Thick Libertarianism As The Alternative To Benevolent Imperialism

I share Todd Seavey's belief in the importance of letting local/tribal/traditional cultures be left alone to do their own thing, in the sense that they should not be physically forced to change by a benevolent imperialist power. I hold this belief for the pragmatic truce reasons Todd mentions.

I would even take the position further than Todd does: In many cases, it is not wise to physically interfere with other cultural practices even when those practices explicitly violate property rights, despite us being justified in doing so. (For an explanation of where I'm coming from, see Chandran Kukathas' Two Constructions of Libertarianism, which touches on many of the same issues as Jacob Levy's Liberalism's Divide.)

But this doesn't mean that libertarians as libertarians have to or should keep silent about cultural practices we deem morally praise- or blame-worthy. Thick libertarianism is that much more important when you adopt a "Federation of Liberty" over a "Union of Liberty" approach, to use Kukathas' language, or when you adopt a pluralist over a rationalist approach, to use Levy's. The only way to convince other cultures that liberty is worth preserving is by engaging them in that argument, and rooting out those aspects of their culture that are inimical to freedom. Removing benevolent imperialism from the libertarian tool-kit makes the tool of peaceful but critical persuasion all the more necessary.

If the Saudis want to keep their women dressed in beekeeper costumes, I don't think it would be wise for libertarians to physically interfere with them, but we might want to persuade them that this is a bad idea, if for no other reason than dissenting women are likely to be physically attacked if they don't comply.

Children indoctrinated in intensely religious environments may never fully develop their capacity for autonomous consent precisely because of their lack of exposure to other options. Libertarians, as pluralists, have an interest in exposing these other options and persuading the sheltered that theirs is not the only way to live, if for no other reason than to better maintain the pluralistic pragmatic truce.

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The Saudis

If the Saudis want to keep their women dressed in beekeeper costumes, I don't think it would be wise for libertarians to physically interfere with them

Not a good example of "local/tribal/traditional cultures." Things are the way they are in Saudi Arabia because of the iron grip of the state on the society. Similarly in Afghanistan under the Taliban and in Iran now.

Things are the way they are

Things are the way they are in Saudi Arabia both because of the iron grip of the state on the society and because a large part of society wants things that way. Imposing democracy on a culture that doesn't value individual freedom does not get you individual freedom.

We don't know

Suppose that everyone in the United States thought that the price of gasoline should be half what it is. That desire would not magically make the price of gasoline half what it is.

The world is not magical. Desires do not automatically become reality. Take away a foundation such as the state, and certain things really do go away no matter how much everyone wishes otherwise. You need a state for effective price controls. You need a state to impose a drug war. You need a state for a lot of things.

You don't need a state to stop muggers and burglars. You do need it to stop other stuff. There are reasons for this. Specifically, stuff where benefits are well-internalized will stay, but the stuff with a lot of externalities and free riders will go away.

If a woman removes her burka and someone tries to throw acid at her and she kills him instead, then the benefit of killing him goes almost entirely to her. Other people get the pleasure of seeing him killed but she avoids acid.

In contrast: if a man throws acid on some woman's face because she's not wearing a burka, everyone who thinks that that women should go around wearking burkas benefit from this about equally. The rest of them are free riding. Why should Jihad Joe bother throwing acid on some woman's face when it would do just as well if some other sucker did that?

For this reason, victimless crimes rely more heavily on the state for enforcement against those crimes. Crimes with victims have a ready supply of people highly interested in combating the crimes: the victims themselves. Going around with no burka is a victimless crime. Pouring acid on someone is a crime with a victim.

This is one of the key reasons anarcho-capitalists expect that anarchy will tend to produce a libertarian outcome.

You can of course argue endlessly about whether seeing a woman without a burka makes you her victim. First, if you are serious about such a line of reasoning, forget about anarchy, because going down that road eliminates the distinction between regular and victimless crimes and pretty much trashes the hope that anarchy would tend away from punishing victimless crimes while still punishing real crimes - i.e., it eliminates the idea that anarchy would be libertarian. Second, psychologically there is very little victimization in such a thing. Third, there is still the economic fact that a woman without a burka "victimizes" everyone. To stop her is a "public service" without commensurate private reward. These tend to be under-produced, especially without the state producing them.

This is one of the key

This is one of the key reasons anarcho-capitalists expect that anarchy will tend to produce a libertarian outcome.

A libertarian outcome relative to what? Relative to a system of government? Well, yes, but that is nearly tautological. I understand (and agree with) the public good vs. private good reasons David Friedman gives for why a system of market anarchy is more likely to lead to libertarian outcomes than a system of government. But even Friedman agrees that if people want a cultural tradition bad enough (the example he uses is drug prohibition), and are willing to pay for it, there is nothing in market anarchy that will guarantee they don't get what they want.

I see this firsthand in Orthodox Jewish communities. The rules are enforced without government; they are enforced through social ostracism and the like. Many adults who were not born into these communities choose to join these communities and willingly take on for themselves many lifestyle prohibitions. Children born into these communities, on the other hand, are denied much exposure to the secular world, and it is very difficult for them to choose a different lifestyle.

On the question of whether

On the question of whether anarchy will produce the libertarian outcome, there are a couple of relevant papers. One is by Stringham and Hummel, arguing that preferences are more important than incentives for social change. The other is mine, where I try to specify the distributions of preferences under which anarchy and democracy will produce liberal outcomes.

Q!``Q

One is by Stringham and Hummel, arguing that preferences are more important than incentives for social change.

Without reading the paper, I notice that in your comment you haven't distinguished between social change in the direction of political liberty (such as whether it is illegal to possess cocaine) and social change in the direction of stuff like how many women scientists there are, which is not by itself an increase or decrease in political liberty. In fact, usually when I hear people use the term "social change", they are talking about changes which are not, per se, increases or decreases in political liberty (though, to be sure, they might be affected by and therefore indicative of changes in political liberty).

I was here specifically talking about political liberty. I was arguing that in anarchy it will tend not to be illegal to possess cocaine, but I was not arguing that in anarchy more women will go into the sciences.

And while I do see that you said specifically "liberal outcomes", unfortunately the English language has been corrupted to the point that you could very well (for all I know) be talking about things like the number of women in the sciences or whether people have arranged marriages. Had you specified "classical liberal" then that would have done away with that ambiguity.

My dog corrupted the title of the comment by lying down on the keyboard but what the hell, looks interesting.

update - I've briefly looked at the papers. While I have not gone far into them, at first glance I would categorize them, not under the heading anarchy-can-be-illiberal, but under the heading anarchy-can-be-unstable. We read:

They maintain that such a system is unlikely either to arise or persist because some people will always have both the incentive and the ability to use force against others. Cowen and Sutter offer a number of reasons why, even if society starts out in a perfect libertarian world, competing defense firms would fail to resolve all disputes peacefully and would eventually form a coercive government—not too dissimilar from what we have today

That describes, not an anarchy which is illiberal, but the end of anarchy and the re-establishment of a state.

incentives vs preferences

I was meaning classical liberal outcomes.

I don't think there's such a fine line between illiberal anarchy and the emergence of the state. The Stringham and Hummel paper is basically a reply to Cowen and Sutter's argument that protection agencies will need to coordinate via a network, which will allow them to collude and form a de facto government. Stringham and Hummel argue that changing preferences will make this less likely. So yeah, the Stringham and Hummel paper is about the stability of orderly anarchy, but bases that on ideology. I think the upshot is still that if most Saudis have illiberal values, liberal institutions may do little to help.

My paper works from an emergent law kind of view, a la Bruce Benson, to compare the laws produced by anarchy and democracy. I explicitly assume that government will not re-emerge in the way Cowen and Sutter imagine.

I discuss the possibility of highly cohesive religious groups with extreme, illiberal views and greater ability to overcome the free-rider problems alluded to above. If one such group becomes dominant, the result begins to look a lot like government. The Taliban is a good example. I don't think that's necessary, though: privately enforced illiberal preferences can significantly reduce liberty.

In my view, the preferences of people are a more important determinant of liberty than political institutions. If people have strongly libertarian preferences, both anarchy and democracy, and probably even autocracy, will produce liberal law. If people have strongly illiberal preferences, illiberal law will be produced under any of these systems.

Friedman already replied

The Stringham and Hummel paper is basically a reply to Cowen and Sutter's argument that protection agencies will need to coordinate via a network, which will allow them to collude and form a de facto government.

As I recall from my skim, Friedman did reply to this argument in an earlier incarnation, pointing out that ability to coordinate is not all-or-nothing, that the ability to coordinate for certain purposes does not imply a blanket ability to coordinate for any purpose at all. There was a reply, and I did not notice any further reply from Friedman mentioned, but I think it would be hasty to consider that exchange finished.

The Taliban is a good example.

What the Taliban is an example of really depends on the history of the Taliban. If Afghanistan was a recognizable anarcho-capitalist political order immediately before the Taliban took over, then the Taliban may be an example (but even then may not because of other factors, such as possible foreign involvement, which would jeopardize the Taliban's status as a mere private organization). In the current day, the Taliban's resurgence is attributable to such factors as protection by a neighboring state (Pakistan, which is in effect providing a haven for the Taliban) and the American strategy of supporting a central Afghan state at the expense of local warlords. (I barely pay attention to this, so I may have gotten facts wrong.)

In my view, the preferences of people are a more important determinant of liberty than political institutions.

I think that is a sweeping statement that can hardly be effectively defended in a paper, so I presume it goes beyond the thesis of your paper. Seems to me you are linking conscious desire unrealistically closely to ultimate outcome.

I can't recall how well

I can't recall how well Friedman addresses the cartelization argument. I'm sure he spent some time on it, since it's the most obvious and common serious objection to libertarian anarchy. Caplan and Stringham do a pretty good job replying to Cowen and Sutter. I agree, the argument on this is not over. For the record, I lean towards the Cowen and Sutter side.

On the Taliban, I should have been more clear. I can't be bothered with research at the moment, but my understanding is that they emerged in an environment of a weak state. Rather than suggesting they are an example of a de facto government forming from anarchy, I was meaning to suggest that they are private group with strong preferences and the ability to enforce them. Voluntary groups can become governments from either anarchy or government.

The primacy of preferences isn't the central thrust of my argument. Of course I don't expect to adequately defend the proposition in a single paper, but I think I make a reasonable case that the importance of preferences has been underestimated thus far. The Stringham and Hummel paper focuses on this more explicitly, and makes a stronger claim than I do. They suggest that norms against coercion can overcome the incentives for cartelization of the defense industry in anarchy. I'm not willing to go that far.

And while I do see that you

And while I do see that you said specifically "liberal outcomes", unfortunately the English language has been corrupted to the point that you could very well (for all I know) be talking about things like the number of women in the sciences or whether people have arranged marriages. Had you specified "classical liberal" then that would have done away with that ambiguity.

Does it complicate your analysis if we observe that many of the original classical liberals were also the original feminists? This is not a modern corruption of language; the two have been closely connected ever since they began.

No change

I wrote this:

you could very well (for all I know) be talking about things like the number of women in the sciences or whether people have arranged marriages.

You wrote this:

many of the original classical liberals were also the original feminists

To restate your claim: the original feminists were classical liberals. They were, presumably, classical liberal feminists - thus, feminism was originally classical liberal feminism. Wikipedia has this to say:

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Classical liberal or libertarian feminism conceives of freedom as freedom from coercive interference. It holds that women, as well as men, have a right to such freedom due to their status as self-owners."

So feminism originally advocated freedom (of women) from coercive interference - it was therefore by definition an aspect of libertarianism. Every libertarian, "thick" or "thin" (to use the terms you've adopted which will hopefully die soon), is by definition a feminist and every feminist in the original sense is by definition a libertarian, at least with respect to women.

Freedom from coercive interference is not equal outcomes.

Both the term "liberalism" and the term "feminism" have been taken over by people who are primarily concerned with equality of outcome (and therefore, necessarily, the number of women in science) and the like, rather than with individual freedom from coercive interference. Both "liberalism" and "feminism" have been corrupted, stolen, these labels have been taken over by intellectual traditions opposed to individual liberty, most importantly by the Marxist and fascist intellectual traditions.

Modern liberalism is an idea which is not really an idea. Modern liberalism is an incoherent, mixed bag of ideas, and consequently is hard to characterize. It is a mixed bag because it is a dumping ground, a graveyard of yesteryear's discredited political philosophies, mixed with classical liberalism, which did not fully vacate the label when the other ideologies moved in.

Fascism and Marxism have long been discredited (fascism more so, and earlier, than Marxism - hence, perhaps, the greater degree to which liberals are fascist, as opposed to marxist), but the discredit attached to the names, not to the ideas, though it was the ideas which actually earned the discredit. The names effectively acted as scapegoats. The ideas survive, relabeled. Liberalism acted as a garbage dump, receiving the intellectual refuse of marxism, fascism, and other trends which had managed to stink up their previous labels. Eventually the term "liberal" itself started to stink. The latest label seems to be "Obama" - a man without known qualities who has been getting treated as an incarnation of an idea which is not really an idea, lending it seeming coherence by incarnating it.

I suppose that liberalism has a kind of coherence, because there is common ground between such trends as fascism and marxism. These share the idea that there is something deeply wrong with society, and that while in the past the state has been complicit, nevertheless it is the state which will fix society. Society left to its own devices, without the guidance of the wise and good leaders that liberals imagine themselves to be, will not fix itself.

Respect the Saudis, No Way

What about the Saudis other laws? Like for instance not allowing any immigration what-so-ever. Does their skin color mean that they not only get to force women into beekeeper suits but that, in your mind, they are allowed to do whatever they please on the grounds of tradition and the fact they'll get pissed off?

What about Islam and their complete doubles standard on the issue of rights. Rights for Muslims only and second class citizenship for everyone else. Do we have to respect that.

Islam is an ideology of a State codified as religion. Not merely "the State" either but "the Slave State".

If you find out that they have been effectively keeping slaves then a are you going to suggest that we tread lightly there? How about if your sister went their on a promise of a job and soon found herself in permanent servatude? What have you got against Filipinos?

As far as I'm concerned the Saudis are living off oil they stole from the British.

If you find out that they

If you find out that they have been effectively keeping slaves then a are you going to suggest that we tread lightly there?

Yes. Benevolent imperialism, even to eliminate slavery, is not necessarily wise and does not necessarily result in a stable freedom. Even though we may be justified in doing so, it is not necessarily a good idea to do so.

Mixing topics

But this is mixing topics.

On the one hand there is "thick libertarian" disapproval of activities that do not strictly speaking violate property rights - i.e. do not violate libertarianism in the strict sense. The "thick libertarian" argument (or one of them) is that these things will tend to harm liberty in the strict sense, indirectly.

On the other hand, there is stuff that really does by itself already violate libertarianism in the strict sense. Stuff like keeping slaves.

Seems like you're talking about both things at once, shifting back and forth, creating confusion.

The two are compatible and

The two are compatible and derive from the same reasons. My default position is to refrain from physically intervening in other societies, even when the cultural practices I find objectionable also violate libertarianism. I don't rule out in principle the possibility that some situations do merit physical interference (stopping mass genocide, in some cases, may be warranted), but we should err on the side of non-interference in most cases for pragmatic reasons.

And just as many abolishionists believed that the best way to fight slavery was through persuasion, offering escape routes, and inciting rebellion from within rather than government intervention from without (read: mass warfare), so too these same abolishionists might argue that the best way to deal with a racist culture is through non-statist, thick-libertarian means.

Does that clarify any better? Which parts remain confusing?

Funny

I came to embrace extreme "thin" libertarianism along the same time as I came to favor the Federation and radical pluralism. I thought that "thick" demands might cause one to insist on only certain varieties of communities and engage in "benevolent imperialism". I completely reject the concept of benevolence and don't give a shit one way or another what the Saudis do. I don't live in Saudi Arabia, so it's none of my business. I expect an islamist community would react similarly to outside culturally liberal agitators the way a libertarian community would react to a communist trying to stir up shit.

I don't favor intervention, even in the case of genocide. I think the War Nerd is right and that genocide has been a fairly normal part of warfare throughout most of history.

capacity for autonomous consent
I think that's meaningless garble.

As I was reading this thread I had Metallica's "Eye of the Beholder" playing in my head.

TGGP, I completely reject

TGGP,

I completely reject the concept of benevolence and don't give a shit one way or another what the Saudis do. ... I think [the capacity for autonomous consent] that's meaningless garble.

Do you really have no sympathy for children raised in a cult, or an intensely, fundamentalist religious community? Is it really meaningless garble to observe that people raised in these communities lack certain freedoms, or at least the inclination to actively choose, not least because they lack knowledge of healthy alternative ways of living?

Autonomous consent

Do you really have no sympathy for children raised in a cult, or an intensely, fundamentalist religious community? Is it really meaningless garble to observe that people raised in these communities lack certain freedoms, or at least the inclination to actively choose, not least because they lack knowledge of healthy alternative ways of living?

It's not a question of sympathy but a question of (a) definition, specifically, how we are to understand "autonomous", and (b) what we are going to use this definition for. If you are talking politics then ultimately you are talking violence - you are talking about the things that people kill over. Politics is the continuation of war by other means.

If, talking politics, you go on about the supposed lack of autonomy of children who have been brought up in a way that you would not bring up your own child, then, whether you mean to or not, you suggest forcibly taking children from such parents. You suggest that this sort of thing is a fine thing that we should see more of. And in fact some contributors to this blog evidently did think that that was a fine thing, a good thing, a moral thing, that should happen more often.

Parents who shoot would-be kidnappers are within their rights, whatever the excuses the kidnappers and their supporters make. Be careful that you do not make it moral for someone to kill you.

If you are talking politics

If you are talking politics then ultimately you are talking violence - you are talking about the things that people kill over. Politics is the continuation of war by other means.

No, that is not the only way to define politics. Roderick Long writes in the recent Cato Unbound forum:

If by “politics” is meant the legalized oppression practiced by governments, then certainly libertarians are fighting for the abolition of politics, just as we fought for the abolition of slavery two centuries ago. But in a broader sense of the term, libertarians need have no objection to politics; as Don Lavoie points out, there is “much more to politics than government”:

Wherever human beings engage in direct discourse with one another about their mutual rights and responsibilities, there is a politics. . . . in the sense of the public sphere in which discourse over rights and responsibilities is carried on . . . . The force of public opinion, like that of markets, is not best conceived as a concentrated will representing the public, but as the distributed influence of political discourses throughout society. . . . Inside the firm, in business lunches, at street corners, interpersonal discourses are constantly going on in markets. In all those places there is a politics going on, a politics that can be more or less democratic. . . . Leaving a service to “the forces of supply and demand” does not remove it from human decision making, since everything will depend on exactly what it is that the suppliers and demanders are trying to achieve. . . . What makes a legal culture, any legal system, work is a shared system of belief in the rules of justice—a political culture. The culture is, in turn, an evolving process, a tradition which is continually being reappropriated in creative ways in the interpersonal and public discourses through which social individuals communicate.[1]

- [1] Don Lavoie, “Democracy, Markets, and the Legal Order: Notes on the Nature of Politics in a Radically Liberal Society,” pp. 112-116; in Social Philosophy & Policy 10, no. 2 (Summer 1993), pp. 103-120. See also the discussion of the “authoritarian theory of politics” in Roderick T. Long and Charles Johnson, “Libertarian Feminism: Can This Marriage Be Saved?” (online: http://charleswjohnson.name/essays/libertarian-feminism).

-

If, talking politics, you go on about the supposed lack of autonomy of children who have been brought up in a way that you would not bring up your own child, then, whether you mean to or not, you suggest forcibly taking children from such parents.

The assumption that you make here is exactly the what my original post is arguing against. To criticize a practice, even when that practice borders (or crosses over into) coercion is not to suggest using coercion to stop it.

I am making no such assumption

The assumption that you make here is exactly the what my original post is arguing against. To criticize a practice, even when that practice borders (or crosses over into) coercion is not to suggest using coercion to stop it.

It is quite easy to criticize a practice without the criticism giving off even the faintest odor of political criticism. What gives off the odor of political criticism is such elements as:

1) Engaging in the criticism in a political forum.

2) Reusing terminology from political criticism. If I were to say that such-and-such a thing is a crime (and not metaphorically), then I would indeed be implying that it was right to oppose it in the way that crimes are opposed (for example, by capturing and hanging the perpetrator). A crime has a victim. A victim had something done to him that he did not consent to. If you talk about consent, then what you say is indeed politically consequential. (update - if what you're saying is that you can call something a crime - you can call it murder or robbery or rape - without thereby implying anything about what to do with it, then you're simply wrong. To call something murder or rape is to imply something about what should be done about it. If the speaker doesn't mean to imply that, then he's misusing language.)

3) Entertaining the possibility that political solutions may be appropriate. I've seen this done on occasion. I've seen Will Wilkinson do this, which places his comments in a very different light than had he strongly disavowed any such solutions. Similarly, noises in support of the mass abduction by the government of several hundred children - noises which were made here in this blog and elsewhere - are unmistakable support for political solutions.

And this taints the rest of the discussion if it is not strongly disavowed. If one person has come out in favor of the mass abduction, and then others continue to talk about the inability of the children of fundamentalists to genuinely give consent as if the first person has said nothing remarkable, then everything they write receives the taint of that explicit support.

that is not the only way to define politics.

That is neither here nor there. I am making a statement with a certain meaning. If you want to pull the words out from under me that I'm using, then I'll simply switch to different words to make the same statement. You seem to be doing a bit of this lately - here, and a bit earlier on the topic of what "liberal" means. Apart from the question of what "liberal" meant and means, I asked someone a specific question, and if your critique of my historical claims about "liberalism" were correct then I would simply ask the same question using different terms.

I call bullshit.

if what you're saying is that you can call something a crime - you can call it murder or robbery or rape - without thereby implying anything about what to do with it, then you're simply wrong. To call something murder or rape is to imply something about what should be done about it. If the speaker doesn't mean to imply that, then he's misusing language

.
That's a pretty restrictive position to hold. You really don't think something can be criticized or called a crime without thereby advocating action to prevent it? If government or whatever mechanisms enforce law in a given society worked perfectly and frictionlessly, then you'd be right. In the real world every action has many unintended consequences. I think that's what Micha is getting at: we may be morally justified in preventing certain immoral actions in the abstract, but doing so would be a bad idea in practice. If there is no reasonable way to pursue a worthy end, inaction is best. That doesn't make the end any less worthy.

That was a moral "should", not an advice "should"

I wrote:

To call something murder or rape is to imply something about what should be done about it.

You wrote:

I think that's what Micha is getting at: we may be morally justified in preventing certain immoral actions in the abstract, but doing so would be a bad idea in practice.

The topic is thoroughly confused at this point. I was talking about a moral "should". There are distinctions between

a) Something that merits criticism but which it would be morally wrong to stop by force.

b1) Something which it would be morally permissible to stop coercively but which it would be impractical (a bad idea) to attempt to stop.

b2) Something which it would be both morally permissible and practical to stop.

I was talking about a distinction between (a) and (b). You are talking about a distinction between (b1) and (b2).

I acknowledge and never denied that (b1) is possible - which is all that you are asserting here. My point is that Micha is using language with certain moral implications. He claims to be talking about things in category (a), but he is using language appropriate to category (b).

Or, heck, maybe he really believes that it is in category (b). In which case what he is saying should be very scary to religious parents, because then he is saying that it would be moral to abduct their children but that it would be impractical - maybe because Micha does not have enough power at his disposal. But just wait until he has enough power, so that he can overwhelm religious neighborhoods and abduct children en masse. You are actually interpreting him this way.

In contrast, I claim that it would be morally unjustified even in the abstract to abduct children from their parents whose only supposed offense is to bring them up in a sheltered religious community. And I am assuming that Micha agrees with me on this. So I am interpreting Micha to be talking about something in category (a) - that is, his talk about autonomous consent is really about something that he considers to be a problem but which he considers to fall into category (a). I warned him, however, that he is using language from category (b), and therefore ends up saying what he presumably does not intend to say - something that is rightly scary to parents. You have interpreted him as talking about something in category (b1), proving my point.

I'll quote a few things and categorize them.

In many cases, it is not wise to physically interfere with other cultural practices even when those practices explicitly violate property rights, despite us being justified in doing so.

That is in category (b1).

But this doesn't mean that libertarians as libertarians have to or should keep silent about cultural practices we deem morally praise- or blame-worthy.

That can include things both in categories (b1) and (a). I was focusing on things in (a).

Thick libertarianism

Category (a). Micha has argued that certain things are not themselves violations of rights (and which it would therefore be wrong to prevent by force - thus, category (a)) but nevertheless ought to be discouraged by noncoercive persuasion because they can indirectly cause rights to be violated down the road.

If the Saudis want to keep their women dressed in beekeeper costumes

Absent any mention of how they do this, the practice in itself is category (a). The transitive verb "keep" gives off a faint scent of category (b), since it is left up to the imagination how the women are "kept" in that dress.

but we might want to persuade them that this is a bad idea, if for no other reason than dissenting women are likely to be physically attacked if they don't comply.

The practice of wearing the beekeper costume is here characterized as category (a). It is an example of the sort of thing thick libertarians have no moral right to prevent by force but which ought to be discouraged by noncoercive persuasion because it can indirectly cause rights to be violated down the road. A physical attack on dissenting women is of course category (b) - albeit perhaps (b1).

Children indoctrinated in intensely religious environments may never fully develop their capacity for autonomous consent precisely because of their lack of exposure to other options.

Category (a), but using language imported from category (b). "Autonomous consent" is the sort of thing we worry about when deciding whether an act of sex was statutory rape - which is category (b).

A response

What is a "cult"? What is a "healthy alternative"? By "inclination to actively choose" do you really mean "inclinations like mine"? I try to stay away from this value-laden stuff.

The fate of other communities is as irrelevant to me as that of Betelgeusians, except in as far as there might affect me.

Depends

I expect an islamist community would react similarly to outside culturally liberal agitators the way a libertarian community would react to a communist trying to stir up shit.

The relatively libertarian United States went through its McCarthy/HUAC/blacklist era, came out of it, and rejected it as incompatible with individual liberty. I would expect a libertarian community to tolerate communists up to the point that they either committed crimes or were on the verge of committing crimes. Communists made fun of capitalists on this point: they said that capitalists would sell communists the rope to hang capitalists with. Capitalists are not libertarians but I think essentially the same point applies.

Whose story is history?

The "United States" rejected McCarthy? His opponents accused him at the time of grandstanding for his own game because his popularity rose. McCarthy was going after people in the government (remember his downfall was with the Army McCarthy hearings), a perfectly libertarian behavior. The CIA organized a campaign against him, the rest is history.

And if you really think the United States rejected "McCarthyism" in a broader sense, replace "communist" with "Nazi" (the original HUAC smear) and ponder if it still has power.

Revisionism aside

And if you really think the United States rejected "McCarthyism" in a broader sense, replace "communist" with "Nazi" (the original HUAC smear) and ponder if it still has power.

Nazis have the right to speak in the US. I can buy Hitler's Mein Kampf from Amazon. In Germany, I hear, Nazis have trouble speaking freely.

So I don't really know what you mean. If you mean that Americans don't let Nazis murder Jews, I've already covered that: we let commies and nazis do whatever they like short of committing crimes.

As for your revisionist account of McCarthy (not saying it's wrong, just saying it revises the general received view), not sure that that affects my point. Point remains, we don't restrict the rights of commies to speak, or to purchase property, or to move freely, etc.

Isn't threatening to take

Isn't threatening to take political power a crime in itself ?

Depends on how remote the threat is

If someone wrote a book saying that the proletariat should take over the factories, nothing should be done. Once there is a concrete attempt either underway or else very well along, then it is time to step in. The earlier you step in, the more freedom you take away.

McCarthy never arrested

McCarthy never arrested anyone. When said "in a broader sense" I meant stuff like blacklisting for any reason. Do you think a Nazi would be blacklisted or not? Do you think there is something incompatible with libertarianism and blacklisting? In a privatized community I wouldn't find it surprising at all if the Great Condo Association simply refused to let in a nazi/commie.

It is our custom

Micha,

You write:

"In many cases, it is not wise to physically interfere with other cultural practices even when those practices explicitly violate property rights, despite us being justified in doing so."

Then you write:

""But this doesn't mean that libertarians as libertarians have to or should keep silent about cultural practices we deem morally praise- or blame-worthy."

However I can paraphrase you and say: ">"In many cases, it is not wise to verbally interfere with other cultural practices even when those practices explicitly violate property rights, despite us being justified in doing so."

An example of this being Theo Van Gogh. Islam is designed not only to take offense at any physical actions by non-Muslims but verbal ones too.

Now this leads one to wonder why you are informing us of the point in the first paragraph. Everybody knows that it a big muscular armed rapist is violating a woman in a dark alley and you are all alone then you shouldn't physically act if you value your life. That doesn't mean you can't take other actions, such as calling in help so that you can overpower him.

You seem to be making some kind of moral point. Like perhaps maybe you are telling us that it is morally wrong to act. I get the distinct feeling that you are morally chastising those who want to help those being violated in foreign cultures.

Now there are more points you could have made that might have made moral sense. For instance, you could say to those who interfere, "Don't think only of yourself. Since I belong to the same group as you it is therefore probably that your interference will be interpreted as an interference by me also."

Of course, then there are arguments from the other side. For instance, "Well the same could be said of crime within our community. If I rat out the local crime boss then they might just think you did it."

I've thought through this before and I don't see a very compelling case for your kind of hand sitting.

I also really like that story that ends with the british soldier responding "well it is our custom to shoot those who burn women alive on funeral pires."

"Libertarians, as

"Libertarians, as pluralists, have an interest in exposing these other options and persuading the sheltered that theirs is not the only way to live, if for no other reason than to better maintain the pluralistic pragmatic truce."

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ! Oh man, I almost wet myself. That's funny, libertarians as pluralists. Maybe you should read some Lew Rockwell, Peter Molyneux, Francois Tremblay, or your own site. You might find that the majority, or at least vocal minority, believe they have the one true morality and that gives them license to tear down everyone else's belief systems.

Think differently about the role of the state? Well the libertarian response is to declare you immoral for rejecting the one true path and to ostracize you and brand the word STATIST into your forehead (embellishing for dramatic effect). Libertarians are not pluralists and you anarcho-capitalists are anything but pragmatic.

Whew, you guys are as funny as watching first year phil students trying to defend themselves against the mean old professor.

We tolerate voluntary

We tolerate voluntary governments. We do not tolerate governments forced down our throat by force. How hard is it to understand this?