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For Labor Day: Against Libertarianism

Some people want the freedom to say what they want however vile and not to be shunned.  This is an absurd wish.  As we venerate those who express themselves in elevated and kindly fashion, so we despise and disparage those who give voice to uncouth and hateful opinions.

A novel by Ayn Rand speculates that if all the millionaires withdrew into the woods (I haven’t read it and never will) then society would suffer.  I doubt the millionaires could get the other millionaires to fall in line — is no loan millionaire soft-hearted to the unhealthy?  Has no plutocrat a poet chum?  But if it happened those millionaires have no freedom, clapped as they are in prison by the gaze of their fellow ideologically-minded millionaires.

Philosopher NIETZSCHE posited the strong oppressed by the weak, their noble leopard hearts drawn to Earth by multiple strands of compassion and pity.  But if the weak are able to catch these Leopard-Men with their multiple spider webs of pity then good for them, say I, and so should Nietzsche too.  (A Pole among the Prussians Nietzsche may have had more hearts up his sleeve than his brother-in-law imagined).

Let the strong labor to make things nicer for the weak or let them lift weights in the forest.

Whence this mind-brothy adulation of the freedom?  Cherish we free verse, free jazz, or the free flowing of SEWAGE through our living rooms?

No.  The unprejudiced mind will report honestly the obviousest of adages, viz.:

The worst things done in history have been done by free people.  Tyrants, cruel cult-leaders, monstrous popes all did as they felt appropriate and others suffered.

Many a man has put in an honest day’s work only to have his pay withheld.  Why?  I feel otherwise says the cheating boss man.

No men were more free than the holders of slaves.  They could do as they wished to their chattels and give vent to murderous and rapining impulses at will.

If history has taught as anything it is that freedom unchecked brings countless mischiefs in its wake.  Let those tempted to give voice to these foolish philosophies think twice: once before thinking such vain moonshine, and once before expressing sentiments likely to give succor to the most mean and unappealing streak in the human brain.  As luck would have it they need not think three times before acting because almost to a soul these spouters of nonsense are themselves powerless.  The fantasy of total freedom is a will-o-the-wisp rising illusively above the swamp of an unfree being.

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9 thoughts on “For Labor Day: Against Libertarianism

  1. N.S. Palmer says:

    I agree that Ayn Rand’s talk about “the virtue of selfishness” appeals to the worst in human nature, regardless of the abstract merits of her arguments. In fact, the main flaw of her arguments is that they *are* completely abstract, having no connection to actual human nature or society. She regarded humans simply as rational calculators, bereft of feelings other than the merely carnal.

    The main point I got from your post is that freedom cannot exist in the absence of law, both moral and statutory. Law provides a framework that limits our freedom to hurt each other, defines our duties in various situations, and when necessary, compels performance of our duties. Many libertarians (I used to be one) would agree completely with those ideas, though they’d all draw the legal lines in different places.

      • N.S. Palmer says:

        Don’t think ill of me (unless you want to), but in high school, I read “Atlas Shrugged” 17 times and memorized parts of it. It speaks very seductively to bright adolescents who think the world revolves around them and that everyone else is an idiot. But I eventually grew up, and I noticed that I was an idiot just about as often as everyone else. I realized that we all have to muddle along as best we can, helping each other when needed.

    • Freedom can’t exist without law? Huh?

      That seems to be the most dreadful of trained in habits to accept a watered down version as the real thing.

      Freedom ABOUNDS without law.

      It’s just a matter of who will use theirs to crush the freedom of others.

      And if you do it juuuuuuust right….

      They’ll call you the law while you do it…

  2. Mikey says:

    If being free is being able to do what you want, then we should fight for and against freedom in equal measures. For the freedom to do good things and against the freedom to do bad things. For the person who loves acting freely, they can have their wish: they just have to change what they want to something they can do.

    Is being free being able to do what you want?

  3. Mikey says:

    Oh no! You mean there are levels of freedom? Freedom to do good and bad, and meta-freedom to choose how free you are to do bad? And though deliberately limiting your freedom to do bad would be a free use of your meta-freedom with the overall aim of doing more good, you’d still be cutting off your basic freedom, making you unable to do the best thing, which is doing something good freely. Meta-freedom is not enough!

    • I think that good consequences are good, and free actions are also good. So if you can freely choose to do something good that has two gold stars. If you are compelled to do something good that has one gold star. If you are compelled to do something bad that has no gold stars. I’m not sure about freely doing something bad — that might have have negative gold stars, cause it is misusing the freedom. I’ll have to ask Oscar Madison’s old room mate, Felix Culpa.

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