Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.”     Lord Acton

May 23, 2011

Quote Of The Day

by Brad Warbiany

Very, very important:

When I hear communitarians like Etzioni describe the libertarian view of individualism, I wonder if they’ve ever read any libertarian writing other than a Classic Comics edition of Ayn Rand.

There’s no conflict between individualism and community. There’s a conflict between voluntary association and coerced association. And communitarians dance around that conflict.

H/T: David Boaz @ Cato

I think it’s a very important point. People assume that because libertarians object to many government programs centered around helping people in need, that we don’t care about helping people in need. That’s not true at all; many of us simply prefer to do it through voluntary charity that might show results. We resent being told that we must surrender our paycheck to government programs, designed around bad incentives, and that we’ll be locked in a cage if we refuse.

There’s no conflict between libertarianism and being a force for good in your community. Anyone who thinks otherwise takes Ayn Rand’s points on altruism FAR too seriously. I don’t think even Ayn Rand was against charity, she was against feeling guilty for achievement and against the idea that charity is OWED by the giver.

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6 Comments

  1. “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

    We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

    Frédéric Bastiat, “The Law”

    We disapprove of state coerced charity. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any charity.

    Comment by Akston — May 23, 2011 @ 5:58 pm
  2. Why do people associate Ayn Rand and libertarians?

    Comment by John — May 26, 2011 @ 7:36 pm
  3. Perhaps because Ayn Rand wrote things like this:

    Under a proper social system, a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases (so long as he does not violate the rights of others), while a government official is bound by law in his every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.

    This is the means of subordinating “might” to “right.” This is the American concept of “a government of laws and not of men.”

    The nature of the laws proper to a free society and the source of its government’s authority are both to be derived from the nature and purpose of a proper government. The basic principle of both is indicated in the Declaration of Independence: “to secure these [individual] rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”

    Since the protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of a government, it is the only proper subject of legislation: all laws must be based on individual rights and aimed at their protection. All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it.

    The entire text of that essay is here.

    Comment by Akston — May 26, 2011 @ 9:15 pm
  4. But she wrote much more that does not fit into normal people’s minds.

    And I do not believe in “uber humans”.

    NIOFF rules, everything else drools.

    Comment by John — May 26, 2011 @ 9:36 pm
  5. The advantage of fiction as a vehicle to present a philosophy is that any “uber human” fictional characters demonstrate by example. Following an ideal fictional practitioner thought conflicts can let the reader determine if the philosophy fits for them.

    In the midst of all their flawless passionate drive, Rand’s characters exemplified the non-initiation of force which most libertarians value.

    Comment by Akston — May 27, 2011 @ 7:40 am
  6. John,

    While Ayn Rand never would have considered herself a “libertarian”, there is a lot of overlap between the actual beliefs of objectivists and libertarians — sometimes we don’t get there from the same premises, but we reach the same conclusions.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — May 27, 2011 @ 9:05 am

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