16 June 2007

pragmatic libertarianism defined

i've come across a darned good definition of what i've been calling "pragmatic libertarianism" in Radicals for Capitalism.
[L]ibertarians have many good arguments going for them in economics, and ... they should rely more on historical-economic empiricism and less on rights language.... [T]he libertarian movement needs most in order to achieve greater academic respectability and impact are high-level books of academic rigor that can authoritatively argue such points as that capitalism did not cause the Great Depression, that the Robber Barons were not despoiling America and creating ruthless economic royalties, and that poverty can be as much the result of state policies as it is of market failures.... [T]he movement does not need further explorations in an ultimately failed quest to find the trumping philosophical/moral rights argument that will turn the world libertarian.
(emphasis in original)
in other words, libertarians need to focus on solving real problems using a rights-oriented approach. the same as socialism and communism, there will never be a situation with ideal circumstances to make all the pieces of the puzzle fall nicely into place. the key difference is a reliance on voluntarism, eschewing the implicit threat of force common to all state policies.


  1. I'm beginning to think that American policy is built on crisis, panic, and scapegoats.

    It does bear a re-iteration that Capitalism is in the same boat as Socialism : Neither works when they're the sole decider of policy.

  2. i don't think i'd agree with that. preventing the efficient allocation of resources (people and capital) is what breaks the system. capitalism, when supported by an appropriate use of gubmint power, is far superior.

  3. I'd argue that pure capitalism does not result in efficient allocation of resources. Maybe from the standpoint of rich people it does, since if efficiently distributes money into their various pockets. But not from a standpoint of society as a whole. Capital has gravity, and ends up in the hands of the few very easily without that 'appropriate use of gubmint power'. Which tends to be somewhat socialistic in nature.

    Don't get me wrong. Life without capitalism sucks ass. Life without any amount of socialism also sucks ass.

    I think what you really object to is mis-conceived socialist programs that are really right-wing ploys to secure the assets of the rich while making the middle pay for the poor. A marriage of socialism and capitalism made in hell.

  4. i just want policy makers to lean toward voluntarism at every opportunity. that's all i can expect at this point.