Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Bubbles McCoy
Posts: 1106
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:49 am UTC
Location: California

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:33 pm UTC

Julle wrote:The important thing is that both Socialism and Libertarianism is philosophies created to give the individual as much freedom as possible, it's just a question about what freedoms to prioritize.
And I've met far more Socialists that understand this than I have with Libertarians.

I don't see it as a difference of maximizing different freedoms so much as a different opinion on what constitutes a right. A libertarian belives that rights essentially end at the freedom to do whatever you please so long as you don't harm anyone else, whereas a socialist believe rights have become broader in the modern era and extend to areas like health care.

qbg
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby qbg » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:07 pm UTC

Lemminkainen wrote:The reason that I suggest that socialist governments always produce dictatorships is because in practice, every single country without a market economy (as opposed to capitalist countries with social provisions, like modern western Europe) has been a dictatorship. The USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, the communist nations of the Warsaw Pact-- all brutal dictatorships.

I'd suggest that those examples are not not broad enough to condemn socialism as a whole; Marxist-Leninist and Maoist socialism is not similar to all proposed forms of socialism, and there are forms of market socialism.

Lemminkainen
Posts: 91
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Lemminkainen » Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:38 pm UTC

qbg wrote:
Lemminkainen wrote:The reason that I suggest that socialist governments always produce dictatorships is because in practice, every single country without a market economy (as opposed to capitalist countries with social provisions, like modern western Europe) has been a dictatorship. The USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, the communist nations of the Warsaw Pact-- all brutal dictatorships.

I'd suggest that those examples are not not broad enough to condemn socialism as a whole; Marxist-Leninist and Maoist socialism is not similar to all proposed forms of socialism, and there are forms of market socialism.

And as you should be able to tell from the section of my post that you quoted, I did not condemn market socialism or other weak forms. I simply suggested that any absolute socialist system (which is what Marxist systems are) will suffer from these problems.

NimoStar
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:31 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby NimoStar » Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:29 pm UTC

I can't tell if this is a worthwhile contribution by someone not terribly familiar with the English language ... or a frustrating blog post. But, I'm feeling generous and leaving it, albeit slightly hidden.

-Az

Spoiler:
Capitalism sufers from this problems as well, and i woudn't say less. USA empowered, financed, supported and even trained anti-communist, capitalist dictatorships in many countries (only see about the school of the americas). Counter-communist capitalist tactics to secure the US power, alignement, market and resource abviability have been as brutal as the "communist" ones (even providing in fact, communism as proposed by marx never has been achieved, only some forms of "transition socialism").

Furthermore, the US system is based on bipartidism and indirect election (with states, electors, etc.)... there are only two "choices", and history provides that both the democrat and republican parties are only no more than the two wings of a one and only party, a capitalist one (a nature that both parties mantain). USSR and other Warsaw pact nations had a unipartidism too, and had in fact elections (direct ones) where citizens could elect which "communist" they wanted to rule them. Not really different to USA where you can "choose" which capitalist you want to rule you...

¿Free press, liberty of association, second amendment? Only words in a paper. Censorship of books and movies (Even "The Great Dictator", from charles chaplin, who was banned accused of "communism"), CIA persecuting the opossition (the real one, not "red and blues"), party prohibition, illegal detention camps, internement fields (For Example... ¿But it was war?

For the communist was war as well. It was the "class-war". The enemy were the burgueoise, and the counter-revolutionaries. They were not "it's own people"; they were the opressor.

I see as both practical historical aplications of the system as brutal and unjust.

Concerning specially to libertarism, it gives the one with more money POWER over the one who has not. The value of a person is not his existance, not his human condition or moral; it is his money. The one who has money is more, the one who has not is less. Money can buy anything someone is willing to sell; and that makes everyone wanting to sell to make maney, and to have money to buy. But most people don't even know what the really want. ¿Food, house, health? or is it something else... luxury, properties, power, fortune, fame? ¿What is all that? ¿Why do they want it? ¿What will the do with it? Living for the sole porupose of getting "more", be "higher", "better" (without even really asking youself WHAT is that, who decides it, why do you want it)... simply has no sense. Lacks meaning. Sell to buy, buy to sell. Senseless.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:33 am UTC

Lemminkainen, I thought that the longer post you just made was very sound, carefully addressing various fundamental problems with communist states without overstating their differences with a market economy, and I'm also glad that you're not simply lumping all the milder forms of socialism in with them. However, I don't entirely agree that Marxist systems are all absolute. Marx was only a single person, and his views sometimes changed and conflicted with his earlier ideas; different groups incorporate different ideas of Marx and could all be termed Marxist. What would you consider to be the key beliefs that define an absolute (and, therefore, doomed to failure) socialist system?
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

Lemminkainen
Posts: 91
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:26 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Lemminkainen » Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

I would consider an absolute socialist system to be one in which all or most economic decisions are made through non-market means. Governments which take non-market counter market failures by providing public goods, fighting monopoly power, and correcting externality costs (which is what most governments in mixed economies do), do not fall under that definition.

alexjhh
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2007 4:32 pm UTC
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby alexjhh » Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:07 pm UTC

Praxis1452 wrote:Still, socialism is founded on utilitarianism, an even worse principle.


Actually, not at all. Note the emphasis in socialist literature, whether in historical (e.g. Marx) or contemporary (e.g. Cohen) arguments, as to the promotion of the individual's right to self determination and the pursuit of his own view of the 'good life', what Marx called 'species being' following Hegel. This is absolutely contrary to utilitarianism on principle, which by definition takes the welfare of the mass as it's main value. Repeated, particularly throughout contemporary political philosophy and the critiques of utilitarianism (Rawls, Nozick and Cohen), is the phrase (or approximation of) 'treating people as ends, not means', by which is meant the promotion of good 'tailored' to the individual involved, rather than that of a population.


Spoiler:
fencerjimmy wrote:
Nonanol wrote:If there is one single difference in the perspectives of libertarians and socialists, I think it's the definition of freedom. The common definition of freedom would be "the ability to affect your own life", or something close to it. IIRC, in political theory rights are described as negative or positive freedoms. A negative freedom is to not be prohibited (the right to bear arms, for instance) while a positive freedom is being entitled (such as the right to work as stated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, article 23). Libertarian freedom is mostly negative freedom; the freedom to do something if you are able, while socialist freedom more often is the positive one; the right to do something and the help to do it if you lack the ability. Assuming that your goal is the most possible freedom for everyone, I think the positive freedom is more relevant. A negative freedom only gives a portion of a country's citizens more ability to affect their own lives, while a positive applies to everyone.

I suppose some would argue that maximising freedom is not the goal of libertarianism. In that case, I really think libertarians should stop hogging the word freedom in the political debate. :)


This is the way I see the dispute too, but I think you're leaving out a key part of the libertarian argument: that attempts by a government to implement protections for positive freedoms inevitably decrease the freedom of other members of society. As a (very) trivial example, when the government raises taxes to provide health care or create jobs, it limits the freedom of the taxed to use their resources as they wished. The question then becomes, is it right for the government to limit one person's freedom to increase another's?

I'm generally in favor of positive rights, but historically they've been dangerous things to guarantee, especially for a government that isn't in the best place on its own. If the government guarantees a right to work but can't guarantee its own bills, then your right to work is a bad joke; but negative rights only require non-interference, which I think most libertarians see as a lot more possible.

I tend to think of libertarianism and socialism more as vectors than goals, to be honest, and think either extreme would be a bad idea.


The maximisation of freedom is a term that is repeatedly, and often contradictorily used in Libertarian theory. To take Nozick as the prime example, his haphazard use of the word freedom in Anarchy, State and Utopia led to a crippling barrage of criticism from Gerry Cohen in Self Ownership, Freedom and Equality, who argued that Libertarianism wasn't prioritising freedom in any real sense, but rather a principle of self ownership. While early in the book, Nozick uses 'freedom' as a catch all term, later on he defines unfreedom as wrongful interference with one's actions. By this definition, a prison bound criminal is free, as, following the entitlement section of Anarchy, it is his free choice that has got him there. By any standard, this is really a rather odd defintion of freedom.

This is getting long now, and I'm getting distracted. But particularly interesting reading includes, as mentioned, Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia, Cohen’s Self Ownership, Freedom and Equality, and an article by Nagel named Libertarianism Without Foundations

TL;DR version – Politics major goes on a rant for a little while, and regurgitates and essay he wrote a while back.

Edit: Spoiler'd the second quote, as it was getting bulky

Edit 2: I recently wrote a short (1500 words or so) essay on Nozick's theories of transfer and acquisition, 2 of the foundations of his argument. A lot of it is written with regards to Cohen's argument, so if you don't have time to read Self Ownership but are interested, it might be useful, particularly with regards to the economic nature of Nozick's arguments, including the important Wilt Chamberlain example.
Attachments
Nozick Essay.doc
(42.5 KiB) Downloaded 75 times
"The train seemed boring after the flying carpets of years before" - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

User avatar
helkaraxe
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:06 am UTC
Location: Havana

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby helkaraxe » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:29 pm UTC

Stop turning perfectly good threads into your personal crusade to defend Cuba's honor. You will not last long in this section if you continue your current posting habits.

-Az


EDIT: That was the third time. Stop.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:12 am UTC

alexjhh, ever read much by Hayek? The Constitution of Liberty is a relatively exhaustive (and exhausting) look at proper government from a Libertarian point of view that you might find interesting.

Essentially, Hayek boils it down to the Rule of Law vs. the Rule of Men. If the government's decisions are made for it ahead of time, then people can intelligently plan around the government- if the government's decisions are made as they're applied, then people cannot intelligently plan around the government. The liberty-maximizing government, then, is the one that gives the most decision-making to the individual and reserves the least for itself; the liberty-minimizing government is the one that seeks to make decisions for its citizens.

Socialism, in the vast majority of its forms, requires government making decisions for its citizens, from which a large number of problems flow.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

WaywardAngel
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:49 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby WaywardAngel » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:14 am UTC

Another way to draw out the distinction between libertarianism and its rivals might be to examine their concepts of selfhood. Libertarianism sees individuals as unencumbered selves; that is to say, we are distinct from our beliefs, goals and societal connections. For example, I could at one time be a devout member of a particular religious group, and then renounce that membership without changing who I essentially am. They would also tend to reject the idea that a community can have any non-instrumental value for its members.

By contrast, communitarians could argue that ‘we are what we are in virtue of participating in the larger life of society – or at least, being immersed in it, if our relationship to it is unconscious and passive, as is often the case’[cite]Charles Taylor, Communitarianism and Individualism[/cite]). Another way of putting it might be to say that human beings are constantly influencing and being influenced by their social context, and as such cannot be understood apart from it. Based on this, they could argue that freedom consists not only in non-interference (i.e. formal freedom in the form of rights), but also in participating in the public life of the society in which they live. ‘The...unalienated life for man...is where the norms and ends expressed in the public life of a society are the most important ones by which its members define their identity...for then the institutional matrix in which they cannot help living is not felt to be foreign.’[cite]Ibid.[/cite]

I'm not sure I'd wholly agree with the communitarian position (when misinterpreted it seems to lead to moral relativism etc.), but it certainly seems to raise some interesting issues which delve beneath the surface of libertarianism (which is the point of this thread).

User avatar
Mabus_Zero
Posts: 245
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:30 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Mabus_Zero » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:27 am UTC

I don't know that I agree or disagree with many of the political theories of others, but I think the primary difference between the libertarian and the socialist is in where we feel it 'begins'. The Libertarian, for instance, considers the individual sanctamount. It begins with the desires of the individual. What does he want? How does he plan on getting what he wants? Naturally, in a world full of entities with their own desires, some conflicts will arise. So we create machines, like society, to help deal with these problems constructively.

Then time goes by, and the socialists say 'well society has always been here, and always will be, so it is perfectly acceptable for us to create centralized, impersonal structures modeled after the current arrangement to prevent further entropy in social relationships'.

What the socialist personality and philosophy forget, I think, is that in failing to consistently scrutinize the existing paradigms, and lacking the willingness to challenge our habits for individual sovereignty, we lose the purpose for those machines in the first place.

I do not like the idea of being dictated to by those that I feel do not understand the context of the existing paradigm, and I think this is a defining factor for many libertarians and other would-be free-men and women as well. I may be wrong, though. But to simplify, and to state something I've stated elsewhere, human beings reserve the right to negotiate the conditions of their existence. The labor or product that they trade for other labor and products, sovereignty over their own bodies and minds, and freedom of movement, speech and appearance. I desire that these dignities be recognized for myself, and am willing to pay others the same courtesy. I understand that my rights end at another person and their property, because I don't need the trouble of ill feelings over some wrong-doing, imagined or actual. Life is troubling enough.

The problem is in guaranteeing that more complex interrelationships are handled in an mutually beneficial fashion. Which is why laws exist. Why we created them, and why we get rid of them when they serve little or no purpose, and adapt new ones when we think it suits us. Which brings us back to our point. Do other people understand that the law is a tool, and not a holy edict?

In this regard, the skepticism of myself and other libertarians seems to resemble solipism, in their considerations of others and political affairs.
Image

Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein


User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Mon May 18, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

Jennym wrote:Uh,about those Jared Diamond New Guinea articles:
That's the first mention of them in this thread, as far as I can tell. My reference for hunter-gatherer murder rates was from excavations of grave sites, where they could get a good idea of how many died violently.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

Jennym
Posts: 121
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 12:44 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Jennym » Mon May 18, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Jennym wrote:Uh,about those Jared Diamond New Guinea articles:
That's the first mention of them in this thread, as far as I can tell. My reference for hunter-gatherer murder rates was from excavations of grave sites, where they could get a good idea of how many died violently.


Oh sorry, I was refering to lemminkaienn

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Mon May 18, 2009 9:34 pm UTC

Jennym wrote:Oh sorry, I was refering to lemminkaienn
Ah- I only saw him compare the death rates of modern collectivist societies and modern capitalist societies, so I assumed his mentioning of Collapse wasn't what provoked that.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

Jennym
Posts: 121
Joined: Mon May 18, 2009 12:44 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Jennym » Wed May 20, 2009 9:45 am UTC

It's okay, man. P.S. A critique of the idea of Diamond's collapse from the same site: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/ ... d-diamond/

flippmoke
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:08 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby flippmoke » Thu May 28, 2009 1:04 pm UTC

Simple is better?

Libertarians - Brain, but No Heart.

Socialists - Heart, but No Brain.

This sort of unsupported, non-contributory drivel is not what SB is here for. And since this is the second time in as many SB posts that I've had to break out the purple, user warned.

-Az

User avatar
EMTP
Posts: 1556
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:39 pm UTC
Location: Elbow deep in (mostly) other people's blood.

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby EMTP » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:23 am UTC

The Libertarian, for instance, considers the individual sanctamount.


Well, that depends on how you see the individual. Libertarians treat property as if it were an extension of the self; limits on the use you can make of your property are treated as violations of an individual's freedom.

It's possible to turn that perspective on its head. Imagine a field full of oak trees. It is my natural right as a free individual to take a walk under those oak trees. Restricting me from doing so limits my individual freedom, violates my negative right to go where I want.

My endorsing the convention that someone "owns" the field and "owns" the trees, libertarians would restrict the freedom of 299,999,999 people in order to promote economic efficiency.

EDITED: I just noticed that wonderful neologism; "sacrosanct" meets "paramount." Very cool.

Another question regarding libertarianism and its attitude towards the individual is: "Should libertarianism favor abolishing corporations?" Corporations circumvent individual responsibility via limited liability, and create an "artificial person" in law, which dilutes the rights of real, actual persons.

Jennym wrote:It's okay, man. P.S. A critique of the idea of Diamond's collapse from the same site: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/ ... d-diamond/


The article completely misrepresents Diamond's thesis. There are enough straw men littered about in there to give God hayfever. If you haven't read the book, this guy is not going to give you all realistic idea of what Diamond is arguing.

Double posting is bad and you should feel bad. -Az

I've been carrying a deep sense of shame and self-hatred for some time. Now I know why. Thx.
"Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life."
-- Alan Watts, "The Way of Zen"

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:19 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:It's possible to turn that perspective on its head. Imagine a field full of oak trees. It is my natural right as a free individual to take a walk under those oak trees. Restricting me from doing so limits my individual freedom, violates my negative right to go where I want.

My endorsing the convention that someone "owns" the field and "owns" the trees, libertarians would restrict the freedom of 299,999,999 people in order to promote economic efficiency.
You will find a lot of disagreement among Libertarians about where real property (i.e. land) rights come from, especially in developing nations. Adverse possession is hated by some and loved by others.

But with other things, it's far more obvious. If I take a piece of rock, of which there are enough for everyone to take one, and I melt it down into iron and make a tool out of it, that tool is mine. Given me exclusive ownership is incompatible with giving everyone use of it- but it is clear, from both efficiency and moral grounds, that I should have control over its usage.

That can be extended towards land- if I work the land and make a farm, and labor for months to get a harvest, it would be wrong for someone else to walk into my farm and steal my crop. As part of the farm, there are probably capital improvements- a farmhouse, a fence, my knowledge of the particulars of the terrain there- which suggest the exclusive use of the land I've improved should be mine.

The percentage of land that it is desirable to have owned by all is fairly low. It's nice to have houses, offices, factories, and farms that are safe- a lot nicer than wandering the wilderness, and only being able to defend what you can possess.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

Aetius
Posts: 1099
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:23 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Aetius » Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:37 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:But with other things, it's far more obvious. If I take a piece of rock, of which there are enough for everyone to take one, and I melt it down into iron and make a tool out of it, that tool is mine. Given me exclusive ownership is incompatible with giving everyone use of it- but it is clear, from both efficiency and moral grounds, that I should have control over its usage.

That can be extended towards land- if I work the land and make a farm, and labor for months to get a harvest, it would be wrong for someone else to walk into my farm and steal my crop. As part of the farm, there are probably capital improvements- a farmhouse, a fence, my knowledge of the particulars of the terrain there- which suggest the exclusive use of the land I've improved should be mine.

The percentage of land that it is desirable to have owned by all is fairly low. It's nice to have houses, offices, factories, and farms that are safe- a lot nicer than wandering the wilderness, and only being able to defend what you can possess.


That's Locke, and while it works for infinite resources, or products that are the result of pure labor, it begins to break down when considering limited or scarce resources, especially ones that are intrinsically valuable with minimal labor invested. You will often end up with glaring inequalities if a limited number of people seize the resource or a tragedy of the commons if you fail to have unified control over it.

User avatar
EMTP
Posts: 1556
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:39 pm UTC
Location: Elbow deep in (mostly) other people's blood.

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby EMTP » Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:09 am UTC

Aetius wrote:That's Locke, and while it works for infinite resources, or products that are the result of pure labor, it begins to break down when considering limited or scarce resources, especially ones that are intrinsically valuable with minimal labor invested. You will often end up with glaring inequalities if a limited number of people seize the resource or a tragedy of the commons if you fail to have unified control over it.


Yes indeed, and there are other problems with it as well. In a real economic system, most of what we possess was not made by us: "my" money was manufactured by the US Mint. I didn't manufacture the ink, or the paper, nor did I gather rocks to refine some iron to hand-forge the security strips.

Libertarians say: fine, but you got what you have by the free exchange of something valuable which did belong to you for something which did belong to someone else, and so on down the line. On the strength of that, libertarians argue property = self, and that an absolute right of property is perfect justice, and a negative right.

The problem with this logic -- one of the problems with this logic -- is that if you trace the chain of causation back far enough, it will be disrupted by an act of violence or theft. Value is generated by the returns on capital, but if the capital is ultimately stolen goods (like most of the land in this country, together with all the other assets derived from possession of that land) then your returns are tainted as well; it's impossible to disentangle your contribution to the value of your property from that which ultimately derives from violence or theft.

Property, in this light, is kind of like 18 people with amnesia who wake up in a room with 36 gold ingots. Who do they belong to? Who has a right to them? We don't know. The best (most just) solution is to divide them up equally.

However, we need property rights, as mentioned above, for economic efficiency. We need rewards for productive behavior and disincentives to free riders, or society cannot function. So what do you do? One possible solution is to honor property rights, but subject them to limits set by democratic decision makers to promote some degree of equality and to set a "floor" of outcomes -- if you fail at the game, you don't get the big house, or the nice car, or the dream vacation, but you do get food, shelter, and medical care. Because the game, while it is necessary, is not fair, and we can't make it fair. And you don't threaten someone's life by denying them basic necessities on the basis of the outcome of a game which we know is not fair.

That's one way to get from a theory of natural law, emphasizing negative rights, to a system like Sweden's, or Norway's, where world-class companies are encouraged to generate value, and a large chunk of that value is taken by the state to protect the weaker members of society. I call it "libertarian social democracy." I hope it catches on.
"Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life."
-- Alan Watts, "The Way of Zen"

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:52 am UTC

EMTP wrote:The problem with this logic -- one of the problems with this logic -- is that if you trace the chain of causation back far enough, it will be disrupted by an act of violence or theft. Value is generated by the returns on capital, but if the capital is ultimately stolen goods (like most of the land in this country, together with all the other assets derived from possession of that land) then your returns are tainted as well; it's impossible to disentangle your contribution to the value of your property from that which ultimately derives from violence or theft.
But that only matters if you believe that things must come from natural rights or first principles, which is generally a silly way to look at things. If you believe in, say, adverse possession, where the just owner is the owner on the ground, not the owner on the title deed (with caveats, of course), then you need far less links on your chain.

EMTP wrote:Property, in this light, is kind of like 18 people with amnesia who wake up in a room with 36 gold ingots. Who do they belong to? Who has a right to them? We don't know. The best (most just) solution is to divide them up equally.
Even if the ingots are in their pockets, and different people have different numbers of ingots?

EMTP wrote:And you don't threaten someone's life by denying them basic necessities on the basis of the outcome of a game which we know is not fair.
First off, basic necessities? Is that just food and water and a roof, or does it include their own space? A car? A TV? A computer?

EMTP wrote:That's one way to get from a theory of natural law, emphasizing negative rights, to a system like Sweden's, or Norway's, where world-class companies are encouraged to generate value, and a large chunk of that value is taken by the state to protect the weaker members of society. I call it "libertarian social democracy." I hope it catches on.
What's the difference between social democracy and libertarian social democracy? One includes an oxymoron?
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
EMTP
Posts: 1556
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:39 pm UTC
Location: Elbow deep in (mostly) other people's blood.

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby EMTP » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:12 am UTC

A few points, Van: "that's silly" is not an argument; squatter's rights don't have anything to do with the topic (who owns the property in law is not the question); and while I acknowledge the fascistic and intolerant tendencies in many libertarians, I don't think "libertarian" and "democratic" are literally oxymoronic.
"Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life."
-- Alan Watts, "The Way of Zen"

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:56 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:What's the difference between social democracy and libertarian social democracy?

I would think a microstate social democracy would fit that description well, in the sense of a state where people actually have voluntrarily signed a social contract when joining the community. If such a contract determines rights and duties resembling a social democracy, the result would be close to a libertarian social democracy, wouldn't it?

I persoanlly can't really see such athing happening, but this kind of world order seems rather popular with libertarians. (I was going to write American libertarians, but that seems a bit tautological)

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:18 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:A few points, Van: "that's silly" is not an argument; squatter's rights don't have anything to do with the topic (who owns the property in law is not the question);
Oh, but it does. You're saying that the problem with a natural law approach to property is that you have to trace it back all the way until you get violence or theft from a legitimate owner; I'm saying that if you have a legitimate way of transferring ownership (that is, there is a way of declaring the previous owner illegitimate and the current owner legitimate that does not include violence), then you can break that chain, and start from a standpoint of legitimacy.
EMTP wrote:and while I acknowledge the fascistic and intolerant tendencies in many libertarians, I don't think "libertarian" and "democratic" are literally oxymoronic.
I'm talking about "libertarian" and "social democracy"- the second has an entirely different goal, policies, and modes of thought than libertarianism. Sure, you can put them together in an attempt to fuse yin and yang but it'll be a mess of inconsistencies.

Zamfir wrote:If such a contract determines rights and duties resembling a social democracy, the result would be close to a libertarian social democracy, wouldn't it?
Yes- and for a microstate (really, an enclave inside a libertarian state), it'd be fine. But the entire nation being that sounds like a contradiction to me.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:42 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:I'm saying that if you have a legitimate way of transferring ownership (that is, there is a way of declaring the previous owner illegitimate and the current owner legitimate that does not include violence), then you can break that chain, and start from a standpoint of legitimacy.


Well, yes, but such a view allows a wide range of actions that are generally opposed by libertarians on grounds of property rights. Taxes and imminent domain are also perfectly legitimate ways to appoint a new owner to property, and both can in many situations be defended by an appeal to efficiency too.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:42 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Well, yes, but such a view allows a wide range of actions that are generally opposed by libertarians on grounds of property rights. Taxes and imminent domain are also perfectly legitimate ways to appoint a new owner to property, and both can in many situations be defended by an appeal to efficiency too.
That view actually excludes taxation, which is enforced by violence.

But yeah, libertarians are hardly monolithic.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:11 pm UTC

but isnt anything legal enforced by that same violence? Including any form of property

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:15 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:but isnt anything legal enforced by that same violence? Including any form of property
Yes. But there is a difference between open theft of unprotected / unused property and protection of property against theft.

But you are right in that saying that violence confers illegitimacy destroys the idea of government (since government is, essentially, the monopoly on violence)- and so the question becomes how we differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate violence, to which there are only sticky answers, I think.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:00 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:But you are right in that saying that violence confers illegitimacy destroys the idea of government (since government is, essentially, the monopoly on violence)- and so the question becomes how we differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate violence, to which there are only sticky answers, I think.


The problem I have is with 'legitimate'. It implies a law, and a law implies a state. In the essence, a law is the description of the actions a state will or will not allow. That doesn't mean that a state's actions are always legitimate. A state can act against its own laws, and specific laws can be in conflict with deeper, more important principles of the law.

But I am not sure if something can be legitimate or illegitimate in the absence of any state-like institution.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:19 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:But I am not sure if something can be legitimate or illegitimate in the absence of any state-like institution.
You have to believe in some sort of natural law or Mandate of Heaven or similar concept- that there are laws that promote justice, and laws that destroy justice- that justice is an aspiration for the law, not the description of the law. It's like the riddle- "How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so." But looking at it from a step back, the difference between the words tail and leg is artificial, even though it has meaning.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

AFedchuck
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:23 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby AFedchuck » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:52 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Zamfir wrote:Well, yes, but such a view allows a wide range of actions that are generally opposed by libertarians on grounds of property rights. Taxes and imminent domain are also perfectly legitimate ways to appoint a new owner to property, and both can in many situations be defended by an appeal to efficiency too.
That view actually excludes taxation, which is enforced by violence.

This is more of a question than an assertion, but I thought it could be a useful starting point. As far as I can tell, one of the major objections to the state by libertarians is its ability to use violence, and the contention that violence is antithetical to reason and so a fair society (this sort of quote "Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where the gun begins." springs to mind).
I think to a large extent, socialists too object to violence, however, they recognise violence by the state as not the only form of compulsion. In particular, economic compulsion is viewed as just as immoral. If I force you to starve by denying you a job, is it any less violent than pointing a gun at your head and denying you food?
It seems the recognition of economic compulsion as just as brutal a form of control as state violence is fundamental to socialism.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:43 pm UTC

AFedchuck wrote:I think to a large extent, socialists too object to violence, however, they recognise violence by the state as not the only form of compulsion. In particular, economic compulsion is viewed as just as immoral. If I force you to starve by denying you a job, is it any less violent than pointing a gun at your head and denying you food?
It seems the recognition of economic compulsion as just as brutal a form of control as state violence is fundamental to socialism.
Indeed- and I would say that is the fundamental mistake of socialism. Force excludes other options- economic compulsion does not. You can't tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else- you can tell the unjust boss that. As well, socialism may reduce economic compulsion with the definite addition of violence- which seems to me to be immoral any way you look at it.

Of course, communes are voluntary and generally nonviolent- and I have no problem with them (and there are many things they do better than other organizations).
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

qbg
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby qbg » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:39 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
AFedchuck wrote:I think to a large extent, socialists too object to violence, however, they recognise violence by the state as not the only form of compulsion. In particular, economic compulsion is viewed as just as immoral. If I force you to starve by denying you a job, is it any less violent than pointing a gun at your head and denying you food?
It seems the recognition of economic compulsion as just as brutal a form of control as state violence is fundamental to socialism.
Indeed- and I would say that is the fundamental mistake of socialism. Force excludes other options- economic compulsion does not. You can't tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else- you can tell the unjust boss that.

I do not think that just one unfair boss constitutes economic compulsion; I think economic compulsion exists when the predominant situation is work for an unjust boss or else.

User avatar
andrewclunn
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:33 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby andrewclunn » Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:01 pm UTC

i know I'm coming in late, but I've read the posts and hopefully I'll be able to add something meaningful.

Four things:

1) I think the problem here is that we're arguing between Libertarianism and Socialism, which are essentially political / economic positions. What we should be arguing about is between Objectivism and Utilitarianism (the philosophical underpinnings of the two political views.)

2) I would argue that under Utilitarianism, Libertarians are still correct, as even if the goal is simply the most good for the most people, the free markets provide this much better than government planned economies.

3) I believe we cannot separate out real world examples from this discussion and keep it entirely abstract, as history and reality are the testing grounds to show us if these systems do in fact work when applied.

4) I want to present a case for why 'choosing' to survive really is a choice, but I believe that this video (an excerpt from a book) does it much better than I ever could.
I program in languages that would make your motherboard blush.

I also shave with a +2 Occam's razor.

AFedchuck
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:23 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby AFedchuck » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:07 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:i know I'm coming in late, but I've read the posts and hopefully I'll be able to add something meaningful.

Four things:

1) I think the problem here is that we're arguing between Libertarianism and Socialism, which are essentially political / economic positions. What we should be arguing about is between Objectivism and Utilitarianism (the philosophical underpinnings of the two political views.)

Could you give me some evidence for the assertion that socialism is driven by utilitarianism (I mean some prominent socialist thinkers)? I think you're perverting the debate to one which you know you're going to win, because naive utilitarianism is widely recognised to be flawed. On your other points, why are 'free' markets (by which I assume you mean markets regulated in favour of businesses) better than governmental intervention, in general cases?
I think real world examples would be useful - except for the fact that there has never been really socialist or libertarian state. The paucity of examples makes debate difficult.
And on 4): Oh god, not Ayn "I hate the poor" Rand. Could you explain how this fits into the present debate?
qbg wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
AFedchuck wrote:I think to a large extent, socialists too object to violence, however, they recognise violence by the state as not the only form of compulsion. In particular, economic compulsion is viewed as just as immoral. If I force you to starve by denying you a job, is it any less violent than pointing a gun at your head and denying you food?
It seems the recognition of economic compulsion as just as brutal a form of control as state violence is fundamental to socialism.
Indeed- and I would say that is the fundamental mistake of socialism. Force excludes other options- economic compulsion does not. You can't tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else- you can tell the unjust boss that.

I do not think that just one unfair boss constitutes economic compulsion; I think economic compulsion exists when the predominant situation is work for an unjust boss or else.

Actually, you can tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else - by voting. If the tax was for a tyranny, you would be right, it would be compulsion at the end of a gun. But it's not.
And as qbg so rightly points out, how is the choice to be a wage slave or starve a real choice? In what way is the power of a company owner or wealthy man deserved?

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:23 pm UTC

AFedchuck wrote:Actually, you can tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else - by voting. If the tax was for a tyranny, you would be right, it would be compulsion at the end of a gun. But it's not.
Really? Because my odds of changing, say, the Presidential election by voting are about the same as my odds of getting struck by lightning twice. My odds of changing my Representative or Senator, and them being the one that makes the difference between a tax increase passing and it failing, seem roughly similar (but harder to compute).

The amount of control the least influential person has over the whole in a large system run by collective decisions is 0. The amount of control the least wealthy person has over their life in a large system run by individual decisions in generally more than 0.

AFedchuck wrote:And as qbg so rightly points out, how is the choice to be a wage slave or starve a real choice?
It is a real choice in that no one is forcing you down a particular path. Imagine you're standing underneath a falling meteor- you will probably decide to dodge, even if you all the spots around you are covered with burning coals. There's an importance difference between that and a living, thinking person tossing a rock at you if you don't walk on the coals they want you to walk on.
It doesn't really matter whether or not you call it a "real choice"- I just think it's important to not conflate the two issues.

As well, "earning a living" doesn't mean "being a wage slave." Roughly one in six Americans work for themselves, and I would claim that collectivist thinking helps make people shy away from such independent lives.

AFedchuck wrote:In what way is the power of a company owner or wealthy man deserved?
Is the total amount of wealth in the world constant?
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

AFedchuck
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:23 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby AFedchuck » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:23 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
AFedchuck wrote:Actually, you can tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else - by voting. If the tax was for a tyranny, you would be right, it would be compulsion at the end of a gun. But it's not.
Really? Because my odds of changing, say, the Presidential election by voting are about the same as my odds of getting struck by lightning twice. My odds of changing my Representative or Senator, and them being the one that makes the difference between a tax increase passing and it failing, seem roughly similar (but harder to compute).

The amount of control the least influential person has over the whole in a large system run by collective decisions is 0. The amount of control the least wealthy person has over their life in a large system run by individual decisions in generally more than 0.

Only for your twisted definitions of control. And if you think the current system is broken (as I do), surely the solution is to reform it, and not by turning to those very same entities that are distorting it.

Vanvier]
[quote="AFedchuck wrote:
And as qbg so rightly points out, how is the choice to be a wage slave or starve a real choice?
It is a real choice in that no one is forcing you down a particular path. Imagine you're standing underneath a falling meteor- you will probably decide to dodge, even if you all the spots around you are covered with burning coals. There's an importance difference between that and a living, thinking person tossing a rock at you if you don't walk on the coals they want you to walk on.
It doesn't really matter whether or not you call it a "real choice"- I just think it's important to not conflate the two issues.

As well, "earning a living" doesn't mean "being a wage slave." Roughly one in six Americans work for themselves, and I would claim that collectivist thinking helps make people shy away from such independent lives.
[/quote]
Ah, ok, so you do have a choice not to pay taxes. In fact, you don't seem to believe in compulsion at all. Glad we've got that sorted. But what should we describe force and economic compulsion as?
Independent lives? Perhaps, but they are almost all still bound into society. Anyway, I wonder where you got your numbers from. I went on to the BLS, and here's what I found.
Non-agriculture self employed 9,219,000
Agriculture 'self employed' 860,000*
Total self employed 10,079,000

*This figure will essentially be workers, rather than businessmen.

But compare those numbers to these:
Unemployed: 8 924 000 (this is the 2008 value, not our current value, which will be massively higher)

So just as many people are free (thereabouts, there's about a 10% discrepancy) and indepedent as are depedant on the state. Interesting that, isn' it.
Oh, before I forget, your value of 1 in 6 is crap, there are 145362000 employed americans. So that gives 6.5% self employed or about 1 in 15 working age Americans.

Vanvier][quote="AFedchuck wrote:In what way is the power of a company owner or wealthy man deserved?
Is the total amount of wealth in the world constant?[/quote]
No. I take it that you are arguing that everybody could become as rich as Bill Gates if they just tried hard enough. This is what I hate about the American dream, this insidious flipside, the question that it asks of the poor "If everyone can make it, why are you poor?", and the answer it provides - "because you are worthless". Bill Gates' children won't have to work hard to get their power, so why should they feel better than the person who fights tooth and nail to keep their minimum wage job down?
I'll ask you again to explain, how is their power deserved?

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:43 pm UTC

Only for your twisted definitions of control. And if you think the current system is broken (as I do), surely the solution is to reform it, and not by turning to those very same entities that are distorting it.
Influence over outcomes is a twisted definition of control? What is an unbent one?
The difference between you and me, as much as I can tell, is that I see government as a distorting entity, because it's an organization staffed by people in a way very similar to corporations- except the incentives are different, mostly in a bad way. So government reform is turning to one of the very same entities.

Ah, ok, so you do have a choice not to pay taxes. In fact, you don't seem to believe in compulsion at all.
How did you get that? I believe in a difference between compulsion by nature and compulsion by man. The first one is not a moral problem, it is a practical problem. The second one is a moral problem.

Anyway, I wonder where you got your numbers from.
I'm sorry, I misremembered the full statistic. It came from Daniel Pink, but it was actually "free agents"- a group which includes the self-employed, independent contractors, and temp workers. So by his numbers, dated to ~2002, roughly one out of every 11 workers were self-employed.

It is worth pointing out that the BLS numbers (and I imagine that's where he got his) only include people whose primary job is being self-employed, not the businesses that people have on the side.

No. I take it that you are arguing that everybody could become as rich as Bill Gates if they just tried hard enough.
No, that would be silly. People like Bill Gates are exceptional- the combination of talent, determination, and luck.

I'll ask you again to explain, how is their power deserved?
Because when you increase the total amount of wealth, it is fair to give you a piece of that increase. That's why workers deserve salaries, and entrepreneurs and investors deserve ownership and profits.

Is some wealth undeserved? Completely. But if you want to minimize undeserved wealth, a system where people get paid voluntarily by others, and then are allowed to give gifts, strikes me as the best system, since fraud and theft will be marginalized.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

qbg
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby qbg » Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:08 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Ah, ok, so you do have a choice not to pay taxes. In fact, you don't seem to believe in compulsion at all.
How did you get that? I believe in a difference between compulsion by nature and compulsion by man. The first one is not a moral problem, it is a practical problem. The second one is a moral problem.

Socialists will of course see economic compulsion as being compulsion by man, with the proletariat being a rather recent creation by man.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests