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“Redistributive” vs. Libertarian Egalitarianism

The only equality achievable by "redistributive" egalitarianism is equality of disrespect, where the "haves" are treated as permanently exploitable slaves, and the "have-nots" as permanently useless wretches. On the other hand, the only equality achievable by libertarian egalitarianism is equality of respect, where the "haves" are free to enjoy their personal well-being, and the "have-nots" are free to pursue it. In other words, "redistributive" egalitarianism makes equality a guarantee of misery, while libertarian egalitarianism makes it a window of hope: that is, the only thing that it can be if it is to be something good. continue reading

Defense as a Private Good in a Competitive Order

Abstract: In this paper, I attempt to provide a comprehensive demonstration that, contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing inherent in defense that makes it belong to the category of common goods, thus indicating that its effective provision does not require the existence of a territorial monopoly of force, and could be satisfactorily delivered in a purely market-based system. The above analysis implies that within a contractual, competitive, and purely voluntary social order this task could be accomplished even with respect to protection goods that affect wide geographical areas, while avoiding the problem of agency infighting. Read the rest here » continue reading

A Realistically Optimistic Scenario for the Future

1. The exponential development of the global Internet culture, intensifying global migration processes, and the rapid development of communication and transaction technologies will jointly result – sooner than most would anticipate – in the dissolution and eventual disappearance of the presently dominant nationalistic, “patriotic”, and other worldviews based on morally arbitrary, tribal divisions. 2. The disappearance of the abovementioned worldviews coupled with the emergence of unprecedentedly effective opportunities for developing grey market entrepreneurship (bitcoin, seasteading, 3D printing, etc.) and the practically universal availability of independent, non-ideological education (MOOCs, private online academies, etc.) will lead to the disintegration of the structurally insolvent nation states. All resources under their control will be auctioned off and transferred into the hands of private entrepreneurs or placed in newly created private equity or mutual funds, the shares in which will be distributed among the members of local communities. 3. A world divided into states, nations, and political institutions will be replaced by a world composed of hundreds of thousands or even millions of independent economic zones, neighborhood associations, charter cities, and other forms of contractual, propertarian arrangements integrated through free trade and the global division of labor. With the disappearance of institutionalized, large-scale aggression of states and the balkanizing national conflicts, as well as with the strengthening of a global culture based on respect for individual liberty and property, there will be an explosion of a practically infinite variety of voluntary, bottom-up social institutions, both for-profit and non-profit. The disappearance of the conviction that everyone has a right to live at the expense of others will result in the strengthening of the family bond, the neighborly bond, the professional bond, and the universal, philanthropy-inducing human bond. The human race will not become perfect, but the evolutionary process of technological progress, development of free enterprise, universalization of access to free knowledge, and increasing cultural interconnection will lead it to reject the most irrational and destructive elements of its Paleolithic heritage. Considering a rapid increase in the pace of development of the above processes, all of their consequences described here can, with a bit of luck, fully materialize within the next couple hundred years. continue reading

With Cautious Optimism

Bitcoin, 3D printing, independent online learning, charter cities, increasing cultural interconnection, optimistic prospects for seasteading, growing black market entrepreneurship, boom in homeschooling, growing distrust of state-sactioned media, unsustainable state debt. A confluence of positive factors is setting the stage for the development of a voluntary society and for the gradual withering away of the burdensome, dangerous, and embarrassing anachronism of statism. There are reasons to look into the future with cautious optimism. continue reading

10 Reasons Why Libertarianism is the Way of the Future

1. It is the only social philosophy that places the highest value on the only common characteristic of all thinking beings – individual liberty. 2. It is the only social philosophy that takes individual rights seriously, consistently refusing to sacrifice them in the name of collective moral and legal fictions. 3. It is the only social philosophy that consistently refuses to glorify the allegedly “necessary” evils of institutionalized violence, aggression, and coercion, while not ignoring the problem of organizing effective protection and defense against these evils. 4. It does not see anyone as an inherent enemy, deemed unsuitable to participate in voluntary social cooperation due to his class, race, gender, or culture. 5. It exposes the alleged tension between spontaneity and orderliness as fundamentally false, and explains the essential complementarity between the two. 6. It explodes the myth that there is a tradeoff between efficiency and equity. 7. It is inclusive of all social philosophies in their peaceful varieties. 8. It can never be justifiably accused of having been tried and failed, since it does not propose any overarching grand scheme, its successes being as numerous as individual attempts of independent thinking beings to make the best of their natural liberty, and its failures as numerous as independent thinking beings who refuse to make such attempts. 9. It embodies the most mundane and platitudinous common sense, consistent with our most ordinary notions of interpersonal decency, known to most of us since our sandbox days – keep your mitts to yourself, don’t punch others, don’t grab other people’s stuff, live and let live – thus being as non-ideological as any social philosophy can be. 10. It will never get old, since voluntary cooperation is endlessly creative and can assume an infinity of forms. continue reading

Libertarianism, Coercion, and Lifeboat Situations

Is libertarianism a deontological or a consequentialist theory? It can be either, but it can also be both, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the best way to think about it. Does libertarianism say that it is immoral and criminal to use coercion against peaceful individuals in the so-called “lifeboat situations” (e.g., unless I threaten you with a gun, thereby coercing you to row a boat, we will all drown)? Yes, it does. But does it say that it is not moral to try to save people’s lives in lifeboat situations by coercing them to do certain things? No, it does not. In effect, what it does say is that while it is always immoral and criminal to use coercion against peaceful individuals, it is likely that in most cases reputable private arbitrators would treat being in a lifeboat situation as an extenuating circumstance sufficient to pardon the coercers, provided that, in hindsight, the coerced agree that the consequences brought about by the act of coercion were positive. The same principle applies to much more mundane situations as well – think, e.g., of a defense agency that initiated coercion against a suspected burglar, who eventually turned out to be innocent. In such a case, what the agency did was certainly criminal according to the libertarian law, but that does not change the fact that its initiation of coercion against the suspected burglar was required by the contractual obligations that it entered vis-a-vis its clients, thus potentially becoming fully pardonable, provided that the wrongly coerced person is sufficiently compensated. In conclusion, while libertarianism allows for pardoning acts of coercion against peaceful individuals, it by the same token refuses to decriminalize such acts, thereby recognizing their very limited and highly qualified applicability and tolerability. In other words, it says that individual rights are inviolable, but in certain extreme situations their violations can be retrospectively pardoned by the affected parties in view of their overwhelmingly positive consequences. Thus, libertarianism is perfectly capable of dealing adequately with lifeboat situations and other dilemmatic scenarios involving irresolvable conflicts of values without sacrificing any of its core tenets. continue reading