The Daily Libertarian

John Humphries has redone the Australian Libertarian Society website, with feeds from “all the main pro-freedom blogs in Australia”, including mine.

(My various explanations as to why I am not a libertarian have fallen victim to technological gremlins here and at Catallaxy, but there is a remant here. But I am happy with ‘pro-freedom’.)

Update: One of my explanations survives in the National Library archive.

18 thoughts on “The Daily Libertarian

  1. “The ALS does not deny the concept of human-caused global warming. However, we remain skeptical of the need for drastic government action and are opposed to the ALP/Coalition policy of introducing an emmissions trading system.”

    I’m glad the ALS does not, at least, deny the concept of human-caused global warming. But I am yet to see the ALS’s reason for its stance on an ETS. It is doubtful that any political party can come to a scientifically considered view about global warming, and so it shouldn’t even try. What, then, is the ALS’s reasons for its views about global warming?


  2. Picking up on Tim’s comment at #2, as one of my pseudonyms has pointed out many times on the ALS’s blog, Libertarians are simply pro-negative freedom (freedom from restraint); they pay little attention to pissues of ositive freedom (freedom to participate). The ALS’s claim that they are pro-freedom, with its implication that other blogs are not, thus relies on this oversight.


  3. Tom – it is not an oversight. Positive rights when imposed by law are in practice a violation of freedom. Such laws may at times have utility but that is a separate matter. For instance stealing from the rich and giving to the poor might sometimes help the poor get out of a tricky spot but it isn’t a freedom initiative. The left should admit this and argue the case against freedom if they are still committed.

    Where conservatives on the political right decide we should be without freedoms (eg they typically oppose the freedom to take drugs or to have abortions) they usually at least have the courage to admit they are against such freedom. However when the left want to take money from me and spend it on something such as public housing they often mischaracterise this sort of thing as being about freedom (the right to shelter). Giving a homeless person a house does not increase their freedom even though it may increase their wealth, their opportunities, their wellbeing. Whilst taxing somebodies earnings makes somebody both poorer and reduces their freedom (the freedom to keep what you create). So on aggragate freedom is reduced. The question should be whether this reduction in freedom is acceptable given the benefits. Trying to pretend that such measures increase freedom is dishonest or confused.

    Taking drugs like Heroin may cause you to accidentally die, which wouldn’t be very good, whilst using laws and coercion to stop you might provide a better outcome. However that entails removing you’re freedom.

    Freedom is not about ends but about means. Libertarians are not immune to concerns about ends. They do however place a large value on freedom. And as Ghandi said you are not really free if you are not allowed to make you’re own mistakes.


  4. p.s. I should also point out that most libertarians have become libertarians at least in part because they believe that on aggragate that freedom leads to better ends. A few extreme libertarians somewhere in the universe may believe that freedom leads to really bad outcomes and should be revered regardless, however such fish seem very rare.


  5. Tom… you’re going close to giving up you alias. 🙂

    I have directly addressed this “negative v positive” freedom issue before. I note that the terms themselves are loaded with bias.

    Freedom is best understood regarding process, not an outcome. In contrast “positive freedoms” relate to outcomes. Outcomes are good, but we already have a word for outcomes. There is no need to confuse the concept of “freedom” by introducing one type of freedom which simply means “good outcome”.

    Sacha — the burden of proof for govenment programs does not rest on those people who oppose them. It doesn’t make sense to say “we should invade Iraq unless you show otherwise” or “we should have internet censorship unless you can show otherwise”.

    Nearly every analysis of the costs and benefits of the main proposals shows that they do not produce a net benefit.


  6. Trouble is, pretty well everyone says that they support freedom. A quick Google on “pro-freedom” finds it used by conspiracy nuts (they want freedom from the oppression from secret Masonic world government), some alt medicine dude who says “CounterThink is a pro-environment, pro-health, pro-freedom cartoon series that dares to tell the truth about modern medicine, government oversight, corporate influence and the erosion of personal freedom”, supporters of the Iraq war, and some fellow who wants a Guaranteed Livable Income so we can all be freed from wage slavery.


  7. What do YOU think it means, Tim? It’s all very good telling us what you think other people are saying, but you do you think the term conveys?

    You don’t have to google any response, just put it in you own words and see what comes out.


  8. Of course everyone is in favour of freedom and justice as well. You have to do some analysis and see what clusters of policies actually deliver freedom and prosperity (and peace) in the medium to long term, passing over the Robin Hood type of fixes that just hand out stuff to poor folk, a la Mugabe, without being sustainable.
    If you do some of that I think you will find that the classical liberal agenda (a range of freedoms under the rule of law, limited government, property rights and a decent moral framework) will deliver the goods. And wherever things are improving you will find that the classical liberal items on the agenda are doing the heavy lifting, whatever the name of the party in power and the other items that are a part of the package. Check out Chile, Vietnam, India and China.


  9. Freedom means many things , lambert. It also means the right to dissent from popular opinion. It means the possibility of having those opinions getting published in say The Australian and not having someone like you refer to the paper’s actions as some war on science.

    It means that people like you shouldn’t be high fiving when Durkin’s “swindel” is being sued and thinking that suing a person for espousing different ideas to stop them from being shown on TV is a good idea.

    When you understand the difference, you are may be on your way to understanding what freedom is. As yet you don’t which is why you’re flailing around google trying to find obstacles to this discussion.


  10. Fascinating. Joe Cambria idea of “freedom” includes freedom from being criticised. Apparently my little blog is oppressing the downtrodden punditocrats at The Australian.

    Oops, I guess I can’t help myself. I put the blogjackboots on have gone and oppressed Bjorn “up is down” Lomborg.


  11. Lambert

    You can criticize whoever you like, but for once instead of acting like a trip wire and ruining the tempo of the comments as you always seem to , do what I suggested and explain to us exactly what you think freedom means instead of having to refer to Google to give you an explanation of absurdities and irrelevancies.

    Fascinating. Joe Cambria idea of “freedom” includes freedom from being criticised

    Do you even appreciate humor Tim? Or is that too lost on you, big guy?


  12. Apparently my little blog is oppressing the downtrodden punditocrats at The Australian.

    Is the word “little” meant as a Freudian slip. Tim? That’s funny because I often hear of you taking your blog stats to various drinks and so on to boast about the number of hits your little/big blog get attracts. Is that true and if so you obviously don’t think it’s little like some things such as unfortunate turnouts in nature…….


  13. Sorry for the delay in responding Terje (#7), but I maintain that giving money to someone who would otherwise be enslaved by her economic circumstances is increasing their freedom. I’m sure the recipient would see it that way too.

    You say “positive rights when imposed by law are in practice a violation of freedom.” However, I can just as sensibly say that they’re a violation of negative freedom but they add to positive freedom, and that the net effect of freedom depends on the particular circumstances. I’d say that taxing James Packer $10000 and giving it to a family living on the breadline results in a net increase in freedom, for instance.

    You simply want to focus on negative freedom and equate that to ‘freedom’. Good luck to you, but do not expect that others will necessarily feel obliged to accept your definitions or see them as meaningful.


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