“Other Perverts”

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The Mises quote from Human Action that Tom DiLorenzo brought to our attention is a fine one for discussing the nature of libertarianism. Mises referred to “fetishists, homosexuals, and sadists” as “other perverts.” Libertarianism, in the words of Murray Rothbard,

is not and does not pretend to be a complete moral, or aesthetic theory; it is only a political theory, that is, the important subset of moral theory that deals with the proper role of violence in social life. . . . Libertarianism holds that the only proper role of violence is to defend person and property against violence, that any use of violence that goes beyond such just defense is itself aggressive, unjust, and criminal. Libertarianism, therefore, is a theory which states that everyone should be free of violent invasion, should be free to do as he sees fit except invade the person or property of another. What a person does with his or her life is vital and important, but is simply irrelevant to libertarianism. It should not be surprising, therefore, that there are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of “bourgeois” conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.

This is a point lost on some libertarians. They broaden libertarianism to mean acceptance of alternative lifestyles and rejection of moral absolutes. Thus, if you say something negative about same-sex marriage, homosexuality, gay pride parades, evolution, abortion, paganism, Islam, black crime and illegitimacy rates, the Union, hedonism, feminism, rap music, etc., then you are accused by some broadminded, cosmopolitan libertarians of being a fascist who is aggressing or wants to aggress against the persons who favor these things. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. One can despise any or all of these things and be perfectly tolerant and peaceful toward them. Libertarianism is not a lifestyle. And as my Jewish atheist friend Walter Block has written, libertarianism is not libertinism.

3:41 pm on January 29, 2014
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