Libertarian Battle Royale

Tyler Cowen takes part in a time-honored blogosphere tradition: instigating a libertarian battle royale. Back when I was a wee lad in blog years, I'd have probably jumped into the ring and proceeded to throw in a few bodyslams, dropkicks, and while the referee wasn't looking, choke-holds.

But with the wisdom of years, I know better. Instead, I will try my hand at Miyagi-style zen-inspired words of wisdom. My thoughts are:

1) To the extent that I support any specific view of the ideal institutions of a libertarian society, I'm most sympathetic to the vision of David Friedman.

2) Given that competing personal security agencies aren't in near our future, I support changes in the direction of the spirit of DDF's vision: law as a private good. People who support certain laws should benefit from their goodness and suffer from their badness. This means supporting federalism, decentralization, and local autonomy, i.e., as Patri puts it, competitive government, or as C. J. Trillian puts it, second-level libertarianism.

3) The differences between the various subtypes are grossly overrated. It's important to highlight differences between ideas, but more often than not, the labels themselves take on a life of their own, and the ideas take a back seat. The argument enters the socio-political battlefield rather than remaining in the intellectual realm. Tribalism ensues. This is bad.

4) The most effective ideas appeal to self-interest. The best libertarian ideas have to appeal to the self-interest of people who don't call themselves libertarians.

5) To make honey young bee need young flower, not old prune.

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I was bracing for much

I was bracing for much worse. I think Tyler Cowen's typology is actually fun and accurate but incomplete. Where are the i-can-rob-a-gas-station-because-roads-are-subsidized-and-oil-giants-are-in-bed-with-governments left libertarians ?

Where are the

Where are the i-can-rob-a-gas-station-because-roads-are-subsidized-and-oil-giants-are-in-bed-with-governments left libertarians ?

His name was Murray Rothbard...

What of the myriad of corporations which are integral parts of the military-industrial complex, which not only get over half or sometimes virtually all their revenue from the government but also participate in mass murder? What are their credentials to "private" property? Surely less than zero. As eager lobbyists for these contracts and subsidies, as co-founders of the garrison state, they deserve confiscation and reversion of their property to the genuine private sector as rapidly as possible. To say that their "private" property must be respected is to say that the property stolen by the horsethief and the murdered must be "respected".

Rothbard was mostly

Rothbard was mostly opportunistic bending his ideas to fit with his current allies. I wouldn't say such statements are an accurate representation of his general thought.

I was bracing for much....

I have never met one of the brand of left libertarians to whom Arthur alludes, and conjecture that they are elusive because they are all out busily robbing gas stations.

I was caricaturing but not

I was caricaturing but not by far. You can think of Kevin Carson for example.

*braces again*