You are here

Two Kinds of Liberty

Error message

  • Deprecated function: Optional parameter $decorators_applied declared before required parameter $app is implicitly treated as a required parameter in include_once() (line 3532 of /home/ethepmkq/public_html/drupal7core/includes/
  • Deprecated function: Optional parameter $relations declared before required parameter $app is implicitly treated as a required parameter in include_once() (line 3532 of /home/ethepmkq/public_html/drupal7core/includes/

In the comments, Vox writes that libertarianism is, “the political ideology based on the principle of maximizing human liberty.”

Which inspired commenter cailcorishev to write:

Unfortunately, too many people take that to mean "individual human liberty" (more often "my individual liberty"), which translates into pro-abortion, open borders, etc. Taken to that extreme, you should be free to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and you get a might-makes-right philosophy.

If you take it to mean the maximum amount of liberty that can be had by everyone in aggregate, you get something very different. Things like nation-states, borders, vice laws, and the like, may make humans more free as a whole, but you won't often hear that from your neighborhood libertarian. Too many libertarians are stuck supporting things like open borders because they can't say that the freedom of Americans as a group to control their borders trumps the freedom of Carlos from Mexico City to live and work wherever he wants.

I’m in favor of increasing human liberty, which is not the same as maximizing it. We have to decide how to quantify liberty if we’re trying to maximize it. The argument becomes abstract, and is indeed ideological.

My neighborhood libertarians are in the trap cailcorishev identifies. They do not shy away from claiming to desire maximum individual liberty. Which requires them to ignore aggregate liberty.

What’s worse is the slavishness to the ideology which prevents any meaningful progress. To compromise is to settle for something less than maximization. Since politics is the art of compromise, the liberty faction cannot be an enduring participant in the political process.

A political ideology based on individual liberty is self-neutering. An ideology that holds individual liberty as important, but which also recognizes aggregate liberty might work better for both. It seems that such was the ideology of the Founders. I’m not sure what label to put on it.


You, CailCorshev, and Vox would be wise not to make multiple logical errors in posts about libertarians. 

I have no idea whether the letter quoted is real or not - I have seen it elsewhere,

I tend to doubt is, but so what if it is ?

Is there a libertarian claim that individual libertarians or even the libertarian party are 

better at managing their finances than anyone else ?

How is a voluntary request for contributions a refutation of anything libertarian ?

How is the "addiction to credit" of an individual or organization - even a liberttarian on a refutation of 

libertarianism ? Libertarians have zero problems with credit. They have problems with governemnt interfering with credit.

A view shared by far more than libertarians. 

There is no libertarian position on ANY private activity that does not initiate violence against another. 

Many of those activities might well prove disasterous for the individuals involved.

But so long as that disaster is only their own or those who voluntarily shared in it, it is not anyone else's business.


Further the letter cited make no reference to credit - not that it would matter.

But that does mean that Vox and company are drawing clonclusions from facts not in evidence.

Wes Benedict is not asking for a loan, he is asking for a contribution.

The rest is just a list of the good things that might come from a contribution or the bad things that might happen without it.

If McDonald's solicited you to purchase a hamburger and told you the good things that might happen if you boaugh one and the bad things that might happen if you did not, how would that be different ?

 cailcorishev then jumps in with failed logic of his own. 

The sum of the maximum liberty of each individual is the maximum aggregate liberty

- it is called math. To each according to his need from each according to his ability - the closest approximation I can come to for what cailcorishev proposes has a name too - that ideology is called communism. 

I do not think that is what you were after. 

There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream--the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path.

Ronal Reagan


So even conservatives beleive in maximizing individual liberty. Atleast some.

There is no formal libertarian position on abortion. 

Trying to establish one depends on whether and when a fetus is embued with the

rights of humans.  Science can not answer that, various religions offer differing answers. 

There is some libertarian insight consistent with 500 years of western legal traditions, but that is outside the scope of rebutting shallow fallacious critiques of libertarianism. 

There are no group liberties, freedoms, or rights. Trying to go there quickly drags you back to that marxism thing that I doubt is where you want to go. Again try logic. 

There is not a formal libertarian position on Open Borders - I as an individual have the absolute right to exclude whoever I please from my property. Nor on free trade - again I as an individual can trade or not with whoever I wish. 

I as a member of any voluntary group can trade with or not, as well as bar from my property or not whoever the group choses. So long as I am free to join the group and leave as I please I need not agree with all of its choices, but I must abide with them to remain a part of that group.  Libertarians do not promise you will have the choices you want. Only that no one can take choices from you by force. 

And once again the "Yell fire in a crowded theater" idiocy. 

If the owner of a theater has the right to exclude whomever he plases from his property, cant he also make rules for those he allows - so long as again they are free to accept and come to the theater and decline and not come ?

Alternately or additionally, can't the ower permanently bar those who "yell fire in a crowded theater? ? if they so choose ?


These type of stupid, I have found the achilles heal to libertarianism posts are common. 

Libertarianism is the oldest political ideology currently practiced - absent a few monarchs.

It is the most thoroughly scrutinized of any political philosophy. If there were some snarky refutation it would have been found long ago. Usually this kind of thoughtless idiocy comes from the left. 

I am disappointed.

Thanks for the long comment.

Evidently, you haven’t been involved in politics in my neighborhood. Until you define exactly what qualifies as “libertarian”, I’ll keep using my experience to shape the meaning of the term.

The non-aggression principle is complete crap. How do we divine exactly who is the first aggressor? Maybe someday when I have time again, I will detail my beefs with that theory.

I hope, since most of your comment seems to be aimed at stuff I didn’t post, you laid out your case at Vox’s joint.