Anything That's Peaceful

Discussion in 'Markets & Economies' started by bordsilver, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    As there is significant confusion or misrepresentation among some members of the forum, I thought it useful to have a thread that addresses the question: What is Libertarianism?

    A: Libertarianism is a political philosophy concerned with the legitimate use of violence. The non-aggression principle (or NAP) is the central tenet. It is worded in a variety of ways but I prefer to state it as follows:

    It is wrong to initiate fraud, force or violence against another person or their property.

    Or, more simply: Don't hurt other people. Don't take their stuff. (Although this simplification is more of a playground definition as it removes the key word "initiate" which recognises that there are occasions when it is legitimate to use violence in self-defence.)

    Or, in the positive sense: people should be allowed to do anything that's peaceful.

    However, even if we are to have a society which is based on this philosophy it is important to remember the following:
    1. It is not possible to make the world perfectly safe. Attempts to do so often result in gross denial of personal freedom and responsibility. A world free of risk is also impossible.
    2. What constitutes aggression is typically highly contextual and can be based on differing opinions (ie what a 'victim' thought was aggression, the 'perpetrator' did not or vice versa). Consequently a major role in a civilised society is to have an independent adjudication process, the decisions from which will be respected and abided by the parties involved (noting that most dispute resolution process have the ability to dispute the decisions of the process itself). Hence, Libertarianism isn't about determining hard and fast rules that govern people's behaviour for all time, it is about societal institutions that eschew the use of violence to solve the inevitable disputes that arise between individual humans living in groups. It is also about creating inbuilt safeguards that mean that the institutions themselves are not perpetrators of illegitimate aggression. Principally this means not granting illegitimate authority or privileges into the hands of some people and that everybody is subject to the same laws and rights. The institutions are there to govern the behaviour of the individuals within it so that they are serving the interests of others (whilst fulfilling their own) instead of serving their own interests at the expense of others.
     
  2. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    What it isn't
    Libertarianism is not a comprehensive ethical theory. It does not try to tell us what ideals we should aspire to in our personal lives, nor does it tell us much about the way that we should interact with other people. The only thing libertarianism has to say about our interpersonal relations is that it is wrong to aggress upon their person or property.

    Paraphrasing Lew Rockwell: Libertarianism is concerned with the use of violence in society. That is all. It is not anything else. It is not feminism. It is not egalitarianism (except in a functional sense: everyone equally lacks the authority to aggress against anyone else). It has nothing to say about aesthetics. It has nothing to say about religion or race or nationality or sexual orientation. It has nothing to do with left-wing campaigns against "white privilege", unless that privilege is state-supplied.

    Let me repeat: the only "privilege" that matters to a libertarian qua libertarian is the kind that comes from the barrel of the state's gun. Disagree with this statement if you like, but in that case you will have to substitute some word other than libertarian to describe your philosophy.

    Libertarians are of course free to concern themselves with issues like feminism and egalitarianism. But their interest in those issues has nothing to do with, and is not required by or a necessary feature of, their libertarianism. Accordingly, they may not impose these preferences on other libertarians, or portray themselves as fuller, more consistent, or more complete libertarians.

    As Rothbard put it:
    Libertarianism is a beautiful and elegant edifice of thought and practice. It begins with and logically builds upon the principle of self-ownership. In the society it calls for, no one may initiate physical force against anyone else. What this says about the libertarian's view of moral enormities ranging from slavery to war should be obvious, but the libertarian commitment to freedom extends well beyond the clear and obvious scourges of mankind.

    Our position is not merely that the state is a moral evil, but that human liberty is a tremendous moral good. Human beings ought to interact with each other on the basis of reason their distinguishing characteristic rather than with hangmen and guns. And when they do so, the results, by a welcome happenstance, are rising living standards, an explosion in creativity and technological advance, and peace. Even in the world's partially capitalist societies, hundreds of millions if not billions of people have been liberated from the miserable, soul-crushing conditions of hand-to-mouth existence in exchange for far more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
     
  3. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    The title of this thread is from Leonard E. Read's** 1964 book of the same name. Quoting:

    ** Leonard was also the author of the famous "I, Pencil" essay.
     
  4. Naphthalene Man

    Naphthalene Man Active Member Silver Stacker

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    I thought a libertarian was the person who sent me overdue reminders with my book fines... Oh I see, I had it wrong. Gotcha now
     
  5. wrcmad

    wrcmad Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    I thought libertarian was a libertad collector.
     
  6. Jislizard

    Jislizard Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    It seems very subjective, you might be able to get away with something in front of some adjudicators but with a different set of adjudicators or at a different time you might not be able to get away with the same thing.

    I don't have children but I was under the impression that they needed boundaries and they needed to know where they are. Is it not the same with adults?

    Are no legal precedents set at the conclusion of an adjudication?
     
  7. Clawhammer

    Clawhammer Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    If a libertarian gets their property stolen, may they institute violence upon the guilty party to retrieve what's theirs?
     
  8. Clawhammer

    Clawhammer Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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  9. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    There's plenty of boundaries in "Don't initiate fraud, force or violence against another person or their property." To teach kids, start by telling them "Don't hurt your sister. Don't touch her stuff without asking. Play nice." (And the good old "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.")

    In terms of different adjudicators that happens now. There could be a completely different outcome based on which judge you happen to get assigned or which jurisdiction you or the plaintiff happen to be in. The key is an open process whereby both parties agree to abide by the judgements. You may still be a bit unhappy with the judgement or the compensation that was awarded, but as long as you don't resort to violence to resolve your dispute with the dispute resolution process then all good.

    In terms of the use of precedents, Yes. That is a very sensible method to set an open standard that is automatically deemed to apply equally to everyone else in the society. This indeed is the basis for Common Law where case by case, what is deemed aggression (and what is deemed appropriate compensation) is discovered.

    In terms of "subjectivity" a lot is in what are called "social norms". This applies under existing judicial systems and a libertarian-based judicial system would be no different. Social norms answer things like "What is an appropriate age of consent?", "What constitutes a valid claim on property?", "Did I take reasonable steps to prevent harm to others from my activities?", "Who is considered to have full adult rights?", "What happens to my property when I die?", "What is an appropriate length of time before a piece of property is considered abandoned?", "How does someone claim abandoned property?" and so on and so forth. None of these questions have hard and fast answers as they are dealing with the grey areas of issues which have clear black and white extremes (ie It is clear that property can be abandoned and it is right for other people to be able to claim it, but in terms of the specific circumstances that THIS property will be considered abandoned and that YOU can claim it, our judgement of "reasonable" is ... ...).
     
  10. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Yes.

    However, as far as I am aware, all human societies have adopted some sort of standard of using "reasonable force" when doing so. Personally I subscribe strongly to this as well, but this is one of those social norms. For example, it is not reasonable to shoot dead an 8-year old boy who stole some chewing gum and if you do so then you are actually guilty of murder. I think proportionality of force goes hand-in-hand with proportionality of compensation for the degree with which your rights were violated.

    This sort of thing is all part of the "reasonable man test". Indeed, the origins of a trial by a jury of your peers is about using a group of "reasonable people" to aid in knowing what the societal norms are at any given time for any particular event/dispute.

    Also, before doing so, you'd want to be sure that the guilty party was really the guilty party.

    Edit: I think it is worth pointing out that there have been various historical (and current) examples of using surety against someone doing something wrong. Hence, if person A violates someone's rights there's no actual need to instigate violence against that person yourself. Instead you obtain compensation via the surety and it is up to them to decide what they will do. This can be a very effective method in various circumstances.
     
  11. Clawhammer

    Clawhammer Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    I agree and submit that it is the failing in this last bit that 'causes all the problems with the broader issue of 'using force'.
     
  12. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Definitely. A major reason why vigilante justice has typically been frowned upon (although at times it can clearly have its place).
     
  13. willrocks

    willrocks Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    What about when my dog barks during the daytime? My neighbor doesn't like it (she doesn't like anything). Should I discipline my dog, or my neighbor?
     
  14. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Slightly off-topic, but some interesting history about vigilante justice in San Francisco (note the dates):

    Source: Bruce L. Benson. "Reciprocal Exchange as the Basis for Recognition of Law: Examples from American History", Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol X. No. 1, Fall 1991.
     
  15. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Aah. The biggest joy* of every local council around the country. :p Assuming you aren't living in a high noise environment anyway, you should discipline the dog as it is your property that is causing the problem.

    Edit: *Along with fence disputes. :lol:

    Edit again: because I just realised it is your dog
     
  16. willrocks

    willrocks Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    It's the dog's job to guard, and he does his job well. I'm not about to train him out of that.
     
  17. Jislizard

    Jislizard Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Is the dog barking because someone is trying to gain access to your property or because the neighbour is in their own garden?

    Guarding is one thing, barking at everything that moves nearby is inappropriate and reflects more on your ability to train dogs than on your dog's ability to guard.
     
  18. bordsilver

    bordsilver Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Besides what Jiz said:
    A. In today's times there are cheaper alternatives.
    B. I don't particularly care to decide what is the specific solution to your specific circumstances. Just so long as you and your neighbour can peacefully arrive at a mutually agreeable peaceful solution or not resort to violence.
     
  19. willrocks

    willrocks Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    The dog barks at the postman and anyone approaching the front or back gate. But never at the neighbor.
     
  20. Jislizard

    Jislizard Well-Known Member Silver Stacker

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    Our dog barks when we leave for work, we asked the neighbours if it disturbed them, they said "It is a dog, we expect it to bark." I gave up trying to retrain it a long time ago, the family were soft on it as a puppy, it pretty much trained them. We introduced it to the neighbours and they get along fine but for some reason skateboarders drive it into a fury.
     

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