Monday, 25 April 2011

Address to the Foundling Fathers

I mentioned the debut of the new blog Orphans of Liberty. A nice name by the way.

Here is their initial statement:

Who are we?

We are differing voices who come together under one banner – that of liberty. We are political and apolitical – some belong to parties, some do not. Some are self-professed libertarians, some are small “c” conservatives, some classical liberals – the names are varied.   However we all have one thing in common, a love of personal liberty; that casualty of the encroaching state as it seeks to micromanage our lives. In his first post for this blog, luikkerland states that writing is the the first act of rebellion. Here, then, is our defiance. Read, engage, enjoy.

Now this is all very fine but I do have one concern and that's the use of the word libertarian. Founder of the new site James Higham places himself in the Libertarian Quadrant.


But back in November I warned about the increasing use of the term "left libertarian", which I've seen quite a few times in the Orphanosphere recently.

This is what I wrote:

The point is that liberty is indivisible. The case for economic liberty is exactly the same as the case for personal liberty. The economic spectrum goes from authoritarianism to libertarianism just as does the civil liberties spectrum. The government that takes away your economic freedom is as much your enemy as one that takes away your personal freedom.
There is some evidence on my bookshelves that I became a libertarian way back in January 1972 and I don't think that I ever heard of "left libertarianism" for at least twenty years afterwards. But now it's out there in the marketplace of ideas, although its adherents might not like that term!

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action.[1] Libertarianism includes diverse beliefs and organizations–all advocate either the minimization or the elimination of the state, and the goal of maximizing individual liberty and freedom.

Libertarian schools of thought differ over the degree to which the state should be reduced, with minarchists advocating reduction to only state protection from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and anarchists advocating complete elimination of the state. Additionally,some schools are supportive of private property rights in the ownership of unappropriated land and natural resources while others reject such private individual ownership and often support communal ownership instead.[2][3][4] These are sometimes grouped as right-libertarians and left-libertarians respectively.

I've underlined the key quote.

I think this is highly misleading. Real libertarians believe, as stated above, in individual liberty, and only actual individuals can act. Furthermore, acting individuals who appropriate previously unowned resources are then free to decide what to do with their new property, including deciding whether that property continues to be owned by individuals, or communally through co-operatives and the like or indeed by profit-seeking companies, which are themselves a form of communal ownership.

The problem with the so-called "left libertarians" is that they only seem to accept the idea of communal ownership, and communal ownership of a particular sort. In other words they don't believe in individual liberty at all.

There is another point. Without private ownership of property there can be no long-lasting non-economic liberties either.

We real libertarians are perfectly comfortable with any pattern of ownership, so long as it is voluntary. Of course, those of us who are economically minded will point out that certain types of ownership are not conducive to material prosperity but those who chose to use their own property in that way are perfectly free to do so. But not with my property, comrades.

I'm sure that most Orphans would prefer to live in a prosperous society. That requires a defence of real libertarianism.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Neil Craig
One of the unending problems of politics is that, to be persuasive, supporters of unpopular or discredited views adopt "brand names"  of quite different philosophies and sell the old goods under this new title. Hence the current "Liberal Democrats" are illiberal, "environventalists" are actually Luddites (people who want to cover the world in windmills are hardly environmental), "progressives" now include people actively opposed to progress, the "climate science consensus" is neither scientific nor a consensus etc etc.  
As with valuable brand names in real life, I think it is wise for traditional liberals, libertarians or indeed progressives to defend their turf and make it clear that the title adopters are fraidulent.

4 May 2011, 17:25:27 GMT+01:00
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James Higham
May 1st, 9 a.m.  
Stole a photo of Edinburgh to put at the top [attributed and copyright, of course].

28 April 2011, 22:17:42 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
Very good James.  
The blog is excellent as is the design.

25 April 2011, 22:13:20 GMT+01:00
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james higham
Let's put this up on the site as a post.  It needs to be generally read.  We're scheduled until Wednesday but may we post it after that [linked, of course]?

25 April 2011, 22:10:20 GMT+01:00