Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Audio: The Absurdity of Libertarianism

Posted by Jerry on May 22, 2008

Since I really can’t find the time to blog, or when I do have the time, can’t find the inclination to sit up and write something, I thought I’d speak into a voice recorder and post that instead!

This is totally experimental, and it’s my first time. So, my recording is very unpolished: I stammer, stutter, ramble, grapple for words, my voice sounds funny, my modulations are whacked, and basically, it all sounds totally ridiculous.

But that’s all I’m willing to give–until I can get myself to write again.

In this recording, I discuss the following:

I find a pleasant coincidence in the topics discussed in Leonard Peikoff’s podcast of May 15.

I talk about my argument with a couple of libertarian friends: their contention was that individual adults should be allowed to murder each other if that is so consensually desired. Of course, one of them was also in favor of pedophilia. They argued that since the government has no place interfering in the private, consensual activities of adults, particularly if it occurs within a person’s private property, the governmen should therefore not interfere in the consensual violation of rights between two adults.

I fully and ferociously disagreed. In the recording, I discuss why and how Objectivism is in agreement with me. Objectivism does not permit even the consensual violation of rights–even if it is on private property. I discuss why and how this is justified.

I also criticize the nebulous, free floating notion of liberty that libertarians hold on to: basically, they just want to be free to do whatever they want, without a care for morality, existence, human nature, reason, or self-esteem.

Click the following link to go to the host site of my recording:

boomp3.com
 

16 Responses to “Audio: The Absurdity of Libertarianism”

  1. I miss your blog posts, so it was GREAT to not only read, but hear this one! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Oh, and also, I agree with you. I myself noticed that Libertarians end up in some pretty muddled and wacky conclusions, a consequence of not self-contradicting values.

  3. Ugh, I meant, “of self-contradicting values.”
    😛

  4. Ergo said

    Thanks, l’innommable!🙂 So, I think I’ll do such recordings more often, then?

  5. I believe you should.

  6. Tim R said

    Can I download this Ergo? It looked like I could only listen, not download?

    Or would you prefer if people could only listen, not download.

    I like to listen to podcasts while stuck in traffic driving to and from work.

  7. Ergo said

    Tim, if you can download it, please go ahead. That’s what I would prefer, actually–that people download them and listen to them whenever they please. I just don’t know if that functionality is provided by the site. Since I’m so new to this, I’m still searching for a free host of my mp3 files that would allow for storage and downloads.

    If anyone know of any, educate me. please. Thanks.

  8. Nikhil said

    Well argued. Helped me a lot. Was always a little confused with the liberal thought process and its implications.

    Hope to “listen” to you more often.

    By the way, would you refer to our government (or our system) as an objectivist government?

  9. Branden said

    Very interesting point, Ergo. I did have a question regarding it, though.

    What is the difference between giving up your right to life to someone else, and giving up your right to the retaliatory use of force to the government?

    Or, for a slightly different situation: what is the difference between giving up your right to life to someone else, and giving up your right to a specific piece of property to someone else as a gift?

  10. Ergo said

    Hi Branden,

    You asked: “What is the difference between giving up your right to life to someone else, and giving up your right to the retaliatory use of force to the government?”

    As I mentioned in the audio recording, it is not possible to give up your right to life, just as it is not possible to grant, acquire, or demand rights. You either have rights (proper rights as proposed by Objectivism, not any arbitrary right to car, healthcare, or whatever) or you do not have them. In the case of you not having rights, it is either because you are a criminal who has undermined the basis on which rights are founded–and hence you have negated that foundation for yourself, or your rights have been violated by force. (Here, I won’t get into the issue of rights for children and the mentally disabled).

    Thus, there is no such right to the retaliatory use of force: even the government does not have it. Remember this principle: the government is a collective body. Collective bodies can have *no* rights other than a circumscribed, delimited freedom of action that is delegated to it by the individual members of the collective body. Therefore, collective bodies have no rights, and likewise, the government has no rights.

    What the government *does* have is the *duty* to *protect* your rights–by whatever means necessary and to whatever degree this requires, including if needed the use of retaliatory force to defend you.

    What you delegate to the government is not the right to use force (retaliatory or otherwise), but the duty to protect your free exercise of your own, personal, individual rights to life, liberty, and property. The reason you delegate this to the government is because this duty is based on the objective requirements of a society of individuals: a society of humans *requires* an objective, universally applicable body of law. The government is merely the institution that is charged with implementing and upholding this objective law.

    Now, moving to your next question: When you give a person a gift, you have not transferred your *right* to the property, but the property itself. First, private property implies ownership, but ownership does not necessarily have to come through trade or transaction. You can own something in many ways, gifting is just one of those ways. The difference is, the transfer of life is a metaphysical impossibility, but the transfer of property is not. Life is an end in itself; property is not.

    One cannot buy the life of another human being in any coherent sense of the word “buy.” Slavery (as one example of buying another human being’s life) is a violation of the slave’s right to life (and by derivation, a violation of his right to property and liberty). Therefore, you are inverting the hierarchy of rights (like the libertarians do) in trying to justify slavery by using the right to own property, or your right to own the slave’s life.

    But your right to own the slave’s life is premised upon your right to your own life, which is the same universal foundation that the slave uses to justify his right to his own life. Therefore, you fall into a subjectivist interpretation of rights by demanding that your rights be upheld but not the slave’s. Then you have to explain to me why you are so special to warrant such respect.

  11. Branden said

    I think that was a very sufficient explanation in a way that I have never thought of the issue before. Thank you.🙂

  12. Although I agree with you on major issues, yet I have a different view regarding the issue.
    I think you misunderstood the actual libertarian approach towards the issue, or you.
    First of all, government has no role about deciding if one wishes to end his life and how he wishes to end his life, Euthanasia is logical and reasonable and moral!
    An adult in extreme conditions, if wishes to end his life, he should have freedom to chose the way it should be done, and this all should be on mutual consent.
    Second thing is about self-defence, although, you agree on that point. Self-Defence is natural right. If I am in drastic danger, I have proper right and duty to end that danger. Third thing which is most important is denial of monopoly on penalizing authority and acceptance of Capital Punishment for rare crimes.
    If I know someone raped and brutally killed my sister, and I have proper evidence regarding that then, if I kill that person and prove in any open and unbiased court, that the person I killed was actually the killer and I merely solved the criminal case, then I should not be punished for that. If I fail in proving that, then I must be considered as a killer, a criminal.
    That doesn’t mean that I want Capital Punishment to be applied drastically. No. What I mean is, the issue of capital punishment in rare extreme cases must remain with the aggrieved party. If the family of the killed person want the killer to be punished death, then he must be. If they want life imprisonment for the criminal, then it should be done on the expense of the criminal killer’s property. If they want him to forgive, then he should be forgiven. The court, and the judge or the society has no say regarding that (except in case where the family member themselves are involved in killing conspiracy)!

    Now is the question of Paedophiles.
    The libertarian Objectivists are purely clear about it.
    1st thing is, watching child porn is not immoral or a crime. The actual action of making a kid work in a porn movie without his consent, or his parent’s consent (that is by forcing him/her) is the immoral act.
    2nd thing is, you actually cannot decide the age where a child turns an adult on a generalized collective issue.
    I have written about it here Age of Consent: Child Molestation and Legal System.
    I wish you read it and understand the libertarian Objectivistic view point regarding the subject. (Please mention the response at that site if you respond)

  13. Ergo said

    “Self-Defence is natural right.”

    It’s more accurate to say that it is a corollary of a natural right, namely, the right to life.

    “If I know someone raped and brutally killed my sister, and I have proper evidence regarding that then, if I kill that person and prove in any open and unbiased court, that the person I killed was actually the killer and I merely solved the criminal case, then I should not be punished for that. If I fail in proving that, then I must be considered as a killer, a criminal.”

    No. Since there is no such thing as a right to force or right to self-defense, you have no right to kill the rapist of your sister, because your *own* life is *not* in iminent danger, and self-defense simply does not even arise in this situation. The rapist of your sister is not threatening your own life and therefore you cannot justify your act of revenge against him as a matter of self-defense.

    Of course, when you see a violation of rights occurring before your eyes–for instance, if your sister is being raped as you watch–you have the right to introduce force to stop the act and disable the man. But, when the iminent threat has passed, or when you are not directly involved in the emergency, then your actions at a later point in time does not justify the use of force.

    “What I mean is, the issue of capital punishment in rare extreme cases must remain with the aggrieved party. If the family of the killed person want the killer to be punished death, then he must be. If they want to forgive him, then he should be forgiven.”

    No. Capital punishment, like all other sentences for crime, must be derived from the application of objective laws, not the whims or wishes of the aggrieved party. The society is very much an involved stakeholder in whether or not the criminal is justly punished–because the criminal may pose a threat to others as well. Hence, the government is delegated the specific role of protecting our rights and applying the rule of objective law in society.

    Your approach is the typical kind of libertarian-anything-goes that I criticize in my audio post.

  14. Actually you are unable to understand objective laws and whims and the difference between them.

    listen buddy its not your realm of ability to dictate me what is objective law, nor it was in the realms of ability of Ayn Rand So stop acting like a cult follower.

    Second thing is, Objective laws must be followed in any and every sense and not the whimms, so your non-sensial and out of proportion guess, that only you or the chief justice who may take bribe, is the only liable person to decide if a person deserves capital punishment or not is just your whimsical idea and nothing more.

    Afzal Guru is still enjoying life, what wrong is a son of any victim of Afzal Guru kills him? It won’t be revenge, it will be justice.

    Justice is right, right is not begged, right is earned. Furthermore, theres no objective logic behind keeping a government’s monopoly over legal system.

    So irrespective of the fact that I will choose Miniarchy and will choose for democratic government, i support the idea of anarcho-capitalist to demand and instal private security and legal services. Theres nothing wrong in it.

    “The society is very much an involved stakeholder in whether or not the criminal is justly punished–because the criminal may pose a threat to others as well. Hence, the government is delegated the specific role of protecting our rights and applying the rule of objective law in society.”

    Lol which world do you live in? Government will safeguard your right and hyou will beg to society to safeguard your right? What for you beg? your own rights?

    Let’s say a person kills someone who actually raped and killed her sister (may be in front of her, or may be he raped both and one got killed in the violence involved), because even after begging to your proposed government, your society feels its no crime or theres lack of evidence or simply because it doesn’t want to punish the criminal, what the heck the girl do if not kill the rapist of her sister in that situation?

    Obviously you may comment that there are too many may-be’s, but irrespective of subjective view points, objective reality remain same, what the government can do legally, should not be illegal for me to do the same.
    If government can print currency, I should also have same right. In no way government or society is bigger than the Individul. neither in legal premises.

  15. One more thing which I forgot to mention.
    Since you claqim to be objectivist, I guess you won’t mind if I mention howard roark with you for showing you how misguided you are about objectivism or related issues.

    According to you, Howard roark was a criminal, he had no right to blast the building he made no matters according to him it was a breach of his rigt to his intellectual property.
    You claim that, society or the court was bigger than Howard Roark, and it was his whimsical attitude to blast the building and wasn’t his Objective reason regarding which he took that decision.

    I say No, Howard Roark wasn’t a criminal. He had proper right to destroy the building on objective principles. It doesn’t matter if the government or society follows objectivistic laws or not, If the person involved is Objectivistic and he can provide proper reasonable evidences in support of his actions, be it of blasting a building as Howard Roark did, or of killing someone like Afzal Guru, then by proper democratic debate, the actor should get right to express his objectivistic stand on which his action may be termed as legal.

    I say, Howard Roark Was simply no culprit, while you oppose it. because for you society and their subjective values are more important than an Individual’s objective principles and reasonable actions.

    There’s where we are different.

    One more thing, every objectivist is a miniarchist liberatarian, or he is just not an objectivist but a fake preacher, though some libertarians may be anarcho-capitalist too or some may be left liberals, but Objectivist being the supporters of natural rights are surely liberatarians.

    Take care, and yep, please stop terming Roark as a criminal, or stop calling yourself an objectivist.

  16. BigBan said

    Oh, Thanks! Really interesting. Greets.

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