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Old 25th July 2022, 08:55 AM   #1
gnome
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Is strong libertarianism plutocratic?

I am not committed to this conclusion, and I wanted some other heads besides mine on it.

Here is the form of libertarian government I am supposing:

1. Property is held sacrosanct.

2. Laws may only exist to protect against force or fraud.

more complicated,

3. The definition of force and fraud would be a high bar limited to direct situations. Managing risk would be left up to private organizations (who could be responsible in an incident) rather than government mandate. So the government would only step in if someone did actual harm, or committed provable fraud. As opposed to regulations that require disclosures or avoiding conflicts of interest to make fraud less likely even where it may not be occurring.

If there's a more concise way to say #3 I'm interested, but I hope my intention gets through.

I think this is in line with libertarians I have spoken to who want more than just our current system with more libertarian tendencies, that instead want to create a new system strongly aligned with the NDA or the "force-fraud" principles. I am willing to be corrected if I haven't gotten it quite right.

My hypothesis is, that if property is nearly inviolate from regulation, that in most circumstances the amount of wealth and property one has correlates directly to their political influence... de facto if not de jure.

As opposed to power adhering to voting constituencies, instead of a power vacuum it would go instead to property owners, with those having the most concentrated wealth having the most power, with very little to hold them in check.

While it's clear that wealth can influence voting, and we struggle to find reliable ways to avoid that, I wonder if extremes of libertarian philosophy simply make it more directly true instead of alleviating it.

Now fire away. I brought my thoughts here for people to throw rocks at, and gain a better understanding from that process.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:08 AM   #2
The Great Zaganza
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If Property is sacrosanct, that automatically means that property will over time end up in the hands of very few.
Libertarianism is, in its logical conclusion, the same as absolutism.
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:52 AM   #3
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It makes sense to me. When you think about examples where the rule of law has broken down, you frequently have warlords who are in control of the resources. They could have taken control of those resources in a variety of ways including through legal acquisition of property.
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:00 AM   #4
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Seems like the pretty normal conclusion.
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
My hypothesis is, that if property is nearly inviolate from regulation, that in most circumstances the amount of wealth and property one has correlates directly to their political influence... de facto if not de jure.
In a strongly libertarian society, there is little to no political influence to be had. That's the whole point.

I think where strong libertarianism would become plutocratic is in the enforcement of contracts.

For example, my ideal of "laissez-faire" capitalism would be a state that undertakes to ensure the security of the marketplace, and that arbitrates and enforces contracts through rule of law as a disinterested third party.

But a strongly libertarian society would leave contract enforcement to private parties - the contracters and their agents. This would leave the wealthier party to the contract at a distinct advantage, whether they wish to enforce the contract or to flout the contract. Over time, more and more wealth would accumulate in their hands, simply by virtue of them flouting the contracts and daring their counterparty to do anything about it. Eventually a de facto plutocracy would emerge.

We actually see this dynamic in action on the world stage. Between nation states, there is no supreme authority to enforce contracts. Only "molon labe". The sovereignty of Russia is a plutonic sovereignty, literally backed by plutonium. The Pax Americana is a Pax Plutonicus. The failure of world leaders to act decisively on the advice of the IPCC and of Greta Thunberg is a failure of plutocrats in a strongly libertarian society of nations.
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:13 AM   #6
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With a "high bar" for what constitutes "force", I suspect coercion just short of said bar will be rampant.

Then yes, you quickly end up with a plutocracy/oligarchy.
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Old 25th July 2022, 10:18 AM   #7
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I don't think libertarianism would survive long enough for it to turn into anything.

I also don't understand why libertarianism would hold property sacrosanct or protect against force and fraud. It makes no sense.
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:27 AM   #8
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by Olmstead View Post
I don't think libertarianism would survive long enough for it to turn into anything.

I also don't understand why libertarianism would hold property sacrosanct or protect against force and fraud. It makes no sense.
Exactly.
It's easy to identify a LINO by asking him/her about property rights.
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Old 25th July 2022, 11:41 AM   #9
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Some very worthwhile insights that help me think clearly.

Commenting on something theprestige said:

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
In a strongly libertarian society, there is little to no political influence to be had. That's the whole point.
I might be thinking of a different concept of "political influence". Certainly if it refers to "control over the government" then political influence would be sparse because government is sparse. But more basically, I mean control over the matters government has abdicated.

For example: city planning. In a community with central planning authority designating zoning, road construction, public transportation infrastructure and routes, the power to plan the development and expansion of a city is in government hands.

In a strongly libertarian society, for better or worse, the government cannot, in the name of city planning, control what property owners may do with their property. But city planning goes on, just that those decisions are made by the largest landowners. So that's what I mean by "political influence", in this example referring to the ability to plan the use of land near a city. So the power is not absent, just in different hands.
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Old 25th July 2022, 12:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
Some very worthwhile insights that help me think clearly.

Commenting on something theprestige said:



I might be thinking of a different concept of "political influence". Certainly if it refers to "control over the government" then political influence would be sparse because government is sparse. But more basically, I mean control over the matters government has abdicated.

For example: city planning. In a community with central planning authority designating zoning, road construction, public transportation infrastructure and routes, the power to plan the development and expansion of a city is in government hands.

In a strongly libertarian society, for better or worse, the government cannot, in the name of city planning, control what property owners may do with their property. But city planning goes on, just that those decisions are made by the largest landowners. So that's what I mean by "political influence", in this example referring to the ability to plan the use of land near a city. So the power is not absent, just in different hands.
AFAIK, libertarians are fine with this
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Old 25th July 2022, 01:29 PM   #11
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Libertarianism is the formal accession to that very pernicious human attribute; greed. And with it, power. Indeed, it is the removal of all shackles that would restrain the Monopoly game endpoint, and as such is merely a transitory vehicle to but one end, given human nature.
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Old 25th July 2022, 02:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
Libertarianism is the formal accession to that very pernicious human attribute; greed. And with it, power. Indeed, it is the removal of all shackles that would restrain the Monopoly game endpoint, and as such is merely a transitory vehicle to but one end, given human nature.
I agree libertairaism is silly, but on the other hand not a big fan of total goverment dominatin of the economy.That has failed whenever tried.

As for greed, it ain't going anywhere, Seems to be just as much a part of human nature as the sex drive or hunger. Probably linked to the survival reaction. Trick is to control and channel it, not try to get rid of it.
And yes, as much as I liked "Star Trek" I always found the whole "there is no greed" ourtine to be ridiculous.
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Old 25th July 2022, 02:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
I agree libertairaism is silly, but on the other hand not a big fan of total goverment dominatin of the economy.That has failed whenever tried.

As for greed, it ain't going anywhere, Seems to be just as much a part of human nature as the sex drive or hunger. Probably linked to the survival reaction. Trick is to control and channel it, not try to get rid of it.
And yes, as much as I liked "Star Trek" I always found the whole "there is no greed" ourtine to be ridiculous.
It is only silly if you are a consequentialist
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Old 25th July 2022, 02:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
I am not committed to this conclusion, and I wanted some other heads besides mine on it.

Here is the form of libertarian government I am supposing:

1. Property is held sacrosanct.

2. Laws may only exist to protect against force or fraud.
In the real world these are mutually exclusive. For example CO2 emissions cause sea level rise, which destroy valuable property. There is no particular force or fraud involved so the CO2 emitters get to destroy other peoples property with impunity.


Another problem with strict Libertarianism is that the contracts that flesh out it's structure don't differentiate or exclude slavery or serfdom. It's perfectly acceptable to refuse to sell someone food unless they agree to a contract whereby they become your slave or surf. Fundamentally what strict libertarians believe in isn't freedom it's their own freedom to exploit others.


The solution to problems like these is of course greater government regulation. Many Libertarians do say they support government regulation to prevent such things from occurring, but this usually takes the form of something bad happening at which point they come forward and claim "of course that should have been regulated against!". When it comes to proactively preventing such outcomes they deny they are needed, even to the point of denying scientific realities like climate change.

It's been said that a Libertarian can never acknowledge the reality of climate change because it would force them to accept the need for collective action by the government. Accepting this would force them to abandon libertariansim of force them to become liberals.
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Old 25th July 2022, 02:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
In the real world these are mutually exclusive. For example CO2 emissions cause sea level rise, which destroy valuable property. There is no particular force or fraud involved so the CO2 emitters get to destroy other peoples property with impunity.


Another problem with strict Libertarianism is that the contracts that flesh out it's structure don't differentiate or exclude slavery or serfdom. It's perfectly acceptable to refuse to sell someone food unless they agree to a contract whereby they become your slave or surf. Fundamentally what strict libertarians believe in isn't freedom it's their own freedom to exploit others.


The solution to problems like these is of course greater government regulation. Many Libertarians do say they support government regulation to prevent such things from occurring, but this usually takes the form of something bad happening at which point they come forward and claim "of course that should have been regulated against!". When it comes to proactively preventing such outcomes they deny they are needed, even to the point of denying scientific realities like climate change.

It's been said that a Libertarian can never acknowledge the reality of climate change because it would force them to accept the need for collective action by the government. Accepting this would force them to abandon libertariansim of force them to become liberals.
.....or be a deontologist
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Old 25th July 2022, 02:41 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
I agree libertairaism is silly, but on the other hand not a big fan of total goverment dominatin of the economy.That has failed whenever tried.
Except total government domination of the economy isn't something that is a serious risk. What Libertarians mostly oppose is regulation aimed at addressing market failures and regulations that prevent the wealthy from taking away peoples freedom via the back door.
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Old 25th July 2022, 02:47 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Except total government domination of the economy isn't something that is a serious risk. What Libertarians mostly oppose is regulation aimed at addressing market failures and regulations that prevent the wealthy from taking away peoples freedom via the back door.
This is correct.
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Old 25th July 2022, 03:22 PM   #18
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Religious libertarianism (that is, the axiomatic, anti-empirical strain) is entirely process-oriented, so it would not matter if the result were plutocratic.

Quote:
1. Property is held sacrosanct.

2. Laws may only exist to protect against force or fraud.
I believe one of the appeals of libertarianism is purely aesthetic: It's a form of political monism. Here, the second premise has priority: Everything follows from some version of the non-consent principle, which leads to problems for property acquisition that often involve hand-waving.

Assuming self-ownership, how does one begin to acquire the world? But before even resolving ownership, I wonder if libertarians (propertarians, really) can defend the non-consent principle. A seemingly obvious problem, though one that took a while for me to appreciate, was that people who are bigger, stronger, more psychopathic, etc., never consented to the non-consent principle. Why should they be limited? If the reason is that such behavior is not conducive to human flourishing, then we've acquiesced to inchoate consequentialism.

Assuming both of these issues are resolved, I find it implausible that a sufficiently independent government would arise in a world of tremendous wealth/power inequalities. Madison, usually credited as the primary architect of the Constitution, famously denigrated "parchment barriers," yet this has a lot of buy-in from Americans who, like Trumpists, almost "create their own reality." It's something so foolish only Americans can believe it -- until they can't. Montana retains a strong streak of libertarianism, but it's a state with surprisingly strong culture (and laws) opposed to moneyed interests dominating their politics, no doubt borne out of the sordid history of the "Copper Kings" running the show.
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Old 25th July 2022, 03:53 PM   #19
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There will always be politics in Human Society. The only time Human's don't have politics is if they are completely solitary. So the idea in a Libertarian Society there would be little political influence is just dumb.

Social organization will involve some give and take - "politics" if you will. Many so-called Libertarians are no such thing. There is a something called left-Libertarianism which is extremely similar to Anarchism, in its stress on the elimination of coercion and domination via unjust hierachies relying on power in various ways.

So-called Libertarians seem to believe that the only source of coercion etc., is government, which in their rhetoric they demonize. They support deregulation etc., etc., and the elimination of most if not all of the restrictions on the ability of powerful economic shareholders to increase their wealth.

And to so many of these Libertarians Property Rights trump Human Rights. Thus we do get so-called Libertarians who are absolutely incensed by the violation of property rights when a state bans the export of food from a famine striken area, or if the state tries to lower the price of food in such areas by distributing food at low cost or even free. And of course if rioting starving Peasants loot trucks of food being shipped abroad that is a shocking display of extreme moral evil and violation of sacred Property Rights. To those types of Libertarians the shippers of grain etc., abroad from Famine areas or the hoarding of grain in such areas in the hope prices will vastly increase is perfectly moral and it is evil to think it raises moral questions at all. But of course starving people stealing food to stay alive is just beyond the pale and evil?! I have read some of those type of Libertarians also claiming that giving starving people food etc., might damage their morals by discouraging them from being frugal etc., just in case it might happen again, (A Famine.), and thus the good moral lesson of starving and watching those dear to you, (And yourself.), horribly suffer and likely die will be lost.

The usual argument is all about increasing "Freedom of Choice" or "Free to Choose" by these sorts of Libertarians. It actually is about increasing the the wealth and power of the wealthy shareholders in society. After all some people have more "Freedom od Choice" and are more "Free to Choose" than others. After all a single mother working in a joe job doesn't have the same Freedom has Paris Hilton.

Given that this type of Libertarianism seems to think all coercive evil comes from the government much of the time they seem to flatly deny that private power exists or that economic coercion exists. They seem to view power and coercion is a very simple minded way. Thus the ability to hire and fire people is often not seen has coercive. After all the person is "Free" to get another job!? This is combined with an the absurd implication that a Billionaire and a Janitor have equality of bargaining power. Just stupid.

Since this type of Libertarianism seems to deny the existence of private power; they also deny the obvious implications of the virtual elimination of government power in this context.

Just what is going to operate has a check on the power of such wealthy institutions, when the obligations for such things has some sort of transparency etc., are eliminated? The pie in the sky response is that people making free choices will punish those institutions etc., that behave badly by choosing not to buy their products and services. This is a Utopian platitude of such idiocy that it does not need an argument of refutation.

And so many of these Libertarians then go into waxing eloquent about how if you are injured in the Libertarian society they desire you can go to Court and sue for damages. Of course paying for the system will be voluntary and with complete freedom of Contract you can "Freely" Contract out of going to Court. None of this will affect how fair or effective the system is!? (Snark!) And of course the system will be completely unbiased without the wealthy being more equal than others in the system. (Snark!)

And of course replacing government with a vastly expanded Court System will not lead to anything like Judicial Tyranny. (Snark). Given what happens to today with wealthy persons able to stymie the Court system I have little doubt that this would be a massively greater problem in such a Libertarian society. And with government stripped of virtually all power just how will Court decisions be enforced?

The bottom line is that the strippping down of government power to such an extent will result in a massive expansion of Judicial and Corporate power filling in the vaccum left behind. Only in this case what we will get is Corporate Feudalism.
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Old 25th July 2022, 04:02 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
If Property is sacrosanct, that automatically means that property will over time end up in the hands of very few.
Libertarianism is, in its logical conclusion, the same as absolutism.
And Libertarians hate rent seekers.
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Old 25th July 2022, 06:10 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by a_unique_person View Post
And Libertarians hate rent seekers.
But that is exactly what they will get, in spades, in their ideal society.
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Old 25th July 2022, 07:35 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post

Given that this type of Libertarianism seems to think all coercive evil comes from the government much of the time they seem to flatly deny that private power exists or that economic coercion exists. They seem to view power and coercion is a very simple minded way. Thus the ability to hire and fire people is often not seen has coercive. After all the person is "Free" to get another job!? This is combined with an the absurd implication that a Billionaire and a Janitor have equality of bargaining power. Just stupid.
Why is that stupid? If one does not assign worth to a substantive definition of coercion, but merely a procedural one, why is that stupid?
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Old 25th July 2022, 09:25 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Why is that stupid? If one does not assign worth to a substantive definition of coercion, but merely a procedural one, why is that stupid?
You've answered your own question.
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Old 26th July 2022, 11:29 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
Just what is going to operate has a check on the power of such wealthy institutions, when the obligations for such things has some sort of transparency etc., are eliminated? The pie in the sky response is that people making free choices will punish those institutions etc., that behave badly by choosing not to buy their products and services. This is a Utopian platitude of such idiocy that it does not need an argument of refutation.
It's a fig leaf over the naked disregard for abuse of the power of one's own property.

As well, a lot of people that want to rely on "voting with your wallet" are just as eager to decry "cancel culture" when people actually do that.
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Old 26th July 2022, 11:49 AM   #25
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It mistake of Libertarian ideas of private property is the assumption that property gives you only rights, not obligations.
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