Third Party & Independents Archives

RIP Theodora Nathan

Theodora “Tonie” Nathan passed away today at the age of 91.  If you are scratching your head not sure of who that is or why you should be aware of it, Tonie was the first woman in the United States that earned an electoral vote for Vice President of the United States.  This happened in 1972.

In 1972, running as a vice presidential candidate for the first Libertarian Party ticket for the presidential candidate John Hospers, Republican elector Roger MacBride of Virginia who was supposed to vote for Richard Nixon but in protest voted for the Hospers-Nathan ticket instead.  When reading the results of the vote, the man reading them read her name as ‘Theodore’ instead of Theodora.

At that moment, she became the first woman to receive an electoral vote for vice president, as well as the first Jewish person to receive an electoral vote for vice president.  John Hospers was the first gay man to receive an electoral vote (as far as we know).

In an era when both Democrats and Republicans work very hard to smear the ideals of libertarianism and the Libertarian Party for political purposes (they feel that those vote that they ‘steal’ are rightfully theirs despite not having earned them) the facts of the Libertarian Party in leading for civil rights for everyone have been lost.  To the point that when frustrated about a comment he made about a reporter, Alec Baldwin responded with the tweet

@ABFalecbaldwin: When did all this Breitbart libertarian trash become the defenders of gay rights?”"

While most libertarians can’t speak to Breitbart’s group (as he isn’t a libertarian, nor is his group), libertarians have been defenders of gay rights since, well, always.  And defenders of women’s rights.  And everyone’s rights.  Progressive Democrats didn’t get around to supporting gay marriage until 2012.  Conservative Republicans will get there, kicking and screaming, within ten years. 

Because, unlike Progressive and Conservative views, Libertarians are bound by a basic philosophy that puts others above them.  The rights of the individual, not the individual self but every single possible individual, are above politics.  The real measure of your defense of rights is not how vehemently you defend your own, it is how you defend the rights of those that you disagree with.  Our views don’t change for political expediency or getting votes, we don’t think that natural rights that each person has are up for political negotiations.  Unfortunately the same thing cannot be said of the two major parties who put your rights up for negotiation at every election.

Theodora earned her nomination on merit, not as a political stunt.  Nor did she campaign for it.  She was a TV producer from Oregon who showed up for the convention.  Because of some well-phrased comments from the floor during debates over the platform and statement of principles that impressed the rest of the delegation, she was nominated as the candidate for vice president of the United States.

She was also a founding member and former vice chair of the Libertarian Party, as well as a founding member and former president of the Association of Libertarian Feminists.

Posted by Rhinehold at March 20, 2014 11:00 PM
Comment #377423

I like libertarian ideas a lot, but libertarianism is not a governing ideology. For one thing, some asses need kicking and (i.e. security) not everybody has earned an equal right to run things. Beyond that, as our liberal friends point out, some people really do need the help of society and we cannot always rely completely on charity to give it to them.

Posted by: CJ at March 22, 2014 5:56 PM
Comment #377430

Everyone has the right to run their own life. It isn’t in the constitution that government shall control the lives of the citizens.

Take a look at the constitution and see where it says everyone has a right to a cell phone. Where does it say everyone has a right to government controlled health care? Where is it stipulated in the constitution that everyone has a right to a retirement account funded by his neighbor? It isn’t there. And because it isn’t there doesn’t mean there would be a vacuum and the country would be filled with destitute and dying people unable to care for themselves. Grandma wouldn’t be flying off the cliff if the federal government was limited by the constitution.

Libertarianism is a governing ideology. It was successful for over a hundred years. It was a weak and indecisive federal government that caused the civil war. The industrial revolution was not controlled and planned by the federal government. The education of the inovators wasn’t provided and dominated by the federal government. The federal government is an intangable that has convinced the population it can’t live without it. The progressive movement has convinced the population it must depend on the federal government for it’s way of life. It is Progressivism that is not a governing ideology, not libertarianism.

Libertarianism would insist we return to the checks and balances that were striped from the Constitution by the 16th and the 17th amendments. Only a return to those checks and balances and a population returning to libertarian principals of self-reliance and responsibility will solve the problems this country is plagued with today.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 23, 2014 6:17 AM
Comment #377432


Re libertarian as governing - There were very strong freedom aspects in our early Republic and limited government has been one of the cornerstones of American success, but it was not libertarian in the way I understand the term (maybe others can explain).

IMO Federal participation is essential to our happiness and - maybe ironically - to our liberty. But it is like the difference between a deadly poison and a life saving medicine - dosage and usage are they keys.

The Federal government encouraged infrastructure, set basic rules, organized national defense etc. They did this, as they should, with cooperation of the people and the states, but they were an essential part of the team.

It is interesting to look at the history of West Point. Army officers were trained as engineers. They often did double duty as warriors and builders.

So, I am not libertarian in that I love government and do believe it has legitimate roles to play. We need not to push government out of our lives, but rather restore its virtue and its restraint.

Posted by: CJ at March 23, 2014 7:28 AM
Comment #377433

It seems that there aren’t that many people who really know libertarianism that well, even many who call themselves libertarians (but are really anarcho-capitalists). I have debates within the community about this all of the time, some of my friends who I work with on podcasts and websites are turning to anarcho-capitalism and calling it libertarianism all the time.

It’s kind of like taosim, I’ve been a Taoist for about as long as I’ve been a libertarian (actually I was both before but didn’t realize they were things until about 20 years ago). In fact, most Taoists are libertarians and most libertarians are Taoists (without knowing it). But it’s hard to really explain Taoism to someone who doesn’t understand what it is, because it gets shortened to sound bites, which you really can’t do very well. The end result is that people say ‘well, libertarians are just after protecting their own stuff’ (which isn’t true) or ‘libertarians don’t understand the complexities of the world and the need for a strong defense’ (which again, isn’t true). It’s just hard to debate with someone who comes in with a wrong understanding of libertarianism and tries to debate against that misunderstanding or preconceptions because they rarely are willing to listen to it logically.

For one thing, some asses need kicking and (i.e. security) not everybody has earned an equal right to run things.

I’m not sure where you get from libertarianism to thinking that ‘not everybody has earned an equal right to run things’. I’m assuming, since you are a Republican, that you are trying to say that they are soft on defense. That is not true, they are very hard on defense, it is offense that they have a problem with.

For example, part of the reason our resources are diminished and Europe’s aren’t as much is because they don’t pay for their own country defenses anymore, we do. We have a huge military because we are their defense force. Germany, as an example, has roughly 70,000 soldiers. As part of the Treaty of Versailles, we limited Germany to 100,000 troops. The Chancellor at the time called that ‘barely a police force’. Now they have even less than that, because they don’t really need to build a strong defense themselves, we do it for them as a part of Nato. We’ve taken on the job of being their (and many other) country’s defense. The advantage we get with that is we don’t have to worry about Germany, or the UK, or France ever really screwing with us in any real way. They aren’t going to attack us, for instance.

But the costs we bear for that are staggering. We put our soldiers, our children, into harms way for the lives of people in other countries. We think we are big enough and have some moral right to dictate to others how they run their countries. Iraq, for example, after we overthrew Saddam, should have been allowed to segment into 3 different countries (the current borders were arbitrarily set by the west a long time ago) but for some reason the powers that be decided that we had to try to keep it whole. Just like we are trying to tell Ukraine that it has to be whole as well. If that isn’t what they want or how they want to be governed, don’t they have the same right to determine that that we did over 200 years ago? Why can’t we let them work that out, why do we have to stick our nose into things where it doesn’t belong? In fact, most of the reason there is a problem there now is because we pushed the issue over the last decade. Had we not been trying to add Ukraine to NATO, I doubt any of what is going on over there now would have happened the way it has.

We end up thinking that we can tell everyone else how to run their countries because we ‘earned that right’? I don’t see that at all. Our interfering in other country’s rights to self-governing, for selfish reasons, has caused most of the problems that we are seeing today.

Libertarians would love to see the US not have a standing army anymore. But we also know that that isn’t feasible, not today, not now. But we do know that we could cut back on the defense budget by actually being a defensive country, not spreading our empire all around the world as if we own the whole thing. One of the major concerns we had when starting this country was unnecessary entanglements in Europe, and that is exactly where we have ended up.

Just imagine if we had our troops here, and were focused on protecting this country, how good we could be at it?

Beyond that, as our liberal friends point out, some people really do need the help of society and we cannot always rely completely on charity to give it to them.

Libertarians are not wanting to keep those who really need help from getting it, but different people need different help, we instead create programs that think that they can successfully be ‘one size fits all’ solutions. I think you would agree with that.

But you say, as our liberal friends say, that we need government to provide this help. Why? It’s stated like a truth that no one is allowed to question. Well, as a skeptic and practitioner of critical thought, I ask questions and I want to know why it can’t be done? Its obvious that government CAN’T help everyone who needs it because it doesn’t. It fails at that miserably. So why would non governmental groups and agencies be any worse?

The only different that exists between a government and a non governmental group is that the government can use force while the non governmental group cannot. That is the ONLY difference. But in addition, governmental groups are slow and unable to change course to provide better care when new options arise. They are driven by politics, not what is best for those who need the help. There are a lot of problems with government being involved in these types of endeavors, but for some reason the unquestioned belief is that we need government to make sure everyone is helped, even though we know that it doesn’t and can’t fulfill that need…

Our current welfare system is this. 3 people are sitting on a picnic table eating lunch. A person in need comes up and asks for some help. Person 1 and person 2 each pull out 5 dollars each to give to the guy. Person 3 doesn’t because he was going to use that money to buy food for his family that day. Person 1 and person 2 hold person 3 down and take 5 dollars out of his wallet and give 15 dollars to the person in need.

Now, what if they had just given the money to him, the person would have gotten 10 dollars instead of 15, but person 3 wouldn’t have had to be forced into helping and wouldn’t now be trying to figure out how to feed his family now…

If you want a good example of this, read The Forgotten Man by William Graham Sumner.

Sumner “held the first professorship in sociology” at Yale College. For many years he had a reputation as one of the most influential teachers there. He was a polymath with numerous books and essays on American history, economic history, political theory, sociology, and anthropology. He was also the first to teach a course entitled “Sociology”.

I PROPOSE in this lecture to discuss one of the most subtile and widespread social fallacies. It consists in the impression made on the mind for the time being by a particular fact, or by the interests of a particular group of persons, to which attention is directed while other facts or the interests of other persons are entirely left out of account. I shall give a number of instances and illustrations of this in a moment, and I cannot expect you to understand what is meant from an abstract statement until these illustrations are before you, but just by way of a general illustration I will put one or two cases.

Whenever a pestilence like yellow fever breaks out in any city, our attention is especially attracted towards it, and our sympathies are excited for the sufferers. If contributions are called for, we readily respond. Yet the number of persons who die prematurely from consumption every year greatly exceeds the deaths from yellow fever or any similar disease when it occurs, and the suffering entailed by consumption is very much greater. The suffering from consumption, however, never constitutes a public question or a subject of social discussion. If an inundation takes place anywhere, constituting a public calamity (and an inundation takes place somewhere in the civilized world nearly every year), public attention is attracted and public appeals are made, but the losses by great inundations must be insignificant compared with the losses by runaway horses, which, taken separately, scarcely obtain mention in a local newspaper. In hard times insolvent [466] debtors are a large class. They constitute an interest and are able to attract public attention, so that social philosophers discuss their troubles and legislatures plan measures of relief. Insolvent debtors, however, are an insignificant body compared with the victims of commonplace misfortune, or accident, who are isolated, scattered, ungrouped and ungeneralized, and so are never made the object of discussion or relief. In seasons of ordinary prosperity, persons who become insolvent have to get out of their troubles as they can. They have no hope of relief from the legislature. The number of insolvents during a series of years of general prosperity, and their losses, greatly exceed the number and losses during a special period of distress.

These illustrations bring out only one side of my subject, and that only partially. It is when we come to the proposed measures of relief for the evils which have caught public attention that we reach the real subject which deserves our attention. As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X. As for A and B, who get a law to make themselves do for X what they are willing to do for him, we have nothing to say except that they might better have done it without any law, ‘but what I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of. He is the victim of the reformer, social speculator and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him.

The Forgotten Man is never a pauper. He almost always has a little capital because it belongs to the character of the man to save something. He never has more than a little. He is, therefore, poor in the popular sense, although in the correct sense he is not so. I have said already that if you learn to look for the Forgotten Man and to care for him, you will be very skeptical toward all philanthropic and humanitarian schemes. It is clear now that the interest of the Forgotten Man and the interest of “the poor,” “the weak,” and the other petted classes are in antagonism. In fact, the warning to you to look for the Forgotten Man comes the minute that the orator or writer begins to talk about the poor man. That minute the Forgotten Man is in danger of a new assault, and if you intend to meddle in the matter at all, then is the minute for you to look about for him and to give him your aid. Hence, if you care for the Forgotten Man, you will be sure to be charged with not caring for the poor. Whatever you do for any of the petted classes wastes capital. If you do anything for the Forgotten Man, you must secure him his earnings and savings, that is, you legislate for the security of capital and for its free employment; you must oppose paper money, wildcat banking and usury laws and you must maintain the inviolability of contracts. Hence you must be prepared to be told that you favor the capitalist class, the enemy of the poor man.

What the Forgotten Man really wants is true liberty. Most of his wrongs and woes come from the fact that there are yet mixed together in our institutions the old mediaeval theories of protection and personal dependence and the modern theories of independence and individual liberty. The consequence is that the people who are clever enough to get into positions of control, measure their own rights by the paternal theory and their own duties by the theory of independent liberty. It follows that the Forgotten Man, who is hard at work at home, has to pay both ways. His rights are measured by the theory of liberty, that is, he has only such as he can conquer. His duties are measured by the paternal theory, that is, he must discharge all which are laid upon him, as is always the fortune of parents. People talk about the paternal theory of government as if it were a very simple thing. Analyze it, however, and you see that in every paternal relation there must be two parties, a parent and a child, and when you speak metaphorically, it makes all the difference in the world who is parent and who is child. Now, since we, the people, are the state, whenever there is any work to be done or expense to be paid, and since the petted classes and the criminals and the jobbers cost and do not pay, it is they who are in the position of the child, and it is the Forgotten Man who is the parent. What the Forgotten Man needs, therefore, is that we come to a clearer understanding of liberty and to a more complete realization of it. Every step which we win in liberty will set the Forgotten Man free from some of his burdens and allow him to use his powers for himself and for the commonwealth.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 23, 2014 7:46 AM
Comment #377434
There were very strong freedom aspects in our early Republic and limited government has been one of the cornerstones of American success, but it was not libertarian in the way I understand the term (maybe others can explain).

Well, let me ask you a question after making this statement of what libertarianism is.

Libertarianism is the belief that people should be free to live their lives as THEY choose, as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others to the same.

Now the question… This is a quote from Thomas Jefferson, do you think it is ‘libertarian’?

“Being myself a warm zealot for the attainment and enjoyment by all mankind of as much liberty as each may exercise without injury to the equal liberty of his fellow citizens, I have lamented that… the endeavors to obtain this should have been attended with the effusion of so much blood.”

Kind of seems to be saying the same thing here, don’t you think? Here are some others just in case you are not sure…

“No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

“What is true of every member of the society, individually, is true of them all collectively; since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of the individuals.”

“The idea is quite unfounded that on entering into society we give up any natural right.”

“It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all.”

“If we are made in some degree for others, yet in a greater are we made for ourselves. It were contrary to feeling and indeed ridiculous to suppose that a man had less rights in himself than one of his neighbors, or all of them put together. This would be slavery, and not that liberty which the bill of rights has made inviolable, and for the preservation of which our government has been charged.”

And very poignant:

“The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest and ourselves united. From the conclusion of [their] war [for independence, a nation begins] going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of [that] war will remain on [them] long, will be made heavier and heavier, till [their] rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”

And some other Founding Fathers:

“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” — George Washington

“The internal effects of a mutable policy are […] calamitous. It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.” — James Madison

“A pure democracy … can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party… Hence it is that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in thier deaths.” — James Madison

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.” — James Madison

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” — James Madison

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” — George Washington

Now, CJ, tell me, do those people sound libertarian to you? If not, tell me what you think libertarianism is, because I think you might have some big misunderstandings of it…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 23, 2014 8:15 AM
Comment #377435
So, I am not libertarian in that I love government and do believe it has legitimate roles to play.

Libertarians do not say that there should be no government, CJ. I’m not sure where you get that from, unless you are confusing anarcho-capitalism and objectivism with libertarianism.

The second part of the ‘unless they infringe upon the rights of others to the same’ is where government comes it. It is the protector of the rights of citizens, the enforcer of contracts, the means we have to representations of the people.

But the government doesn’t have the right to limit the rights of the individual just because the majority wants to. That is the key to understanding, knowing what is a natural right and what is not, when the government can be employed and when it can’t. And the founding fathers, especially Madison who was the leading architect of the Constitution, were very clear to give the federal government very limited powers for that reason.

One think you mention is ‘infrastructure’. Tell me, CJ, how did the government build the railroads? The railroads were the key to making this nation functional as a nation in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Yet, it was done by private industry with very minimum direction from the government (in the form of land rights and usage rights and directions of where the tracks should go). The funding, the work, the connections of cities, etc, that was all done with private industry. Do you think that private industry has just forgotten how to do big things when it needs to? When a need or opportunity presents itself, can they not function in that way anymore?

How do you think the internet became more than a minimalistic connection of defense department computers? That wasn’t government, that was private industry. Created the computers and cellphones that we use today that has allowed us to communicate in a way that was never possible before, laying the groundwork for direction of need to people in a way that was unthinkable 75 years ago? It was private enterprise and charities that created hospitals and healthcare in the US, as well as insurance for those who needed it.

You, and others, say that government is needed to do these things, these big things, but you never explain why. History tells us that these things are possible by private industry because it was private industry that build this country and made it what it is today, not government.

Government has its place and it is needed. As I said, no libertarian is saying we need an anarchy. But right now we have exactly what our founding fathers warned us about. I have a lot of quotes from Jefferson and Madison warning us of what would happen if we abandoned our notion of liberty in this country, and they were spot on…

“Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

“For authority to apply the surplus [of taxes] to objects of improvement, an amendment of the Constitution would have been necessary.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Our tenet ever was… that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated, and that, as it was never meant that they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money.” — Thomas Jefferson

“I hope our courts will never countenance the sweeping pretensions which have been set up under the words ’general defence and public welfare.’ These words only express the motives which induced the Convention to give to the ordinary legislature certain specified powers which they enumerate, and which they thought might be trusted to the ordinary legislature, and not to give them the unspecified also; or why any specification? They could not be so awkward in language as to mean, as we say, ’all and some.’ And should this construction prevail, all limits to the federal government are done away.” — Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 23, 2014 8:53 AM
Comment #377437

When Texas was struggling to be an independent nation many citizens, with their weapons, traveled to Texas of their own volition, to join in their cause.

In terms of ethnicity among the Texian defenders, 13 were native-born Texians, with 11 of these 13 being of Mexican descent. The rest of the Alamo defenders consisted of 41 men born in Europe, two Jews, two blacks, and the remainder were Americans from states other than Texas.

This was the essence of American Freedom. Men who believed in freedom, on their own, traveled to foreign countries to aid others in their struggle for independence.

In today’s United States, the same type of people, citizens of the United States, traveling to other countries to aid them as they see fit, are labeled terrorists and executed without trial.

This is the difference between the United States as it was founded and the United States of today. We no longer have the freedom to do as we see fit. If a citizen of the United States should choose to go to Yemen and print a newspaper he shouldn’t be subject to bombs falling from the sky and his family and innocent bystanders being killed without due process.

Our federal government is a lawless federal government in the eyes of our “enemies”. We are due for a long and intense soul-searching. Do we want to live by what we say, or do we want to live by what we do?

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 23, 2014 10:05 AM
Comment #377443


“Now, CJ, tell me, do those people sound libertarian to you? If not, tell me what you think libertarianism is, because I think you might have some big misunderstandings of it…”

Libertarianism as you describe it sounds pretty much like ordinary conservatism. We would split on defense, where I believe in a more forward defense. I regret that we need to do it, but if there is going to be wars, and there are always going to be wars, I want to fight them someplace than in America.

I also don’t think that there is always a way for us to act w/o having others act on us or us acting on them in ways that implicitly require force to resolve. For example, I don’t want people taking my property. It is implicitly defended by force. You and I agree that property should be protected. Not all do.

As I wrote, I generally find libertarian ideas good and I don’t want to attack the theory. But I can think of times and places where I would want to use force. Let me be very un-PC for my example, I don’t think we could have a United States if we had not forced the native inhabitants off their lands. We could not have defeated the Nazis w/o a draft and the regimentation of our country. We could not build roads and railroads w/o the power to take away some property.

You mention railroads - the government didn’t build them, but it caused them to be built by giving away land, fighting Indians who objected and through the Homestead Act, giving the railroads customers.

Speaking of such things, Federal power was used to give land for the RR and for farmers. It was also used for land grant colleges under the Morrill Act. This built the backbone of our best research universities, the best in the world. Much of American prosperity is built on the knowledge created in these places. The private sector had not created its like and I doubt that it would have.

These are successful examples of each doing its part. The Federal government provides conditions by which people can prosper, but does not manage precisely what they do.

You quote Washington, Jefferson, Madison etc. But Washington was very enthusiastic about using Federal power for roads and canals. Jefferson bought Louisiana w/o any Constitutional justification. In both cases, it was letting the Federal government help create conditions for prosperity.

You mention Taoism. The person who works with the Tao doesn’t really ever understand why. He follows certain precepts until he doesn’t. I think this is how we need to govern. Generally, we should let things develop on their own. We should limit government. But there are times when we have to be different.

I do not have a coherent political philosophy and never intend to develop one. My general principles and instincts are to leave things mostly alone and trust in markets and people. I also believe in American pragmatism and don’t believe you should concentrate power. If men were angles no government would be necessary and if angels governed men we would require no restraints on government, to paraphrase Madison. But as it is we do need to restrain both.

Posted by: CJ at March 23, 2014 8:08 PM
Comment #377445
Libertarianism as you describe it sounds pretty much like ordinary conservatism.

Not really, it may share some aspects of conservatism in some areas, but conservatism doesn’t have the protection of individual rights at its center or it wouldn’t be on the wrong side of so many issues. LGBT rights, spying, world domination, etc.

Conservatism occasionally talks about limits on government, but in practice it expands government just as much as progressivism does, just in different ways.

I also don’t think that there is always a way for us to act w/o having others act on us or us acting on them in ways that implicitly require force to resolve.

Of course force needs to be used to resolve things, that’s the main function of government. The use of the governments force to enforce contracts, to ensure a person’s rights are not being trampled, etc.

For example, I don’t want people taking my property. It is implicitly defended by force. You and I agree that property should be protected. Not all do.

It is a major component of libertarianism, so that is one area where libertarianism and conservatism match up. But that doesn’t mean that we come at it from the same path. You even hint to it here, when you say I don’t want people to take MY property. Libertarians don’t want anyone to take anyone’s property.

Your conservatism isn’t ‘let’s protect the individual rights of each and every individual unless it is the only way’, it’s ‘what’s the best end solution, regardless if it protects individual rights or not and go for that’. Pragmatism. A libertarian would be willing to accept a less ‘perfect’ solution if it meant that it could protect every individual’s rights.

Monetary policy is a good example. A conservative wants to make sure that the GDP is the highest it can be, but a libertarian would be willing to accept a GDP that is .5% lower, or 1% lower, even negative if it needs to be, as long as individual rights are protected. In much the same way that Democrats want to be able to pick winners and losers in the market, the Republicans want to be able to pick winners and losers as well. But they want to protect the creators of the wealth while the other wants to protect who they see as the downtrodden. A libertarian wants the market to protect everyone equally, even if the outcome isn’t ‘optimum’ for some group. Only by having a stable policy that operates that way can a real free market exist.

I don’t think we could have a United States if we had not forced the native inhabitants off their lands.

Here we completely disagree. And not because it is ‘pc’ or not, but we were negotiating with the Indians on the lands in good faith for some time and we were doing a basically good job of it. But something happened… We found gold on the Indian lands. And we coveted it and therefore reneged on our agreements to get that land. That is what precipitated the deadliest and unconscionable actions that we made as a country then. Had we continued to negotiate in good faith and respected the Indians, I think we could have still had a United States much like we have today only we wouldn’t have to live with those decisions we made in the past for greed…

We could not have defeated the Nazis w/o a draft and the regimentation of our country.

Maybe or maybe not, but libertarians understand that during times of war conscription is sometimes necessary. But there should have never been a peacetime conscription. And we didn’t really defeat the Germans with manpower as much as we did with technology and air/naval power. That didn’t require conscription.

We could not build roads and railroads w/o the power to take away some property.

Which is why that specific power is given to the federal government with strict caveats. Basically, that is what the Constitution is, a list of rights that are given up to the federal government for very specific things. But they can’t be assumed through simple majorities, they have to go through the amendment process and involve a super majority in order to cede those rights to the federal government.

Contrary to what Willie has stated, the Constitution is not a list of rights that the American citizens are given, it is a list of powers that the federal government has been given, everything else is off limits. Neither the conservative or progressive philosophies today respect that understanding of it.

Basically, if the government, as times change, needs a new power that it doesn’t have, the constitution should be amended to give the government that power. It shouldn’t just assume that power and act like it has had it all along…

Jefferson bought Louisiana w/o any Constitutional justification.

Actually, the federal government had that power, it wasn’t invented. The issue with Jefferson with that specific situation was that the power lied in the hands of congress at the time, not the president. But he went ahead and made the agreement without getting that approval ahead of time. So, he wasn’t creating new federal authority, he was just violating the separations of power…

The person who works with the Tao doesn’t really ever understand why.

mmm, that’s kind of why I was using that as an example, this statement is exactly correct. The Tao is what it is, it can’t really be ‘explained’, but that doesn’t mean that the Taoist doesn’t understand it or why they work with it. It doesn’t really work well in small soundbite explanations like you try to do here…

He follows certain precepts until he doesn’t.

Not really… he follows the Tao at all times, but the flows of the Tao shift as time moves along. It is when a person tries to push against it that causes issues/pain in that person’s life. It’s like following the current of a river, sometimes the river doesn’t go where you want it to go and if you try to go against the current you expend far more energy than you would have had you not fought against it so hard.

Taoists also understand that bad things happen and they are a part of life. A perfect example of this (something I’ve been working on as a post for some time explaining the differences between conservatism, progressivism and libertarianism but haven’t quite finished yet) is The Vinegar Tasters.

The three men are dipping their fingers in a vat of vinegar and tasting it; one man reacts with a sour expression, one reacts with a bitter expression, and one reacts with a sweet expression. The three men are Confucius, Buddha, and Laozi, respectively. Each man’s expression represents the predominant attitude of his religion: Confucianism saw life as sour, in need of rules to correct the degeneration of people; Buddhism saw life as bitter, dominated by pain and suffering; and Taoism saw life as fundamentally good in its natural state.

Basically, conservatism would be analogous with Confucianism, wanting to put rules in place to dictate how people life, how society is to function, etc. (It was once said of Confucius, that “the master would not sit of the mat was not straight”). Progressivism is more like Buddhism, seeing all of the suffering and pain in society and being compelled to go to any means to end every instance of it. Taoists, on the other hand realize that all aspects of life are good, even the bad parts, because they allow us to better enjoy the good parts. Or as a favorite song of mine says “It’s not a roller coaster without the rise and falls”.

Not long ago I misjudged it I thought only smiles would do Now I see I need The tears and frowns too Slowly drenched in drizzle No rubber boots, no parasol It’s not a rollercoaster Without the rise and fall
Posted by: Rhinehold at March 23, 2014 10:54 PM
Comment #377446

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the libertarians adhere to the non aggression principle (NAP) or (ZAP).

The non-aggression principle (NAP)—also called the non-aggression axiom, the zero aggression principle (ZAP), the anti-coercion principle, or the non-initiation of force principle—is a moral stance which asserts that aggression is inherently illegitimate. NAP and property rights are closely linked, since what aggression is depends on what a person’s rights are. Aggression, for the purposes of NAP, is defined as the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another. Specifically, any unsolicited actions of others that physically affect an individual’s property or person, no matter if the result of those actions is damaging, beneficial, or neutral to the owner, are considered violent or aggressive when they are against the owner’s free will and interfere with his right to self-determination and the principle of self-ownership.

Supporters of the NAP often appeal to it in order to argue for the immorality of theft, vandalism, assault, and fraud. In contrast to nonviolence, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violence used in self-defense or defense of others. Many supporters argue that NAP opposes such policies as victimless crime laws, coercive taxation, and military drafts. NAP is the foundation of most present-day libertarian philosophies.

The Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP) says…

Don’t tread on anyone.

This means….

•Don’t threaten or initiate force
•Limit force to defensive purposes only

You already do this in your personal life, but too many people make an exception for “the government.”

They think it’s okay to use “the government” to make others obey their preferences.

It isn’t.

Delegating the dirty work to politicians doesn’t make it moral to tread on people.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 23, 2014 10:59 PM
Comment #377447

In the previous post about Taoism I meant to say “this statement isN’T exactly correct”. I hope that this was understood…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 23, 2014 11:47 PM
Comment #377453
Contrary to what Willie has stated,

I didn’t state what you said. :?

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 24, 2014 11:46 AM
Comment #377487
“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place[d] under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.” – Proudhon
Posted by: Rhinehold at March 26, 2014 9:00 PM
Comment #377488

“I’ve told the kids in the ghettos that violence won’t solve their problems, but then they ask me, and rightly so; “Why does the government use massive doses of violence to bring about the change it wants in the world?” After this I knew that I could no longer speak against the violence in the ghettos without also speaking against the violence of my government.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.”
-Thomas Paine, 1776

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 26, 2014 9:01 PM
Comment #377497
“I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men’s rights.” – Abraham Lincoln

Another libertarian from our history…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 27, 2014 12:45 AM
Comment #377602

Another Lincoln quote…

“Prohibition… goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded” -Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 31, 2014 2:00 PM
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