I was talking about libertarianism.
You're arguing yourself in circles, and in essence making my point. [...]
Government does not grant the right to marry. It does not grant rights at all.
I replied to the following misidentification of libertarianism with classical liberalism:
That's a "classic
liberal", or libertarian, viewpoint.
I didnt address the political and constitutional arguments
Republicans must spin in order to legitimize gay marriage because it is a
forgone conclusion for a secular democratic state to eventually -- through attriturion of its current conservative codgers if need be -- recognize gay marriage. The conversative "debate" on this matter interests me
less than a neighborhood gang debating whether they should make exceptions
to the "No Girls Allowed!" sign in front of their treehouse. So I'll be eliding your points about marriage; I dont contest what you say in that regard.
Classic liberals tend to think humans get their rights from either a higher power or by the fact that they are humans... rights are not created by government.
Libertarians have a different concept of rights than classical liberals. When the classically liberal Declaration
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men
it is running afoul of the libertarian notion of signed rights. In particular, a right to life is a positive right; libertarians only recognize negative rights -- freedoms from. If you had such an inalienable right as a right to life, then two things would follow: (1) no legitimate government would be able to usurp that right because it isnt theirs to give or take away; (2) a legitimate government might find itself required to make entitlements out of such things as food, clothing and shelter in order to guarantee the right to life. Unfortunately, libertarianism entitles you to exactly nothing that isnt written in your contract with someone else. The only positive rights under libertarianism are contractual obligations. If you cannot secure your health and happiness contractually, that's the way the fine print crumbles.
One further point. Inalienable rights are non-transferable. A classical liberal state would not recognize your slavery because your right to liberty is not negotiable. A libertarian state would have no problem with you voluntarily selling yourself into slavery.
Yet classic liberals also recognize that the government is the only entity that actually has real power over humans; the government can legally kill, the government can legally remove children from parents, the government can legally deport, legally jail, etc.
For this reason, classic liberals generally prefer a small government without a whole lot of power to do such things.
"For this reason" implies a chain of reasoning and a logical conclusion following a premise. Absent an argument, your conclusion for small government doesnt follow from your (correct) premise that classical liberals recognize government authority derived from a legitimate (democratic, for various degrees of democracy) legislature. Be that as it may, libertarians do *not* recognize that government can legally remove children from their parents. Not even the Libertarian Party recognizes such a right. Likely, libertarians will not agree with your "etc", either.
In practice, the classical liberals often disagreed on how freedom would be best protected -- which freedoms were more important, what represented a strong enough rationale for acquiesing to a restriction, etc.-- but they believed it essential that it be done. If a small government without taxation cannot do this, individuals are morally obligated to change it.
I agree 100%.
Libertarians disagree 100% with your agreement.
Like I said in my original post,
libertarians confuse the ends of classical liberalism with one of its specified means -- small government and no taxation. They confound
one set of mechanics by which classical liberalism principles are affected for the principles themselves.
I would argue, however, that small government with low taxation would succeed at protecting freedom much more than big government with big taxation.
As would many classical liberals, necessarily without also committing their philosophy to a possibly unsuccessful outcome of such an argument once it was tested in practice.
Libertarians, on the other hand, dont care about the outcome and consider anything other than a small (or no) government without taxation illegitimate and therefore immoral.
I myself would argue for a strong government that (among other things) protects the populace, protects the borders, collects taxes, enforces contracts, enforces the laws, and handles monetary policy.
Taxes are out; and unless by "monetary policy" you mean "the gold standard", that is out too. The role of libertarian government is to protect property and enforce voluntary contracts. Strangely enough, people enter into *voluntary* contracts because they sometimes *have* to in order to avoid inferior consequence. Yes, enforcing voluntary contracts makes no sense but that's because you are thinking as a classical liberal and not as a libertarian. If you want to make the jump from classical liberal to libertarian, think "contract" wherever you see "happiness."
I would argue that classic liberals tend to prefer lower taxes because they recognize that the more money government has, the more it will do with that money, the more liberties will be taken away.
Maybe you would argue that but you didnt argue that and if you had argued that, you would have lost the argument just as it was lost everywhere it was actually tried -- New Zealand, Chile and, currently, Singapore. Western nations *practice* welfare economics because unrestrained capitalism does not work. In the real world, this postgraduate textbook rules. But that isnt the point. The point is that classical liberals dont have a problem with the aforementioned textbook, libertarians do. Not because welfare economics does or does not work, but because welfare economics is initiation of force and therefore immoral.
The freedom to do what one wishes with one's earnings is arguably a fairly significant one, and removing that in order to fix others (which often fails) may not be the best course of action.
If you are arguing against wealth redistribution and distributive justice, "may not be" waffles on the libertarian principle "*must* not be, is not an option".
I must admit I haven't read Agrarian Justice
It's on the net. Here's a relevant passage:
There could be no such thing as landed property originally. Man did not make the earth, and, though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity any part of it; neither did the Creator of the earth open a land-office, from whence the first title-deeds should issue.
So at least one important classical liberal disagrees with the libertarian notion of inviolable property rights. But it gets better:
Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.
Before quoting further, it merits mention that Paine was the most popular American author and classical liberal of his time.
In advocating the case of the persons thus dispossessed, it is a right, and not a charity, that I am pleading for. But it is that kind of right which, being neglected at first, could not be brought forward afterwards till heaven had opened the way by a revolution in the system of government. Let us then do honor to revolutions by justice, and give currency to their principles by blessings.
Taking it then for granted that no person ought to be in a worse condition when born under what is called a state of civilization, than he would have been had he been born in a state of nature, and that civilization ought to have made, and ought still to make, provision for that purpose, it can only be done by subtracting from property a portion equal in value to the natural inheritance it has absorbed.
Having now gone through all the necessary calculations, and stated the particulars of the plan, I shall conclude with some observations. It is not charity but a right, not bounty but justice, that I am pleading for. The present state of civilization is as odious as it is unjust. It is absolutely the opposite of what it should be, and it is necessary that a revolution should be made in it. The contrast of affluence and wretchedness continually meeting and offending the eye, is like dead and living bodies chained together. Though I care as little about riches as any man, I am a friend to riches because they are capable of good.
I care not how affluent some may be, provided that none be miserable in consequence of it. But it is impossible to enjoy affluence with the felicity it is capable of being enjoyed, while so much misery is mingled in the scene. The sight of the misery, and the unpleasant sensations it suggests, which, though they may be suffocated cannot be extinguished, are a greater drawback upon the felicity of affluence than the proposed ten per cent upon property is worth. He that would not give the one to get rid of the other has no charity, even for himself.
There are, in every country, some magnificent charities established by individuals. It is, however, but little that any individual can do, when the whole extent of the misery to be relieved is considered. He may satisfy his conscience, but not his heart. He may give all that he has, and that all will relieve but little. It is only by organizing civilization upon such principles as to act like a system of pulleys, that the whole weight of misery can be removed.
The plan here proposed will reach the whole. It will immediately relieve and take out of view three classes of wretchedness-the blind, the lame, and the aged poor; and it will furnish the rising generation with means to prevent their becoming poor; and it will do this without deranging or interfering with any national measures.
To show that this will be the case, it is sufficient to observe that the operation and effect of the plan will, in all cases, be the same as if every individual were voluntarily to make his will and dispose of his property in the manner here proposed.
But it is justice, and not charity, that is the principle of the plan. In all great cases it is necessary to have a principle more universally active than charity; and, with respect to justice, it ought not to be left to the choice of detached individuals whether they will do justice or not. Considering, then, the plan on the ground of justice, it ought to be the act of the whole growing spontaneously out of the principles of the revolution, and the reputation of it ought to be national and not individual.
Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man's own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.
And so on. The point is that despite being a libertarian evil, distributive justice is
And yet, here we have a few quotes from Jefferson
Those quotes do not argue for inviolable property rights. That Jefferson thought property useful for the benefit of mankind is not in dispute. Even communists are allowed property, you know.
"That, on the principle of a communion of property, small societies may exist in habits of virtue, order, industry, and peace, and consequently in a state of as much happiness as Heaven has been pleased to deal out to imperfect humanity, I can readily conceive, and indeed, have seen its proofs in various small societies which have been constituted on that principle. But I do not feel authorized to conclude from these that an extended society, like that of the United States or of an individual State, could be governed happily on the same principle." --Thomas Jefferson to Cornelius Camden Blatchly, 1822. ME 15:399
Maybe I'm missing something,
I dont know what you are missing but you've quoted Jefferson's rejection of property as an inviolable right. How can he consider property rights to be absolute if he can readily conceive the benefits of communal ownership, rejecting it on practical grounds -- not rightful or principled grounds -- for the size and complexity of his Union? He may not "feel authorized to conclude", but that doesnt mean he would not conclude given evidence of its implementation.
but that doesn't sound so different than most libertarian literature...
Then you havent read very much libertarian literature and understood even less. Property rights are absolute under libertarianism. In fact, the absolute nature of such rights is why some people prefer to call libertarians propertarians. The following was written by Jefferson, as if by design to give libertarians apoplectic fits:
"...I set out yesterday morning to take a view of the place.... As soon as I
had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate
as myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the
laboring poor I entered into conversation with her... She told me she was a
day labourer, at 8 sous or 4 d. sterling the day; that she had two children to
maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume
the hire of 75 days), that often she could get no employment, and of course
was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far
served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears
of a gratitude which I could percieve was unfeigned, because she was unable
to utter a word. She had probably never before recieved so great an aid. This
little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk led me into a train of
reflections on that unequal division of property which occaisions the
numberless instances of wretchedness which I have observed in this country and
is to be observed all over Europe. The property of this country is absolutely
concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of
guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants,
some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not labouring. They employ also
a great number of manufacturers, and tradesmen, and lastly the class of
labouring husbandmen. But after these comes them most numerous of all the
classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be
the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work,
in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated
lands? These lands are kept idle mostly for the sake of game. It should seem
then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which
places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting
these lands to be laboured
I am conscious that an equal division of property
is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing
so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many
devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions
go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of
property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers
and sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a
practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property
is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher
portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there
is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that
the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.
The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for
the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take
care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the
appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns
to the unemployed.
[my italicized emphasis, above]
It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who
cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty
to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by
every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion
of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state."
Under libertarianism, a single individual can morally and legitimately own the entire USA. Furthermore, libertarian justice would demand nothing of him in return.
Most classic liberals or libertarians would argue that the constitution is a "living, breathing document" as the Democrats are fond of saying,
Your literal Constitution is a mostly worthless rhetorical document whose only saving grace is the Supreme Court it institutes for its interpretation. However, for what it's worth, libertarians would argue and *will* argue in favor of its original, literal, 18th century meaning one thousand years from now. Of course, their interpretation is consistently more incorrect than it is literal but that's yet another uninteresting story.
however it should breathe through the amendment process rather than the penumbras and emanations.
Is penumbras and emanations the same thing as a Supreme Court?
If so, then your disagreement with the Court is your disagreement with Constitutionalism.
You incorrectly (putting it mildly) imputed a lot of your own politics onto libertarianism in your reply. When I said libertarianism != classical liberalism, I did not mean anattaism != classical liberalism.
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