YouTube is replete with libertarians waxing autistic about all types of incoherent non sense. The purpose of this article is to address two of such asinine libertarian concepts. Indeed, libertarianism takes many forms from anarchism—to—minarchism and some so called “liberty minded” folks may object to being labeled a “libertarian” and instead prefer to don the title “voluntaryist”. In full disclosure even I identified as a libertarian for a brief period back in 2012. I also live here in Keene N.H, home of the Free State Project and have partaken in various conversations with some ”celebertarian” types; and am thus able to offer what I believe to be a Death Knell criticism of their views. In this article I will be mainly addressing the libertarianism of people like Larken Rose, Adam Kokesh, and the youtuber “High Impact Flix”. I have studied their positions very thoroughly and can therefore be certain that I am not attacking a straw man.
Let us start with an examination of the “Principle of Self Ownership” since it seems to be the very bed rock from which these libertarians tend to argue.
Their starting point lies in the notion that every human being is “a self-owner”, having absolute jurisdiction over his own body. In effect, this means that no one else may justly invade, or aggress against, another’s person” (Rothbard, 1982).
To many freedom oriented individuals this sacrosanct axiom seems self evident and “obviously true”, but for those unfamiliar, I shall seek to elaborate by examining the reasoning behind such a principle.
According to most libertarians I have encountered there are only three possible conditions of ownership of the self (Rothbard, 1998):
- Each person owns a part of everyone else. (collectivism in theory)
- Some (groups of) people have ownership of (groups of) others completely (collectivism in practice)
- Each person has ownership of himself (individualism)
The first issue that immediately catches my critical eye is that there is a forth option the libertarian hasn’t bothered to consider, which is the “owner” and the “owned” don’t exist. I mean, “ownership” is either a legal fiction or it is expressing a subjective human expectation that only particular persons should have exclusive access to particular things and places. In reality, there is no such entities as the “owned” or the “owner”. There is only physical possession of things and occupation of land.
At this point, some libertarians will object by claiming that ownership and possession are synonymous, but if that were the case, then if I steal someone’s car do I own it? That would mean when the Government takes from them by force (taxation), that the government now “owns” the fruits of their labor. But this can’t work, because as almost any libertarian will tell you taxes = theft. The bottom line is that ownership isn’t merely considered possession, but “rightful possession” and what is considered “rightful” is completely subjective. Some libertarians whom I have discoursed with have claimed that if I didn’t own myself, I wouldn’t be able to move my lips or type these words; but my response is that I can perform said actions because I am a self.
Also, ownership is necessarily a normative concept. It entails that others ought not take x without the owner’s consent, so it cannot merely be about some physical fact of possession and occupation.
Some libertarians have argued that I have a “natural right” to exclusive control over myself and the fruits of my labor due to the fact I control myself. But this is, an is ought fallacy. One cannot logically deduce an ought (ought not initiate force) from descriptive facts (jurisdictions over one’s body) about human nature.
Then of course, there is a criticism that highlights the rather comical infantile dualism the Self-Ownership Principle seems to imply. To own something necessarily implies a dichotomy: there is the “owner” and the “owned”. But even if ownership were some real phenomena in the universe, I cannot own myself. I am this “self”. I don’t own an arm, I am this arm. I don’t own my body, I am this body. See that? Most people would have written “I am my body”. Due to the inherent dualism of language, we tend to carve reality into fiticious divisions that aren’t truly there, which is fine, as long as we don’t take said divisions too seriously.
Now, if the Principle of Self Ownership doesn’t exist, does this mean that others have a right to rule me? To push me around? To take the things I possess? Does this make me a slave? No. “Rights”, and “ownership” do not exist, which means that the “right to rule” (authority) is also a fiction. No one has the “right” to initiate force, but they might have the ability. There is a difference. There are no rights, only might.
The next principle I’d like to examine is the Non Aggression Principle. The Non Aggression Principle or NAP is another sacrosanct concept libertarians rarely question. Its “truth” value is just taken for granted. But this principle taken on its own isn’t true or false. It is merely a command. “Thou shalt not initiate force” is neither true or false because it isn’t even attempting to refer to in-the-world properties. The statement “You forgot to turn off the oven before you left the apartment” can be true or false. It is either describing some real physical state of affairs or it isn’t. It has what we philosophers call “truth aptness”. The NAP on the other hand, is more like “Shut the door!”. Is it true? No, it is just expressing a desire for someone to perform a certain action. Commands are neither true or false and therefore “Don’t initiate force” is neither true or false.
Now suppose I said “If you don’t want others to initiate force against you, then you ought not initiate force against them”? Well, now the “If clause” has made the NAP a general truth, because the If clause (the subjective goal) has given it a true or false condition, but there is no moral obligation for me to follow it (Moral obligations don’t exist). This particular usage of the NAP has made it nothing more than a toothless suggestion, a hypothetical imperative. But what if initiating force is conducive to my goals? Did the Vikings not gain enormous power, wealth, and fame via the initiation of force? Didn’t Napoléon Bonaparte? How about Genghis Khan who was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history? If I want to perform an act of aggression against a member of my out group, and I can do so with impunity, why shouldn’t I? The NAP when treated as some kind of absolute or objective moral truth, is really just another moralism used to control and influence the behavior of others. It is nothing more than one more subjective slave morality!
The brutal reality of the human situation is that there can be no ought or ought not independent of something one values, or a consequence one wishes to avoid. Indeed! The Non Aggression Principle is subjective non binding peacenik hippy-dippy-bullshit!
Throughout the history of mankind countless violent struggles have emerged over finite life sustaining resources, and over ideology and power. Human primates are not interchangeable individuals and tribalistic aggression is genetically hard wired into the very structure of our primitive monkey brains. Any notion of transcendending our genetic propensities is a phantasmagoric pipe dream.
Libertarians will never get enough people to adopt their subjective ideals and values. It simply isn’t in the power Interest of most people to do so.
Much of humanity consists of parasitic organisms whose very lives are propped up via the initiation of violence (Government wealth redistribution, taxation, welfare programs etc). They (Parasites) will never give up Government and Government will never let you give up Government.
Ancapistan is a fanciful delusion autistically confabulated by intellectual infants who fail to grasp the brutal immutable realities of human nature. Voluntaryism is the product of halfwitted naïveté! No! We can’t just “all get along”. If human history and nature has taught us anything, it has taught us that life is will to power!