Like most libertarians, Jeffrey Tucker doesn’t understand liberty. He writes:
Liberty allows peaceful human cooperation. It inspires the creative service of others. It keeps violence at bay. It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms. It socializes people with rewards toward getting along rather than tearing each other apart, and leads to a world in which people are valued as ends in themselves rather than fodder in the central plan. (“Against Libertarian Brutalism,” The Freeman, March 12, 2014)
What’s wrong with Tucker’s formulation? In a word: reification. Liberty does nothing, absolutely nothing. Liberty is a result of human striving, not the mysterious causal force of Tucker’s imagining.
Liberty is what people enjoy when they coexist peacefully and cooperatively, when they recognize property rights, when they allow freedom of association, and when they observe both of the complementary sub-rules of the Golden Rule:
- Do no harm to others, lest they do harm to you.
- Be kind and charitable to others, and they will be kind and charitable to you.
None of this is possible unless there is agreement as to what constitutes harm — agreement which is embedded in and preserved by social norms that have evolved through eons of trial and error. Above all, there must be mutual trust and respect. Liberty is therefore likely to prevail only in a polity that is bound by genetic kinship.
Getting back to Tucker’s effusion: It’s just another example of left-libertarian whinging. Liberty is all right, say left-libertarians, as long as it yields certain results. What are those results? Combine the treacly, goody-two-shoes mentality of Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Sesame Street; throw in laws and regulations to suppress non-conforming behavior; form identically shaped, identically colored, identically mindless citizens; and bake in the heat of elite-manufactured opinion.
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