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A critique of Libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism. Watch

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    (Original post by Xerophelistica)
    Thanks for the thread, but I thought it was pretty obvious that Libertarianism/Anarcho-Capitalism are both stupid ideologies? On the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, it's also nice to point out that in an anarchist state nothing as great as a moon landing could ever be achieved.
    You mean in an anarchist state (?) nothing like the expropriation of $800 billion from individuals in order to pay for a project which has tangible benefits to no-one could occur? Yeah, I think you're right.
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    (Original post by Janos_D)
    They do seem stupid ideologies, but they have a strong internal consistency.

    You don't even need to go as far as the moon - none of modern science would be sustained
    This is false, for a start.

    You've picked a good college, but it's a shame about your politics.
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    This is false, for a start.

    You've picked a good college, but it's a shame about your politics.
    sorry I can't read this - maybe because I'm in China, maybe not...

    I will say though that most science in the UK and much in the US (to not speak of elswhere) is state driven. Some of the best scientists could not have worked without either direct state aid or state training.

    Of course some science will happen (and is) by the private sector. I would hazard a guess most would not (based mostly on the amount that is state supprted now - though of course they are not independent)
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    You mean in an anarchist state (?) nothing like the expropriation of $800 billion from individuals in order to pay for a project which has tangible benefits to no-one could occur? Yeah, I think you're right.
    The moon landing example was simply because of the historic nature of today of all days. Most things in modern science have varying degrees of government funding, from small research groups to huge projects like the LHC.

    Besides, I don't think all benefits have to be tangible to be worth anything. The men who went to the moon didn't just go there to play golf and do backflips, they carried out important experiments and left mirrors behind so that even today we can still learn more about the solar system we live in. No, none of this put food on anyone’s table, but I think of it as being more of an issue of quality of life rather than 'tangible' gains. It greatly improves the quality of life of every human to be able to say we know something new about our universe, which is one of the reasons billions of dollars are being sunk into the LHC. Humans have a spirit of inquiry, and it's an amazing thing to be constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can know – ultimately an anarchist society wouldn’t allow something like this to happen.
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    (Original post by Janos_D)
    sorry I can't read this - maybe because I'm in China, maybe not...

    I will say though that most science in the UK and much in the US (to not speak of elswhere) is state driven. Some of the best scientists could not have worked without either direct state aid or state training.

    Of course some science will happen (and is) by the private sector. I would hazard a guess most would not (based mostly on the amount that is state supprted now - though of course they are not independent)
    I think you should really watch the video, then, when you can. (is it really censored in China? It would make my day if that's the case) It's a talk by a guy called Terence Kealey who is the Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University and a practising biochemist. As it happens, he thinks you are very much wrong, and he quotes quite a few facts and figures to back himself up. For instance, an OECD report which shows that every pound the state spends financing scientific research, 1.25 pounds of private funding are crowded out. There's plenty more in the video.
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    A better attempt than usual but still fairly weak.
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    (Original post by Andy the Anarchist)
    I give it about 15 minutes before DrunkHamster turns up and lays into this :p:
    I'm debating with myself whether or not to; it might have to wait until I get home from work. But it is a load of ********, IMO. What do you think about the self-ownership bit?
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    (Original post by Jaager)
    Although the bulk of your critisisms of the points raised article actually ignored most of what was writen, e.g. you say you have the freedom to withdraw from the employer/employee relationship. however there is no freedom here because to do so would mean that the individual would be choosing poverty, the choice between wage slavery and starvation, isnt really a choice...
    Freedom for me means freedom from the tyranny of others; it seems to you that it means freedom from the inconvenience of reality!

    Yes, your choices have consequences. That does not make you less free. If you will not work to feed yourself, and have not made other arrangements, then yes - you starve - just as has been the case since the dawn of time. You starve, however, as a free man.

    what about her right to employment?
    Oh dear.

    No. Just no. Such a right does not exist. The converse example would be the 'right to a workforce' for the employer - essentially, slavery. Indeed, as I see it, your 'right to employment' is nothing short of slavery too, for it imposes duties on the employer.
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    I think you should really watch the video, then, when you can. (is it really censored in China? It would make my day if that's the case) It's a talk by a guy called Terence Kealey who is the Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University and a practising biochemist. As it happens, he thinks you are very much wrong, and he quotes quite a few facts and figures to back himself up.
    he does, does he? we'll have to see about that...:p:

    For instance, an OECD report which shows that every pound the state spends financing scientific research, 1.25 pounds of private funding are crowded out. There's plenty more in the video.
    would be very interesting if it were true. Again, I will withold full judgement, but I will say that it is an empirical prediction. Bad time now to do the experiment, but it can surely be tested.
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    All this positive liberty stuff is Berlin's curse to society. Malevolents will abuse it forevermore, as they abuse Rousseau.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Freedom for me means freedom from the tyranny of others; it seems to you that it means freedom from the inconvenience of reality!
    so is not the refusal of employment because of sexual orientation not a tyranny of someone else? (Furthermore bear in mind that the woman probably has more need of a job than the converse.)
    It seems to me that libertarians lack an opinion on any particular (bad phrasing but bear with me). On the issue of gay rights - they are neutral. You can be gay, but if no-one wants to employ you because of that then go starve.

    You starve, however, as a free man.
    and you are willing to let myriad people die for your ideology? Is this out of context? I don't think so - you would want (presumably) a libertarian government. And you are willing to let people starve for that ideological purity? 'He's a martyr - he died a free man'
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    Liberty that can't be acted on isn't very worthy of the name. If I own no land and no one will hire me then my 'liberty' to starve doesn't do me any favours.
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    I'm debating with myself whether or not to; it might have to wait until I get home from work. But it is a load of ********, IMO. What do you think about the self-ownership bit?

    (Original post by Jaager)
    Found a really good critique of Libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism on infoshop, the whole article is here.

    What do "anarcho"-capitalists mean by freedom?


    For "anarcho"-capitalists, the concept of freedom is limited to the idea of "freedom from." For them, freedom means simply freedom from the "initiation of force," or the "non-aggression against anyone's person and property." [Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty, p. 23] The notion that real freedom must combine both freedom "to" and freedom "from" is missing in their ideology, as is the social context of the so-called freedom they defend.

    Before continuing, it is useful to quote Alan Haworth when he notes that "[i]n fact, it is surprising how little close attention the concept of freedom receives from libertarian writers. Once again Anarchy, State, and Utopia is a case in point. The word 'freedom' doesn't even appear in the index. The word 'liberty' appears, but only to refer the reader to the 'Wilt Chamberlain' passage. In a supposedly 'libertarian' work, this is more than surprising. It is truly remarkable." [Anti-Libertarianism, p. 95] Why this is the case can be seen from how the right-"libertarian" defines freedom.

    In right-"libertarian" and "anarcho"-capitalist ideology, freedom is considered to be a product of property. As Murray Rothbard puts it, "the libertarian defines the concept of 'freedom' or 'liberty'. . .[as a] condition in which a person's ownership rights in his body and his legitimate material property rights are not invaded, are not aggressed against. . . . Freedom and unrestricted property rights go hand in hand." [Op. Cit., p.41]

    This definition has some problems, however. In such a society, one cannot (legitimately) do anything with or on another's property if the owner prohibits it. This means that an individual's only guaranteed freedom is determined by the amount of property that he or she owns. This has the consequence that someone with no property has no guaranteed freedom at all (beyond, of course, the freedom not to be murdered or otherwise harmed by the deliberate acts of others). In other words, a distribution of property is a distribution of freedom, as the right-"libertarians" themselves define it. It strikes anarchists as strange that an ideology that claims to be committed to promoting freedom entails the conclusion that some people should be more free than others. Yet this is the logical implication of their view, which raises a serious doubt as to whether "anarcho"-capitalists are actually interested in freedom at all.

    Looking at Rothbard's definition of "liberty" quoted above, we can see that freedom is actually no longer considered to be a fundamental, independent concept. Instead, freedom is a derivative of something more fundamental, namely the "legitimate rights" of an individual, which are identified as property rights. In other words, given that "anarcho"-capitalists and right-"libertarians" in general consider the right to property as "absolute," it follows that freedom and property become one and the same. This suggests an alternative name for the right Libertarian, namely "Propertarian." And, needless to say, if we do not accept the right-libertarians' view of what constitutes "legitimate rights," then their claim to be defenders of liberty is weak.

    Another important implication of this "liberty as property" concept is that it produces a strangely alienated concept of freedom. Liberty, as we noted, is no longer considered absolute, but a derivative of property -- which has the important consequence that you can "sell" your liberty and still be considered free by the ideology. This concept of liberty is usually termed "self-ownership." But, to state the obvious, I do not "own" myself, as if were an object somehow separable from my subjectivity -- I am myself (see section B.4.2). However, the concept of "self-ownership" is handy for justifying various forms of domination and oppression -- for by agreeing (usually under the force of circumstances, we must note) to certain contracts, an individual can "sell" (or rent out) themselves to others (for example, when workers sell their labour power to capitalists on the "free market"). In effect, "self-ownership" becomes the means of justifying treating people as objects -- ironically, the very thing the concept was created to stop! As anarchist L. Susan Brown notes, "[a]t the moment an individual 'sells' labour power to another, he/she loses self-determination and instead is treated as a subjectless instrument for the fulfilment of another's will." [The Politics of Individualism, p. 4]

    Given that workers are paid to obey, you really have to wonder which planet Murray Rothbard was on when he argued that a person's "labour service is alienable, but his will is not" and that he "cannot alienate his will, more particularly his control over his own mind and body." He contrasts private property and self-ownership by arguing that "[a]ll physical property owned by a person is alienable . . . I can give away or sell to another person my shoes, my house, my car, my money, etc. But there are certain vital things which, in natural fact and in the nature of man, are inalienable . . . [his] will and control over his own person are inalienable." [The Ethics of Liberty, p. 40, p. 135 and pp. 134-5] Yet "labour services" are unlike the private possessions Rothbard lists as being alienable. As we argued in section B.1 a person's "labour services" and "will" cannot be divided -- if you sell your labour services, you also have to give control of your body and mind to another person. If a worker does not obey the commands of her employer, she is fired. That Rothbard denied this indicates a total lack of common-sense. Perhaps Rothbard would have argued that as the worker can quit at any time she does not really alienate their will (this seems to be his case against slave contracts -- see section F.2.2). But this ignores the fact that between the signing and breaking of the contract and during work hours (and perhaps outside work hours, if the boss has mandatory drug testing or will fire workers who attend union or anarchist meetings or those who have an "unnatural" sexuality and so on) the worker does alienate his will and body. In the words of Rudolf Rocker, "under the realities of the capitalist economic form . . . there can . . . be no talk of a 'right over one's own person,' for that ends when one is compelled to submit to the economic dictation of another if he does not want to starve." [Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 10]

    Another article shows how what libertarians really advocate, is not the removal of the state, but actually the creation of many private states.

    I think its always been obvious that when libertarians talk of freedom, it has merely been freedom for the rich, and that there opposition to the state is merely based on the fact that they dont want to have there pursuit of wealth interfeared with. What they fail to note is that for a free market system to exist a state must exist, because without the repressive state mechanism such as a police force etc (even if privately provided it is still a mechanism of state control) then there would be nothing protecting them and their property.
    Regarding the self ownership thing, it appears to me that one can remain in control of one's "will" and still remain a self owner. I mean, even in a non market economy there would be some degree of people working for others according to some pre-agreed terms. As for giving control of your mind to another, I don't know how that follows, you presumably still have access to your own thoughts, even if you are engaging in a contract.

    My objection is with the means in which property ownership is conferred, I don't personally have a problem with self ownership and contracts (I mean, even a promise to paint a neighbour's fence must qualify as a contract as sorts, even if it is done in exchange for your neighbour giving your kids French lessons or something instead of for money). I still hold by my original position that there is no means by which private property can be justified, and that private property effectively acts as a detriment to the liberty of others by virtue of the fact that it prevents them from using the previously unowned land.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    If you will not work to feed yourself, and have not made other arrangements, then yes - you starve - just as has been the case since the dawn of time. You starve, however, as a free man.
    This is largely true, but surely you will admit that there are plenty of people who do not have to 'work to feed themselves' at all? What about people who inherit millions of pounds? I think it's situations like those that create a feeling of injustice in people. You can't possibly argue that it is fair that some people work for 16 hours a day their whole life and are still on the poverty line while others have never had to lift a finger and live in untold luxury? Also, capitalism tends to disproportionately reward people for the work they put in.

    Another market failure lies in the fact that poor people's voices in the market place are virtually unheard. So a rich man's market demand for food is met very quickly while a poor, starving man's is not. The market only recognises money; not need. The people who need houses the most are homeless people on the street - but their needs are not entertained for one second. Now, I'm not saying that socialism is the answer, but it's quite frustrating when libertarians go spouting their ideology as if it is absolutely perfect for everyone. I just wish they would be less naive.
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    (Original post by Andy the Anarchist)
    I still hold by my original position that there is no means by which private property can be justified, and that private property effectively acts as a detriment to the liberty of others by virtue of the fact that it prevents them from using the previously unowned land.
    I agree with this. Private property is a totally arbitrary and made up concept. In a way, when one realises this, all of these debates become somewhat futile. If you can't justify private prperty (and nobody can on a philosophical level), then libertarianism crashes to the ground quite spectacularly, in my view.

    However, I doubt there are many people who, on a more pragmatic level, would like to see their right of ownership over their home and food to be taken away. Property is just a practical solution to the chaotic free-for-all that would surely result if it did not exist.
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    (Original post by HappinessHappening)
    However, I doubt there are many people who, on a more pragmatic level, would like to see their right of ownership over their home and food to be taken away. Property is just a practical solution to the chaotic free-for-all that would surely result if it did not exist.
    Surely left anarchism is pretty much all about answering the question of what would happen if we got rid of private property?
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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    Surely left anarchism is pretty much all about answering the question of what would happen if we got rid of private property?
    Yeah, but most of that seems so wishy-washy to me. If you go to that website that the OP posted, you'll see that when it actually comes to outlining what an anarcho-syndicalist society would look like, it all becomes terribly vague. And just take one look at the kinds of people who are part of the movement itself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isGsu...C12C6&index=11

    It's all very well listening to intellectuals like Chomsky or reading Bakunin, but can you imagine what would really happen if we tore down the state entirely and got rid of property altogether? I think all hell would break loose, personally. We aren't ready for that kind of development and perhaps we never will be.

    Also, I seriously doubt that the mass production of goods would continue under anarcho-communism. Are you telling me that we would still have computers and mobile phones? Would I still be able to go to the shop and find mountains of food there? I can't help but feel sceptical of the whole thing. God knows it's easy to criticise capitalism, but when it comes to finding genuine replacements . . . I have my doubts.
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    (Original post by HappinessHappening)
    I agree with this. Private property is a totally arbitrary and made up concept. In a way, when one realises this, all of these debates become somewhat futile. If you can't justify private prperty (and nobody can on a philosophical level), then libertarianism crashes to the ground quite spectacularly, in my view.
    God knows how many times I've made this point over the last few days, but socialists face precisely the same problem in justifying their version of property, whatever they choose to call it. The issue is not whether or not it is legitimate for some people to exclude others from parts of the earth, because if this is seriously in question then so is the ability of mankind to produce enough food to survive. So the issue, which socialists prove entirely reluctant to face (watch how often it's answered with platitudes about 'democratic decision making' or 'people who are affected having a say') is what justifies their version of fencing bits of the land off - and be in no doubt about it, they have a version too. And of course, on analysis, exactly the same problems arise for them.
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    (Original post by HappinessHappening)
    Yeah, but most of that seems so wishy-washy to me. If you go to that website that the OP posted, you'll see that when it actually comes to outlining what an anarcho-syndicalist society would look like, it all becomes terribly vague. And just take one look at the kinds of people who are part of the movement itself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isGsu...C12C6&index=11

    It's all very well listening to intellectuals like Chomsky or reading Bakunin, but can you imagine what would really happen if we tore down the state entirely and got rid of property altogether? I think all hell would break loose, personally. We aren't ready for that kind of development and perhaps we never will be.

    Also, I seriously doubt that the mass production of goods would continue under anarcho-communism. Are you telling me that we would still have computers and mobile phones? Would I still be able to go to the shop and find mountains of food there? I can't help but feel sceptical of the whole thing. God knows it's easy to criticise capitalism, but when it comes to finding genuine replacements . . . I have my doubts.
    Exactly. As Orwell knew it is easier to destroy than to create. Revolution will never work.
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    God knows how many times I've made this point over the last few days, but socialists face precisely the same problem in justifying their version of property, whatever they choose to call it. The issue is not whether or not it is legitimate for some people to exclude others from parts of the earth, because if this is seriously in question then so is the ability of mankind to produce enough food to survive. So the issue, which socialists prove entirely reluctant to face (watch how often it's answered with platitudes about 'democratic decision making' or 'people who are affected having a say') is what justifies their version of fencing bits of the land off - and be in no doubt about it, they have a version too. And of course, on analysis, exactly the same problems arise for them.
    Oh, absolutely - I never denied that. Nobody wants a world with no property rights whatsoever, but justifying it on a philosophical level is basically impossible. Of course socialists face the same dilemma. That is precisely my point though: foundations of political ideologies are essentialy arbitrary and must be taken as a given. When one recognises that fact, it's very easy to become apathetic about the whole debate.
 
 
 
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