Rumors of liberaltarianism’s death are greatly exaggerated


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dude, tonight is dedicated to some drinkin’ and yellin’ on the porch (I hope) but I want to leave this here as a placeholder for the future.

    Maybe during tomorrow’s hangover, I can leave a real comment.Report

  2. Avatar gregiank says:

    what a glibratarian mother fuc…….ooops sorry this isn’t BJ. I think you are right about this. Particularly about how the language and frames used by people, in this case you on BJ, leads to miscommunication. Its not fair and people should put more effort into listening to each other, but the constant self-righteous invocation of freedom by libertarians often leads nowhere. That completely misses the point that freedom may be looked at more then one way, “free” practices could easily lead to less freedom for some people and its often really hard to tell whether freedom is just another word for fuck off i got mine.

    I’ve noticed libertarians often talk about working with liberals in terms of getting liberals to buy into less regulation and such. That is all well and good , but we will really be talking when libertarians are talking to liberals to learn and improve their own ideas, not just to evangelize.Report

  3. Avatar dexter45 says:

    I will join the libertarian party as soon as everybody acts like Jesus in his sermon on the mount mode, or they figure out a way to give back the money the corps stole from the people who actually produce things, like carpenters, plumbers, pipe fitters et al–no bankers or stock traders need apply. Now that my need for sarcasm has been sated I think the Norse states do well. No wars, good pay for the workers, health care for all and a tax base that disallows extreme poverty coupled with excellent schools makes for a fairly content populace. Another thing the Norse do well is not scream “we are the best ever”.Report

  4. Avatar Bo says:

    If 2 people leaving Cato is enough to bring up the topic of liberaltarianism’s death, the real question is if it was ever alive.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    For liberaltarianism to “survive,” or even come into existence in a real way, it badly needs an ontology. What is it? I mean what is “it”? A loose coalition? A movement? What are its goals? Is it just an ideological inclination? Does it have to be conscious? Does it matter if you want to be a liberaltarian? If you don’t? A liberal willing to say somehthing good about markets is one? Matthew Yglesias “might as well be” part of the movement? Or is?

    And, “Both sides will have to give ground to make it work”? Can you point to single liberal who wants to do that? It’s not like different liberals don’t already hold plenty of positions that coincide with libertarian ones – they always have. But that’s not a statement of common cause – those positions already exist and are sincerely held. Is liberaltarianism just the overlap between modern liberalism and libertarianism? Based on what then are you asking anyone to give ground? To what end? Are we really to believe libertarians are prepared to give ground on core principles not just rhetorical flotsam left over from right-fusionism? I certainly wouldn’t ask them to. This all just sounds like a scheme of persuasion to me. Name me an issue on which libertarians are willing to substantively compromise, not just “adjust the language used,” and give me a reason that liberals should want to reciprocate, and I’ll try to give the project another chance. Otherwise, I still don’t get what it is or what it’s for. It still sounds like it’s basically two things: libertarians highlighting the many places liberals’ positions long have and do overlap with theirs, and libertarians adjusting their language and areas of focus so as to be less scary to liberals.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Michael Drew says:

      @Michael Drew, I think you’re being overly literal. More later.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        @E.D. Kain, Come on. I’ll admit to being skeptical, but I’m asking these questions out of a friendly assessment of what this thing would need to have some meaning. These are questions that need to be addressed before anyone not priorly committed to the project can have any idea how to consider it. What a thing is is pretty important to get somewhat clear if you want to get people to endorse it, to say nothing of subscribing to it. It’s unserious and does a disservice to the project to say these questions are overly literal. If you can’t say what this thing is, then what are you even promoting?Report

        • @Michael Drew,
          It’s promoting a social compatibility, not a political compatibility. Unless liberals find more compatibility and admit to it, it’s nothing more than a preference for a social orientation, a disdain for the conservative mindset and its social realm. It’s more about personalities, associations and lifestyles than principles of limited government and a free market. But that can change if liberals and conservatives learn to stand on principles which transcend the other differences — the main principle of libertarianism has to be accepted — non-coercion — or the whole thing is a pose, from either conservatives or liberals. I wrote my penultimate part of the series at Bonzai relating to this — tomorrow I’ll wrap up why I believe what I believe about non-coercion (if anyone is interested, that is). I don’t get any links here, so I have to self-promote.Report

          • @Mike Farmer, I also wrote about the perils and promise of liberaltarianism at my blog as well, btw.Report

          • Avatar JosephFM in reply to Mike Farmer says:

            @Mike Farmer,

            I’m actually really interested, given that every time I’ve ever asked you to explain any of this you respond with snark and insults.

            I mean, yes, I believe expecting people -liberals, conservatives, liberatarians, whomever – to stand on principles is expecting too much, because people – including me, including you – are crass and culturally bigoted and tribal more than they are principled or intellectual.

            I mean, I’m torn, because I fear “non-coercion” is an invitation for somebody else to start coercing everyone committed to it. But it’s a great principle!Report

            • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to JosephFM says:

              I’m not bigoted, tribal and crass.

              You are wong about me being snarky — I throw out some humor every once and a while, and perhaps snarky some times, but I’ve answered all your questions. We prevent coercion by making it illegal, except to prevent coercion. I thought you understood that. According to your logic, not upholding the non-coercion principle helps to prevent coercion? Now, I’m confused.Report

            • Avatar JosephFM in reply to JosephFM says:

              Well, how would you stop other people from threatening and hurting you without doing the same in return?Report

      • @E.D. Kain,

        ED, I don’t think Michael is being overly literal. What is the essence of such a coalition? How would it work? What would each side be willing to give up and to make it work?

        My problem with fusionism is that it basically co-opted libertarianism. My concern with liberaltarianism is that it will do the same thing.

        I think the problem here is that libertariansim is not willing to stand on its own, but keeps wanting to find a suitor that it can submit to.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Michael Drew says:

      @Michael Drew, I’m serious when I say more later. Give me some time to answer these points properly. I will.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        @E.D. Kain, Absolutely of course I trust you will have more later. But don’t include an off-hand brush-off in such a note. When you come back address my points, you’ll be showing they weren’t overly literal, or in any case not to the point.Report

  6. Avatar Will H. says:

    Heritage sure does worry about taxes a lot.
    I’m wondering if living under a bridge and panhandling for a living might be their idea of a perfect world. No income tax, no property tax, no alarm clock to wake up to, etc.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I get the feeling that liberaltarianism has a great deal of work to do before it gets off the ground… primarily because the overlap between liberalism and libertarianism is about goals rather than means. The libertarian overlap with conservativism, what little there is, is about means rather than goals.

    Which basically means that libertarians and conservatives can at least agree on what ought to be done even if they disagree about what’s going to or ought to happen at the end of the day.

    Libertarians and liberals will be butting heads the moment they stop agreeing on what ought to happen at the end of the day and they start discussing what ought to be done.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, Yup. But what I hear you saying is that libertarians are even higher on the expected outcomes of the economic prescriptions they share with conservatives (if perhaps only rhetorically) than conservatives are. “It’s gonna be great, just watch!” is the libertarian pitch, while “Eat your spinach” is the conservative one for similar economic policies (taking your construction that the policies are similar as a given; we know that real-life libertarians might well dispute the actual similarities). In any case, this perception is where the charges of either utopianism on the one hand (if the libertarian takes the time to listen to others’ desired goals for economic outcomes and claims his policies will deliver them), or glibness on the other (if the libertarian takes the, “there are particular defensible desires for what people ought to want out of economic policy, namely maximization of human liberty, and so my policies will deliver the only outcomes anyone ought to be interested in anyways” tack) stem from.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    “Far from being a signal of its demise, the departure of Lindsey and Wilkinson from Cato may be a sign of nothing more and nothing less than another blip in our political evolution.”

    If they were being paid a salary, they may have been released due to low production. I never saw much from either of them there.Report