Thursday, January 17, 2008


I'm afraid whatever little time I've had to post over the last few days was spent responding to comments to an earlier post of mine. There has been a rather interesting dialogue going on there.

My friend Sylvain made the point that blindly following any ideology might not be the best path to anything, least of all, presumably, to any sort of harmonious co-existence with your fellow man. I agree. As a libertarian, I expect very little from others. Mostly, I want to be left alone. I don't want to be told what to do or not to do, or where I can go or with whom I can meet. I want to be able to speak freely. None of this costs anyone anything. None of this means that anyone else has to make any sacrifice on my behalf. No bureaucracy has to be set up to take care of me. No enforcement agencies are needed to keep me in line. In fact, if anything, libertarianism means not spying on your neighbours, not interfering with their lives, and thus not having to send them the bill for these intrusions -- intrusions that exist in some form or another at both the left and the right end of the political spectrum.

Human beings appear to have a knee-jerk gene. How else can one explain that any fairly innocuous position, stated by someone anywhere on the traditional political spectrum, can result in reactions ranging from barely civilized to downright hateful? I am not referring to exchanges taking place here on this blog, where mostly rational people visit, but more to the mudslinging that takes place whenever elections come around. Or when the subject of climate change arises. Or abortion. Or, come to think of it, just about anything under the sun.

It is certainly true that many people can't be bothered to take a position on anything. It's too much work. And they might have to exert themselves even more if their position is challenged, so the easiest tack is simply not to think, not to have an opinion, to float along on the winds of change until they die, never having had an original thought or having taken a firm position on anything along the way. It is just as true that many others glom onto an idea because it feels right. Something must be so, because it comes from the heart. If it seems compassionate, loving, caring, it just has to be true. Zealots who base everything on feelings or emotion can be just as dangerous as the know-nothings. And, they can be much harder to take.

Many misguided notions felt right, even sounded logical, to enough individuals over the centuries, to create the mayhem that we can all read about in our history books. The human race has a troubled past as legacy. And it has a troubled future ahead, and not necessarily for the reasons we might expect. I don't know what lies ahead, specifically, but I would rather keep my future under my control than to delegate decisions I should be making to any group of government officials or anyone else.

I welcome all of the input I get here from individuals who think, who care. I may not always agree with everything, but I will usually avoid ridiculing anyone who I think is making an effort to understand the world around him. We should all try to do just that.


  1. Sieg, your view of how the world should be is a very noble one, and in a different world, one where all individuals are as sensible and caring as you and I, it would be the ideal political situation.

    Unfortunately, in the world we live in, I think, actually I know the libertarian view would mean total chaos and anarchy.

  2. All authoritarians say that, sduford, and since they run the show, it's never been tried.
    Your fears about Ron Paul are as unfounded as they are unnecessary. The Papist Kakostocracy in the USA will never allow a Constitutionalist Libertarian in the White House, and I would be frankly shocked if he were to get the GOP nomination, much less elected.
    The Establisment that s-elected the doofas we have now, wants HITLERy.
    BTW, the reason he doesn't openly advocate "separation of church and state" is it appears nowhere in the Declaration, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.
    Many allegedly "educated" persons have a reading-into-comprehension-disorder when it comes to the Founding Documents of Western civilization, and thus project their own brain-filthying into the law of the land. This is why Funny-mentalists project Jim Crow, Leftwing nuts project "gay" rights &c.
    It's complicated, but error often is.
    Truth and freedom however, are simple.
    Real enlightenment happens when one has the courage to let the first give them the second!

  3. Galt, as you so often do, your response is rather incoherent and touches on all sorts of things that have nothing to do with what you're replying to.

    I'm not sure what Ron Paul has to do with this. Plus I'm not afraid of Ron Paul, I know he will never get the nomination. The unrelated post on my blog that I can only assume you are referring to here was purely about pointing out that Ron Paul is a religious wacko and a bigot. It had absolutely nothing to do with his political ideology.

  4. Sylvain: Anarchy does not necessarily mean chaos. Anarchy is simply the absence of control and it doesn't necessarily follow that chaos would result. In the absence of any form of government, would you yourself be any different than you are today? Would you take advantage of others, simply because you could? Would you be less ethical because there were no laws to compel you to behave in certain ways?

    I don't think so. You and I would live our lives as we always have and always do, ethically and with due consideration of the rights of others. Why them would others act differently than you and I? Are they somehow less than we are? Are they inferior to us? Must we therefore, by some twist of logic, be in charge of them, via a government that protects us from them?

    The overwhelming majority of individuals want simply to live the best life they can, without interference from others. Without the plethora of programmes which now exist to redistribute income and thus to rob one group of society to the benefit of another, most of us would be busy providing for ourselves and our families, if for no other reason than that we would have no choice. Without rules and regulations and laws telling us whether or where we can smoke, what we can ingest or read or sell or just about anything else, we would interact in a system of voluntary exchange, the only truly win-win system possible. We would patronize those individuals and institutions that give us what we want and avoid those that don't.

    What's wrong with that?


    The problem is that some people feel that they alone can determine what is right for everyone else. That is a real and everpresent problem.

    Would there be individuals and organizations that would attempt to take advantage of the rest of us if there were no government to protect us? Sure there would. But they are out there now too. And often the worst in society is protected from the best in society. I have said before and I will repeat it again: I have less fear of my neighbour than of the government that is ostensibly there for my protection.

  5. BTW, gentlemen: I am not going to get drawn into any fracas as referee. Just as I see myself as more than able to take care of myself, and defend any positions I take, I extend that same right as a courtesy to others.

  6. Well I very much disagree with you. There are already all kinds of people who abuse of the freedoms they currently have. There are large segments of the population who are bent on exploiting others any way they can. There always have been, there always will be. It appears to be human nature.

    You remove controls, you get an explosion of abuse and/or violence. You deregulate the energy industry, you quickly end-up with an Enron. You remove the political power from Yugoslavia, you get chaos and you get neighbours who were getting perfectly along joining a civil war and killing each other, reviving ancient rivalries. You remove support for the poor, you end up with higher crime rates.

    I think the only solution is a truly democratic government where the government has a lot of control, but what and how they control is truly determined by the people, not by industry controlled megalomaniac politicians. This has nothing to do with the type of democracy we have here in Canada, or worse in the USA, which is arguably the least democratic country in the Western world.

    Look at Switzerland and many of the Scandinavian countries. Their style of democracy gives more power of decision to the people. In Swizterland for example, there is almost no central government, governing is largely left to regional councils and the counties. And yet, those countries are all highly-taxed, and highly controlled. But as a result, they are the most peaceful countries in the world, they have the lowest rates of poverty and crime, and they have some of the highest standards of living. And by the way Galt, they are also the most secular countries in the world, with no church involvement in government (which we also largely have in Canada).

    In contrast, in the USA where there are more personal freedoms, like the right to bear arms, you have some of the highest crime rates in the developed world, from corporate corruption to murders. And you also have the largest discrepancy between the haves and havenots. And the USA, apparently the richest country in the world, has some of the highest poverty rates in the developed world.

    I think the evidence is clear, people must be protected from themselves. It should be done in a highly democratic way, but it should be done.

  7. The truly sad thing, gentlemen, is that tyranny and authoritarianism are going to be an inherent evil of human government of which we must always be aware.
    The big justification for government's existence is protection, therefore it must constantly be about the business of fabricating some new menace to protect us from.
    Most of the more oppressive regimes in the last two centuries were founded upon some alarmist lie that was dubbed "science", never proven, but sold by the "education" establishment and propaganda industries to the unthinking masses who felt that "the government says so, it must be true."
    This is how Bulshevism, Nazi Germany and communist China gained such momentum. It happened before. It will happen again.
    The only question, is when.

  8. and sduford's right about Switzerland. They have a high standard of living, they pay a high price for it, but they also have a form of second amendment compromise that has kept them free:
    They insist on neutrality, and to enforce it, they insist that the head of every household be trained in the use of and ready to use firearms, and the government issues them such. It is a cooperative militia system unparalleled elsewhere in the free world.
    They meddle with no one else, and are not meddled with in return, a lesson we in America have forgotten, much to our hurt!

  9. Switzerland is a good example, but it serves as much to make my points as yours. The Swiss model of authority devolving to the individual Cantons instead of being concentrated federally would suit me fine. The Swiss tax rate is actually fairly reasonable, very little assessed at the federal level and with a rather broad range of percentages at the Canton level.

    And... Ted's right about the gun issue there. The Swiss are neutral because they can afford to be. They take the freedoms they have seriously. They are prepared to shoot and have the guns they need to do so. They are also left alone, as Ted points out, because they don't interfere with other sovereign nations and typically mind their own business.

    Economically, because they don't try to be everything to everybody, the Swiss are a model of fiscal responsibility and the Swiss Franc has risen against the dollar and every other currency that I know of for the last half-century at least.

    We are beginning to go round in circles here, while not really granting the validity of my central premise, the fact that more freedom is better than less. Under a libertarian system, everyone would be allowed, even encouraged to enter into any sort of voluntary associations they choose. Individuals who wanted to live communally, could do so. They could share everything, contribute according to ability and taking according to need, within their own community. They just wouldn't be permitted to suck everyone else into the system. Staunch individualists would be free to contribute an absolute bare minimum to a very sparse government, with the explicit understanding that they would not be able to draw support from the system either.

    Murray Rothbard wrote extensively about voluntary arrangements, including fire and police protection and many other things.

    The crux of this discussion is that libertarians don't want to control anyone or rob from anyone, but neither to they want to be put into involuntary servitude via taxation or be prohibited from doing things that are really no concern of anyone else.

  10. Sieg, have you considered choosing the separate comment box option in Blogger? I know, this is terribly pathetic but I have several enthusiastic opinions until the blog disappears. With a separate comment box, I can go back and say "Oh yes, that point, too!" I wasn't kidding when I said that I am finally the village idiot without a village and lovin' it!

    I very much resent government usurping my ability to help those who I choose to help. I think it has greatly helped erode the importance of familiarity and cohesion within a community. We don't need to know and support our neighbors any longer - let some stranger in government take care of everything. They feel great about doling out our funds, not from their own pockets.

    I felt somewhat guilty about my quasi-anarchistic thought that any established government (and it's accumulated legislation) should be dismantled every 200 years until I read a quote from Benjamin Franklin (presuming it was factual). He had the same idea but at 100 year intervals. I don't think he would like what his vision has devolved into.

  11. Lin: I enabled comments in pop-up form, just for you! I'm glad you come to visit here.

    There is much I like about today's' world, but increasing encroachment by government and less personal interaction and responsibility, as you point out, aren't among them.

    Starting from scratch every 100 years seems like a darn fine idea to me.