Tag Archives: libertarianism

LGBTs, Leftists and Libertarians


LGBTs, Leftists and Libertarians

By Duncan Whitmore

In a previous essay posted on this blog, the present writer explored the poisonous proliferation of identity politics in today’s political discourse. One of the themes of that essay was that identity politics has served to create false group identities which misrepresent the interests of the individuals who are supposed to make up those groups, solely for the purpose of being able to pit each group against other groups for political gain. The actual interests of the individuals within each group are served poorly, if at all.

Continuing on a similar theme, we will, in the present essay, examine how various minority groups that have been championed by the left – many of which, such as those characterised by race, religion or sexual orientation, have won genuine and much needed victories against prior legal repression – are being exploited by the left in the current culture war. Although libertarians are right to welcome a renaissance of traditional, local, cultural and religious values as bulwarks against the metastasising growth of the state, it is not minority groups (or the vindication of their rights) per se which are a threat to traditional cultures; rather, the genuine threat is the attempt by straight, white, middle class virtue signalling liberals to grant legal privileges to these groups in an attempt to attack and weaken what remains of Western civilisation. Far from having their own, long term interests preserved by allying themselves with the left, these minorities may well be leading themselves over a cliff edge if they are swept up in the backlash against leftism that is manifest in the resurgence of populism, nationalism, traditionalism and anti-globalism. Consequently, we shall why it is libertarianism that can allow minority groups to flourish, and why members of minority groups should become libertarians. Read more

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Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Four – Liability for Wrongs


Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Four – Liability for Wrongs

By Duncan Whitmore

 

The fourth part of our survey of libertarian law and legal systems will explore causative events of legal liability arising from wrongs – that is a breach of some obligation owed by one legal person to another without the necessity of a pre-existing relationship such as a contract.

There are two issues that demarcate the approach of a libertarian legal system towards wrongs as opposed to that of a contemporary legal system. First is the definition of a wrong and second is the standard of liability – that is, the point at which the defendant becomes legally liable for a wrong.

Libertarian Definition of a “Wrong”

In contemporary legal systems, a wrong is some sort of act on the part of an individual that is viewed as being subject to legal sanction. Unfortunately, we have to start off with such a vague tautology as, looking at the variety of acts that are subject to legal regulation, this is about as precise as we can get. In many cases, of course, the wrong will be some form of harm caused by one individual to another which serves as the causative event to generate a legal response.

“Harm” is very broadly defined and can include violent and physical inflictions, such as murder, serious bodily injury, or damage and destruction to property, all the way to more ethereal harms that may include nothing more than speaking one’s mind such as “defamation” and causing “offence”. However, events currently classified as legal wrongs needn’t have a victim at all as the act may either be wholly unilateral or take place between consenting individuals. As an example of the former we can cite nearly all offences related to drug possession and dealing, and of the latter the criminalisation of certain sexual practices owing either to their nature (such as in sadomasochism) or to the gender of the participants (i.e. homosexual intercourse). Basically, it is no exaggeration to admit that a wrong, legally defined, in our contemporary, statist legal systems means nothing more than some act that the ruling government or legislature doesn’t like and wishes to outlaw, to the extent that even quite innocuous behaviour may find itself being subjected not only to legal regulation but to criminal sanction.

As we outlined in part one, no legal liability is generated in a libertarian legal order unless the wrong, or the “harm”, consists of a physical invasion of the person or property of another – in other words, only those actions that violate the non-aggression principle are subject to legal regulation. Read more

Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Three – Consent and Contract


Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Three – Consent and Contract

By Duncan Whitmore

We will begin our survey of the causative events of legal liability in a libertarian legal system with those that arise from consent because, even though people may view “the law” as being synonymous with wrongs such as crimes and torts, consensual legal relations are, in fact, the most frequent types of legal interaction that arise in an individual’s life.

Contract

The predominant form of legal relations arising from consent is, of course, the contract; a person may enter tens of these contracts every single day by, for example, just purchasing a coffee, a bus ticket, or lunch, whereas most people would scarcely commit a single crime in their entire lives (although we might note that today states are happy to spill oceans of ink in criminalising, through legislation, even the most innocuous of actions). While any good legal system must have strong proscriptions against horrific acts such as murder and rape, it is the contract that is the primary preoccupation of everyone’s daily lives.

The first question to consider, then, is what exactly is a contract? Although it should be clear that all contracts concern some sort of bilateral arrangement, different legal systems have varying and often elaborate definitions. Read more

Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Two – Self-Ownership and Original Appropriation


Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part Two – Self-Ownership and Original Appropriation

By Duncan Whitmore

In part one of this five-part series we outlined some preliminary considerations concerning how a libertarian legal system might unfold and develop. We are now in a position to begin exploring the causative events of legal liability in a legal order governed by libertarian prescription.

Prior to considering any specific area of the law such as tort or contract we must explore the ways in which a libertarian legal system will recognise and enforce self-ownership and also the original appropriation of previously ownerless goods.

Technically speaking, the latter topic at least could be covered as part of the law of consent. This concerns the moral imperative that a person should only be liable for the actions that he has undertaken as a voluntary agent – i.e. through his own choice and volition. Both self-ownership and titles over goods allow their owner to not only enjoy the productive services flowing from his body and external goods, but equally and oppositely they burden him with the responsibility of ensuring that, through his actions, those goods do not physically interfere with the person and property of anybody else. Indeed, although law, as understood by libertarians, responds to actions rather than to ownership per se, there is likely to be at least prima facie liability of the owner of property if that property is found to have physically interfered with the person or property of somebody else. Thus, in the same way that it is unjust to physically interfere with someone else’s property, so too is it unjust to hold someone responsible for property that he has not voluntarily asserted control over through his actions. Read more

Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part One – What is Libertarian Law?


Libertarian Law and Legal Systems Part One – What is Libertarian Law?

By Duncan Whitmore

One of the more fascinating but less discussed areas of libertarian theory is how law and legal systems will operate in a libertarian society. To complete such a survey in its entirety would, no doubt, take a lifetime of study and authorship of one or several treatise-length works. We shall, therefore, be placing a very necessary limit to the scope of this survey by concentrating on where, why and how legal liability would arise in a libertarian society – in other words, our primary question will be what are the causative events that trigger legal liability in a libertarian society, and how will legal bodies develop and apply the law in accordance with libertarian principles? We will not be exploring in too much detail the further questions of legal responses to liability such as punishment, retribution, restitution and so on, nor will we be looking into the question of how competing police and civil or criminal court systems might operate (except, as we shall see below, to contrast them to state-based legislative law-making systems). Even though the treatment of the topic of liability alone will still contain many omissions and areas requiring expansion with more detail, we hope to lay the foundations of how libertarian law might operate.

This first part of this five-part series will examine what law is from a libertarian perspective, how different areas of the law can be categorised, and how legal principles will arise in a libertarian society. Part two will investigate how libertarian legal systems will recognise self-ownership and the original appropriation of ownerless goods. Parts three and four will explore the laws of consent and of crimes/torts respectively while part five will deal with some miscellaneous but nevertheless significant considerations. Read more

What about the Poor?!


What about the Poor?!

By Duncan Whitmore

When discussing the virtues of a free society libertarians are able to expound with enthusiasm the benefits of private property, free exchange and non-violence. Most of the nagging questions – “how would policing work?”; “how would we regulate unscrupulous companies?”; or the clichéd classic “who will build the roads?!” – can be dealt with fairly straightforwardly as it is not difficult to show how such a free society would deal with these matters in a vastly superior way to one that is imbued with statism. Indeed, the struggle in this regard has less to do with formulating convincing arguments and more to do with tackling an inherent unwillingness to consider radical solutions.

However, there is one question that always presents a seemingly insurmountable difficulty – what would happen to the poor? By this, we do not just mean the accusations of a free economy being “sink or swim” or “dog eat dog”, which, again, are relatively juvenile sound bites that can be disposed of fairly easily. (Indeed, it is social democracies that are the true zero sum games as any redistribution of wealth or gain of power to the benefit of one must necessarily come at the expense of another). Rather, what we mean is the fact that a free world has no means of “caring” for the poor. In particular, there would be no “official” institution or “social safety net” to help those who were genuinely less fortunate. A libertarian might mumble a few words about the importance of charity but, with an outright declaration by one’s opponent that such a system is necessary, one may be tempted to concede that this is the Achilles’ heel of a libertarian society. After all, statists excel at conjuring the illusion that all of the care and compassion is on their side while they are able, quite easily, to paint proponents of the free market as little more than selfish money grabbers.

It is high time that libertarians (and their free market oriented fellow travellers) took the offensive against this problem by turning an apparent weakness into an advantage. By offensive, we mean not just constructing adequate rebuttals to the charge that capitalism cannot care for the poor. Rather, we need to set ourselves the more ambitious goal of proving that capitalism benefits the least well off as its primary effect, and that the poor do not benefit merely as an incidental consequence of making the rich richer. Read more

Libertarian Media of the Year 2018


Epiphany is here and all merriment on New Year’s Eve has given way to the reality of another year of mixed blessings. We can now clear-mindedly reflect on all the delights, dedicated to proceeding ever more boldly against evil, we received in 2018. SPOILERS!!!

Movie:

Whilst Upgrade deserves an honorary mention as a cautionary tale for libertarians – freedom doesn’t necessarily lead to virtuous behaviour, certainly not from a super-intelligent AI – the most libertarian film of 2018 is arguably Incredibles 2.

The chief complaint about this film was that the general plot was very similar to the first film – a mysterious tech billionaire employs Mr. Incredible with the hidden agenda of wishing to eliminate all superheroes. In the second film, yes, brother and sister tech billionaires, Winston and Evelyn Deavor, do employ Mrs. Incredible, i.e. Elastigirl, to take part in an albeit illegal comeback display of heroism, broadcast to the world as part of a campaign to repeal the legislation which drove superheroes underground. And, yes, Evelyn, as it turns out, is the one behind the mask of the Screenslaver, who hypnotises folks to do her wicked bidding. And, yes, she wants to see the world turn entirely against superheroes to see them shutdown forever. However, this film picks up from the moment the first left off, and the moral tale does so too – and don’t all the best moral tales for all the family use repetition?

Libertarians loved The Incredibles and it’s not hard to see why: a father works outside of the law, and a soulless job he hates, to do good; the overall picture is one of government regulation and bureaucracy getting in the way of talented individuals from doing their best. This sequel asks the natural question of whether this is responsible; whether it is good. The main parental argument of this film sees the mother declaring that they should be teaching their children to obey the law, yet the father insists that they should not be taught to obey bad laws – oh, how rare it is to hear such things. Yet, this was the heart of Western civilisation. ‘What are we teaching our kids?’ asks Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible. However, this is nothing we haven’t seen in the first film. The major difference and the heart of the libertarian message of the film comes from the different opinions presented to us by the sibling tech billionaires.

You see, Winston and Evelyn take different opinions on their father’s death – Evelyn believed he should have taken his wife to the safe-room when their house was entered by armed robbers, whereas Winston thought the father was right to go for a hotline to the superheroes, whereupon he was shot. Evelyn’s Screenslaver makes some compelling arguments about how reliance on superheroes makes us weak – our bourgeois habit of putting everything on a screen and distancing ourselves from the action does so too. But, she is missing the point, which the people-person, Winston, understands and embraces – that the superheroes are real people, good people, our neighbours, wanting to help.

Whereas the Incredible family are told by the police to let the villains make off with the money etc. and let the insurance companies deal with it, we see that the numerous instances of love and sacrifice, which make the family stronger, are just what the community/the world needs to make it a better place. Winston would use his wealth to make this happen; Evelyn, however, is blinded by anger and fails to see that love and trust in those with greater abilities doesn’t make one weaker, nor does leaving everything up to the state and/or insurance companies make us stronger.

Book:

Tom W. Bell’s Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations came just before 2018, true. But, it’s been introduced to so many libertarians in so many conversations this year, I can’t fail to recognise it. What can I say? Most of you are familiar with Dubai and a growing trend in special jurisdictions around the world; this Cambridge University Press book, however, takes the argument further and makes remarkable predictions about this future trend, sure to delight libertarians everywhere:

‘Governments across the globe have begun evolving from lumbering bureaucracies into smaller, more agile special jurisdictions – common-interest developments, special economic zones, and proprietary cites. Private providers increasingly deliver services that political authorities formerly monopolized, inspiring greater competition and efficiency, to the satisfaction of citizens-qua-consumers. These trends suggest that new networks of special jurisdictions will soon surpass nation states in the same way that networked computers replaced mainframes. In this groundbreaking work, Tom W. Bell describes the quiet revolution transforming governments from the bottom up, inside-out, worldwide, and how it will fulfill its potential to bring more freedom, peace, and prosperity to people everywhere.’

Purchase the book here: Your Next Government?

TV Show:

Daredevil is undoubtedly the best of the Netflix Marvel superhero series. It deserves an honorary mention, but I mustn’t press the narrative of ‘superheroes acting outside of the law for the good of natural law’ any further. Watch Daredevil; he’s a Christian superhero/lawyer who acts on his moral instincts by night where the legislation of the US fails on the streets of New York during the day. Enough said.

The real winner here is a Spanish show, titled Casa de Papel or, in English, Money Heist, and can also be viewed on Netflix. The plot revolves around a group brought together by a brilliant man, known as the Professor, to carry out a mysterious heist on the Royal Mint of Spain. They wish to print many millions of Euros and have a plan to get away with it all. But, has the Professor accounted for everything? Are the personality clashes of the group, the hiccups and unexpected turns part of his ingenious plan or not? Notice, I haven’t left any spoilers here for you; watch it and enjoy the Professor’s tirade about the motivation for knocking off the central bank – truly the libertarian gem of 2017/2018.

Game:

Many will cry, ‘Red Dead Redemption 2!’ Nay, I say, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance. My decision is based on a little more than a preference for the medieval over the wild-Western aesthetics – both charming. In Kingdom Come, players are truly challenged by those obstacles to freedom, indeed, the necessities and manners which maketh man – strong men, even – capable of acquiring and sustaining freedom. This is because one goes from simple village politics as a smithy’s son to becoming a lord, but not before having everything taken from you and having to build it all, from the pig’s filth, up. What’s more, the setting is that of the bedrock of Western civilisation – Latin Christendom – and the troubles and turmoil which were rocking its world, and which would ultimately lead to the rise of nation states.

Let’s take these lessons to heart in 2019, grow stronger and make the world a better place.

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