Culture Matters II

Jacob posted that the difference between libertarians and conservatives is that the latter believe culture is vitally important. On a similar note, author John C. Wright writes:

I have read Libertarian writings quite closely for quite a number of years. Before I had children, and before 9/11, I was a libertarian of the most consistent and orthodox character. Then I realized that libertarians are guilty of the same fallacy which they see in others: the stolen concept fallacy.

The Libertarian assumes a Lockean or (if you will) an Ayn Randian theory of government, but does not recognize that the formal processes of the law are void and of none effect if not supported and sustained by the values and virtues of the culture, that is, by the informal and largely unspoken consensus of shared opinion.

In the same way that Christians, when they take vows and live in monasteries, can live like Communists, and prosper, whereas Communists who live like Communists die; and in the same way that Christians, when they accept the palm of martyrdom, can die like pagan Stoics, whereas pagan Stoics, when left to their own devices, merely become indifferent to the suffers of others, and erect gladiatorial circuses; so in the same way can Christians can prosper in a limited government of enumerated powers, tolerating differences, whereas Liberals and Libertarians cannot tolerate, and dare not tolerate, heretical opinions. Without Christianity, Libertarianism is little more than a movement favoring drug legalization and the repeal of gun laws.

That's an interesting question: what sustains free societies? Let's say you start with a libertarian society in year 1. How do we ensure that the people won't pass laws that make it a socialist society by year 100? Wright seems to believe the answer is Christianity.

BTW, The Golden Age was a fabulous book. I never got around to reading the rest of the series unfortunately.

Share this

Without Christianity,

Without Christianity, Libertarianism is little more than a movement favoring drug legalization and the repeal of gun laws.

Newsflash! Libertarianism little more than a movement favoring liberty. That's deep.

Ima go watch Ron Paul live on Glenn Beck...

In liberty,
Sv. S.Elmo

What sustains free societies?

what sustains free societies?

  1. Suppose participation in coercive acts prevents one from participating in the voluntary economy.
  2. Societies free of coercion are more wealthy than mixed societies that include coercion, since the coercion prevents willing buyers and sellers from completing transactions that give value to each.
  3. It is easier to fulfill your goals in life if you participate in a wealthy economy than in a relatively poorer economy.

If each of these three points hold, there should be positive feedback to sustain a free society once it is in place.

I believe there are also social forces providing negative feedback. For example, more productive individuals may have to forgo a higher opportunity cost to address a trespass against them than would a less productive individual, thus it may not be cost effective to prosecute a crime. These forces would undermine a free society.

If economics were a mathematical science, knowing which terms dominate would tell you whether a free society, once obtained, would be a stable equilibrium or whether it would transition to some other social structure.

seems like a crappy trade

So in order to have a functioning free society, we must reject Reason and Truth?

Sorry Mr. John C. Wright, you can keep it.

The premise is an utter

The premise is an utter crock. The distinction is not that libertarians think culture doesn't matter, it's that libertarians think culture morally cannot be coercively imposed.

No doubt some cultures are much more conducive to liberty than others, but I don't think there's much justification for the claim that Christian cultures tend to be libertarian. No doubt it would be possible, with sufficient effort, to come up with several examples of Christian cultures which were nonetheless anti-liberty.

Nasty, Brutish, and Short

As Bakunin said:

liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality

Liberty by itself is unstable and quickly decays into Hobbesian despotism.

Liberty? Greed!

One person thinks a Libertarian government will get him a bigger slice of the pie. Another, unregulated capitalism. A third, socialism.

Anyone out there who supports Mises or whomever and thinks if he gets his political way that he will get a smaller slice of the pie?