2011-06-03

Making a Splash

It wouldn't be fair to suggest that I started it. Jeffrey Tucker started it.

First, he praised Taco Bell. Then, some poor, lowly Facebooker had his lunch handed to him by the aforementioned Tucker article, which skewers some libertarians' tendency to hate anything that isn't pure anarcho-capitalism. Jonathan Catalan joined in with his take on the issue. I happen to have both the Mises Institute's blog and Catalan's blog on my Google Reader feed, so I commented in both places.

Today, Danny Sanchez writes:

The angrier-than-thou "moral scrupulosity" among some libertarians that Jeffrey Tucker talks about in his excellent recent post seems to be part of something a bit broader. As a commenter on Jonathan Catalan's blog post seconding Jeffrey's sentiments said, there can be a tendency for libertarians to be "willful grumps".

That uncited commenter was yours truly. The great quote being circulated now seems to be this one from Tucker:

Murray Rothbard used the phrase "do you hate the state?" to ferret out real from mild libertarians. As a correlative question, we might ask "do you love commerce?" to ferret out real defenders of real markets as versus those who just enjoy standing in moral judgement over the whole world as it really exists.

Even that one is a bit too much of a false choice for me.

I neither hate the state nor love commerce. I love freedom and prefer it to virtually everything else. This isn't a Rothbardian position or a Misesian position or a Randian position or anything of the sort. I suppose it's most like Alexis de Tocqueville's perspective. "The gradual development of the concept of equality is a Providential fact." 

I don't think every idea any smart person had has to align with my own personal ideological consistency in order for me to recognize it as a good idea. Sometimes I think libertarians forget that most people don't take everything Mises, Rothbard, and Hoppe say hook, line, and sinker. Nor should they. "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." (Frank Zappa).

Libertarianism isn't a "done deal," nor is it a complete, consistent, fully resolved doctrine capable of accounting for every fact of human economic and political life. We're not "finished." We have to keep thinking. We have to keep bringing in new ideas and correcting old, incorrect ones. If that means I take more ideas from Rand than Rothbard, mix in a little Milton Friedman, add a few of Reagan's aphorisms, and (gasp!) don't hate the state, then so be it. 

But this perspective of mine is only inconsistent to people who have their own thing going on. That's okay, too. It's possible for many different consistent logical systems to exist simultaneously. We're all consistent, so we all believe our logical systems are true

But truth takes a level of scientific evaluation that spans centuries. It's a job that's never really finished.