April 30, 2007

"Libertarianism is applied autism"

As usual, Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution illustrates Across Difficult Country's aphorism. Alex says:


I understand individual rights and I understand counting everyone equally but I see less value in counting some in and some out based on arbitrary characteristics like which side of the border the actors fall on.


The difference is quite obvious if you remove the libertarian economists' assume-we-have-a-can-opener blinders. We live in a world where violence -- perpetrating it and preventing it -- is the fundamental fact that social and political organization must deal with.

Thus, all property rights come out of the barrel of a gun.

Once you realize that, the reason why we prefer the welfare of our fellow citizens to that of non-citizens is (to get all reductionist):

They are the ones who would fight on your side.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

37 comments:

daveg said...

As I noted before on econblog (before I was banned), in exchange for that agreement to fight for/with you, you agree to let people on your side of of the "line" take your money if a simple majority agrees to it. This a huge chunk of power that makes the happiness of your fellow countryman much more important to you than someone on the other side of that arbitrary line.

For example, when a hurricane hits New Orleans, I feel their pain all through my body and into my wallet, which I know will get dinged by the feds. When my fellow countryman is unemployed I will pick up the tab, at least in part, as they vote in politicians who create such laws.

When a hurricane hits Mexico, however, I just feel bad. My wallet , however, remains whole. Similarly, when an African is unemployed I merely suffer a twinge of remorse, but then I just go out and have a BBQ.

Now, this may seem unkind, but we are taking to economists, who are all about selfishness, no? They should be all for this.

tommy said...

Chant the open-borders libertarian mantra with me now!

Economics is everything, all else is illusion....

Economics is everything, all else is illusion....

Economics is everything, all else is illusion....

Thorsten said...

Once you realize that, the reason why we prefer the welfare of our fellow citizens to that of non-citizens is (to get all reductionist):

They are the ones who would fight on your side.


And because they look more like us, and sound more like us.

Ultimately, racism (or ethnocentrism, if you prefer) is not an issue of morality, but one of aesthetics.

Dave said...

"They are the ones who would fight on your side."

This isn't as true as it sounds. These days, there are a lot of Latin American immigrants volunteering in the U.S. Army & Marines -- partly so they can get expedited citizenship.

Anonymous said...

We have bailed out Mexico before financially. Remember Goldman-Sachs and Robert Rubin and all those bondholders?

MensaRefugee said...

Agreed.
However a quibble, define 'fight on your side'. It applies less to the rich, because the citizens are certainly not on their side - progressive taxation and all to take just one example.

The idea of a country has weakened quite a bit with the rise of technology.

daveg said...

We have bailed out Mexico before financially. Remember Goldman-Sachs and Robert Rubin and all those bondholders?

Yes, but clearly it takes much more effort for us to get involved, and we do so much more sporadically and a much smaller scale. Think if all the poor people in mexico were on the US welfare system, for example.

Anonymous said...

"Ultimately, racism (or ethnocentrism, if you prefer) is not an issue of morality, but one of aesthetics."

I wish it were so. Racism stems from discovering that others behave differently, not beauty or lack thereof. In another era, one would have been taught it from birth.

So what happens when one has been taught that racism is illogical and then discovers we ARE different? And some of those differences tend to be handicaps?

It breaks his heart.

There is hope, however, but declaring that we are not different is a dead end that helps no one.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, racism (or ethnocentrism, if you prefer) is not an issue of morality, but one of aesthetics.

Thank you for the Company Line.

We are living in age every bit as intellectually dishonest as Bolshevik Russia. Because, what a coincidence, it is the same group of self-declared cultural policeman who are filling the heads of the people with destructive nonsense, just as they did in those bad old days.

Part of the power of political correctness lies in the humiliation of the citizens by forcing them to regurgitate blatant falsehoods. Then the humiliated will vent their rage not at their oppressor, but at any other citizen (like Steve Sailer) who has the courage to insist on the truth. Because these demonstrations of courage are intolerable proof of individual and mass cowardice.

ReticentMan said...

I have mixed emotion about this post. I consider myself a libertarian except for being against immigration and a few other similar type of statist necessities.

I think that no government interference is default the best option for the welfare of US citizens, unless there are compelling reasons otherwise. Not importing massive amounts of communist poor to ruin one of the only countries in the world that is even within a shouting distance of a libertarian ideal is quite a compelling reason.

The sort of total utilitarian philosophy that people like Alex and Tyler use to justify their stance is a joke even if it weren't a complete hypocrisy when you consider how they live their personal lives. There is an epidemic inability for libertarians to measure libertarian ideals against current world realities and determine which ideals are feasible to pursue and which ones need to be tabled. I contend that it is this inability that is the 'autism', and not libertarian philosophy in general.

So what does this make me? A Nationalist libertarian? Non-autistic libertarian?

Anonymous said...

He's calling history "arbitrary." That is to say, the material conditions of life are just random, chance occurrences - and the real action is all inside our heads.

Of course, that's backwards. The word is here to stay, and very hard to change. Things like, you know: what color a person is, where they are born, who their parents are, what their babies (if they have them) will look like. Who they pay, who pays them.

Oh yeah, those things. "Facts," as we sometimes like to call them.

Anonymous said...

The Founding Fathers were not autistic (that we know of).

But they were not anti-racist, either.

In fact, Jefferson, author of the statement "All men are created equal," also authored the following statement (partly quoted in stone on the Jefferson Monument): "Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people [blacks] are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government."--Autobiography, 1821. Memorial Edition 1:72

When the Founders referred to "all men," "our posterity," and the like, they meant "Whites of European descent." The American government was no other than the government of that people in the environment of the Americas. "For the people and by the people" meant for and by *us*, Whites with the common heritage and common racial characteristics of White Europeans who settled here. (The latter quotation is by Lincoln, a president who worked and advocated for the repatriation of blacks to Africa, specifically Liberia.) The Founders and everyone connected with them (99% of whom were White) understood implicitly that the American government could no more practicably arise from or be applied to other races of people than it could be applied to porcupines. Somewhat later, abolitionists would disagree; but John Brown was no Jefferson.

The architects of Libertarianism never dreamed of the Murray Rothbard-Ayn Rand-von Mises etc. coalition demanding open borders and race-blindness. (Ayn Rand the Genius angrily asserts in "Ayn Rand Answers" that any person can increase his IQ by 100 points through sheer willpower.)

Libertarianism today has come to mean a jewish evolutionary strategy of deception on the part of its leaders (intended to provide intellectual cover for the fleecing of the public by a handful of multinational corporations and oligarchs), and - as Steve states - it has also come to be an unfortunate example of autistic tendencies on the part of its usual rank-and-file.

Libertarianism applies, at the least, to a mostly racially homogenous nation. It is not compatible with multiculturalism. Free association results largely in segregation. Mexico is Mexico for a reason; Africa is Africa for a reason; and America WAS America for a reason. The reason is race, basic, physical, biological fact.

Say what you will about him, ol' Vladimir Lenin had one thing right. He said that the essential question of politics was "Who? - whom?" (You may insert your own choice of verb there.)

MensaRefugee said...

So what does this make me? A Nationalist libertarian? Non-autistic libertarian?

By ReticentMan
----------------------

It makes you a "Small L" libertarian.
Just like me :D

Stevie G said...

That bitch Rand needed a good seeing to.

Anonymous said...

Support for Welfare States seems high when "people like you" are the expected beneficiaries. I somehow doubt that Muslim youths support it in Europe, or that Mexican La Raza supporters will support that either to go to white or black retirees.

So yes, cultural solidarity at least in the sense that we are all identified as "Americans" is a requirement for Welfare Spending. Post-American policies means by definition the end of the Welfare State and ethnic enclaves fighting each other like the Balkans or at least Quebec vs. the rest of Canada.

The second point was Frank Miller's post 9/11 realization that Patriotism was a social contract. We back the idea of the nation-state and it in turn is REQUIRED to defend us. This contract has been seriously degraded by the Post-American policies of most Presidents and both Parties since say 1968. Americans can be seized abroad with impunity because Politicians and the Media are more concerned with third world rabble than adhering to the social contract.

This is why symbols such as the Flag, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Capitol, etc. are so vital. They are the concrete examples of the social contract of Patriotism, a shared sacrifice and shared defense in a dangerous world.

The Post-American, Post-Modern, PC, Multi-cultural, morally equivalent, and yes paleocon along with Kossite assumptions are that America faces no real threat, therefore there is no real need for the Patriotic social contract and all the things that go with it, a military, strong defense, active foreign policy designed to deter attacks, military strength to intimidate attackers, etc.

Sadly this is not the case. Oceans form no barrier in a globalized world and economy. Tenet was concerned he reports in 2001 that Al Qaeda would smuggle nukes into the US like an episode of 24. No gigantic naval armada or ICBM fleet is likely to attack us but the "new Vikings" i.e. distributed, non-state actors acting globally to attack us requires a strong defense.

And just like the Vikings and Muslim invaders in Europe provoked the Knights and Monarchies to develop nation-states and strong militaries we will I think see a resurgence in Patriotism and that social contract. The Peace Dividend is dead.

Ron Guhname said...

Pure libertarians fail to see the enduring power of group attachment. It may not always be rational, but people are forever going to belong to collectives that inspire ingroup-outgroup relationships.

Sociology, in the tradition of people like Nisbet and van den Berghe, has been onto something to focus on the power of family, church, community, ethnicity, race, and nation, and the discipline could have given some intellectual competition to the economists, except that it went over the cliff with "the world can be reduced to men and whites subjugating women and people of color."

ReticentMan said...

But MensaRefugee, I think Alex and Tyler self-identify as small 'l's as well. And it seems like most of the small 'l's that I read (and usually agree with on most issues), suffer from the epidemic I described.

I agree with every single word of David Friedman's "Machinery of Freedom".. but I realize that we can't get there from here... and to try would be a disaster.

SFG said...

Amen to that. The conservative perspective could add a lot to sociology.

My own journey's interesting (at least for me); I started out libertarian-conservative because I grew up in a liberal environment (adolescent rebellion), moved to liberalism after reading about the abuses of the Gilded Age, and gradually drifted towards a sort of populist liberalism (socially liberal, economically liberal, but anti-trade) as I saw the high-class liberals acquiesce as NAFTA shifted jobs overseas and my programmer friends' jobs go overseas.

I never seriously considered social conservatism as a personal philosophy, though I have become more accepting of it as practiced in, say, the South; if Christians want to keep porn away from their kids, fine. I don't blame them, even though I like it myself. You got your half of the country, I got mine.

I guess social conservatism you really have to grow up with. To some extent I think if you grow up in a very liberal area it is conservative to be liberal and to defend the liberal values you grow up with. I would say that I am conservative by temperament in the sense of being risk-averse. I liked the old American values of hard work and honesty, but they seem pretty useless in the modern workplace.

To be honest, I think corporations are the most destructive forces out there. They promote sociopaths and destroy traditional values everywhere.

Glaivester said...

I don't think that Murray Rothbard was much of an open-borders man. At least a lot of the Miseians at LewRockwell are not.

tommy said...

I don't think that Murray Rothbard was much of an open-borders man. At least a lot of the Miseians at LewRockwell are not.

Yeah, there is definitely a divide on immigration between the more realistic Lew Rockwell/Rothbard libertarians and the immigration utopians over at Marginal Revolution and Reason Online.

tommy said...

Pure libertarians fail to see the enduring power of group attachment. It may not always be rational, but people are forever going to belong to collectives that inspire ingroup-outgroup relationships.

And they never seem to wonder why such attachments are universal in human societies. Any problem that cannot be reduced down to purely economic terms simply doesn't seem to exist for them.

David Davenport said...

Is the real issue for who knows what percentage of Lib Lib Liberterians their desire to lower the age of hetero or homo consent, whilst getting legal access to cheaper, stronger dope?

Tiberius said...

"...partly quoted in stone on the Jefferson Monument): "Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people [blacks] are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government."--Autobiography, 1821. Memorial Edition 1:72"

Singapore has proven they CAN live under the same government-_if_ that government is organized like Lee Kwan Yew's People's Action Party-a biracial form of National Socialism, ironically. (Its logo is that of Oswald Moseley.)

Note that Singapore is biracial, not many-racial. For that to work we have to look to Marshal Tito or the recently and tragically deposed Saddam Hussein for historical precedent.

Tiberius said...

" Stevie G said...

That bitch Rand needed a good seeing to."

Ayn Rand was no libertarian. She hated the libertarians in fact. She was ultimately in favor of Ayn Rand and whatever whims Ayn Rand chose to regard as rational at any given minute, as has been well documented by many of her associates.

Virtually everyone in the Rand collective was Jewish, as it turns out. Virtually all were undergoing psychotherapy as well.

SFG said...

Yeah, there is definitely a divide on immigration between the more realistic Lew Rockwell/Rothbard libertarians and the immigration utopians over at Marginal Revolution and Reason Online.
It's an interesting divide (I tend to side with Rockwell on immigration at least). Don't they call the Rockwell libertarians 'paleolibertarians' sometimes? It's nice to have a word to tell them apart.

MensaRefugee said...

But MensaRefugee, I think Alex and Tyler self-identify as small 'l's as well. And it seems like most of the small 'l's that I read (and usually agree with on most issues), suffer from the epidemic I described.

by ReticentMan
-----------
Milton Friedman and I believe Thomas Sowell call(ed) themselves small L Libertarians too...and they are(were) against free immigration.
I guess the term is somewhat subjective.

Anonymous said...

"No gigantic naval armada or ICBM fleet is likely to attack us but the "new Vikings" i.e. distributed, non-state actors acting globally to attack us requires a strong defense."

The reason no gigantic naval armada or ICBM fleet is likely to attack us is because we have a big navy and ICBM fleet to deter these threats. What we don't have now, are our own "Vikings" to deter the terrorists. It would be cheap and easy to set that up though.

Six years after 9/11 and we still haven't targeted the soft underbelly of the whole operation: the bloated Saudi hypocrites who bankroll Al Queda and other terrorist groups. These fellows aren't hard to find: they are whoring it up in Monaco and Bahrain every weekend. Imagine a few ex-Seal, ex-Delta types sent in sterile, with plausible deniability. In simultaneous operations they could grab a dozen or more of these money men, before the Saudis were alerted to the threat.

These Arab plutocrats could be held for ransom, to drain the coffers that fund Al Queda. Then they could be executed, and their heads shipped to Al Queda's studio in Qatar. That'll slow down terrorist financing.

tommy said...

Cowen and Tabarrok are the kind that supposedly place a high value on enlightened self-interest. But obviously it isn't in my self-interest, nor is it in the self-interest of any white person not directly and immediately profiting from the labor of illegals, to favor further Hispanic immigration to the United States.

With the likes of Cowen and Tabarrok, the philosophy seems to be: self-interest for me, but not for thee.

SFG said...

"With the likes of Cowen and Tabarrok, the philosophy seems to be: self-interest for me, but not for thee."

I think it's a little more complicated than that (though that statement is what all politics and all competition is about, if you really think about it--the wolf needs protein more than the lamb needs to live). A lot of these dudes delude themselves into believing that what's good for them is actually good for the country. Folks like us might disagree.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, these group identity feelings are not rational. I mean, there's no special reason I as an individual should feel a special closeness to people just because they're Americans, or white, or scientists, or Catholics, or whatever. People often do feel those ties, though, and those feelings motivate both great good and great evil at different times.

One real difficulty is that a lot of the group identity stuff is arbitrary. I mean, can *you* tell a Shiite from a Suni, or a Croat from a Serb? It seems bizarre and silly that these tiny differences could matter enough that you'd kill and rape a bunch of strangers over them. And sometimes, you get different people just not seeing the group-identification stuff the same at all, leading to all kinds of problems.

If a black man and white woman marry, is the black man betraying his race? Is the white woman? This is all determined by which groups you think are important--one person looks and says "they're both Americans, all is well," another says "they're both Catholics, all is well," a third says "they've both betrayed their obligations to their race." I can't see any objective way to decide which of these is right.

But leaving these sentiments out of your analysis is disasterous, because they motivate behavior. I don't much care whether my tax money is spent to support poor whites or poor blacks. Someone else cares a great deal, though, and this will effect whether he supports welfare programs.

David Davenport said...

The thing is, these group identity feelings are not rational. I mean, there's no special reason I as an individual should feel a special closeness to people just because they're Americans, or white ...

If psychology is rooted in our genes, then you are wrong.

Lib Lib Libertarianism shares the Lefty premise that humans have no innate preference for their own kin group. You lovelies are behind the times with respect to biology and psychology.

David Davenport said...

Anonymous Lib Lib Libertarian, do you believe that gooberment should enforce statutory rape laws?

Answer yes or no, please. Anonymously, of course.

Anonymous said...

The machinery to do group identification, ranging from team rivalries all the way to ethnic cleansing, is clearly evolved in. I can make up a just-so story for how it got there, and so can you, but we probably won't ever know the details, and they don't really matter.

The point I'm making is that the specific choice of which group to identify with is arbitrary, once we're out of very close kin groups. This machinery is linked into all kinds of weird distinctions that don't have anything to do with genes, like religion or nation or team.

DV said...

This guy is an idiot with no readers and is poorly versed in formal logic. I see no reason to link him and provide him with far more traffic than his idiotic rants would otherwise receive.

Anonymous said...

"Formal logic" always trumps facts: the definition of an autistic-type response to the world.

The whole "a priori praxis" stuff is a poor substitute for *inductively reached* principles. It amounts to: "We will impose our prejudice on reality."

One fact from which one might start an induction of principles in sociology is group attachment and identification. Economics isn't all, and individuals are not fungible.

"There is more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy." - Shakespeare

Carol said...

Curious conversation...

Despite the existence of a number of quirky libertarians who denounce everyone else alive as a statist, I find Libertarians generally to be perhaps the least ethnocentric "us against them" minded of any of the political players.

Accusations that it is all about economics are hardly accurate when half of libertarian positions are about civil rights and social issues, and could be said to come from the left. And the premise of all the above is that liberty is ultimately the most just and even compassionate system for everyone -- whereas the present progressive and conservative centers of gravity are such that after picking those who would win under their system (to whom they are benevolently disposed), their supposed compassion for all mankind abruptly ends at the doors of those with whom they disagree.

It is libertarians who point out how so many well-intended government interventions end up harming the poor, or how the middle class votes benefits for itself at the expense of others. Not really having a dog in the election fight, libertarians can call things from both sides for what they are....

If one wishes to be integrally minded, remember that the foundations of integral theory rest on first, agency, and then communion. There can be no true communion without agency, so I am averse to policies that attempt to impose communion. And while many of us would like to see our society evolve to a higher level of moral functioning -- such that the center of gravity is less ethnocentric and more towards universal care (voluntary in my case) -- I don't think that can be achieved by coercive means. A society that uses coercion to "right" what a select group sees as wrongs just transfers badness around in different forms to different people. And in the end the citizenry haven't really chosen to care for their fellow man or gotten their own hands dirty. So they remain at the same stage as they began....

I think the coercive society is kinda like the parent who spanks, thinking, "I will make you be good." The child may stop what he is doing out of fear, but he has not reasoned his way to that place and he has not chosen that place. And later he will be more inclined to use violence against others to get what he thinks is right or good.

But, speaking of autism: After seeing numerous interviews of Ayn Rand, I do wonder if she may had Asperger's. The devotion to absolute logic, lher ack of empathy, and difficulty with emotionally connecting to others look very familiar -- since I have a child with Asperger's. And her singular use of the word "selfishness" strikes me as much too literal -- the way someone with autism can be too literal. Her use does not seem to account for the fact that English speakers usually mean self interest via harming others or without regard to the detriment of others -- not self interest that does not affect others. But then, English was her second language....

People with Asperger's can have great difficulty with fuzzy abstractions. They need every dot clearly connected. An objective reality makes far more sense than an arbitrary world filled with people expressing endless streams of unpredictable, inexplicable emotions.

Anonymous said...

Since the article is about libertarianism and autism and I'm a libertarian autistic here's my 2 cents.

I'm for complete open borders. The argument that we need to ban immigration so they don't take more in welfare is a fundamentally flawed argument and it's the same old argument that continues the statist cycle.

The statist cycle works like this:
1. The state snoops its nose where it doesn't belong.(Welfare)
2. A problem arises.(People abusing the welfare system)
3. A new state solution is proposed to deal with the problem caused by the old state solution.

It's a vicious cycle that libertarians are supposed to be against.

Instead of restricting immigration we should abolish federal welfare(states can make their own laws).

Let as many come in as they want as long as they pay their own way.

If we were able to get enough public support for open immigration but not to abolish welfare then when the side effects of not additionally abolishing welfare have accrued enough we can highlight how we need to abolish welfare.

Any role-back of government interference is good, and any negative consequences are only because there are other obsolete policies that need to be repealed too.

@Ron,

That's fine. There can be libertarian collectives, libertarian in-groups and out-groups, and libertarian hierarchies. All those things are fine as long as all are freely involved and not subject to coercion.

I believe in-grouping and out-grouping is a good function that humans have, but one that people are out of the habit of trying to sort out rationally, instead letting their emotions dictate it and then we assume that we don't have a choice about it when with some conscious introspection we do.

My in-groups and out-groups are sorted out rationally. I belong to many in-groups that serve me well. But I don't hold any particular feelings towards the white race or any race. I base my bonds on things that actually have a logical reason to my well-being like if the person is good for intelligent conversation or whether they make me laugh. Those are my in-groups. My out-groups are drama queens, willful idiots, and people who stress me out. But I see none of these things as absolutes. There are further layers of nuance that my mind considers.