‘Libertarianism is [not] a philosophy of individual freedom’

At Crooked Timber, Chris Bertram, Corey Robin and Alex Gourevitch have collaborated on a post for the ages: “Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace.”

Here is their thesis, succinctly stated in the first paragraph:

Libertarianism is a philosophy of individual freedom. Or so its adherents claim. But with their single-minded defense of the rights of property and contract, libertarians cannot come to grips with the systemic denial of freedom in private regimes of power, particularly the workplace. When they do try to address that unfreedom, as a group of academic libertarians calling themselves “Bleeding Heart Libertarians” have done in recent months, they wind up traveling down one of two paths: Either they give up their exclusive focus on the state and become something like garden-variety liberals or they reveal that they are not the defenders of freedom they claim to be.

The rest of the essay is excellent, developing this thesis and applying it to several examples and objections. Read the whole thing. It’s an expansive and forceful exploration of those essential points above.

With their single-minded defense of the rights of property and contract, libertarians cannot come to grips with the systemic denial of freedom in private regimes of power. … Either they give up their exclusive focus on the state and become something like garden-variety liberals or they reveal that they are not the defenders of freedom they claim to be.

That’s going to leave a mark. In fact, the last nine words of that paragraph could nicely serve to summarize the effect of this essay:

 

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Jesus. Even the Hobbesian social contract, as authoritarian as it is in its original form, would allow it to be illegal to starve a child to death, because the only entity that’s allowed to kill people is the Leviathan.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Rothbard was an amazing thinker with a varied and massive body of work. He’s getting into the weeds on issues regarding natural rights and maybe he’s wrong but it’s just words, he didn’t starve his own kids.

  • Greenygal

     a) Given that he doesn’t appear to have had any, this is not especially impressive.

    b) It’s not just words.  It’s his argument for a social policy he
    thought should exist.  Just because nobody has yet been stupid enough to
    put said policy into place doesn’t make the implications of what he’s
    saying less horrific.

    c) Maybe he’s wrong?  You can’t just say “I agree
    with him about a lot of things, but I don’t think it should be legal for
    parents to starve their children”?  You can’t be bothered to take a
    position?  (Oh, right, because it doesn’t affect you.)

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    You are just nit picking to make him look crazy.

    check out “for a new isolationism” sometime it’s really good

    “There is, in short, an eminently sound alternative to the loudly trumpeted policies of either pro-Soviet or anti-Soviet interventionism. And that is a new policy of enlightened and realistic isolationism, sparked, as it needs to be in our day, by general nuclear disarmament of the world powers. Abandoning foreign meddling, we need neither continue the cold war nor pretend that the Communist leaders are our “heroic allies.” We need only adopt again that stance of splendid isolation which once made peaceful and free America the beacon-light of the world. ”

    rejected by Natinal review in 1959

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Some charming newbies, I see.

    I reckon you could build a metric for the objectionableness of any given philosophy according to the rapidity, volume and arseholishness of new commenters drawn into a site when said philosophy is discussed.

  • hidden_urchin

    My money is on sockpuppets.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I was booooooooooooorn free!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEdk8YhieSQ

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Regulars, you’re all great people, but are you really gonna reply to a guy named “Fuckface?” Remember: keep calm and don’t respond.


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