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Let's Define "Freedom"


Phi for All
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There was outrage towards Obama's statement because it underscored his leaning towards socialism and the push to dictate people into excersizing values that others want them to (even if it is not their own). So what, if a person makes it somewhere in life due to the people who have helped or inspired them. Does that mean that individual liberty isn't the reason that person made it somewhere? Hell no. It was individual liberty that allowed others to get themselves into a position to give that help/inspiration.

It seems clear to me that freedom, or individual liberty, needs to go hand-in-hand with social conscience to make a strong America. Both are worth less alone, since you can have all the individual liberty you want and then fail without the infrastructure made possible by our social system. And all the infrastructure in the word won't help if you aren't free to take advantage of what your fellow citizens have helped make possible.

 

Sometimes it seems that the people who made a fuss about Obama's "You didn't build that" statement are making the assumption that, because the roads and libraries are already there, they owe nothing more to the social system. "So what, if a person makes it somewhere in life due to the people who have helped or inspired them", you say, and I say that should NEVER be the attitude we as Americans hold. Helping and inspiring each other, contributing your part to help your society is not only what made this country great, it's one of the things that has helped humans accomplish what we have as a species. Perhaps that's the greatest freedom of all.

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Freedom of the mind. The ability to distinguish your own thoughts from incoming distortion.

 

Freedom is the constant battle against oppression. If you're not fighting it, you're not free, because oppression always exists.

 

^ It's not complete hippy crap, think about it.

 

"If you think you're free, there's no escape possible" ~ Ram Dass

Edited by Iota
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I have made some observations -- unusually involving a very specific aspect of social activity -- which I hope participants of this topic also try to see. On organizational efforts in particular, examine the contrast between the motives of a "foundation" or "movement" and an "institution." You might think these are just vague and unintentionally varied labels. Personally, I see things tend as though "foundations" chain you to a cropped ideology, "movements" insensibly push an ideology, yet "institutions" (hopefully) merely inform about a set of "good" and unheard ideas. Perhaps ideological distribution is one of the most prominent elements involved with the undermining of freedom.

Edited by Ben Bowen
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Regardless... I trust you'll just cast my thoughts aside as leftist propaganda and then follow-up with an accusation that I'm trying to codify my personal values and ice cream preferences into law. It's been fun.

 

I'm torn here iNow because you have taken the time to write a sincere, thoughtful post about your misgivings with Libertarian thought and I'm moved to be just as sincere and thoughtful in my reply. But I don't think you've given the same care to understand what I posted.

 

You've focused in on generalizations (which we all use, even when you use the term "libertarian" you're generalizing a diverse group of thought) and taken offense at my interpretations and then let that occlude the points where I contrast it with libertarian ideas. It has been said, previously by Sisyphus here at SFN by the way, that our politics we choose can be described in terms of our political aversions. I provided contrast between my aversions and libertarian counters to help distinguish how we execute virtues of society. You can disagree with my interpretations of reality - we all do - but to understand someone, if that's your aim, you must accept *their* perception in the proper context.

 

I will write a reply, have already started, and it will be thoughtful and sincere and will take some time. I don't have the time I used to on here. But in the meantime it would mean a lot if you'd re-read what I wrote in reply to that author and this time try to understand the points I'm making, even if you disagree with my perception of events.

 

None of us share the same reality, and none of us share the same perception, and none of us occupy an objective point in this test box from which to prove anyone over another.

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in the meantime it would mean a lot if you'd re-read what I wrote in reply to that author and this time try to understand the points I'm making, even if you disagree with my perception of events.

My friend (and I really do think of you that way, you are an online friend, IMO)... I read it quite closely already, and more than once. I have spent time trying to understand your points, and supplement that understanding through the other posts you've made here in the past.

 

My conclusion is that you have a very inaccurate and comical view of "liberals," that you think you've found the one truth and anyone who disagrees is an idiot (much like any religious fanatic would), and that you focus so often in your posts on caricatures of people instead of what they really think or feel that the connection of your argument to reality is tenuous, at best.

 

I also feel that you are treating the abstract and enormously broad concept of liberty as if it is some ubernirvana masthead that would solve all that ails us. I feel that you are not being specific enough about the concept of liberty itself, and are instead treating it as if it's some god or deity. Like with my analogy to health, I feel you are ignoring other factors that are required for a well functioning society, that you are moving forward as if you have blinders on, and you are doing so due to your single minded focus on ideal or pure liberty. I'm not willing to sacrifice those other things that have made us great as a people in pursuit of some unattainable perfect version of liberty. My mindset is that we must always strive toward greater liberty, but that we must be rational, practical, and results-oriented from time to time, and that the natural consequence of doing so is a reasonable softening of our ideological purism on this subject.

 

We don't disagree that liberty is important, Paranoia. I'm just arguing that liberty as a concept is neither terribly functional nor useful as a concept when we're talking about the richly nuanced and deeply complex specifics of governing and societal health in this hyperconnected 21st century world.

 

As I shared above, your comments strike me as one dimensional... Like you're using fat crayons and construction paper and thinking that gives you enough resolution and detail to draw and deliver engineering specs for a chemical vapor deposition chamber on a semiconductor manufacturing platform. That's where the bulk of our disagreement resides. You're content to use the low resolution of "liberty," whereas I want to drill into the pixels with ultra high resolution and focus on what works in a less philosophical/more empirical manner. I think your approach misses too many key features of our world, you think my approach sacrifices the ideal in pursuit of the practical. That's where I suspect we're failing to click on this.

 

Your comments are also using an incredibly subjective, abstract concept as the reason for all that is good in this world and it strikes me as childish, or at least without utility. It's like saying that love allowed me to buy my house, or that nature makes my television work. It's a useless deepity that sounds profound yet offers no value in discussions of those topics IMO, especially if someone moves forward with a single minded focus on the concepts of love and nature as if they are all that matters.

 

I explained this above, and I did understand the points you were making. I was simply put off by how flat, myopic, and platitudinous they were, and also how comical, unrepresentative, and tribal your view appears to be of those who prefer nuance to oversimplification.

Edited by iNow
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A couple things, since I see this as a big theme and misunderstanding of our values. Starts out familiar, but let it build. And I'm really out of practice...

 

Domestically, libertarians largely don't look to the government to solve problems. We don't think the role of government is to "solve problems" in society. We think free actors in society can and should solve most problems.

 

We think the role of government is to provide the framework to pursue happiness however we define it, by defining a clear line of respect between people - the non-coercion principle. There is no particular 'vision' of society to implement, no set of values to endorse here, no culture to mention or speak of. We don't care.

 

We support an emergent society. Each person is free to pursue their values and their happiness as *they* define it. If you want to believe in god and teach your kids the earth is 6000 years old, fine. If you want to believe that's total crap, then fine as well. We are not in any position to know what's best for anyone else. "Good" is the subjective term that makes asses out of us when we use it on behalf of others.

 

I found no truth iNow. And that's precisely the point. My philosophy comes from the lack of knowing the truth, the humility to understand that I *cannot* know what is best for you, what is good for you. I cannot know who's reality is correct - and further, I suspect that all are correct.

 

When I see a red car, the dog sees a gold car - which one of us is correct? Same with our interpretation of reality which directs our entire lives. Which one of us is correctly seeing the world, iNow? I think we both are. Counter intuitive, maybe, but we're in the same test box together and neither can trump the other and claim objectivity.

 

The only moral and ethical thing I can do is not do anything to you at all. I can't govern your choices because I might be wrong. I don't want you governing mine because you might be wrong.

 

We pursue freedom and liberty as the overarching value *for government*, because that's the only way to morally and ethically treat *equals*. If neither of us can objectively claim reality or truth, then we are equally subjective in that context.

 

Libertarians don't look to government to solve problems but to create problem solvers. That's why the endless liberty message...individual liberty feeds diversity. Diversity feeds generalism. Generalists solve problems and survive catastrophic changes much better than specialists. We look to cultivate a diverse field of human beings to maximize our ability to survive in the face of knowable and unknowable impending challenges.

 

 

Because we look to free actors to actually solve the problems (most of the time), our charge in government and politics is devoid of specific values and intents. We don't like government promoting values and culture because when that comes from central authority, particuarly when using force, you necessarily lose diversity. So - nuanced as it is - we promote freedom and liberty in government and politics to promote equal treatment of citizens to follow their conscience, their values, their trail to happiness.

Edited by ParanoiA
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  • 3 weeks later...
Specious, prolific argument from ignorance. Notice how the argument is framed without any distinction between law (force) and free will (liberty). Those who make this argument in this way think laws codify all of our values, and that values are only recognized when legally forced. They cannot separate their personal preferences from political force. Expect vanilla ice cream to eventually be illegal when the majority prefers chocolate, at some point in the future.

 

The easy response to this is that it's a giant strawman supplemented by well poisoning. The better response is to explain why I criticize and sometimes challenge your position, and the position of quite a large many libertarians, so let me do that.

 

But its not a strawman, its a direct response to the charge that libertarians pursue freedom and liberty to the exclusion of all other values we dont. We do that *in law*, not *in life*. Thats why I pointed out the lack of distinction between law and choice. You can only say we dont pursue any other values when you ignore our private life choices and pursuits. We are not valueless people wandering around with blank stares we all have different value systems we employ at home, in our private lives. Thats where we think values are to be executed by private choice, not by public force.

 

The issue here consistently seems to be one of nuance, and how the presentation of your worldview so regularly allows for none. It is presented almost without fail in an idealized state immune from criticism and not open to correction or adjustment... an idealization that is not grounded in the reality around us, but is instead based on oversimplified thought experiments and nonrepresentative scenarios... and it's an idealization that is presented as if libertarians are some intellectually untouchable ubermensch coming to spread their wisdom amongst the rest of the population whom they seem to see as a group of ignorant mountain trolls and drooling paste eaters.

 

Yes, we do have issues with those of you who dont allow nuance in private lives. We do think we are better prepared to accept people as they are than you are. We dont have a societal vision in mind, no agenda along those lines, so nuance is exactly what you get with us. We believe we are more thoughtful to diversity, and more committed to equitable treatment under the law, thus we believe we are in a superior ethical and moral position. Guess what? Everybody does about their little opinions. You do too when youre not critiquing my doing it. Imagine that, people thinking their beliefs are better than others. Go figure.

 

We just take this a step further and acknowledge that all of us are taken by our little belief systems that weve built. Were all very convinced of our shit. And since no one can objectively prove their shit, we say let everyone pursue their beliefs as the only moral and ethical choice left.

 

That aside for a moment, the key challenge is that this world exists along a spectrum, and important matters in our society (such as liberty) cannot be adequately discussed or decided as if they function in some binary on/off either/or state. We exist in a world composed of countless shades of gray and things are neither as simple nor as black and white as the libertarian mindset requires. Liberty is far too broad of a concept to be functional in discussions like these, and it's like we're trying to argue about how objectively awesome something is or who loves someone more. Liberty is awesome, and I do love it, but it's a term equally ill-defined and fuzzy as those other two.

 

Things are simple, although the libertarian mindset doesnt need them to be. Difficult choices are generally not complicated, rather theyre tough to accept so we invent more shades of gray to intellectually work around an inconvenient principle so we dont have to live it down.

 

Like prostitution. Nothing complicated here. Your body, your property, yours to wager as you choose. I sell myself in 8 hour chunks per day, massive time away from my family yet Im protected by labor laws. The principle is clear these people dont belong to us to regulate. Theres no objective damage to be observed, certainly no more than can be observed by my 8 hours of servitude per day only cultural offense.

 

And there comes the supposed shades of gray you have to pretend like its too complicated for a person to consider alone, so you can invent a reason to interfere and create laws against this form of labor.

 

The real problem is that its a tough thing to have to accept that some people would rather make a days pay in 30 minutes rather than 8 hours. The real problem is we dont want to live up to the principle of personal sovereignty. So we invent complication to provide intervention.

 

No legal shades of gray here, just fabrications from the mind of those who cannot and will not leave others be to make choices they dont like, or are even disgusted by.

 

There are real shades of gray, to be sure, but Im rejecting those shades fabricated in frustration of a stubborn principle. Most of the time what we wring our hands about is accepting the tough simple choice.

 

I've lived in other countries, and have worked with countless folks in regions that you would almost certainly describe as lacking in liberty... as far less free than the US... and you would almost certainly argue that this fact alone makes us better and them worse. You would likely ignore all other variables that should play into a decision regarding which countries are better off or which countries are worse... and you would likely focus solely on this abstract notion of liberty when deciding.

 

You would likely do this (please also notice how I couch my comments with uncertainties and don't say you WILL this or DO that, but you likely would... giving recognition that you're not part of some monolithic block... please notice how I'm trying to avoid generalizing and am working hard to treat you with respect as an individual)... you would likely argue that they are worse off than we are despite the fact that in reality their daily life is scarcely different from ours, and often quite a lot better. You would likely instead castigate them (or more likely people such as me who may speak rationally on their behalf) as being a lesser society even though they often have far better opportunities available to them to enhance the health and wellbeing of them and their families... far better opportunities than you and I ever will here in the US... and all because you have classified them as "less free" like that's the end of the conversation. Do not pass go, do not collect $200... and all because they recognized that life has nuance and all because these nations made a decision that one-dimensional approaches to huge complex issues are rarely successful.

 

Your ideology requires you to see them as less well off merely because they were smart about their choices and practical in their decision making as a nation and chose to briefly recognize that the concept of liberty is not some deity to blindly worship. Your ideology mandates that you fault them unilaterally for failing to engage in their discussions with blinders on... for failing to worship the idol of unfocused liberty... for showing the maturity and wisdom to acknowledge that pure freedom and unadulterated liberty alone are not the only important metrics to consider when facilitating the success of a nation in our modern world. But no... your position does not allow for that. Your position is one-dimensional. Live free or die... all or nothing... my way or the highway... if you're not first, you're last... it's either 100% or zero...

 

I would *not* do this. I dont think of my country, or myself, as better. Different cultures and people retrieve happiness differently. I do not know enough about any other country to make judgments like that. They may be very happy under Shariah Law, or they may be quite happy as a socialist society. I have no beef with others choices, only the refusal to allow mine in my country.

 

Hopefully you remember my previous comments about politics and preference. I do not subscribe to the belief that socialism doesnt work, or communism doesnt work what works and what doesnt is up to the society that prefers it. They all work. Its just a matter of matching the human with the right structure for that humans sensibilities, as they perceive them.

 

See, one of things Ive realized is that people with varying sensibilities have varying values and cultural norms, and different forms of government cause distress and happiness just as disparately as their personalities.

 

I dont believe you would be happy as a libertarian, even if I could convince you. And why should I? Why shouldnt I want you to be as happy as you can? Youre happy being quite liberal, if I perceive your beliefs correctly, and you deserve to live out your only life as you choose. Why shouldnt I support a government structure that allows you to live liberally, while allowing me to live libertarianly (that should be a word, damnit)?

 

Conservatives and religios are quite happy with their gods and traditions and they are not excited about progressive societies, and not happy to live among them. Why shouldnt I support a government structure that allows them to live as conservatively as they like so long as they cant force anyone else to live like them?

 

I have no interest in arguing value systems because like ice cream, they are arbitrary choices, cultural preferences and conditioning, all that. People are happy pursing their values as they define them. Why shouldnt I support this? Who cares if I dont believe in their views? *They* believe them, and they are just as important as I am, and their happiness matters.

 

I have no judgments over peoples choices other than to laugh and carry on. I simply want mine respected, as I respect yours. Im a libertarian in terms of legal preferences, and Im comfortable in that lifestyle. I dont mind asking my family for help when I need it, and they dont mind asking me. We like a tiny government footprint. It works for us, maybe not for others. It's not up to me to disparage their choices, only to disparage their lack of respect for mine.

 

The key, to me, here is that my libertarian legal preference leaves room for liberal societies and conservative societies, in all of their flavors but their legal preference leaves *no* room each other, nor libertarians or any other political philosophy. Its a constant fight over a central, national value system. Its insane. We necessarily force large numbers of people to be miserable. Some of them in prison.

 

I take aim at your belief system when you deny mine. Otherwise, I have no judgments and really prefer you to be able to live what makes you happiest. Not what I think is better for you because Im all convinced about my value system being better than yours.

 

To recap…the only difference between us is that libertarians pursue values *outside* of government force. So, naturally when talking about laws, wielding government force, obviously our only interest is liberty and how to draw an objective line without endorsing particular values again, only in the context of law and political force. No surprise there.

 

Dont let our legal disposition fool you about our personal dispositions about the complexities of life. We simply dont handle them through government force so there isnt much for us to say about them while most belief systems spend *most* of their time there. I mean seriously, the last hundred conversations I had about global warming and drug use was entirely in the context of what government should do about it.

 

Libertarians look simple minded because you wont shift the conversation from what the government should do about it to what society should do about it or if anything should be done about it. Political conversations dont seem to lend themselves to solutions outside of government force.

 

And of course, we often challenge that anything need be done at all because we have to parse real problems from societys cultural offenses that they *think* are problems. Your issues with home schooling, and Bloombergs issues with soft drinks are an example of cultural offenses in my opinion theyre only problems because were geared to think of them as problems.

 

Were geared and conditioned in this brow beating, judgmental country to define good for our society as a whole and subordinate the individual to that end. If society thinks its perfectly reasonable to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and float to the ground with a glorified umbrella, then its acceptable. If same society thinks its unreasonable to order a soft drink larger than 16 ounces due to health concerns then its not. Not exactly an objective measure, nor very consistent. And neither is that surprising. Sorry, but we must distinguish serious and actual problems from a frivolous control-freak citizenry.

 

My deeper point is that there are different types of liberty, different degrees and types of freedom, and different applications of it that warrant consideration and due respect in discussions of this nature. We must continuously update our approach to account for those varying degrees and important differences, especially on topics that impact us all. Analogies notoriously fail, but the concept of liberty is a lot like the concept of health. We are neither completely healthy nor completely unhealthy, but always somewhere in the middle. We should certainly try to maximize our health, but we must also recognize that seeking pure 100% health often results in negative consequences in other parts of our life. The sole focus on perfect health would likely cause our friendships to suffer and our free time to diminish... it would result in economic hardship, or problems at work, or we would enjoy far fewer amazing meals or pleasant evenings with cocktails with friends, etc... We recognize that a pure unquestioning focus on 100% health generates other downstream problems, and that instead a balance must be found.

 

This balance is up to each person to pursue for themselves, not as a collective. Thats why the libertarian answer *appears* easy. Because its not for us to define for each person.

 

I do *not* agree that we must find a balance, thats my problem with you and most political belief systems. The premise is faulty that my life is partly up to *you* to regulate. That I should be the least bit interested in what a group of people has determined as a balance for me. That we should all group up and argue, find a balance, apply it to all, and then we all walk away, some happy, some miserable, all subordinate to the group, vowing to fight another day.

 

Why should I value collective agreement? Why is it viewed as a good value over individualism? Why should there be any conformity to a group, or their cultural preferences (which really just boils down to arbitrary restrictions invented by societies)?

 

Remember, laws overrule opinions opinions you never heard. We dont hear from all 330 million americans when we debate law, but theyre all affected. And we dont seem to care if we dont hear from too many in fact, we seem to like it when there isnt a lot of opposition to our proposed laws. That balance is for each person to find, on their own terms.

 

Liberty is much the same way, IMO. While we should seek to maximize it, we must do so with the recognition that... like the concept of health... it exists along a spectrum... a spectrum that varies given the circumstance... a spectrum that will always present us with certain trade-offs and decision points... decision points that allow us to structure our nation and our world as a well-planned and properly functioning society that maximizes the good of the most people possible. Liberty is not some all or nothing ideal. It's a deeply complex, nuanced, and context-dependent quality.

 

No, my life is not yours to regulate so you can plan a society that you believe meets the definition of good. I dont agree sir. I will not help you structure our nation per a plan that you are convinced meets the definition of good that youve decided for us.

 

So many assumptions, built on top of each other. Its no wonder you miss what we say so profoundly. I do not agree that a well planned and properly functioning society that maximizes the good of the most people possible is possible as a central plan because you cannot know each persons sensibilities such that they would interpret your plan as well planned and properly functioning and agree with it. Some would argue our society right now is such a thing. Most would argue otherwise. If you had a properly functioning government in your view, I would wager it would be at least fairly liberal, and about half the people would disagree because they dont view the liberal government as well planned and properly functioning.

 

Its really something to watch you work around and just magically dismiss whole chunks of the country as you invoke we. Where are all the 330 million Americans when we are determining this properly planned and functioning government? Surely youve included everyone in this debate? Maybe you would reply that its their responsibility to participate in the republic, or be left out. If so, I would argue again that is yet another value you want to force onto everyone that they should value political participation. And if they dont, they suffer, with no say.

 

And again, we libertarians have a more thoughtful position…let each person decide for themselves what pursuits make them happy, and we wager you will be left with a properly functioning society because each person of society *is* doing their proper function, as measured by their choices and behavior unfettered from force. And they dont suffer from non-participation in politics since their right to direct their lives and own their bodies has not been restricted. See, even libertarians have a better answer for the disenfranchised.

 

Or I could put it another way…what good is a well planned and properly functioning society if happiness is minimized? Why are we doing this then? Function is more important than happiness? Do I smell yet another value? People ought to be able to pursue happiness, or function, or both. Not be required to hold one above the other.

 

This is just an example of what Ive been saying about assumptions, and codifying values in laws.

 

Again…personal choice dude. You cant plan a society and expect everyone to love it it ignores their intentions, preferences, their comforts, their culture, their pursuits, all of it for all 330 million of them.

 

That is where I focus my arguments. Despite your assertion to the contrary, I'm not pushing that my values must be codified by law, or that values only exist when legally enforced.

 

That is simply not true iNow. Most of our laws are arbitrary values laws. When you take my money for Medicare, Social Security, welfare and etc,- things you have argued in support of - you have chosen a value for me to fulfill diverting my money from values *I* have chosen. Im not allowed to opt out of social security taxes, or pick and choose when I have money for an American that thinks theyre poor. Its forced on me every pay day. Its forced on everyone. I have been forced to value nationalism, and value American problems over problems in the rest of the world.

 

Vice taxes, food restrictions (like transfats and drink sizes), drug war, prostitution, marriage laws…it goes on and on. These are values made into law. Values that I should have a right *not* to value, that I should have a right *not* to violate my conscience, that I should have a right *to* value what I please and pursue it as I please, on my terms.

 

I don't think that preference for ice cream flavors I don't personally enjoy should be made illegal, and frankly you sound like a bloody moron for even suggesting such a thing. All comments like that do is to show how deeply you have let your ideology caricature my position (and the position of others like me) in your mind, and just how cartoonish your version of the world really is on this topic.

 

Oh please iNow, Ive been using the ice cream flavors line for a decade or more. I dont believe youd outlaw a flavor of ice cream, rather Im illustrating the similarity between that and other values I find arbitrary and shallow.

 

But the more interesting reply is…all it would take is for society to assign a negative value to vanilla and a positive value to chocolate. Say, another 20 years of the food police and astronomical obesity and it isnt hard to visualize regulating the intake of sugars and fats, outlawing vanilla with zero value, whereas chocolate at least has been linked to cancer prevention, thus chocolate is the only government approved ice cream flavor. And then theres the flavors with real fruit, frozen yogurt…etc.

 

Sorry but you would have made fun of me 20 years ago if Id said a mayor would regulate soft drink sizes to 16 ounces.

But, for the record, bad joke or not, I dont believe youd outlaw a flavor of ice cream.

 

Libertarians extend this same respect to property and happiness. They insist on mutual consent to trade, not coercion, since their property was earned, not given to them by the state generally by providing labor and mining wealth. And that doesnt imply they have no intention of helping people any more than mutual consent for intimacy implies no intention of affection or social interaction. One does not follow the other.

 

This reminds me of the outrage Obama is facing by his "You didn't build that comment." You act as if your personal efforts and drive alone led to your success... like the roads we share or the schools that educated us or the safety and enforcement mechanisms in place to reduce crime played no part. I suspect you would acknowledge each of those things as important, yet you fail to update your one-dimensional ideology upon making that acknowledgement.

 

No, you totally blew by a fundamental concept of private property and misrepresented my argument importing a strawman about personal efforts and success. Please stop that. I said none of that.

 

What I said was, property is earned, not given by the government. Are you saying you didnt buy your house, the government did? You didnt work that job to earn the money to buy groceries? Im not making a Every successful man is an island argument save that speech for those that make the argument. Im merely pointing out the obvious.

 

Since we all work for our stuff, we insist on our own consent to take our stuff. And just to keep that strawman at bay, notice I did *not* say since we all work for our stuff and did everything in our lives entirely on our own with no one to thank for anything learned or gained in the whole of our existence. Clear? Great, lets take the next baby step.

 

We are taught and conditioned from day one to respect others personal space. We require mutual consent before trading affections no force allowed. Yet this line of respect is never inferred to suggest that we do not want to give affection. Yet this line of respect *is* inferred to suggest that we do not want to help others when we insist on the same value of mutual consent with respect to property.

 

Again, just like trading affection is qualified by mutual consent, we think all trade should be qualified by mutual consent not just affections that we own, but because we own ourselves and the objects and property that we acquired and wealth mined from leveraging ourselves.

 

Liberals and moderates use their government to provide the altruism members of a modern society need, and thus cannot escape the paradigm in order to properly represent the ideology of libertarians. Libertarians and conservatives take it upon themselves to provide the altruism and resent the coercion by the state to divert their precious resources to state endorsed charities, instead of individually chosen charity.

 

Do you have any more broad sweeping generalizations you'd like to use as the foundation of your position? I, for one, support the changes needed to escape the self-reinforcing cycle of poverty. I, for one, understand the desire to hand out food to hungry people, but prioritize the need to alter their circumstance in such a way that they can provide for themselves. But no... this has become a pissing contest... In your mind, libertarianism is like the Aryan master race where all others are inferior beings who should be castrated and purged... and all for some vague amorphous concept of liberty. Shall we start chanting U.S.A!! U.S.A!! U.S.A!! like mindless zombies next just to keep with the theme of the thread?

 

Fail. Strawmen. Hell, Im not sure a single sentence you wrote has anything to do with a word that I wrote.

 

You have conceded my point by your inability to argue it. I understand, its a tough one, many have failed before you as well.

 

You might try re-reading it and see if you can assail the logic, or just give up. The point is clear, and you have to go out of your way to pretend not to see it. Im not rewarding this blatant attempt to avoid an inconvenient, honest difference of philosophy. Its important too, because youre doing the same thing the author of your article was doing and its at the heart of libertarian misrepresentation.

 

America did not achieve its greatness under a specialized, centralized value system beaten into the citizenry - it achieved it's greatness with liberty. This "single-minded" ideology promotes more diversity and more freedom than any mixture of centralized, state mandated value systems.

 

Why not argue that "America achieved its greatness with love," or some other deepity? You're using a vastly abstract concept and trying to position it as some foundational support beam. As I already shared above, there are greatly differing degrees of liberty... degrees that vary based on context and circumstance and situation... yet you posit this one monolithic vagary as if it's some impenetrable fountainhead that unquestionably extinguishes all other counterpoints (which is part of the reason I find your position so unrealistic and frankly childish).

 

Ha ha, because America didnt achieve any greatness with love that I can tell. Wheres the logical trail for that one?

 

I trace our diversity and rugged individualism that I believe was responsible for a pioneering America with a heavy culture of personal autonomy back to the insistence of liberty as the prime central concept of our founding. The declaration of independence was all about it, the central theme, and at the heart of our moral case for autonomy.

 

The constitution, that we have flourished and become the global superpower under, framed it as a permanent value with a long list of amendments protecting it. And its the value of liberty psychology responsible for us basically acting like brats and rebelling against the crown in the first place. Remember, the taxes they imposed werent exactly uncalled for we were being protected by the crown and that costs money.

 

Sorry, I know some people always say thats what makes us great about every value in about every context. Maybe you could save your deepity bit for someone who makes such an argument?

 

 

I am not asking you to abandon the way you prioritize freedom and liberty. I am not asking you to become some socialist who wants to rob Peter to pay Paul. I am merely pointing out that our modern world is too complex to allow for such oversimplified one-dimensional representations like your ideology requires. I am trying to call attention to the fact that freedom and liberty take different shapes and have different forms and that sometimes real harm is done by prioritizing the abstract over the tangible... the individual over the sum of the parts. I am saying that we agree on a ton, that there is room for debate, and that to perform proper cost/benefit analyses and to make rational decisions sometimes we must ultimately limit freedom itself in specific ways. I agree we need to remain ever vigilant and ensure we don't boil ourselves like the frog in the pot, and that we must be cautious not to let our freedoms gently erode, but I refuse to jump on board with this childish, deeply facile Randian objective morality and single-minded worship of the ill founded amorphous concept of liberty like it's the only thing that matters.

 

Ill forgive this repetitious bit on the exclusive liberty value since you wrote this over and over before I could correct your misrepresentation and lack of distinction between political force and free will. Ill repeat myself too….since we believe government should not force morals and value systems onto a society and instead should maximize the range of values a society can implement, then liberty is *governments* prevailing value. For the free citizens of America, all else matters as they choose them to matter.

 

I think the part that offends most is the respect given to each citizen. I think most want the moral authority to override someone elses choice. This idea that each persons thoughts and opinions should be legally equivalent to each other, really distresses the control freaks that seek to use laws to engineer society. Libertarianism is a great threat to those that would assume themselves over others.

 

The great conceit of central planners and societal engineers is the ability to frame an opinion into law, assuming its superiority, without having heard the opinions of the 330 million different people who live here and under those laws. Its truly staggering to me, the assumption required to frame laws around cultural offenses and arbitrary values. They are basically saying that their law their opinion is so correct and superior to anyones logic or argument that theres no possible way any one of those 330 million citizens could trump it and they know this without the need to even *hear* them.

 

Passing laws is really freaking serious business. People go to prison for our views. Whole lives ruined, because of our views. People are necessarily altered, permanently, by our views. I dont approach politics as a lighthearted game its real life, real consequences, with real men with real guns forcing people to value certain things over others. Its disgusting and unethical as hell to forcibly influence their one and only time on this earth with our own ideas superseded over theirs because were so convinced of ourselves and not of them. Our own insecurities forced on to others…

 

Regardless... I trust you'll just cast my thoughts aside as leftist propaganda and then follow-up with an accusation that I'm trying to codify my personal values and ice cream preferences into law. It's been fun.

 

Yeah, online friend…whatever. Save that for Pangloss, Im not interested.

Edited by ParanoiA
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I need to return to this later, but upon first read I see that you've confirmed my assertion that personal liberty is all that matters to you at the expense of just about everything else. I see that we have different understandings of what makes the world work (you think it's every man for themselves, stay out of my way and I'll be fine... I think we're a part of a larger group and society that mandates certain trade-offs, and that evolution has favored cohesive groups that help each other... that survival of the fittest with humans favored fit tribes much more than fit individuals). You see every law as the embodiment of someone else's value, disregard how many of those values are shared by more than 90% of us, and seem to prefer having no laws whatsoever (which is closer to anarchy than libertarianism, IMO).

 

Ultimately, though... We just disagree about some stuff. Where it gets difficult is that both of us with our different understandings and approaches live together as part of one single democratic republic. We can't both have our approach valid at the same time, and it's made worse since the approach government ultimately takes impacts all of us. If I get my way, you're frustrated. If you get your way, I'm frustrated. It seems to me that you'd prefer to do away with things that I think make us all better (and I think the evidence is on my side here when one looks to our evolutionary history). When we don't agree on stuff like this, it makes it hard for a single representative to represent us both. That's where things break down and why we face the problems we do. Some ideas truly are mutually exclusive, and sometimes compromise is genuinely required to function as a people. I get frustrated by your refusal to compromise. I'll start walking your way, but you won't start walking mine... so we can't meet in the middle beneath that old Georgia pine...

 

The above is not really well formulated or collected. I'll need to return to this. Thanks for the response, and sorry for things I've said to you that may have been better directed at folks like Pangloss. It is certainly quite possible I conflated certain arguments from you both in my mind.

Edited by iNow
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I need to return to this later, but upon first read I see that you've confirmed my assertion that personal liberty is all that matters to you at the expense of just about everything else.

 

Umm…nope. You didnt read that anywhere in my post.

 

Which is revealing, since you said this in your previous post (emphasis mine):

 

That is where I focus my arguments. Despite your assertion to the contrary, I'm not pushing that my values must be codified by law, or that values only exist when legally enforced.

 

Yet, here again youve refused to acknowledge the existence of values outside of legal force. So which is it? Do you believe values exist when not legally enforced or not?

 

If so, then you must concede that the libertarian belief system executes its values outside of legal force, acknowledging that we do *not* hold personal liberty higher than other values we have. (And in fact, you don't know the values we have or how important they are to each of us).

 

If not, then you must concede that you believe values are only executed when a law enforces them. Your choice. (We libertarians are always about choice, arent we?)

 

I see that we have different understandings of what makes the world work (you think it's every man for themselves, stay out of my way and I'll be fine... I think we're a part of a larger group and society that mandates certain trade-offs, and that evolution has favored cohesive groups that help each other... that survival of the fittest with humans favored fit tribes much more than fit individuals). You see every law as the embodiment of someone else's value, disregard how many of those values are shared by more than 90% of us, and seem to prefer having no laws whatsoever (which is closer to anarchy than libertarianism, IMO).

 

No, I don't believe this. I don't believe in every man for himself. I could not have done the things in my life without help from others. I still get help from my parents from time to time, and I provide help for others, not just my family, though it is generally menial since I have little means at the moment. I agree that cohesive groups helping each other will probably always outperform individuals. I live like this, and have all of my life. I have many people to thank, and have.

 

And none of these people were forced to help me. I asked, they gave. Or they offered, and I accepted. Just as when I help others, it's not by force. I do what I feel I can, and they are appreciative generally.

 

The problem is when people think this cohesion needs to be primed with coersion. When right and wrong are qualified by "need", then you have no right and wrong. Is theft right, or wrong?

 

Libertarians are *not* making the conservative case of who is "deserving" of help. Certainly, individually most of us value labor and a strong work ethic, but generally we are not concerned about verifying the merit of someone's need. You say you need help, hell I believe you. I've been around enough to know how good, hard working people can get in a bind.

 

We *are* making an opposite statement with our belief system - that your dire need doesn't change right from wrong. If we're going to say theft is wrong, then by Thor it's wrong regardless if someone is starving and stealing from a rich person. I sure won't blame them, and will have sympathy, but theft is wrong.

 

We always get accused of not caring for the poor, the sick, the downtrodden. We *do* care. Our belief system is not a repudiation of them or their needs, rather it's an acknowledgment that while it's convenient to coerce individuals to support and help them, it's not right.

 

We stand on principle, when it counts. Just like we will never rationalize the forcible trade of affections, we also will never rationalize the forcible trade of anything else that belongs to a person. The good thing is, there are lots of good people that like to help and are able to help. And when they aren't forced to do it with taxes, they'll feel appreciated for it, finally.

Edited by ParanoiA
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No, I don't believe this. I don't believe in every man for himself. I could not have done the things in my life without help from others. I still get help from my parents from time to time, and I provide help for others, not just my family, though it is generally menial since I have little means at the moment. I agree that cohesive groups helping each other will probably always outperform individuals. I live like this, and have all of my life. I have many people to thank, and have.

 

And none of these people were forced to help me. I asked, they gave. Or they offered, and I accepted. Just as when I help others, it's not by force. I do what I feel I can, and they are appreciative generally.

 

The problem is when people think this cohesion needs to be primed with coersion.

No, the problem is that you are completely failing to even acknowledge the reality on the ground that the legal system and infrastructure around us plays a massive role, too. That is why I compared your comments to the "we built this" narrative that has been manufactured by republicans. Yes, you got help from family and friends, but you did all of this hard work and got all of that help within a much broader system that allowed you to realize those benefits. Are you incapable of even acknowledging this self-evident truth?

 

Further, this has nothing to do with people thinking "this cohesion needs to be primed with coercion." It's a recognition that coercion is itself part of being a living organism within a larger tribe or pack. Whether the coercion is coming from the silver-backed alpha male, from the expectations of our fellow church goers, or from the legal enforcement apparatus put in place to ensure laws are followed and regulations met... These standards of behavior, expectations, and enforcement activities are common to members of any larger group. This coercion that you lash out against is part of living in any group or society, and is an independent argument from what government is in place to do. It seems you can't see this because you're making everything so falsely black and white.

 

It appears to me that you aim your criticisms at government itself while missing the much larger picture that your specific criticisms actually apply to ALL group species... even schools of fish and packs of lemurs. That's how simplistic you are making things, and why I struggle to take you seriously with most of it. This is not a function of laws and regulations, but a function of living as part of a larger group of animals. It applies to wolves, and to deer, and to apes of all sorts... It applied in ancient egypt and in ancient greece and in ancient rome... it even applies in modern day sports teams, businesses, and book clubs.

 

Your problem doesn't seem to be with government, it seems to be with the fact that you exist as part of a larger group at all. I really wish you could see how your oversimplifications do little more than miss the fact that the features causing you disgust are embedded more into our humanity than into our governance.

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I see that you've confirmed my assertion that personal liberty is all that matters to you at the expense of just about everything else. I see that we have different understandings of what makes the world work (you think it's every man for themselves, stay out of my way and I'll be fine... I think we're a part of a larger group and society that mandates certain trade-offs, and that evolution has favored cohesive groups that help each other... that survival of the fittest with humans favored fit tribes much more than fit individuals). You see every law as the embodiment of someone else's value, disregard how many of those values are shared by more than 90% of us, and seem to prefer having no laws whatsoever (which is closer to anarchy than libertarianism, IMO).

Umm…nope. You didn’t read that anywhere in my post.

Sure I did. It's the ONLY logical outcome of these other statements you've been making:

 

 

To impose a national morality that confiscates individual’s property for state recognized need is immoral, unethical and absolutely causes unnecessary suffering for any entity of need not recognized

<snip>

America did not achieve its greatness under a specialized, centralized value system beaten into the citizenry - it achieved it's greatness with liberty.

<snip>

Libertarians believe values are best left to individuals, not nations.

We pursue freedom and liberty as the overarching value *for government*, because that's the only way to morally and ethically treat *equals*.
So, naturally when talking about laws, wielding government force, obviously our only interest is liberty and how to draw an objective line without endorsing particular values

<snip>

I do *not* agree that “we” must find a balance, that’s my problem with you and most political belief systems. The premise is faulty – that my life is partly up to *you* to regulate. That I should be the least bit interested in what a group of people has determined as a balance for me.

<snip>

I’ll repeat myself too….since we believe government should not force morals and value systems onto a society and instead should maximize the range of values a society can implement, then liberty is *government’s* prevailing value.

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No, the problem is that you are completely failing to even acknowledge the reality on the ground that the legal system and infrastructure around us plays a massive role, too. That is why I compared your comments to the "we built this" narrative that has been manufactured by republicans. Yes, you got help from family and friends, but you did all of this hard work and got all of that help within a much broader system that allowed you to realize those benefits. Are you incapable of even acknowledging this self-evident truth?

 

Further, this has nothing to do with people thinking "this cohesion needs to be primed with coercion." It's a recognition that coercion is itself part of being a living organism within a larger tribe or pack. Whether the coercion is coming from the silver-backed alpha male, from the expectations of our fellow church goers, or from the legal enforcement apparatus put in place to ensure laws are followed and regulations met... These standards of behavior, expectations, and enforcement activities are common to members of any larger group. This coercion that you lash out against is part of living in any group or society, and is an independent argument from what government is in place to do. It seems you can't see this because you're making everything so falsely black and white.

 

It appears to me that you aim your criticisms at government itself while missing the much larger picture that your specific criticisms actually apply to ALL group species... even schools of fish and packs of lemurs. That's how simplistic you are making things, and why I struggle to take you seriously with most of it. This is not a function of laws and regulations, but a function of living as part of a larger group of animals. It applies to wolves, and to deer, and to apes of all sorts... It applied in ancient egypt and in ancient greece and in ancient rome... it even applies in modern day sports teams, businesses, and book clubs.

 

Your problem doesn't seem to be with government, it seems to be with the fact that you exist as part of a larger group at all. I really wish you could see how your oversimplifications do little more than miss the fact that the features causing you disgust are embedded more into our humanity than into our governance.

 

So, you mean the roads and bridges I help pay for and use everyday are useful? Who knew?

 

What is with the sudden realization that infrastructure is useful for society? Isn't that why they pay for it? What took you so long to notice?

 

Isn't that also why you don't see thread after thread of me denouncing roads and bridges built by government? Here's a news flash too: They're also great for consumers. Yeah, no kidding. Turns out, when folks want to go work, go visit friends and family or take their kids to school that roads and bridges are pretty handy for them. My guess is that's why they pay for them and don't complain about the situation.

 

A point to consider in this weird realization you're experiencing and trying to use to make believe you have a right to someone's profits you have done nothing to earn...a government has to have taxable events in order to get money in order to build roads and bridges. Taxable events means trade. We had lots and lots of trade my friend before a government agent joined the private sector in building roads.

 

Sure I did. It's the ONLY logical outcome of these other statements you've been making:

 

Selective reading and inability to comprehend simple sentences. Here try some of these, that you didn't read before. I even bolded them to make it easy for you.

 

But it’s not a strawman, it’s a direct response to the charge that libertarians pursue freedom and liberty to the exclusion of all other values – we don’t. We do that *in law*, not *in life*. That’s why I pointed out the lack of distinction between law and choice. You can only say we don’t pursue any other values when you ignore our private life choices and pursuits.

 

To recap…the only difference between us is that libertarians pursue values *outside* of government force.

 

I’ll forgive this repetitious bit on the exclusive liberty value since you wrote this over and over before I could correct your misrepresentation and lack of distinction between political force and free will. I’ll repeat myself too….since we believe government should not force morals and value systems onto a society and instead should maximize the range of values a society can implement, then liberty is *government’s* prevailing value. For the free citizens of America, all else matters as they choose them to matter.

 

Because we look to free actors to actually solve the problems (most of the time), our charge in government and politics is devoid of specific values and intents. We don't like government promoting values and culture because when that comes from central authority, particularly when using force, you necessarily lose diversity. So - nuanced as it is - we promote freedom and liberty in government and politics to promote equal treatment of citizens to follow their conscience, their values, their trail to happiness.

 

 

 

You are a dishonest debater iNow. This distinction between free will and government force is very, very easy to understand which is why your rigney act here of evasion and selective reading is obvious to everyone. If you listen closely enough, you can hear their disappointment in you. Instead of arguing the point I have made, you're making a pretentious display of not getting it - while you claim its oversimplified - and making conclusions that you know are not my position.

 

I have been honest and sincere with you and it's all been a waste of time. You cannot argue my points so you must change them to pretend I mean something else and then argue that. I'm sorry that you're so threatened by libertarians that you cannot debate honestly.

 

We're done until you can grow up, read what I've written, comprehend what I've written and then argue what I've written. Notice how none of that invites you to ignore things I've written so you can argue other things I wrote instead.

 

Now, you need to stop criticizing libertarians since you should not criticize what you clearly do not understand.

Edited by ParanoiA
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Your entire post there is directed at me and is made unfortunately personal and full of invective. I have not purposely misrepresented you, despite your claim to the contrary. I DID read your posts in their entirety, despite your claim to the contrary.

 

I have pointed to areas where you seem to have blind spots, and have highlighted how your words are internally inconsistent and self-contradictory in many places. If you feel I've misinterpreted you, then perhaps you could phrase your position in another way, because for now I'm not seeing it... I promise you I am trying, and lashing out at me by calling me a dishonest debater or by telling me to grow up is hardly going to make your points any more comprehensible to me.

 

I have pointed to the logical outcomes of many of your positions. Instead of explaining how my argument is flawed you have essentially replied, "Nuh uh... That's not what I think, you're dishonest." Yes, it feels like I'm arguing with a creationist or a climate change denier. You can repeat yourself all you want, but the majority of points you're making are vague deepities that nobody really even disagrees with anyway ("we promote freedom of liberty in government and politics!"). Okay, so the frak what? Wow... that's crazy profound there, plato... do you have any other amazing insights the rest of us have been missing all this time? Please shed some light from on high! I mean seriously, Paranoia... Promote freedom of liberty (which is redundant, but hey) in government and politics! Who doesn't? You may as well be arguing that pizza tastes better than toxic sludge, or that sex feels better than drinking acid.

 

Then, when you do finally provide something that is anything more than a vague philosophical guiding principle (like "love is all you need") and share some real details, they don't hold up to scrutiny or instead translate almost immediately into the very things you say you're not doing or supporting... like removing from the laws those values that more than 90% of us agree upon... removing the ability for us to build roads or have fire departments or police or public schools or water treatment plants, etc. This split from "let the people do it instead of government" would manifest exactly as I shared.

 

I think your position is too simplistic. I see it like using fat crayons and construction paper to create blueprints for a space shuttle. I think your singular focus on individual liberty necessarily ignores the benefit we receive being part of a group. I see your preference as one that hopes to bring us backward as a people to a simpler time where we traded the daughters of tribes and skins from recent hunts, instead of taking us forward in a hyperconnected world where previously inaccessible people are now part of our markets and where information has taken the place of materials. I don't think your mindset is applicable to the scale and scope of todays economy and society. I think your ideas are best applied in a tribe of ~20 people or less living off the grid, but not to us as a planet of more than 7 billion people.

 

Overall, we just disagree. This is, after all, politics and that happens. I am sharing my criticisms and challenges of your position openly and honestly. Just because you don't like them, or just because I point out where you're being inconsistent, or just because we're not always understanding each other 100% accurately or as intended by the author does not mean I am a dishonest debater or being immature in any way. If you think otherwise, that's fine, but how about you start focusing on the content a little more than you've been focusing on me? That would probably go a long way toward moving this discussion forward.

 

Here's a news flash too <snip> Yeah, no kidding. <snip> Selective reading and inability to comprehend simple sentences. Here try some of these, that you didn't read before. I even bolded them to make it easy for you. <snip> You are a dishonest debater iNow. <snip> If you listen closely enough, you can hear their disappointment in you. <snip> You cannot argue my points so you must change them to pretend I mean something else and then argue that. I'm sorry that you're so threatened by libertarians that you cannot debate honestly.

 

We're done until you can grow up, read what I've written, comprehend what I've written <snip> Now, you need to stop criticizing libertarians since you should not criticize what you clearly do not understand.

Edited by iNow
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You can protect him if you want to, but I felt such an easy concept being conflated for strawman purposes was a technique that was not rewarded around here.

 

He has been unable to argue crucial points choosing instead to remain obstinate in differentiating law from will in practice, in context, while claiming to distinguish the two. The language is plain to see. One can argue its merit but to argue its meaning and even pretend it isn’t there is to demonstrate intellectual dishonesty.

 

That, Mooeypoo, does nothing for debates either.

 

But it's not like I didn't see it coming and it's ok. The inability to counter honestly suggests a devastating blow to the belief system sending the ego into a tailspin. Libertarians are used to it, we encounter a lot of scrambling by our adversaries. If I can't argue my points with an honest debater, I'll just take that as a consolation prize.

 

Nice to see you all again. Take care.

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I will repeat myself. I have pointed to areas where you seem to have blind spots, and have highlighted how your words are internally inconsistent and self-contradictory in many places. If you feel I've misinterpreted you, then perhaps you could phrase your position in another way.

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