Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How to Argue with A Libertarian

I've been having some rather interesting discussions recently with some Statist friends of mine. I hope organize my thoughts about some of them and blog my reflections.

And then this morning, I came across a blog post titled, "How To Argue With A Libertarian". Its a wonderful piece of satire that includes such nuggets as:
9. No policy should ever be tried until it has already been tried.

Example: "Let libertarians point to a successful example of their policies being implemented before we consider implementing them." Be sure to use this argument like a taxicab, however, as it implies that no government program should ever have been implemented in the first place.

I have one acquaintance that routinely demands that I point to a libertarian society that has existed in the past to show that liberty works, doesn't result in "chaos", and will provide security. Of course, no such society has existed, since the entire history of mankind has been marked by Statism, brutality, and oppression..(but I repeat myself). And furthermore, when one points to smaller advances that are made when liberty is allowed to flourish, numerous excuses are made, or the advances are dismissed as not being the product of liberty, but of something else - usually government. A determined Statist, who will reject liberty as the cause for any improvement in the human condition, has locked himself into a bubble in which he will only accept certain predetermined answers. He will pretend to consider proposals for liberty, but because liberty heretofore hasn't been tried, it is automatic proof that it doesn't work.


Blogger Vache Folle said...

I reckon that most foraging societies were stateless, and humanity thrived for millenia without states. It's hard to oppress your fellow foraging band members because you need them as much as they need you, and they will leave or kick you out of the band if you get too overbearing.

1:18 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

America is an example of a libertarian society. America 1800-1900 that is. Before all of the regulation one person could support a family of four. Today with the high taxes, social programs, and high debt, two people struggle to support that same family. America is an example of an libertarian society.

2:58 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

That was a littile extreem, but I do feel that libertarian economic policy has worked in America's past.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Wulf said...

The problem with vache folle's argument is that the statist will point out that they don't want to go back to a hunter gatherer society. Unless you can show that intellectual, philosophical, and economic development have occurred under libertarianism, it hasn't got a shot with the general population. It's just a question of how much state they want.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

I agree, Wulf. Many Statists will confuse the correlation between economic expansion and the growth of the State to a causal one. They point to the fact that the bigger the State got, the more prosperity we have enjoyed. So, in their minds, if you want to make government smaller, you are asking them to go back to a more primitive form of society.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Freeman -

I don't know that I'd argue that the 19th Century was a libertarian Utopian. Slavery, and the lack of recognition of the rights of women tend to squash that argument.

Sure... The economy was so much more free then... but what my Statist friend wants me to point to is a clear example of the perfectly free society.


8:47 AM  
Blogger James said...


Would you really claim that the US was libertarian at any point? The past might have been someone more libertarian, but a society with slavery, tariffs, behavior management taxes, the "American System" of Henry Clay, various central banking experiments and so on is hardly what I'd call libertarian.

Jason: Thanks for the link!

7:55 PM  
Blogger doinkicarus said...

you might want to pick up Henry Grady Weaver's "The Mainspring of Human Progress." Although you're correct that there has never been a perfectly libertarian society, Mainspring pretty much gives an historical account of economic prosperity & growth. Weaver makes a pretty good case for pre-Revolutionary America.

4:29 PM  

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