Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Libertarians: How to Win Friends & Influence People

 

Libertarians: Please stop telling me I’m no better than the Left.

As for libertarians who don’t believe that, you need to call out your fellow travellers who go too far. In the past week I’ve been told by self-proclaimed libertarians that I don’t believe in property rights, that my belief in liberty is no better than Obama’s, and that I don’t really believe in individual rights in general.

I’ve grown weary of libertarians pretending their political philosophy is uniquely free of basic assumptions beyond “Do no harm,” or suggesting that everything can be built from there. Imposing the interpretations of “no harm” I’ve seen here would eliminate all local laws on such things as zoning, smoking in public, and the preservation of historic districts.

Not all conservatives want to use the point of a gun to control what consenting adults to in their own bedrooms. In fact, I’ve never seen a call for that on Ricochet. What I have seen libertarians call for is the use of the point of a federal gun to do away with local laws that libertarians don’t like.

So permit me gently to suggest, if you’re truly interested in winning converts, a different tactic.

Thanks to the posts of the past month, I am now less disposed to listen to self-proclaimed libertarians. Surely that’s not the goal. I get that we have differences. Perhaps we also have points of agreement. But insulting conservatives, and insinuating or outright saying we are no better than the progressives and leftists, is not a good strategy for figuring out where we might agree — or even winning us around.

There are 273 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Neil Hansen (Klaatu) Inactive

    I find the disconnect is in the concept of the right to freely associate. Most libertarians will accept that a social club can set the rules by which the club operates but reject the same concept when it comes to a political community.

    • #1
    • October 17, 2015, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Klaatu:I find the disconnect is in the concept of the right to freely associate.Most libertarians will accept that a social club can set the rules by which the club operates but reject the same concept when it comes to a political community.

    Yes, a good way to put it.

    • #2
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Please stop insulting conservatives, and insinuating or outright saying we are no better than the progressives and leftists.

    How about every faction on Ricochet heed this advice?

    Libertarians by no means have a monopoly on playing the “you’re no better than the left” card. I’ve heard it from members of every single “wing” of the spectrum on Ricochet numerous times. In fact, I would place good money that since Ricochet started, libertarians have been on the receiving end of this epithet more frequently than on the giving end.

    There was once a hilarious conversation here years ago where both sides of some debate were accusing the other of being “no different from the left” with equal vigor. At the time, I wanted to coin “Mendel’s Law” as a variant of Godwin’s Law: every conversation on Ricochet, if it continues long enough, will eventually devolve into people calling each other leftists.

    • #3
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:18 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mendel:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Please stop insulting conservatives, and insinuating or outright saying we are no better than the progressives and leftists.

    How about every faction on Ricochet heed this advice?

    Libertarians by no means have a monopoly on playing the “you’re no better than the left” card. I’ve heard it from members of every single “wing” of the spectrum on Ricochet numerous times. In fact, I would place good money that since Ricochet started, libertarians have been on the receiving end of this epithet more frequently than on the giving end.

    There was once a hilarious conversation here years ago where both sides of some debate were accusing the other of being “no different from the left” with equal vigor. At the time, I wanted to coin “Mendel’s Law” as a variant of Godwin’s Law: every conservation on Ricochet, if it continues long enough, will eventually devolve into people calling each other leftists.

    I have no trouble with that. This post is based on what I have been on the receiving end of as of late. ;)

    • #4
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:21 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. Profile Photo Member

    Mendel:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Please stop insulting conservatives, and insinuating or outright saying we are no better than the progressives and leftists.

    How about every faction on Ricochet heed this advice?

    Libertarians by no means have a monopoly on playing the “you’re no better than the left” card. I’ve heard it from members of every single “wing” of the spectrum on Ricochet numerous times. In fact, I would place good money that since Ricochet started, libertarians have been on the receiving end of this epithet more frequently than on the giving end.

    There was once a hilarious conversation here years ago where both sides of some debate were accusing the other of being “no different from the left” with equal vigor. At the time, I wanted to coin “Mendel’s Law” as a variant of Godwin’s Law: every conservation on Ricochet, if it continues long enough, will eventually devolve into people calling each other leftists.

    Just the type of comment that a leftist would make. ;-)

    • #5
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:24 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan: I can easily imagine that happened, and I didn’t want to pretend it’s not a worn-out comeback for libertarians as well. Just wanted to point that we’ve all been on the receiving end, myself included, numerous times.

    The most honest, but least satisfying answer, is that every one of us has a tiny bit of “leftist” in us somewhere. As Jonah Goldberg alludes to toward the end of Liberal Fascism, the competing philosophies of modern Western governance, while perhaps diametrically opposed, both stem from certain aspects of human nature which we all harbor within us.

    • #6
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. Barkha Herman Member

    I missed the post where this was said. Do you have a link?

    • #7
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:33 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mendel:Bryan: I can easily imagine that happened, and I didn’t want to pretend it’s not a worn-out comeback for libertarians as well. Just wanted to point that we’ve all been on the receiving end, myself included, numerous times.

    The most honest, but least satisfying answer, is that every one of us has a tiny bit of “leftist” in us somewhere. As Jonah Goldberg alludes to toward the end of Liberal Fascism, the competing philosophies of modern Western governance, while perhaps diametrically opposed, both stem from certain aspects of human nature which we all harbor within us.

    That is not the same as saying I am no different than Obama.

    • #8
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. Misthiocracy held his nose and Member
    Misthiocracy held his nose and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    To Bryan G. Stephens: Stop telling people to stop doing something without evidence that they have done that thing.

    I’m tired of being told to stop doing things I haven’t done.

    • #9
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:49 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. Robert Lux Inactive

    It’s funny, when Tim Groseclose was on Ricochet several years ago, I took the long-version “political quotient” test. My score (I don’t recall the numerical figure) put the label on me as very libertarian. My score was lower than Claire Berlinski’s, and I had parity, or near parity, with several other libertarians and libertarianish people on this site.

    I could go down the line of all the government entities I would love to abolish that hard-core libertarians frequently also want abolished, I bet I would agree with a vast majority of them: the department of education, etc.

    Yet I get accused of statism, and Dan Hanson insinuates that if I want to outlaw pornography — because it damages people’s character — ,I must somehow yearn for the Soviet Union. Pathetic.

    There are distinct differences between the realm moral-political (and certain civic institutions are inextricably part of that) and the realm economic. Libertarians too often confuse the two.

    • #10
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Barkha Herman:I missed the post where this was said. Do you have a link?

    https://ricochet.com/spontaneous-order-and-libertarian-fairy-tales/comment-page-7/#comments

    Comment #133.

    https://ricochet.com/consent-explored/comment-page-7/#comments

    Comment #133 (interestingly enough).

    • #11
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Misthiocracy:To Bryan G. Stephens: Stop telling people to stop doing something without evidence that they have done that thing.

    I’m tired of being told to stop doing things I haven’t done.

    See the two examples I posted above.

    • #12
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:54 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Mendel:Bryan: I can easily imagine that happened, and I didn’t want to pretend it’s not a worn-out comeback for libertarians as well. Just wanted to point that we’ve all been on the receiving end, myself included, numerous times.

    The most honest, but least satisfying answer, is that every one of us has a tiny bit of “leftist” in us somewhere.

    That is not the same as saying I am no different than Obama.

    And I certainly didn’t mean to imply it was.

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve been equated to Josef Mengele by a beloved social conservative member of the site. Which gave me a chuckle, since I figured most people around here would consider me something of a milquetoast. But who knows, maybe the Angel of Death was also quite mild-mannered whenever he posted anonymously to online chat rooms.

    Bottom line: every ideological strain on this site has its bad apples, and even the most civil members can have their childish moments. It’s individuals, not ideologies.

    • #13
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Robert Lux:It’s funny, when Tim Groseclose was on Ricochet several years ago, I took the long-version “political quotient” test. My score (I don’t recall the numerical figure) put the label on me as very libertarian. My score was lower than Claire Berlinski’s, and I had parity, or near parity, with several other libertarians and libertarianish people on this site.

    I could go down the line of all the government entities I would love to abolish that hard-core libertarians frequently also want abolished, I bet I would agree with a vast majority of them: the department of education, etc.

    Yet I get accused of statism, and Dan Hanson insinuates that if I want to outlaw pornography — because it damages people’s character — ,I must somehow yearn for the Soviet Union. Pathetic.

    There are distinct differences between the realm moral-political (and certain civic institutions are inextricably part of that) and the realm economic. Libertarians too often confuse the two.

    Another example. Good one. I don’t agree on outlawing, but sure am for regulation.

    • #14
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Barkha Herman Member

    Wait, so You say “So I am no better than Obama” and he says “if the shoe fits” equals “libertarians calling you no better than left”????

    I say you are against property rights because you say you can tell me what color I can paint my house, through force of law. I don’t find that notion particularly radical.”

    Got it.

    • #15
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mendel:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Mendel:Bryan: I can easily imagine that happened, and I didn’t want to pretend it’s not a worn-out comeback for libertarians as well. Just wanted to point that we’ve all been on the receiving end, myself included, numerous times.

    The most honest, but least satisfying answer, is that every one of us has a tiny bit of “leftist” in us somewhere.

    That is not the same as saying I am no different than Obama.

    And I certainly didn’t mean to imply it was.

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve been equated to Josef Mengele by a beloved social conservative member of the site. Which gave me a chuckle, since I figured most people around here would consider me something of a milquetoast. But who knows, maybe the Angel of Death was also quite mild-mannered whenever he posted anonymously to online chat rooms.

    Bottom line: every ideological strain on this site has its bad apples, and even the most civil members can have their childish moments. It’s individuals, not ideologies.

    Given the opportunity to retract, members double down. That is more than a childish moment. Further, people let it go by. Kudos to Tom Myer and Mike H for calling out Jamie on the Consent threat.

    • #16
    • October 17, 2015, at 1:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Barkha Herman Member

    Lets call for more bans :-D.

    • #17
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Barkha Herman:Wait, so You say “So I am no better than Obama” and he says “if the shoe fits” equals “libertarians calling you no better than left”????

    Got it.

    So, just to clarify, you agree that if I am for zoning laws I am no better than Obama?

    To me, it is hard to get to the left of Obama so yes Being no better than Obama=Leftist.

    • #18
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. Barkha Herman Member

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Barkha Herman:Wait, so You say “So I am no better than Obama” and he says “if the shoe fits” equals “libertarians calling you no better than left”????

    Got it.

    So, just to clarify, you agree that if I am for zoning laws I am no better than Obama?

    To me, it is hard to get to the left of Obama so yes Being no better than Obama=Leftist.

    You have the right to be offended.

    Got it equals I understand.

    You also have the freedom to read insults in my prose.

    • #19
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. Misthiocracy held his nose and Member
    Misthiocracy held his nose and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Misthiocracy:To Bryan G. Stephens: Stop telling people to stop doing something without evidence that they have done that thing.

    I’m tired of being told to stop doing things I haven’t done.

    See the two examples I posted above.

    So, why not direct your complaint to the two (two!) people who made those comments?

    • #20
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:04 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Barkha Herman:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Barkha Herman:Wait, so You say “So I am no better than Obama” and he says “if the shoe fits” equals “libertarians calling you no better than left”????

    Got it.

    So, just to clarify, you agree that if I am for zoning laws I am no better than Obama?

    To me, it is hard to get to the left of Obama so yes Being no better than Obama=Leftist.

    You have the right to be offended.

    Got it equals I understand.

    You also have the freedom to read insults in my prose.

    Well, that is why I asked for clarification. Thanks ;)

    • #21
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Mendel:

    Bottom line: every ideological strain on this site has its bad apples, and even the most civil members can have their childish moments. It’s individuals, not ideologies.

    Given the opportunity to retract, members double down. That is more than a childish moment.

    Right, those are the bad apples I referred to. And there are indeed several libertarian-leaning members here I wish would tone down their combativeness or face sanctions by the editors. As there are a small number of SoCons, FiCons, BiCons, and NotCons here I wish the same for.

    Further, people let it go by.

    If having my comments be taken seriously on this site requires me to first denounce any uncivil discourse by anyone with whom I share more than 75% ideology, I’m out. If we can’t view our interlocutors as individuals first and adherents to a certain ideological strain second, this whole website is probably doomed.

    • #22
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:09 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mendel:

    Bryan G. Stephens:

    Mendel:

    Bottom line: every ideological strain on this site has its bad apples, and even the most civil members can have their childish moments. It’s individuals, not ideologies.

    Given the opportunity to retract, members double down. That is more than a childish moment.

    Right, those are the bad apples I referred to. And there are indeed several libertarian-leaning members here I wish would tone down their combativeness or face sanctions by the editors. As there are a small number of SoCons, FiCons, BiCons, and NotCons here I wish the same for.

    Further, people let it go by.

    If having my comments be taken seriously on this site requires me to first denounce any uncivil discourse by anyone with whom I share more than 75% ideology, I’m out. If we can’t view our interlocutors as individuals first and adherents to a certain ideological strain second, this whole website is probably doomed.

    Understand the people like that with whom you shard 75%, hurt your case with this stuff.

    • #23
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. John Walker Contributor

    Bryan G. Stephens: Imposing the interpretations of “no harm” I have seen on these boards would eliminate all local laws on things like zoning, smoking in public, and historic districts.

    I would eliminate all of those laws you cited, not under the “no harm” principle, but because they are takings of property rights. But I would not use coercive state power (for example, federal preemption of state or local laws) to eliminate them. If people want to enact stupid laws, that’s up to them. Let them live with the consequences. Compare, for example, housing prices in the San Francisco peninsula which has stringent zoning and open space laws with those in Houston.

    The reason the slavers focus on the highest levels of government (federal in the U.S., EU in Europe) is that they want to foreclose the option of people voting with their feet to escape the consequences of their policies. The reason they prefer to enforce their policies through judicial or administrative action is that they are thereby insulated from democratic feedback mechanisms.

    • #24
    • October 17, 2015, at 2:25 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    John Walker:

    Bryan G. Stephens: Imposing the interpretations of “no harm” I have seen on these boards would eliminate all local laws on things like zoning, smoking in public, and historic districts.

    I would eliminate all of those laws you cited, not under the “no harm” principl