Saturday, July 27, 2013

The libertarian paradox

The Libertarian Paradox - Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. - Mises Daily:

July 25, 2013 - "As libertarians attempt to persuade others of their position, they encounter an interesting paradox. On the one hand, the libertarian message is simple. It involves moral premises and intuitions that in principle are shared by virtually everyone, including children. Do not hurt anyone. Do not steal from anyone. Mind your own business.

"A child will say, 'I had it first.' There is an intuitive sense according to which the first user of a previously unowned good holds moral priority over latecomers.... By extension, everyone justly holds as his own property those goods with which he has mixed his labor. Cultivating land, picking an apple — whatever the case may be, we say that the first person to homestead property that had previously sat in the state of nature without an individual owner could call himself its owner.

"In addition to being just, this rule also minimizes conflict. It is a rule everyone can understand, based on a principle that applies to all people equally. It does not say that only members of a particular race or level of intelligence may own property. And it is a rule that definitively stakes out ownership claims in ways that anyone can grasp, and which will keep disputes to a minimum....

"These principles are easy to grasp, and as I’ve said, they involve moral insights which practically everyone claims to share.

"And here is the libertarian paradox. Libertarians begin with these basic, commonly shared principles, and seek only to apply them consistently and equally to all people. But even though people claim to support these principles, and even though most people claim to believe in equality — which is what the libertarian is upholding by applying moral principles to everyone without exception — the libertarian message suddenly becomes extreme, unreasonable, and unacceptable.

"Why is it so difficult to persuade people of what they implicitly believe already?"

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