Saturday, September 18, 2004

More about Neolibertarianism

Yesterday I noted that QandO bills itself as neolibertarian, a term that seems to describe me. Today QandO has written more about neolibertarianism and linked to its previous posts on the subject. Here are some excerpts of the best posts (here, here, and here):
I consider myself a Neolibertarian for two main reasons:

1: Utility
Libertarians have no sense of pragmatism; no concept of "degrees of freedom". While their goal is liberty, when they are actually faced with a choice between 80% liberty and 50% liberty, they invariably allow 50% liberty because they're unwilling to vote for anything less than 100% liberty....

2: Foreign policy:
As Dale Franks wrote of Libertarian foreign policy...
..they really don't have one. To them the foreigners are suspiciously heathen, and the best thing we can do is ignore them 'til they go away. [...] So, I'm a libertarian, sure. Right up to the water's edge. Then, all the sudden, I morph into Teddy Roosevelt.
Well, that's where I am, too. Teddy Roosevelt's foreign policy was Wilsonian Internationalism without all the naive faith in idealism and collectivism....

Meanwhile, in the real world, people who disavow the use of force to accomplish political ends will never be a match for people who are quite comfortable thankyouverymuch with using force to accomplish their ends.

To put it in simpler terms: human nature being what it is, a Party which promises just the right degree of bread and circuses will almost always beat a Party which promises no bread or circuses at all. Always, in the long term.

So, what's the point in being a libertarian at all if we can't "win"?...

Neolibertarianism is, essentially, a more pragmatic, results-oriented, version of libertarianism. It is not as ideologically rigid, to the exclusion of effectiveness. I believe that, if we truly want more liberty, then it is encumbent upon us to act in ways that actually work towards increasing liberty, rather than simply running off the cliff, flag flying high....then bitching about the fact that the world didn't see things our way and repeal the laws of gravity out of respect for our strongly held views.

To be more specific: in my case, at least, I believe the concept of "Natural rights"--i.e., "rights" that people have as a function of their very nature--is silly. We have no more "natural rights" than does any given animal. And you see how well that works out for them. (or, at least, I did last night over a steak)

The universe makes no normative judgements on "right and wrong". It's simply matter and energy.

"Rights" are only "rights" insofar as they are enforceable. Which means "power" is the absolute, and not "rights".
That's the way I see the world. So, from now on I'm a neolibertarian who espouses neolibertarianism.