A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

276 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. If society is based on Libertarianism – everyone should buy a gun so that no one will coerce them?

    Replace “everyone” with “nearly everyone”.
    Replace “should” with “can”.

  2. @Ivor

    Perhaps the bottom line is that personalities like Terje will never be convinced that there is anything else in life or the universe that should determine what we others value in our society than what he personally prefers.

    It it is not a realistic aim to change the minds of poorly socialised individuals through discussion; the benefit of these ‘torturous’ 🙂 discussion is for those of us who can do the complex thinking stuff to understand how personalities like Terje are created and then work out how to prevent these disordered personalities having the power to force our society to be the way that suits them and their individualist anti-social inclinations.

  3. i have a question: if a libertarian community, through the unconstrained operations of its own duly constituted deliberative body, freely chose to impose gun controls on itself, would its libertarian certification lapse while “it took leave of its senses”, or would it become “a libertarian community with gun controls”? -a.v.

  4. Alfred – A society can be very free in one respect and less so in others. I think it’s useful to talk of libertarian policies, libertarian laws and libertarian solutions but not so useful to talk of libertarian nations or communities except in the abstract. Australia for instance has what many libertarians around the world would describe as a libertarian approach to prostitution. Switzerland a libertarian approach to firearms. Singapore a libertarian fiscal policy. But these are all relative statements. If you are a Saudi libertarian then every other nation has a libertarian approach to women driving on the roads and to alcohol being sold and consumed.

  5. @TerjeP
    What a train wreck of a response to a.v. The honest answer would be that a ‘libertarian society’ is a contradiction in terms and therefore impossible. As to the notion of a Saudi libertarian … thanks for the thigh slapping guffaw. You version of libertarianism is thereby exposed as a sort of fan dance of political philosophy designed to hide the reality.

  6. @TerjeP

    I agree that laws should be established via some democratic means.

    Are you implying that Australia’s gun control laws were not established by democratic means?

  7. Zoot – no. Although the 1996 changes were never taken to the people in an election and Howard would have been slaughtered at the ballot box if he’d tried.

  8. @jungney

    I sometimes self-describe as a left-libertarian — which was a response to discovering in the 1980s that there was such a thing as a rightwing libertarian. I thought that a contradiction in terms.

    Plainly, I believe a libertarian society is plausible. Not only that, I’d like to live to see it. It wouldn’t look a great deal like Terje’s utopia however, because it would be founded in the equitable settling of the burdens and benefits of labour. A libertarian society entails, in my opinion, equally empowered citizens, for the obvious reason that matters of informed consent can only be given when those choosing/negotiating do so from positions of equal social power/ standing.

    That’s clearly not possible now, nor likely to arise any time soon. We have millennia of oppression and inequity to extinguish through robust and insistent collective action before we could treat the notion of equality as anything more than a legal fiction. I doubt anyone I have met or will yet meet will be around to greet that happy day.

    In the interim, our focus must be on empowerment of the marginalised and the dismantling of the mechanisms of social exclusion.

  9. Jungney, I have been speechless for most of the day about Terje’s relativity comment. I do remember him being quite certain some time ago that poverty was not relative and so inequality was not a problem.

    A Saudi libertarian is indeed, a fantastic conception that only a ‘Terje type’ libertarian could imagine. There should be a diagnosis for Terje type libertarians and their lack of common sense.

    Fran, perhaps left libertarianism may be becoming ‘fashionable’.

    The BHL’s – bleeding heart libertarians – who blog at a site of the same name – are mostly privileged white boys and the occasional girl who argue fiercely about really un-important things like how much freedom privileged white people are missing out because government is bad bad bad and of course there are stupid and lazy poor people.

    But they have posted a link to some articles and a talk to be given, by a left libertarian Roderick Long. Left libertarianism sounds very different to the BHL’s version and Terje’s version and far more like something you describe.

  10. @Fran Barlow
    I wouldn’t disagree with any of your suggestions for left libertarianism but my distaste for the way that economic liberalism has shrouded itself with the mantle of liberty raises my hackles more than a little. Any current libertarian who doesn’t use a prefix to describe their attitude is deeply suspect IMHO as little more than just another pretender hoping to gain legitimacy without putting in the hard yards of coming to terms with the history of libertarianism in general.

    I’m not sure at all that left libertarians mightn’t be better of jettisoning the term in favour of self sovereignty, plain old individual freedom and autonomy. Within a context of political communitarianism, of course 🙂

  11. @TerjeP

    I’m not into changing things via revolution.

    Life as it progresses, is full of revolutions.

    We need a revolution in our economics.

    We need a revolution in our energy production.

    A revolution can usher in greater democracy compared to gun-blighted theories some seem to proffer.

  12. @jungney

    These days, principally because of the temporal and cultural distance between us now and the kind of society I’d see as a valid exemplar of left-libertarian organisation, I tend not to use the term.

    These days, I speak of my aspiration for ‘inclusive governance’ and ‘authentic community’ as the best short titles for the kind of superstructure and base I regard as called for. I don’t even use the term ‘democracy’ much as I now regard it as impossibly tainted. It’s an empty vessel that can obscure the most repulsive conduct of the boss classes of the planet. Right now, in Australia, it’s shielding the brutality of Manus and Nauru. In the US, it’s a pretext for drone strikes. In Indonesia, judicial murder based on moral panic.

    Rant aside …

    Notwithstanding your admirably communitarian sentiment, some of the alternatives you suggest sound a lot like borderline dog-whistles for the RW libertarian gang.

  13. Yes:

    Notwithstanding your admirably communitarian sentiment, some of the alternatives you suggest sound a lot like borderline dog-whistles for the RW libertarian gang.

    I think that is part of the problem, the one that has been nagging at me: it is the way that ubiquitous RW libertarians, who are little more than glorified classical liberals wearing pomo drag, have undermined a capacity for discussion around things like plain old freedom and sovereign autonomy. They infect the language of political philosophy; thenetz allows any woman and her dog to represent themselves as knowledgeable sages to the uninformed. The latter come reeling into other public arenas, looking for a reality check, and when they receive it are so conflicted because of how deep they imbibed the kool aid that they fuse something and start behaving like intellectual Daleks.

    Julie Thomas – I,m not sure whether or not to thank you for that reference to BHL 🙂 I have indigestion.

  14. @jungney

    lol I did read a bit of the BHL’s when they first started up; it sounded good and clearly they were nice guys and had good intentions of fixing the world and telling everyone what freedom looks like, but the poor lads lacked any knowledge of the real world of work and poor people – well any people of a different culture – and their cast iron self-regard meant that nothing was going to dent their certainty. But they are pretty harmless I think.

    I thought that including a ‘left libertarian’ is another interesting development. I’m wondering if perhaps they are bored with the sort of argument they do that is like how many angels can dance on the end of a pin.

    Like you say they have undermined the language of freedom and individuality also, and maybe they are seeing that it isn’t enough and there is something important missing.

    It is pretty much undeniable that something is happening politically and socially and they don’t know what it is; even my neighbours know that. Someone at the craft group actually asked me the other day what actually happens to people when civilization collapses.

    One critical difference between left and right libertarianism seems to be solidarity and all that is implied by this word. It is more than just cooperation, as the right libertarians understand cooperation.

  15. i was interested if the location (so to speak) of libertarian authenticity – in an ideal situation – is to be identified with process or with product.

    so: in an ideal situation would it be most authentic to have libertarian policies – like: no gun control regulations – or would it be more authentic to have policies arrived at by bona fide libertarian processes – like: gun control regulations imposed on consenting libertarians by other libertarians after due process conducted strictly according to the “libertarian town hall meeting procedure manual”?

    people say: “i’m a vegetarian, but i eat fish”, or “i’m a jew for jesus”, so is it conceivable to say: “i’m a libertarian for gun control”? or would holding that position automatically disqualify one as a libertarian? could it come down to something, as divisive as: “real libertarians” -v- “due process libertarians in name only”? or am i getting ahead of myself? -a.v.

  16. @alfred venison

    You might like this article by Massimo Pigliuci at his new blog site, Scientia Salon, titled “The Moral Basis of Capitalism or something”. The comments are good especially the ‘Objectivist’ who tries to set everyone straight about which is the ‘real’ libertarianism.

    Massimo writes

    “My first report from this year’s meeting of the American Philosophical Association, being held in Philadelphia, will be a bit strange, as it covers a session off the main program, sponsored by none other than the Ayn Rand Society, and entitled “The moral basis of capitalism.”

    ‘Now, Randians, or Objectivists as they prefer to be called, are nowhere near the mainstream of academic philosophy, being pretty much ignored by any moral or political philosopher I know. Still, there are some professional philosophers in the group, and they do get together at the APA, if for nothing else but to put up their (usually pretty much entirely unvisited) book exhibit during the meeting.

    “At the 2014 APA-Eastern, the Randian session was chaired by James G. Lennox (University of Pittsburgh), and the speakers were James Otteson (Wake Forest University), Peter Boettke (George Mason University), and Yaron Brook (Ayn Rand Institute).

    Here is the gist of what they said, with my most certainly not neutral commentary.”

  17. Alfred – I think you ask a reasonable question. It’s a question of implementation. How do we create a society that is libertarian? Libertarians ponder this a lot and many of them despair at the difficulties. Personally I think it depends a lot on your starting point. Given where we are at in Australia my own opinion is that libertarians should approach the problem through two primary means. One is to seek to change the culture by spreading libertarian ideas about limited government. The other is to enter the democratic process as political candidates and once elected seek to strengthen and extend the institutions and traditions that support a libertarian outlook whilst cutting back on those that undermine it. At the end of the day I think reforming institutions is the more important because most people in most cultures, for better or for worse, tend to defend the status quo whatever it has become.

    Libertarian Senator Leyonhjelm recently made a senate speech on Magna Carta which serves as a good example. The purpose of this speech was to remind people of certain traditions that we should value. Although he is clearly mindful of the fact that there was not some past golden age there were certainly ideas expressed and codified in the past that we should promote and protect. However nothing will ultimately happen however unless people are reawakened to the value of such ideas. Speeches such as this can help reawaken people. If enough people of influence say “good point” then progress can be made.

    And whilst I think there will only ever be a small number of libertarians there may in time be a sizable number of people in the population that agree with libertarians on a given policy issue even though it’s a different group of people for each issue. Those that side with us on freedom to marry may not be the same people that side with us on the freedom to carry.

    In the Australian context I doubt that an explicitly libertarian party will outright control the legislative process in the foreseeable future. And depending on the individuals involved I might not want that anyway because even with the right vision people can mess things up if the implementation is not undertaken cautiously. But I am hopeful that libertarians might manage to occupy a balance of power position where the government of the day can only legislate something “unlibertarian” if the opposition agrees with them. So in general we would only get new government spending or tax increases or laws to lock up funny smelling minorities if Labor and Liberal both decided such an initiative was a good idea.

    If the PUP senators (including Lambie) disappeared and they were replaced with Liberal Democrats then I’d feel like we could really get somewhere irrespective of whether the ALP or the Liberals held the reins of government.

    None of this of course will deliver a society that anybody would call libertarian. But it would help point things in a better direction. IMHO.

    I encourage you to listen to the senate speech I linked above.

  18. well, i’m not scottish, David Irving (no relation), but i am a vegetarian and when people say: “i’m a vegetarian but i eat fish” i think to myself: “the hell you are”. and i’m not in a position to comment on “jews for jesus” but i’d conceptually have no problem with a bumper sticker, say, to wit: “i’m a libertarian for gun control (*) conditions apply”.

    i could see it working out cognitively as in: “i’m not going to make my stand on gun control ’cause i’m kinda conflicted about it but i’m sure going to take as strong a position as possible on parallel currencies, say, and taxation and dropping out of the official economy . . .”

    so, while they may know where your house is from your gun rego, your mobile home, all your ammo, and your extra capacity clips, and your high-res scope, and your gun club memberships, and the heavy-duty firmly-mounted lockable gun cupboards with detached ammo lockers for home & car & pickup & trailer are all paid for with untraceable parallel-economy cash (wink, wink) see: bona fide 99% post modern libertarian! if liberals can be relatively all post modern when they’re accused of it then libertarians for gun control can also have their pie and eat it too – relativity is relative for everyone or not at all. -a.v.

  19. @alfred venison
    Well, yes, I’d look askance at a vegetarian who ate fish as well (I’m not a vego, as it happens, but I also don’t believe that it’s OK to eat fish because they don’t have feelings – that’s deeply incoherent), and I also take your point about libertarians for gun control being a thing, but it’s hilarious to watch a bunch of glibertarians accuse each other of being splitters. Hence the “no true scotsman” crack.

  20. well, i liked the “true scotsman” quip, real public spirited, that one. it is conceivable, i’ll concede, that a piscatorial faction could table notice at the vegetarian society of intention to move a proposal at the next plenary session that the society amend its membership definition at, say, sec. III, para. 4, (xxix) of the vegetarian society constitution, to include the words: ” … or eats fish, or eats chooks, because both protoplasmic entities being arguably too stupid to qualify as animals more like stones with movement, or eats macdonalds because everyone knows there’s no meat in a big mac …”. this would be the point where i myself would have to resort to a quip along the lines of: “(ir)regardless of the vegetarian society definition, no true scots vegetarian …”. -cheers, a.v.

  21. On eating, I take the view that as animals we homo sapiens are clearly biologically equipped to be omnivores. We have evolved to be omnivores… so far.

    It is a matter of choice for a human to be a vegetarian or an omnivore. Healthy diets physically can be constructed on both choices given enough local variety in food. However, I doubt that a healthy purely carnivorous diet is possible for a human. (Note: even some so-called carnivores are not always purely carnivorous.)

    I suspect (but don’t know) that the healthiest diet might be a low-meat but not a no-meat diet. So far are carrying capacity for humans goes along with global footprint and damage to environment, we would probably do best to go vegetarian with some small exceptions (allow a little meat and fish) and even to go insectiverous (which is still carnivorous of course).

    I am omnivorous in the standard aussie sense but a moderate eater of meat and fish rather than a huge eater of such. If people think not eating meat is healthier, they might or might not be right, I don’t know for sure, it might depend on a lot of internal and externa factors (to the body). If people think not eating meat is somehow more virtuous they are welcome to that belief but I do not subscribe to it. However, animals need to killed quickly and cleanly (least pain) if being used for food.

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