The Human Condition

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    As I am becoming more understanding of Libertarianism through this site, i constantly come back to the issue of a natural human condition or behavior. I am currently struggling with this issue. It seems that any type of Libertarianism wether it be anarcho-capitalism or minarchism, the debate revolves around what humans will be capable of what most reduces the risk of harm being committed, corruption, etc. These debates seem to struggle with handling these either natural or at least available negative behaviors which society has to deal with; these behaviors that harm the social contracts between men.

    Now when I consider people who follow libertarian beliefs and/or people on this site, I feel as though a libertarian society is much more likely to succeed (obviously). In considering other groups of people, however, I have doubt as to what people are capable of. For instance issues of immigrants coming from Mexico that would just feed the welfare system and sell their democratic votes over any kind of principle. I also consider Steve Levitt’s argument in Freakonomics on the affects of abortion on reducing crime. Unfortunately there were racial undertones to his argument. I am not trying to bring race to this argument, but just using examples I am considering in regard to this issue.

    For sake of argument lets consider that there are two types of people in regards to a libertarian society, capable and not capable. I can only consider a practical solution in which liberarians ran to, and dominated a state within the U.S or some piece of land somewhere, in which the desired social contract could be implemented. As a way of fleeing people that just aren’t capable of living in a non-aggression type society.

    I hope this makes sense, I am still trying to bring together all of these concepts and ideas that I am learning. I don’t have a direct answer that I am looking for, just hoping that people here and understand this dilemma that I have and can offer some assistance.


    1) I think the Freakanomics guys make clever arguments. Or, rather, “clever” ones. Note this is not the same as “successful” or “good” ones, though they may seem so at first glance. IIRC David Gordon did a review of their first book. Or maybe their second. Anyhow, that sort of argument IMO is unconvincing; especially given that society, like the economy, is dynamic. In any case, to embrace his argument just is to embrace a racial argument as well.

    2) on this:

    Now when I consider people who follow libertarian beliefs and/or people on this site, I feel as though a libertarian society is much more likely to succeed (obviously). In considering other groups of people, however, I have doubt as to what people are capable of. . .For sake of argument lets consider that there are two types of people in regards to a libertarian society, capable and not capable.

    Though I think almost all libertarians would phrase it differently, I’m not sure they would disagree. However the very point of trying to spread the message and convince people of the merits of libertarianism is to generate not only more people who support it, but more people who accept the justice of it, internalize libertarian norms, understand libertarian ethics, and thus will be capable of living in a libertarian society.

    The theory goes something like this (in brief): we’re not going to get a libertarian society until enough people support libertarian principles; when we do, and are able to form a libertarian society, then the people in it will, by and large and for the most part, be people who understand and agree with the ethics of liberty and follow its norms (obviously there will be the exceptions, lawbreakers, and the like, as there are in any society, and these will be handled in the usual way, though in this case through private law).

    In addition I think they also believe, especially the more Hoppean ones, that once a libertarian society is created it will only be attractive to immigrants who want to live in such a society. It will not be attractive to freeloaders or deadbeats of any race (and as for those who are legitimately needy, benevolence and mutual aid will exist for them, to help them, but since it will not be run by the state, it will be able to impose and maintain standards that actually work, instead of just making more clientela for politicians).

    Anyhow this informs my own critique of “open borders libertarians” – libertarians who support open borders, or at least significantly lax immigration standards, in the current system, on the grounds I discussed before.

    IMO one does not even have to get into innate biological, or deeply cultural-rooted “capabilities” of this or that group (even if one believes such exist, there would be exceptions, individuals that IMO would be more welcome in any libertarian society, regardless of the general inclinations of the “group” they are members of, than members of “groups” that are, on the whole, more inclined to libertarianism. For example, I’ll take Walter E. Williams and Thomas Sowell over, say, Krugman, DeLong, and, well, just about any academic progressive). But one can still understand that inviting people in under the current statist dispensation attracts people who want to live under that dispensation and benefit from it, and thus is self-defeating (indeed, suicidal) from the standpoint of advancing libertarianism. Further, every political society, to include a libertarian one, even to include an anarcho-libertarian one, by definition starts by distinguishing members and non-members, and has the prerogative of excluding anyone from joining who would seek to transform it into something else (anarcho-libertarians would do this by ostracism, thus not violating anyone’s rights. Note that in the modern state, no one has this liberty anymore. This is one reason why advocating open immigration on economic & “freedom to associate with anyone I want to” grounds fails under the current dispensation, where we do not actually have the right to associate – which includes the right not to associate).

    In the 19th century even “Stated” societies could have basically open immigration, no passports, and the like; in no small part because, however bad they were, these were pre-Progressive welfare-warfare states. This is not how things are now.


    As Porphyrogenitus suggests we might not phrase people as capable and not capable. Perhaps willing and unwilling might be somewhat better. If the USA were a largely freemarket libertarian society who would this country attract if not the willing what benefit would there be to the unwilling? In terms of open borders another countries willing would be expected to immigrate here. As some other country becomes devoid of its willing constituents it may be forced to change its policies as to attract the willing back. If the product is truly good for people at large I would expect the spread of freemarket libertarianism to equalize immigration to a large extent. If some such place becomes wildly lacking in population due to this I doubt some opportunity would not arise for use of the land, even as a commune for the unwilling.

    Who should be truly not capable of supporting themselves is to further demonstrate the importance of the family dynamic and as also suggested by Porphyrogenitus the willing making eleemosynary contributions. I am personally not fond of giving to charities yet I am compelled to give from time to time.

    When you consider those who wish to harm others, what is ever to stop them under any system? The best to hope for is that they would consider their freedom more important then their incarceration or death.

    I think we have something pretty good with the right to life liberty and property but in order to be maintained must trump religious laws. Surely you could believe and practice whatever one chooses until the point of force on another impedes their rights.

    I had not considered how we could change into such a society but Mr. johnsnow has helped me realize that this would need to start small perhaps starting with some state creating the example and how immigration and demand for living in said state could be the catalyst for change on a larger basis. I was always remiss to explain what could be done with all the expectations currently in place and how a change could be implemented outside of a complete societal collapse. So I thank you johnsnow and Porphyrogenitus for asking some important questions.

    A thought on minarchism. I am not sure if a private or centralized legal/enforcement system is as key as how said system is enacted. If we could create the means to prevent the legal system from acting against a simple framework like life liberty and property then any such system should be fine.


    Oh ho ho; you used the word eleemosynary.

    (Sorry, it just gave me an excuse to post that link).

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