An Anti-Libertarian Reader

January 3, 2009

Five Common Libertarian Arguments Debunked

Filed under: bloggers — Tags: — jimmy0d @ 9:00 am

I would like to give a hat tip to the Homosecular Gaytheist for pointing me to a blogger named Thrawn. Thrawn shares our annoyance and frustration with what we see as the self evident failings of libertarianism. So he created a series of posts dismantling the five arguments laid out by Edward Feser on

His Mission Statement:

The more conservative the right wing gets, the more liberal the left. Libertarianism is becoming increasingly popular, especially on the Internet. In my opinion, libertarianism takes both liberal and conservative too far.

Under many forms of the idea, libertarianism is just another word for liberal. A moderate libertarian might argue that people should be left to themselves when their actions do not harm others, and the free market should be maintained. This is generally a good idea.

Unfortunately, some go too far. “Extremist” libertarians, or – anarcho – capitalists as some have taken to calling themselves – claim that government in any form is “evil” or “immoral”. Here, I present responses to some of their most common arguments for this surprisingly popular viewpoint.

1. The Free Market
The Argument Debunked:

The utilitarian argument, the suggestion that a free market and free society best fulfil the goals – prosperity, alleviation of poverty, technological innovation, and so forth.

2. Inviolable Rights
The Argument Debunked:

The natural rights argument, which emphasizes the idea that individuals have inviolable rights to life, liberty, and property that it is morally wrong for anyone, including the state, to violate even for allegedly good reasons (such as taxation for the sake of helping the needy).

3. Cultural Evolution
The Argument Debunked:

The argument from cultural evolution, associated with F.A. Hayek, who held that societies embody cultural traditions which compete with one another in a kind of evolutionary process, the most “fit” traditions – those most conducive to human well-being – being the ones that survive and thrive, driving their rivals into extinction, or at least onto the historical sidelines: hence capitalism’s victory over communism, a culture which respects private property, contract, and the rule of law being superior in cultural evolutionary terms to one which does not.

4. The Social Contract
The Argument Debunked:

The contractarian argument, which (greatly to oversimplify) argues in general that all moral claims rest on a (hypothetical) “social contract” between the individuals comprising society, and in particular that a libertarian society is what rational individuals would contract for. This sort of argument is represented by such libertarian theorists as Jan Narveson and James Buchanan.

5. The Value of Freedom
The Argument Debunked:

The argument from liberty, which claims that freedom per se is intrinsically valuable – valuable for its own sake – and that the best political system is therefore the one that maximizes freedom.

Keep up the good work Thrawn.



  1. Your second link is broken

    Comment by db0 — January 5, 2009 @ 5:56 am

  2. Fixed.

    Comment by jimmy0d — January 8, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  3. Funny, I am a left-libertarian and I don’t believe in four of your five “self evident failings of libertarianism.”

    Comment by Francois Tremblay — January 29, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  4. @Tremblay:

    First of all they are not mine, they are Thrawns. Second, I have a hard time accepting your use of the term left here considering your ties to objectivism and “market”-anarchism. Third, I mostly deal with right-libertarianism here, sorry for not making that clearer at the outset. And finally, let me guess, it’s either number 5 or number 2 that you do believe in.

    Comment by jimmy0d — January 29, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

  5. Thrawn is another idiot.

    Me debunking Trawn (WTF?)

    1. The market is made up of individuals, co-ops, etc. The ideal market would allow competition, not protect monopolies, and this includes monopolies on business model. Secondly, all innovation is the product of man, man working in the market, or for governments, and these governemnt innovations are usually better ways of murdering people. Once again Thrawn has never seen a free market in action, only government markets, and he clearly mis-understands them.

    2. Thrawn is a moron. The idea that people consent voluntarily to government is retarded. As Lysander Spooner argued in no treason the only people governemnts have a right to govern are those who establish governments, I myself have never signed a constitution,and therefore I do not consent to governing, this is the dumbest argument and the most common against the right to live your own life.

    Taxes serve the politcal class and its agendas. Taxation is theft, so I am guessing Thrawn is also in favor of people coming to his home and stealing his computer (for the sake of selling so the needy can eat). Thrawn would surely object to this, how else would he relieve his nut sack? The idea that removing these other rights is good for a society is just wacky. The right to life is clearly evident, as we all are born with it. Once we are born, it is up to us to preserve our life. Property is another issue. Natural resources that belong to everyone clearly can’t be owned, but they can be used. To argue against this is to argue for non-existence.

    3. This further shows his mis-understanding of markets. To argue for intervention is to argue for massive amounts of debt, inflation, monopoly currency that is being debased gradually.

    4. It is weird how he argues for “social contracts” in argument two and against them in argument four. For you to not be able to see this is kind of sad.

    I will quote Thrawn (as much as it pains me to have to paste such horrible logic)

    ” a) The best system of government (or lack of) is the one which does the most good for its citizens.

    b) Organized governments do the most good for their people.

    c) A regulated capitalist economy does the most good for those who use it.

    d) Therefore, if a, b, c is true, it is true that the best system of government is an organized government with a regulated capitalist economy.”

    This is ignorant of the facts, the fact is government in theory is different from government in practice. The idea that governments serve their people is silly. We wouldn’t pay them well above our own salaries if they truly served us. All governments are used by the privileged to serve themselves. It is a historical fact. It is currently happening with the banking industry, and it is a historical fact that banks loan money to governments for them to do their unkind deeds, so this relationship is mutual. Thrawn doesn’t understand this, anarchists do. I’ve already corrected him on the free market issue, there is no need for repetition.

    5. To quote the moron “If we should try to allow people to live the best lives they can, there are some cases where some rights may need to be taken away for the greater good. While this sounds a lot like something from 1984 (big brother IS watching you, after all), it’s really not that bad when you get down to it, and is something most people agree with.”

    This “greater good” argument is used by those who usually have their own agendas. It is only when an individual seeks the greatest good for himself, that the greatest good can be met for all individuals.

    This is merely an argument for violence. The greater good does not give the state the authority to exterminate Jews. This was the argument Hitler used in justifying his actions. To give the government any authority you give it all authority. Nothing is stopping the government of the united state from nuking the middle east for the common good, but this is not justified.

    Most people agree evolution is a lie created to promote atheism, although that seems to be idiotic. Just because most people agree it is important to take rights from individuals does not make it okay, it makes that majority of people tyrannical hypocrites. Selfish in every way, that argument says the individual does not matter, the collective does and again this kind of think is what lead to the Holocaust.

    “Keep up the good work Thrawn.”

    As I stated Thrawn is an idiot. No good comes from the praise of morons.

    Comment by Adam Stilwell — June 12, 2009 @ 7:24 am

    • 1.The “ideal market” does not exist, it’s a ficitonal utopia created by libertarians as an unreachable goal. Much like the “kingdom of god”.

      2.Calling someone a moron is not an argument. If you believe you are being opressed and stolen from then you have options. You have chosen to stay and “fight”. By choosing to stay you are willingly allowing the government to control you. You have consented. Consented under protest but consented none the less.

      That reminds m, I have all these links debubnking the “taxes are theft” argument lying around. I’ll have to post them. Thanks for the reminder.

      3.To argue that any intervention of any kind must neccesarily leade to “bad things tm” is to argue against the vast bulk of economics and a bit of history to boot.

      4.I pay my stock broker more than I am paid for the same amount of time/effort. I pay my doctor more, my dentist, my mechanic. It’s nonsense to say we wouldn’t pay more for the expertise and resources of government than we ourselves are paid.

      Government can be manipulated to serve the few and all government do over the course of time. That’s why we need to drastically rearrange society every few centuries.

      To say that government can be misused is not an argument against government. It’s an argument against bad government.

      5.Argument ad hitlerum.

      Thrawn is not arguing for direct democracy and nothing thrawn says rules out putting into place limits on power like rights or constitutions.

      Even in your anarcho-capitalist utopia there would be tides of cultural oppression. There is no perfect system free from evil (which I hear you don’t believe in, oh the jokes to be made). So saying “it’s not perfect” is not an argument.

      Nor does any good come from talking to you, apparently.

      Comment by jimmy0d — June 12, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  6. If you don’t reply soon (your last reply was pathetic by the way) I am going to think you have been converted to one form of libertarianism or another, or that you can’t come up with an argument, and because you can’t come up with one you aren’t going to respond. I love being on the side with actual arguments, vs. the side that has none and has to create stupid crappy sites such as this one. If you can’t dispute libertarian ideas you should delete your blog, as it only serves as church where you preach to the choir of idiots who’s best arguments are flawed, and most of the time, it’s rampant insults that rule their thought, based on absolutely no logic or fact.

    Comment by Adam Stilwell — June 12, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

    • In this comment and the other ten or so that I have not published it is you who have used rampant insults. If you want to actually discuss the issues then you can e-mail me. However if you are just going to come in here and spam my comment section with insults then I’ll have to ask you to leave.

      Comment by jimmy0d — June 13, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  7. “Second, I have a hard time accepting your use of the term left here considering your ties to objectivism and “market”-anarchism.”

    What ties to Objectivism?

    As for “market”-anarchism, I am not a market anarchism in the common usage of the term, so I don’t use that term. I do believe in the market, but not in the concept of the market as defined by the capitalist elite (“you’re free to choose and consume as long as you choose and consume what we want”).

    “Third, I mostly deal with right-libertarianism here, sorry for not making that clearer at the outset. And finally, let me guess, it’s either number 5 or number 2 that you do believe in.”

    Number 2. Number 5 would be acceptable to me if not for the concept that “freedom per se is intrinsically valuable,” which to me sounds like complete goobledygook.

    Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 13, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

    • Do you deny having ties to objectivism? What about this site that is a guide to the “philosophy”? Is it a different Francois Tremblay who wrote this in which the author calls objectivism “my own position”? Or what about these essays written for an objectivist website?

      Complete goobledygook, like natural rights.

      Comment by jimmy0d — June 13, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

      • Your behaviour is very interesting, by the way. I point out a conceptual flaw of your post, and you reply by smearing me with my past beliefs. Touchy, much? Do you take all criticism this personal?

        Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 14, 2009 @ 7:07 am

        • I brought up objectivism, which I did not know was a past belief, in rebuttal to your claim of being a left libertarian. It was not a personal attack or a smear, it was a challenge to the label you used. Which is clearly stated in my first comment to you.

          Comment by jimmy0d — June 14, 2009 @ 10:29 am

          • Another interesting thing is, I just noticed that I am on your enemies list. If you don’t define your enemies on the basis of these “five argument” (of which I believe only one), then how do you define them?

            If it’s on the basis of being a libertarian, then how come ALL the other enemy links I see are of right-libertarians or neo-cons? Are you trying to have your cake and eat it too?

            Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 14, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

            • This list is not mine but a series of links to someone else. There is not reason to assume that I construct my enemies list based on this post.

              As has become apparent my information on your beliefs seems to be outdated. Perhaps I should remove you until I learn more about where you stand now.

              Comment by jimmy0d — June 14, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  8. I have no ties to Objectivism. The fact that I used to support it doesn’t mean I have “ties” to it any more than the fact that I used to believe in Santa Claus means I have “ties” to the Christmas gift industry.

    If this is all you have to say, then let’s hear what YOU used to believe in, so we can criticize you based on that, instead of what you actually believe now. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing to me.

    If you believe that natural rights are goobledygook, then stop acting as if you had the right to free speech by posting your criticisms of other people.

    Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 14, 2009 @ 7:06 am

    • I am entitled to free speech in this country. If you take away the legal system then I have no such entitlement and can be silenced by anyone who wishes.

      Comment by jimmy0d — June 14, 2009 @ 10:30 am

      • You are not entitled to anything, since “natural rights are goobledygook” according to you. The “legal system,” and indeed the whole capital-democratic system, is based, according to you, on something that doesn’t exist (“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”).

        (note: as an Anarchist, I am most definitely against the capital-democratic system, but I assume you’re not)

        Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 14, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

  9. You seem to be saying that the “capital-democratic system” is just america. You quote only the american constitution. Those principles are not the founding principles of all democracies. Nor are they the actual operating principals of the united states.

    I am entitled because an arbiter of force uses said force to keep others from infringing on my choice to do so. If no one were to ensure that then I would have no such right. Rights are entitlements to be protected from or be given chance/capability to something. There is no force in nature that works to ensure my freedom of speech. Gravity does not care whether I am free to spout off my opinions or not. Neither does the water cycle do anything to preserve my property claims. Rights are legal constructs.

    Comment by jimmy0d — June 14, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

    • “You seem to be saying that the “capital-democratic system” is just america.”

      I didn’t mean to imply that. I should have written “your capital-democratic system.” I also assumed you are from the US, and I apologize if that was an invalid assumption.

      “I am entitled because an arbiter of force uses said force to keep others from infringing on my choice to do so. If no one were to ensure that then I would have no such right.”

      You can’t seriously believe such a thing. It’s an absurd position- in fact, it’s the exact opposite of the truth. There is nothing that can prevent a person from expressing his rights, except precisely the organized use of force. This “arbiter of force” you talk about actively prevents other people’s expression of their rights so it can keep attacking other people’s rights (people in other societies through war and neo-liberalist imperialism, people in its subject society through institutions of exploitation, oppression and exclusion).

      Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 14, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

      • Alright, before we go any further we need to define our terms. What is your definition of “a right” or “rights”?

        Please forgive me if I do not respond right away, the weekends is mostly when I have the free time for this sort of thing.

        Comment by jimmy0d — June 14, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

  10. It seems that your comments section won’t allow replies more than two deep, for some reason.

    Anyway, here is my reply.

    “Alright, before we go any further we need to define our terms. What is your definition of “a right” or “rights”?”

    Well, I don’t define the concept for myself. I look at all the conceptions that exist, and find that they have one fundamental element in common: the justification for the use of violence. No matter what else people believe rights are, they all believe that rights justify violence in some way.

    For instance, if someone says they believe someone has the right to free speech, they may have all sorts of beliefs about what that entails, but all conceptions will have in common the belief that violence in defending one’s free speech is justified (either violence done by the aggressed person, or violence done in his name).

    So I define “rights” by reducing it to its most fundamental and important element: the justification of the use of violence in defending something.

    Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 14, 2009 @ 8:00 pm

    • I have changed the comments setting to nest 10 deep, so hopefully that will help the flow of the conversation.

      Interesting definition. I am using the definition of legal rights or state enforceable rights, an entitlemen to do something or be free from somethign that can and is enforced. Under that definition of rights there can be none without a state or equivelant thing.

      Isn’t your definition the same as “morally correct”. So instead of saying you have a right to free speech you could say “it is morally correct” that he has free speech. If so then we have to move the argument to one of morality.

      I would say that what is moral and what is a “natural right” are very different concepts. There is nothing in the world of nature that says I should be allowed to speak.

      Comment by jimmy0d — June 17, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

      • “Interesting definition. I am using the definition of legal rights or state enforceable rights, an entitlemen to do something or be free from somethign that can and is enforced.”

        Yes, but these also imply the use of violence. Saying you’re entitled to something means you’re justified in using violence against people who want to take it away or refuse to give it. Asking to be free of something implies that you’re justified in using violence if someone wants to keep that something.

        Otherwise these rights would mean nothing at all except “I’m free to want something,” which is not a right at all but a simple thought with no social consequences.

        “Isn’t your definition the same as “morally correct”.”

        It’s specifically about violence being morally correct, not anything being morally correct. It’s a subset of morality, not morality as a whole. Rights are that subset of morality which concerns social relationships which include violence.

        “I would say that what is moral and what is a “natural right” are very different concepts. There is nothing in the world of nature that says I should be allowed to speak.”

        Apparently you’re not looking quite hard enough.

        (protip: you’re part of nature)

        Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 17, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

        • I agree with Jeremy Bentham that using right in such a way is a perversion of language. It’s one that has stuck but it’s still a misconstrual of language. A right is an enforceable legal entitlement. In nature there is nothing to enforce my entitlements my nature does not give me rights. I’m not trying to equivocate, I’m trying to argue for, what I think anyway, is a proper use of the word.

          I think you make a very interesting point about narrowing the issue down to when is it acceptable to use force.

          Nature as in the natural world apart from the man made. Law of gravity, strong and weak nuclear force and that kind of thing.

          Comment by jimmy0d — June 18, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

          • “my nature does not give me rights.”

            That is the core of the disagreement- whether one believes in human nature or not. If you don’t, then there’s really little that can be argued beyond that.

            Comment by Francois Tremblay — June 19, 2009 @ 2:08 am

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