What Libertarians Can Learn From Dexter

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At this stage of libertarian evolution, we have less a need to refine the theory than to evangelize it, but libertarian propaganda efforts seem overwhelmingly aimed at waking "sleeping libertarians” (if not preaching to the choir) rather than convincing our ideological adversaries. Increasingly often, one hears libertarians dismissing even the possibility of the latter. Reasons given include that political inclinations are inborn (confirmed by twin studies), that people are brainwashed early by the public schools, and that people's beliefs stem from their interests, which often rely on the state for parasitic or predatory extraction of value. While these are certainly very real phenomena, libertarians are just a bit too quick to reach for excuses, rationalizing both their past failures and present desertion of the trenches on the ideological front.
Jonathan Haidt's 17-minute presentation at the Cato Institute offers another explanation for libertarians' failures, one based on personality psychology. The three main political camps (conservatives, progressives, and libertarians) are measurably different in both moral values and personality. Haidt and his fellow researchers have found six “moral foundations”—dimensions of morality—within which the three political camps form three distinct clusters. On four of the six moral foundations (Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity), libertarians score between progressives and conservatives, so one might assume that libertarians are moderates, a compromise between the other two extreme camps. However, the differences on the other two moral foundations are key: Libertarians score markedly lower on the Care foundation than either progressives or conservatives, and markedly higher on Liberty (the sixth of the moral foundations that the researchers discovered and added later).

In one interesting way, libertarians resemble progressives: Both are relatively sensitive to only two of the six moral foundations; conservatives are equally sensitive to all six. This gives conservatives an advantage over the other camps: Conservatives should understand progressives and libertarians better than the latter do conservatives, or each other. Haidt and his associates have found this to be true: Both progressives and libertarians suffer from moral blind spots, and are measurably worse than conservatives at answering moral questions from the viewpoint of one of the other camps. Unable to speak the moral languages of their ideological opponents, libertarians are not very convincing. But perhaps libertarians could study these moral languages and eventually learn to speak them?
Haidt goes on to show that libertarians suffer from a second handicap: personality, specifically emotion. On the Baron-Cohen empathizing-systematizing scale, libertarians score highest of three camps on systematizing, and lowest on empathizing; in fact, they are the only camp whose systematizing score is higher than their empathizing score. This puts them on the spectrum closer to people with Asperger Syndrome and psychopathy. 

Libertarians score lowest on every trait related to emotionality but one: reactance, the measure of one’s instinctive pushback to social pressure. High reactance makes libertarians rather volatile in ideological debates.

On the Big 5 personality test, libertarians score lower than both other camps on the three traits related to sociability.

On measures of love, libertarians score lower than both other groups. In short, of the three ideological camps, libertarians are least able able to form the emotional connections to “make friends and influence people.” Combined with their smaller numbers, this puts libertarians at a marked disadvantage in the ideological war, and indeed, in the US two-party system, it is the libertarians who are squeezed out.

Libertarians should utilize their strengths (measurably higher intelligence, education, and political awareness) to mitigate their weaknesses (empathy, persuasiveness, and numbers). People with Asperger Syndrome and psychopathy have impaired emotional responses, but with study and training, they can memorize rules and learn to mimic normal facial expressions and behavior. In popular culture, this has been portrayed humorously in the satirical Asperbergs High and more seriously in the television series Dexter, but the coping strategies are real and effective. The final test for any libertarian hoping to communicate effectively with the opposition is the Ideological Turing Test, showing mastery of the other camps’ ideology. A first step towards achieving this would be studying Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind and perhaps The Art of Seduction. Subsequent steps would include reading some of the other camps’ books (I can’t say that I’ve done this), actively listening to the other camps' arguments and taking notes, and practicing arguing in support of them in front of a mirror, being sure to wear the appropriate expression of emotion (smile, concern, or righteous indignation) at the proper moments. Eventually, some schools will spring up to teach such techniques, in the manner of pickup artists, if indeed there is a market.
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Steve's picture
Columns on STR: 1


BrianDrake's picture

I watched the video and found it unconvincing. A good example of why people don't respect the "soft sciences", because clearly the methodology doesn't just leave a lot to be desired, it's fundamentally sloppy.

Watch an interview with Frank Lutz to see a bit of what I mean. How you ask questions completely determines how people will answer them.

For example, in this study:

"When something is prohibited, I usually think 'That's exactly what I'm going to do".

Answering in the affirmative supposedly provides evidence of "reactance". But the very wording of the question creates a strawman of someone acting petulantly rather than from principle. Sure, there are some "iconoclast just for the sake of being iconoclastic" libertarians, but I don't think there's any reason to think that's an accurate representation of us as a philosophical movement. And yet, we are "herded" down this path by that question, since a libertarian doesn't view prohibitions by illegitimate authority to have any moral weight and thus is likely to still answer in the affirmative, whether they are "reactant" or not.

What if you asked this instead:

"If I want to do something consensual with another person, the only reason I consider the prohibitions against that activity by a group of men I never consented to have authority over me is not because of moral duty, but because they threaten to steal from me, kidnap me, beat me, and/or kill me if I disobey them. Absent those very real threats, my behavior would be impacted by those prohibitions not at all."

Does answering in the affirmative to that re-wording still support a conclusion of "reactance"? Or rather does it support moral clarity and confidence?

Another example: how does one quantify "caring"? Liberals often get credit for being "caring", but when more closely scrutinized, they only get credit if caring is defined as "any symbolic action, requiring little from me, that indulges my sanctimonious paternalism", then sure, liberals are as caring as it gets. But if caring actually means empathizing with your fellow human beings and respecting them as actual humans, not as puppets, then libertarians are by and large the most caring people I've met, and very few liberals qualify.

I'm all for learning to be more persuasive, but I think the claim that the failure of libertarianism to take hold is due to our general lack of emotional IQ isn't well substantiated (if at all). Though you do recognize the power of public schooling and don't totally dismiss it (though you do call it an "excuse"), I don't think you consider the full weight of the advantage it bestows. Give any ideology a 18+ year head start with compulsory indoctrination of the vast majority of a population (generation after generation), and then tell me the success of that ideology is due to the competition's poor social skills. Sorry, that's not very credible reasoning. Nor can you truly fault an honest man for being outpaced by a demagogue in winning supporters. The disutility of labor is a very real phenomenon and anyone willing to lie by offering something for nothing is certainly at an advantage compared to the man advocating a moral and practical philosophy that actually conforms to reality. When these "advantages" are combined (an 18-year head-start shaping the minds of the populace, plus the willingness to lie to sell your scheme), as statism has going for it, it's a wonder there are any libertarians at all. I see value in becoming better at communicating our ideas, but as long as we're constrained by honesty and unwilling to forcibly indoctrinate children, we're at a significant disadvantage that's worth keeping in mind before resorting to the accusation that we only fail because we're all socially retarded and thus need to take lessons from fictional psychopaths.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Brian, like you, I too disagree--not only about the "caring" aspect but the "empathy" as well. It would be interesting to examine all of the questions that defined "caring" in this study. Were they facile? Were they the institutionally "acceptable" targets of care, or did they include broad-ranging, accross-the-spectrum examples (and thus fair) and caring about everyone. This is the virtune of being comprehensive and systematic, but the people who evaluated this study didn't seem to realize the important link between consistency and system with caring (or empathy).  We don't pick "favorites" in our caring; we don't de-humanize unpopular targets of hate. We think it's important to care for everyone--even those who are "unattractive" to some people. This is precisely what enraged the Pharasees about Jesus. It is also why conservatives and liberals are always fighting the "last" example of holocaust behavior while the present-day ones go unrecognized by them on a daily basis. They are fighting the last "war."
Regariding empathy, my suggestion is similar. We exhibit much more empathy than the others because we don't apply "blinders" to our empathy. We don't choose to target for empathy only approved targets. We take in the entire range of humanity and empathize with people who use illegal drugs and with wealthy, successful people who have devoted their lives to build a successful business--not to mention everyone in between. We eschew prejudice while liberals and conservatives embrace it. We take the "long view" on our empathy--as Henry Hazlitt recommended with long-term, widespread consequences of economic intervention. We are not "selective." We look "long term" and we look to the "widespread" consequences with our empathy. We don't plunk down some symbol of pathos in front of people and ignore the context of that pathetic product. We are willing to acknowledge the silent, unseen efforts of successful people instead of fastening ourselves upon them to harm them. We empathize with minorities--the smallest of which is the individual. We particularly can empathize with minorities that have been demonized by propaganda machines--as the Branch Davidians were de-humanized and thus set up for their gassing and burning. Where were those who decried the gassing and burning of Jews in the holocaust as this event took place? Crickets! Liberals and conservatives only empathize with state-approved minorities. The wide-ranging empathy of libertarian always mystifies both progressives and statist because we do not de-humanize anyone--whether it is Bill Gates or a victim of an Obama-drone in Afghanistan.

BrianDrake's picture

Good points Lawrence. Again, none of this is necessarily inherent to libertarianism (the caring and empathy), but is in my experience of most libertarians I've met.

"We don't pick "favorites" in our caring; we don't de-humanize unpopular targets of hate."

This is an excellent sentence. Really like the wording and point it makes.

I suppose the "we don't de-humanize" part is true about libertarians qua libertarians. A "selfish" libertarian could actually have no emotions towards an unpopular minority, but due to his/her principles, he/she would still not go along with any plans to violate those people. Justice precludes such treatment of other human beings and whether a libertarian actually empathizes or not, he/she will not go along with injustice.

So on one level, the effect of libertarianism is "caring" in action, if not necessarily in emotion. We may not care about giving things to the poor (most of us do, but that's in addition to libertarianism), but we do effectively "care" by refusing to allow anything to be taken from them.

Jim Davies's picture

Steve did a valuable job of research and presentation here, but Brian's response is excellent.
Evdently and by some criterion, Libertarians have been found wanting when it comes to "caring". Hog wash. In my view Libertarians are the most passionately caring kind of people in the world. We care earnestly about the massive child abuse, social and mental distortion euphemized as "public schooling" but nobody else does, and that lies at the root of a thousand evils. We care earnestly about nondefensive wars on principle, not just because they are wasteful or counter productive; nobody else does. We care earnestly about justice; we deplore its almost total absence, and get down to the roots of what real justice is all about - or should be; nobody else does.
And so on. I'll yield the moral and compassionate high ground to nobody.

BrianDrake's picture

Thank you Jim.

Hate to be a stickler (must be my propensity for "reactance"), but while I agree with your conclusions, I feel it's necessary to point out that there's nothing in libertarianism qua libertarianism that has anything to do with caring. It is completely possible to arrive at libertarian conclusions without caring about anyone but yourself. The logic and justice of liberty will be accepted by any honest, logical mind without need for that person to have any motivation other than truth and/or any concern other than their own well-being.

However, the reason I agree with your conclusions is that in my experience, the vast majority of libertarians I've encountered do actually give a damn about other people in a way that is more than just a self-indulgent pretense of morality. We don't just hate the state because it oppresses us, but because it oppresses others. In fact, while I hate the state on principle, my oppression as a white male pales in comparison to the oppression of others. So my righteous anger is often more due to the treatment of others rather than just my own (since it's comparatively not as bad). But this is still anecdotal and I can't justly conclude all libertarians are similar (maybe I've just been lucky in running with a good crowd).

So yes, libertarians qua libertarians absolutely do have the moral high ground. As to the compassionate high ground, non-libertarians have got no ground (since they show by advocating the use of violence against the innocent that they really don't care), but it isn't inherent to libertarianism per se. I'd only have anecdotal personal experience to inform my conclusions there, and it seems like you and I have similar experience in that we've found many (if not most) libertarians to be very empathetic and caring, in an actually genuine way.

This of course goes against the statist narrative. I remember the look of abject shock a liberal female friend of mine had on her face as I literally had tears streaming from my eyes describing the horror of an Afghani wedding party blown to chunks of meat by US drones (my knowledge gained through reading first-hand reports; I've never been in the military or to Afghanistan). "Wow, I had no idea you were such a humanitarian" was all she could say. Clearly, she expected anyone advocating liberty to be a greedy bastard on the dole from the Koch brothers or something just as sinister. Ah the power of controlling the narrative...



Jim Davies's picture

Fascinating point, Brian. Is it true that Libertarianism per se is not compassionate? So for example do we care about justice because we're libertarians, or because we're nice guys?
Some of both, I suggest. The basis of rational ethics is self-interest, and the human "self" - our nature - includes, as I see it, a propensity to care. We feel better about ourselves when we can help someone in need. That's so widely true that the exceptions are rare and noteworthy. In my 2009 STRticle Human Nature I mentioned the case of Oskar Schindler and noted: "... even after government has obliterated nearly all trace of human compassion, it can still rise to the surface."
Hence, libertarianism fits human nature. Government does not.

BrianDrake's picture

I don't know Jim. I'm a bit skeptical about claims of "human nature" beyond what we can deduce from praxeology. Sadistic people exist and are still human, and they derive pleasure from hurting people, not helping them. Oskar Schindler was a good example of compassion still rising to the surface, but the "government [that had] obliterated nearly all trace of human compassion" was also made of humans. Why is Schindler an example of "human nature", but the Nazis not? Actually, in that case, HE was the outlier. So it would seem odd to observe a population and draw conclusions based on the behavior of the minority.

It seems the only supported conclusion is that....value is subjective. Different things make different people "feel better". Hitler felt good (or at least anticipated feeling good pre ante) by ordering the killing of Jews/other victims and Oskar Schindler felt good saving them. I don't think we're justified in arbitrarily declaring Hitler not human because his values don't match ours (that's pretty much what Lawrence was pointing out that statists of all stripes do).

But I will amend my statement and say that while libertarianism qua libertarianism is not about caring and empathy, the effect of libertarianism is "caring" in that no one is victimized. A strictly logical libertarian may have no compassion at all towards people, but commitment to justice prevents them from violating anyone. Since all non-libertarians are in favor of victimizing people, effectively they don't care and the libertarian's actions are "caring" from the point of view of the potential victim. But not hurting people and actively helping them are two different things, and libertarianism does not address the actively helping part. That's where compassion and empathy come in, and libertarians by and large demonstrate those "virtues" and do so genuinely (unlike statists, who are willing to help one person, while harming another, and thus aren't coherently caring at all).

The reason I'm a stickler for keeping the definition of "libertarianism" pure (i.e., limited to addressing the just use of force) is because that really is the only necessary common denominator necessary for just and peaceful human coexistence. Without any additional baggage, libertarianism has the widest appeal. Adding our personal preferences as "baggage" tacked on to the philosophy (as I think "left-libertarians", for example, do) only restricts the appeal of the philosophy and is unnecessary. We first need a just society. After that, the principles of the market will do the rest in letting people act out their preferences and since those are subjective, the result will most definitely be heterogeneous on the whole, and homogeneous in parts.

Jim Davies's picture

Then alas we'll have to differ on this. I'll stick with the reasoning I showed in Human Nature. If there should happen to be some freak libertarian whose self-respect is enhanced by doing cruel things, the justice industry in the coming free society will swiftly deal with the problem.
I'll add this, though (on 1/31): even if a libertarian seems callous and uncaring personally, the fact that he opposes government schooling and "justice" and nondefensive war causes him to care; libertarianism is in that way a caring world-view, qua libertarianism. Isn't it a bit like Adam Smith's famous "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."?
In other words: if you're a real libertarian, you're a caring person whether you plan to be or not.

BrianDrake's picture

I hear where you're coming from, and since it seems we're similarly caring people, I sympathize and agree that the result of not violating people is much more "caring" than the pretense of care statists hide their abominable behavior behind.

But I think we need to be careful not to equivocate. When people refer to compassion and caring, they have in mind "positive moral values" like sharing, love, mercy, charity. I.e., the refusal to initiate violence, while fundamental, is not the entire range of human interaction.

For example: A libertarian could absolutely walk past a drowning man and do nothing to help at all. He would not be violating the man's person or property and thus be fully in accord with the NAP. It still makes him a cold-hearted bastard in the eyes of most people. The thing that makes a libertarian a libertarian is that he would never push an innocent man into the water, which would be a violation of the NAP. Actually attempting to save a man already in a predicament requires something additional to the commitment to not violate the man's rightful property (which is strictly all libertarianism really amounts to).

The thing I take away from the Smith quote (which is great) is that it's not necessary for people to be kind and caring to make "society" work. As long as we're not violating each other's consent, we could be selfish jerks and yet our self-interest would still benefit others, not by our design, but by the nature of the market (voluntary interactions). The caring and love and all that good stuff is not necessary, rather it's "icing on the cake".

This distinction is important for two reasons.

One, it keeps libertarianism "lean". "Positive moral values" (like sharing, helping those in need, being friendly, etc.) are great, but they're also highly subjective. We can live in peace without agreeing 100% on all those values (e.g., voluntary communists can live in a libertarian society, as long as they don't commit aggression); we only need general acceptance of the NAP for justice to be served. By tacking on additional baggage to libertarianism, we necessarily reduce its appeal since we're now adding on our own subjective preferences, which are not necessarily going to appeal to others. Let's not add bathwater and then get the baby thrown out with it.

Two, it shows that even in the "worst case" scenario our statist opponents want to smear us with, human society will flourish. We're all a bunch of selfish, profit-seeking jerks you [the critics] say ? Even if that were true, a libertarian society would still be a better place to live compared to one where people use the state to force their wills onto others. Of course, that's an absurd extreme case (whoever heard of a statist using hyperbole?! ;) ), since clearly many libertarians do have strong "moral convictions" to be loving, giving people, and also, aggressive violence creates resentment whereas "good fences make good neighbors" (i.e., people get along better when they aren't being victimized by each other), so a libertarian society is almost certain to be kind and caring (bonus) in addition to being just and prosperous (by definition).



Paul's picture

"For example: A libertarian could absolutely walk past a drowning man and do nothing to help at all. He would not be violating the man's person or property and thus be fully in accord with the NAP. It still makes him a cold-hearted bastard in the eyes of most people."

Yeah, a person who did that could be a libertarian. But virtually all libertarians would NOT act that way - at the same time arguing that he morally could do so.

Haidt's "research" seems to be a re-hashing of old stereotypes.

As to caring, I prefer to look at it this way: libertarians care effectively, intelligently; while others care emotionally. Emotion is fine as far as it goes (i.e as a motivator), but it's at best a half-assed way to actually solve any problems, and worst just causes more problems.

Glock27's picture

Paul--I fully agree with your assessment, however, my experiances have demonstrated that we all act more out of an emotional foundation more than we do otherwise. At our core we tend to be more emotional than anything else. Just look at this site alone to see that; even if intelligence is attempted to be applied, emotion still circles it wagons as the core function.

Glock27's picture

Double post

mhstahl's picture

I truly hope that the comparison to Asperger's and psychopathy was made in jest-there is nothing in the data, or presentation, that even remotely suggests such a correlation. There are some differences, but they are really quite mild, and as Haidt says at the beginning-"this is not a representative sample..."....in other words, it is NOT a valid study and the numbers are therefore meaningless from a "scientific"(social sciences are not true science...but they at least do have some rules) standpoint. They may be useful as a comparison-but only if it is remembered that the data only reflect the views of a skewed group(those who visited a liberal website.)
What I find most interesting is that, after the man said that the data was fundamentally-and fatally from a "research" standpoint- flawed, everyone kept listening. Speaks more to the Catoite's need for attention than anything else to my mind. It also speaks to the awesome power of "numbers"-even when they are admitted jibberish- and why they can be so fucking dangerous. No wonder Karl Marx birthed the "social sciences."
To the author, frankly, I would recommend "reading some of the other camps’ books (I can’t say that I’ve done this[I have]), actively listening to the other camps' arguments", perhaps then you will not need to feel as though you are acting in order to have a conversation. Honestly, if you have not familiarized yourself with opposing views, you really can't be secure in your own- if you want to win an arguement and be compelling to your opponent, the best way to do so is to know the opposition's position better than they.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

I agree that this "research" is flawed and will address yet another area cited in the article that is clearly false--the need of libertarians to be "more willing" to understand and read the arguments of their opponents. This strikes me as completely absurd. Ninty percent of us literally "came from" the left and the right and were forcibly inculcated in these ideologies from birth. I have never failed to be surprised by the abject ignorance of non-libertarians about the libertarian ideology despite the powerful opposition on both left and right. Whereas I understand and can anticipate virtually every conservative and progressive argument, I have never yet met a single non-libertarian who has read a singe work of Rothbard, of Von Mises, or of any other mainstream anarcho-libertarian. All of them, of course, have absorbed like silly-putty the idiotic, dyspeptic, dishonest, and distorted judgements about libertarianism and its meaning. I have never met a person who understands it from the inside-out as we have. Even those whom we have explained it to conservatives and progressives have heard our notions spit back at us in distorted fashions with meaning-changes to the vocabulary. No. It is libertarians who are the ones who, like Thomas Aquinas, have followed the dictum to know their opponents' arguments better than they do. If only we would be reciprocated. As a trip down memory lane:
1. Remember the smirks of John McCain and Mitt Romney as they tittered like morons while Ron Paul spoke during the debates.
2. Look at the accusations of racism and intentional misrepresentation of liberals in response to our attempts to use decentralized (state's rights) arguments in favor of drug legalization and NSA defunding; they invariably spit back the propaganda about Lincoln (yawn) and slavery and Jim Crow--repeating nonsense like parrots (apologies to those sweet birds)--despite any explanations of Lysander Spooner and other abolitionists. They simply are "in denial" and must dismiss a threatening argument (see more later on how they thus de-humanize their opponents, which is really a Nazi tactic and ironically used by defenders of slavery, who likewisde claimed that blacks were incapable of human self-governance).
I think that one can make a much more useful comparison of libertarians, conservatives, and progressives with the tripartite psychological division of Freud into ego (healthy), superego (exterior rule-dominated), and id (impulse-directed). Both conservatives and liberals are dominated by superego concerns that hinder their ability to think outside the box--trading it in for approval-seeking behavior from external sources. Progressives add in their childlike acquiescence to id-dominated thinking. They always excuse irresponsibility and demand that others constantly enable and excuse and overlook such behavior as irrelevant. Conservatives, too, are dominated by id-predominant  behavior. They project their unacceptable impulses of aggression onto others, and then, in their obsessive paranoia, seek to wage war on those whom they have filled up with their own hatred. Progressvies do likewisde. I worked with a woman who hated (rightly) John Cheney--not for his views, but because she claimed he was "not human." This tendency to dismiss as "not human" or to "medicalize" opponents of their views is the stuff of Nazism--defining away the humanity of opponents by pretending they are untermenschen. No, they are not empathic at all. They only empathize with childish behaviors, not adult behaviors--just as conservatives only empathize with those who, like them, project their dangerous impulses into others through projection.

BrianDrake's picture

Great points Lawrence.

The world is statist. If you live in this world, you are BARRAGED with statist arguments all day long. At school, from your parents, at church or hanging out with atheists, at work, on TV, in movies, in universities, from economists, from....everyone.

I don't know enough about Freud to fully agree with you, but what you wrote seems plausible.



Steve's picture

Before I address the criticism so far, what do you think of this other article critical of libertarians that appeared just a few days before mine?

BrianDrake's picture

I stopped reading after the author approvingly quoted this:

"They are an oxymoron in action (complete with a lot of morons)—individuals who want to group together."

I'm sorry to stoop, but only a moron thinks there exists anything other than individuals. That among these individuals, there is a propensity to act in concert with others (which doesn't magically transform them into a new entity, but still just individuals acting in concert) by no means qualifies as an oxymoron. Methodological individualism isn't wishful thinking; it's disciplined conformance with reality.

This is also tied to common statist nonsense. That somehow, acting in cooperation with other with people creates a magical new entity that actually exists and is different than the sum of its parts and has different "rights" than the actual human beings involved. In the case of businesses, when people "incorporate", the resulting entity is sub-human with less rights than the actual human beings involved (the "corporations aren't people" argument where it is argued the Bill of Rights shouldn't apply to corporations [not that I give a damn about the Bill of Rights]). In the case of people living together in communities, the resulting entity is "society" and this meta-entity has rights that supersede any of the actual human beings involved. The "needs of society" (which amazingly always seem to coincide with the wants of those individuals invoking the phrase) outweigh the rights of the petty individual. And of course, in the case of "government", the imagined entity has the amazing right to operate under completely different moral guidelines than the actual human beings involved. Murder, robbery, rape, kidnaping, torture, extortion, fraud.... not wrong when "government" does it, even though last time I checked, the constituent members were still genetically identifiable as human beings.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

Steve, why the hostility? Your first article was at least well written even if we disagree. This dyspeptic article was unfocused and a waste of time. After sifting through the various inconsequential and vain rememberances, I found myself straining for a gnat of substance on which to comment and to link to our discussion. So first, it would be helpful if you would identify the specific arguments and sum them up if there really are any in this article that are pertinent to our discussion. There was so much invective in this and so much disinformation, and so much fluff, and so many silly assumptions, that I found it a bit of a waste of my time--thus my claim that it was a hostile move on your part. I resent people saying to me "read this" in some unfocused way without saying what's essential and pertinent. Whatever you found valuable in it passed me by because it was so airy and full of hamburger helper and invective that I found it a waste. So what's the point? There are assholes in the libertarian movement as there are in all movemements? You ought to try going to so some conservative and liberal meetings sometime. I have. They have an abundance of nonsense--for which I have no patience. Our time is our only truly finite resource, and I resent your giving us such an unfocused article to "guess" at in terms of finding something in it that you think was valuable--perhaps only to find we chose the wrong point. Over generalizations don't lead to much, so please outline the specific points in a succinct way without the geographic references included by the meandering writer instead of just saying what do you think of thisd to anything, which is like throwing linguine in someone's face and leaving the room and saying "lick it up and tell me how it tastes." Sifting through this did not yield much in my strainer. Worse yet, what was the point other than that this person either hates libertarians or has an ax to grind with some of them? Personally I find it annoying when someone throws a bunch of a very poorly designed text to your face and says what to think without any instruction. Communication is important, and it shows respect for your readers. Be specific or be silent. I don't have time to waste reading hamburger helper when there is so much to do and so much to learn from people who actually make an attempt to communicate. You may as well ask, "What did you think of Thursday?" I liked your first approach so much more--clean, specific, pointed. Try that again please--if it's really worth it.

Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture

A more succinct way off restating what I just stated would be to say: what about it?

Glock27's picture

Would someone "kindly" point me to some source which defines "the coming free society"?

Jim Davies's picture

The first such definition that comes to mind is Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty, published in 1973; no bookshelf should be without it. My own favorite is David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom, which appeared a bit later, and then the shorter The Market for Liberty by the Tannehills. In the present century Wes Bertrand contributed Complete Liberty.
IMHO none of those include a clear plan to achieve a free society, so I made good the omission with my Liberty Trilogy, including A Vision of Liberty.
When those have all been read, marked, learned and inwardly digested, little confusion will remain.

Steve's picture

Ilya Somin generally agreed with Haidt's findings, but with some caveats that I found reasonable:

Steve's picture

This libertarian reaction of "It's libertarians who are truly compassionate, because our policies actually help the poor, unlike those of well-meaning progressives" is real common, and addressed by Haidt in a talk at Reason:
It's Hard to Gross Out a Libertarian: Jonathan Haidt on Sex, Politics, and Disgust:

Steve's picture

A few days ago (22 June 2015) Tom Woods of The Mises Institute interviewed Jonathan Haidt:
Again arose that common objection: But we libertarians are caring--it's our policies that will truly help the poor. Haidt addressed it fairly well.