Sunday, October 17, 2010

The best course for libertarianism

I recently started paying more attention to a debating website. I've found some interesting discussions and in particular, a debate about the effectiveness of libertarian ideas and persuasion which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

First, here’s a 3D Nolan diagram you might find interesting from LaissezFaire’s profile on the site:


Here’s a summary of the debate:

Round 1

innomen argues that libertarianism should try to find its place in society and compromise to a certain extent, whereas Sieben claims that libertarians should stay true to their ideals and create a and incentive for people to follow and adopt such ideals. In particular:

  1. Voters are rationally ignorant (it’s cheap being uninformed / irrational), which makes libertarian persuasion impractical and insufficient.
  2. Libertarians should “re-open the frontier” by creating “seasteads” which would cost only $300/sqft. A profitable business model on the floating islands would entice people to live in this new frontier and make money, thus implicitly adopting said ideals.

Round 2

innomen: “by infiltrating an existing party with those who are skilled in the art of persuasion and politics, their malleability and appeal to fears, doubts, and insecurities can prove to be a powerful tool in the creation of a society that is headed toward libertarianism.”

After giving as a examples the infiltration of the Democratic Party first by KKK (early 1900), then by Communists (‘50-70), he concludes: “It is clear that influence and control of a party is quite possible, and effective in changing the public policy of the US.”

“In a climate where both are slipping away”, individual freedom and property rights have or ought to become more important to Americans. The lack of progress in libertarianism is attributable in part to the lack of appeal of those preaching it: “the usual proponent of libertarianism is a tediously academic type, incapable of touching the inner workings of the common man”.

Regarding seasteading, he raises two objections, one practical the other principled:

  1. It is difficult and in the far off future, according to Wayne Gramlich, one of the founders of that Institute.
  2. “There is no libertarian society in this cruise ship, but rather a floating corporate entity that would enjoy complete freedom. Although an interesting notion, it is devoid of the goal of libertarianism in the context of a society.”

Sieben – In his response, he states:

KKK: The movement was marked by exclusion and violence. This is not a good example of persuasion, infiltration, and political action. (..) KKK movement was based on special privilege and political inequality, something libertarians can never be a part of. We will never be able to buy votes with welfare. I don't think libertarians would have much luck persuading people dependent on welfare to end the welfare state.

Dems: The metamorphosis of the American left into the party of welfare and government spending is similar to the KKK in its reliance on special privileges and handouts. The ideological source of government intervention came from the government itself, not the masses [3]. Again, this is not a good example of persuade, infiltrate, vote.

(..) My intention has never been to argue that all parties are perpetually stagnant, but rather to attribute their changes to factors other than mass awareness. Parties may change cosmetically to fit better with voter culture (see Pro's example of Christians), but actual policy has largely been influenced by different special interest groups, sourced in R1.

In rebuilding his arguments, he notes:

A) If they spend hours becoming a master of political science, or just sit on the couch watching TV, everyone else is going to vote more or less the same way.

B) "What about the poor?" and "National defense" may as well be the demopublican party slogans. There is a large statist mythos (mostly centered on WWII and the New Deal) supporting these ideologies. We have no well known mythology... We can never win the rhetoric game.

Libertarian appeals must be intellectual. In light of A), mass voter education is a practical impossibility. I went on to point out that even the founder of the Libertarian Party, who still runs for senate, thinks political action will never work.

C) Seasteading

  1. If Seasteading is good in theory, the small things can be worked around.
  2. they are based off consent (no one can force you onto a seastead). They are also a peaceful use of private property. Sounds very libertarian to me.
  3. if we can make seasteading profitable, it will happen
  4. Seasteading does not actually require anyone to be libertarian, so we don't have to persuade people of the whole ideology.

Round 3

In rebuilding his “infiltration” argument, innomen states:

I'm not going to candy coat this, but rather libertarians should bluntly use existing tools in our system; tools needed in order to attain libertarian goals within the confines of personal ethics and existing legal limitations. (..) Sieben somehow believes that I am comparing libertarianism to those goals of the KKK?! Of course that's not my point, but rather there are examples of extremists who have taken control of a political system and party, and affected actual policy as a result. – I point to this as an example of what can be done as a matter of process, not content.

He also makes the following points:

  • the current system of government appeared not as a result of government growing by its very nature, but rather “deliberate design”/infiltration (my note: Innomen seems to concede the “special interest groups” theory, but does not explicitly states it); he claims that libertarians should take the same path
  • Sieben: find a place and problem solved; who will fix your toilet, if everyone is a high-level intellectual?

“Sieben essentially believes that the masses are asses, but I don't hold such a dim view. Although they may not be intellectually at the standard that Sieben and his other brand of libertarian might like to have in his community, the voters are not fools, but do indeed follow certain party loyalty and predictable trends [3]. (..) fundamentals of libertarianism [are] not intellectual, but basic, and will appeal to all who value freedom.

Sieben corrects the misunderstanding that he is rejecting a similarity with KKK & NDs because they are “ugly”, but because they are not “grass-roots”.

“I recently drew a really offensive (by mainstream standards) comic where the final panel is a white hand shaking a black hand with a welfare check in the middle. No amount of persuasion would ever convince someone to turn down free money.” – yes, that’s offensive and counterproductive – why relegate to racism such good argumentation?

Don't agitate! Voting is for collectivists! Libertarians are individualists. Each man can make his own way.

Another interesting forum discussion: libertarian politician vs city zoning

Yet another interesting debate: online debates better than irt?

Sources / More info: db8org-zoning, deb8org-best-course, db8org-irt

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