Posts tagged Joseph Dejacque

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.