Are libertarians selfish or just isolationist

Are libertarians selfish or just isolationist

    1. Selifsh for the most part
    1. Mostly Isolationist
    1. Neither
    1. either
    1. Other:
    1. Chips/Frenchfries?
0 voters

I often see libertarians (particularly those of the Austrian/capitalist school) defending themselves from criticisms that label them as selfish isolated or even antisocial or sociopathic, do you think this analysis of their behaviour is warranted as a generalism or is it all far too complicated to sum the cats up? It’s fairly safe to say they are a minority point of view but is that necessarilly a bad thing?

I don’t limit the discussion to any form of libertarianism from a narcissistic commune to the Ayn Randians amongst us so feel free to discuss any form of libertarianism from Anarchism to Zionism?

What I find with libertarians and anarchists is that they rely on the goodness of human nature for simplistic solutions and ignore the dark side of human nature that defeats their idealism. The assumption that interaction will not take advantage of the individual is either naive or well wishing. It could be my cynicism, but I’ve not seen their assumptions match up very well with obdurate reality.

But left or right, libertarian or not, the willingness of humans to attempt to control others is evident in any culture you would care to name. The idea that we take care of ourselves and leave our brothers to take care of themselves is a wonderful ideal, but falls flat on it’s ass in practice. Maybe we need a couple thousand more years of socialization and then it might be possible, but I have strong reservations that the species is capable of acheiving such a lofty ideal.

I didn’t read agreement and didn’t expect any. I’m too pragmatic to be swayed by ideals - any ideals. Utopian visions are wonderful but until there are specific plans in place to accomplish those ideals, it is wool gathering. Nothing wrong with that. Shoulda woulda coulda is a fun pastime - almost as much fun as “wouldn’t it be great”, but it doesn’t perform those necessary get-throught-the-day actions.

No one would condone violence in acquisition of property. Libertarian or conservative. All I mean is that the lack of regard of society as a whole could be perceived as selfishness, and for some may well be.

True it would not be contradictory for a libertarian to do most things, thus the cat analogy.

Of course.

Well many libertarians are left leaning, they just eschew control or rather state meddling not the politics of the left necessarily. Although of course in the US that sort of libertarian would be a rare animal indeed.

I agree in that sense libertarianism can be fairly unrealistic much like communism, I mean the more academic communism, can expect too much of peoples desire for the social good over the individual.

I would say libertarianism is a fairly unrealistic system as a whole though. But its not without its uses even if they are seldom politically powerful enough to make much of a difference.

It wouldn’t be contradictory for a libertarian employer to lower wage rates to a level that can’t sustain their employees, and expect food prices to drop before anyone starves to ill health or death, and put a gun to anyone’s head when they violently protest because their lives depend on it “because it’s getting in the way of free trade” and “they should either work for someone else if they don’t like it” when all other businesses are doing the same to remain competitive or “they should make their own business and run it better” with all that money they don’t have…

So yes, libertarians are all for explicit ideal freedoms and implicit concealed unfreedoms, which is much better than socialists who don’t need to hide necessary unfreedoms because they result in obvious freedoms and only in extreme conditions come anywhere near “putting a gun to anyone’s head”. They also seem to understand degrees and extents a little better than black and white libertarians. Not that all libertarians are all black and white and all socialists see shades of grey, of course. Lots of people are idiots.

Libertarians are generally more ignorant than selfish or isolationist. They actually think that selfishness and isolation has a net altruistic effect for all. Seeing as the libertarian motivating incentive is as much money as possible (“earned” from other people) for the self, then they seem to be equally selfish and isolationist - and little else. They don’t mean to be anti-social or sociopathic, they just accidentally are through ignorance.

Do you think its fair to lable them as ignorant or just dreamers? The older the libertarian gets the more he is ground down by that horrid democracy and its statutes and limitations on freedom. :slight_smile:

But what if it was never yours?
What if the only reason you have it is because we helped you take it and helped you keep it?
What if society is man made?
What if you don’t have any rights but what we give you?
What if you actually had to give people a good reason to let you keep what you have without appealing to some devine right to it?
What then I wonder?

How can it be stealing… if it was never yours?
What do you call it when you take back what was stolen and give it back to the people it was stolen from?
You tell me!

First, I would hope we could move away from some of the name-calling if this discussion is to be of any use. Like all political “systems”, you will find ignorant followers to idealistic dreamers. No social system is free of either as far as I know.
Secondly, the idea that there is any system of social organization that doesn’t place limitations on personal freedom might be a bit myoptic. If there is one, I’m not aware of it.

What strikes me is the general fuzziness of the mechanics of libertarianism. How does it work given societies as we find them? In my discussions with libertarians this is where the wheels fall off their wagon. Saying mine is mine, yours is yours, and it will all work out sounds good, but it just doesn’t match up with any social reality I can see. Such an idea requires the buy-in of every single citizen if it is going to work. Any conflict immediately requires the “limitation of freedom” of someone. The moment of any conflict between citizens requires another someone to judge and control the outcome of conflict resolution, and poof! There goes the ideal…

So, going back to the title of the OP, libertarians HAVE to be selfish and isolationist for their ideal to be met. anything less is a restriction of individual freedoms, and when the discussions come around to the “anything less” part, all you get is a confused mish mash conglomeration of capitalism and bits and pieces of every social scheme known.

I think that the most attractive part of libertarianism is the fact that there is no coherent social organization scheme. It is individualism to the extreme.

Hello there, this is my first post on the forum but I was wondering what you meant by “goodness of human nature”?

Wow… did you just call me dog?

And I was suggesting that while you might think something belongs to you fair and square, others might think you got it unfaily and that it shouldn’t be yours to keep
“it’s mine and you shouldn’t steal it” is not a reason why it OUGHT to be yours… You cannot dictate what is yours and what isn’t unless you are God or King or some such… well you can… but no one really cares.

Can you see that libertarianism is defeated the moment that such a conflict arises? SOMEONE is going to have their “freedoms” curtailed. Moreover, someone is going to have to execute conflict resolution forcing one or both parties to comply. End of personal freedom. A cost of any social intereaction.

Erm… no… they can TAKE what you think is yours and they think isn’t yours.

So while you may call it stealing they can call it justice… then someone kicks the other guys ass in a fight and writes whatever they like in the history books.

Instead of this nonsense “don’t steal what’s mine”, how about you present an argument that might actually convince people who don’t think it’s yours, that it should be?
I don’t know… appeal to their sense of fairness, maybe?

You worked hard for it… or rather… you worked harder than them so you deserve more than them… or maybe your daddy worked harder than them so you deserve more than them… see how that goes.
Or we can pick up sticks and guns and settle it the hard way.


I’m making a “there is no right or wrong, there’s just consequences” argument.

Applying might just so happens to make the consequences more pleasing to your preferences, at times.
Dosn’t make other people think you’re right… unless they think might makes right or they generally yield to your authority because you are their king or their god or some such.
And who knows… one day they might make up the majority and wield some might of their own…

Because a more balanced distribution of wealth (not necessarily a compleatly equal distribution, mind you) would improve the lives of more people than it would impoverish (in fact no one would be impovorished, just reduced in wealth), and thereby raise the quality of life for the general population by a significant amount. One’s level of wealth seems to have a very positive correlation with ones level of education as well as a negative one with one’s propensity for criminal behavior… and the list goes on.

Now your turn… tell me why we should distribute the wealth unevenly or according to a system that rewards greed rather than solidarity and expect to live in a pleasant society?

Sorry, we don’t accept those cards - they don’t absolve you from making an argument here.
Unfortunately the wage lowering possibility, amongst many other devastating ones, is a very real one - an inherent inevitablity even, under Libertarianism in practice.

Within the Capitalist way of doing things, if we accept the selfish and isolationist monetary incentive, we come to realise that it is not precisely money that individuals are supposed to be after for themselves - otherwise we’d just run the printing presses constantly and give everyone as much money as they could handle in some kind of hyperinflation splurge. The money has to reflect relative material growth - an acceleration in Capital that allows more and more value to be produced, faster and faster. So since it’s actually growth that we’re supposed to be after, quantified by money in some way or other, then what matters is the society’s ability to produce as much as possible, as fast as possible.

Capitalists shoot themselves in the foot when their investment is only attracted by areas where the rich are the richest. Rich, of course, is only meaningful relative to its opposite: poor. You’re not really very rich if everyone else is equally well off. The more rich certain people are, the poorer other people are, who could be richer, and therefore more able to contribute to the accumulation of wealth as a team…

See, as a team, that’s how you get the most results. Exhausting your labour supply - because you can always hire new ones if the old ones break - only suffices as a series of short term hits. Cultivating your labour supply by not having the wealth gap be liberally unlimited yields optimum results over a longer period - providing more incentive for investment - IFFFFFFF we are to accept the whole selfish and isolationist incentive of Capitalism.

That is to say, if Capitalism is to exist, Libertarianism is just myopic and ignorant - just as I said before.

Yeah, I gather Americans don’t realise their national wealth is dependent on fucking over the rest of the world - hence why the “terrorists” who Americans have been dooped into thinking are “just inherently evil” are so bloody pissed off with you all. And those are only the ones rich enough to even be able to do anything about it, by the way (the tiniest of small minorities compared to the rest!) Even in your own country, you have people much worse off than you sound like you are - but I suppose they’re just doing it deliberately to themselves like you suggested. And that no changes to that, that might make things a little better for them would be preferrable to their freedom to choose to continue their situation…

Nobody has any fundamental right to distribute wealth in any particular way, yes - but leaving it up to blinkered private companies doing whatever they think they can get away with for their own wealth or fame - that’s better? Essentially you’re trading in the possibility of someone accepting accountability for organising things at a wider level, and potentially actually doing a good job of it(!) - for fear that they might do it as badly as many people have in the past when circumstances and knowledge levels were completely different - in favour of a completely unfettered chaos of unlimited possibilities for even worse to happen… (most likely periods of unprecedented growth followed by devastating atrocities & repeat) because at least no one would directly be to blame for it!!! - the freedom for it to happen is what’s important (!)

Individuals are free to cause all levels of brilliance and annihilation to take place if negative rights are maximised.
I find it strange that Libertarians have this complete, utter distaste for a culture that favours intelligent accountable decision making - since there is no fundamental right for anyone to distribute wealth in any particular way - and yet their only reason for opposing this is to make sure that their version of fundamental rights is enforced…

See, everyone? This is the level of ignorance that goes into Libertarian thinking.

A simple transposition of “equal distribution” into the Libertarian system of doing things, as though such an abstraction would hold any truth whatsoever if there was more to “teamwork” than simply giving everyone the same amount…
Clearly, any serious “left thinking” doesn’t just take the Libertarian ideal and modify it so everyone is given the same resources instead of having discretion(!)

Teamwork involves having any element that could be seen as a “weakness” work beneficially towards the final goal of everyone as a whole, as well as the individuals involved and their own goals. This is in fact what Libertarianism intended to achieve. It has been slated since at least 80 years ago now, when Keynes was writing, and there are myriad very good reasons why governments of developed nations won’t go too near Libertarianism proper.

The fact that we’re all alienated from our work now, since the division of labour means you’re only ever just a cog in a huge machine that you can’t see the ends of - since the scale of operations is now so huge and complex, that we simply fit into a ‘class’ that has almost no relation to its means to exist except in some cash every now and then - does not mean that we’re all inherently individuals who exist only to make money from each other for survival.
The fact that all this makes large-scale organisation ridiculously hard, does not mean that nobody should ever attempt it. The fear we’ve developed for bad leadership is not ungrounded, but balking at the idea and making its opposite into an underlying fundamental rule because we mistake current social phenomena as “human nature” is NOT the solution.

Socialism is thinking about how to improve things - nothing more, nothing less. It is not any specific form of attempting such a thing, it is discussion. Clearly, letting everything just go wild according to some basic safety rules only, is not only causing a load of shit to happen to the world, it’s significantly restricting the potential of what could be done with the world…

Saying “so far a lot of good thinkers have failed” is a long shot from “no thinkers will ever succeed, therefore we should stop trying and go in exactly the opposite direction”.
Private businesses are supposed to respond to customer demand out of their own demand for wealth. To say there is no way for the “price mechanism” to work is myopic, to say there are no other ways than the “price mechanism” is unimaginative. A huge amount of what makes the economy so hard to predict is the insistence of private businesses to perpetuate their obsessive need to try and beat the system and get out on top - a kind of self-slavery to the desires of consumers that provides endless fascination to Capitalists, as if there were nothing else in life worth living for.

Without the selfish isolationist reasoning that “selfish desires benefit everyone”, and negative rights plucked out of the sky, there would be no private business completely shut off from “higher” influence and direction (and there are MANY degrees of this that do NOT include anything like forcing at gunpoint).

Economists have been trying to refine a system that is already in place, not looking outside the box. That’s been for social theorists, who have been much more productive.

Yeah, maybe if trial and improvement was actually doing the same thing.
It’s pretty insane to refuse variations on the same theme because they’ve failed a few times, only to just turn around and head in the opposite direction from any lessons we’ve learnt into the unknown wild.
But talking of “insanity” itself is perpetuating the same thing over and over again - the opposite of what has emerged to be “acceptable” behaviour, without considering the benefits of exploring outside of it. But we’ve explored the unknown wild far enough, and learnt it to be ironically restrictive. It’s either time to be insane again, and head out somewhere else than Libertarianism, or learn from its many shortcomings, and incorporate them into the shortcomings of past attempts at a more planned economy.

A quote itself, even, is an attempt at doing the same thing again and expecting the same result. Clearly, as the above removal from context illustrates, this is not the case either.


How did they aquire that wealth if no one gave it to them?
Did they just take it and decide it was theirs?

Is that how you think it should work?
You find something you want… decide it’s yours and then give it away or not as you see fit?
What if two people both decide the same thing is theirs?
Since no one is supposed to decide for them… I guess they gotta settle it between themselves.
Either with words or with fists…

That about right?