21 Responses to Guide for Statists: How to Argue Against Libertarians

  1. Taylor April 17, 2009 at 7:02 am #


    These are good. I think you’ll also enjoy the list my friend James came up with over at our blog, Degrees of Freedom:


    and here was a follow-up he did recently:


    Let me know what you think!

  2. Jeremy April 17, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    That first argument was presented to Bob Higgs on BookTV the other day and his response was great.

    It went something like this:

    “I was born into a cesspool. I can either sink or swim. If you’re asking me to sink, well, I think that’s a pretty unreasonable request.”

  3. Black Bloke April 17, 2009 at 7:53 am #

    There have to be some situations in which those criticisms are genuine, but will the critics ever learn to see them?

  4. Black Bloke April 17, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    OT: Something you might find interesting prof. Long. Visions from a former life I suppose: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PngW3p9NNLI

  5. Anon73 April 17, 2009 at 10:31 am #

    I personally like the statist argument for accepting democratic outcomes:

    1) If you did vote for the winning candidate, you have to accept their policies.

    2) If you voted for a losing candidate, you took part in the process and therefore must abide by the election results.

    3) If you didn’t vote at all then you didn’t give your voice and therefore consent to whatever the elected government does.

    • Roderick April 17, 2009 at 11:13 am #

      Or as Herbert Spencer put it:

      “Perhaps it will be said that this consent is not a specific, but a general one, and that the citizen is understood to have assented to everything his representative may do, when he voted for him. But suppose he did not vote for him, and on the contrary did all in his power to get elected someone holding opposite views. What then?

      The reply will probably be that, by taking part in such an election, he tacitly agreed to abide by the decision of the majority.

      And how if he did not vote at all? Why then he cannot justly complain of any tax, seeing that he made no protest against its imposition.

      So, curiously enough, it seems that he gave his consent in whatever way he acted — whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! A rather awkward doctrine this.

      Here stands an unfortunate citizen who is asked if he will pay money for a certain proffered advantage; and whether he employs the only means of expressing his refusal or does not employ it, we are told that he practically agrees, if only the number of others who agree is greater than the number of those who dissent.

      And thus we are introduced to the novel principle that A’s consent to a thing is not determined by what A says, but by what B may happen to say!”

      • Briggs April 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

        Unfortunately, I encountered such arguments when deciding what do do with respect to voting in the 08 election. Quite a frustrating thing.

        • Roderick April 17, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

          Well the State hasn’t participated in our Anarchist Consensus Project, so they have no grounds for complaint when we ignore their instructions.

        • Briggs April 18, 2009 at 1:31 am #

          Your use of uppercase lettering in Anarchist Consensus Project indicates that it is a formal group. A quick google search yielded unsatisfactory results. Is this a formal group/project? I would like to learn more about such a project as I am not
          (yet) an official anarchist (more of a minarchist, though I wish there was a different term). I must confess that Dr. Long has done more to convince me of the viability of the anarchist position than my friends at LvMI (but don’t tell them I said so). Perhaps one day I will be ‘pure’… but not today.

        • Roderick April 18, 2009 at 2:09 am #

          Alas, it exists only in my fevered imagination.

    • Stephan Kinsella April 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

      This reminds me of the terrible web of antitrust laws:

      1. If you charge too little, it’s predatory price cutting (attempting to monopolize);

      2. If you charge too much, you are obviously abusing a monopoly power you’ve managed to achieve;

      3. If you charge the same as your competitors, it’s collusion.

      • Roderick April 19, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

        And feminists have pointed to a similar stricture for patriarchal assumptions about rape. If women dress in a sexually attractive manner, they’re asking for it. If they don’t, they’re castrating bitches and so again are asking for it. If they go out alone, they’re asking for it. If they go out with a male protector, then they’re alone with him and so are asking for it. If she’s sexually active, then she’s a slut and so shouldn’t mind. If she’s not sexually active, then she’s a frigid bitch and the rapist is doing her a favour … etc.

        • Stephan Kinsella April 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

          Dude, watch the language. 🙂

          Of course, I agree. Great point.

          And I don’t know if this is similar–but the way black libertarian/conservative types are treated is despicable. If they oppose affirmative action–based in part on the argument that it tends to make people attribute genuine individual success to the aff action policy–they are accused of being ingrates… i.e, the leftist does exactly what the argument accuses them of. It’s a disgusting attempt to stifle debate: to foist a system on people, that then prevents them from even arguing against it. It makes my (horrible, racist, white) scin crawl.

  6. Black Bloke April 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm #

    OT (again): It seems you’ve got another mention on the internet but this time as a scheming rebrander of “anarcho”-capitalism: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/anarcho/capitalism-does-not-equal-the-market

    • Roderick April 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

      Yeah — ironically, the logical maneuver is precisely Randian in its structure, though of course not in its content — it’s a matter of confusing genus with species. “My nefarious opponent calls bulldogs mammals. But giraffes are mammals, and giraffes have long necks. Bulldogs do not have long necks, so calling them mammals is obviously unreasonable.”

      • Roderick April 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

        And as I’ve pointed out before — Tucker had no problem with calling people like Donisthorpe and Spooner anarchists, even though they disagreed with him about property, so long as they wanted to get rid of the state. That’s why his own journal hailed Molinari as an anarchist.

        • Soviet Onion April 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

          . . . and Auberon Herbert, of course.

          One wonders why he doesn’t think it’s so incriminating that Green, Spooner and Tolstoy refused to call themselves anarchists.

          And of course, there’s no mention of Proudhon’s more “capitalistic” contemporary, the self-proclaimed anarchist Anselme Bellegarrigue.

          Interesting also that even though he puts things in block quotes, he never seems to be able to just quote the text straight through. He always has to break it up into sentence fragments and insert his own words in between, which has been found to change the original meaning on several occasions.

  7. Charlie April 17, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

    I’m a selfish hypocrite then. I’m an anarchist.


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