Daniel Davies d_squared_2002 at
Thu Sep 21 00:21:45 PDT 2000

--- Matt Cramer <cramer at> wrote: > On Wed, 20 Sep 2000, [iso-8859-1] Daniel Davies
> wrote:
> > --- Matt Cramer <cramer at>
> wrote: >
> > >
> >
> > > (being a libertarian
> > > != being a laissez
> > > faire capitalist!),
> >
> > Surely to God, yes it freaking does! If you think
> > that "initiation of force" (in the bizarre
> libertarian
> > sense) is wrong, then you think it's wrong

> Here you are confusing Libertarian (as in the Party)
> with the political
> philosphy of libertarianism.

I promise you, I'm not. I learned my political philosophy from Hayek's biographer, and have written God knows how many essays on Barry, Wolff and Nozick (I've been to seminars given by Nozick). On the other hand, because I'm neither an American nor a loony, I know next to b-all about the Libertarian Party.

> There are degress of
> libertarianism, but all
> you want to recognize is the extreme version.

All there is, is the extreme version. Libertarianism in the Nozick/Hayek sense (ie, the philosophy, not the party) is intrinsically an extreme theory. It's based on natural rights, which are absolute by definition, and it's individualistic, which means that interpersonal tradeoffs are ruled out. There isn't any room for a "soft" libertarianism; what you have is a capital-biased version of liberalism.

> Freedom, of both action and thought, has to end at
> some point. When our
> actions cause direct harm to others, for example.

No, bad example. That doesn't set libertarianism apart from any other kind of liberalism, or indeed from any theory which recognises that harms are bad. What libertarianism believes is the complement of your example; that neither freedom of action or thought have *any* limits *unless* they cause direct harm to others (with "harm", IMO, defined in a very weird and question-begging way).

There isn't a libertarian theory of the nation state, by the way, and some of the more honest libertarians admit it.

> Where that line lies
> reflects the many degrees within....
> How can I be a libertarian and support anti-trust
> legislation against M$?

Frankly, only by self-deception or by otrtuing libertarianism.

> Well, first of all, M$ is not a person, so it has no
> rights.

A complete dodge. Microsoft is a corporate fiction, created by Bill Gates and a syndicate of his supporters. To put restrictions on how they can go about free and uncoerced exchanges is a restriction on their freedom, not an action against a fictitious entity called "Microsoft" which has no other effects.

> Second, this
> non-corporeal entity is directly causing harm.

No it isn't, and I'd be damnably surprised if you could prove otherwise (in a libertarian sense). Microsoft has not used force against anyone, and it has not made fraudulent claims of anything like the magnitude which would justify the current action against it. It has, through the popularity of Windows, found itself in a position in which people have been enticed to make a number of contracts with Microsoft which are highly unfavourable to them, but these contracts were freely entered into.

> >
> > > I object
> > > to the concentration
> > > of power in a centralised .gov, not the notion
> of
> > > .gov as a social
> > > contract.
> >
> > Then you're not a libertarian. You're a
> federalist of
> > some sort.
> I find merit in a Constitution. That you think this
> is not orthogonal to
> being a libertarian proves my point.

No, that's not what you said. You said that you don't object to the notion of government of a social contract. That's not a libertarian position.

> Did I say this? No. I was refuting

Not refuting, denying (sorry, Carroll, but this one liguistic battle really, really, has to be fought. And I have guilty thoughts about "might" vs. "may", too :( )

> No offense taken, since I think your response
> clearly illustrated my
> point. Which was, that the left has pigeon-holed a
> political philosophy
> into one straw-position, and lacks serious
> understanding of the subtleties
> within. This is not meant as an insult, as the
> non-left has done the same
> things with leftists and liberals!

Libertarianism is very definitely a species of liberalism, and the fact that you don't seem to realise this has me very worried indeed.


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