Gain Some Pounds!

Libertarian Alliance

Libertarian Alliance

Can a libertarian be a conservative? Answer this question and win £1000. (CHT Joel Schlosberg.)

Although I’m quoted in the announcement in apparent support of the “no” side, I actually think the answer to the question is “yes.” Of course it’s a “yes, but …” (in that I take libertarianism to be thickly bound up with lefty values even if it doesn’t strictly entail them – and I could sign on to statements such as “the libertarian rejects conservatism” in the same spirit as I would such Thompson-style categoricals as “the tufted warbler flies south in the winter” even if many actual tufted warblers, owing to disorientation and bewilderment, never get airborne), but I reckon the contest judges will accept “yes, but …” answers.

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7 Responses to Gain Some Pounds!

  1. Michael Wiebe August 26, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    OT: Roderick, in your article “Anarchy, State, and Mixture, Part I” you talk about having different combinations of judicial, legislative, and executive competition and monopoly.

    But it seems to me that unless government holds a monopoly on the executive function, this institution would not be a government at all. Without monopoly executive power to stop them, private courts could enter the market and outcompete the judicial and legislative monopolies. The government could not maintain a territorial monopoly.

    Do you still stand by that article? Where’s part II?

    • Roderick August 26, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

      Without monopoly executive power to stop them, private courts could enter the market and outcompete the judicial and legislative monopolies

      Well, it depends what counts as a monopoly. Medieval Iceland is sometimes described as having a legislative monopoly but executive and judicial competition, and that system was relatively stable for 300 years. Why did it stay that way for so long? Partly cultural forces, partly some flaws in the extent to which the executive and judicial functions were genuinely competitive.

      • Michael Wiebe August 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm #

        I guess a monopoly must involve restricted entry, and hence some way to obstruct competitors. A monopoly could exist without an executive monopoly if public opinion serves as the enforcement mechanism.

        But since any society is possible if public opinion supports it, you would need a comparative analysis to determine which is best.

        Are you planning a Part II?

  2. Joel Schlosberg August 26, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    Thanks for the hat tip (there’s almost nothing more gratifying than receiving one). I may try to write an essay for the contest, so I’ll refrain from openly discussing my views of the topic too much.

    • Roderick August 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

      there’s almost nothing more gratifying than receiving one

      Oh well, I was going to send you a ten-foot-tall solid gold statue of Herbert Spencer, but now I won’t….

      • Joel Schlosberg August 28, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

        That’s all right, just send it to Jonah Golberg instead.

  3. Richard Garner August 28, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    I am toying with the idea of writing a response, and if I do, it would probably be a “no” answer. That would be because I would view conservatism as being an essentially collectivist and communitarian philosophy (that’s how it comes across from Roger Scruton) as opposed to libertarianism being the apotheosis of liberal individualism. I think the evolution of traditions may be useful in over coming information problems, as Burke or Hayek may argue, but would also point out that traditions don’t evolve in a vacume, and assumes the idea a kind of perfect market wherein the benefits of a person is bears all the costs of adopting a practice and all the benefits, whilst in reality it could easily have been the case that certain practices have been adopted historically that would not have been adopted because some costs of doing so were externalised, or, even more likely, because people were forced to do so by the state.

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