Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Libertarian Paradox

Mises Daily: Thursday, July 25, 2013 by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
As libertarians attempt to persuade others of their position, they encounter an interesting paradox. On the one hand, the libertarian message is simple. It involves moral premises and intuitions that in principle are shared by virtually everyone, including children. Do not hurt anyone. Do not steal from anyone. Mind your own business.
A child will say, “I had it first.” There is an intuitive sense according to which the first user of a previously unowned good holds moral priority over latecomers. This, too, is a central aspect of libertarian theory.
Following Locke, Murray Rothbard, and other libertarian philosophers sought to establish a morally and philosophically defensible account of how property comes to be owned. Locke held the goods of the earth to have been owned in common at the beginning, while Rothbard more plausibly held all goods to have been initially unowned, but this difference does not affect their analysis. Locke is looking to justify how someone may remove a good from common ownership for his individual use, and Rothbard is interested in how someone may take an unowned good and claim it for his individual use.   And here is the libertarian paradox.......Why is it so difficult to persuade people of what they implicitly believe already?
The reason is not difficult to find. Most people inherit an intellectual schizophrenia from the state that educates them, the media that amuses them, and the intellectuals who propagandize them.....the conception of the intellectual and the politician as the sculptors, and the human race as so much clay.....To Read More....

My Take – Let me start out by saying....there is much in this presentation that I find absolutely true and totally appealing.  However, libertarian thinking reminds me very much like military strategies. Did you know that every military strategy ever planned was perfect? At least until they met the enemy....who also had a "perfect" plan in place. Then everything starts to fall apart.  The one most able to recognize the lack of perfection in their “perfect plan” and quickly adapt it to whatever difficulties the enemies “perfect plan” is causing is the one who wins. 
Libertarianism is basic fundamental morality; a morality that is foundation to the human makeup.  It is a reality that is imprinted in our makeup and governed by a force we call - conscience!
The trouble with conscience as an absolute arbiter of right and wrong is that the conscience can be changed, adjusted…..or….lets just say the conscience can be “trained”.  And what molds the conscience?  Time and circumstance!  If the entire world practiced the form of libertarianism as outlined to some extent here….and this isn’t the only intellectual outline for this philosophy….it would be very nice.  Until someone desired those things others have.  In spite of the governing morality imprinted on our conscience, The Ten Commandments apparently needed to be outlined as.....ten commandments.....not ten recommendations.  Why?  Because people will always find ways to rationalize their views to their own benefit. 
As I read this I started to think about the Jews as they entered the Promised Land.  What form of government did they have?  None to speak of!  The land was broken up into tribal areas and those tribal areas were broken up into homesteads that became hereditary holdings.  Even if they sold the land it was returned at some point in the future.  But people were pretty much able to “do that which was right in their own eyes”.  What happened?  They eventually demanded a king to rule over them, judge them, and defend them against foreign enemies.     
Libertarianism is a nice foundational philosophy that will be a moving force for conservatives, but it holds little appeal as a lasting, effective stand alone governing philosophy that will stand the test of time.  Why?  Because for libertarianism to work it would require people to become much more introspective and less self serving.   A Catholic priest once said that ‘if you ever find the perfect organization, join it.  However, once you have joined it; it is now become somewhat less than perfect!”  I have yet to find any flaw in that thought, because people will always be people. 

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