Monday, August 11, 2014

Libertarian quintet

James Poulos gets specific about our “libertarian” age:

What we have today then is something quite “neo,” historically speaking: a robust regulatory state that pursues health and safety at the expense of liberty in the context of a culture that demands robust interpersonal freedom. Rather than stamping out hedonistic pursuits and pleasure-centered living, 1984-style, the new statism creates a “safe” space for their “healthy” experience. Yet, rather than expanding the project limitlessly, Brave New World-style, so as to make all pleasure official, the new statism tacitly acknowledges that our most potent appetites can never be fully domesticated, even with all the tools of force, surveillance, and coercion at the government’s disposal. The kind of motion that defines our age is not the crossing between public and private that once characterized our regime. Instead, it is now an oscillation between the realms of health-safety and sickness-danger.

That is, the government dispenses rights except where health and safety are involved. Everything else is subjective. If he’s right, licentiousness, drugs (except nicotine), and gambling would be exceptions. Perhaps if something is seen as more depraved and isolating than a risk to health or safety, then it’s okay under the social theory that every person is a monad.

Philip Schuyler explains libertarianism. He gets it right, which is to say he gets it half-right.

Each person has five fundamental rights, the first two of which are the rights to life and liberty. The right to life means that no person may harm another. The right to liberty lets each person do as he chooses. Thus, a free civilization’s premise is, each person can do as he chooses provided he does not harm another.

In other words, “everything is permitted.” As a cultural position, libertarianism offers no justification for the civil society. But it is halfway redeeming. Schuyler continues:

It is not government’s role to produce model citizens. Whereas common law and rules of organization are needed to protect rights, directives of government policy are intended to make private citizens healthier or more productive, or, to force some individuals to contribute to others. But these virtues – self-improvement and generosity – cease to be virtues when they’re imposed.

In keeping with the Founders’ view.

Vox waxes thoughtful on libertarianism’s flaw:

What devotees of one particular immorality or another believe is a reasonable stopping point—here, and no further—is nothing more than a way station on the road to total depravity of the worst imaginable sort.

We libertarians were wrong. Societal liberty simply cannot be maximized through sexual anarchy any more than it can be maximized though unrestricted immigration, unrestricted government, or unrestricted voting.

I’m amazed Charles Murray, who wrote a book, Coming Apart (which I excerpted a lot here), about how the lower and middle classes need strong families and strong faith to withstand the tumult of “capitalism” today, says Republicans need to jettison social issues. Is the libertarian Murray incapable of following his own data to their logical conclusion?

Selwyn Duke reflects:

After all, what are “social issues”? What are we actually talking about? We’re speaking of moral issues, which, again, thoroughly modern millie would say should be kept out of politics. But this is impossible. For the truth is that every just law is an imposition of morality or a corollary thereof—every one.

Eyes may be rolling again, but let’s analyze it logically. By definition a law is a removal of a freedom, stating that there is something we must or must not do. Now, stripping freedom away is no small matter. Why would we do it? Unless we’re sociopathic and like Aleister Crowley believe “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and are willing to impose our will simply because it feels right, there could be only one reason: we see the need to enforce an element of a conception of right and wrong. We prohibit an act because we believe it’s wrong or mandate something because we believe it’s a moral imperative. This is indisputable. After all, would you forcibly prevent someone from doing something that wasn’t wrong? Would you force someone to do something that wasn’t a moral imperative? That would be truly outrageous—genuine tyranny.

A just legal system has one justification, or none. It cannot have several masters. Well, it can, but the result is a morass, anarchy.

“Laws without morals are in vain.” –Ben Franklin

No comments:

Post a Comment