Posts filed under Who Is IOZ?

Re: Renouncing Libertarianism Is Cuter than Kittens Riding on Puppies In Wagons Pulled by Miniature Ponies

IOZ: Chucky: no one but you is talking about the Libertarian Party

As you please, but that leaves my earlier question unanswered: If you didn’t have the LP in mind, maybe you could tell me what “lame, purely American third-party movement” you did have in mind.

It also leaves unanswered my original question: what is your basis, other than your personal say-so, for this string of assertions about what libertarianism is (“a lame, purely American third-party movement”) and is not (apparently not a philosophy)? Is there any such basis, or are we simply supposed to accept these assertions as revelations?

Charles F. Oxtrot: If you think that linking to things I wrote and published 4 years ago, in order to explain my views, constitutes “shape-shifting” you’ve got an odd notion of shape-shifting. My views about this stuff are a matter of record; I was merely pointing you to the record. If this is “evasion,” I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be evading.

I didn’t “accuse” you of not knowing about my personal libertarian views. What I did accuse you of is pretending like you knew something about them when they had not yet come up in the conversation. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the details of my personal libertarian views. (Why should you? I don’t pretend to know what your political views are, either.) There is something wrong with talking confidently about what those views must be when you know nothing in particular about them.

Have fun knocking down straw-libertarians.

Re: Renouncing Libertarianism Is Cuter than Kittens Riding on Puppies In Wagons Pulled by Miniature Ponies

IOZ: Your first clause suggests you didn’t understand the post;

Well, whatever. If you didn’t have the LP in mind, maybe you could tell me what “lame, purely American third-party movement” you did have in mind.

IOZ: Self-professed libertarians are fond of this game, of course; they refuse to provide any sort of normative definition of their supposed philosophy, and then attack any criticism as being a merely idiosyncratic definition of that which they steadfastly refuse to define.

Well, no; far from refusing, I’ve written specifically about the definition of the term “libertarian” many times (for example, see the note here or the comments scattered throughout Liberty, Equality, Solidarity). I just didn’t do so again here. I have a pretty good notion of what I mean about my political philosophy when I describe it as “libertarian” (it has something to do with theories of justice based on the respect for the law of equal liberty; it’s also the opposite of “authoritarian,” and so has something to do with rejecting status-based theories of political legitimacy). There are of course other meanings to the term, with equally good historical pedigrees, which we could also discuss. But I didn’t say much about that above because in this here conversation, you’re the one trying to push a sweeping conclusion, supposedly in response to a specific article by Kerry Howley, without ever stopping to consider whether the thing you spend all your time hacking at is even the thing that Kerry Howley is talking about when she talks about “libertarianism.”

If you attempt to support a sweeping conclusion by insisting on one definite meaning for the term, among many that have historically been in common usage, without giving any reason for thinking that this is the right meaning to insist on, or that it is at least the same meaning which was being used by your conversation partner when she used the word “libertarianism” to describe what she believes, then it’s on you to supply the reasons behind your heretofore unsupported assertions.

IOZ: As for a Frenchman coining “libertarian” prior to the American Revolution,

The American Revolution was more than 115 years ago.

My point also wasn’t based solely on how the word was used in 1857. It was also being used to mean something quite other than a “third party movement” in 1967 (when it was being used by folks like Rothbard, LeFevre, Karl Hess, et al., and when the LP did not yet exist); the Libertarian Party was, after all, named after the body of ideas, and not vice versa. Many of the people at the time considered themselves libertarians but wanted nothing to do with the LP. Many of those people are still alive and still feel the same way. Many of us who came to the movement much later also came to the body of ideas, without much or any interest in the party named after it.

IOZ: do you really want to go down that road? I will see your Libertarian and raise you a Republican and a Democrat.

O.K. Are those supposed to be counterexamples to my point? If so, how? “Democrat” and “republican” each have commonly accepted meanings in political theory which are quite independent of the political parties which use those names today. If I were to talk about democratic political theories (say, the political thought of the Athenian democrats, or whatever), and you were to reply by saying that the problem with all that is that Democrats really are nothing more than a crappy, opportunistic center-left party, then you would be engaging in exactly the sort of equivocation that you’re indulging in with respect to libertarianism.

Charles F. Oxtrot,

Funny. But the translation is inaccurate, due to the fact that I wasn’t speaking Strawman.

If you knew anything about the version of libertarianism I’ve endorsed in my writing, you’d know that <a href=”>I’m opposed to most government “privatization” schemes (I want government abolished, not auctioned off), and that I’ve repeatedly written about the nasty and exploitative practices of large corporations and other centers of economic power (the thing is just that I advocate non-governmental means of dealing with callousness, envy, greed, and exploitation, because I see government as part of the problem on that one, not part of the solution). Of course, there’s no reason why you should have to know anything in particular about the views expressed in my writing; but if you don’t know what you’re talking about the best course would be not to talk about it.

But please do feel free to go back to arguing with the imaginary Internet libertarian buzzword bingo-card in your head.

Re: Renouncing Libertarianism Is Cuter than Kittens Riding on Puppies In Wagons Pulled by Miniature Ponies

IOZ: The problem is not that many libertarians are unwilling to consider the broader implications of their philosophy, but rather, that libertarianism is not a philosophy, not even a “political ideology,” as the more careful bet-hedgers might have it. … It is instead a lame, purely American third-party movement that sometimes appropriates the trappings of ideology in order to justify self-perpetuation in the face of a plurality-takes-all electoral system wholely inimical to minor parties.

That’s an interesting series of assertions about what libertarianism is and what it is not. Could you say a bit more about what all of it is based on?

Is this just your own personal stipulative definition of “libertarianism”? Is it supposed to be a definition that reflects common use? Is it supposed to be an account of what Kerry Howley is referring to when she calls what she believes in “libertarianism”? (If so, what’s your evidence that that’s what she means?) Is it supposed to be an account of what most libertarians, other than Kerry Howley, mean when they call what they believe in “libertarianism”? Or an account of what most people mean when they mention “libertarianism”? (In either case, if so, what’s your evidence that that is the sole common usage of the term among the population that you’re concerned with?)

I ask because you seem awfully sure that “libertarian” is more or less identical with “member of the Libertarian Party U.S.A.,” and “libertarianism” means nothing more than a libertarian’s partisan proclivities. Which is an odd position to take on a word that was first coined — by a Frenchman, not an American — 115 years before the U.S. Libertarian Party was ever founded,

Of course, there is such a thing as the Libertarian Party, and some people who identify themselves as libertarians (or Libertarians) support it. But there are also plenty of people who self-identify as libertarians who want nothing to do with it — either because they have problems with the organization as it is, or because they are opposed to all forms of participation in political parties or campaigns for government office. And there were, of course, a lot of people who took that position back when the Libertarian Party was being founded, and who have continued to take that position throughout its career of miserable electoral failures.

Of course, if you want to focus on one narrow meaning of “libertarianism” — your own personal stipulative definition, or one of the many meanings in common use, or whatever — you’re welcome to talk about any meaning of “libertarianism” you want to talk about. But why think that Kerry Howley is using the word in the same way that you are?