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Friday, November 7, 2008

Markets or Freedom is a False Choice

Morgan Murray wrote:
MM) It has become apparent that a belief in liberty and freedom will lead naturally to a belief in and support of free markets, but it has become equally obvious that the reverse is not necessarily true. (MM
That's pretty close to oxymoronic, since free markets by definition require "liberty and freedom".
MM) One is based on promoting freedom and liberty, the other is based on strict adherence to the 'purity of free market dogma.' (MM
No, they're both based on the same principle/dogma: that utility functions are subjective.  I'm sorry if you find this formulation of the idea uninspiring, but where and when were we promised that the deepest understanding of Liberty must turn out to be  good fodder for rousing a crowd?  Just because we don't read economics textbooks at rallies, that doesn't make the textbooks wrong -- or even just useless.
MM) This GMU crowd, which has claimed itself the intellectual champion of Libertarianism, is neither Libertarian nor truly intellectual. They are the most counter-productive force in our fight for Liberty today. (MM
I couldn't disagree more.  Economics-oriented libertarianism is the future of the broader freedom movement.  The LP's choices are to get on the train or step in front of it.  The LP is a bug compared to the windshield of free-market theory and praxis.  We can either ride on the inside, or be splattered on the outside.
MM) Anyone who denies that all citizens should have the right to vote is not a Libertarian. Their adherence to their economic ideology has lead them to this most anti-Libertarian belief, that the vote should be restricted to 'those who know better'. (MM
On the contrary, voting -- i.e. the exercise of political power -- is inherently un-libertarian.  It's also one of our only available methods of self-defense, and so libertarians are wise to do it.  Democracy is more about egalitarianism than it is about libertarianism, but libertarianism per se neither requires nor precludes democracy.  I'm sorry if being realistic about democracy conflicts with what the public schools taught us while we were learning to pledge allegiance.   My 8-year-old explains it pretty well in the lead video here:  Does that make her an "asshole"?
MM) these egomaniacs try to outdo each other in being cold-blooded assholes. (MM
Are you sure you're not projecting?  Seriously, just because for you to do something would require motive X, that doesn't mean that only X can motivate it.  Imputing bad motives to those who disagree with us is the worst form of intellectual laziness.
MM) The reason this is important, is that we are attempting to convince people, voluntarily, of the benefits of Liberty. Convincing people involves what is commonly known as people skills, as in not being a total ass. (MM
So what we consider to be Right and True is constrained by whether it's easy to sell?

Why get so worked up about the ideology/strategy/tactics of libertarians who are not trying to constrain your own libertarian ideology/strategy/tactics?  Heck, those GMU academics aren't even in the LP.  I don't buy this line, usually heard from LP radicals, that libertarians can't increase liberty until all self-described libertarians are selling the exact same brand of libertarianism.  There will always be libertarians that embarrass other libertarians (often symmetrically), but it's a seductive time-sink to invest too much time in trying to bureaucratically correct the outreach efforts of fellow libertarians.  My specialty is defending libertarians from such bureaucratic corrections, and unfortunately a lot of people don't see the difference.  And that's just sad, because recognizing the difference between offense and defense is something we're supposed to learn on the first day of being a libertarian.  I tell voters that I'm interested in politics so that someday my daughters won't have to be interested in politics.  Similarly, the Reform Caucus fights over the LP Platform so that someday no Libertarian will have to fight over the LP Platform. :-)
MM) Brian, For the sake of keeping this conversation civil, lay off the sarcasm. I am well aware that Munger is an economist. (MM
When you praise Munger's candidacy while angrily and viciously berating the economic approach to libertarianism, you run the risk of a little sarcasm to highlight just how ironic that seems.  Maybe next time I'll just say "huh?", but I can't make any promises. :-)