'I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers which can't be questioned.' -Richard Feynman

Arguments Against Libertarianism Philosophy

by Ethan Glover, Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018

The Major Walls

Just as I did with my 15 Questions for Anarcho-Communists, I recently asked 15 Questions to Libertarians. The responses in general were much better and more thought out. They took challenges and adapted their answers to any point I brought up in response to theirs. This is opposed to the communists who fall apart and begin to really struggle with very basic stuff. Sometimes even by saying that things like crime, value and scarcity simply would not exist in any form in their society. The libertarians took the challenge and did well. This is especially true for one person who took even me to an end where I had nothing left to ask. As pushy and picky as I can be, this has never happened before. So I’m impressed by the way the answers were handled and a special shout out goes to Daradius. However, the answers themselves were exactly what I expected. There are the usual contradictions and the biggest problems emerged exactly where I expected them to emerge.

First, there were two major walls I hit with Libertarians. That is, two questions that put a halt to the conversation and that I never got a response to. Not getting a response in return can happen for a lot of reasons when dealing with the internet. But these two particular questions caused a stop more than once and caused issues in other conversations. The first question stopped four conversations. It is, “Is it wrong to force a libertarian system on people if it is wrong to force other systems on people?” This is going to be tricky for anyone who supports any system of government, and that’s the point. It someone says no, that’s OK (we’ll get to feelings of superiority later). However, it is important to note that many are halted by this, and to me this says that it is something they haven’t thought about and haven’t developed an answer to. That is what makes it one of the most important questions you can ask a libertarian, getting them to think in new ways is the most important and helpful thing you can do for them. I think this question of believing that Libertarianism should be forced is a primary one to add to your utility belt when conversing with its supporters. The second question that caused silence is fairly similar, I counted it popping up twice, “Is morality subjective. Or is it objectively defined by. and enforceable by libertarian principles?” For Libertarians, who believe that their government is somehow righter that other people’s governments, this is also an important realization. As with the first, the specifics for this question will be expanded later. For now, it should be said that when Libertarians show support for a socialized military and court system they are still showing support for socialism, even if at a minimalist level. Some people prefer pure socialism (or think they do) and should be able to make that decision for themselves, to learn, experience, live their own lives and face their own consequences. This is what Libertarians aim to restrict people from doing thanks to a few minor fears they have of a society without their particular brand of force.

Top 3 – Superiority

Getting into actual questions answered, there are three main areas that popped up more often than any other and three main areas where I am most concerned about in the Libertarian opinion. The first issue and the one issue where I would ask Libertarians to seriously look in the mirror and fix is a feeling of superiority. There is an honest opinion that Libertarianism is better than all forms of other politics. That the opinions and morals of Libertarians are better than that of others. Statistically this opinion popped up five times. (The highest count achieved.) Libertarians will say that it isn’t right to legislate morality but ignore the issue of morality when it doesn’t suit their system. For instance, in two cases I was told that forcing people to pay for Obamacare is immoral. Yet, these same two people immediately turned around to say that forcing people to pay taxes is moral. This is of course arbitrary opinion, and when reminded of this Libertarians will say, “Of course it is, and that’s OK!” They aim for maximum morality based on a few arbitrary guidelines and generally reject the idea of a moral system period. To say that enforcing arbitrary opinion on entire nations is very telling of how Libertarians see themselves in the world. I don’t think they’re considering subjectivity nearly as often as they think they are.

Some other justifications for the feeling of superiority I got include: The government isn’t good at achieving goals or ends, but it should still be used on a minimized basis. Emotion and opinion is unavoidable in decisions, what should be done is proper emotions should be “suggested”. And whatever you do, work towards a libertarian agenda. These are not good things, obviously. If the government isn’t good at what it does, why would you feel it necessary? From the way some answers were handled, I get the feeling that the biggest fear for Libertarians is that things wouldn’t work out their way. This is reflected throughout all the questions and answers and especially the idea of suggesting proper emotional reactions to certain decisions. And reflected again in saying that it doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you’re working towards Libertarianism. They are all for “freedom” and “liberty” so long as people subscribe to their idea of freedom and liberty.

Top 3 – Military and Courts

The above issue of superiority is a massively worrying thing and deserves reflection first and foremost. Everything beyond it is just a matter of answering legitimate concerns. Explaining how private military and courts could work? No problem. But those explanations won’t go far without addressing the immoral ideological issues of saying, “You can do what you want, so long as you do what I say.” This will be reflected throughout everything in this article, but for now the issue we are faced with is the issue of socialized military and court systems. There are three main issues that libertarians express. First, privatization would lead to warlords and mass violence. Second, normal people can’t afford military equipment. Third, and this isn’t necessarily and issue, but it is repeated by a few people, tax for the military is justified because life is more important than wealth.

These are legitimately good issues to bring up. The fears make sense. Chances are, most libertarians have heard the standard answers. Warlord situations are avoided by not only the checks and balances of multiple companies but the fact that constant war and violence is not profitable. Especially when there are other options and people can legitimately seek protection from anybody who seeks to use force. Normal people don’t really need to afford tanks and RPG’s. That’s why they pay into companies who can “collectivize” the payments into one system and build an army or defense strategy that is bigger than what is possible on a personal level. This is what capitalism and privatization specializes at. I have no doubt that Libertarians have heard these things. I’ve certainly brought them up, and they tend to answer with things like, “OK, that makes sense, I’m just not there 100%.” This, again goes back to what I see as a potential internal issue in thinking, “What if things don’t turn out how we imagine it? What if I don’t get the system I want?” For instance, an issue that came up more than once is that tax for the military is justified because life is more important than wealth. This is the exact justification given by most liberal policies like socialized medicine. It is the justification used for most things Libertarians oppose, yet they use those excuses to push for the kind of society they believe they would thrive in. Just as the Republican and Democrat pushes for the system they think they would do best in. Not to try and establish “superiority”, but in the ideas of Anarcho-Capitalism it is perfectly OK to create opt-in, contractually based governments. At that point, you might not want to call it a government but a centralized agency that handles utilities and protection, but hey, to each his own, right? The point is, this is not something most Libertarians support. They generally fear anarchy and what they personally see as its inevitable effects.

Aside from those big three issues brought up there were quite a bit of stand out things said on the issues of taxing for military and courts. For instance, if you don’t like the system, you can always leave. Yes, this was actually said. And this person made sure to mention that he does consent to the current government by the mere fact that he lives in the United States. It was said that if you don’t consent to the government, you are not a citizen, and you are unwelcome. It’s funny to think of such a thought ever being enforced. Imagine the millions of people that would be deported for thought crimes because they don’t explicitly consent to somebody else’s arbitrary rules. I’m not trying to downplay the argument Libertarians gave me, like I said, they were generally very good, but some of the things said by individuals (as this was) are kind of ridiculous and hard to imagine how it could come out of a Libertarian. Another person told me that taxes are absolutely and inarguably immoral, but they are needed to hold back evil. This is the same old, fight fire with fire approach that Libertarians have been unsuccessfully using for years to no avail. It is also hard to not point out again that this kind of thinking is exactly what Democrats and Republicans do. It’s how they justify everything. I am formidably convinced that Libertarians (or minarchists) are truly no different than any other political party for the fact that they believe that their opinions are somehow better than or more proper than what their opponents preach. Every party talks about personal freedom and liberty, every party talks about what must be forcefully paid for in order to build a “better” society. The question is, when it comes to 300 million or 7 billion people, is there such a thing as “better”? I think not. Finally, and this was an eye popper if the military or law enforcement were privatized, companies would be more concerned with showing off on the battlefield and winning more customers than actually fighting. I don’t know who bets on the Harlem Globetrotters to win against the Lakers, but they’re an idiot and a lonely person. People care about real results and their safety first and foremost. Does the air force who takes videos of jets doing tricks in the air in the middle of a “war” and posts it to YouTube gain support? Or would they receive condemnation, a loss of customers, and more importantly, massive losses of life?

Top 3 – Limit Immigration

The last of the Top 3 issues that Libertarians brought up is that they want to limit immigration into the United States. Anarcho-capitalists generally think on a global scale and aren’t concerned with local politics as something real, but instead something to look at and challenge or learn from. So, on this issue, the United States being the only free society isn’t necessarily a consideration. But, because we’re talking about Libertarians the issue remains on a country/border level. Libertarians believe that immigration should be limited. The biggest reason given was that open borders would make the U.S. an escape for criminals from other countries. When I asked if a better more efficient police force, concerned only with violent crime, could better handle the potential influx of criminals for long enough to set a precedent for other countries, I was met with some flexible adaptations of the answer. Such as saying that open borders would be acceptable if someone else did it first, but this doesn’t really say anything. The real question is, “Do you take authority over a particular border and restrict free travel over that land despite the opinions of the actual land owners?” Well from here, the Libertarians went back into arbitrary excuses. Which again is fine on the surface but may be revealing a bigger issue. (superiority) From one person, I was told that murder and theft are always wrong, when I pushed the issue to ask about travel I was told that limiting travel is not wrong for the simple fact that the existence of social services requires some limitation on rights. In order to have social services, he claims that rights must be limited, but only limited in the way that he personally believes they should be limited. Anything that goes beyond that is “immoral”.

Stand Out Stances

There a few other stances that really stood out in my 15 questions to Libertarians. But first, I’d like to “clean up my notes” and get some of the small stuff out of the way. As an example, for the most part Libertarians want to legalize all drugs with the exception of one person wanting to leave it up to the states. The idea of minimizing the government and making power smaller and spread out (as in the case of state sovereignty) is certainly better than a central government. But it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue of government. It still means that people are bickering over legislation and trying to enact what they believe in their subjective opinion is the best, even if it is at the cost of others. This is of course what Libertarianism in general does, so there’s no surprise here on wanting states to be able to decide what people consume. I didn’t get too far on the subject of drugs even though it was an issue that commonly came up and caused a few contradictions. There was a lot of other stuff we went over that came through individual conversations and can’t rightfully be said to be representative of Libertarians in general. So allow me to rush through a few things in order to get to the good stuff.

Only two people said roads should be privatized now. This is as opposed to one person that said we have a long way to go before roads can be privatized. Which begs the question, what exactly are you waiting for? Are roads really that big of a deal? Are there no small towns willing to lend you their ear such as Keene? Only one person believes that there should be no legislation on immigration, bravo to you sir. On education, the idea was brought up that the voucher systems for private schools should be implemented to help move towards more privatization but pure private schooling is too radical to be implemented 100%. Well, good god, subsidize the private schools and enforce half the curriculum and prices would just rise, and education quality would drop like has happened with colleges. These are the kinds of things states love because it gives the state, which is stronger than Libertarianism, an entry point for power just as Libertarians believe it is an entry point for power. Open that door, and it becomes a fight you cannot win. A point was brought up that says government and law will always be abused. This is why minimum government is needed. This of course doesn’t really address the issue. You can’t get rid of abuse by abusing others. Libertarians will fully admit that government is by nature evil until you get them talking about their own ideas of government. Another person admitted that Libertarianism may be considered to be a threat to most people, but the goal is to change this belief, it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Basically, it doesn’t matter if people don’t like Libertarianism and see it as a threat to their lifestyle. Just force it on them anyways, change their minds and how they want to live and be done with it. This is why as an anarcho-capitalist I don’t believe in political action. I get why people want what they do. I only want the option to opt out. One person said that Manning and Snowden are traitors. Except, the Libertarian ideology as a whole is benefiting immensely from what they’ve exposed. No one has been harmed by what they’ve done, no one sold anything to Russia (one person actually believes this happened), so I don’t know how that claim can be honestly made by a Libertarian. Finally, one person said blowback doesn’t matter, if you’re attacked, the reason for that attack doesn’t matter, you just gotta’ fight back no matter what. Perpetual war. Some can’t live without it. This hearkens to a neo-conservative way of thinking. The ideology of revenge, even if it the attack was well deserved.

Top 6 – The LP

Well this article is turning out to be all over the place, and chaotic isn’t it? I think if one were to search my site for “method to the madness” they’d find quite a bit of results. There’s a reason all that crap is thrown into the middle and a reason why I’ve got the top six issues wrapped around them. First, the top three items don’t get a lot of arguments against, if any. These next three weren’t 100% supported by all, but still the majority. The stuff in the middle? Kind of just some random stuff I picked up. I don’t want the article to end on the note of some random stuff that was thrown out by a few people, but I want it to start on the most important issues because they are at the core of everything that’s being said. Make sense? Let’s move on!

In general libertarians do not believe that the Libertarian Party represents libertarians. For the most part, they dislike the LP. Expanding from there Libertarians don’t have any preference for any group, in fact, a lot of them believe it is impossible to get a full representation of the ideology because people within it can not be generalized. To this, I can’t help but wonder how they expect to gain any sort of majority if they are so set on personal specifics that they express hatred towards their own party which makes its generalizations in order to attract as many people as possible. For the most part, I see more support for the Republican party than anything else. Libertarians even said that Gary Johnson would be better off running as a Republican, even if that means compromising on his positions in order to gain party support. One person even said that the LP is a waste of resources, but then talked about national politics as the most effective way to gain power. I couldn’t get an answer on the alternative to using the party system from those who do not support the LP. But for those who do support it, they expressed a concern over the amount of money the LP gets. They want that 5% in-order to get matching funds from the taxpayer who did not donate. Which is an issue in itself but I never got to it because of the wavering answers on this issue. The Libertarians are more unorganized that even the GOP which they seem to support more than their own ideology anyways. I get the feeling that when Libertarians get to looking at their own issues (when others talk about them) they develop a repulsion over the fact that it is contradictory. They don’t realize that they have their own contradictions. Every Libertarian has their own special exceptions to the rule and will not compromise on those exceptions. They all believe they are individually superior. They believe they hold the key to Libertarianism, and anything that strays from that is corrupt and wrong.

Top 6 – Sharia Law and Mob Rule

The final two issues that stood out to me in this discussion with Libertarians reflected the same mentality of thinking that their philosophy is somehow immune to mistakes and right all the time. On Sharia law, I was told that it is immoral only when imposed on people who do not voluntarily accept it. When pressed on the issue, one person said that all laws must be secular, and they must go through a NAP filter before it is considered to be legitimate. This of course ignores the fact that just about everything that separates things like Libertarianism and anarchy goes against the non-aggression principle. If Libertarianism were subjected to that same standard, it would be considered to be “illegitimate”. But that doesn’t seem to be an item of concern, so long as you’re working towards a libertarian agenda, and abiding by the exceptions that libertarians want, you are OK. This is reflected once again, and one final time in voting. Two people told me that voting is mob rule, and one argued that not showing up to vote won’t change the issue of mob rule. How can it be said that the general issue of murder can be solved by murdering people yourself? It doesn’t work. And if voting is mob rule, why do Libertarians do it? It doesn’t seem to be because they see it as a moral action. Rather, it seems to be because they want to play the game and want to look at politics like it’s SimCity to try and create the society they see as morally superior while forcing that on those who don’t.

Differences, Mentalities, and Why Libertarians Will Fail

While AnCaps and Libertarians seem to subscribe to the same type of ideology, there are major differences in ways of thinking. Ignoring the issue of socializing the most important (and scariest to privatize) issue of security, the two groups generally agree. Libertarians, on the most base of levels, tend to be news junkies and couch potato commentators. By that, I mean they watch the current politics and establish opinions that fall within the realm of the news itself. (Rather than saying an issue simply shouldn’t exist.) Libertarians think in terms of now. They see the established politics that’s right in front of them rather than imagining what it could/should be. They also have a tendency to believe that small issues should come first. While this may work in ones personal life such as paying off debt, it doesn’t work on a large scale. The government is more powerful than the individual because it is made up of hundreds of thousands of individuals all vying for the power they need to create what they want to create. Libertarians are only another small element within that realm. James Madison often preached the idea, “ambition should be met with ambition”. He wanted to see competition for power, he also wanted a lot of power for himself and his friends. People should indeed be fighting for the society they want to see, but they should be respecting the fact that other people are other people. If they want your help, if they’re willing to “vote” for you, those are your peers. Work with them, don’t fight others who will meet your ambition with ambition and turn your system, their system, and every other system into a complicated mess that inevitably gets more tyrannical overtime.

In thinking about this, it is only right to consider the mind of the anarcho-capitalist. They tend to be “societal theorizers” rather than news junkies. They are more interested in making sure that many solutions can exist, and how they can come about, rather than preaching any one particular system. To them, politics don’t matter to a free society. Instead of trying to work on small issues and fight every other power vying group out there, the aim is to wipe the slate clean by starving illegitimacy purely, rather than fighting fire with fire. Anarcho-capitalists want an option to do things their way and see what others can come up with. Thereby creating something through the nature of chaos. Libertarians look at politics and controversy as if a decision needs to be made. They talk about more freedom here, more freedom there, but in order to create that system, force still needs to be implemented. Anarcho-capitalists don’t make decisions in terms of politics. They don’t see freedom as something that can be created. The abolitionists thought prohibition meant freedom. Libertarians, Democrats and Republicans think their interpretation of the Constitution means freedom. Anarcho-capitalists believe that freedom is what you choose it to be. This is the major difference that separates it from all others.

With that being said, I think an important note needs to be made. It can be argued that Libertarian policy is the proof that Anarcho-capitalists need in order to show that capitalism works. It is through Libertarian and Conservative policy that economies grow even if on a limited level. This is opposed to the failures of state supported communism and socialism. However, does this mean that we should all agree and start voting as Libertarians do? Hell no. But Libertarians have a common enemy, and they are currently fighting it. The same argument could be made for the anarcho-communists, but from many attempts at playing nice I can say that they have no interest in temporary middle points. As I’ve mentioned many times before, they don’t actually view their philosophy as something plausible or something that can be realistically implemented. It is more of a teenage angst against the man game to them, and by the way they treat others, they deserve no legitimate attention. Libertarians, who do act with respect, understanding and curiosity need to see the concerns of anarcho-capitalists. If their system is ever implemented (again), and I think they have a stronger chance than us, they would be a definite enemy and aggressor. Citing the old, “If you don’t love it leave it.” and “social contract” bullshit doesn’t work. Anarcho-capitalists would continue to do as much as possible to suffocate the fire of the state rather than fighting it with more fire. Libertarians should understand that they are a violent aggressor against anarcho-capitalists and from their perspective, minarchy can not and must not be the end goal. If they believe in it as a means to an end, fine. If not, if they fight pure freedom, they will have to use their established power. Their feelings of moral superiority will have to be forcefully established as all governments have done and Libertarianism will indeed corrupt absolutely.