No compromises

Freedom vs. Safety

David brin says: “Nobody makes me choose between freedom for my children and their safety!” That’s fighting spirit, and I love it! The idea that there’s a tradeoff between freedom and safety is the basis to all the post-9/11 hysteria and the resulting surveillance state. It’s also a proven strategy for pitting public opinion against ACLU types, let alone anarchists. I’m probably not quite as sold on the idea that there is absolutely no tradeoff between freedom and safety, but I’m so thrilled to see someone refuse to have their ideals pitted against one another, that I too wish to make a “no compromises” statement. Several, in fact.

Liberty vs. Equality

This is the big one. Strict NAPster libertarians of course insist that equality is a prerequisite for liberty, and that libertarian thought endorses egalitarianism—specifically analytical egalitarianism, according to Steven Horwitz, writing for the think tank Foundation for Economic Education:

Too often it is used to mean “equalizing outcomes” by the hand of the State as opposed to treating people equally and accepting that unequal, but just and socially desirable, outcomes will result. Libertarians who rightly defend such inequalities of outcomes need to recognize that those are only possible in a world where the assumption of analytical egalitarianism operates and where the State treats all humans as having equal moral standing and equal capacity for free choice. Equality should not be a dirty word for libertarians since equality of liberty and equality before the law are in our intellectual DNA.

Put another way, equality should not be a dirty word, because equality (like everything else) should be so narrowly defined as to be a formality. Basically the old right-wing canard “equality of opportunity, not of results.” Horwitz is advocating an even narrower understanding of equality, basically “equality at birth.” From that point forward, life is a rat race, and to the victors go the spoils. Like most Americans of my generation, I was raised with the mantra “you can be anything you want when you grow up.” Perhaps a variant on Brin’s statement above is in order: Nobody makes me choose between freedom for my children and their equality with their peers when it comes to life chances! Just to be clear, I think analytical egalitarianism is part of life chances, but access to resources is another part, and social capital is another.

Opportunity vs. Security

Whenever there is Euro-bashing (i.e. social democracy bashing) there is the rhetorical question: Would you rather live in an opportunity society or a security society? Hello? Economic security is a foundation on which economic opportunity is built. The freedom to take entreprenoorial risks often rests on some fall-back position, such as bankruptcy law. I’d rather live in an opportunity and security society.

when compromises must be made

Like I said earlier, I’m not 1,000% convinced that there are no trade-offs. I understand the idea of competing goals, or multiple objectives for optimization. As a matter of principle, we should go to great lengths to verify that whatever compromises we make between our most cherished values are as efficient as possible, that is, and we should always push the envelope and try to expand the envelope when it comes to feasible combinations of these factors.


About n8chz

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2 Responses to No compromises

    • n8chz says:

      OK, not formal, but oh so narrowly defined, as is so de rigeur with the conservatives. In Plain English we use the word “subordinate” to denote one’s underlings in the workplace. “Subordination or subjection of B to A” could, to most English speakers, mean that A is B’s boss.

      On the one hand, statist ideology must render the violence of the state invisible, in order to disguise the affront to equality it represents. Hence statists tend to treat governmental edicts as though they were incantations, passing directly from decree to result, without the inconvenience of means; since in the real world the chief means employed by government is violence, threatened and actual, cloaking state decrees and their violent implementation in the garb of incantation disguises both the immorality and the inefficiency of statism by ignoring the messy path from decree to result.

      Interestingly, the instrument of market allocation is referred to as an Invisible Hand. The intent in this nomenclature seems to be not so much a disguise as an assertion of the unknowability of the Hand. The Hand is, however assumed to be capable of passing directly from decree (aggregate cardinal utility) to result (an allocation of resources assumed to be maximally efficient) perhaps not without the inconvenience of means, but at least with the astonishing convenience of the “voluntary” (both euvoluntary and dysvoluntary) actions of individuals being in perfect accord with its objectives.

      (long pause while I read the other document)

      I should have known. Inspection of the pdf file (page 2) reveals that you saw the subordination objection coming; hence the phrase “forcible subordination.” For subordination within the market-matrix, we have only ourselves to blame. How humiliating. And how convenient for the Invisible Hand, and its lackeys, to whom it awards $ucce$$.

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