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Libertarianism - When We Stop Cooperating

After much consideration I have come to believe in a philosophy that holds that we all should be free to do whatever we want as long as there are no substantial societal reasons for limiting that conduct. Thus, the accountability one has for his or her actions is to ones own self and any limitations thereon should be based only upon substantial societal considerations. This sounds very much like a libertarian philosophy except that the the most prevalent forms of libertarianism extant today probably would omit limitations of any type.

I, also, believe that one must distinguish between civil/social libertarianism and economic/fiscal libertarianism.

A civil libertarian does not think that individuals should be told or required to live their personal lives in a certain way. Governments must not pass laws that would restrict, oppress or require any particular personal conduct between consenting adults where the only offense to other individuals is that they know that the other has a differing opinion or life style. Here, I am talking about such things as LGBT rights, interracial relationships, free inquiry and speech, right to privacy, access to information, access to hallucinogenic substances and a whole gamut of rights. I generally approve of civil libertarian ideas and believe it is consistent with the humanism in which I believe.

Economic or fiscal libertarianism advocates for individuals to do whatever they want in the pursuit of commerce and the making or accumulating of wealth. They generally advance free market ideas. There are really no differences between the economic views of libertarians and the neoliberalism that has dominanted world economics since at least about 1980.

The problem is that free market libertarianism will generally allow certain individuals to become dominant. While some might become dominant through intelligence and hard work, many become dominant through inheritance, deceit, dishonesty and simply being in the right place at the right time. Additionally, once a person has a substantial amount of money, he or she has the ability to outmaneuver a less wealthy opponent. And, significantly, from a consumer's perspective, the average individual is generally not capable of making intelligent decisions as to the safety of every product and service available for purchase. A regulation free market can be extremely dangerous to ordinary persons. So, I generally disapprove of economic/fiscal or free market libertarianism (neoliberal economics) and think that it is contrary to several tenets of humanism.

Libertarianism fails to recognize that we, as a species, have succeeded by cooperation and that radical individualism is actually contrary to human nature. I fear that libertarianism has caused us to become a people who believes in "Me and my gun against the world" rather than a cooperative society.

So, that is where I am in my thought processes, but I want to look into libertarianism in more depth. I have read "Libertarianism: A Primer" by David Boaz and his revision "The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom" and other resources. The first of the two Boaz books was copyrighted in 1997 and the second was copyrighted in 2015, but the basic propositions in each are the same. Furthermore, his lists of key concepts of libertarianism in the books are still quoted by the Cato Institute in its web site as their key concepts. The Cato Institute is probably the most prominent libertarian think tank in the world and Boaz is still its executive vice president.

So far, I have found the logic in Boaz' books convoluted and often illogical. Its view of reality is not consistent with that of ordinary people. Its views and conclusions are from the perspective of rich white males which encompasses a very small number of persons - oligarchs or plutocrats, I would suggest. Many of the backers of the Cato Institute and related organizations, for instance, view themselves to be self-made men (and perhaps a very few women), but they seem to have one thing in common - the majority had rich daddies! Furthermore, the Cato Institute appears to me to be nothing more than the John Birch Society warmed over!

But, let's start with Boaz' list of key concepts:

And then, in the second Boaz' book on the libertarian mind mentioned above, he devotes 76 pages to an updated list of contemporary issues as follows:

Additionally, I will want to examine the following questions or topics:

If you are interested in an in-depth analysis of current issues from the perspective of the Cato Institute, the most current edition of their Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017) is available at the Cato website. The 2016 platform of the Libertarian Party can be found on their website.

As I work through these lists (not necessarily in the above order) I will create individual posts and turn the lists into links. And, no doubt, additional subjects will come to my mind and require separate posts.

Posted: November 17, 2017; Revised: April 15, 2018.


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