make it better rather than worse."
Indeed, Leviathan is with us, for better or worse. Libertarians should try to make it better, rather than worse.

Thus, domestic Neolibertarianism.

On Foreign Policy, Neolibertarianism has probably best been described by Dale Franks, when he wrote:
One of the things that really irks me about the Libertarian Party is how cranky they are about foreign policy, which is to say, they really don't have one. To them the foreigners are suspiciously heathen, and the best thing we can do is ignore them 'til they go away.

Unfortunately ... we live in a Hobbesian world. That kind of ostrich-like behavior doesn't work in a world where fanatics fly planes into skyscrapers. The world is what it is, not what we'd like it to be, and all the UN Commissions and EU conferences you can shake a stick at won't change it.

America, for better or worse, has economic and security interests at stake all over the world. We tried it the Libertarian way for a long time. We got a wake-up call in 1916 when the Germans were so impressed with our neutrality that they offered Mexico a chance to get the Southwest back if they'd join Germany in a war against us. Then, in 1941, our pleasant neutrality was shattered, along with the bulk of our Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Clue: Neutrality isn't always the safest option. Ask the Belgians. They were neutral in August of 1914. And in May of 1940.

So, I'm a libertarian, sure. Right up to the water's edge. Then, all the sudden, I morph into Teddy Roosevelt.
Neolibertarianism is not rampant interventionism - such a foreign policy would be at odds with the concept of a limited government. But, that is not a complete disavowal of it, as Dale also noted: "If the 1930s and 1940s taught us anything it should be that it is no longer possible for us to confine ourselves to our shores secure in immunity from attack. [As] tragic as it may be, sometimes foreigners are going to need to be killed, and I'd rather kill them over in Kaplokistan, than do so by sniping at them from the rubble of San Diego."


If this isn't a terribly specific description of Neolibertarianism, see one of the short descriptions listed above: Big-Tent libertarianism. As with any political movement, there is a broad cross-section of opinions. Neolibertarianism merely attempts to make libertarianism politically relevant, without the exclusionary barriers of the ideological Libertarians.

I believe this describes a great many of us, and a very large portion of the center-right blogosphere.

I also believe this concept needs to be organized, promulgated and made a part of the national discourse. In coming days, we will be initiating a Neolibertarian Blogger Network, including a dedicated blogroll for Neolibertarian Bloggers. If you're interested—or have further ideas—let me know.

UPDATE (Dale):

Let me chime in with my two cents here, too. It seems to me that the Neolibertarian ideal is characterized by a few simple, general propositions:

When given a set of policy choices,
  • The choice that maximizes personal liberty is the best choice.

  • The policy choice that offers the least amount of necessary government intervention or regulation is the best choice.

  • The policy choice that provides rational, market-based incentives is the best choice.


In foreign policy, neolibertartianism would be characterized by,
  • A policy of diplomacy that promotes consensual government and human rights and opposes dictatorship.

  • A policy of using US military force solely at the discretion of the US, but only in circumstances where American interests are directly affected.

Obviously, there's a lot of wiggle room for personal variations in that simple set of propositions, and it leaves plenty of room for debate. But it seems to me that this is as good a start as any in defining the outlines of Neolibertarian policy.

In addition to building up some sort of Neolibertartian blogroll, we will also be aggregating all the RSS feeds from the NeolibNet blogroll here at QandO to provide a one-stop browsing point for all of the Net's member blogs.

I'm sure more features of this sort will occur to us as we develop the idea.

Below are a few of the initial ideas we're kicking around for a logo for the NeolibNet:

   

 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
The logo on the right looks like
that of a company competing with Fedex or American Airlines. The one on the left looks a bit too much like something
from a neofascist militia group. Try
making the snake natural-coloured. Don't
use green, though, or you get the opposite problem.
 
Written By: Kermit
URL: http://
Good posting, good idea. In some form, keep the snake and the "Don't tread on me."
 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
Well, see, here’s the thing about the snake and the 13 red and white stripes. It’s the same color scheme as one of the Gadsden flags, so I really didn’t want to mess around with it too much. But, these things are just the first draft of a logo, so who knows where we’ll end up.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
One thing that has always irritated me about the LP is their utterly inflexible dogma. Case in point, the war on drugs. I agree that we ought to abandon it, yet recognize that not only a war-against-drug-related-crimes ought to ensue, but additionally a program to aid drug addicts rehibilitation. Thats government intervention (at the least it - government subsidised intervention). Yet in the long run, it would lead to less governmental impositions upon our liberties.

Mass transit is another - here in Colorado there is this major interstate that snakes through the Rocky Mountains. You'll remember that a rock slide shut it down, diverting Thanksgiving traffic for more than 200 miles. Well every weekend in the winter, and every weekend in July and August, traffic flow is shut down due to volume alone. Widening the road from two to three lanes - the popular choice - will only fix the problem for five years after the the construction is complete (estimated to take two years). Yet local Libertarian talking head Mike Rosen, among many others, is dead set against much longer termed solutions such as new rail because government, necessarily, will have to be involved. Because they dont want governmental involvment, we'll be limited in our choices of how, and when, to travel as we please.

Too often, Libertarians myopically focus upon immediate, and sometimes incidental, infringements upon personal freedoms at the expense of lasting liberty.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
"In the real world, where powerful interests--individual and collective--compete for the reigns of power ..."

Perhaps you mean "reins of power" ?

 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://
Wordplay. Perhaps ill-advised, I grant.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
To paraphase Nixon, we are all libertarians now. The question (sometimes real, something feigned) is: where shall the line for harm be drawn?

If you implement 'X' (substitute anything you like for 'X', from Social Security reform to gay marriage), you will be harming society immensely, if not irreparably. And that harm will react upon and harm you, Gentle Reader. It is the antithesis of libertarianism to deliberately undertake actions that will harm others.
Claiming that might even be correct!

A better touchstone for neo-libertarianism might be "how do you define 'clear' and 'present' in 'clear and present danger'".
 
Written By: John &amp
URL: http://
I too like the snake and the "Don't Tread On Me" but I would join Kermit in requesting that the snake be made a lighter color. It's so dark that you can barely make out the detail, and you have to look closely to see the coils. Maybe a nice tan color would be good.

And the stripes in the left-hand logo are awfully busy with a snake on top of them.
 
Written By: Wacky Hermit
URL: http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com
Good call - the world needs sane libertarians.

Here's some more litmus tests I hope you can add...

1) If you talk about disbanding the IRS with a straight face, you are not a neolibertarian.

2) If you talk about selling the national parks to the highest bidder, you are not a neolibertarian.

3) If you talk about reversing the 1968 civil rights act, you are not a neolibertarian.

Why not? Because neolibs are pragmatic. Talk like that is a one-way ticket to the land of the politically irrelevant.

Do you agree?
 
Written By: Mike Spenis
URL: http://www.fecesflingingmonkey.com
To be honest, I'm not inclined to engage in exclusivity. The purpose of Neolibertarianism is to make libertarian ideals more politically practical/relevant, and one doesn't do that by excluding people from the coalition.

Having said that: I think 2 and 3 are clearly political losers, and should not be touted. #1, however, *could* be political viable, provided an alternative and reasonable system of taxation was proposed.

I'm not sure what it would be, but I could envision it existing.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I appreciate your desire not to be exclusive, but I think that a certain amount of exclusivity is necessary; things are defined by what they *aren't* just as much as they are defined by what they are.

For example, you've been pretty clear that neolibertarianism can be distinguished from regular, run-of-the-mill libertarianism by its hawkish approach to foreign policy. In short, neolibs are not doves. This does not mean that doves are necessarily excluded, but if the label is to have any meaning, hawkishness must be an attribute that one should expect.

Your desire for pragmatism is both attractive and essential. The lack of pragmatism is almost a defining feature of the regular libertarians, and is probably their greatest failing. Pragmatism does not happen by itself; it must be defined and defended, and the unpragmatic must be explicit rejected.

Inclusiveness is best in small doses; too little alienates potential friends, but too much dilutes your message. Get too diluted and you disappear.

Think about where to draw those lines, and draw them.
 
Written By: Mike Spenis
URL: http://www.fecesflingingmonkey.com
Count me in...I wrote Statism Sucks! to put across a similar message. We (myself and two other authors) are currently updating the book for a publication early next year. I like either logo.
 
Written By: Andrew Ian Dodge
URL: http://www.andrewiandodge.com
How about NLN, rather than NN, maybe with the snake sitting on the L. Seems important to get "Libertarian" in there.
 
Written By: David Aitken
URL: http://
I would avoid using "pragmatic", it is a philosophical term that carries a lot of negative baggage. I recommend "practical" instead.

I am also wary of libertarian because of the baggage it carries but am at a loss to suggest a suitable alternative. Libertine (the proper etymic construction) has been twisted to mean dissolute debaucher.

While I have an appreciation for a practical approach to implementing the agenda of liberty, I find some of the quotes rather defeatist. This policy of accepting man-made conditions as metaphysical is precisely the practice followed by the conservatives (with a few notable exceptions)during the past century. It has not been successful.

I must take issue with kermit’s characterization of the logo as neofascist. It is a combination of the first navy jack and the gadsden, nothing fascist about that!

 
Written By: Tom da Silva
URL: http://
I think you guys would enjoy this or even writing for it. I have posted some articles. Let me know what you think or send in an article for yourself.

http://www.libertyalone.org
 
Written By: Jorge Ludlow
URL: http://libertyalone.org
Sign me up for this network! I’ll be glad to join in the fight.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://locustsandhoney.blogspot.com


You are not libertarians.  You are being deceptive to call yourselves "neolibertarian."  Pick another term.

 
Written By: Real Libertarian
URL: http://www.qando.net
Have the balls to sign your real name and we’ll think about it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/

What you’re describing as neolibertarianism sounds to me more like a slightly right-leaning form of what we currently call "liberalism" than it does like "libertarianism."  Here’s why.  Look at your three principles for choosing domestic policy:

  • The choice that maximizes personal liberty is the best choice.
  • The policy choice that offers the least amount of necessary government intervention or regulation is the best choice.
  • The policy choice that provides rational, market-based incentives is the best choice.
  • I don’t think President Clinton would have had any problem at all endorsing these three principles in the abstract.  The devil is in the details, and here the whole ballgame lies in the question how much government intervention is "necessary"?  You seem to be leaving that basic question unaddressed, except for the political observation that whether a welfare state is necessary or not, you’re going to have one because people are going to want it. 

    Actually, no.  You go further.  You quote approvingly from Kristol’s statement that  "In our urbanized, industrialized, highly mobile society, people need governmental action of some kind if they are to cope with many of their problems: old age, illness, unemployment, etc."  Now, it’s undeniable that many people think they need governmental action for those reasons, and that any political movement that wants to get anywhere needs to deal with this fact. But if you really believe that what Kristol says is true, then you think a welfare state is necessary, and you’re just interested in preventing it from getting bigger and more intrusive than you think it "has" to be.  Which is a respectable position, but I don’t see what point there is in labelling it a form of libertarianism. 

    It seems to me that the label "libertarianism" refers to the belief that, no, people don’t need governmental action (if by this we mean redistributive intervention rather than enforcement of a rule of law) in order to cope with their problems, that in fact such actions tend for various reasons to cause more problems than they solve, that private voluntary associations of various types (from families to charities to corporations) are a much better way of addressing those problems.  And while the question "how do we get there from here" certainly leaves room for "big tent" associations of many kinds, the ultimate goal has to be finding ways to push the envelope constantly in the direction of more liberty and less government, to show people through persuasion—and more importantly, by concrete example— that they are better off not relying a welfare state, in such a way as gradually to redefine the mainstream in that direction.

    I don’t think you can do this effectively if you concede that the welfare state is morally necessary or politically inevitable.  If you think the former, then why would you fight against it all?  If you don’t, then accepting the latter is merely defeatism.  By all means, be pragmatic in deciding how to make your case and how to take small steps leading in the right direction.  But if you have no principled goal, you have no direction to go in.

     
    Written By: CMN
    URL: www.cmnewman.blogspot.com
    The devil is in the details, and here the whole ballgame lies in the question how much government intervention is "necessary"?  You seem to be leaving that basic question unaddressed, except for the political observation that whether a welfare state is necessary or not, you’re going to have one because people are going to want it.

    Well, how much is necessary?  There’s no single answer to that.  Opinions differ widely, and all the table-pounding in the world isn’t going to bring about consensus.  It’s best to start from a clear observation about the lay of the land....and the lay of the land is that people demand *some* degree of government intervention.    The goal from there is to shape it in the best direction.

    Which is a respectable position, but I don’t see what point there is in labelling it a form of libertarianism.
    Limited government, free markets, individual freedom.  That’s quite libertarian.   If you’re starting with the "absolute freedom" premise that any intervention is un-libertarian, then we’ll have to part ways.  Bring that up in political discussion, and you’ll immediately be ignored.  So it’s not even worth discussing.

    I don’t think you can do this effectively if you concede that the welfare state is morally necessary or politically inevitable.
    We said nothing at all about "moral" necessity.   As regards political inevitability:  in the short to medium term, it certainly is.  It may even be inevitable in the long term.   But calling that position "defeatism" is ridiculous.  Perhaps you have some keen insight about how human nature will be changed overnight by the power of your arguments, but I think a few millenia of history argues otherwise.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net

    Please Drop the snake and find a new slogan.  No one will get this, dont you want to be taken seriously and be approachable?  Just as anything else needing to be marketed, the image can make or break the substance (unfortunately). 

    I agree with the comment above, the two examples definately  look, sound and feel like a "Militia" ! Were they designed by the male species?

    I just happened on this site today, while researching entitlements to tribes in Alaska.  I will be back  and find myself hopeful after perousing the blogs, definitions  I may have found ideologically where I belong!

     
    Written By: Anonymous
    URL: http://www.qando.net
    "Limited government, free markets, individual freedom.  That’s quite libertarian.   If you’re starting with the "absolute freedom" premise that any intervention is un-libertarian, then we’ll have to part ways.  Bring that up in political discussion, and you’ll immediately be ignored.  So it’s not even worth discussing."

    Enough with the hand-waving sneering. Individual rights are absolute. fullstop. McQ, I am absolutley amazed at this. I mean that - I’m shaking my head in staggering disbelief.  I don’t know these other people here from Adam. But I read you from your infrequent appearances on usenet. I know that you know better than this!

    Do these people not understand the difference between what positive obligations and negative obligations are - with respect to the difference between "individual rights" (which are absolute) and mere "legal permissions" (which are government inventions, created at the stroke of a pen and dependent upon any-way-the-wind-blows collectivist/subjectivist morality) ?

    This is "neo-libertarianism" is false-flag recruiting, and I think if you "neo-libertarians" were honest with yourself, you would know that.

    Linking anything that goddamn Trotsky-loving Irving Kristol has to say with libertarianism is a sick joke.

    Oh.. and yes Bruce, I would dearly love to sign my own name to what I post these days. Problem is, I don’t particularly want to end up on some kind of no-fly list, or get strip searched on my way in or out of the country for harbouring "treasonous" ideas.

    TANSTAALG - There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Ltd Government
     
    Written By: Edward T Bear
    URL: http://blankouttimes.blogspot.com/
    Enough with the hand-waving sneering.

    So you guys keep asserting.  Meanwhile,  the "
    liberation of the human mind has been best furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe - that the god in the sanctuary was a fraud. One horse-laugh is worth ten-thousand syllogisms." 

    You claim you have rights?  Then, show me why your existence imposes and obligation on nature.  Prove it.  Until then, I’m much more interested in how we can make government more libertarian, not Utopia. 

    Do these people not understand the difference between what positive obligations and negative obligations are - with respect to the difference between "individual rights" (which are absolute) and mere "legal permissions"
    I do.   I’m quite familiar with Locke.   And while the government can wipe permissions away with a pen, they can do the same thing with these "rights" you postulate.   You may insist on a "right" to life all day, for all the good it will do you if a stronger power decides to confiscate that life from you.   So, since "Natural Rights" are no protection at all against their violation, you’d better start looking for a way to facilitate some protection. 

    Linking anything that goddamn Trotsky-loving Irving Kristol has to say with libertarianism is a sick joke.
    Ad hominem?    For a bunch of Randians, you guys sure do have problems with logic. 

     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
       Sign me up, I am a devotee of Hobbes and a small-l libertarian who thinks the LP is a bunch of doctrinaire fantastists whose preferred policies amount to suicide. And I consider the Declaration of Independence to be the among the greatest political achievements in the history of mankind.
     
    Written By: thoughtomator
    URL: http://thoughtomator.blogspot.com
    I’m having trouble telling the difference between "neo-Libertarianism" and a sort of neo- (small-o) objectivism that incorporates minimalist government with ferocious defense of objectivist principles from internal and external enemies.  And I see no reason why a neo-objectivist would not be able to maintain his principles as an active participant in a Republican administration, although he may never get much influence.  In the Democratic madhouse, that would be impossible.  I would remove myself from the word "libertarian" and let Harry Browne have it all to himself.
     
    Written By: Robert Speirs
    URL: http://conundrum.blogspot.com
    I’ve always liked the old orange of the whigs, how about an orange logo.  How about "orange liberals" or something, "neolib" is a little too close to "neocon" and will probably just confuse people.
     
    Written By: Anonymous
    URL: http://www.qando.net
    I’ve always liked the old orange of the whigs, how about an orange logo.  How about "orange liberals" or something, "neolib" is a little too close to "neocon" and will probably just confuse people.
     
    Written By: Anonymous
    URL: http://www.qando.net
    Oh. My. God. Does somebody want to explain to me the difference between neo-conservatism and this so-called "neo-libertarianism"? If this is what libertarianism has come to, I’d just as soon take my chances with the Social Democrats. When I look at this noise, in comparison Canada or Sweden look downright appealing. Whatever the failings of Social Democracies, at least the countries that practice it are tolerably livable. What your proposing here would likely give any self-respecting paleocon an apoplexy, let alone a libertarian. Whatever you’re proposing here may be "neo", but it sure ain’t libertarian! Better the Nanny State than the Bully State. Thanks, but no thanks!
     
    Written By: Anonymous
    URL: http://www.qando.net
    Well that’s your choice of course, but if that’s your take on this, you’re
    right .. we really don’t need anyone like you.
     
    Written By: McQ
    URL: http://www.qando.net/

    Well, how much is necessary?  There’s no single answer to that.  Opinions differ widely, and all the table-pounding in the world isn’t going to bring about consensus.  It’s best to start from a clear observation about the lay of the land....and the lay of the land is that people demand *some* degree of government intervention.    The goal from there is to shape it in the best direction.

    I have no quarrel with your observation of the political lay of the land, and if perfect consensus were needed to have an effective political movement then there would be little hope.  Please don’t peg me as some starry-eyed dogmatist going after you for ideological impurity.  I’m actually quite sympathetic to your stated goals and trying to point out what I perceive to be an important and ultimately pragmatic problem.  My problem is that while your stated principles sound great to me as far as they go, I’m afraid that they’re too general and abstract to provide much guidance as to what is "the best direction."  If there is a range between rigid doctrinairism and empty sloganeering, I’m afraid that you’re erring slightly in the direction of the latter.  I don’t want to push you off into the other side, I want to see if we can’t find a sweet spot.  Perfect consensus on the layout of utopia may be impossible, but working consensus on some desirable interim destinations should not be.

    Limited government, free markets, individual freedom.  That’s quite libertarian.   If you’re starting with the "absolute freedom" premise that any intervention is un-libertarian, then we’ll have to part ways. 

    OK, let’s jettison "absolute freedom" as a political goal.  Let’s see... we already have limited government, free-but-not-absolutely-free markets, and fairly-extensive-but-not-absolute individual freedom.  I guess we’ve won!  Certainly, our stated principles give us no basis from which to argue that any existing government intervention ought to be scaled back, or that any proposed new intervention should be rejected so long as it arguably falls short of totalitarianism. 

    I think you’re right that "absolute freedom" is a non-starter.  But I also think that remaining totally agnostic about what constitutes "necessity" will leave your movement just as ineffectual as it would if you went around quoting chapter and verse from Atlas Shrugged.  Because in a political battle between people clamoring for some intervention that they think serves their immediate interests or cures some great evil, and people whose only rallying cry is that government should remain "limited," the latter will get rolled every single time.   If you don’t have some answer to the question "limited to what," then you’ve conceded by default that any limit is sufficient.

    We said nothing at all about "moral" necessity.  

    If you’re saying that you think Kristol is wrong about the need (actual, not perceived) for a welfare state, then I’m glad to hear I misinterpreted the seemingly approving way in which you quoted him.

    As regards political inevitability:  in the short to medium term, it certainly is.  It may even be inevitable in the long term.   But calling that position "defeatism" is ridiculous.  Perhaps you have some keen insight about how human nature will be changed overnight by the power of your arguments, but I think a few millenia of history argues otherwise.

    We seem to be talking past each other.  I don’t think I suggested that I thought human nature would be changed overnight. I believe I used the phrase "gradually redefine the mainstream."  I think that to do that, you have to start with some concrete definition that is presently outside the mainstream.  Exactly how far outside is certainly an important question of strategy, and I take your point that straying too far will repel people rather than attract them.  All I’m suggesting is that you have to take a stand somewhere.  Even if there will always be disagreements over application, you have to at least articulate some principles that you believe distinguish "necessary" interventions from ones that wrongfully impinge on "free markets and individual liberty."  Otherwise your slogans are meaningless on the ground.

    One might take issue with your reading of history and argue that in fact it has always been the ideological "extremists" who actually made progress moving things in their direction.  Milton Friedman pointed out how most of the platform of the Socialist Party from early in the last century wound up getting enacted even though almost no Socialists were ever elected to office.  Arguably they succeeded in redefining the mainstream in their direction.

    On the other hand, you have a good response to this.  You can argue that it wasn’t really the socialists who won, it was the liberal democrats who were able to effectively move the country toward socialism by renouncing "socialism" in name.  Perhaps you see the neolibs playing a similar role, moving the country toward liberty by renouncing "dogmatic laissez faire ideology."  To which I say, more power to you, it’s a crucial role.  But I still say you need to keep two things in mind.  1) Even as you distinguish yourself from the dogmatic hardliners, you need them.  Because they provide the reference point against which you can plausibly claim to be mainstream, and they provide the intellectual spadework that you can translate into salable political programs.  2)  The liberal democrats had concrete political goals that they wanted to achieve, not merely abstract slogans about "social welfare." 

     
    Written By: CMN
    URL: www.cmnewman.blogspot.com
    This "neolibertarianism" sounds to me like neoconservatism minus the influence of the religious right.  It hardly seems worth the bother of creating a new movement.
     
    Written By: Anonymous
    URL: http://www.qando.net

    Okay, see....

    THIS is exactly why I’ve never been a "libertarian".  You guys want (on the surface) the same damned things *I* want for this country but you let your most outer fringes (i.e., the legalize heroin, and complete open borders policy) voices cry out as hard as the rest of you (moderate libertarians) do to the media.

    The Republicans have Roy Moore on one side of their Party versus Rudy Juliani on the other side.  To the public, they appear to be the extremists of the party on both the far right and far left.

    Conversely, the Democrats have Nancy Boxer and Zell Millar.  Same thing.

    Why both parties defeat you guys year after year after year is because you SUCK at marketing!  You need to decide amongst yourselves who your "leader" / "face of libertarianism to Joe Public" is and market the HELL out of him and his ideals. 

    The Reform Party almost got it right but again, same thing...  the radicals of the party started arguing with each other and the party was lost.  NINETEEN PERCENT of the friggin’ POPULAR vote in one election, then IRRELEVANT in the next.  All because of the bickering and the focus on the outer fringes of their party as opposed to sticking with the few IMPORTANT, KEY, COMMON ideals / "axes to grind" that brought these individuals together in the first place.

    When you guys get your crap together, I’d like to hear back from you.  Email me if that ever happens and remove "NOSPAM" from the mail header.  Oh, and last but not least - best of luck to you guys.  I mean that.

     
    Written By: Gun-Toting Liberal
    URL: http://www.guntotingliberal.com
    Put me down as one of your group. See my blog:

    http://dissectleft.blogspot.com
     
    Written By: John Ray
    URL: http://
    My problem is that while your stated principles sound great to me as far as they go, I’m afraid that they’re too general and abstract to provide much guidance as to what is "the best direction."
    I understand your point, but there’s a good reason for that: too specific, and you exclude people from the Tent. That has been the problem with libertarianism, so Neolibertarianism is an attempt to make the coalition more political inclusive. Views on the philosophy may differ, but coalitions are more than single philosophies.
    I don’t want to push you off into the other side, I want to see if we can’t find a sweet spot
    A very fair observation. I think we’re trying to define and resolve those kind of issues on the blog, among various Neolibertarians and in The New Libertarian. There is, and will remain, very significant disagreements, even among the three bloggers here. That’s an interesting thing, but it doesn’t prevent coalition.
    Certainly, our stated principles give us no basis from which to argue that any existing government intervention ought to be scaled back, or that any proposed new intervention should be rejected so long as it arguably falls short of totalitarianism.
    We’re more directionally focused then ideal-state focused. If more liberty is better, then we’ll have to make utilitarian arguments to that end. "because it’s liberty" is just not marginally more appealing than [an in-between state] to the majority of the electorate.
    If you’re saying that you think Kristol is wrong about the need (actual, not perceived) for a welfare state, then I’m glad to hear I misinterpreted the seemingly approving way in which you quoted him.
    What did Kristol say about the "need" for a welfare state? He said it was a reality that had to be dealt with. That battle has already been lost to fundamental human nature, which will demand some degree of security in a democracy.
    Milton Friedman pointed out how most of the platform of the Socialist Party from early in the last century wound up getting enacted even though almost no Socialists were ever elected to office.
    Funny you mentioned that. I discussed it in some detail in the article I’ve written for The New Libertarian.
    You can argue that it wasn’t really the socialists who won, it was the liberal democrats who were able to effectively move the country toward socialism by renouncing "socialism" in name.
    That’s precisely what I did. There’s substantial reason to believe that is the case. Essentially, the Socialists infected the Democratic Party with a fatal case of egalitarian outcome-ism. You’ll read more about it soon enough. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    Thanks for responding. I’ll look forward to reading the piece you describe.
     
    Written By: CMN
    URL: www.cmnewman.blogspot.com
    Neolibertarianism is a seductive idea, like the Chicago School of Milt Friedman. Their mistakes will for that reason be even more persuasive than the worst mistakes hidden among the interwoven fallacies that are Keynesianism and dialectical materialism. And for that reason, knowing that the path to hell is paved with good intentions, the NN has a good chance of contraverting its core principles in the same way the Chicago School has.

    I applied for two reasons: a) when it errs, I want to be able to set it straight, and b) if it succeeds in developing its principles, I want to be able to expand upon their work. I fear what it may become if it fails in its goals, and I want to help it grow so it will not become another lumbering pseudo-defender of liberty.
     
    Written By: Tom
    URL: http://pooklekufrconstitutionalism.blogspot.com
    Ah, sane libertarians, I was beginning To think I was alone.

    Now all we have to do is start a mass movement.
     
    Written By: BrerRabbit
    URL: http://
    This is very solid. Long overdue.

    Libertarianism is too important to be left in the hands of Libertarians. Small-l hyphenated libertarian-conservatives like myself (we are a vast throng, I assure you) will be drawn to this.

    I will follow this with interest.
     
    Written By: Lexington Green
    URL: www.chicagoboyz.net
    Sounds right to me.

    Where do I sign up?
     
    Written By: Old Whig
    URL: http://oldwhig.blogspot.com
    "Neolibertarian" is a pretty good name for this impulse. (Within the LP we sometimes call ourselves Normaltarians, but of course neither term is very good for marketing outside the small-L libertarian universe. We just need to make the LP more inclusive of neolibertarians.)

    I call it an impulse rather than a set of ideas, because there is very little clarity here about the principles of neolibertarianism. Even if intentional this is unfortunate, because inclusiveness doesn’t require vagueness.

    Granted, it’s clearly stated here that hawkishness is a tenet of neolibertarianism, and this is sure to be a divisive point with a lot of libertarians (especially Libertarians). This is to be expected, because foreign policy is essentially an issue of franchise (like abortion or immigration), and franchise is orthogonal to libertarianism. Libertarianism says that franchised agents have certain rights, but it doesn’t have a rigid way of defining whether "franchised agents" includes fetuses or foreigners. So just as the LP itself is tolerant of supporters of fetal franchise, the libertarian movement as a whole needs to be tolerant of various views on immigration and foreign policy. (Full disclosure: I oppose fetal franchise, support immigration limited by consideration of skill/fluency/wealth/persecution, and support liberation of foreigners from their tyrants when benefits to human liberty clearly exceed costs.)

    In addition to inclusiveness on issues of franchise, I submit that the other pillar of neolibertarianism should be rejection of anarchocapitalist extremism in favor of a libertarian minarchism based on the analysis of market imperfection provided by modern economics. My attempt at a primer on this is at http://marketliberal.org/Lesson.html#Rivalry. It’s simply not the case that neolibertarianism needs to be seen as unprincipled or compromising or watered-down. Instead, we need to reclaim the "libertarian" label from the anarchocapitalists, and explain that we are every bit as principled as they, except our principles are smarter than theirs. We also outnumber them, so there is no reason we shouldn’t work to make the LP a big-tent party whose face is neolibertarian.

    Brian Holtz
    2004 Libertarian candidate for Congress, CA14 (Silicon Valley)
    2005-03-30
     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    Jon,

    Thanks for this. It does point to fundamental questions, however, that it doesn’t address. I believe those must be clarified before the contest will resolve.

    you proceed, as do we all, from certain presumptions. But as do most of us, you present them as absolutes. But since yours and nearly everyone else’s competing views of the fundamentals are essentially unexamined, that’s where the conflict begins, and why it doesn’t resolve.

    Your primary assumption is as to the quality of "human nature". Apparently you believe it to be something of greedy and boorish. Most people do. However, that is a politically-promoted religious description which, however strongly promoted over the centuries, and which, however evident in the short run (one or two generations at a time), the great length of history tends to disprove.

    Sure, you look around you and you see murder, avarice and hypocrisy. And you see it down through time as well. But history is written by people, and people account for events in accord with their world-views, so it’s not surprising that history describes the worst, where its writers believe in original sin and a negative "human nature".

    Yet not only is there no proof that "human nature" is what its detractors have consensualized, there is ample evidence that it is quite the opposite, if one looks at it.

    For example, even history concedes that there is a creative-for-good impulse threaded throughout everything. This is the source of law, of morality, and even, yes, of government. Government wasn’t invented simply for survival as an instinct. If it were, then it would by definition be nothing more than brute force in waiting, as most Libertarians see it to be.

    Government is merely an administration of laws. It is to the laws we must look for the reason. If people are by nature greedy and boorish, then there is no explaining any of the "higher" impulses: justice (as opposed to retribution), fairness (as opposed to advantage), art (as opposed to device), and so on.

    No, hidden by history, denied by the church, and embarrassing to Leviathan, there is a streak of goodness underlying all and way too often shining through to be left out of the equation.

    In fact, it could be posited that "human nature" is ultimately all good, but sullied by a compounding of bad behavior, misunderstanding, ignorance and wrong solutions.

    My view, from the day I first heard of the LP and became a Nevada founder, is that this alternate understanding of human nature underlay the decision to formulate the LP as it was. I find some evidence of this in the fact that so many of the original founders were involved in or interested in the human potential movement.

    Of course, I also find evidence of confusion among them in certain of their other assumptions, one among these being the idea that goodness is an evolutionary benefit rather than an innate characteristic.

    At any rate, if you truly believe that human nature is destructive to society and the general peace, then you will also believe that more government is necessary than I do, given that I believe that human nature is at worst neutral and upon experience constructive and thus aspiring to greatness. And you will believe that your bigger small government must be permanent, where I believe that my smaller small government can eventually be dissolved altogether, upon the actualization of a single event: the eradication of the insanity that leads to bad behavior.

    And unlike as is assumed by most, I believe that sanity is possible and that insanity can be "cured". Thus, I see that while Utopia is by definition a place that does not exist, it is not a place that cannot exist, given the time....

    Yup. That will be quite a log time. But it’s a hell of a lot shorter than the forever that your view predicts for bad behavior.

    So there’s the real, fundamental, question: on balance is human nature evil or good?

    I believe that even our disaster’punctuated history shows that it is good: the constant upward struggle toward beauty and altruism cannot be denied. Hell, it’s even the misapplied impulse behind our antagonists, the socialist, fascists and cohabitors of Leviathan: they just want to make the world a better place too, within the parameters of their world-views.

    It’s ironic when you view it my way: we’re all after the same ideal, we just see it a different way. But then, that’s why the "old-timer" Libertarians thought the LP would be more of an educational than an electoral function, at least for the first epoch.

    Following on that, it seems to me that we don’t have so much a need to redefine the party and weaken its principles so much as we need to control this new generation’s demand for immediate results.

    Not that I am willing to wait for another 33 years! But I do think that we can do two simple things that will get us where we need to be, without redefining the party in any radical way.

    First, we do need a couple of minor changes in the platform to clarify that we are looking for an ultimate long-term result and that some of our goals are not immediate. The best example of that would be the insertion of the word "eventual" into Platform item I-18, Immigration, "Transitional Action: We call for the [eventual] elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally."

    Of course, changes such as this will ripple out to necessitate that various position papers and other writings be modified. More important, such changes as this will severely restrict the anarcho-capitalist influence on Libertarian positions.

    Second, we must amplify our appeal to the higher ideal, and even more we must take the higher road.

    By this I do not mean that we cannot call a liar a liar and a thief a thief (when we can defend the allegation). But we should be selling the dream, not apologizing for our failure to contextualize it.

    It’s not that difficult. All we have to do is continually point out that the megaparty has divided its sales pitch between fear and guilt, and then offer inspiration instead.

    I know this sounds hokey to those pessimistic "pragmatists" among your readers, but as a practitioner in the human potential movement myself, and as a former speaker and candidate, I know it works, for I have done it.

    Which, unfortunately, brings us to the most basic criticism of the LP that I can conceive: as a group, we have never "done it".

    That’s why I oppose recasting the essence of the LP. Most of the people who are complaining that we never accomplish anything have never done it right. Just ask them. How many have actually read the platform? The reformatting is over a year old now, and it’s a much better sales tool. Yet most people I ask are still operating off some ancient version: it hasn’t occurred to them that it’s changed since the first time they read it.

    No, we don’t have 33 years’ experience in politics as libertarians, we have, at best, one years’ inept experience done 33 times.

    So let’s be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. There’s a chasm of difference between being an incrementalist and being a moderate. We must be incrementalsts because the world only changes in steps, however large or small. But we must not moderate our principles, lest we become, too much akin to our competition, merely opportunists.

    Allen Hacker,
    Santa Clara County (CA) Chair & CEO
    Past member, LPC ExComm
    1980 US Senate Candidate, Nevada
    LPN founder

    -0-
     
    Written By: Allen Hacker
    URL: http://aescir.net
    there is very little clarity here about the principles of neolibertarianism.
    Read TNL. Briefly, I’d suggest that Neolibertarianism is less about prescriptions, and more about forming a coalition. Libertarians disagree—in fact, that’s the one thing they do rather well—so any "we believe X, not Y" approach to policy will necessarily exclude people. Not good for coalition-building.

    As far as organizing principles: we believe that individual rights are very productive, and free markets are the best way to organize society. We believe that liberty is the best way to achieve whatever individual goals people have, and that, as has been said by others, the government which governs least, governs best. We differ on the nature of "rights", but we agree on the value of them.
    it’s clearly stated here that hawkishness is a tenet of neolibertarianism, and this is sure to be a divisive point with a lot of libertarians
    Hawkishness is probably an imprecise word, because it implies necessarily pro-war, pro-intervention policies. I’m not sure that’s the case. We simply have a different standard for US involvement. We don’t believe that US defense starts and stops at the US border. Reasonable people may disagree about the policy prescriptions that flow from such a philosophy.
    I submit that the other pillar of neolibertarianism should be rejection of anarchocapitalist extremism
    Yeah, may take on that is that they’re welcome to join the coalition, but they’re not welcome to start trying to exclude others on the basis of purity. I don’t see Neolibertarianism a "watered down", so much as clear-eyed about reality. Contact me, and we can discuss it further.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    So there’s the real, fundamental, question: on balance is human nature evil or good?
    What is "evil", and what is "good"? Who gets to define them? I’d argue that "good and evil" are fairly subjective, depending on individual valuation. I’d also argue that there’s no single answer. Humans are a combination of what we’d all agree is good and evil. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We have competing interests, and we will ascribe moral judgement to those interests, as it conflicts with our own interests.

    You strike me as closer to the Natural Law Party position. Is that accurate?
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    I wouldn’t agree that this neolibertarian perspective involves an assumption that human nature is "greedy and boorish" or "destructive to society and the general peace". In fact, what I like about market liberalism (i.e. Cato-style economics-based libertarian minarchism) is that its principles work well over a wide range of possible values for the hard-to-measure quantity called "human nature". It assumes that people act mainly out of rational self-interest, and accommodates problems like people having imperfect or asymmetric information, being subject to moral hazard and transaction costs, or even being tempted by crime. Humans would have to be much more altruistic for anarchocapitalism to be preferable, much more economically suggestible for socialism to be preferable, or morally much weaker for authoritarianism to be preferable.

    Assuming that human nature falls somewhere in the wide range over which market liberalism is preferable, I disagree that aligning one’s worldview with this reality constitutes some form of compromise or moderation of a principled ideal. As I see it, market liberalism _is_ a principled ideal. The above alternatives are _also_ principled ideals—they just happen to be in conflict with any plausible model of human nature. (I’m glad you recognize that socialists and authoritarians are generally well-intentioned given their respective worldviews. That’s an insight about opposing ideologies that is all too rare in politics.)

    When you say that Utopia can exist, I wouldn’t agree if this involves the assertion that the Big Three market imperfections—involving natural resources, natural monopolies, and public goods—could cease to occur. These problems aren’t due to some accident of human genetics or culture, nor are they due to "insanity", but rather are easily predicted by a game-theoretic analysis of any resource-constrained system involving agents that are remotely rational and self-interested. (For example, no amount of "sanity" or idealized human nature can change the dynamics of the non-iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma.)

    My hope is that economics is doing to political theory what chemistry did to alchemy. I have indeed read the reformatted LP platform, and it still has the five crippling anarchistic mistakes that make it read like alchemy to anyone who believes what modern economic science tells us. I don’t see fixing these mistakes as "weakening its principles" or as some compromising shortcut to more-immediate results. We still seek the gold of human liberty, but the way you get gold is by arming yourself with the periodic table, and not with anarchocapitalist potions and incantations.

    I’m willing to be educated about how the party and the movement can best inspire the public. However, I don’t see how anything we do can be very inspiring if we’re asking people to ignore the anarchocapitalist elephant in the middle of the room. I had been a small-l libertarian for twenty years, but I ignored the LP because it positions itself as the party of gun nuts, pot heads, and anarchists. (It took a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of Dubya and a GOP Congress to convince this atheist that his bedfellows on the Right were not serious about shrinking government.) I doubt anything we say can inspire people to ignore the party position of no public roads or currency, no tax-financed safety net or police protection, and all drugs and weapons for sale (even to kids). These positions make the LP a non-starter, and if there were a button that would permanently and unalterably enact the entire platform, I wouldn’t push it.

    The reason I’m in the LP is that it’s the only party that wants to move America northward on the Nolan chart. America is stuck in the ditch of nanny-statism, and I’ll gladly pull with anybody who wants to get it out. The time to part company will only come when America is back on the high road of liberty, and the misguided few still want to keep pulling toward the opposite ditch of anarchy.

     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    As a former LP candidate and a libertarian-leaning Republican hawk, I probably fit the bill. However, I think it would be a mistake to define a hawkish foreign policy as a tenet of neolibertarianism. That’s just the flip side of the paleolibs’ knee-jerk opposition to U.S. intervention abroad. In fact, neither of these positions is inherently libertarian or unlibertarian. Both are "a-libertarian," assuming such a word exists.

    This is not to say that libertarians can’t or shouldn’t debate foreign policy on libertarian terms. By all means, we should. If invading country X is the only viable way to end tyranny there or in the region, and can be done at an acceptable cost, then theoretically all libertarians ought to support such action. If it’s more likely to backfire and result in more terrorist/police states, none should. But that’s how the debate ought to go, with each side attempting to show why its ideas are more likely than the alternative to leave the world freer on balance. Neither side should be able to claim extra libertarian brownie points solely for being hawkish or dovish, per se.

    Another example is abolishing the IRS. Jon, you noted that it is theoretically possible to put forth a viable alternative. The most obvious is a national sales tax, which many libertarians support. Let them explain why a tax on consumption is more compatible with libertarian philosophy than a tax on income generally. Personally, I tend to think the opposite, as a neutral tax on all income is less likely to distort individuals’ behavior than a tax that provides disincentives to consume and incentives to save (or vice-versa).
     
    Written By: Xrlq
    URL: http://xrlq.com/
    I wouldn’t agree that this neolibertarian perspective involves an assumption that human nature is "greedy and boorish" or "destructive to society and the general peace". In fact, what I like about market liberalism (i.e. Cato-style economics-based libertarian minarchism) is that its principles work well over a wide range of possible values for the hard-to-measure quantity called "human nature". It assumes that people act mainly out of rational self-interest, and accommodates problems like people having imperfect or asymmetric information, being subject to moral hazard and transaction costs, or even being tempted by crime. Humans would have to be much more altruistic for anarchocapitalism to be preferable, much more economically suggestible for socialism to be preferable, or morally much weaker for authoritarianism to be preferable.

    Assuming that human nature falls somewhere in the wide range over which market liberalism is preferable, I disagree that aligning one’s worldview with this reality constitutes some form of compromise or moderation of a principled ideal. As I see it, market liberalism _is_ a principled ideal. The above alternatives are _also_ principled ideals—they just happen to be in conflict with any plausible model of human nature. (I’m glad you recognize that socialists and authoritarians are generally well-intentioned given their respective worldviews. That’s an insight about opposing ideologies that is all too rare in politics.)

    When you say that Utopia can exist, I wouldn’t agree if this involves the assertion that the Big Three market imperfections—involving natural resources, natural monopolies, and public goods—could cease to occur. These problems aren’t due to some accident of human genetics or culture, nor are they due to "insanity", but rather are easily predicted by a game-theoretic analysis of any resource-constrained system involving agents that are remotely rational and self-interested. (For example, no amount of "sanity" or idealized human nature can change the dynamics of the non-iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma.)

    My hope is that economics is doing to political theory what chemistry did to alchemy. I have indeed read the reformatted LP platform, and it still has the five crippling anarchistic mistakes that make it read like alchemy to anyone who believes what modern economic science tells us. I don’t see fixing these mistakes as "weakening its principles" or as some compromising shortcut to more-immediate results. We still seek the gold of human liberty, but the way you get gold is by arming yourself with the periodic table, and not with anarchocapitalist potions and incantations.

    I’m willing to be educated about how the party and the movement can best inspire the public. However, I don’t see how anything we do can be very inspiring if we’re asking people to ignore the anarchocapitalist elephant in the middle of the room. I had been a small-l libertarian for twenty years, but I ignored the LP because it positions itself as the party of gun nuts, pot heads, and anarchists. (It took a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of Dubya and a GOP Congress to convince this atheist that his bedfellows on the Right were not serious about shrinking government.) I doubt anything we say can inspire people to ignore the party position of no public roads or currency, no tax-financed safety net or police protection, and all drugs and weapons for sale (even to kids). These positions make the LP a non-starter, and if there were a button that would permanently and unalterably enact the entire platform, I wouldn’t push it.

    The reason I’m in the LP is that it’s the only party that wants to move America northward on the Nolan chart. America is stuck in the ditch of nanny-statism, and I’ll gladly pull with anybody who wants to get it out. The time to part company will only come when America is back on the high road of liberty, and the misguided few still want to keep pulling toward the opposite ditch of anarchy.

     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    Jon Wrote:

    ::What is "evil", and what is "good"? Who gets to define them? I’d argue that "good and evil" are fairly subjective, depending on individual valuation. I’d also argue that there’s no single answer. Humans are a combination of what we’d all agree is good and evil. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We have competing interests, and we will ascribe moral judgement to those interests, as it conflicts with our own interests.::

    > It’s not difficult to understand from what I wrote what I meant by good and evil. To dismiss an entire argument by going to an extreme of redefinition is an insincere response. Reminds me of all the other extremists who’ve wrecked the party. <

    ::You strike me as closer to the Natural Law Party position. Is that accurate?::

    > No. I was here first! <

    Then,
    At 08:10 AM 3/31/2005, Brian Holtz wrote:

    ::Hi Allen,

    ::I wouldn’t agree that this neolibertarian perspective involves an assumption that human nature is "greedy and boorish" or "destructive to society and the general peace". ....::

    > I think you mistook this part of my post, indeed maybe all of it, to be a response to what you wrote; it was a response to Jon, who did make assertions about human nature that indicated the assumptions I addressed. I’m glad you seem to have noticed that I’m not walking around in a New-age fog thinking that everyone is ready. <

    ::When you say that Utopia can exist, I wouldn’t agree if this involves the assertion that the Big Three market imperfections—involving natural resources, natural monopolies, and public goods—could cease to occur. These problems aren’t due to some accident of human genetics or culture, nor are they due to "insanity", but rather are easily predicted by a game-theoretic analysis of any resource-constrained system involving agents that are remotely rational and self-interested. (For example, no amount of "sanity" or idealized human nature can change the dynamics of the non-iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma.)::

    > The question of limitlessness is a religious one, and next to that indefensible stratum there is only the hope that true enlightened self-interest reaches far enough to recognize the commonality of humanity’s general situation vis-a-vis these three overwhelmingly apparent environmental constraints. That’s the path to a more perfect world where abuses of realities don’t occur. Of course, then, anything I say from that point about what utopia would be will necessarily conflict with the classical definitions. Still, as with freedom, I think the ultimate experiential limits are far beyond the imagination of most, and that gives me a lot of room for hopefulness. <


    ::My hope is that economics is doing to political theory what chemistry did to alchemy. I have indeed read the reformatted LP platform, and it still has the five crippling anarchistic mistakes that make it read like alchemy to anyone who believes what modern economic science tells us. I don’t see fixing these mistakes as "weakening its principles" or as some compromising shortcut to more-immediate results. We still seek the gold of human liberty, but the way you get gold is by arming yourself with the periodic table, and not with anarchocapitalist potions and incantations.::

    > I agree. However, the way you’ve written them shows that you, too, have not coupled the progress of libertarianism with an increase in responsibility. Only on the presumption that people will remain tight with their funds can you make the argument that private charity won’t cover the real needs of the unfortunate. And maybe the failure to expect that there will be far fewer unfortunate with much less pressing need in a world increasingly filled with more-successful people.

    > As for basic security services, constitutionally I include police with military, and unlike so many libertarians, I revere the constitution as a truly inspired blueprint, second only to the Articles of Confederation minus one or two of its fatal flaws. (Well, actually, in most part the Constitution of the Confederacy was superior to the US constitution at the time.)

    > I have no problem with the taxation scheme defined in the constitution pre-16th Amendment. And in truth, I can make the argument that sales tax, properly applied, is nothing more than an excise, in that it is, as the California Republic defines it, an excise on franchise. However, that franchise is not the mere fact of breathing as the FTB would have us all concede, but is instead, corporate status. The state creates corporations and endows them with unnatural privilege, and for this benefit they must pay. The problem occurs when the FTB (and IRS) presumes to extend this fee against the truly private sector, transactions between non-corporate entities.

    > But that’s a political issue, and one with which we could make a lot of hay, if libertarian theorists would cease to lump artificial persons in with the real thing.

    > Meanwhile, excise taxes at the various levels can cover the true needs of guaranteeing liberty and prosecuting real criminality. Most of what we spend police and court budgets on is wrong, and if people can be brought to a better understanding they will be willing to forgo trying to enforce morality and behavior norms through law.

    > A large part of that proper education is the admission, no, the insistence, that this will all take time and must be done hand-in-hand with improving the "human factor". <

    ::I’m willing to be educated about how the party and the movement can best inspire the public. However, I don’t see how anything we do can be very inspiring if we’re asking people to ignore the anarchocapitalist elephant in the middle of the room. I had been a small-l libertarian for twenty years, but I ignored the LP because it positions itself as the party of gun nuts, pot heads, and anarchists. (It took a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of Dubya and a GOP Congress to convince this atheist that his bedfellows on the Right were not serious about shrinking government.) I doubt anything we say can inspire people to ignore the party position of no public roads or currency, no tax-financed safety net or police protection, and all drugs and weapons for sale (even to kids). These positions make the LP a non-starter, and if there were a button that would permanently and unalterably enact the entire platform, I wouldn’t push it.::

    > IF it included removing the insanity that debilitates people from being good enough for the result, I’d push it in an instant. Given that position, I doubt you’d be so quick to refuse. <

    ::The reason I’m in the LP is that it’s the only party that wants to move America northward on the Nolan chart. America is stuck in the ditch of nanny-statism, and I’ll gladly pull with anybody who wants to get it out. The time to part company will only come when America is back on the high road of liberty, and the misguided few still want to keep pulling toward the opposite ditch of anarchy.::

    > The anarchists are themselves in need of education, then, aren’t they? They’re generally too glib, too isolated in their perception of humanity, and too unwilling to negotiate. However, those are the nutty side of the spectrum. The rational anarchists would by definition have to be connected with people and cognizant of reality.

    > But of course, and for always, I believe, there will always be a need for a little government, and the question will always be, "How little?". For the moment, I, like you, am just doing everything I can to get it to the point where it’s almost invisible.

    > As for inspiring the public, the first requirement is that we stop being defensive about having an imperfect platform in an imperfect world. By definition, it is impossible to have a perfect anything in an imperfect world. But there’s our salvation. Instead of apologizing and letting accusation and horror drive our conversation, we should be accentuating the positive by selling the need and demand for a better more responsible and truly caring world, with the libertarian philosophy as the only political foundation that even comes close to working in that world. And by extension therefore, the LP, warts and all and naturally constrained by reality and the development of that better world, is the best-bet political party for getting there.

    > After all, as the world improves, we can define one of the benefits of that as the rehabilitation of the irrational anarchists too. With that comes a more perfect platform, increasingly so to the degree that we no longer need it.

    > I love paradox. It’s so much more interesting than denial.

    > It’s been suggested to me that the constitution be our platform. But no, I think that’s the ideal, and that the platform must describe the means. So, I’d say, the constitution is the ceiling on how high we can get on libertarianism.

    > Of course, that’s a strict-reading literal says-what-it-means approach to the constitution, not the popular interpretive wiggle-room justify-anything model.

    > We can challenge the cult of the omnipotent state without taking issue with limited government. We just have to be as intelligent as you are to see and work the distinction.

    -0- <
     
    Written By: Allen Hacker
    URL: http://aescir.net
    Jon Wrote:

    ::What is "evil", and what is "good"? Who gets to define them? I’d argue that "good and evil" are fairly subjective, depending on individual valuation. I’d also argue that there’s no single answer. Humans are a combination of what we’d all agree is good and evil. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We have competing interests, and we will ascribe moral judgement to those interests, as it conflicts with our own interests.::

    > It’s not difficult to understand from what I wrote what I meant by good and evil. To dismiss an entire argument by going to an extreme of redefinition is an insincere response. Reminds me of all the other extremists who’ve wrecked the party. <

    ::You strike me as closer to the Natural Law Party position. Is that accurate?::

    > No. I was here first! <

    Then,
    At 08:10 AM 3/31/2005, Brian Holtz wrote:

    ::Hi Allen,

    ::I wouldn’t agree that this neolibertarian perspective involves an assumption that human nature is "greedy and boorish" or "destructive to society and the general peace". ....::

    > I think you mistook this part of my post, indeed maybe all of it, to be a response to what you wrote; it was a response to Jon, who did make assertions about human nature that indicated the assumptions I addressed. I’m glad you seem to have noticed that I’m not walking around in a New-age fog thinking that everyone is ready. <

    ::When you say that Utopia can exist, I wouldn’t agree if this involves the assertion that the Big Three market imperfections—involving natural resources, natural monopolies, and public goods—could cease to occur. These problems aren’t due to some accident of human genetics or culture, nor are they due to "insanity", but rather are easily predicted by a game-theoretic analysis of any resource-constrained system involving agents that are remotely rational and self-interested. (For example, no amount of "sanity" or idealized human nature can change the dynamics of the non-iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma.)::

    > The question of limitlessness is a religious one, and next to that indefensible stratum there is only the hope that true enlightened self-interest reaches far enough to recognize the commonality of humanity’s general situation vis-a-vis these three overwhelmingly apparent environmental constraints. That’s the path to a more perfect world where abuses of realities don’t occur. Of course, then, anything I say from that point about what utopia would be will necessarily conflict with the classical definitions. Still, as with freedom, I think the ultimate experiential limits are far beyond the imagination of most, and that gives me a lot of room for hopefulness. <


    ::My hope is that economics is doing to political theory what chemistry did to alchemy. I have indeed read the reformatted LP platform, and it still has the five crippling anarchistic mistakes that make it read like alchemy to anyone who believes what modern economic science tells us. I don’t see fixing these mistakes as "weakening its principles" or as some compromising shortcut to more-immediate results. We still seek the gold of human liberty, but the way you get gold is by arming yourself with the periodic table, and not with anarchocapitalist potions and incantations.::

    > I agree. However, the way you’ve written them shows that you, too, have not coupled the progress of libertarianism with an increase in responsibility. Only on the presumption that people will remain tight with their funds can you make the argument that private charity won’t cover the real needs of the unfortunate. And maybe the failure to expect that there will be far fewer unfortunate with much less pressing need in a world increasingly filled with more-successful people.

    > As for basic security services, constitutionally I include police with military, and unlike so many libertarians, I revere the constitution as a truly inspired blueprint, second only to the Articles of Confederation minus one or two of its fatal flaws. (Well, actually, in most part the Constitution of the Confederacy was superior to the US constitution at the time.)

    > I have no problem with the taxation scheme defined in the constitution pre-16th Amendment. And in truth, I can make the argument that sales tax, properly applied, is nothing more than an excise, in that it is, as the California Republic defines it, an excise on franchise. However, that franchise is not the mere fact of breathing as the FTB would have us all concede, but is instead, corporate status. The state creates corporations and endows them with unnatural privilege, and for this benefit they must pay. The problem occurs when the FTB (and IRS) presumes to extend this fee against the truly private sector, transactions between non-corporate entities.

    > But that’s a political issue, and one with which we could make a lot of hay, if libertarian theorists would cease to lump artificial persons in with the real thing.

    > Meanwhile, excise taxes at the various levels can cover the true needs of guaranteeing liberty and prosecuting real criminality. Most of what we spend police and court budgets on is wrong, and if people can be brought to a better understanding they will be willing to forgo trying to enforce morality and behavior norms through law.

    > A large part of that proper education is the admission, no, the insistence, that this will all take time and must be done hand-in-hand with improving the "human factor". <

    ::I’m willing to be educated about how the party and the movement can best inspire the public. However, I don’t see how anything we do can be very inspiring if we’re asking people to ignore the anarchocapitalist elephant in the middle of the room. I had been a small-l libertarian for twenty years, but I ignored the LP because it positions itself as the party of gun nuts, pot heads, and anarchists. (It took a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of Dubya and a GOP Congress to convince this atheist that his bedfellows on the Right were not serious about shrinking government.) I doubt anything we say can inspire people to ignore the party position of no public roads or currency, no tax-financed safety net or police protection, and all drugs and weapons for sale (even to kids). These positions make the LP a non-starter, and if there were a button that would permanently and unalterably enact the entire platform, I wouldn’t push it.::

    > IF it included removing the insanity that debilitates people from being good enough for the result, I’d push it in an instant. Given that position, I doubt you’d be so quick to refuse. <

    ::The reason I’m in the LP is that it’s the only party that wants to move America northward on the Nolan chart. America is stuck in the ditch of nanny-statism, and I’ll gladly pull with anybody who wants to get it out. The time to part company will only come when America is back on the high road of liberty, and the misguided few still want to keep pulling toward the opposite ditch of anarchy.::

    > The anarchists are themselves in need of education, then, aren’t they? They’re generally too glib, too isolated in their perception of humanity, and too unwilling to negotiate. However, those are the nutty side of the spectrum. The rational anarchists would by definition have to be connected with people and cognizant of reality.

    > But of course, and for always, I believe, there will always be a need for a little government, and the question will always be, "How little?". For the moment, I, like you, am just doing everything I can to get it to the point where it’s almost invisible.

    > As for inspiring the public, the first requirement is that we stop being defensive about having an imperfect platform in an imperfect world. By definition, it is impossible to have a perfect anything in an imperfect world. But there’s our salvation. Instead of apologizing and letting accusation and horror drive our conversation, we should be accentuating the positive by selling the need and demand for a better more responsible and truly caring world, with the libertarian philosophy as the only political foundation that even comes close to working in that world. And by extension therefore, the LP, warts and all and naturally constrained by reality and the development of that better world, is the best-bet political party for getting there.

    > After all, as the world improves, we can define one of the benefits of that as the rehabilitation of the irrational anarchists too. With that comes a more perfect platform, increasingly so to the degree that we no longer need it.

    > I love paradox. It’s so much more interesting than denial.

    > It’s been suggested to me that the constitution be our platform. But no, I think that’s the ideal, and that the platform must describe the means. So, I’d say, the constitution is the ceiling on how high we can get on libertarianism.

    > Of course, that’s a strict-reading literal says-what-it-means approach to the constitution, not the popular interpretive wiggle-room justify-anything model.

    > We can challenge the cult of the omnipotent state without taking issue with limited government. We just have to be as intelligent as you are to see and work the distinction.

    -0- <
     
    Written By: Allen Hacker
    URL: http://aescir.net
    > It’s not difficult to understand from what I wrote what I meant by good and evil. To dismiss an entire argument by going to an extreme of redefinition is an insincere response. Reminds me of all the other extremists who’ve wrecked the party. <
    Well, I thought it was easy to understand what you meant by good and evil, but apparently I was wrong. I’m using standard definitions of "good and evil", so you’re going to have to be more explicit. I’ll warn you up front that I regard all such moral judgements as subjective.

    At any rate, if you’re selling some sort of quasi-scientology stuff, I’m not buying. And, in any event, I don’t appreciate being called "insincere" for attempting to respond as best I can to your inpenetrable hints.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    I think it would be a mistake to define a hawkish foreign policy as a tenet of neolibertarianism.
    That’s a good point, and "hawk" is probably too loaded a term, as it implies a militaristic outlook. We don’t advocate "for the hell of it" militarism. Rather, we reserve the right—and recognize the value—of a foreign policy that does not exclude the use of force. In essence, we are Realists who place a value on freedom, rather than simply valuing the State. (though, insofar as a State protects freedom, we value that State, too)

    Like you, I am very skeptical of the NST. We’ve actually discussed that a great deal here in the past. It’s great in theory, but it has a number of practical problems.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    I wouldn’t agree that this neolibertarian perspective involves an assumption that human nature is "greedy and boorish" or "destructive to society and the general peace". In fact, what I like about market liberalism (i.e. Cato-style economics-based libertarian minarchism) is that its principles work well over a wide range of possible values for the hard-to-measure quantity called "human nature". It assumes that people act mainly out of rational self-interest, and accommodates problems like people having imperfect or asymmetric information, being subject to moral hazard and transaction costs, or even being tempted by crime. Humans would have to be much more altruistic for anarchocapitalism to be preferable, much more economically suggestible for socialism to be preferable, or morally much weaker for authoritarianism to be preferable.

    Assuming that human nature falls somewhere in the wide range over which market liberalism is preferable, I disagree that aligning one’s worldview with this reality constitutes some form of compromise or moderation of a principled ideal. As I see it, market liberalism _is_ a principled ideal. The above alternatives are _also_ principled ideals—they just happen to be in conflict with any plausible model of human nature. (I’m glad you recognize that socialists and authoritarians are generally well-intentioned given their respective worldviews. That’s an insight about opposing ideologies that is all too rare in politics.)

    When you say that Utopia can exist, I wouldn’t agree if this involves the assertion that the Big Three market imperfections—involving natural resources, natural monopolies, and public goods—could cease to occur. These problems aren’t due to some accident of human genetics or culture, nor are they due to "insanity", but rather are easily predicted by a game-theoretic analysis of any resource-constrained system involving agents that are remotely rational and self-interested. (For example, no amount of "sanity" or idealized human nature can change the dynamics of the non-iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma.)

    My hope is that economics is doing to political theory what chemistry did to alchemy. I have indeed read the reformatted LP platform, and it still has the five crippling anarchistic mistakes that make it read like alchemy to anyone who believes what modern economic science tells us. I don’t see fixing these mistakes as "weakening its principles" or as some compromising shortcut to more-immediate results. We still seek the gold of human liberty, but the way you get gold is by arming yourself with the periodic table, and not with anarchocapitalist potions and incantations.

    I’m willing to be educated about how the party and the movement can best inspire the public. However, I don’t see how anything we do can be very inspiring if we’re asking people to ignore the anarchocapitalist elephant in the middle of the room. I had been a small-l libertarian for twenty years, but I ignored the LP because it positions itself as the party of gun nuts, pot heads, and anarchists. (It took a once-in-a-lifetime alignment of Dubya and a GOP Congress to convince this atheist that his bedfellows on the Right were not serious about shrinking government.) I doubt anything we say can inspire people to ignore the party position of no public roads or currency, no tax-financed safety net or police protection, and all drugs and weapons for sale (even to kids). These positions make the LP a non-starter, and if there were a button that would permanently and unalterably enact the entire platform, I wouldn’t push it.

    The reason I’m in the LP is that it’s the only party that wants to move America northward on the Nolan chart. America is stuck in the ditch of nanny-statism, and I’ll gladly pull with anybody who wants to get it out. The time to part company will only come when America is back on the high road of liberty, and the misguided few still want to keep pulling toward the opposite ditch of anarchy.

     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    Jon, I’d like to read TNL, but the link has never worked for me. We’re in violent agreement that the movement should include anyone pulling northward on the Nolan chart, and I don’t even mind if anarchocapitalists "start trying to exclude others on the basis of purity". I only mind if they actually succeed in excluding more north-pullers than they attract. For example, is their extremism what is currently keeping you out of the LP?

    Your point is well-taken that the more specific we are, the more likely we are to find disagreement with would-be allies. However, neolibertarianism seems already defined here as a pair of disagreements with orthodox Libertarianism over its anarchism and absolute non-interventionism. So I’m just pointing out that there is available a principled response to the charge—already made multiple times in this conversation—that neolibertarianism is unprincipled.

    Yes, hawkishness is a quite inadequate word. I somewhat prefer your formulation that defense of America doesn’t stop at the border. I even more prefer Xrlq’s formulation that opposition to tyranny shouldn’t end the borders. I would phrase it as: the state’s duty to protect human liberty does not end completely at the state’s borders.

    Xrlq, I like the term "paleolibertarian". I agree with you that the debate should be "each side attempting to show why its ideas are more likely than the alternative to leave the world freer on balance". Unfortunately, paleolibertarians care less about the net liberty in the world than about having clean hands. Instead of actively minimizing the overall incidence of coercion, they’re content merely to set a good example by abstaining from coercion. They may claim that this is in fact the best way to minimize coercion, but I suspect they just want to maximize their personal moral certitude and minimize the need for thinking about trade-offs in the real world. This thesis explains both their anarchist extremism at home and their absolutist non-interventionism abroad.
     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    Jon, I’d like to read TNL, but the link has never worked for me. We’re in violent agreement that the movement should include anyone pulling northward on the Nolan chart, and I don’t even mind if anarchocapitalists "start trying to exclude others on the basis of purity". I only mind if they actually succeed in excluding more north-pullers than they attract. For example, is their extremism what is currently keeping you out of the LP?

    Your point is well-taken that the more specific we are, the more likely we are to find disagreement with would-be allies. However, neolibertarianism seems already defined here as a pair of disagreements with orthodox Libertarianism over its anarchism and absolute non-interventionism. So I’m just pointing out that there is available a principled response to the charge—already made multiple times in this conversation—that neolibertarianism is unprincipled.

    Yes, hawkishness is a quite inadequate word. I somewhat prefer your formulation that defense of America doesn’t stop at the border. I even more prefer Xrlq’s formulation that opposition to tyranny shouldn’t end the borders. I would phrase it as: the state’s duty to protect human liberty does not end completely at the state’s borders.

    Xrlq, I like the term "paleolibertarian". I agree with you that the debate should be "each side attempting to show why its ideas are more likely than the alternative to leave the world freer on balance". Unfortunately, paleolibertarians care less about the net liberty in the world than about having clean hands. Instead of actively minimizing the overall incidence of coercion, they’re content merely to set a good example by abstaining from coercion. They may claim that this is in fact the best way to minimize coercion, but I suspect they just want to maximize their personal moral certitude and minimize the need for thinking about trade-offs in the real world. This thesis explains both their anarchist extremism at home and their absolutist non-interventionism abroad.
     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    Jon, I’d like to read TNL, but the link has never worked for me. We’re in violent agreement that the movement should include anyone pulling northward on the Nolan chart, and I don’t even mind if anarchocapitalists "start trying to exclude others on the basis of purity". I only mind if they actually succeed in excluding more north-pullers than they attract. For example, is their extremism what is currently keeping you out of the LP?

    Your point is well-taken that the more specific we are, the more likely we are to find disagreement with would-be allies. However, neolibertarianism seems already defined here as a pair of disagreements with orthodox Libertarianism over its anarchism and absolute non-interventionism. So I’m just pointing out that there is available a principled response to the charge—already made multiple times in this conversation—that neolibertarianism is unprincipled.

    Yes, hawkishness is a quite inadequate word. I somewhat prefer your formulation that defense of America doesn’t stop at the border. I even more prefer Xrlq’s formulation that opposition to tyranny shouldn’t end the borders. I would phrase it as: the state’s duty to protect human liberty does not end completely at the state’s borders.

    Xrlq, I like the term "paleolibertarian". I agree with you that the debate should be "each side attempting to show why its ideas are more likely than the alternative to leave the world freer on balance". Unfortunately, paleolibertarians care less about the net liberty in the world than about having clean hands. Instead of actively minimizing the overall incidence of coercion, they’re content merely to set a good example by abstaining from coercion. They may claim that this is in fact the best way to minimize coercion, but I suspect they just want to maximize their personal moral certitude and minimize the need for thinking about trade-offs in the real world. This thesis explains both their anarchist extremism at home and their absolutist non-interventionism abroad.
     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    (When I reload this page to check for new posts, it reposts my last comment. Feel free to delete the extra copies—and to fix the software :-)

    Allen, I didn’t see a quote from Jon implying that human nature is "greedy and boorish" or "destructive to society and the general peace". I’m skeptical that "true enlightened self-interest" can make obsolete the well-understood problems caused by non-rivalry and non-excludability (viz., free riders, negative externalities, and inefficient competition in natural monopolies). When I look as far into the future as I can, I don’t see how these problems could be absent from any system of rational self-interested free agents. Such absence would probably require some form of eusociality or Borg-like distributed hive mind, which I doubt is desirable or even possible for intelligent agents.

    I just don’t agree that the free-rider problem would not cause an under-production of charity even in Libertopia. By calling for taxation rather than donations to fund the military, you seem to acknowledge that the free-rider problem causes under-production of military defense. Aren’t you thus also guilty of skepticism over the "increase in responsibility" that would happen in Libertopia? I’d love to be wrong about human nature here, but I just don’t see any plausible case against the usual economic analysis of these problems. So I still disagree with your premise that "insanity" is what makes it inadvisable to push the Unalterable LP platform Enactment button. If you say "there will always be a need for a little government", does that mean that some level of "insanity" is inevitable?

    My complaint about the platform isn’t merely that it’s "imperfect". My complaint is that it has at least four crippling flaws. And yes, when I’m speaking to a non-libertarian audience, I accentuate the positive about the Party and the movement. But given how much more attractive I think the party could so easily be, I think that fixing the party’s platform is the most effective way to grow it. If you have a chunk of spinach stuck between your front teeth, you don’t just smile bigger or at twice as many people. You get a toothpick. :-)

    Incorporation is an interesting topic. I’m troubled by the charge that limited shareholder liability is an invitation to fraud. However, I suspect that all the benefits of incorporation could be derived from an equivalent form of limited partnership in which there must always be at least one general partner with unlimited liability. As for alternative taxation, I admit that excises on corporate transactions is a new one to me. At first blush it seems more reasonable than the usual proposals of geolibertarianism and contract insurance, but I’m not as tax-o-phobic as most libertarians. I prefer to tax consumption rather than property or income, because there are natural limits to how high a consumption tax can go.

     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    For example, is their extremism what is currently keeping you out of the LP?
    Inclusively, but not exclusively. Perhaps their extremism and exclusivity is what keeps me out, but only because they dominate the LP in such a way that the LP can not become a Big Tent party. The LP cannot form coalitions. While I have serious policy disagreements with the LP, I also have serious policy disagreements with everybody. The problem with the LP is that those policies I dislike are set in stone, and no potential marginal victories will make them reconsider them.
    I prefer to tax consumption rather than property or income, because there are natural limits to how high a consumption tax can go.
    Yes, but those natural limits are also reasons a consumption tax will be very politically unlikely to exist by itself. (i.e., sales tax rates of 30% are likely to produce massive evasion—and, necessarily, higher tax rates—which makes them politically unlikely) And the problem with a consumption tax + income tax is that it’s easier to ramp total taxation up higher.

     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    Alas, I had been wandering in the wilderness, wondering if I was the only libertarian feeling abandoned when the majortiy of the staff at Reason came out against the war in Iraq. Told, I was, by many in the comments section that I cannot be a libertarian if I support this "imperialist aggression."

    And yes, we need a sane party without the fruit loops that inhabit the LP. So often when I tell people that I am a libertarian they have asked if I’m then with the militia movement. The LP has a rep for being a nest of loons, and for good reason.

    So, sign me up for the neolibertarian venture, and I hope it takes off. But I dislike the snakes in the logos, and "don’t tread on me" smacks militia-like. I would like to get away from all of that.
     
    Written By: Mona
    URL: http://
    I’m kind of disappointed that in this entire thread, with all its complaints about the LP’s failure to significantly affect national politics, nobody has posited the Free State Project as a viable solution.

    ~6,500 liberty lovers have already pledged to move to the free state of New Hampshire, and over 100 have already made the move to join the ~250 FSP members who were NH natives before the state was chosen. The native culture in NH is conducive to liberty, as evidenced by the state’s lack of an income tax, sales tax, seatbelt laws, and motorcycle helmet laws. FSP members (known as "porcupines" because they’re nonaggressive creatures, but not the sort you’d want to step on) are already working with existing pro-liberty groups to move NH politics in a pro-freedom direction, and they’re already achieving results!

    This movement includes anybody who is "pulling north" on the Nolan chart, anybody who can sign the statement of intent posted on the website at freestateproject.org. Neolibertarians are welcome, as are paleo-libertarians, geo-libertarians, anarchocapitalists, libertarian Republicans, and libertarian Democrats (yeah, there are even a couple of these). The FSP is not a political party, just a bus of sorts, one designed to attract liberty loving people to NH, where their individual and non-FSP-coordinated group efforts will make NH even freer as the rest of the country becomes even more statist.

    And besides, NH is already a libertarian paradise compared to most states...

    Again, please visit:
    freestateproject.org

    and here’s an article on what is already being accomplished in NH:
    http://www.freemarketnews.com/pview/5831/1168/html

     
    Written By: Matt Simon
    URL: http://
    So, sign me up for the neolibertarian venture, and I hope it takes off. But I dislike the snakes in the logos, and "don’t tread on me" smacks militia-like. I would like to get away from all of that.
    You’re welcome aboard, Mona. I hope you’ll stick around and contribute where you can. For what it’s worth, we’ve already changed logos, though. So that’s out of the way.
    I’m kind of disappointed that in this entire thread, with all its complaints about the LP’s failure to significantly affect national politics, nobody has posited the Free State Project as a viable solution.
    I’m a fan of the FSP in theory. I don’t know how well implementation will go, but I think the idea is very, very admirable, and I’d consider moving to such a state at some point in the future.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    The problem is that if Neo-Libertarians ever DO get into office, they won’t be that much different from the people already there. With-out principles, you’ll just be another run-of-the-mill politician to be bought amd sold just like all the rest of them.

    Libertarianism is not utopian. Free people are very capible of defending themselves. And they are also capible of volentary charity—whether that charity is "liberating" somebody from a foreign despot, or feeding the poor. It’s all these people, who think government can wave it’s magic wand and pass a law to create society who are utopian. Those people who think they can create a more perfect society by stealing money and waging war and destruction are the utopians.

    By the time neo-libertarian get into power they’ll be just as statist and socialist as the Republicans and Democrats. Because they’ll have had to make too many compromises to get there. In short, you’ll be coopted by the state (or vice versa).

    Libertarians are on the fringe precisely because we’re principled. Eventually the tide will turn, and through education we can show people that a volentary society works better then government. Then the principled libertarians will be there. They won’t be compromised. That’s why education is important. But selling out, like you guys advocate in the name of "pragmatism" defeats the purpose. It turns you into hypocrits to both statists and libertarians.

    I see people talking about the Free State project in this thread. It’s a good project, and I’d encourage people who TRULY want to shrink government to join. But we don’t need neo-libs. They’re almost as statist as your typical mainstream conservative or liberal these days. So I’d appreciate if neo-libs didn’t join the FSP and stayed where they are.

    Tracy
     
    Written By: Tracy
    URL: http://www.geocities.com/tracysaboe/
    With-out principles, you’ll just be another run-of-the-mill politician to be bought amd sold just like all the rest of them.

    Absolutely correct ... so where do you get the idea that neolibs don’t have or wish to follow their principles?

    Libertarianism is not utopian. Free people are very capible of defending themselves. And they are also capible of volentary charity—whether that charity is "liberating" somebody from a foreign despot, or feeding the poor. It’s all these people, who think government can wave it’s magic wand and pass a law to create society who are utopian. Those people who think they can create a more perfect society by stealing money and waging war and destruction are the utopians.

    Uh, ok ... but who is it that is in power right now? Those "utopians" who believe all you decry.

    So how do YOU plan to change that?

    By the time neo-libertarian get into power they’ll be just as statist and socialist as the Republicans and Democrats. Because they’ll have had to make too many compromises to get there. In short, you’ll be coopted by the state (or vice versa).

    And of course, you prefer to pretend that refusing to get involved somehow betters the situation I suppose? Pray tell how?

    Libertarians are on the fringe precisely because we’re principled.

    Actually libertarians are on the fringe because they refuse to join the process and have an effect. Somehow they think that just holding to their principles is good enough.

    How’s that been working out for you so far?
     
    Written By: McQ
    URL: http://www.qando.net/
    Libertarianism is not utopian. Free people are very capible of defending themselves.
    Ok, if it’s not utopian, then tell me of the libertarian society in history. if "free people" are capable of defending themselves, then tell me why so many of them have tended to end up dead. And, after they’ve had enough of that, they’ve formed governments.
    By the time neo-libertarian get into power they’ll be just as statist and socialist as the Republicans and Democrats. Because they’ll have had to make too many compromises to get there.
    Here’s the thing. Maybe you know some way to engage in politics without compromising, but I don’t. Actually, that’s not quite true. There have been a few of them. Genghis Khan comes to mind. Stalin. Mao. They were all pretty unwilling to compromise in the face of democratic opposition.

    So, your plan is either 1) a revolutionary overthrow of democracy, or 2) force 51% of the public to agree with you on every particular.

    It must be, because unless you accomplish one of those two points, you’re just whistling dixie.
    So I’d appreciate if neo-libs didn’t join the FSP and stayed where they are.
    Wow, congratulations. I didn’t know things were going so well that the FSP was already in a position to reject insufficiently pure libertarians. I’ll expect to hear that New Hampshire is rejecting all federal funds in no time flat.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    Wow, congratulations. I didn’t know things were going so well that the FSP was already in a position to reject insufficiently pure libertarians. I’ll expect to hear that New Hampshire is rejecting all federal funds in no time flat.
    Don’t worry, John. Anyone who can agree to the statement of intent is welcome. Interpretation is up to the signer, which is part of the beauty of it. FSP members often disagree on issues with one another (as I often disagree with Tracy, who is an anarchist), but so what if we don’t agree on everything? Just move to NH and do whatever YOU think will promote freedom. Oh, and don’t hurt anybody or violate anybody’s property. There is no "purity" test for the FSP, and most who have already moved are surprisingly practical, normal-seeming folks (the 30 or so I’ve met). Many have never been activists before moving to NH—never felt they could change anything—but now they are learning.
     
    Written By: Matt Simon
    URL: http://
    Well, I’ve deloped into an anarchist over the past 2 years. I used to be a Republican. Indeed, I voted for Bush the first time. It was his launch of the War in Iraq that turned me away from the Republican party. It was then that I read Larry Elder’s book "10 things you can’t say in America" and I was set down the road to libertarianism. Yes, I realize Elder’s a bit hawkish. But I do believe he’s misguided. You really can’t support the war, but oppose the Patriot Act, TSA, and the welfare state at the same time. It’s War the government uses as an excuse for all these things. War is the health of the State. The government gets bigger at a much faster rate during war time, all through history—BOTH in domestic and foreign affairs. I just don’t see how you can support warfare—especially preemptive warfare—and expect to shrink the government.

    Mike is right. Their is no purity test. The goal of the FSP is simply to shrink government by 2/3rds. I gladly welcome anybody who wants to do that. I’m just afraid that if neo-libertarians did get into power, they’d want to do it so gradually, that it would never happens.

    Another problem I had this some of the Neo-Libertarians on this thread is the "You shouldn’t talk about abolishing the IRS outright, because you’ll look silly." Well, the fact is, their were two bills in NH last year regarding the IRS. One would have nullified the income tax with-in the state. (In the tradition of Jefferson and Medisons’ Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, respectively.) and the other would have set up a commission to study the Constitutionality and Legality of the Income Tax. These are actual bills on the house floor that were voted on. Would "neo-libs" be telling their reps to not support or vote for bills like this because "it would make them look silly." It seems to me that these pragmatic libertarians many times could be shooting themselves in the foot.

    My personal tent is wider then "free market anarchy" I would work with-anybody who wants to shrink government by 2/3rds.

    The main thing I care about is abolishing government schools, and property taxes. And these are twin issues. Of government schools were abolished, property taxes (in most locations) would be around .04% of assessed value. With marginal amount of triming in other places it could be abolished entirely. These are both very possible goals in many parts of New Hampshire. There are several organizations in New Hampshire working on these goals. And many of the current residents want to abolish the state-wide property tax as it was thrust on them by the state supreme court—including a majority of the Republican Party. There’s a large homeschooling movement in NH already. And the Liberty Scholorship Fund, and the Liberty Tree Schooling Association are already viable charities. And the current anti-government schooling organizations (both Christian and Secular) are growing as well. Would neo-libertarians, hurt our cause by telling these organizations to not advocate that because it makes them sound nutty? Ineed, would you be opposing these organizations, allthewhile telling yourself you’re making libertarianism more appealing to the masses?

    From the reports I hear, these ideas (Abolishing the IRS, Abolishing government schools, etc.) really don’t sound all that crazy in NH. I would hate for a neo-libertarian to assume that it is, and then shoot themselves in the foot by confusing people "No, we don’t support that." and perhaps even butting heads with libertarians working toward that goal.

    These are the things that I fear from "pragmatics." When Reagon took office conservatives talked about shrinking government gradually. But, it was so gradual that—quite frankly nothing changed, but the belief that it had decreased was enough impitous for Bush Sr. and Clinton to expand government rapidly. So you see, I guess, I feel I have reason to fear them.

    This is the statement of intent.

    "I hereby state my solemn intent to move to the state of New Hampshire. Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property."

    To me, "Maximum role" for the protection of life, liberty, and property, doesn’t include taking our money to invade other countries—unless they’re a direct threat to us, in which all the military does is "defend" our property.

    That said, at the state level, there isn’t much in the way of how foreign policy is handled—except in our ellection of State Senators and Reps. So I suppose I could welcome more hawkish "libertarians." (I would elcome "Larry Elder" for instance.)

    I’ll welcome anybody with open arms who wants to completely seperate school and state, and who wants to abolish property taxes (assuming they don’t replace them with anything.) These being twin issues, can be accomplished at the same time. And once people aren’t being taught in government schools, educating them about liberty in other areas would be much easier.

    No there is no purity litmis test with-in the FSP. And their is no board which "interprets" the statement of intent. Everybody who signs has their own interpretation. That’s part of the beauty of it. So I do encourage people to look into it. To the neo-libertarians who are neo-, just because they’re discouraged and don’t think shrinking government is possible. I would like to assure you that libertarian ideas ARE possible, and that the Free State Project, is a good vehicle to accomplish a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of property, life, and liberty.

    Tracy
     
    Written By: Tracy
    URL: http://www.geocities.com/tracysaboe/
    You really can’t support the war, but oppose the Patriot Act, TSA, and the welfare state at the same time. It’s War the government uses as an excuse for all these things.
    You may not be able to, but others can. The "excuse" for the PA/TSA was 9/11, and not the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Welfare state has predated those wars by quite a long time.
    The goal of the FSP is simply to shrink government by 2/3rds. I gladly welcome anybody who wants to do that.
    What about somebody who wanted to shrink government by 1/3? Or just keep it from growing? There seems to be this naive assumption that libertarians can pick and choose the members of their coalition. The problem is that libertarians are not strong enough to do that; in fact, they are not even strong enough at this point to be of significant concern to real political interests. The FSP is a good wedge to get around that, but I’ll wait to see the implementation.
    I’m just afraid that if neo-libertarians did get into power, they’d want to do it so gradually, that it would never happens.
    As opposed to what? Agitating for immediate change? Look, you can either agitate for immediate, dramatic change, or you can be elected, and make gradual changes. Pick one.
    Another problem I had this some of the Neo-Libertarians on this thread is the "You shouldn’t talk about abolishing the IRS outright, because you’ll look silly." Well, the fact is, their were two bills in NH last year regarding the IRS. One would have nullified the income tax with-in the state. (In the tradition of Jefferson and Medisons’ Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, respectively.) and the other would have set up a commission to study the Constitutionality and Legality of the Income Tax. These are actual bills on the house floor that were voted on.
    How’d they do?

    In any event, there’s a marked difference between adjusting the tax collection methods in a single small state, and doing so at the national level. A number of states don’t have income taxes. The reasonable approach is to examine the limits of the possible in each instance, and find practical, effective ways to move forward. Advocating something that is completely out of the mainstream is simply a waste of political capital.

    Oh, I also think anarchism is foolishly naive, in much the same way that communism was. (i.e., it posits an idealized end-state, but ignores human nature) But that’s an argument for another day.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    Here’s a pretty good essay called "Libertarianism vs. Conservatism" by FSP founder Jason Sorens:

    http://freestateproject.org/about/essay_archive/conservatism.php

    Jon, I think it’s possible to be both a philosophical libertarian and a political libertarian. When people grill me on an issue, I often ask: "Are we talking about philosophy or politics?" For example, in theory I’m all for ending the entire War on Drugs, but in practice I’ll support any measure that reduces the harm it causes.

    My point is that I don’t think it’s necessary to abandon libertarian philosophy to engage in order to work constructively toward moderate libertarian goals. I’ll never pretend I don’t want to abolish the IRS, for example, or social(ist) (in)security, but I’ll certainly compromise on any measure that is really a step in the right direction.

    So maybe I’m a philosophical libertarian and a political neolibertarian... but I prefer to think of myself as an "old school" libertarian who happens to understand a little bit about politics. After all, there are plenty of ideologues in both major parties, many of whom hold positions of power, but unlike most libertarians they know how to effectively manage political capital.
     
    Written By: Matt Simon
    URL: http://
    Anarchism doesn’t ignor human nature. Indeed, it’s precisely because mankind isn’t perfect—indeed that human nature is inherently evil—that we shouldn’t be giving some imperfect people POWER over other imperfect people.

    People typcially respect each other, not because they’re GOOD but out of self interest and self preservation. People don’t crash into each other on the hyway because of some law. They don’t do it because they don’t want to have their car (or life) damaged.

    We already live in a state of anarchy. It’s just a different kind. The people are in an anarchic relationship with the government—meaning there is no third party dictating how the citizenry relate to the government. Which type of anarchy do you think is better. The one where one party has all the guns and the power to steal your money? Or one in which that power is radically decentralized.

    With-in the government their is also anarchy. Their isn’t any third party dictating how the branches of government behave to each other, and their isn’t any "government" dictating how people with-in each branch behave. Indeed, it’s a realm un unfetter political deal-making. This is why statists like Hobb’s and Rousoe’s advocated dictatorship when they advocated government. They wanted to get rid of that kind of anarchy.

    We also have anarchy between the states, and between the people of one state and the state of another. The families of inocent civilians that the U.S. killed in Afghanastan have no recourse to sue or get compensation from the U.S. government.

    The reason states are more likely to go to war, is because they’re able to externalize all those costs on to their entire citizenry. Private indivicuals actually need to pay for the cost of their violence themselves. And violence is typically more expensive then peacefull solutions. See, people won’t be killing each other because it’s simply more costly to them, then mediation or arbitration.

    The only way to get rid of this anarchy between the states, is one world government. And I hope we all agree that that’s bad.

    You don’t ever get out of anarchy. It’s just a question of what kind do you want. I prefer the kind where, power is highly decentralized. Free lance thugs never killed as many people as governments have. You prefer the kind where one side has all the guns and a legitimate power to steal.

    Indeed, most people think we need laws, and that we need government to enforce those laws. But then what happens when government breaks it’s own laws? In the book Constitutional Chaos, Andrew P. Napolitano, documents just this problem. And the courts aren’t really a place to go—because they’re part of government too. (Anybody who thinks that our "independent" judiciary, is completely isolated from political presures of the other two branches is hopelessly naive.) Napolitano isn’t some raving liberal, either. He’s a conservative, who actually works with Fox News.

    But that’s an inherent conflict of interest with-in the government. If you have a problem with government. The only place you can go is, well, government! What other entity is society would get away with that kind of interest conflict? If I have a problem with Wal~Mart, I have several places I can go besides their own internal judicial system. No only that? If I DO manage to win my case in spite of this conflict of interest, the only place the government can get money to compensate me, is through taking money by force from my fellow citizens!

    I would hope that we all agree that widespread gun ownership reduces violent crime, compaired to gun control. That shows that people can and will be responsible for their own delf-defence. To me this proves my point. People are more peacefull when they DON’T rely on the government to defend and protect them. It seems to me that, with-out government taking money from me to "socialize" protection, their would be even more free market innovations to protect people.

    That said, I’ll work with anybody who wants to reduce government. I was hoping somebody could explain to me why I shouldn’t fear these pragmatic types doing what I worried they might do. I would be very happy if all government did was protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens.

    "What about somebody who wanted to shrink government by 1/3? Or just keep it from growing?"

    Those are wonderful ideals. And I welcome it. There will be times, where all we can do is hold our own. But when we do develope some influence we better be able to do some government reducing fast, or that reduction (or even lack thereof) will be used as an excuse to expand government ever faster when pro-state people get in power again.

    Perhaps somebody could mitigate my fears that neo-libs would be actively opposing libertarians who are working for more radical change?

    The IRS bills didn’t pass, but my point was that, it’s something definitely in the NH consciousness. And perhaps the next time bills come up like that, they might.

    I also agree with Matt about being a philosophical libertarian vs a political one. Philosophically we shold still keep our beliefs and shouldn’t compramise them. Politically, I also welcome any reduction in government spending anywhere.

    Again, I believe the FSP is capible of succeding at reducing government by a good 2/3rd. If you’d like to help us achieve that goal, you’re welcome to help.

    Tracy
     
    Written By: Tracy
    URL: http://www.geocities.com/tracysaboe/
    Oh, I understand all the reasons that government—a concentration of power—is destructive and problematic. I understand that, but I also understand why humans—society—always tend to form units of government, be it tribes, States, etc.

    The problem with anarchism is that you’d invariably have rule of the powerful, until people could form associations to protect themselves. And those associations would war, until they formed rules to prevent that. And they’d grow larger, and the rules more complex. And you’d have government again.

    There’s a reason it’s never happened to any meaningful degree. Like communism, it might be great in theory. It’s just that "nobody has done it properly, yet", right?

    Libertarians and others like to claim that "freedom" is a basic desire of mankind. That’s true. But so is security. And when people demand it, they will get it.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    Free market anarchy, simply posits that security is something that the free market can provide as well.

    I’m actually suprised a libertarian of any sort would posit that their’s a tradeof between security and liberty. Indeed, the more liberty we have, the more secure we are. If the government hadn’t prohibited private airlines and airports from having their own private security; If the government hadn’t taken away constitutionally protected right of all free men and women to bare arms; If the government hadn’t disallowed pilots from having guns. 9/11 would not have been able to happen. On the other hand, if humans had been more free, they would have also been more secure.

    There’s a reason why Franklin said that those who would sacrafise liberty for security deserve neither and would get neither. Because when you sacrifise your liberty for the government to secure you, government doesn’t do a good job, and you’ve given up your liberty for nothing.

    If 911 proved anything, it proved that government is inherently incompetent to protect us from terrorists.

    Tracy
     
    Written By: Tracy
    URL: http://www.geocities.com/tracysaboe/
    Jon,

    Personally, I don’t consider my view to be quasi-scientology because there are two or three points at the most fundamental level that are exactly the opposite of Hubbard. Study him I did, as I did Locke and Marx and dozens of others, but having studied Marx does not a quasi-commie make, only an informed libertarian.

    You might like to know that Hubbard said, "Good and bad are alike considerations." —before you wre born. So, your position that moral judgements are subjective is itself quasi-scientology if you want to use similarity as the standard.

    At any rate, it appears you looked at my website to make that connection. If so, thanks for making the effort. Definitely not insincere.

    More to the point, however, is that you’ve chosen with each response to address something peripheral to the discussion I was trying to generate, and avoided that discussion altogether.

    So, rather than try to exposit on what I understood you to say, and its inevitable extensions, I’ll just make a simple request. After all, so much of your argument is based on an assertion as to human nature.

    Please define and describe "human nature" and offer proofs.

    Thanks!

    -0-
     
    Written By: Allen Hacker
    URL: http://aescir.net
    "Indeed, Leviathan is with us, for better or worse. Libertarians should try to make it better, rather than worse."

    Get a clue. You aren’t a libertarian.

     
    Written By: Libertarian Jackass
    URL: http://libertarianjackass.blogspot.com
    So, given the real world choice between a more or less intrusive tax structure, you wouldn’t choose a less intrusive tax structure?

    How libertarian is that?
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    Get a clue. You aren’t a libertarian.


    Well we’re certainly not fundy libertarians without a clue ... thank God.

    We prefer to live and deal in the real world where we can actually try to effect change instead of sitting in the stands of the game and while others play, sit there and boo both sides.
     
    Written By: McQ
    URL: http://www.qando.net/
    You might be interested in my own site at www.zatavu.blogspot.com wherein I talk about such issues myself. I try to take a philsophical viewpoint for the most part.
     
    Written By: Troy Camplin
    URL: www.zatavu.blogspot.com
    what´s the difference between libertarianism and old, classic liberalism? I see none. Am I wrong?
     
    Written By: claudio
    URL: http://
    Tracy wrote:
    Libertarians are on the fringe precisely because we’re principled. Eventually the tide will turn, and through education we can show people that a volentary [sic] society works better then government. Then the principled libertarians will be there. They won’t be compromised
    I repeat: it’s neither unprincipled nor compromising to acknowledge what economic science tells us about the well-understood problems caused by non-rivalry and non-excludability (viz., free riders, negative externalities, and inefficient competition in natural monopolies). When a libertarian ignores these issues and instead merely moralizes about non-coercion, he marginalizes himself not only politically but also intellectually.
     
    Written By: Brian Holtz
    URL: http://marketliberal.org
    Somehow, I’m left with the feeling this so-called "Neo-Libertarianism" would be more accurately described as "Libertine Fascism". I’ve heard Libertarians described as "Republicans that smoke pot". It sounds to me like a "Neo-Libertarian" might aptly be described as an Imperialist that smokes pot. My advice to any real libertarian (or any other civilized human being, for that matter) would be to disassociate themselves from this movement in the strongest of terms.
     
    Written By: Anonymous
    URL: http://www.qando.net
    Hey your material is awesome, but why is your font for the main body of text so absurdly small?
     
    Written By: Monica Ball
    URL: http://
    Re: drugs,

    No progress will be made on that front until a common understanding is reached on why people take drugs.

    People take pain relievers to relieve pain. A controversial statement no doubt.

    So please explain why "rehab" is needed for people with "drug problems"? Pain management would be a more useful option.

    Addiction or Self Medication?

    Heroin

    Genetic Discrimination

    BTW you can count me in as a neoLib. Used to be Treas./Sec. of the local party (for 3 years).
     
    Written By: M. Simon
    URL: http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/
    free2,

    Uh, the prescription you aspire to is maximalist.

    What I want to do is not WIN (look at what the desire for a WIN is getting the theocons - a fractured coalition).

    What I want to do is to move things more in my prefered direction.

    Where I want to go may take 200 years. An inch at a time.

    The Libs are running on the "Hail Mary" platform - if we WIN this is what you will get. Listen to the typical H.B. speech (or any party candidate for that matter). Read "Hope". It is all about making it perfect once they WIN.

    I’d settle for making things a little better every day. Or possibly once a month.
     
    Written By: M. Simon
    URL: http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/
    Count me in!
     
    Written By: Marshall Sontag
    URL: http://live.marshallsontag.com
    Looks great so far. I love the idea of a practical, pragmatic Neolib movement. We can be the swing vote that Right and Left vie for!

    Re the logo I like the concept—"Don’t Tread on Me" is perfect for small-gov’t ideals—but the color scheme is a bit jarring.

    I also propose Rudy Giuliani for consideration as our ’08 candidate. Not perfect, but has some good qualities for Neolibs.

    BTW, my URL appears to be broken and won’t accept a fix via any method I’ve tried. How do I get it fixed?
     
    Written By: TallDave
    URL: http://semirandomrmblings.blogspot.com
    s/b http://semirandomramblings.blogspot.com

    shows up here as http://semirandomrmblings.blogspot.com
     
    Written By: TallDave
    URL: http://semirandomrmblings.blogspot.com
    Maybe a solid light grey snake instead of a brown spotted one? Just an idea.
     
    Written By: TallDave
    URL: http://semirandomrmblings.blogspot.com
    Sorry for the serial posting, but to elucidate the above, when I say "our" candidate I mean the major-party candidate we reluctantly but pragmatically endorse as the lesser of two evils.

    This seems pertinent:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-6_14_05_JA.html

    A centrist coalition, even a small one, can be an extremely powerful force in a 51-49 nation. I think this neoLib movement is well-conceived and I look forward to participating in it.

     
    Written By: TallDave
    URL: http://semirandomrmblings.blogspot.com
    How is your view or approach really any different then most Republicans?

    I think you would find the major disagreements in areas like the War on Drugs, trade protectionism, civil liberties, and expansion of the gov’t (such as the Medicare expansion), and pet pork-barrel projects.
     
    Written By: TallDave
    URL: http://semirandomrmblings.blogspot.com
    I hope I am the first italian blog who wants to join the Neolibertarian Network! :) Please, let me know when the aggregator is ready.

    greetings from Rome
    a.man The Right Nation (www.rightnation.it)

    p.s. I couldn’t trackback this post with Haloscan. I don’t know if it’s my problem or yours, I just wanted to report.
     
    Written By: The Right Nation
    URL: http://www.rightnation.it
    I get the difference between neolibertarians other libertarians, but what’s the difference between neolibertarians and neocons?

    Why distance yourselves from a perfectly viable and functioning pragmatic political faction?
     
    Written By: John T. Kennedy
    URL: http://no-treason.com
    Well if you have to ask, John, there’s really no reason to try to explain, is there?
     
    Written By: McQ
    URL: http://www.qando.net/
    I get the difference between neolibertarians other libertarians, but what’s the difference between neolibertarians and neocons?

    Why distance yourselves from a perfectly viable and functioning pragmatic political faction?
     
    Written By: John T. Kennedy
    URL: http://no-treason.com
    (Sorry for posting my last comment a second time, that was a browser glitch.)

    McQ,

    "Well if you have to ask, John, there’s really no reason to try to explain, is there?"

    Say what? I can’t make sense of that.

    Since neoconservatism is with us, for better or worse, why not reform that? What’s pragmatic about reforming the libertarian movement which is a non-factor in practical politics?

     
    Written By: John T. Kennedy
    URL: http://no-treason.com
    Since neoconservatism is with us, for better or worse, why not reform that? What’s pragmatic about reforming the libertarian movement which is a non-factor in practical politics?
    Well, inter alia, we don’t really agree with many neoconservative ideals, whereas we do agree with libertarian ideals of liberty and limited government. We don’t try to "reform" neoconservatism for many of the same reasons we don’t try to reform liberalism. We are not it.

    Ultimately, neoconservatism, libertarianism, social conservatism (and many others) are merely philosophical interests within the Republican Party. Unless and until libertarianism is made more influential within the Republican Party, the Party will be lost as a vehicle to libertarian-friendly objectives.

    I think that would be a bad thing. Others think the proper object of libertarian influence is, variously, the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party, or the anarchy movement. I disagree, but to each their own. And—with the exception of the anarchy movement—if it works, count me in. My objective is utility, not partisanship.

     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    "Well, inter alia, we don’t really agree with many neoconservative ideals,..."

    What ideals? They’re pragmatists, which is what I thought you guys wanted to be.
     
    Written By: John T. Kennedy
    URL: http://no-treason.com
    Pragmatism isn’t an "ideal", it’s a process. I share with some neoconservatives the belief that we need to focus on political reality, rather than political idealism, but that hardly indicates similar policy preferences. Presumably, there are pragmatists in every political philosophy.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    And Jon’s point highlights why there’s really no reason to continue the discussion as it is presently being framed.

    You’ve decided that pragmatism is defined as "having no ideals".

    Obviously, as we’ve pointed out over and over and over in the writings on this site, we don’t agree. Just as obviously, you’ve made no effort to determine that.

    You’ve been through this sort of thing 1,000 times on Usenet, John. So have I. I’m not interested in playing troll games.

    If you have an explicit point about how you see pragmatism and how we’re applying it, make it. Otherwise quit playing around and go troll somewhere else.
     
    Written By: McQ
    URL: http://www.qando.net/
    Jon spoke of the ideals of neoconservatism as an obstacle to reforming neoconservatism and I said they don’t have any ideals. Neither of you has offered any examples of neoconservative ideals. Because they don’t have any?

    Doesn’t pragmatism require you to face the reality that like it or not libertarians are not a factor in practical politics? What’s pragmatic about attempting to steer a non-viable movement, instead of engaging with factions that actually accomplish political objectives?
     
    Written By: John T. Kennedy
    URL: http://no-treason.com
    Neither of you has offered any examples of neoconservative ideals. Because they don’t have any?
    Well, part of the problem is that "neoconservatism" is more of a tendency than an actual political philosophy. Fact is, neoconservatives tend to disagree on issues.

    Broadly, I’d say we agree with them on—to use Wikipedia for ease of reference—free trade, anti-communism, civil equality, and support for democracy. We tend to disagree with them on the degree to which they accept the welfare state, and with the extent to which they’d like to see us intervene abroad.
    Doesn’t pragmatism require you to face the reality that like it or not libertarians are not a factor in practical politics?
    Well, as I described in an article in one of the editions of TNL, I think libertarianism is much more potentially powerful than we presently see, because a great many people—in widely disparate political groups—share a tendency to liberty in various specific issues. The trick is learning how to organize it.
     
    Written By: Jon Henke
    URL: http://www.QandO.net
    You need a better logo. I suggest:

    A boyish figure, eyes downcast, pissing on a Gadsen flag; above him a giant jack boot hurtles downward about to stomp him flat.
     
    Written By: Stephen Carville
    URL: http://
    A boyish figure, eyes downcast, pissing on a Gadsen flag; above him a giant jack boot hurtles downward about to stomp him flat.

    Well, that’s useful, Stephen ... thanks so much for stopping by and adding that bit of vital thought to the discussion.
     
    Written By: McQ
    URL: http://www.qando.net/
    Neo-libertarian sounds like a bastard mix of
    neo-con and neo-socialist. Essentially, whatever
    libertarian ideas it’s proponents may espouse have
    been so watered-down in the name of "pragmatism"
    and the avoidance of "utopianism" that the basic
    truths and philosophy that make libertarianism what
    it is have been lost. It’s unfortunate that the
    truth may be un-electable but that’s no reason to
    to abandon the effort to promote it; resorting
    instead to some real politik that the current corrupt system will embrace.

    The notion that the drive to consolidate power and
    control others, human nature though it may be, is
    impossible to confront is surrender; what is left
    is really just an acceptance of the status quo.

    As for the idea that you can just mitigate something like the income tax or the drug laws and limit it to something tolerable, thats the pipe dream. The only real way to deal with abominations is to eliminate them entirely.
     
    Written By: anonymous
    URL: http://
    Count me in, with this observation:

    To me, the appeal of libertarianism is twofold - first, it’s got solid, definable ethical principles.

    Second (despite the contrary example of the LP) there is no inherent need for humans to mutate into A Higher Form Of Life in order to achieve a Socialist Worker’s Paradise or whatever Hell-On-Earth the Funnymentalist Neocons have in mind as a means of getting Jesus to Come Again.

    (I thought that was Mary Magdeline’s job, anyhow - and in any case, certainly none of OUR business. :P)

    The problem has been that the minute you capitalize the first letter of any philosophical idea, it becomes a religion with doctrines and people start pulling on their jackboots.

    This leads to absurdities, such as the idea that there could be a particular variety of Liberty.

    Once you flavour it, you limit it.

    Which - as is observed here - is an inevitable part of human nature, but we should at least enjoy a rueful laugh at our own expense.

    I do have one pragmatic observation, though, and that is this: In PRACTICAL terms, the average Canadian has more freedom than the average American. One may call it a socialist welfare state - and in some areas it is just that. But the net effect is more liberty for more people.

    ...now if folks want to argue that point, I’m willing to do so, on my blog - but it is a long, long discussion, so I won’t get into it here.

    I’m just observing that pragmatically, the mechanism is not so important as the motive. And to me, it’s ALL about motives.

     
    Written By: Bob King
    URL: http://www.graphictruth.com
    One might want to consider the fact that "pragmatism" comes from the Greek "pragma," meaning "deed" — meaning it is something that can be done. If any form of libertarianism is not pragmatic in this way, then there is no point in supporting it in the first place, as it is something only achievable by angels anyway.

    Fortunately, almost all recent developments in game theory, complexity and systems and chaos theory, sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, and other such advances in our understanding of how the world actually works (vs. the Newtonian "the-world-is-running-down-and-we’re-all-doomed" world view), where the world is a complex system becoming more complex over time, supports a fundamentally libertarian world view. Or, especially, a "neo-libertarian" world view.

    Those who try to make a heaven on earth are doomed to die tragic deaths. Those who refuse to aim high enough to hit the mark and live ethical lives and want ethical government only deserve to be laughed at. We can be comic or tragic — or learn the kind of moderation that allows us to be ethical human beings and support ethical government and governmental policies.
     
    Written By: Troy Camplin
    URL: www.zatavu.blogspot.com

     
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