Seeing as how I apparently still need to regain some of my street cred among “real libertarians,” after several recent articles defending Donald Trump, I figured I’d use this opportunity to defend libertarianism itself from some misunderstandings about libertarians and libertarian principles as espoused by famed British YouTuber, Carl Benjamin – otherwise known as Sargon of Akkad.
In a recent video, Sargon went through a bunch of questions posed by famous libertarian YouTubers and gave his responses to their questions. You can watch the full thing here:
Now, I’m by no means a Sargonist. The guy is certainly pretty reasonable overall and I have a lot of respect for him and the work he does. I agree with him on many things, but I think he could stand to learn a lot more about economics.
I’m not going to go through all of his answers in detail. Some of the points he raises in the video I think are valid, such as the devolution of mercenary armies to gang warfare, or his “some people are innately good” bit at around the 22:00 mark. Many others can be covered by broader principles, and I’m sure he’s smart enough to extrapolate from there and research my sources more thoroughly.
For this article, I’m also going to leave out the topic of the social contract and how that relates to taxes and delegated powers, since that’s a contentious issue even amongst libertarians and would likely require its own separate article. Mostly, I’ll be focusing on socio-economic issues.
Just a side note to Sargon and others before I begin: most, if not all, of the people in this video are ancaps or voluntarists, as opposed to LPers or Constitutionalists. So his criticism of the term “statist” being too broad can also be turned back on him with regards to his collectivizing of the term “libertarian.”
That said, let’s dive right into it.
Sargon: “There is no such thing as a statist. No one identifies as a statist […] I mean, a statist could literally be anyone who isn’t a libertarian.”
A quick Google search produces the following definition:
“In political science, statism is the belief that the state should control either economic or social policy, or both, to some degree. Statism is effectively the opposite of anarchism.
An individual who supports very limited intervention by the state is a minarchist.”
Sargon’s desire for corporate regulation, wage caps, and wealth redistribution definitely makes him a statist. While it may be true that no one self-identifies as a statist per say, most people do identify as supporting the idea of a State. And if we take libertarianism to be synonymous with anarchism (as the more purist libertarians often do), then yes, a statist is anyone who is not a libertarian. I myself tend to use the term “statist” to refer to supporters of big government as opposed to advocates of small government, but that is a fairly imprecise use of the term and I’m trying to shy away from it.
That said, the term does tend to get used as a buzzword and a pejorative by libertarians, even sometimes by anarchists towards other libertarians (see my “No True Libertarian” article linked above); but saying there’s no such thing as a statist is like saying there’s no such thing as an Islamist or a feminazi.
As far as libertarians grouping people, this does not contradict individuation as Sargon himself should know. In other videos, Sargon has stated a belief in individualism while also noting trends of belief and behavior among people sharing similar characteristics. So while not every libertarian may necessarily understand that statistics can’t be applied to individuals, Sargon himself is smart enough to know better.
Sargon: “Am I a statist? Do I think government should exist? Well yes, I think government should exist. Am I in favor of government? Well, not really. To me, government seems to be a necessary evil to enforce the social contract.”
As per the above definition, such a belief would make Sargon a minarchist in most respects. He self-identifies as a liberal, but that term also means different things to different people.
Libertarians use it in the classical sense, but he claims he’s not a libertarian. Leftists use it, but he’s not really a leftist Democrat, either, given his stance on things like immigration and multiculturalism. This, combined with his position regarding universal healthcare, minimum wage, certain centralized regulations of industry, etc. put him in a sort of limbo realm between libertarian, progressive, and alt-right nationalist.
I suppose, on that basis, we could say a very crude, working definition of Sargonism would be basically libertarian nationalism plus social welfare and corporate regulation. That’s about as concise as I could put it, judging by Computing Forever’s use of the term in his video and my own understanding of Sargon’s overall politics.
If I’m off base, I’m happy to be corrected, but those are just my observations; and I know Sargon said he’s looking for his own label to reinvent his beliefs. So there you go.
Sargon: “The government isn’t a bully […] They aren’t simply taking their money for the fun of it.”
In theory, yes. In practice, not so much. The government is supposed to be the fiduciary in what is essentially a trust relationship. The people are both grantor and beneficiary, with the agents of government as trustees, charged to use tax revenue for the purposes of protecting the people’s rights to life, liberty, property, security, freedom of movement, expression, and so forth. The reality is, such money if often used for the exact opposite.
This power is delegated, meaning we lend it out without completely surrendering it, and can take it back if we don’t like it. However, the current incarnation of government has become something of a Frankenstein monster overpowering its master.
Some libertarians argue that taxation is theft and therefore immoral because the mechanics of consent are not present, but rather revenue is extracted through intimidation and extortion. In that sense, government is very analogous to a bully.
Sargon: “Julie’s talking to me as if I want [to ban things that aren’t harmful].”
Yes and no. This is something of a purity test of the words “libertarian” and “statist,” since it measures the consistency of principles. If banning things is bad, that should apply to all things.
A common example is how the left is pro-drugs but anti-gun, whereas the right is the reverse.
Julie Borowski’s a voluntaryist, so she might take issue with, say, the idea of banning people from entering the country even if their views are antithetical to the host country – something I know Sargon would definitely push back against. This would also necessarily apply to banning competitors to the government, such as private militaries and private courts, which Sargon later goes on to say he’d be against.
So, long story short, it’s still applicable to Sargon since there are things he wants to ban that don’t actually cause harm to people … like voluntary exchange absent government meddling when the amount we’re talking about exceeds a certain dollar value.
Sargon: “Governments don’t conspire with each other […] against the poor.”
Firstly, you need only look at the globalists, the UN, and the New World Order, as evidence to disprove that governments don’t conspire with one another. Yes, such a cabal would want to appear to be competing, since they would need some sort of common enemy to unite the citizenry and divert attention away from their own misdeeds, but behind the scenes, they’d be working together.
The comparison has often been made that it’s like pro-wrestling where both sides pretend to hate each other, but are best friends outside of the roles. Mike Ruppert used the example of organized crime families in a similar manner. Sargon himself even made reference to this in his “The Assassination of Donald Trump” video when he declared Trump wasn’t part of the Illuminati because Newt Gingrich said so (and thus implying that such a shadowy organization exists).
As far as targeting the poor, governments throughout history have generally regarded the poor as a vote plantation, if not outright slaves in some cases, to be mined for their labor and political power before being discarded. The ancient equivalent of useful idiots.
Think bread and circus in ancient Rome, or the welfare state in modern times, which keeps people appeased and dependent on handouts while the taxes used to pay for them are more harshly felt by the poor than by the wealthy. The idea of a progressive income tax is not based on fairness, but on envious motivations and punitive measures.
Another way in which governments conspire against the poor is to ask who is generally most harmed by regulations? The rich? No. They can afford to meet these standards, which is why major corporations are often the ones who write the regulations in the first place; but small businesses can’t afford this and thus can’t compete. It’s a barrier to entry into the market.
Even something as basic as a broken taillight affects the poor more than the rich, as does the race-baiting we’re seeing with BLM where the rich can just move from a neighborhood like Charlotte, but the poor cannot.
Sargon has said in other videos that he believes crime is largely caused by socio-economic conditions. That poor people are driven to crime. This tends to ignore a far more fundamental factor in both culture and IQ disparities; but even if it were true, the solution would be to let people keep more of their money to use to do good through charity, investment, and job creation, and to be allowed to ascend the economic ladder, rather than by forced redistribution at gun point through a bureaucracy (aka taxation).
Poverty was actually in decline after WWII, and then the War on Poverty came in, and well … let’s just say that problem isn’t quite fixed yet, despite $22 trillion being spent to combat it.
Do you think feminists get triggered by the word “stagnation”?
And as the song goes, the poor are also made cannon fodder in war while the rich get lucrative contracts from it. So, yes, nearly all measures show that the poor are substantially worse off when the government is heavily involved than when you leave people to their own devices.
As for the poor not being a threat to the power of the aristocracy, I guess Sargon skipped history class the day they taught the French Revolution.
Sargon: “I find it interesting that this chap has to use examples from 100 years ago to justify asking this question. Government is also the only method by which the poor have any control over the rich or the way to ensure their own rights.”
Okay, so let’s take a more recent example: Occupy Wall Street, a populist movement made up of largely poor people in response to crony capitalism … while also blaming regular capitalism, which we haven’t had in American since 1913, but it’s not like facts matter to people on a mission, right?
Anyways, the argument is basically that if major corporations and the 1% buy off politicians, then how can you ever expect those politicians to oppose their masters and defend the rights of the poor?
Because nothing says freedom like giving your oppressors more ammo.
Libertarians generally oppose welfare of all kinds – both corporate and social – because we believe it’s immoral and also because it simply hasn’t worked. The left tends to demonize libertarians for wanting to end social welfare and giving more power to corporations, but they somehow get it in their heads that means we’re in favor of bailouts. No, no, no, no!
By giving more power and rights to corporations, we mean in leaving them alone, not taking their stuff, and letting them succeed or fail on their own merits, which more of the evil ones will fail without the State to artificially prop them up. We apply the same principles to groups of people as we do to individuals.
However, as soon as you give the State legitimate authority and power to take from one and give to another, everyone and their grandmother will seek to vie for control of that power to use in their own self-interest. Corporations are made up of people and seek their own growth and survival just like individuals. Profits are their lifeblood, without which they would die, which translates to lost jobs, unproduced goods and services, and a whole host of other problems. Rich people aren’t some Scrooge McDuck caricature with a swimming pool of gold.
When they “hoard” their money, it goes into investments, or to banks who loan it out to other people who put that money to work. So the currency still flows and trickles down one way or another. That’s why it’s called currency, because it’s a current. See?
It’s no less greedy to seek handouts if you’re poor than if you’re rich. Whether corporate or social, all welfare is a demand that other people give you money you didn’t earn, taken from other people, independent of whether or not they did anything wrong to warrant such redistribution.
As far as government being the only way the poor can defend themselves from the rich, that’s objectively false.
Firstly, ask yourself whether even the largest, most evil corporation on Earth has done nearly as much harm as governments have, and the answer is no. Walmart can’t force you to buy their product. Goldman Sachs can’t print money from nothing. ExxonMobile can’t drop bombs on Palestinian villages. At best, these corporations can only lobby the government to do that for them, or otherwise get the government to turn a blind eye when they do; but so long as the people refuse to grant them that power, they don’t have it (and we can’t grant such power because we ourselves don’t possess it).
That said, it’s one of the favorite tactics of liberals to boycott things they don’t like. For instance, George Takei called for a boycott of Indiana after the State passed so-called anti-gay laws. I’ve always found it ironic that liberals will boycott governments, but not private businesses, even though this hits businesses right where it will do the most damage: their bottom line.
It’s much more visceral and likely to result in behavioral changes, versus a government with monopoly on force to take your money at gunpoint and print still more if that’s not enough.
I’m sure Sargon knows this, since he followed the whole gay wedding cake/Confederate flag thing. Which, as an aside, a lot of libertarians are split on that particular subject as well.
Sargon: “I’m not really anti-gun, but then I’m not really pro-gun either […] The State has to have a monopoly on force in order to enforce its laws. If there were other power-wielding entities within a State that were refusing, for example, to obey the laws that were agreed upon by our democratically-elected leaders, then I could find myself in a position where I’m having my rights violated and you’re violating a law.”
First and foremost, democracy is a four-letter word. Sargon himself made reference to the tyranny of the majority earlier in the video. We’re not a democracy, but a republic. It’s even guaranteed in our Constitution.
Secondly, not all laws are moral and just. Some are inherently unjust and should be resisted.
This is written into our Declaration of Independence, because government has proven time and again to be the biggest violator of its own laws. The only thing that keeps it in check is a multiplicity of power, which is why the 9th and 10th Amendments exist. And no matter how many times you quote Abe Lincoln, it doesn’t change the fact that America was formed, not as a nation, but a federation of several nations, similar to the European Union.
Government should be viewed with skepticism and caution. You could argue the 2nd Amendment applies to militias, but even if that were the case, the 9th and 10th Amendments would still preserve our other undelegated rights, such as the right to bear arms, which is necessary that we maintain if we’re to carry out that duty to overthrow unjust governments.
We may not be at such a tipping point right now, but to give an inch on that front would be to give a mile. Anywhere that gun control has been tried, it’s proven to be a disaster!
Most libertarians, given the choice, would prefer to be on top.
If you look at the crime rates in America, many of the worst cities tend to be run by Democrats with gun control in place, whereas “Gun-Nut Texas” has some of the lowest. Sargon’s a smart chap. I’m sure he can sort through this data. However, I can understand if he doesn’t quite comprehend our culture and tradition.
We have the right to bear arms for self-defense. Such arms are necessarily a form of force, and it’s essential that we have that right as a last safe guard against tyranny. Rightly or wrongly, we have a narrative in this country that the Founding Fathers maintained a spirit of “give me liberty or give me death,” “live free or die,” and “who would trade liberty for security deserves neither.” That necessarily affects our zeitgeist and in turn our policies and is being challenged by such counter-narratives as “only police and military should have guns because they’re trained” and that “the Founders only intended the 2nd Amendment to apply to muskets.”
That’s the most important reason for an armed populace. However, it’s not the only reason.
Being able to protect yourself at a personal level obviates the need to rely on agents of the government to do it for you. So the woman walking home at night can be protected from rapists and muggers as quickly as she can pull her gun from her purse. In that same time, she can pull out her phone and call the police, but then she’ll be left helpless until they arrive.
Most libertarians, given the choice, would prefer to be on the right side.
Having militias with military-grade weapons would be the equivalent of this for interactions between citizens and their government, because if the government has AR-15s and tanks, while the people only have pistols and muskets, it’s not going to be an even fight. We’d be like a Palestinian kid throwing rocks at a tank before getting run over.
In general, you want a more local enforcement arm because it can provide better protection, but it is also more responsive to its constituents, leaving centralized power solely for large external threats that affect everyone – like space aliens or, well, illegal aliens.
If you went full tyrant on your own family and friends the way the government does to its people, you’d have to then look them in the eyes and feel the shame upon you, versus some psychopath half a world away who has no personal emotional connection to you and doesn’t care about using you for political gain. In our own Constitution, for instance, standing armies are only supposed to be raised for a period of two years at a time. Do you think maybe there’s a good reason behind that provision?
To Sargon’s point, I do think it reasonable to have an overarching system of objective, universal laws in place to prevent private militias from devolving into gang warfare. For libertarians, this usually means the Constitution or even the non-aggression principle.
Sargon says he doesn’t believe in the non-aggression principle because he can imagine a scenario in which there’s a credible threat of harm to himself for which he’d need to take preemptive action. Well, under common law, credible threats of violence are actionable. It falls under the right of self-defense, which is the one and only time the NAP allows for the use of force, because it’s reacting, not initiating. Things like conspiracy to commit a crime, or attempts at committing a crime, are in themselves criminal acts recognized under the law. Our 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, but allows for reasonable searches and seizures based upon probable cause, which simply means it’s more likely than not that a crime has been or is being committed.
Sargon: “Governments are not monolithic entities.”
This contradicts the part about them needing a monopoly on force to uphold the law.
And yes, they are. You can very easily point to certain things and say that government did them. For instance, moving is not government. Immigration is. Being in a gunfight is not government. The War on Terror is. A bank is not government. The Federal Reserve … is privately owned, but is given monopoly power by the government. So government. Insurance is not government. Mandated insurance is. Consumer reports is not government. The Department of Labor is. Charity is not government. The welfare state is. Healthcare is not government. Obamacare is.
You see where I’m going with this? You can point to specific organizations and policies and very clearly say that that’s government, and then point to the results of those things and say they’re the result of government.
Sargon: “You guys don’t even know who you’re talking to [about economics].”
Sargon doesn’t seem to understand that these are leading questions along the lines of the Socratic Method, intended to hold a mirror up to people’s currently held beliefs in order to get them to question those beliefs. Jan Helfeld uses this technique a lot on his channel, for instance.
Sargon: “Keeping 100% of a person’s income is not slavery.”
Reaching over to my ever-handy Black’s Law Dictionary, we find the definition for “slavery” is as follows:
- A situation in which one person has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another.
- The practice of keeping individuals in such a state of bondage or servitude.
So, having complete control over another person’s fortune, or otherwise creating the conditions for them to be in such a state, would constitute a form of slavery. In our society, money is a form of power, and power is necessary to continue one’s survival and to achieve freedom. As someone who’s been on the border of homelessness and abject poverty (thanks in large part to the government), I can tell you firsthand it’s a miserable slavery to not have the power and freedom to go where you want, to do what you want.
[Before anyone strawmans me on this. I’m obviously talking about doing what you want within the limits of morality, not about doing things that violate people’s natural rights.]
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they’re free. If Sargon is going to continue to claim that this is close to slavery but not actually slavery, then he needs to elaborate more on what the distinction is, because frankly, I and many libertarians don’t see it.
Unlike the political right, Sargon actually believes systemic oppression can exist (by his own admission), which in this case means government laws that hold people down. Is it as bad as chattel slavery? No, but it’s not far off; and it’s still valid to call it slavery, since not all slavery is necessarily chattel slavery.
Sargon: “Governments don’t steal from the rich to give to the poor.”
So the progressive income tax coupled with wealth redistribution and equality of outcome is not a form of class-based theft? Then what else would you call it? Reparations? Reparations for what, exactly?
According to Ridley Scott, he also helped pass the Magna Carta.
Sargon: “Because a law [banning things] is the only way you can see any justice.”
Sargon is correct in his explanation of at least some of the consequences of the law and why laws are made. However, as specifically regards the arbitrary banning of things, this seems to contradict his earlier statement about not wanting to ban things. However, it’s not always about justice. Sometimes it’s about misguided idealism, or special interests and revenue generation.
For instance, murder is banned for logically and morally consistent reasons. A law relating to murder will help bring justice and prevent future crime. However, the same cannot be said for, say, banning alcohol or drugs or guns or prostitution. Not that a law won’t alter the behavior, so much as it’s not necessarily behavior we want altered in the first place, since these all lack an injured party and violate people’s rights rather than protecting them.
No harm, no foul. No victim, no crime.
Sargon: “Most of these [regulations] are industry specific […] and these regulations are there for a purpose.”
I think the technical term is moral posturing. Most government regulations are claimed to be there for certain noble-sounding purposes (safety, security, reducing costs, helping the poor, quality control, etc.) but very often turn out to be just a form of protectionism for lobbying industries.
I would also highly recommend looking into the work of Lawrence Reed and other FEE seminars, particularly the myths of the Great Depression and the Robber Barons to see how government interference in the markets made things far worse than they would have been otherwise.
Sargon: “Economic migrants are not being imported. They are being allowed in.”
Semantics, really. Just because you’re not, say, driving them across the border in a lorry, doesn’t mean you’re not helping to bring them here. Or do you think Hillary and Merkel would stoop to sullying their hands on a steering wheel?
Either way, the left has political incentive to actively encourage and support these types of people coming into the country.
The phrase “Caaaaarl, that kills people” springs to mind for some reason.
Sargon: “A person getting high isn’t the same thing as having a gun.”
And having a gun isn’t the same thing as committing assault or murder. Same argument applies when he starts talking about cars. Traveling down the road in a metal machine is not the same as reckless endangerment or causing an accident. Merely having a tool, or even using it competently for benevolent purposes, is not the same as using it recklessly or to cause harm to others. As someone who describes himself as an individualist, Sargon should know better than to punish the innocent masses because of the actions of a guilty few.
If you think you can legislate away all the dangerous things, there is no limit to how many things you could justify banning. The second someone gets stabbed with a pen on an airplane, for instance, the TSA will be there to make sure no one can have any writing implements when they fly, all in the name of safety, even though the actual odds of that happening are slim to none and they haven’t actually caught any terrorists, at least to my knowledge.
Regulations based on safety almost always are pushed through because of feels, rather than statistics. It’s one thing to restrict people with records of bad behavior, or who maintain bad ideologies and are likely to act on them, but restricting inanimate objects is just paranoia.
While we’re at it, let’s ban banning, because I can see how that might get abused!
Gun bans and various other restrictions that require one to first obtain permission from the State before you can do something are a violation of rights and values we cherish very much in America: the presumption of innocence, property rights, freedom of association, right to face one’s accuser (i.e. to be free from charges for victimless offenses), the right to be left alone, to defend one’s self, to pursue happiness, and so forth.
Regarding hunting and fishing, it was the government that systematically slaughtered the buffalo to near extinction levels in order to harm the Native American populations. Then there’s the Bundy Ranch where the Bureau of Land Management wouldn’t let the family graze cattle because of some endangered tortoise that the government wound up slaughtering anyway because they could no longer afford to keep them. It was also the government who paid farmers to destroy their own crops during the Great Depression, while people were literally starving.
Meanwhile, individual hunters and fishers couldn’t possibly slaughter all the animals on their own, whereas large-scale corporations would no longer have any supply if they just used them all, so they have incentive to maintain populations. Personally, I don’t mind that the government is interested in protecting fish and game in the abstract, it’s just that they’re completely shit at it.
Sargon: “Yes, because some businesses have harmful consequences if not regulated and managed.”
And some businesses are things like cutting hair or other bullshit like blogging or selling milk and pumpkins. This is what Anarchyball was referring to when he said you need government permission to work. He’s talking about licenses. You know, like how you recently made fun of the fact that you can only use government approved memes because some memes are apparently violent? It’s exactly the same levels of ridiculousness.
Returning to Black’s Law Dictionary, we find the definition of “license” is as follows:
A permission, usually revocable, to commit some act that would otherwise be unlawful.
So without a license, whatever action you’re engaging in must, by definition, be a criminal action. We know license laws are some bullshit crafted by the government because in order for something to be a crime, it requires mens rea, actus reas, and corpus deliciti. Or, for the lay person, that would be: an evil intent, evil action, and injured party. None of these is present in anything requiring licenses; and if they are, you prove them in court after the offense has been committed.
Again, no harm, no foul.
Side note: There is one exception to this, having to do with personal jurisdiction. I promised myself at some point to do an article on The Red Amendment; but for now, if you’re reading this, Sargon, I know you enjoy a good history book now and again. I think you’ll find that one especially interesting and relevant.
Sargon: “And you cannot simply rely on a person’s good will to well-regulate and manage their business.”
This has two problems. The first is that you’re not relying solely on their good will, but on their economic self-interest to regulate it. Customers care about their own interests and, as mentioned before, will boycott or down-vote any business that doesn’t meet those expectations until a new one shows up that does or the business feels enough of a financial loss to change its behavior.
Secondly, Sargon’s argument that “some people are innately good,” can be applied here. Some are good, some are not good. That’s true of business, but it’s also true of regulators. Again, our legal tradition is to give people the benefit of the doubt while being skeptical of the watchers and only step in once there’s an injured party or complainant. To do otherwise leads to the same illogic that results in someone’s grandmother getting fondled at the airport. Because, you know, she has the same odds of being a terrorist as anyone else. Right?
“It’s because the TSA agents are afraid of being called racist, Timmy.”
A healthy skepticism of centralized authority is why it’s better to entrust regulatory powers to competitive markets than to the State. Just as there’s a separation of church and state, there should be a separation of church and economy for largely the same reasons – people are better able to decide what’s best for themselves based on their own needs and preferences.
Sargon: “Pharmaceutical regulations prevent thousands of deaths every year.”
With all the breast cancer marches and pink ribbons, the War on Cancer’s raised billions worldwide, yet still the best we can do is chemotherapy – i.e. basically poisoning people – because the Food and Drug Administration says only drugs and surgery can legally cure cancer, even though there have probably been cures for it and most other diseases for decades now. Yet, somehow, government regulations are helping save lives?
This is the same mentality that gave us the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the War on Poverty, etc. As in all these other instances, the War on [Insert Disease of Choice] just results in more of it for the simple fact that it’s more profitable to treat and perpetuate diseases than actually find cures. You can cure scurvy just by eating an orange. Imagine how much money and power would be lost if people knew they could cure their cancer just by eating more seeds and berries.
I’m sure all the people dying of malaria in Africa because the government banned DDT are thanking their governments for having their best interests at heart as well. And this business of whether or not to mandate vaccinations would also go away if genuine cures weren’t declared illegal.
I know what you’re thinking. Such cures are only suppressed by greedy pharmaceutical companies. Right? Well, no. At least, not on their own. Without the power of the State, they could not accomplish this, since a corporation can’t compel performance on its own.
Bullshit Obligatory Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor (or am I?).
That’s another example of why governments regulating medicine is asinine, because people can’t state facts without getting sued for not being “approved” experts and applying facts to circumstances. This whole business of licenses in general is stupid because competence, not permission, is the key. One can be competent, yet lack permission; or be incompetent, yet have it. The two are completely divorced from one another because government regulations are arbitrary, rather than based on merit.
Sargon: “The United States is not the same as, or comparable to, a totalitarian authoritarian State.”
Depends on who you ask, I suppose. Some people would say our globalist nation building constitutes American imperialism. Others would suggest that executive orders and the War Powers Act make the President a dictator in all but name. We’ve also already implemented all ten planks of the Communist Manifesto.
Just because we don’t unjustly put masses of people in prison … oh wait, no, we totally do that too. Never mind.
Sargon: “If for some reason there was a situation where I would want the government to step in and use force, then they are doing that on my behalf, so I don’t have to do that. If somehow you threatened me, to the point where someone has to use force to prevent you from hurting other people, then yes I would kill you myself because it would be self-preservation.”
What Sargon’s describing here is essentially the non-aggression principle as discussed before regarding credible threats. However, that’s not what libertarians are talking about. Libertarians are talking about victimless offenses – crimes mala prohibita (bad because prohibited), rather than crimes mala in se (prohibited because bad).
A perfect example would be the death of Eric Garner, who was killed because of escalation between him and the police resulting from failure to obey an unjust law on cigarette taxes. Or that one chap who was shot for not wearing a seatbelt.
Sargon: “The people running the DMV will be running the DMV. The people running the healthcare will be running the healthcare.”
This is a strawman. Julie is referring to a particular type of person, namely public sector bureaucrats with unlimited budgets behind them and no incentives to produce quality service. As a practical example, just look at how terrible Obamacare was, or how badly the post office is doing. Even in quasi-government areas, the bureaucracy is an anchor around the neck of productivity. The DVM is just a very vivid example of the type of service government produces and is one most people can relate to readily.
Sargon: “A question of cost-effectiveness [regarding infrastructure].”
Except that when it comes to the government, it’s not just straight labor and materials being considered. There’s also the costs of regulation compliance, public sector union wages and benefits, and all the waste we talked about already.
Donald Trump actually alluded to this during one of his rallies. I forget the specific examples he used, but the basic idea was that government should pay market price for things like everyone else.
Wait, so you’re saying the government doesn’t actually need to spend $20,000 on a hammer, or $30,000 on a toilet seat?
When you’re the government, you can use the police power to block all competitors and jack up prices. This actually happened with healthcare back in the day, where doctors began lobbying the government to institute licenses because the costs of healthcare were too low for them to make money, but it was sold as being necessary to protect the public. Lawrence Reed also gives some examples in the above links of how price controls were used to make the Great Depression worse.
Sargon: “In a perfect an-cap society, what happens to the statists?”
As a minarchist, I thought this section was well-argued. However, just to play Devil’s Advocate for a moment, I imagine the statists would go off to form a voluntary society of their own, much like how humanity went from a state of nature to forming civilizations. You would essentially need a stateless State to have anarchy work in parallel with statism, i.e. a certain territory quartered off separate from other states where anarchists could live and be free separate from collectivists.
The idea of a stateless state is, of course, a logical contradiction. One of the reasons I’m personally a libertarian nationalist, and not an anarchist, is because I think it’s a technical impossibility for the reason just outlined. That some people will inevitably want a State and others won’t, but logically you can’t have them both coexist because they’re mutually exclusive, and enforcing statelessness on statists would require a central authority of some kind.
Anarchists typically argue that the people will be educated and vigilant and have the will to use force to strike it down any attempts to impose a state; however, my argument in response has always been that if such vigilance is required for anarchy, why can’t it be applied to make minarchy work as well to keep government constrained?
Just some food for thought.
Sargon: “Most countries don’t have thriving libertarian movements.”
Most countries were also not built upon the sort of western philosophical traditions and values that America has, with primacy of the individual, skepticism towards consolidations of power, separation of church and state, egalitarianism, free market, gun rights, and so forth. Sargon of all people should know this since he spends a lot of time criticizing western nations for allowing incompatible ideologies to take them over.
However, if you put the questions to people in terms of first principles, most will likely agree with libertarianism because people value their own freedom. Only the most radicalized cultists and emotionally inured crybabies are likely to still fight you on it.
Of which, sadly, there are many.
Sargon: “The trick is to make sure you have some form of control over your lawmakers.”
This is perhaps not the best argument against conscientious objection. A better argument might be that it depends on the law in question. A law based on reason and morality should not be opposed because that would create immorality and injustice. However, a law that is arbitrary and harmful ought to be opposed by its enforcers. Those who enforce the law really ought to be trained to differentiate between the two because part of effectively enforcing the law is knowing when it does and doesn’t apply to a particular situation or person.
But at least he paid his taxes.
Sargon: “Or one person can get what they want and the other person doesn’t get what they want because the thing that one person wants doesn’t harm other people, but the thing the other person wants does.”
Nope. Sorry, Sargon, but this is a double standard. I can conceivably harm you with just about anything (though I wouldn’t even), like a toilet bowl or a tea cup, or a pencil. That doesn’t make it morally or logically permissible to restrict having it.
Again, think of the TSA. You think separating out fluids into little bottles could stop someone determined and crafty enough to commit a hijacking? Think about Prohibition and how organized crime rates and murder rose, yet no one thinks we should go back to banning alcohol. Well, maybe Islamists, I guess; but they shouldn’t be throwing stones, given the glass houses they live in regarding harm to others.
In conclusion, I think Sargon makes a number of good points in this video, but also some clearly bad ones that reveal a lack of knowledge of free market economics. As often as he professes he’s not an economist, maybe it’s about time he started learning some free market economics from libertarians.
I know this article was quite long and we didn’t even touch on the social contract. I thank you for your patience. Hopefully others were able to get something useful out of it as well in terms of arguments to use when rebutting non-libertarians. If someone could please forward this to Sargon of Akkad so he can read it, I would love to hear what he thinks about it.
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