Bridging the Two Libertarianisms


BrianDrake's picture

"But should we call these people libertarians? Am I a libertarian? "


It still boggles my mind that with the word literally in the name LIBERT[Y]arian, that people who admittedly/obviously value some social value higher than liberty (e.g., utility, expedience, security, equality, fairness, etc...) presume to appropriate that name for themselves.

Either you value liberty (self-ownership) as your highest social value, and are therefore a "libertarian", or you do not and are a something-elsian.

In other words, if your social value system looks something like this:
1. Liberty (the self-ownership of each person)
2. Security
3. Prosperity
4. Cookies
5. etc...
You're a libertarian.

If it looks something like this:
1. Security
2. Equality
3. Greatest good for greatest number
4. Liberty

You could call yourself a "securitarian" (or if you wanted to be condescending to true libertarians, a "realist" - a laughable assertion). But you are no "libertarian".

It's that simple.

Milsted is an obvious "something-elsian". As is the LP.

Real libertarians advocate nothing less than the immediate abolition of slavery. In the meantime, they run the underground railroad and educate as many people as possible.

Per Bylund's picture

I totally agree with you, Brian. I had my own discussion of Milsted's work a couple of years back. That guy is certainly not a libertarian.

Here's my response to his ridiculous argument for taxation for public goods: Why Statists Always Get It Wrong (

stu33's picture

Mr. Milsted doesn't seem to be a libertarian to me. He also doesn't seem to have a very good grasp of Austrian economics. He said the "Austrian model of ordered preferences and diminishing marginal utility" is "a crude model of human decision making." With friends like these who needs enemies.

tzo's picture

"The Zero Aggression Principle demands immediate elimination of all taxation, and perhaps monopoly government in general. Yet eliminating these things would result in tribalism, warfare, and eventually dictatorship — that is, increases in aggression. ZAP applied to government violates its own underlying value. Aggression will always be with us. Complete elimination of aggression is a fantasy."

This is quite a paragraph. In the first two sentences he pronounces that it is a known fact that anarchy is chaos. He then 'proves' his assertion by making a ridiculous connection between the ZAP and pacifism, assuming that there would be no defense/justice services in an anarchical society, all because he clearly does not understand the meaning of the word 'aggression.'

Equating a society that respects the ZAP with an impossible aggression-less society is what they call a straw man, I believe.

He is a minarchist, pure and simple, and with all the baggage that position entails: Aggression is just fine as long as you believe the ends are justified.

"Am I a libertarian?"

Nope. I hope that eliminates any confusion in your mind, sir.

Fascist Nation's picture

This is why I stopped subscribing to may favorite publication,"Liberty." When Bradford brought in those two neocons, Stephen Cox and Bruce Ramsey with Cox eventually becoming Editor-in-Chief it was time to move on.

Milstead is not even close to being a minarchist. He clearly supports government -- apparently monopoly government, whatever that means -- as a protector against aggression (which it poorly does) and to force individuals living under its sphere of influence to provide their labor in support of this government. Both are to be obtained by the monopoly government's threat of pain, detention and death.

That failure to have this government benevolence forcibly bestowed on us "would result in tribalism, warfare, and eventually dictatorship." You mean the things we have now under government. Speaking of fantasy....

Truth-Bringer's picture

"The Zero Aggression Principle demands immediate elimination of all taxation, and perhaps monopoly government in general. Yet eliminating these things would result in tribalism, warfare, and eventually dictatorship — that is, increases in aggression."

I noticed that too. One problem with his assertion, history has proven it false. Thomas Jefferson repealed all internal taxes and there was no net increase in aggression as a result, nor did the government collapse. It was merely bound to its very limited powers under the original intent of the Constitution. The details of his tax repeal are here starting in the 1800 section:

Puck's picture

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who got the heebie jeebies reading that article. If I wanted to read Cato Institute pablum I'd be reading, not

Bill Ross's picture

The "conflict" between moralist and consequentialist libertarians appears to be artificially induced. Every "truth" movement or proven scientific fact which has the implication that arbitrary power has reality limits is infiltrated by lying intellectuals and media shills who are paid very well to introduce confusion, controversy, denial and delay the inevitable acknowledging of truth.

On this particular issue, the moralists argue: cease aggression NOW, the consequentialists: too costly, anarchy and social / economic collapse results. The two POV's differ only in time preference. The cost of not ceasing aggression is inevitably: anarchy and social / economic collapse. We are living this now and, arbitrary power is TERRIFIED.

The reason is that we live in an action precedes consequence reality. We are already free to do anything consistent with the laws of physics. The only choice of others, organized power included is: what do they choose to do in response?

The dominant action / consequence relationship here is that aggressions of arbitrary power have taken on the laws of nature, in particular, human nature and will to live. People are going from "trust of state equals willing participation" to "distrust of state, choosing to not associate" to "state is a personal survival danger, active opposition".

If you want to have a clue regarding what is going on, you need to align to reality and learn how to THINK:

Our far wiser ancestors once placed us on the path to civilization by discovering and enforcing the "rule of law", now rationalized and educationally subverted away. As a consequence, civilization collapses, since its basis of operation is opposed by criminals wielding the collective power of we, the people:

Our tyrants are TERRIFIED as they see all of their foul works collapsing and people waking up. Hopefully, what is coming will be dealt with intelligently and morally.

Rodger Moore's picture

When you compromise with evil, evil wins.
The power of liberty is that it is inherently moral, lose that and you lose everything.

B.R. Merrick's picture

This is the first time I have ever heard the word "neolibertarian." According to his definition, a neolibertarian is the same as a neocon. So there is this "neo" force running around infecting every train of political and anti-political thought with the idea that we can smash badness away with enough military might? What's next? Neoanarchists?

And I would be interested to know what evidence there is that our growing military might is something, or the main thing, or the only thing that has stopped any invasion since 1812.

Atman's picture


livemike's picture

Truth-Bringer; Jefferson only repealed internal taxes, not taxes per se. Government funding was still based on violence. So Jefferson's didn't prove Milsted's assertion false. What did was the various examples of complete absence of government, e.g. in western mining towns, early Pennsylvania, and medieval Iceland. Most of the assertions Milsted's article have been proven wrong, for instance that the US military prevents wars.

albergine's picture

Quote : Such moral anesthesia is dangerous. It allows people who are scrupulously moral in their private lives to become rapacious plunderers in the voting booth.
*If the libertarian movement did nothing other than strip away the euphemisms and get the electorate, including nonlibertarians, to come face-to-face with their moral tradeoffs, government would shrink dramatically*

i see the above as the starting point, strip off the layers etc, plenty easier to make the change peacefully, otherwise keep an eye over your shoulder, big job and gradual methinks.