Stepwise Libertarianism

Here are some elements of what might be called “stepwise libertarianism” or “gradual libertarianism” or “non-revolutionary libertarianism”. It has elements of reactionary and conservative libertarianism, but those terms probably call up different ideas. The text below takes the form of a letter written to a self-declared conservative libertarian, referred to here as “you”. The view might more accurately be termed classical liberal libertarianism. That amalgam connotes movement back toward a pure private-law society, with the hope of approaching the latter even if it is never fully realized. The approach is asymptotic, if you will, and a mathematical label would be asymptotic libertarianism. We have to discover social well-being as we go along, as we fashion it and understand it. Sharp and tumultuous revolutions with exorbitant expectations of a new world or new man are highly unlikely to succeed. Our understanding has to keep pace with our actions. Since no living society can ever reach stasis or should, there is no blueprint for libertarian or any other kind of perfection. There is no end of history. This too is a philosophic basis for step-by-step libertarianism.

I understand your position: Limited government, no revolution, conserve what we have that’s good and decent, remove the overhang of democrat-bolshevists from office and the laws and institutions, do the same for the republican-bolshevists or whatever term is appropriate for that group. Restore America. Restore the right spirit. Restore freedom. Restore free markets.

I can get behind much of this program. I can hope that Trump succeeds at it. He’s better than the alternative was. At the same time, we have to recognize the contradictions in the limited government position and hold out anarcho-capitalism as a goal to be approached as a limit.

I’m against revolution and violent revolution too. Can we not proceed stepwise to introduce voluntary solutions wherever possible? This would cause our product to improve dramatically, and that in turn would provide immense funds to improve our society’s and State’s military lead. America could be a fortress with such technological advantages. It could lead without actually meddling in many countries. They’d be begging for relations of various kinds. There would be a voluntary empire of sorts. You would not object to shrinking the empire without sacrificing security, I’m sure.

To be avoided is any further growth of the State whatsoever, internally and externally. You are pointing out its many manifestations and corruption all the time. It has to be cut back. That’s absolutely essential for saving our civilization. There has to be a philosophical basis for doing that. The only consistent basis is one that holds out for no State, even if it’s not visibly attainable. This rests on a consistent moral position. It rests on a consistent pragmatic position, which is that anything that a State does can be done better in a competitive arrangement.

Despite our asymptotic goal, we should acknowledge that the temptations to power accumulation are a force aimed at the heart of anarcho-capitalism. The latter will probably not be attainable or work because dominant companies will subvert the system. I also believe that certain resources cannot be fully privatized. Travel will be too much interfered with if roads are all private, because competing routes are either not always feasible or else costly. At any rate, we are a long way from such a system, and it’s still a proper goal to aim at.

What I imagine and want to see is an emergent system in which as much as possible is privatized, on the basis of both moral and pragmatic understanding. Experience accumulates and we wean ourselves away from state dependency and thinking of the state as a solution to problems. We would be so far ahead of any other country that they couldn’t possibly think of attacking us. The primitives would be left in the dust. The primitives outside this country cannot be defeated by us becoming more like them. We have a growth of primitives within this country too, and they need to grow out of it.

We do not need foreign expansionism or remaking the world’s governments in order to make ourselves either safe or prosperous. We need only create a better system here. This idea of securing oil or Israel or freeing Ukraine or 50 other places is totally crazy, in my way of imagining the possible futures. It doesn’t help us one bit or advance our civilization or make us more peaceful, safe or secure. It doesn’t add to our productivity. It does the opposite in all cases.


9:48 am on May 29, 2018