Sunday, June 28, 2015

Libertarians and Culture

By Bionic Mosquito

You won’t need a link; this week the Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage.  All are welcome.

It apparently needs to be said that the only proper libertarian position is that marriage isn’t any business of the government – at any level.  From a solely libertarian viewpoint, marriage is nothing more than a voluntary contractual arrangement. 

This isn’t the view of many so-called libertarians.  They are praising the decision.  They only desire a world of subservience and dependence, in which they suck on the pig’s teat for their succor.

Like gaining legitimacy from a government that has violated the life and property of countless billions of individuals is something to be desired.  “Oh great god government, destroyer of nations, destroyer of life and property, I look to you for legitimacy, please send your blessing upon me; bring me salvation and make me whole.”  This is the prayer of those libertarians who praise the ruling.

Don’t believe me?  Just ask the bleeding hearts:

Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the same-sex marriage case makes clear that what is at stake is equal access to liberty, the freedom to marry. (Emphasis in original)

There is also praise for the ruling at Cato, see here and here.

What “liberty” and “freedom” does one gain by having their marriage blessed by an illegitimate government?  I find none.  Yet this doesn’t mean there is no gain to those individuals so blessed.  There is certainly a gain for those so blessed via access to services and the like.  From the government, benefits such as Social Security and Medicare are now available; from private employers, various state-mandated (and, without doubt) voluntary benefits are now available – whether the employer wishes it to be so or not.

Of course, these benefits could also have been made available via contract.  All such benefits are nothing more than contractual agreements – I know the statement is fuzzy when it comes to government benefits, but the principle is the same; it is more easily explained when using the private example:

I work for the Hard-Nose Conservative Company; no matter how much I insist, they will not provide medical benefits to my “partner.”  I find another opportunity with the “Welcoming Company.”  We agree that they will provide these benefits.  I change employers.

See how that works?  No force required; no judgement in a 5-4 decision.  It’s called a contract.

The “freedom” that these so-called libertarians proclaim is the freedom from voluntary relationships.

But none of this is the main point of my post – the point is culture.  As a libertarian, I say smoke pot, snort coke, visit a pro, choose your gender, marry whomever you want, whatever.  As long as you impose no cost on me, I have no standing to intervene.

But this doesn’t mean I am obliged to celebrate such rulings – even as a libertarian. 

However, culture matters.  I suspect there is not a single example in history where a growing libertine culture has not destroyed the previous, prevailing culture within a few generations.  Decadence comes with a cost.

Every thriving – even surviving – society requires governance; not government as the term is currently understood, but governance.  The lowest level, closest to most voluntary, most decentralized level of societal governance, is the family.  Destroy the moral foundations of family and you destroy society.  Of this there is no doubt, and history has enough examples.

This Supreme Court ruling is not the beginning of this destruction; the road to decadence began long ago.  I need not provide a list of examples (this would make for too-long-a-post on its own): just consider every act that chips away at the family, consider how these are now acceptable – and even praised; many by libertarians. 

The libertine libertarians celebrate decadence.  They are cheering on the doom of us all. They ensure that those who might otherwise be attracted to the libertarian message but at the same time are mature enough to understand that culture matters will not consider joining the libertarian cause.

Call me thick and you would be wrong; this isn’t a libertarian issue.  It is an issue of culture, and culture will determine the future of this society, far more than any narrowly defined libertarian theory.  Libertarian theory speaks to nothing more than the legitimate use of force.  Everything else is what defines a society.

I see no reason for this destruction to be praised.  A libertarian need not praise this decision to remain libertarian.

The above originally appeared at Bionic Mosquito.


  1. Marriage is a partnership contract with legal implications, including division of assets in divorce, shared debts, inheritance, and child custody. These items must be enforceable, so government does have a role.

    1. So its illegal for private parties to create their own contracts amongst themselves? Like prenups?

    2. Every contract has legal implications. We do not then have government come up with and define every private contract. People come up with and define the significance of the contract. Only in matters of dispute does the govt go in and decide who is right based on what was agreed to beforehand. Same exact thing with marriage, if you decide to define marriage as a contract.

  2. Want to bet conservative states will soon start putting restrictions on marriages now? When abortion became legal conservative states found ways to restrict abortions, like what just happened in Texas. How about in the future men will be restricted to only 2 marriages? Studies have shown that men with more than 2 marriages have a much greater than average number of children. Since the passage of UN Treaty on Climate Change/Global Warming (UNToCCGW) the US Government has been seeking ways to slow the population growth. Studies show that as the number of children men have increases, the higher the probability of those children receiving a poor education. Hence the new restrictions. ;)

    1. Liberals also likely will have restrictions on marriages. There will likely be no polygamous marriages or interspecies marriages.

  3. I don't share the same view of how sacred the family is. This smacks of conservative moralizing. Genetic connection is one of the least voluntary connections. Family members are often people one would never choose to affiliate with otherwise.

    But the main point is valid, the state makes even less plausible claims to be involved in marriage than it does in anything else.

    Agreed that libertarians who properly focus solely on aggression have nothing to celebrate here. Equal protection notwithstanding, the state should be getting out of the marriage business not getting deeper into it. The additional people getting married by the state means a larger state marriage/divorce apparatus incurring higher taxpayer costs and even broader reach which is bad for everyone.

    The newly granted mandatory marriage benefits also legally constitute an unnatural burden to employers forced to subsidize spouses. They must now re-balance compensation, hiring, and prices to accommodate, losing efficiency and destroying value for everyone in the process.

  4. Government might have a role in enforcing a contract between two parties, although a private organization would do it more efficiently and cheaply. However, it has no role in enforcing any entitlement on those for whom such contract is an abomination. The Bionic Mosquito makes this clear.

  5. "I don't share the same view of how sacred the family is....Family members are often people one would never choose to affiliate with otherwise."

    So true.

    1. I take it neither of you have children. Stop listening to Molyneux. You are welcome to crap on your parents but don't act like its justifiable.

      What or where would you be if you were left alone at 7 years old? On your logic, your parents don't owe you any duty apparently, since they would never choose to affiliate with you otherwise.

      I wish the younger libertarians weren't so brazenly selfish -- it's such a blindspot and as BM points out, without culture you are dooming yourself.

      The governing family unit is the basis of all civilization. It's not an arguable point. It's biological. It's almost a priori insofar as it's how virtually all societies have started.

    2. "I take it neither of you have children. Stop listening to Molyneux. You are welcome to crap on your parents but don't act like its justifiable. "

      This topic is a very difficult one in general. I think to some extent there is still confused logic within the libertarian community itself that is creating this discord and continual searching for logic/truth in the matter.

      DesertBunny took exception with the way I disciplined my kids(spanking) when they were very young under potentially dangerous situations(running into the street), suggesting I was abusing them, along the Molyneux vein of argumentation.(and the NAP)

      Setting aside the fact that young children do not have brains that can fully grasp logic early in their life- the issue of how & when to discipline kids is subjective in nature with obvious elements of natural law involved.

      After that occurrence(in the comment section of EPJ) it gave me an opportunity to self examine and do some very heavy thinking on the topic of children, ownership, discipline, etc.

      As a preface, I am VERY familiar with Molyneux's argumentation in regard to discipline of children and specifically his "Defoo" concept. Let me also say that my anecdotal experience is that there seems to be a higher percentage of libertarians that have had crappy parents than the general population and it helped steer them to libertarianism because they are in tune to abuse by authority. (that's purely anecdotal)

      I note that I seem to recall that Molyneaux is a product of such a relationship.

      I have some "unique" experiences in this area personally as well, so in some ways I can relate and understand his viewpoint, but in some areas he(and Block) seem to miss the mark.(logically, IMO) I was actually aware of Molyneux, defooing, etc. right around the same time I became aware of LRC in 06/07' time frame. For the record, I have no problem with the concept of "defoo"ing in general, I just think Molyneux should probably make his argument and not get so personally invested in the decisions of others on whether they should or should not "defoo" in the absence of being there in the face of natural law violations...but that's a different discussion.

      I myself continue to think about this topic as a whole-I see the issue of "ownership" of kids and the issue of discipline as closely related myself.

      I see most of the solutions to society ills in "property rights" and the NAP. So I'm going to attempt to further explain as briefly as I can.

      I do stand on Block's shoulders, because I agree with part his statement:

      "Children occupy an intermediate ground between that of animals and other adult human beings. (I know, I know, this sounds a bit weird, but hear me out.) The former can be owned and disposed of at will. The latter, apart from voluntary slavery, cannot be the private property of anyone else. "

    3. "disposed of at will"

      Block argues this in the manner of not having "positive obligations". It is clearly a violation of natural law, but logically sound....hence in a weird way supportive of DesertBunny/Molyneux in their Defoo arguments for children also abandoning their parents.

      However, when the logic appears to contradict natural law, our logical path seems to have failed IMO. I seem to recall that Rothbard favored this approach as well and suggested that logic needs to continue to be refined until it does not.

      Regardless, I agree with Block that children do occupy an "intermediate ground". But I have a slightly different viewpoint than Block on how this should be viewed:

      Block suggests that children can't be owned. I disagree, I think a world in which property ownership is established in conjunction wth the NAP would be ideal and in this this regard I'm quite comfortable with the Lockean/Bastiat property concept/definition of having created with my labor and homesteading, the value of my children-THEY ARE MY PROPERTY.

      Where children differ in my view is that they will at some point in time use their own labor to homestead themselves and CLAIM ownership of themselves.

      "Children, in sharp contrast to both, may be controlled by parents, under a very different type of legal provision, not ownership, of course, but, rather, attainment and retention of guardianship rights. This means that as long as the parent is properly guarding, safe-guarding, caring for, bringing up, the child, he maintains his right to continue to do so. No one else may take his child away from him, even if the latter can give the youngster a better life, even if that would be in the child’s best interest."

      Block's argument against positivist rights in general is correct, but I think this notion of "guardian rights" is no different than ownership itself. If we instead treat children as property, their eventual(in most cases) ability to take care of themselves simply becomes a matter of property title transfer and invalidates anyone else's attempts to take them from parents.

      So in summary, I do own my children IMO. They ARE my property right.(and if I violate natural law, I could be stripped of that right) I have done so in a Lockean/Bastiat property defined manner.

      At some point in time, they will own themselves when able to use their own labor and homestead themselves, making themselves valuable outside my subjective notion of thier value to others and can take care of themselves.

      Why is this important? Well, natural law is what determines when I'm "abusing" my kids- but they remain mine by property right until the overwhelming nature of natural law says otherwise.(which is subjective)

      Some, perhaps DesertBunny & Molyneux, might feel justified in violating my property rights to my kids by claiming that my occasional spanking of them when young constitutes a violation of natural rights and try to strip them from me. Thankfully at this point in time natural rights suggest otherwise.

      They should be thankful too that they own their kids(if they are fortunate enough to one day create or own them), otherwise some busy body might claim a violation of natural law if they aren't able to effectively communicate the dangers of sticking wetted fingers into electrical outlets, etc. et al, prior to their kids ability to assimilate logic.

      Some might argue that leaving your young child near an electrical socket is the fault of the parent...but as you "you have children?"

  6. Two groups of people who support this ruling are 1) Those who want/need the stamp of approval on their lifestyle choice. 2) Trendy straight people who find it expedient to be so compassionate and tolerant while, as usual, not realizing there is more to this issue. Mr. Bionic rightfully notes the cultural angle, but I also add the great expansion of government which he notes in passing. If there is a constitutional right, (don't libertarians distinguish between positive/negative rights anymore?), then won't churches be forced to perform services? (separation of church/state has always worked only one way) So much for property rights and religious freedom. Supporters of this ruling are using the force of the federal government to make others kowtow to their beliefs. At least they should have the decency to pass state laws instead of celebrating a federal ruling. For those who disrespect the role of entities other than the state throughout history, the family, the church, neighborhoods, voluntary associations, please read more on the subject.

  7. I've observed forever that the family is the only legitimate governing unit. All others are coercive imposters. The human newborn comes into being totally dependent upon adult caregivers. For survival -- and also for freedom (in an unfree world

    Hopefully those caregivers will be loving, dedicated Moms and Dads. Often they are not. Sometimes Mom abandons the infant to others. But the principle remains. All attempts at governing are interlopers to the human family.

    And, in time, it is the children, now grown, who provide care for the elderly Moms and Dads. That is the human family -- the "legal" governing unit.

    Too many overlook the obvious. And so, the state:

    How anyone calling himself or herself "libertarian" (lower case "l") can miss the obvious eludes me. Sam