Monday, January 03, 2011

How far does the success of libertarian socialism really depend on a fundamental change in the nature of man, both in his motivation, his altruism, and also in his knowledge and sophistication?

I believe it is entirely predicated on a fundamental change in the nature of humanity – in all ways. I subscribe whole heartedly to the fundamental libertarian principal of government that states “the government which governs best governs least.” However, the less government you have the more you have to rely on the individual to live by a high level of ethical standards. This is the challenge to any libertarianism whether it is the right leaning libertarianism of the Libertarian Party or the left leaning libertarianism that I tend to espouse.

At this point I usually like to discuss my personal principals of “Enlightened Self-Interest.” I would love to live entirely for my own benefit and the benefit of those I love providing that I do as little harm as possible. The problem with the most extreme form of libertarianism is that in order for it to work each one of us has to develop a highly sophisticated standard of ethical conduct. As much as I want to do “whatever the hell I want” I do not live in this world alone.

My actions have consequences many of them unintended and unforeseen. Sometimes these unintended consequences can be positive for more than just me. Sometimes, they can be quite negative. It’s the potential harm that I can cause others, the environment or even animals that must force me to take pause and consider what I do. This level of ethical inquiry is the difference between true liberty and barbarism.

I have a friend that says that if she had to think this way all the time she would become paralyzed and unable to act. I suspect that many people would experience this inability to act as well. This is one of the reasons why so many people tend to gravitate toward the simplistic morality of religion and its laundry lists of right vs. wrong. There are also the sociopathic among us who would literally use their liberty to do what ever they want if there were no prescribed consequences to maladaptive behaviors. This is the utterly simplistic reason that many religious people give to debunk atheism.

When you observe people around you it can give good anecdotal evidence to support a need for such laundry lists. It can be something as simple as not picking up your dog poop when you walk your dog or keeping your noise level down after a certain time if you live in an apartment or something more major. Laws get created because people tend to do what they want without regards to others. Most of the time this is just carelessness or lack of awareness on the part of other people, nonetheless a social contract is needed to help keep order. We all are aware of how petty other people including ourselves can be.

In order for true libertarianism of any kind to work we must become a more self-aware species. Libertarians tend to bemoan the tendency of the state to become oppressive and corrupt, but often fail to indentify the key element in the state that causes this to occur – people. Corruption and oppression would most likely exist in the absence of the state as well. Until human nature changes, which could be as easy as making ethical discussions a part of the daily round starting as children, we are not going to make a lot of progress towards true liberty.

For a kiss I will answer all your questions.

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