The Two Constructs of Libertarianism – Analysis

Amelia VreelandWhat would it mean to live in a completely free society? In dealing with personal sovereignty, which takes precedence: freedom of association or property rights? At first glance, we know that these two are tied together into one idea through self-ownership but when looked at more deeply, they can conflict.

There are Two Constructions of Libertarianism as set up by Chandran Kukathas in Libertarian Papers Vol 1, 11 (2009). One of these is a world in which there is complete freedom of association—the right to give up your libertarian right for the moment to whatever is yours in order to live in a statist or communal society, which can end up a world where we have many property rights violations, like those born into such communities who are not shown the way. The other is authoritarian propertarianism–self-ownership protected against those who would take it from you; meaning immoral agents barricading the knowledge of your libertarian rights from you.

The second one, which Kukathas calls the “Union of Liberty” would require a codification of Voluntaryist law, or, what it means to actually live within the framework of libertarianism. There are a lot of obvious problems with this construction, namely, that we are talking pretty much about giving a sovereign rule making body search warrant powers over the whole of the society in order to protect property rights, possibly routine or based on anonymous claims. This can turn into a lobbying opportunity for people who would like to force their definition of Liberty onto others.

The more metaphysically bankrupt side of this proposition though rests in its misunderstanding of language. To have a group of people, the Commission on Standards for Liberty, usurp the most intimate part of us: our brains and as a social species: our form of communication, in the name of the principle of self-ownership is beyond comprehension and lacks an understanding of language, the mind, and I believe some fundamentals about what spontaneous order really means.

As we have seen it said a thousand times before, one thing that freedom means is the freedom to make mistakes, to mess up and learn from them, but to do it on your own terms. Understanding the Rothbardian idea that selling yourself into slavery is literally impossible, there is nothing within a non-free community that lives within a larger free society that is actual immoral or a negation of self-ownership. For as we do not believe in positive rights, we cannot say that people have a right to understand their autonomy or a right to know their other options anymore than we can say that people have a right to good housing or health care. Ideas as such are not an economic goods because they are in super abundance and their content can be duplicated ad infinitum without taking away from the original “owner.” This means any person is free to them at any time, but this does not mean there is a moral obligation to present the ideas to somebody to evaluate them by their own standards.

So, there is a two-fold problem with this literal monopolization of defining the term liberty as in, a certain firm will be barring others from entering into the service that they provide, which is interpreting the word that the whole of society rests on.

First, we see a demand made on every individual about the way in which they have to spend their time and empty the contents of their brain: if you are a communist and you have a child, it will be “mandated” that you give them full knowledge of the other politoco-economic social structures that they can be a part of.

Secondly, that it is also telling people how to use language. Language, being the most essential social and mental tool, is one of the main things we need to safeguard against any attempt at one agency having ultimate control over. The easiest way to demonstrate how individualized language is would be to use a strong word: LOVE. Many people will look at this and think of Hollywood romantic, others their family, other people will think about a real, knowledgeable love and still others just think pain.

Another case in point about how language can be used to manipulate us is from what some people consider one of the highest philosophical “social contracts” that have ever been created: the US Constitution. Trying to put limitations on a government through the use of words is a futile attempt because like every part of the Universe, words are a constantly evolving constructions and because almost anything in this world can be used for good or for bad, it will move towards whichever we allow it to. As in all things, the diversification allowed for in the individualized method is what leads to great competition and cooperation and the least infringement on one’s personhood.

So, on the other side of the coin, why is it that it is more “libertarian” to allow for unfree societies to exist in a free world?

If there is one thing that propagates the state more than anything else, it is the compulsory schooling that we have, that teaches children how to become good citizens instead of good people. Why is this so damaging? Because what they are doing is taking away the children’s ability to think for themselves which is so very essential to our soft-bodied species.
If there is one force fighting against the state, then that is people’s ability to obtain the information that they want and need even though the state doesn’t want them to have it. There is a wealth of people who want this information because if your spirit is not broken, you are born with the ability and the craving for self-direction.

If anarchocapitalism is based on the idea that men are more good than bad, and that we have the ability to control ourselves and weigh out the cost benefit of any situation that is within our control–that is, having to do with ourselves and our property–then to dictate that people must learn this or that thing, that people must believe in things this way and be saved from their own ignorance, is a total 180 from what it is that we are supposed to stand for from a moral perspective.

We trust in markets because we trust people to do what is best for them. To say that people must be given this information in order to choose what is right for them instead of allowing them to follow their true hearts and minds, to not trust people to know what is right for them even in the face of adversity and oppression, is in absolute opposition with stated principles. The only way we can have a libertarian society come to fruition is to educate those who will listen, reach out to those that haven’t a clue, and to accept when people do not agree with the position. We do not force our position, we do not demand it be followed.

I would also muse that whatever technology a non-capitalist society came up with to block the incoming of information, capitalists could overcome that because of the greater organization and the profit motive.

As long as other communities are not aggressing against us, there is absolutely no moral or logical justification for enforcing our interpretation of liberty on them.

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