Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The difference between Me and "Camp Libertarianism"

Andrew D Atkin

I think people come to question libertarianism when confronted with the raw truths of the [current] human condition, and the logical realities of where the human condition can take us, and what our alternatives are or may be in dealing with it.

The issue of child abuse:

Libertarians believe that bringing up children is the parents responsibility and the state should therefore butt out of it. In principle they are right: bringing up children should indeed be the parents responsibility. But in the real world 25% or more of parents are using their young children as sex toys. Want to talk liberty? Nothing much more imprisons a child (and later adult) into a lifetime of pain, severe repression, and emotional problems than trauma on the level of incest with young children. I am sure that anyone who has grown up in a nightmare childhood would see the world through a different view than that of a typical libertarian who, from my outlook, tends to believe that most parents are wonderful loving people. The latter is what we all want to believe, especially the parents themselves, but it is not quite true.

But does it really contradict the libertarian position for the state to demand "warrant of fitness's" for couples, before they can be awarded their reproduction licences? Not really. Libertarians do believe that the state has the right to impose itself so as to control unacceptable fallout from individual actions. An emotionally destroyed child must surely qualify as an unacceptable fallout, so maybe the difference here is just a lack of understanding?

The reader can look here for more information:

National boundaries and human rights:

Libertarians also generally believe that sovereign nations should not impose themselves on other sovereign nations.

Take this scenario: I get locked up by the New Zealand government and tortured because of my political views (for you non-Kiwi's - that would be extremely unlikely). Australia, say, then tells the New Zealand government that they are being naughty and should let me go. The New Zealand government then tells Australia to "butt out" because it is not their country and therefore none of their business. My response? As a sovereign individual I do not declare myself the property of the New Zealand government. The New Zealand government does not, by my authority, own nor represent me.

In this scenario, and as far as I would be concerned, the Australian government has every right to act in my defense if they were to choose to do as such, and regardless of national boundaries of which, ultimately, are just geo-political/economic abstractions.

Libertarians believe in "leaving other countries alone". That sounds good on the face of it, but what is the difference between not sticking up for the humans rights of the guy living down your street, and not sticking up for the rights of someone living in another country? Ultimately, the difference is nothing but the abstraction of physical distance.

I for one believe that there is a place for "moral arrogance" when dealing with nations and cultures that are so backwards that they do things like cut off people's nose and ears for trying to escape an abusive household (I won't labour the point). I believe that national boundaries should be respected but only insofar as a nation can respect fundamental human rights. Before anything, humanity is a collection of sovereign individuals - not sovereign nations. I feel we have the right to defend our fellow man, whether our political abstractions like it or not.


Problems associated with over-population, mass-neurosis and the proliferation of WAD (weapons of absolute destruction) etc. are profound and must be addressed. Libertarians, to be respectable and relevant, need to confront these problems and propose tangible solutions from the liberal outlook. Because the need to surmount the "big problems" is beyond question--practicality may ultimately have to come before the pure representation of liberal ideals.

This is where I am at. Fundamentally I am a libertarian, but I do not turn my back on the fundamental problems of the modern human condition, and likewise I ask libertarian idealism to answer to how it would and could fit into the grand scheme of things. Again, this is what I think all Libertarians should do. Libertarianism needs to be problem-focused to test itself and be relevant in our current world.


  1. What is the one human institution that has ever reduced child abuse, or even provided a moral framework for its being regarded as anything other than normal?

    Read Tertullian's famous "Apology for Christianity" written in about 197AD.

  2. Anonymous,

    Thanks for the reference, but I must admit I won't read it until I know why exactly. Can you be more specific with your point/knowledge?

  3. You are interested in religion and spirituality. What is extraordinary about Tertullian's "Apology", is that it says so much way back then, that our essentially anti-christian institutions today simply do not want you to know. We really owe everything to Christianity, not to "the enlightenment" at all. We simply do not get the moral standards and principles from the philosophy of ANY age, that we get from Christianity. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a mish-mash of perversions and evils in which one has to look carefully for "the good"; and when one finds it, it was derived from the Mosaic law anyway. "The enlightenment" is similar; we would not have had Jacobinism, Naziism, or Communism without it.

    The points I particularly had in mind here, are in Chapters IX, XLV, XLVI, XLVII, and XLIX.

  4. Hey thanks for that anonymous. I'll have a look at that link too.

    I agree that the Christian morality is essentially sound and socially effective, in its own right. I also suggest that in my "religion and spirituality" piece too.

  5. Tertullian is always a fascinating read. I appreciate this link. I have read many of Tertullian’s works. I will check out this link.

    As pointed out, stopping child abuse is tough, and governments and courts do a very good job of helping many professionals to get away with it. In fact, professionals also get away with quite a few rapes as well. Criminals often look out for their own. Just saying ;-)

    But the real motivation behind alerting everyone to child molestation, which should be called rape, is to keep all adult contact from kids so that they can not be influenced by any source that is not government approved. Smart and caring adults are very persuasive and effective. Kids seldom encounter niceness or caring as well as any smarts. So they use scare tactics to scare everyone from going anywhere near a kid, for fear of being accused or insinuated.

    The problem with Libertarians is their one fatal doctrine of no restrictions on Business. This is the most destructive doctrine of all. So they talk a sweet talk except for the most dangerous doctrine of letting biz take a wiz on us all.

    As for straying out of wars and other nation’s business, I am all for that. The USA has become an empire, who conquers, not by overt war and its obvious economic value in a take over, but more by business or by claimed abuse of rights or supposed terrorism. But the end result is oil fields, poppy fields and drugs, “strategic resources,” business territory, etc.

    If a nation of people is suffering, then let them revolt. If they want help, let them pay us afterward and let all participation in that war be voluntary at all times with options to cease serving whenever they feel participation is no longer merited. In Maine and USA, employment at will is what they call it. You can quit anytime you like and they can fire you any time they like. That is how being in the military should be – Employment at will.

    The reasons for world gov sound so nice but when you look at the real fruits, you see something else entirely. They tell us what we like to hear or want to hear, but then they go behind our backs and do something totally unrelated. Nations are best left sovereign, in dependent and as small and divided as possible, into little town kingdoms.