Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

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Vaniver
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:54 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Ayn Rand I just don't get at all. I guess it's a cultural thing, she does't seem to have much readership outside of the US. To me, she feels like a convert who became a stricter American than the Americans themselves.
This is mostly true (though I can't judge how much readership she has outside of the US).

Zamfir wrote:I read some books by Hayek years ago, I think Road to serfdom too. He was clearly a smart guy, and he made a lot of good points. The trouble, in my opinion, is that his best points have become common wisdom, and what remains are not his strongest points. A tightly state controlled economy was still an option many people considered in the 1940s, but it isn't anymore, mostly for the reasons Hayek gave.

But his claim that welfare states would inevitably become Soviet-style regimes has turned to be complety wrong. Both Western Europe and North America have implemented many policies Hayek was opposed to, and it just didn't work out the way he thought it would. Of course, people claim that it didn't turn out badly because people like Hayek warned, and because conservative opposition stopped the most extreme proposals. There might be some truth in there, but that still leaves the fact that it is apparently possible to have a free, democratically controlled welfare state of a size Hayek thought impossible.
I see The Road To Serfdom as one of his weaker books for that reason. He is correct about the general incentives; he is wrong in assuming that because there is an incentive for totalitarianism, there will be totalitarianism. I think Hayek's more salient points are on the knowledge problem- as H2SO4 brought up, the idea that individuals know their circumstances best. Socialists tend to focus on the other half of the knowledge problem- instead of focusing on knowledge, they focus on decision-making ability. Of course the economy should be run by the smartest men in the room- lesser men will make mistakes! While Hayek is content to let poor decision-makers make bad decisions with good information, socialists ignore that good decision-makers will make bad decisions if fed bad information.

Since how decision-making is divvied up isn't binary, it becomes a question of maximizing some benefit by allocating decision-making. I would say that the state's role is to set minimal, easily understood guidelines on how people should act, and then let people make their own decisions with those guidelines in mind.

Here's an example. Do you know how many federal crimes there are in America?
Spoiler:
No. The government itself has lost track. If the people writing the laws don't know how many ways you can violate the law, how the hell are the people supposed to follow them? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, they say, but it's impossible to not be ignorant of most laws.



nitePhyyre wrote:Are YOU a collection of individual cells, competing for supremacy? Or, are you, you?
Is a society a collection of individuals, competing for supremacy, or is society, a society?
A car is made up of many parts. They do not compete for supremacy. A car is a singular object. I am made up of many parts. They do not compete for supremacy. I am a singular object.

Are two cars a singular object? Are two people? Are a billion cars a singular object? Are a billion people?

If you remove a part from a machine, it malfunctions. If you remove an organ from a person, it malfunctions. But if you remove a person from a society, it does not malfunction in the same way. The relationships that person had are broken, and that person may have been critical for the survival of other people- but it cannot be said that someone is the heart of society, or the liver, or the eye, or the mind. Society is a group of individuals, not an individual with parts.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:42 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Actually the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the following two passages:

[snipped to make post shorter]

Of course, the translation of these rights into practical laws is far from obvious, but I don't see much of a difference between these two rights on a fundamental level. You can expect a government to do a reasonable job at protecting your property, without expecting it to be perfect at that job and without negating your duty to buy locks and other measures. In a very similar vein, you can expect it do a reasonable job at providing you with health care, without expecting it to be perfect and without negating your own responsibilities in that respect.

Of course, what level of effort is "reasonable" and what shape it should take are different questions, but there doesn't appear to be an obvious fundamental difference here.

Two things:
1. The UDHR is not a legally binding document. It has no bearing as to what are actual rights and artificial rights ("artificial" meaning rights that are not inherent and are given to you by someone else, just in case I made that term up)
2. That says that food and housing are also a right. Does that mean the government should pay for those, too? Case and point, UDHR is not a definitive source for what's a right and what isn't, and even if it was, it's not the government's to provide our rights, just to protect them.

What? The concept of negative/positive liberty was created by Isiah Berlin, who most definitely was not a Marxist. He in fact invented the concept in part as an attack on Communism.

Hm... Double-checked my sources. It was not done as an attack on Communism, but when his concept of positive liberty was used to defend communism, he said that following that same train of thought, "positive liberty" becomes the platform for a totalitarianism. Though I still question why he called certain liberties "positive" and others "negative".

Also, he was a liberal. Maybe liberals are different now than they were back then, but the line between liberalism and Marxism is becoming more and more blurred.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:55 am UTC

I see the terms "Natural Rights" been thrown around here a bit and I was just curious as to whether the Libertarians, or quasi-libertarians, believe the Lockian doctorine that these rights exist somhow objectively and without goverments to enforce them. Generally many Libertarians seem to suggest, as the post above this has done, that rights to things, such as food or health (i.e. positive rights) are somhow invented rights and less valid than negative rights.

Rights are, as I see them, the minumum demands people make in creating the social contract. That is they empower goverments to rule them and legislate but that they guarentee these things. At the same time I don't see these rights exisitng outside of a social contract. Goverments do provide our rights. However what rights we chose to demand from our goverments and states may vary. This is reflected in History, gradually we have come to seek greater and better rights from our goverment. Libertarians demand a different set of rights then socialists do; just as some will vindicate the notion of one right while others prefer another. I think Rawl's concept of a "Veil of Ignorance" seems an excellent way of evaluating what rights are to be sought from states and in social contracts.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Dil » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:59 am UTC

I'm a libertarian.

I don't see why 'work or starve' is an immoral imperative, until such time food drags itself out of the ground, one HAS to work for it. It's just a fact of reality. If you don't do work, you starve, it has always been that way, and will continue to be that way until everything is automatic, which is coming up soon. When that happens, all our current economic models become shit-hosed and we are left with most of the population being completely useless to the economy. But that's another topic.

I'm a libertarian because I believe in freedom, as in the maximization of choices and voluntarism. I only believe in relationships that are made on a voluntary basis. I believe in cooperation over coercion. I find these beliefs diametrically opposed to socialism, and that's why I disagree with socialism and democracy and probably any form of government that currently exists. The way that the government solves problems is through coercion, to force money out of everyone's pockets to fix something, and poorly, at that. They way the market solves problems is to evaluate a want, and fulfil that want through contracts and agreements, this is generally mutually beneficial. The market does it better because it is not one company that wants to fulfil 'a want', it's more than one, so there is competition. The problem with the government as a provider of a service is that, it holds a monopoly over a large, fixed geographical region. You have to pay for that particular service even if it IS shit. There is no incentive to provide a better service if everyone is forced to pay for it anyways. So the government has the power to hand over a monopoly to a company to provide a product to the population. Corruption is pretty prevalent where you have situations like that, the company gives the candidate money to run a campaign, and when the candidate wins the election, the candidate hands the company the monopoly. So you get this situation where the biggest whore-candidate of them all, gets the most money and has the greater possibility of winning since their campaign was better.

On the other hand, I challenge someone to give an example of a monopoly that isn't government enforced. Microsoft isn't even one.

I cannot accept democracy for a few reasons. Plato once said "How can everyone know what is best?" Democracy can only work with an informed population. I guarantee, this is not an informed population. Observe the epic failure of the US education system. I cannot accept democracy on moral grounds. I don't see how getting a 51% vote majority can justify random murder in foreign countries. The 'majority' voted Bush in, and they supported him killing 'them terrorists' in Iraq, and forced the other 49% to pay for that shit. I find that unacceptable. There is no such thing as a moral majority. I don't see why we have to pay for shit we don't agree with.

On another note, I do recognize some corporations to be quite evil, but I don't think the government helps us against it. Actually, I'm pretty sure that the government made laws that has helped large corporations to thrive and you know, continue being evil. For example, a corporation is legally a person and has the same rights as a person (some argue has more).

Anyways, back to the original ideas, cooperation over coercion. Basically, the market provides like, everything. I don't see why it can't provide more.

I do recognize the free rider problem, as a problem. But it is a problem that exists for any system. In fact, I think it's worse in the current system as opposed to a libertarian system, which is sorta funny since everyone always brings it up to shut down libertarianism. for example, Joe and Jack live next to eachother, and Joe is an asshole and doesn't want to help Jack build a road into town. Jack builds the road, and then Joe uses it. He's free-riding on Jack. How can jack fix this problem? What about roads in general, will every road be private and every road will have a toll? Well, no, most roads are not built for just one person, for example Company A wants people to be able to get to their workplace and builds a road for their workers, and Company B is in the vicinity so they agree to share the property for a road. Shopping centres and other commercial enterprises have every reason to build roads so that people can go buy shit. Apartment landlords want to rent out their shit, and would build roads into town to appeal to tenants, and it goes on and on. And the bottom line is, we already pay for roads now, so what exactly is the problem? If the government went away, would the demand for roads disappear? Obviously, not. Anyways, back to the free rider problem. The government imposes a flat tax on everyone within a province or state. The outliers, the fringe occupants of that land get screwed over because they have to pay for the benefits of the city folk, who use many more roads and lights than the fringe occupants. This is a massive free rider problem, it's much worse than the Jack and Joe example since the Jack and Joe problem is merely local. You can only get screwed by the people living near you, while the government free-riding problem is one where you get screwed by people living thousands of miles away....you can't do jackshit about it.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:14 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:I see the terms "Natural Rights" been thrown around here a bit and I was just curious as to whether the Libertarians, or quasi-libertarians, believe the Lockian doctorine that these rights exist somhow objectively and without goverments to enforce them. Generally many Libertarians seem to suggest, as the post above this has done, that rights to things, such as food or health (i.e. positive rights) are somhow invented rights and less valid than negative rights.

Rights are, as I see them, the minumum demands people make in creating the social contract. That is they empower goverments to rule them and legislate but that they guarentee these things. At the same time I don't see these rights exisitng outside of a social contract. Goverments do provide our rights. However what rights we chose to demand from our goverments and states may vary. This is reflected in History, gradually we have come to seek greater and better rights from our goverment. Libertarians demand a different set of rights then socialists do; just as some will vindicate the notion of one right while others prefer another. I think Rawl's concept of a "Veil of Ignorance" seems an excellent way of evaluating what rights are to be sought from states and in social contracts.

I was not suggesting that food or health were invented rights. I was saying that what the UDHR says is irrelevant, and that even if it was relevant, it is not the government's job to provide our rights (as that would mean it could take them at any moment, either voluntarily or involuntarily), but rather to protect them.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:42 am UTC

H2SO4 wrote:I was not suggesting that food or health were invented rights. I was saying that what the UDHR says is irrelevant, and that even if it was relevant, it is not the government's job to provide our rights (as that would mean it could take them at any moment, either voluntarily or involuntarily), but rather to protect them.


Sure, what the UDHR says is irrelevant in a certain sense, but in that same sense all appeal to rights or ethics is 'irrelevant', if those rights and principles are not already codified in some law. The questions under discussion here is mostly about what should be in the law, not a legal discussion about what rights are at this moment incorporated into the law.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:59 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Sure, what the UDHR says is irrelevant in a certain sense, but in that same sense all appeal to rights or ethics is 'irrelevant', if those rights and principles are not already codified in some law. The questions under discussion here is mostly about what should be in the law, not a legal discussion about what rights are at this moment incorporated into the law.

Which I answer in the second half of that post. It is not the job of the government to provide rights, as this could mean they can take them away at any moment (either voluntarily or involuntarily), but rather to protect them. Therefore laws that say the government provides a certain right should not be there, only laws that say that the government protects that right.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby AFedchuck » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:02 pm UTC

Dil - a few points and a few questions, thank you for an elegant post detailing a common interpretation of libertarianism. I think the most important point to make is that many of your criticisms are in fact attacking not socialism but the current US system - the condemnation of the buying of elections, the fact that the government refuses to (or is unable to?) deal with corporate control and so on. These problems are exactly the kind of thing that socialists would like to tackle as well! Also, asking someone to name a non-governmentally mandated monopoly is a bit ridiculous considering that governments forbid non-governmentally mandated monopolies (and if you don't treat a company with 80% (IIRC) market share as being near monopoly, I'm not sure what would be).

You talk about libertarianism being important because it maximises choice and voluntary relationships - but you mention you don't seem to have a problem with people being coerced into working relationships (work or starve). Would you allow people to sell themselves in slavery? Would you forbid companies from putting very restrictive clauses in contracts? This leads into the idea that markets cannot be perfect - because people are real rather than arbitrary constructs. You imagine, I guess, that if a company were to try to impose such conditions on its workers, the workers would simply resign and move onto another company with better conditions - but what happens if the employers in a region blacklist those workers, and they don't have money to travel elsewhere, or if there is only one major employer? I'm interested to see what controls libertarians imagine there will be over the actions of the rich and corporations. I'm hoping the answer is something more than an invisible hand.
Also how do you deal with inheritance? To my mind, elimination of inheritance would be natural in a libertarian society, because othewise you introduce massive inefficiencies into the market by biasing the initial conditions terribly.

H2SO4 wrote:
What? The concept of negative/positive liberty was created by Isiah Berlin, who most definitely was not a Marxist. He in fact invented the concept in part as an attack on Communism.

Hm... Double-checked my sources. It was not done as an attack on Communism, but when his concept of positive liberty was used to defend communism, he said that following that same train of thought, "positive liberty" becomes the platform for a totalitarianism. Though I still question why he called certain liberties "positive" and others "negative".

Also, he was a liberal. Maybe liberals are different now than they were back then, but the line between liberalism and Marxism is becoming more and more blurred.

You're a moron (highlighted sections evidence my claim). Could you tell me what your sources are, so the rest of the world can check?
Could you give me some examples of prominent Marxists in the USA today (I assume your use of liberal for left-wing is because you are talking about the USA)?

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:15 pm UTC

H2SO4 wrote:
Zamfir wrote:Sure, what the UDHR says is irrelevant in a certain sense, but in that same sense all appeal to rights or ethics is 'irrelevant', if those rights and principles are not already codified in some law. The questions under discussion here is mostly about what should be in the law, not a legal discussion about what rights are at this moment incorporated into the law.

Which I answer in the second half of that post. It is not the job of the government to provide rights, as this could mean they can take them away at any moment (either voluntarily or involuntarily), but rather to protect them. Therefore laws that say the government provides a certain right should not be there, only laws that say that the government protects that right.


H2SO4, I don't think that it would be completely fair if you got to pick and choose the set of rights that happen to back up your position. If you don't like what the UDHR says, perhaps a different document along the same vein? Additionally, what exactly is the line between protect and provide? Like if for instance, if we were to take housing as a right, these are some tasks that a government might want to do:
-ensure there are building materials
-ensure there are workers to build the houses
-ensure worker's rights
-ensure houses are being built
-ensure loans are available for homes
-ensure safe living conditions in homes
-ensure some form of renter's rights
-ensure housing is affordable
-ensure existence of homless shelters
-ensure there is housing for all

Where along the line do things become unacceptable? Or, am I coming at this completely wrong?

Dil wrote:I cannot accept democracy for a few reasons. Plato once said "How can everyone know what is best?" Democracy can only work with an informed population. I guarantee, this is not an informed population. Observe the epic failure of the US education system. I cannot accept democracy on moral grounds. I don't see how getting a 51% vote majority can justify random murder in foreign countries. The 'majority' voted Bush in, and they supported him killing 'them terrorists' in Iraq, and forced the other 49% to pay for that shit. I find that unacceptable. There is no such thing as a moral majority. I don't see why we have to pay for shit we don't agree with.

On another note, I do recognize some corporations to be quite evil, but I don't think the government helps us against it. Actually, I'm pretty sure that the government made laws that has helped large corporations to thrive and you know, continue being evil. For example, a corporation is legally a person and has the same rights as a person (some argue has more)...

Coming from the socialist side, I couldn't agree with you more. Studies show time and again that the vast majority of people go out of their way to be ignorant, will believe anything they want to hear, will do pretty much whatever they are told by someone in a position of authority, will easily make choices obviously not in their best interest if emotions are involved, and will abuse pretty much any power given to them.

We talk about these great ideological differences, but when it come down to implementation, it always a small ruling elite controlling and distributing resources for their own good.

Dil wrote:I'm a libertarian because I believe in freedom, as in the maximization of choices and voluntarism. I only believe in relationships that are made on a voluntary basis. I believe in cooperation over coercion. I find these beliefs diametrically opposed to socialism, and that's why I disagree with socialism and democracy and probably any form of government that currently exists...

What mental backflips do you have to go through to think libertarians are the more cooperative group? Market pressures, are practically the embodiment of the term survival of the fittest. The entire premise of the concept is "competition is good"!!! Compare that to communism. The word is derived from "community". The socialist ideal is "sharing is caring". You say it yourself 3 SENTENCES LATER!
The market does it better because it is not one company that wants to fulfil 'a want', it's more than one, so there is competition.


In any case, my main problem here is the view that I don't understand how you think that a market can ever cause an increase in freedom, choices, or voluntarism. Take for example, space travel. 20 years ago, no one could go into space, the technology wasn't available. Now, someone can go into space, if they have the resources to do so. 20 years from now, it may be common place to go. See how in present day, the only thing the market accomplishes is introducing a limit. It doesn't provide the means to go into space, technology does. All the market does is ensure that not everyone has the freedom to do what they choose. All a supply and demand driven market will ever do is create unneeded scarcity. If you couldn't create an abundance of a certain product (which I doubt) a first-come, first-serve list would provide as just an effective means of distribution as a market.

Question: Does "libertarian"="free market capitalism"="laissez-faire"?
Question: Does this philosophy accept the idea of the "trickle down economy"?
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby andrewclunn » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:55 pm UTC

Wow, the topic has really come back to life. I plan on responding to a few comments from a page back in a bit, but just a quick question. To the socialists here, how many of you would, if I were to PROVE that free markets are better at achieving the desired goal of maximizing happiness, admit that you're wrong?
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Sharlos » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:15 pm UTC

I don't see why people see libertarianism and socialism as some sort of binary ideals of what society should be.

Neither of them would be very effective at running society at large, there are many things the free market is best at doing, just as there are things that the government is most effective at doing, claiming that one side can solve all problems facing human governance is just silly.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:17 pm UTC

Sharlos wrote:I don't see why people see libertarianism and socialism as some sort of binary ideals of what society should be.

Neither of them would be very effective at running society at large, there are many things the free market is best at doing, just as there are things that the government is most effective at doing, claiming that one side can solve all problems facing human governance is just silly.

Oh, very much agree. There are minarchists who claim that government built highways are the road to serfdom, and public-ownership-of-the-means-of-production fanatics who would nationalize cookie factories. The first group seems weirdly overabundant on the internetz, but I can't really care about either group. Things become a lot more interesting when they have actual implications for real-life political choices.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby scwizard » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:23 pm UTC

Would it be possible to have a libertarian society with strong property rights, that just redefined the idea of property rights?

Take for instance a capitalist society, where someone's right to a piece of some profit was determined by if they contributed or not. With each contributor getting an equal share. So lets say you have a plant that produces pins. Then each worker at that plant would get an equal share of the plant's profits.

This wouldn't be communism, workers in failing industries would make less than those at thriving industries. We'd still have work or starve, as well as free enterprise.

There wouldn't be any coerced redistribution of wealth here. Any more than a robber being arrested and his loot returned to the original owner is a coerced redistribution of wealth.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:48 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:H2SO4, I don't think that it would be completely fair if you got to pick and choose the set of rights that happen to back up your position. If you don't like what the UDHR says, perhaps a different document along the same vein? Additionally, what exactly is the line between protect and provide? Like if for instance, if we were to take housing as a right, these are some tasks that a government might want to do:
-ensure there are building materials
-ensure there are workers to build the houses
-ensure worker's rights
-ensure houses are being built
-ensure loans are available for homes
-ensure safe living conditions in homes
-ensure some form of renter's rights
-ensure housing is affordable
-ensure existence of homless shelters
-ensure there is housing for all

Where along the line do things become unacceptable? Or, am I coming at this completely wrong?

I didn't choose them that happened to back up my position. It takes only one instance to disprove an absolute. Zamfir was using the UDHR to say people had a certain right, and was implying (or at least, I got from it) that because of that government should provide it.

Now, I bolded examples you gave that are not the government providing, but protecting rights. The rest can be done by free-enterprise. A man who supplies materials knows he won't get paid, or will go out of business, if he doesn't get the materials to the place so he will make sure they get there. The foreman knows that he won't get paid if he doesn't get workers there, so he'll get workers there. Houses will always be built if the market allows (not a whole lot of houses currently being built due to economy and such), and what the government does there doesn't do anything. If the government forces people to build houses when it's not a good time to build houses, then someone's going to lose a bunch of money. Loans will be there because banks will know they can make a lot of money by giving out loans to the right people. "Right people" meaning people who have a high probability of paying it back. The market will most effectively determine the price of housing. If the government forces a lower price, people will lose money, go out of business, and everything ends up being for the worse. The market can also ensure the existence of homeless shelters, due to it being a charity. The government can give benefits to people donating to charity as they do now. Why? Because people have to have some kind of incentive to willingly part with their money. Ensuring that there is housing for all is crossing the line. Some people deserve to be out on the streets, some people want to be out on the streets.

You're a moron (highlighted sections evidence my claim). Could you tell me what your sources are, so the rest of the world can check?
Could you give me some examples of prominent Marxists in the USA today (I assume your use of liberal for left-wing is because you are talking about the USA)?

Source. Nice try though.
Van Jones. Cass Sunstein. Obama determining CEOs of car companies.

scwizard wrote:Would it be possible to have a libertarian society with strong property rights, that just redefined the idea of property rights?

Take for instance a capitalist society, where someone's right to a piece of some profit was determined by if they contributed or not. With each contributor getting an equal share. So lets say you have a plant that produces pins. Then each worker at that plant would get an equal share of the plant's profits.


There's a problem with that though. I mean, I can say that this already sort of happens with starting wages. Those are all the same, and are determined by the plant's profits. With non-starting wages, you'll run into the problem of someone being lazy or undeserving (frequently shows up to work late, takes a long lunch, etc) getting the same amount of money as the deserving one (shows up to work on time, takes the minimum lunch break, etc), and therefore the deserving one feels cheated and consequently will feel it not worth his time to work there or worth his time to work hard. Which is why you pay the harder working ones more.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby AFedchuck » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:52 pm UTC

H2SO4, keep adding to my dossier. None of those men even remotely resemble a Marxist now.
Obama, well ffs, if you think he's a Marxist ... next you'll be saying he's a Muslim and not American too.
True, Van Jones was a member of a Marxist party at one point, but this sentence proves he's not:
Only the business community has the requisite skills, experience, and capital to meet that need.

And your Isaiah Berlin source is remarkably skimpy. Trust me, he wasn't a Marxist (the word liberal in your source genuinely means liberal, rather than left leaning.

One more ad hominem attack from you and you'll be taking an unscheduled SB vacation of an indeterminate length.

-Az

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Dil » Fri Sep 04, 2009 5:53 pm UTC

AFedChuck wrote:Dil - a few points and a few questions, thank you for an elegant post detailing a common interpretation of libertarianism. I think the most important point to make is that many of your criticisms are in fact attacking not socialism but the current US system - the condemnation of the buying of elections, the fact that the government refuses to (or is unable to?) deal with corporate control and so on. These problems are exactly the kind of thing that socialists would like to tackle as well! Also, asking someone to name a non-governmentally mandated monopoly is a bit ridiculous considering that governments forbid non-governmentally mandated monopolies (and if you don't treat a company with 80% (IIRC) market share as being near monopoly, I'm not sure what would be).

You talk about libertarianism being important because it maximises choice and voluntary relationships - but you mention you don't seem to have a problem with people being coerced into working relationships (work or starve). Would you allow people to sell themselves in slavery? Would you forbid companies from putting very restrictive clauses in contracts? This leads into the idea that markets cannot be perfect - because people are real rather than arbitrary constructs. You imagine, I guess, that if a company were to try to impose such conditions on its workers, the workers would simply resign and move onto another company with better conditions - but what happens if the employers in a region blacklist those workers, and they don't have money to travel elsewhere, or if there is only one major employer? I'm interested to see what controls libertarians imagine there will be over the actions of the rich and corporations. I'm hoping the answer is something more than an invisible hand.
Also how do you deal with inheritance? To my mind, elimination of inheritance would be natural in a libertarian society, because othewise you introduce massive inefficiencies into the market by biasing the initial conditions terribly.


People are not coerced into a working relationship (work or starve) any more than people are coerced into falling when they jump off a cliff. Food doesn't pull itself out of the ground, gravity doesn't stop just because we want it to. There are situations where people are really 'coerced' to work, it is the situation where there is only one person or company to work for. This is not the situation. People can not work if they want. They just have to grow their own food and etc etc. I don't have a problem with a person, who owns their property, and tell the government to go suck themselves about property tax, and grow their own food. That would be a free individual, but this free individual still has to grow their own food, or starve. "Work or starve" is a case of nature, this is true regardless of any economic model, or culture or society.

A voluntary slave, isn't that oxymoronic, a contradiction in terms? I'm not sure what you're saying, when you start talking about selling self into slavery.

I suppose there are situations where corporations go over to a poor country and then exploit the workers or whatever. yes, it is shitty, but most of the time, the worker goes to the corporation to work for a few cents an hour. It's probably because people in that country are starving and are desperate and find the company the only option. Let's say Nike wasn't in that poor region, would the workers be any better off? No, I think they would still be starving. If the working conditions were truly poorer than the non working conditions, I don't think that people would go there in droves to work. This is assuming basic competence in the mind.

The thing on monopolies. I don't think a company with 80% market share is a monopoly. A monopoly requires 'exclusive control' over a service. Even if Microsoft owned 99.9% of the market share, I would not believe it was a monopoly. Until such time, men in microsoft uniforms come knocking on my door for a fixed fee, I hold the freedom to buy another system if I want or to not buy it at all (boycott). Exclusive control also implies that no other company is allowed to provide, and this is an idea that only a government can enforce. Government services are the worst because you can't even boycott that shit, you still pay for it.

I don't understand the fixation on inheritance. I don't understand why people think middle class inheritance is OK while richer inheritance is not OK. I think that if someone's parents worked hard all their life, and left all their money to their children, which they cared about the most in the world, that would be OK. I mean, they're the ones who gained the money in the first place, why not give it to their kids? If it's not OK for rich people to leave inheritance, why would it be OK for middle class people to leave inheritance? Where would we draw the line? What would be the cutting off point? (utility problem here, guys). And, I know this sounds shocking, but rich people can have rights too. Yes, it is unfair that some people are born better off than others. This is also another fact of reality, you cannot equalize people because people are not born equal. What if someone is born smarter than all the other kids (leading to more wealth and general being in the future)? Is that an unfair advantage? Should we stupefy them?

For the 0.1% of the population that doesn't have to work to live, good for them. Their existence doesn't make my existence any more miserable for it. Just because someone has a large slice of a pie, doesn't necessarily mean I get a smaller slice of pie, because wealth can be created.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

scwizard wrote:Take for instance a capitalist society, where someone's right to a piece of some profit was determined by if they contributed or not. With each contributor getting an equal share. So lets say you have a plant that produces pins. Then each worker at that plant would get an equal share of the plant's profits.


It's a tried method and has its flaws, I tink it is generally known as the "Yugoslavian firm" for some reason. The main problem is roughly as follows:
suppose you have a nice working firm with above average productivity. Say its employees communicate well, or its production line system is smooth, or it makes smart product choices, or anything. It is often hard to pin this anything down.

Now, it would clearly be good for society if this firm expanded. If it hired workers away from other firms, those employees are likely to be more productive in this well-run firm. But, and this is the big but, the marginal benefit of hiring more workers is probably less than the current average productivity of the firm, because well-working situations do not in general scale perfectly.

In a standard capitalist firm, the owners (even if the current employees are the owners) has every reason to hire more workers, because they can lure them away from other firms by a offering a higher wage, and still make a profit because the productivity is even higher than that wage. So this firm will expand until the marginal benefit of adding an extra workers is no longer more than the standard wage.

But in a "Yugoslavian" firm, the new employees will share equally in the profits, so everyone's share will be slightly lower . So the worker/owners of a succesful firm will in general try to keep their firm small.

This is apparently a well-documented problem, not just in Yugoslavia but also in Western worker-owned firms. In practice, worker owned firms in the west are things like law firms or doctor's collectives, where the partners work relatively independent, with their own clients and bills, and the 'firm' aspect is more a shared building and secretary pool.


Some people like to push this point further, and claim that the excess productivity of firms (which leads to profits for owners of more than the standard rate of return on investments) must be due to the special capacities of the owners, who are then called entrepeneurs and appear in Fortune magazine. Of course, a lot of it is just dumb luck, although definitely not all of it. Having a well-connected group of people, or the right product at the right place at the right time, do often have a completely unpredictable quality to them, and there is not really an obvious person who deserves that lucky part of the profits. But by giving it to owners, we encourage that the lucky situation is pushed as far as it can, while sharing it among the workers encourages to keep the good situation small.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:21 am UTC

AFedchuck wrote:H2SO4, keep adding to my dossier. None of those men even remotely resemble a Marxist now.
Obama, well ffs, if you think he's a Marxist next you'll be saying he's a Muslim and not American too.
True, Van Jones was a member of a Marxist party at one point, but this sentence proves he's not:
Only the business community has the requisite skills, experience, and capital to meet that need.

And your Isaiah Berlin source is remarkably skimpy. Trust me, he wasn't a Marxist (the word liberal in your source genuinely means liberal, rather than left leaning.

Cass Sunstein *still* thinks that the First Amendment needs some serious curtailment. That's Marxist. Not only was Van Jones a member of a Marxist party, he was the LEADER of a Communist group called STORM.

You asked for a source, I gave one. You don't expect it to have a voice recording of him saying that, do you?
And out of curiosity, what is the difference between liberal and left-leaning? To my understanding, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" referred to how each politcal ideology wanted to government to influence daily life, "conservative" meaning they wanted to be conservative with the use of government, "liberal" meaning they wanted to be liberal with the use of government.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:59 am UTC

H2SO4 wrote:To my understanding, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" referred to how each politcal ideology wanted to government to influence daily life, "conservative" meaning they wanted to be conservative with the use of government, "liberal" meaning they wanted to be liberal with the use of government.


No, that's not at all where the words come from. For example, in all countries outside of the US, liberal parties are economic right-wing parties.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby nitePhyyre » Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:13 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
H2SO4 wrote:To my understanding, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" referred to how each politcal ideology wanted to government to influence daily life, "conservative" meaning they wanted to be conservative with the use of government, "liberal" meaning they wanted to be liberal with the use of government.


No, that's not at all where the words come from. For example, in all countries outside of the US, liberal parties are economic right-wing parties.

The two terms are near meaningless. Conservative could mean:
1)The government should spend as little as it can so as to not deficit spend.
2)The government a should be as small as possible
3)The social values of yesteryear are ideal, society, ethics, and morality are in a constant state of decline.
Liberal could mean:
1)The government is the best entity to deficit spend when the economy needs a push
2)The government should be of sufficient size to perform its duties
3)The social values of yesteryear are obsolete, society, ethics, and morality are in a constant state of flux, we must adapt to modern times if we are to survive.

Either term could mean All,Some, or None to anyone and everyone. :oops:
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:I see the terms "Natural Rights" been thrown around here a bit and I was just curious as to whether the Libertarians, or quasi-libertarians, believe the Lockian doctorine that these rights exist somhow objectively and without goverments to enforce them. Generally many Libertarians seem to suggest, as the post above this has done, that rights to things, such as food or health (i.e. positive rights) are somhow invented rights and less valid than negative rights.
I attended a lecture on this subject that began with "there's a burglar in your house. Which of these will be more effective- shouting at him 'I have a moral right to property,' or 'I have a gun'?"

Essentially, there's a significant different between legal rights and natural/moral/basic/human/whatever rights. The ideal is to try and make legal rights match up with the optimal set of rights- but one is abstract and the other concrete.

AFedchuck wrote:Also, asking someone to name a non-governmentally mandated monopoly is a bit ridiculous considering that governments forbid non-governmentally mandated monopolies (and if you don't treat a company with 80% (IIRC) market share as being near monopoly, I'm not sure what would be).
But the 'trusts' which the anti-monopoly laws were made against weren't actually monopolies, and weren't having any of the negative effects of monopolies. As your last bit expresses- there's a difference between an actual monopoly and a market behemoth. There is no edict preventing Microsoft from being displaced or discarded when it no longer serves its customers- near monopolies don't matter when we're talking about monopolies. Only actual monopolies do.

The point is that government granted monopoly power is far more important than reality-based barriers to entry. The cost of making another utility system, or competing to provide utilities in an area is large- which means that the utility company can charge higher prices, since the profit would have to be very high to overcome the barrier to entry for another company (and then a price war will destroy both of their advantages, making it a bad idea to enter the industry). But there's a limit to how high the monopoly can raise its prices, based on the barrier to entry- which suggests that it is not a serious problem.

AFedchuck wrote:Also how do you deal with inheritance? To my mind, elimination of inheritance would be natural in a libertarian society, because othewise you introduce massive inefficiencies into the market by biasing the initial conditions terribly.
How is that an inefficiency?

It makes the 'competition' unfair. But the point is that the market, while it has competition in it, is primarily about cooperation. People focus on the competition because the cooperation is too obvious to be seen. When two companies try to sell the same product, what's flashy and noticeable are their tactics to try and make more money than their rival. But what's actually going on is products being sold to customers, and both parties getting wealthier from the transaction.

Likewise, inheritances aren't zero-sum. Someone approaching the end of their life, with enough money to do whatever they want, has two main options- continue working, and build up a larger estate, or stop working, and enjoy their estate. In the absence of inheritance, the elder would prefer the second and the children have no opinion (or would have a slight preference for the second); in the presence of inheritance, the children (and often the elder) would prefer the first.

Which one would society prefer? The one where a productive individual retires their talents, or the one where a productive individual continues to use their talents?

andrewclunn wrote:Wow, the topic has really come back to life. I plan on responding to a few comments from a page back in a bit, but just a quick question. To the socialists here, how many of you would, if I were to PROVE that free markets are better at achieving the desired goal of maximizing happiness, admit that you're wrong?
But that's impossible. You have to assume that happiness between individuals can't be compared (and thus the best option is a solution which makes everyone better off and no one worse off), whereas they can assume that happiness between individuals can be compared (and thus the best option is a solution which makes many people better off and a few people worse off).

Zamfir wrote:There are minarchists who claim that government built highways are the road to serfdom
Anarchists, maybe. Minarchists are generally suspicious but sometimes supportive of government-provided infrastructure.

scwizard wrote:Take for instance a capitalist society, where someone's right to a piece of some profit was determined by if they contributed or not. With each contributor getting an equal share. So lets say you have a plant that produces pins. Then each worker at that plant would get an equal share of the plant's profits.
Are all contributions equal? If not, what happens when you reward small contributions as much as large contributions?

H2SO4 wrote:And out of curiosity, what is the difference between liberal and left-leaning? To my understanding, the terms "conservative" and "liberal" referred to how each politcal ideology wanted to government to influence daily life, "conservative" meaning they wanted to be conservative with the use of government, "liberal" meaning they wanted to be liberal with the use of government.
Conservative refers to "traditionalist," while liberal has had a wide, wide range of definitions, generally associated with "reformist." Originally 'liberal' was used to describe proto-libertarian thinkers (note its root of 'freedom') who wanted to replace monarchies with republics, expand the freedoms of individuals, and reduce public involvement in the economy. When something approximating that became the status quo, American "conservatives" now support republics, individual freedom (with notable exceptions), and the reduction of public involvement in the economy, while the term "liberal" still refers to "reformist," except now the reforms at pointed at a different target.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby AFedchuck » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:57 pm UTC

H2SO4 - I'll try to enlighten you about why you're very confused. Marxism is a political philosophy which is relatively complete (I don't mean correct necessarily) - it has core tenets (the belief in class, Marx's theories on capital in particular, read an introduction to Marxism if you want a fuller explanation). Many marxists would limit the 1st amendment rights, you are correct- but that in no way implies that somebody who wants to limit 1st amendment rights is in anyway a Marxist.
A wants X, A is a Marxist, B wants X does not imply B is a Marxist, obviously.
Anyone who talks in terms of entrepeneurs, clearly isn't a Marxist, in the same way someone who says there was no historical Jesus is clearly not a Christian.
I know of no prominent politicians in the USA who could be described as a Marxist except by someone who thinks that "Communism works in theory, but it doesn't work in practice" is a profound and meaningful statement. People who refer to Obama as a Marxist are necessarily either idiots or liars. And I like to think the best of people.

Vanvier, perhaps this will highlight some of my thinking w/respect to markets - true, markets are not zero sum games - but markets are not necessarily positive sum, either. Why should we assume that having a market will improve efficiency?

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Charlie! » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:15 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
AFedchuck wrote:Also, asking someone to name a non-governmentally mandated monopoly is a bit ridiculous considering that governments forbid non-governmentally mandated monopolies (and if you don't treat a company with 80% (IIRC) market share as being near monopoly, I'm not sure what would be).
But the 'trusts' which the anti-monopoly laws were made against weren't actually monopolies, and weren't having any of the negative effects of monopolies. As your last bit expresses- there's a difference between an actual monopoly and a market behemoth. There is no edict preventing Microsoft from being displaced or discarded when it no longer serves its customers- near monopolies don't matter when we're talking about monopolies. Only actual monopolies do.

The point is that government granted monopoly power is far more important than reality-based barriers to entry. The cost of making another utility system, or competing to provide utilities in an area is large- which means that the utility company can charge higher prices, since the profit would have to be very high to overcome the barrier to entry for another company (and then a price war will destroy both of their advantages, making it a bad idea to enter the industry). But there's a limit to how high the monopoly can raise its prices, based on the barrier to entry- which suggests that it is not a serious problem.

Hm, I don't think the distinction between complete monopoly and near-monopoly is as big as you make out, because to maximize profit even in a complete monopoly (in most cases), you have to keep the number of buyers large, and at some price above the optimum price you'll start losing money as you increase price because of people reducing consumption or going without. So if the "maximum allowed price" that any near-monopoly has is higher than the optimum price for a complete monopoly, the major distinction you make (unlimited price vs. limited price) drops away for even slightly rational agents.

I think utilities are still a good example of this. The local electric company could probably raise its rates a decent amount and still not get any competitors, but they would lose profit. The difference between the maximum allowed price and the optimum price also helps cement this "even-nearer-monopoly's" position, since by definition the closer you are to the maximum, the better things are for competitors.


Besides, breaking the law is, in a way, just another cost. Given sufficient incentive, a black market will appear. Viz: drugs.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby nitePhyyre » Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

I am arguing with people that think:
- "Do y or x bad thing will happen" somehow isn't coercion
- When it comes down to it, "Competition" is really all about "Cooperation"
- Controlling the entire market isn't a monopoly, as long as there isn't some form of edict surrounding the issue
- Obama, who sits smack dab in the middle of the right wing, is a marxist

andrewclunn wrote:Wow, the topic has really come back to life. I plan on responding to a few comments from a page back in a bit, but just a quick question. To the socialists here, how many of you would, if I were to PROVE that free markets are better at achieving the desired goal of maximizing happiness, admit that you're wrong

Definitely, I would be most interested in seeing this proof. Some sort of study done to determine the outcomes of groups with limited resources and the varying effect of competition vs cooperation for long term survival of the group. It might be nice to inject some objectivity into the thread.

Mind your tone. -Az
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Vaniver » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:11 am UTC

AFedchuck wrote:Vanvier, perhaps this will highlight some of my thinking w/respect to markets - true, markets are not zero sum games - but markets are not necessarily positive sum, either. Why should we assume that having a market will improve efficiency?
Improve efficiency over what?

I mean, there are documented market failures (i.e. situations where the incentives for agents need to be altered to make the socially optimal scenario individually optimal), in which case you can say a market without an enforcement mechanism (i.e. full laissez-faire) is less efficient than a market with an enforcement mechanism (i.e. a regulated market), but beyond those I'm not really sure what comparison you're trying to set up.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Heavenlytoaster » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:15 am UTC

Markets are naturally driven toward being positive-sum though, being as each transaction requires the willingness of both parties, each should experience gain. (There are of course some exceptions, but generally this is why it can be assumed to not be zero or negative)

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:30 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:I am arguing with people that think:
- Obama, who sits smack dab in the middle of the right wing, is a marxist

Obama? Right wing?? Are you kidding me right now? And no, I did not say he was a Marxist, but his action of controlling who is CEO of GM is a pretty Marxist thing to do.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Le1bn1z » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:07 am UTC

Heavenlytoaster » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:15 pm UTC
Markets are naturally driven toward being positive-sum though, being as each transaction requires the willingness of both parties, each should experience gain. (There are of course some exceptions, but generally this is why it can be assumed to not be zero or negative)


Not necessarily true.

Free markets or anarchy (i.e. complete freedom from artificial government constraints) in history have often tended to massive disadvantages for the vast majority.

For quick reference, one might look to argricultural economies in Republican Rome, 19th century urban industrial economies in Britain and the United States, Medieval feudal economies in the Holy Roman Empire or the French Bourbon Regime.

In each case, masses of people were forced, out of desperation, into accepting hugely disadvantageos contracts and living conditions, while the elite became massively rich.

The Roman Republic is an excellent example of the self-defeating nature of practical libertarianism. The Roman ideal was, infact, very libertarian. The Roman Citizen was supposed to be self-sufficient in every way. They were freeholders of small plots of land or small businesses, with some stratification of wealth, but with no free underclass to speak of until the late 2nd century BC. They were self-armed, and the army was a militia of all free citizens. State power was minimal. Even prosecutions were private.

Nevertheless, the success of the model was its undoing. In expanding quickly, generals and ranking officers commanding victorious armies took the lion's share of the spoils, in slaves and gold. In the free market, the new ultra-rich were able to buy out the free-holders, many of whose descendants ended up in Rome without real work, prospects or hope. They became depedant on state welfare.

The irony is that the state attempted to refound Rome based on the old ideals, but had to do so through progressive taxation, land redistribution and other "socialist" means. Naturally, the aristocracy would have none of it, and, besides, soldiers who'd never farmed make poor farmers (witness Zimbabwe).

The issue which libertarians on this board fail to address is the disconnect between the free, self-sustained citizen as the social and moral ideal, and the economic ideal of free capital (as opposed to "free market", which can be something else.)

In order for libertarianism to function as a civic reality (as opposed to a pseudo-philosophy used by the rich to justify non-participation in society or not paying their taxes) an economic system of self-sufficient people, able to defend their self-sufficiency is absolutely required.

However, free capital is by its nature expansive. The laws of chance will have some individuals have runs of good luck and others bad. When fate hands out a bad run on a free-holder, he or she is forced to sell their land or business below market, and abandon their self-sufficiency. They then become vulnerable to dependancy and servitude, which visciates the possibility of a civic ethic of independant dignity. There is a moral shift, as the servant underclass seeks to regain the lost dignity it assumes it deserves by inalienable right, and will, as a practical matter, turn to collective bargaining and social contract (if the society is lucky) or violence (if not.)

Libertarianism, as a civic reality, depends on a mechanism for ensuring that each citizen maintains the economic means for independence, in other words, a government with a redistributive function. Note, this is NOT properly socialism, as property is not held in common. Rather, means are found to thwart the expansion of capital that would split society into owners and the owned. Modern political thinkers refer to this as the "ownership society." In fact, it is one of the basic pillars of democracy; that each voter is sufficiently independant so as to have free agency in their political voice.

To draw of the Biblical story of Esau and Jacob; Essau sells his birthright to Jacob for a day's survival, ending the possibility of the two living seperately independant lives and exchanging goods as equals. In order to maintain a libertarian civic, some means would need to be in place to provide Essau with the necessities of survival when he falls short, without forcing him to relinquish independance, or find him a new base for survival.

In other words, Libertarianism depends upon the Liberal state.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Le1bn1z » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:24 am UTC

Vaniver wries

Adam smith is best known for demonstrating that the common good is best served through the pursual of self interest.


Or something to that effect.

In fact, that is not the case, though often his arguments are blurred by neo-liberals trying to make a point in a hurry.

That was, in fact, the thesis not of Smith, but of Mandeville, who argued in "The Fable of the Bees" that the Vice of Avarice was the engine of prosperity which fuels the common good.

Smith, on the other hand, was in fact primarily a scholar interested in ethics. His best-selling work at the time, and the one with which he made his reputation, upon which the Wealth of Nations piggy-backed, was "A Theory of Moral Sentiment."

This tract is absolutely necessary for understanding Smith's economic theory. Smith argued that humanity possessed an Ethical Imagination, called sympathy, at the core of its being. Happiness required that man place himself in the shoes of others, so that he could live with himself. The mind would always scream against iniquity, in a very MacBeath-like fashion.

The "Wealth of Nations" was an ad-hoc document aimed at attacking the Mercantilist world system. Ironically, the Mercantalist system was based on a "free market," wherin individuals could "buy" the power of the state, and the power of law to constrain others. The state did not enforce monopolies, rather monopolistic companies (such as the East India Companies of the UK and Netherlands) were given power to enforce themselves. This right was purchased from the state, which had contracts of subsurvience from all citizens.

The "Wealth of Nations" argues not for Government stupor, but action. Smith wanted the government to actively break up monopolies, and to create even playing fields. J.S. Mill, in his feminist tracts, builds on this concept quite well. The argument is this:

1.) The common good is best served when the very best people are in control of the economy.
2.) The best way to determine who is best is through free competition.
3.) The only way for there to be true competition which reveals who is best is if all start from similar starting positions.
4.) Therefore, free competition requires certain equalisers such as education for women and men, which would require government expenditure.

Otherwise, the stupid sons of the rich would take control over the heads of the more intelligent daughters of the poor. Society loses, and becomes ruled by cretins, rather than the best possible people.

Furthermore, Smith is only arguing that people be free to pursue maximum productivity. If experimentation demonstrates that cooperation, even public cooperation (such as the universal education mentioned above) is in society's best interests, then it is to the good of the market and to the good of society. Other obvious joint ventures: Roads, Police and the military.

Smith was a Liberal, not a Libertarian.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:30 am UTC

H2SO4 wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:I am arguing with people that think:
- Obama, who sits smack dab in the middle of the right wing, is a marxist

Obama? Right wing?? Are you kidding me right now? And no, I did not say he was a Marxist, but his action of controlling who is CEO of GM is a pretty Marxist thing to do.

Yes, right wing. http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2008

nitePhyyre: If you don't understand the SB rules, maybe a debate here isn't the best place for you to be.

If Obama had fired the GM CEO and decided to let the workers union run the company, then yes, that would have been marxist. Just controlling the way a company is run? Fascist. Right Wing, not Left.
Note: I am not saying he is fascist. I'm just saying that to call the obvious right, left, is absurd.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:14 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
H2SO4 wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:I am arguing with people that think:
- Obama, who sits smack dab in the middle of the right wing, is a marxist

Obama? Right wing?? Are you kidding me right now? And no, I did not say he was a Marxist, but his action of controlling who is CEO of GM is a pretty Marxist thing to do.

Yes, right wing. http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2008 [edited] If Obama had fired the GM CEO and decided to let the workers union run the company, then yes, that would have been marxist. Just controlling the way a company is run? Fascist. Right Wing, not Left.
Note: I am not saying he is fascist. I'm just saying that to call the obvious right, left, is absurd.


I think that compass mark does need twerked at the very least. I believe it wasn't updated after the innuaguration so it doesn't take into account the ceo and corporate benefits policies.

Also, the actual political test is poorly centered; it says I am moderate left yet I have considered (almost) everything obama has done to be too far left wing. Whether this is a fault of the test or a misplacement of Obama is of course debateable
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Sharlos » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:16 pm UTC

Or perhaps you don't realise how right-wing american politics really are.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:59 am UTC

Sharlos wrote:Or perhaps you don't realise how right-wing american politics really are.

I'll assume ... that you're British? Anyway, if you are, that Daniel Hannon guy sounds pretty American when it comes to his politics. Unless you guys label him as a neo-con? Maybe.

Edited. Leave the nationalistic crap elsewhere. -Az
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby andrewclunn » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:41 pm UTC

So if we find some round-about way to label Obama right-wing that makes socialism good and libertarianism bad? I think the concept of a false dichotomy is necessary here. Who cares about arbitrary taxonomies that don't relate to the topic of this thread?

As an aside (And if this violates rules moderators, then I apologize and please remove this part.) This thread has inspired me to do several posts regarding specifically why Socialism doesn't work.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Sharlos » Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:52 pm UTC

H2SO4 wrote:
Sharlos wrote:Or perhaps you don't realise how right-wing american politics really are.

I'll assume ... that you're British? Anyway, if you are, that Daniel Hannon guy sounds pretty American when it comes to his politics. Unless you guys label him as a neo-con? Maybe.


I'm Australian and from what I can tell, our politics aren't very comparable to that of America, especially when looking at neo-cons, republicans and libertarians (not that I'm implying that any of those are wrong--well, except for the neo-cons maybe.)

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 09, 2009 1:13 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:This thread has inspired me to do several posts regarding specifically why Socialism doesn't work.


The slogan used to be "Labour doesn't work" which had the added benefit of sounding funny. About your post, I don't really see the point of focussing on utalitarianism. If you want to include Bentham and the Mills into socialism, you've defined socialism so wide that a good part of the Republican party would fall into it. John Stuart Mill was probably the most left of them, and even he opposed progressive taxation.

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby Le1bn1z » Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:00 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:This thread has inspired me to do several posts regarding specifically why Socialism doesn't work.


The slogan used to be "Labour doesn't work" which had the added benefit of sounding funny. About your post, I don't really see the point of focussing on utalitarianism. If you want to include Bentham and the Mills into socialism, you've defined socialism so wide that a good part of the Republican party would fall into it. John Stuart Mill was probably the most left of them, and even he opposed progressive taxation.


That's something I've noticed about American politics which has always confused me.

While the American political spectrum (at least, between the two governing parties) is narrower than any other in the world, American political rhetoric is so wildly radicalised and polarised that the American poltical conscience has abandoned the middle ground.

In America, it seems, everyone is either a wack-job Conservative or wide-eyed Marxist, even though the difference between the two would place them within the same party in any other country. American political rhetoric, as portrated on Fox and Much Music (the two brain-trust channels of the USA) is so utterly detached from reality that its closer to Ulysses than any real political debate.

America needs to rediscover the concept of a "Liberal," a centrist who stands for freedom, consensus and social progress achieved through cooperation. A moderate centrist party keeps the left and right grounded, and, though it allows for the more strident on each side to more forcefully state their case, the rhetoric remains closer to reality.

Canadian politics may seem muted, but that's because nobody's getting caught up in imaginary ideological wars that take place only in the fevered imaginations of Rush Limbaugh and Bono.

Universal Healthcare and Education, a National Army, Free Roads, Minimum wages, Womens' rights.... none of these things are in themselves "Socialist" (though socialists support them.)

These are "Liberal" policies, designed to facilitate free, safe and constructive competition, and allowing the cream to rise to the top.

This board, with its polarisation of the world into Socialists and Libertarians, is a symptom of a culture that has forgotton how to address problems on an ad-hoc basis, to value consensus and to debate policy, not just politics. A sad sight in a democracy's home.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:23 pm UTC

Le1bn1z wrote:
Zamfir wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:This thread has inspired me to do several posts regarding specifically why Socialism doesn't work.


The slogan used to be "Labour doesn't work" which had the added benefit of sounding funny. About your post, I don't really see the point of focussing on utalitarianism. If you want to include Bentham and the Mills into socialism, you've defined socialism so wide that a good part of the Republican party would fall into it. John Stuart Mill was probably the most left of them, and even he opposed progressive taxation.


That's something I've noticed about American politics which has always confused me.

While the American political spectrum (at least, between the two governing parties) is narrower than any other in the world, American political rhetoric is so wildly radicalised and polarised that the American poltical conscience has abandoned the middle ground.

In America, it seems, everyone is either a wack-job Conservative or wide-eyed Marxist, even though the difference between the two would place them within the same party in any other country. American political rhetoric, as portrated on Fox and Much Music (the two brain-trust channels of the USA) is so utterly detached from reality that its closer to Ulysses than any real political debate.

America needs to rediscover the concept of a "Liberal," a centrist who stands for freedom, consensus and social progress achieved through cooperation. A moderate centrist party keeps the left and right grounded, and, though it allows for the more strident on each side to more forcefully state their case, the rhetoric remains closer to reality.

Canadian politics may seem muted, but that's because nobody's getting caught up in imaginary ideological wars that take place only in the fevered imaginations of Rush Limbaugh and Bono.

Universal Healthcare and Education, a National Army, Free Roads, Minimum wages, Womens' rights.... none of these things are in themselves "Socialist" (though socialists support them.)

These are "Liberal" policies, designed to facilitate free, safe and constructive competition, and allowing the cream to rise to the top.

This board, with its polarisation of the world into Socialists and Libertarians, is a symptom of a culture that has forgotton how to address problems on an ad-hoc basis, to value consensus and to debate policy, not just politics. A sad sight in a democracy's home.


See, to me that just dounded like a bunch of wishy-washy empty rhetoric. You've got it backwards. In mainstream America everyone WANTS to be a centrist, so much so that actually standing on principles is considered to be a sign of a lack of education. And when you don't stand for anything or have any real standards, then emotional appeals can sway you easily and you're ripe for the herding.
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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby derick » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:17 pm UTC

AFedchuck wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:i know I'm coming in late, but I've read the posts and hopefully I'll be able to add something meaningful.

Four things:

1) I think the problem here is that we're arguing between Libertarianism and Socialism, which are essentially political / economic positions. What we should be arguing about is between Objectivism and Utilitarianism (the philosophical underpinnings of the two political views.)

Could you give me some evidence for the assertion that socialism is driven by utilitarianism (I mean some prominent socialist thinkers)? I think you're perverting the debate to one which you know you're going to win, because naive utilitarianism is widely recognised to be flawed. On your other points, why are 'free' markets (by which I assume you mean markets regulated in favour of businesses) better than governmental intervention, in general cases?
I think real world examples would be useful - except for the fact that there has never been really socialist or libertarian state. The paucity of examples makes debate difficult.
And on 4): Oh god, not Ayn "I hate the poor" Rand. Could you explain how this fits into the present debate?
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Vaniver wrote:
AFedchuck wrote:I think to a large extent, socialists too object to violence, however, they recognise violence by the state as not the only form of compulsion. In particular, economic compulsion is viewed as just as immoral. If I force you to starve by denying you a job, is it any less violent than pointing a gun at your head and denying you food?
It seems the recognition of economic compulsion as just as brutal a form of control as state violence is fundamental to socialism.
Indeed- and I would say that is the fundamental mistake of socialism. Force excludes other options- economic compulsion does not. You can't tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else- you can tell the unjust boss that.

I do not think that just one unfair boss constitutes economic compulsion; I think economic compulsion exists when the predominant situation is work for an unjust boss or else.

Actually, you can tell the tax collector that you'd rather work with someone else - by voting. If the tax was for a tyranny, you would be right, it would be compulsion at the end of a gun. But it's not.
And as qbg so rightly points out, how is the choice to be a wage slave or starve a real choice? In what way is the power of a company owner or wealthy man deserved?


Ayn Rand definitely didn't "hate the poor". She was poor for the first half of her life, and many of her novel's protagonists spend most of if not all of their lives poor. She antagonized what she called "second-handers," which was a somewhat complex classification, though I guess it can be a forgivable mistake to mischaracterize her, seeing as most political conservative's view of second-handedness is no more sophisticated than "welfare recipients suck." All of her novels, and non-fiction writing, attacked and defended people in any economic class; she entirely dispensed with the Marxist view that economic class is the main definer of one's role in civilization, instead of merely taking the other side of the coin like fascists and conservatives. Her antagonists and protagonists existed in all classes.

To her, "second-handedness" basically meant someone who doesn't think for themselves and doesn't want to or try to be independent; politics and economics and financial self-sufficiency was only one facet of it. Politically, she believed that getting rid of the welfare state would force people who don't want to support themselves to do so, while charity would exist for people who can't . You may believe this is naive and far-fetched. A fair and reasonable skepticism, but it's a simple mischaracterization to say she "hates the poor." She also believed that many people who are struggling in the modern western world not out of their own fault who aren't second-handers would not be struggling if it weren't for government damage of the economy or our cynical culture, and that theywere victims to be sympathized with but that the existence of government programs hurt more than they help. She actually wrote in an article urging Objectivists to accept scholarships and other government help if they needed them, and to do so without shame, because it was the government's fault that they needed them in first place. Obviously I can't properly defend her political views, most of which I agree with, in a short forum paragraph, but I ask that anyone who disagrees with Ayn Rand's politics and economics remembers that she merely had a very unusual view of what was ideal and how a harmonous social context is formed, and was not the cynical, anti-social advocate of hedonism that people often think of her as.

In Atlas Shrugged, the main antagonists weren't poor people, but unscrupulous corporate leaders who exploited the government and got by on government favors (ironic, considering the popular assumptions about her ideas; and interesting, considering what's happening in the world today).

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Re: Libertarianism, socialism, and differing views of reality

Postby H2SO4 » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:36 pm UTC

Sharlos wrote:I'm Australian and from what I can tell, our politics aren't very comparable to that of America, especially when looking at neo-cons, republicans and libertarians (not that I'm implying that any of those are wrong--well, except for the neo-cons maybe.)

Really? Hm. Question, are New Zealand's politics at all related to your guys'? I realize that's about the same as asking if Mexico's politics were the same as America's, but just curious.

Universal Healthcare and Education, a National Army, Free Roads, Minimum wages, Womens' rights.... none of these things are in themselves "Socialist" (though socialists support them.)

These are "Liberal" policies, designed to facilitate free, safe and constructive competition, and allowing the cream to rise to the top.

The idea of socialism is that the government provides a common base for everyone to start at, and that would be the basic needs. Kind of like when you start a game of Age of Empires, and you start off with a handful of villagers and a Town Center, which is what everyone starts with. The government is there to regulate the trade between any two and make whoever complaining about the trade happy. So UHC and education are socialist, along with minimum wage. I will agree with you that a national army, womens' rights, and free roads aren't socialist.

The idea of libertarianism, on the other hand, is that you take what you are given and do what you can. Going back to the Age of Empires metaphor, it would be like if random people off the street came in (are born into the world) and took over for each player mid-game (the 'players' died), and do what you can. No one can say to you that you have to give your food source to someone else, or even that you have to give part of your food source to someone else. The government is only there to make sure that no one hacks. One could actually argue that womens' rights and a national army are libertarian ideals, because a lack of them could potentially violate individual rights. Womens' rights, in this case, means a recognition of the rights women already had/have that just weren't recognized by the government. Everybody has the same individual rights, but they aren't always recognized by the government. The national army could also be considered libertarian because the government is there to protect rights, but how can it protect them from people with guns? Strongly worded letters?
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