Climate Reality Bites the Libertarians in the Arse

Some of my best friends are libertarians.

We read each others’ papers, we exchange ideas by e-mail, and we invite each other to participate in our seminars and conferences.

On numerous occasions, my libertarian friends have treated me with generosity and respect. I’ve found them to be personable and tolerant of my progressive opinions.

And also unyielding in their convictions.

My libertarian friends, I have discovered, are like the kindly Catholic bishop, who will patiently listen to your heresies, all the while never budging an iota from his absolute faith in the authority of the Pontiff, the truth of the dogma of the immaculate conception, and the sinfulness of birth control.

Likewise, the typical libertarian is steadfast in his beliefs,

* that “there is no such thing as a public” (Ayn Rand) – that (so-called) “society” is nothing more than an aggregation of individuals. It follows that there is no such thing as “the public interest,” “social problems,” or “victims of society.”

* that the profit motive combined with human ingenuity (Julian Simon’s “ultimate resource”) is the primary engine of human progress and the solution to any problems that might arise from industrial civilization.

* that a free market, unconstrained by government regulation, will always produce better results than centrally planned, “collectivized” public enterprises. (“Market Absolutism”)

* that private ownership of natural resources and institutions is always preferable to public ownership: “Whenever we find an approach to the extension of private property rights in these areas, we find superior results.” (Robert J. Smith)

* that the fundamental and exclusive human rights are to life, liberty, and property, and that governments have no legitimate function other than the protection of these individual rights. Accordingly, taxation for any other purposes, such as public education, welfare, promotion of the arts, national parks, or the protection of the environment, is theft.

To yield these principles is to abandon libertarianism itself.

Accordingly, like Ptolemy’s fixed earth around which the sun, the planets, the stars, and the entire universe circulate, these core libertarian dogmas are eternally fixed, and neither, history, practical experience, and occasionally not even science and logic, can be allowed to budge them.

Thus the inevitable collision between libertarianism and climate science over global warming.

This “collision” may be found in the pronouncements and publications of such “conservative” think tanks as The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, The Cato Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Never mind that the two thousand scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), along with the vast majority of qualified scientists of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, etc. all affirm the reality of global warming.

(My libertarian friends have never offered me a plausible explanation as to how, if they are right, the overwhelming majority of so many accredited scientists could be so wrong, or what might motivate them to persist in their alleged “errors”).

Secular libertarians are not noted for their rejection of established scientific opinion. They do not, for example, dispute evolution or modern medical science, and in fact their faith in the capacity of applied science (spurred on, of course, by private “competitive enterprise”) to solve any and all pending resource shortages and environmental crises exceeds that of most scientists.

But when it comes to climate science many libertarians treat the results of extensive and lavishly funded research of qualified experts with a skepticism that rivals Bob Jones University’s dismissal of Charles Darwin.

Why is this so?

It is so, because, like Biblical literalism vs. modern biology and structural geology, the fundamental tenets of libertarianism are flatly incompatible with a scientific understanding of the causes of, and the remedies for, global warming. A libertarian who was somehow convinced of these causes and remedies would almost certainly have to give up his or her libertarianism. To be sure, one might maintain one’s insistence upon the privacy rights and the sanctity of individual autonomy, in which case the libertarian might then become a progressive.

Of course, the libertarian, if convinced at last of the validity of the IPCC findings, would have to admit that Al Gore is right, after all. That concession, while painful, would be superficial. Much graver recantations would be in order, involving not personalities but basic libertarian principles.

Regarding the causes of the climate crisis: The overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is “anthropogenic;” i.e., caused by human activity, which means largely by industrial activity. The primary chemical culprit is carbon dioxide, released by the consumption of fossil fuels: coal, natural gas, and petroleum. CO2 build-up is a giant-size example of what economists call an “externality:” a effect of economic transactions on unconsenting “third parties.” And externalities are the No.1 nemeses of libertarianism: the compelling justification, time and again, for the regulation and intervention of private enterprise by governments, acting in “the public interest” – which is to say, in behalf of all those unconsenting “third parties.” In this case, those “third parties” are nothing less than all of mankind today and in all succeeding future generations.

With the onset of the industrial revolution, some three hundred years ago, wood fuel and human and animal labor were replaced first with coal and later with petroleum. The advantages of this transition were enormous and therefore irresistible. The effects of this transition upon the global climate (i.e., the “externalities”) were unknown, and until very recently, unknowable. But now, at last, we know.

Simply put, global warming is the by-product of the unconstrained “free market” that is celebrated by the libertarians. Also, let us not forget, it is the by-product of the command economies of the Soviet Union and China, whose governments were as unconcerned about externalities as any of the capitalists.

The industrial revolution, while it has caused untold misery among the working classes, has also brought about incalculable advantages: advances in medicine that have more than doubled the human life span, ease of communication and transportation, material abundance, and an explosion of scientific knowledge and technological capacity. Seated at this computer, with instant access to multiple libraries of information, having just enjoyed a meal of salmon from Alaska, oranges from Florida and avocados from Chile, and hale and hardy past my biblically allotted three-score and ten years, I should be ungrateful indeed if I were to disparage the bounties of industrialization.

But all this does not mean that mankind, upon releasing the fossil energy accumulated through millions of years, was not therefore obliged to study, forecast, and act upon the consequences of that release.

Those consequences fall not simply upon isolated, enterprising individuals, they fall upon a global collective entity — a “public,” a “society,” the existence of which, let us recall, the libertarians refuse to acknowledge. And they also fall upon future generations, who do not vote and do not participate in today’s markets. Moreover, that study, forecasting, and action, by their very collective nature, can not be done by individual entrepreneurs and private corporations, for “where’s the profit in it?”

No, the task of responding appropriately to the gathering climate emergency must fall upon non-economic entities, acting in behalf of mankind at large. Such entities are called “governments.”

Well, those governments have responded, in internal agencies such as the NAS, NCAR, NOAA, and in the United Nations agency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Add to these, non-profit non-governmental organizations, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The response of the libertarians to this informed consensus is denial. But how could it be otherwise? Accepting the conclusions of IPCC and the virtually unanimous opinion of climate scientists throughout the world would entail the conclusion that unconstrained market forces, privatization, and moral atomism have brought human civilization to the brink of unspeakable catastrophe.

Regarding the remedies to the climate crisis: Don’t look to private enterprise for a solution to global warming. The fundamental responsibility of the private corporation is to protect investments and ensure the survival of the enterprise. If science won’t serve the corporate interests, then public relations will have to do the job. Case in point: the tobacco industry. So too, “global warming skepticism,” lavishly funded by the coal and petroleum industries. In both cases, the “science” is reversed and therefore fatally compromised, as the corporate order is given: “these are our ‘conclusions,’ now it’s your job to come up with some ‘evidence’ to support them.”

Individual self-interest, the libertarians tell us, is the engine of progress. And it is both spontaneous and sufficient. No need for governments to “plan” or interfere; just leave progress to the benevolent “invisible hand” of the marketplace.

Tragically, those with eyes to see, can see where that approach has led us. Those who cannot see, should look at the satellite photos of the Arctic ice cap, the Antarctic ice shelves, and then learn from the trained eyes of the scientists who have measured the CO2 levels at Mauna Kea, who have examined the Greenland and Antarctic ice cores, who have measured the declining volume of the Greenland ice shield, etc.

All these researches have been sponsored and funded by governments.

Quasi-market solutions, such as carbon trading, while not totally useless, have proven at last to be too little and too late.

And so, some enlightened economists have finally if reluctantly come to the forced conclusion that only a massive, international government effort can avert the looming global catastrophe.

In a New York Times article, published just two days ago, Andrew C. Revkin reports a growing consensus opinion that

What is needed … is the development of radically advanced low-carbon technologies, which … will only come about with greatly increased spending by determined governments on what has so far been an anemic commitment to research and development. A Manhattan-like Project, so to speak….

In an article in the journal Nature last week, researchers concerned with the economics, politics, and science of climate also argued that technology policy, not emissions policy, must dominate.

“Policy” means guidance “from the top.” No place for an “invisible hand” of the market here. “A Manhattan-like Project” means government funding and administration today, just as it did sixty-five years ago at Oak Ridge, Hanford and Los Alamos. Exxon-Mobil won’t do it. Why should they? They are flourishing quite well, thank you very much, in the “awl bidness.” Global warming is a public emergency, requiring a public response.

“Market forces” are not irrelevant to this vast undertaking. Tax incentives and competition for government contracts can stimulate incentive, innovation, and enterprise. For example, windfall profit taxes could be levied on the oil companies, with the proceeds directed back at them earmarked for alternative energy research and development. But market forces, thus utilized, are subordinated to public policy. And the libertarians will have none of it.

It is this uncompromising market absolutism that disqualifies the libertarians from a seat at the table where climate control and remediation policy is to be deliberated.

And so, we arrive at last at the logical crux of the libertarian’s denial of global warming: If the retrospective and prospective conclusions of the IPCC and other scientific bodies are essentially correct, then the core principles of libertarianism are practically unworkable and morally untenable in modern industrial society. The logically valid implication must be that if the fundamental libertarian doctrine is to be maintained, then the multi-million dollar findings of thousands of expert scientists must be summarily rejected. (QED: Modus tolens, for you logic students).

There is an equally valid response for the libertarians: Accept the scientific consensus and abandon your dogmas. (QED: Modus ponens).

C’mon, my libertarian friends, give it up and join the rest of humanity in our common struggle to save the planet for human habitation. I promise, you’ll feel good about it once you’ve taken the plunge.

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin and is the co-editor of The Crisis Papers. His e-mail is: Read other articles by Ernest, or visit Ernest's website.

34 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Boldin said on April 10th, 2008 at 7:49am #

    “Simply put, global warming is the by-product of the unconstrained “free market” that is celebrated by the libertarians. ”

    Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s greatest cause is unrestrained government. Well, in the form of corporatism.

    The industrial revolution was the start of the whole mess, quite true. In Britain, new factories were spewing soot like we can’t even imagine. Farmers and other small property owners tried to sue the many factories for damaging crops, homes and their livelihood.

    What was the result? The government – as usual – sided with the factories because it was in the “best interests of the whole community”

    These decisions were the legal foundation used to nearly the same ends in the US. In short, the right of individuals to seek redress for pollution of their homes (and their selves) was eliminated.

    All this was done in the name of the “community”

    When you give the government the power to decide what’s “best for the community” you end up with results like this – plenty of unintended consequences, and in this case, ruinous consequences for the entire world.

    Instead of respecting the rights of each individual that tries to sue – we allow judges, politicians, and bureaucrats to tell US whether it’s in our interests or not to allow that.

    When you give such a small number of people such vast power – what do you get? Well, those politicians become quite beholden to their corporate friends.

    Sounds pretty fascist, doesn’t it? Well, it is.

    So, for all this time, instead of corporations having to absorb the full cost of their operations, government has given them pretty much a free pass. Regulations and laws that they’ve passed have been nothing but window dressing.

    Every day your home and my home is filled with pollutants, and our own government doesn’t give us the right to put a stop to it, or to even sue for it.

    think you can sue a coal plant? HA! If property rights were supreme instead of corporate power – we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Turning to the government to solve the problem that IT creates – and perpetuates – is a poor choice. (especially seeing that the government itself, through the Pentagon and the US mint, does more pollution than virtually anyone)

    When we start protecting the rights of individuals instead of giving politicians and judges the power to determine what’s good for us, we’ll end up with far fewer problems like we’re facing today.

    that’s a libertarian position.

    And by the way, any “libertarian” who would rather spend their time trying to disprove scientists instead of spending their time protecting the personal rights of individuals is nothing but a fraud.

  2. Michael Kenny said on April 10th, 2008 at 9:33am #

    The interesting thing about the whole ecological debate, and not just global warming, is that the young are convinced that something needs to be done, and all the fine science that the conservatives or libertarians or neo-liberals throw at them, even if true, just falls on deaf ears! The libertarians have already lost the battle. In the long term, we are all dead, and today’s (very impressive!) youth will rule the world in accordance with their ideas. A re-assuring thought to take with us into the hereafter (where we will no doubt be able to discuss it with that Catholic bishop!).

  3. joe said on April 10th, 2008 at 9:35am #

    Interesting article, and great response, Michael.
    Mr. Partridge, I consider myself a true radical – an anarchist. Like your Libertarian friends, I have some absolutes. You do too. Your article makes it sound like they’re foolish and unbending while you’re flexible and deeply perceptive.
    Perhaps you are, but I’m not so sure.
    I’ve read enough to know that there surely are some bright, thoughtful experienced scientists who have significant doubts. Moreover, I’ve read enough to realize that climate is in constant flux, like nature, like life. Temps rise and fall and rise again, and were doing so even before humans made their grand appearance here on the planet.
    ( And, despite the George Monibot – Alex Cockburn arguments, I often see “peer review” as more of a gatekeeping, argument-restricting mechanism for preserving the status quo, rather than as a genuine quest for excellence in scientific or social theory. )
    It certainly makes sense that we’re causing big problems for the whole ecosystem – our lifestyles are completely insane. Yet, is it primarily “civilization,” and partly the natural shifting of temperatures?
    Is it more of a natural shift and less of civilization? The scientists say they know. From what I’ve read, I’m not convinced. Moreover, I’m even less convinced now that Al Gore won his Nobel Prize and the New York Times and some big name corporations have signed on to this new “project” for the new century.
    Somehow, it all seems like a brilliant distraction from the horrors of our day to day lives. If there was a real movement which could address these climate concerns AND completely change the social and economic conditions in which humans have to live, I could easily get on board. If this thrust to diminish carbon emissions could somehow bring back true community, some trace of the humanhood and brotherhood that seems to have vanished from our midst, I’d applaud all these efforts. However, this big project seems EXACTLY like business as usual: Ordinary folks are expected to “get on board,” while experts and government and corporations save us from a world they’ve created and which they are absolutely determined to maintain.
    I’m less concerned about whether or not the world frys than I am that I might experience, sometime in my life, a few hours without being told what to do and how to do it by government and corporations and experts. I’m less concerned about ocean levels than I am about how human beings treat each other and the other critters all around them.
    If all this stuff is real, you and the faithful better find a way to turn it into a true revolution in which the top-down ways of the world can be turned upside down, RIGHT AWAY, before you expect us all to get on board. Just because Mr. Corporation, himself, Al Gore, and a bunch of Elite Scientists say we’ve got to further subordinate our lives and our rights to the “common good,” is just not going to get it, as far as I’m concerned.
    I’ve been studying governments and business and human interactions for almost 40 years, and almost every big “thing,” like this, turns out to be a scam. You want to convince people, start at the bottom, where most of us live, and where Al Gore and much of the modern Big-University, Big-Science community continues to try to force us to remain. Change the way things work for all of us little folks, and we’ll likely work passionately and consistently for such a program. Otherwise, methinks, you’re probably just another scam…

  4. Trevor said on April 10th, 2008 at 9:39am #

    Occasionally, I find myself arguing with a libertarian; but, usually I don’t pay them much attention. The very foundation of their beliefs is deeply flawed. The overwhelming majority of us are, at the very least, subconsciously aware of that reality. Were the libertarians ever to come to power, they would last about as long as the neocons did before the wheels began to fall off their wagon.

  5. Micah Pyre said on April 10th, 2008 at 9:44am #

    Michael Boldin, the “green” libertarian, says —

    “Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s greatest cause is unrestrained government. Well, in the form of corporatism.”

    That’s amusing. I notice that you don’t have any proof, but instead ramble on for paragraphs that supposedly support your argument.

    So you’re a green libertarian, huh?

    Maybe you can explain how, in a society of more than — let’s say — 100 people, there can be any justice, any resolution of deeply felt grievances, without a centralized judge of some type.

    Perhaps you can justify it at 100 people, perhaps you imagine a Galt’s Gulch of 100 think-alikes.

    Let’s move the number to 10,000.

    You really think that 10,000 people can agree on everything?

    If so, you’re not only a “green libertarian,” but you’re a very childishly naive one.

    The sad reality that you don’t wish to face is this: individual liberty is very important, but it ENDS when your “free will” causes me harm. You are no more free to emit pollutants which poison my groundwater than I am free to kill you as retribution for your dog’s endless barking that keeps me awake all night.

    So keep up your childish fantasy world, where there is never any government because everyone magically believes in the very same things.

    And when your fantasy becomes reality in some Galt’s Gulch, don’t forget to be really surprised when you find that a community of think-alikes doesn’t spur people on to creativity, because there’s no need for creativity if everyone finds the same things enjoyable.


    As to Ernest Partridge’s original essay, here’s a massive blind spot.

    The industrial revolution may appear to have created all sorts of bounty. But it is highly wasteful. It is silly to “need” salmon if you don’t live where there’s salmon. If you really like salmon then move where you can get it by fishing for it yourself.

    Human lifespans have not doubled because of the industrial revolution. They have improved slightly thanks to Alexander Fleming discovering antibiotic properties in bread mold. Bread mold doesn’t require industrial processes.

    Ernest Partridge, you are not a “progressive.” You are a materialistic consumerist DLC-styled Democrat, hiding behind a fascia of false enlightenment.

  6. Micah Pyre said on April 10th, 2008 at 9:54am #

    to joe —

    Joe, I don’t think that your arguments are valid, not for a moment. I also do not think you’re any sort of anarchic libertarian. If you were you would be focused on individual liberty and its rational limits, instead of going off on a tirade about a ridiculous conspiracy theory in which Al Gore is a spokesman for corporations trying to make a quick buck off environmentalism.

    Joe, you need some scientific education. You need to realize that needing to protect the environment’s health is essential, but NOT because Al Gore says so. It is essential because the study of ecosystems has shown us, time and again, that pollution degrades systems, and at some point the degradation begins to cause organisms to die off. In case you didn’t know this, Joe, all living creatures are inter-connected. Just because you can’t see how mercury poisoning of shellfish has destroyed an ecosystem doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. I suggest you talk to Chesapeake Bay trawler operators who saw the degradation in shellfish populations and the Bay fishermen who saw the degradation in rockfish (rock bass) populations due to effluents in the Bay’s tributaries. Ask them how the populations behaved while people ignored the effects of the pollution.

    Attacking Al Gore is a smokescreen. Scientists don’t talk about global climate change simply because Al Gore says so. Al Gore didn’t precede the scientific evidence. He’s just a lousy choice as self-appointed spokesman. I don’t support him at all. He’s a hypocrite. But he is telling the truth about the problem and its extent. The place where he falls flat and withers is where he suggests changes that he isn’t willing to make himself. But this hypocrisy doesn’t affect the truth of the problems that prompt him to suggest those changes.

    A little integrity would help your perspective, Joe.

  7. John Wilkinson said on April 10th, 2008 at 10:05am #

    “It is silly to “need” salmon if you don’t live where there’s salmon. If you really like salmon then move where you can get it by fishing for it yourself.”

    So, those starving children in Africa (and America, too) are “silly” for “needing” food. They should just move to where the food is. Why didn’t I think of that? And yes it’s true, there were no starving children before the industrial age.

    How problems were made “needlessly” complicated before. We’ve just solved some great problems sitting in an armchair, led by a genius.

  8. Michael Boldin said on April 10th, 2008 at 10:06am #

    Micah –

    You make an important point:

    “individual liberty is very important, but it ENDS when your “free will” causes me harm.”

    I couldn’t agree more!!

    And that, is where I see the role of government.

    Liberty is the freedom to do what YOU want with YOUR property – as long as by doing so, you don’t infringe on other people’s rights to do the same.

    If your rights, and my rights, and everyones rights to be free from aggression were protected by the government, we wouldn’t have massive government pollution…we wouldn’t have massive corporate pollution.

    In fact, in a truly free society, corporations wouldn’t exist at all. They are a creation of the government – and one that allows people to harm you, your health, your person, and your property…..under the protection of the state.

    Instead, people should be personally liable for the actions of their companies.

    Sorry to rant on – just wanted to make the point that amongst the misunderstanding of my positions, I totally agree with you on what I see as the most essential one….

  9. John Wilkinson said on April 10th, 2008 at 10:30am #

    “Maybe you can explain how, in a society of more than — let’s say — 100 people, there can be any justice, any resolution of deeply felt grievances, without a centralized judge of some type.”

    Do Indians have “deeply felt grievances”? Have those been resolved? What if your judge is deeply corrupt and always rules for the rich and powerful and against the weak? Has been bought and paid for? Then is such a justice system better than the one which they had in the Wild West, which was disorganized and imperfect, but at least produced justice SOME of the time?

  10. hp said on April 10th, 2008 at 10:41am #

    A realistic push and the persuasive techniques now relegated to conspicuous consumption, especially of meat in all its malignant forms, applied to the development of a vegetarian diet would go farther towards alleviating hunger and stress on the humans and the earth than any token policies of forced behavior; whether coerced or mandatory.
    The moral factor(s) combined with the health benefits would truly be a boon when compared to the current trend of activism as mainly politically correct knee jerk thought controls which result in the omnipresent conflicting agendas syndrome of which the tangible, viable results are few and far between.
    Instead of using ‘the children,’ for ulterior means, the truth is the children would be the ones truly benefitting from such a ‘movement.’
    Ironic that so-called liberals and progressives are usually very quick to admit this as they argue over their chicken salads and reubens.

  11. Michael Boldin said on April 10th, 2008 at 11:01am #

    John – an excellent point.

    I don’t think many people would be opposed to having some form of justice system – but we’ll never actually have a JUSTICE system until we recognize what our government does in the NAME of justice…

    American Indians, Africans, Japanese – have all been imprisoned, enslaved, or killed – because of their race. I’m assuming there’s plenty who want the same fate for Mexicans.

    And the way our system is set up, all they need is to get enough legislators and judges to dictate to us – and they’ll get their way.

    It’s really sad.

  12. hp said on April 10th, 2008 at 12:29pm #

    Micah, your reference to Fleming is worth another thought, or three.
    Antibiotics, especially their initial discovery and implementation, should have been considered one of the wonders of the world. Officially..

  13. bozhidar balkas said on April 10th, 2008 at 12:31pm #

    some of the books i have read on global warming bring us data as well as conclusions. i respect their facts and conclusions. fact i s there’s more carbondioxide in the atmosphere than ever before. prior to industrial revolution there was 586 gigatons; today we have 790 gigatons. most scientist conclude that ifwe reduce the amount of Co2 to 600 gigatons, we would stillbe at dangerous threshhold. they also believ that ther nay be a lag of decades from cause to effect.
    scientists may be wrong or right but flaunting of wealth usin g and wasting much, to me is not right. it’s actually war on nerves. thank you

  14. Ron Horn said on April 10th, 2008 at 12:44pm #

    I think a far better article for a “radical newsletter” re the climate change issue would have been this one:

  15. hp said on April 10th, 2008 at 3:29pm #

    Trevor, the last time I checked, the neocon’s wheels were firmly attached and rolling towards Iran.
    If one considers all three of the viable candidates as knee deep in ‘neocons,’ I’m wondering just what you’re saying here.
    Not that it wouldn’t be welcome, but it ain’t happened yet.
    Every time they get in a little slump, they seem to come roaring back.
    Lets not forget who they are, after all…

  16. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 10th, 2008 at 6:23pm #

    *Minor point. Having little to do with libertarians’ dreamworld:

    What makes “(negative) externalities” a matter which pure market economics says may be disregarded is precisely the assumption that they affect everyone equally including future generations. As long as that assumption holds, free market price mechanisms are not unduly distorted by them.

    And as a matter of fact, no one (but idiots?) really believes climate change is affecting everyone equally, or ever will. Right?

    Free market economics like all economics is subjective and not science. And this was true before any one suspected climate change is upon us.

  17. David Gaines said on April 10th, 2008 at 8:19pm #

    This is a fine expose’ of how libertarians carry their ideology, specifically regarding climate change and their rather odd opposition to scientific consensus, something they usually embrace. It goes a long way towards explaining why I, after having embraced libertarianism since 1974 or so, was forced to change my mind and abandon it about 25 years later. I’ve been a lot happier, intellectually and otherwise, ever since, although I still agree with many libertarian positions and hang out with a variety of people who consider themselves to be libertarians.

  18. anthony innes said on April 11th, 2008 at 2:27am #

    its way past time that articles like this are really usefull.
    Arguing with idealogues is usually fruitless for all involved.
    Even the most fervant and devoted Anarchist will acknowledge that “voluntary association ” has its place.
    Libertarian as an expression has been debased by the neo con association. Similarly ” Global warming” is now a loaded concept and would be far better served by be re branded as “environmental derstruction ” or ” unsustainable human activity” .
    The devastation of the environment was well along before the so called Industrial Revolution. The agricultural /herder paradigm linked with the invention of money and the centralisation of power are easy marks on the way to the destruction of individual liberty.
    Tribalism and religion deserve way more stick with their “go forth and multiply ” insanity.
    People everywhere are going to have to re educate themselves and come to terms with their own false assumptions, misleading mythologies and consumption patterns.
    Statist sociopaths with the cry of more of the collective would do better to concern themselves with Impeachment and punishment of the Enemies of the Constitution and the corruption of the financial system by the war mongers of the banking cartel abetted by MSM.
    Radical,anarchist or conservatives of all persuasions have one desperately pressing problemn. The failure of any system to provide JUSTICE in a transparent and accountable forum for crimes against humanity , war crimes and environmental damage.
    Personally for my lifetime I want to see the Constitution of the USA followed to the letter and would take my chances with a twelve person jury . No tribunals ,senate enquiries , special commissions or plea bargains.
    I am really radical about all this .Nothing else will do.
    I am freeborn and learning and its the only way to experience your life.

  19. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 11th, 2008 at 6:34am #

    *Major point, and rewrite of the penultimate sentence in my preceding post:

    Free market policies like all economic policies are normative and value-based, not scientific.

  20. Adam said on April 11th, 2008 at 8:52pm #

    From all I’ve seen, libertarianism is one of the most backwards viewpoints in human history, rivaling modern-day flat-earthers and the rest of it.
    It is also, I believe, a cover for white-supremacist racism.
    The “third parties,” which must be ignored for a libertarian mindset to remain intact, have been largely non-white peoples of the ‘global south’ and throughout the world, including the U.S.

    It’s like a feel-good religion to mask the fact that you’re a racist — that, when it comes down to it, you really do feel/believe that other people’s lives are worth less, and/or that exploitation is just some ‘Stalinist lie,’ and you deserve your privileges, etc.

  21. Michael Gilson-De Lemos said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:14am #

    As an Earth Day organizer and facilitator of the international movement, my impression is that the author confuses libertarian-leaning conservatism with actual Libertarianism.

    While many are skeptical of globall warming claims as stalking horses for more backfiring policies, what the author misses is that they’re irrelevant in the Libertarian approach. By insisting on contractual arrangements and putting a passport via property boundaries on pollution, Libertarians aim at bringing about near zero pollution as far as technology allows through the jury system. This avoids the fickle regulatory laws that are the actual enabler of officially allowed environmental damage. In the US, the Congressional GAO responding to Libertarian queries discovered that most pollution in the US was attributable to either direct pollution by legally immune government agencies or exemptions to common law protections by laws often created to ‘protect’ the environment.

    Libertarians have led the charge since 1971 in restoring the right in the US and elsewhere of the individual to sue for environmental damage on his property and thus hold polluters accountable, or get restraining orders against threatening environmental sitiuations. Besides encouraging Voluntary Green methods and working to make them tax exempt, presently the Libertarian International Organization is advising low-income farmers on creating pollution and pesticide free zones through contract in Bangladesh. In Florida, the Seminole Soil and Water commission, dominated by Libertarians, was praised by the Sierra Club and other groups for encouraging mass volunteer efforts at no taxpayer expense and questioning arrangements between business interests in search of a handout via allegedly ‘Green’ policies.

    In the US, where the Green party often has no presence, local Libertarians are the lead people in community summits for change. A balanced assessment of Libertarianism should look at how Libertarians have actually applied the principles, not speculations based on misunderstandings of them.

  22. Julie Chrogo, Ralph Swanson, Ann Kovolyak said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:30am #

    The writer might be encouraged to learn about our local progress of Libertarian voluntary ‘greening’

    In Florida our local Libertarian Club is working to organize a community summit to set voluntary greening goals locally, target local rules that subtly encourage pollution, and seek to remove sales taxes on green products. Previously, a community forum we organized developed moment um in getting the government to aim at stopping local pollution from its own buildings and adopting greening policies, for which it has recently received an award. We’ve been active in developing a trail system with considerable private funding that is being viewed as a national model.

    Our experience is that often ‘free market’ pollution involves a systematic policy that allows a corporation to be immune from liability, often for purported environmental or conservation reasons. In Florida we are fighting caps on the pollution damages awarded by juries that were created by the sort of legislative ‘environmental’ regulation the author unwittingly defends by giving the legislature this power to create special social exemptions. Are we wrong?

  23. Adam said on April 12th, 2008 at 10:29am #

    Libertarians are tools to curb public opposition to the suicidal machinations of the corporate rich — which are destroying life on this planet. The desperate Band-Aide of Government Regulation is being focused on as The Problem rather then the wound itself.

  24. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 12:12pm #

    Michael. How would the net effect of your efforts compare to Congress passing a law saying 3% of all profits will be used for urgent national needs, including environmental destruction in the United States?

  25. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 2:52pm #

    My point , Michael, obviously not being that the alternatives would have comparable results, short or long-term, but that people have to stop thinking that “market efficiency” is something written by the Gods in the Sky and Which Must Be Served (or Destroyed).

    And apparently the only way to get this point into peoples’ brains AT ALL, is to point out that — if only people weren’t so…so, so people — a little change like mandating a different USE for a tiny proportion of the profits being made, might address and resolve everything concerning economics which radicals bitch about, WHILE LEAVING the fucking capitalist system intact.

  26. anthony innes said on April 12th, 2008 at 5:34pm #

    adam using your own words. substitute “party membership ” for libertartian . Feel good religion of what ever variety evades the here and now . Drucker said he does not trust organisations with no sunset clause in their charter. People can be counted on to see the issue if given the facts. They are numb with ideology that has only gotten us to this point of social breakdown.
    Individuals make society. Societies that do not recognise this are evolutionary dead ends. This is the winnowing period as the ecological consequences of social failure come up against finite habitat and unsustainability . The “cause” is the myth being ignored by real individuals world wide.
    All the money in the world cannot buy back what that money has/is destroying.
    Jung said the unconscious longing’s of the people in a culture create that culture. Societies that do not respect the individual are fragmenting . Get used to it . Anton Wilson said it quite well ” many mega deaths no blame” . People who do not educate themselves and their offspring are going to be culled out by global forces that recognise basic laws like hygiene and mutual respect as immutable truths you ignore at your peril.
    This is not a rehersal . This is heaven and we have made it hell by allowing psychological cripples to run things . The societies that flourished in the past by selecting for obssesive behaviour are at their climax and we are living through the denoument. For now.

  27. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:24pm #

    excellent metaphor, anthony. and some excellent phrases. but how do we get from here to there?

    i’ll probnably shut up now. i don’t have an infinite tolerance for being ignored.

  28. ashley said on April 12th, 2008 at 8:33pm #

    Some of the typical libertarian versus capitalism or corporatism etc. debate obscures the underlying issue which is,simply, that populations do not need centralised, non-local systems of governance that supersede their own local ones. In this context, the way global warming is being addressed is simply yet another form of centralized dynamics latching onto the next big thing which they will then impose systemically through cumbersome bureaucracies and dysfunctional governments via a rule of law that itself has become ideologically tied to centralised systems of power and governance. Forget about libertarianism, democracy, capitalism, democrats, republicans. It is time for localism. Time to respect individuals, particulars, place, ordinary earthy, natural human scale reality. That is how to deal with pollution, with environment, with ethics and all the rest of it.

    How to effect this practically speaking? Simple: revise the tax codes in all industrialized nations so that the current pyramid is inverted back to its natural position with the large base being where most of the money goes and ALSO being close to the ground. In other words, rather than having nearly ALL the tax receipts of huge multi–million populations going to a central government whose resources become beholden to elites who compete to siphon off the most of this national treasure as possible, simply have about 70% of all taxes stay within the local community, 20% to the regional/provicial and 10% maximum to the central/federal. This simple change would fix, in short order, a huge number of systemic problems we find all over, including corporatism, rampant over-development, under-humanization and all the rest of it.

    Lastly, the best system of governance is not rule of law via constitutions and such like. This is concept-based, i.e. ideological. And as someone said above, arguments between partisan ideologues simply go on forever. The only true system of leadership is that which involves actual person-to-person leadership. So not only does this tie back into the localism idea, but also hints, in its developed form, to the original roles of monarchs, tribal leaders and suchlike. Ultimately, they have to lead a culture not a territory, which the inhabitants themselves govern directly since they are there on that particular territory, and leading culture is an affair of heart and mind, not books and concepts.

    In short, the developed world has substituted abstract thought for immediate reality, thought for direct perception and experience, concept over experience. This has been developing slowly in the West since the Middle Ages but I suspect is now reaching a climax of sorts.

    But neither scientists – and the gatekeeper point above was very well made and apropos – nor libertarians have much to offer at this point unless, with the latter, it is the sort of specific, locally-based initiatives mentioned above in Florida as an example.

    We all need to take back our sense of living in a particular place and time, being particular individuals who are part of particular communities.

    Ultimately, this is what any real environmentalism has to come down to: being in touch with the immediate environment in a direct, non-concept-driven fashion.

  29. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 13th, 2008 at 10:23am #

    Hi, Ashley. I hope we can continue this dialog, despite the instant-history nature of old posts at Dissident Voice.

    There are two problems with your very clear statement. The minor problem with the “communitas” approach, if I may use that word for brevity’s sake, is the James Jones-Charlie Manson problem. Even if a lot of the leaders of communities are women, a good number of the leaders will inevitably be highly manipulative, sociopathic and probably violent, interpersonally highly effective, males. And these sicko communities could spread like a virus.

    The major problem is still: how do we get from April 13, 2008, in the United States to a nationwide collection of communities like you describe? Without nuclear holocaust or interminable wars? Which relates to the first problem because to end the empire’s foreign wars will require bringing back to the United States many if not all of the combat forces and contractors who define themselves in terms of violence. The effect of which will be even more extreme that this country’s attracting like a money-magnet the most right-wing (and industrious) elements from foreign countries which have moved leftward, for lo these many decades.

    And as a subscript to this: what, and who, will be passing “tax codes” on the way from today-in-2008 to a nation of communities?

    Please note well, Ashley. I agree with the desireability. and sustainability — the James Jones-Charlie Manson problem notwithstanding — of your description of communitas. But.

    Rhapsody doesn’t get it done.

  30. LanceThruster said on April 14th, 2008 at 3:38pm #

    Maybe a bit OT but thought it would be worth linking. There are some great Libertarian quotes (on or by) as well as some great links critiquing it.

    “Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. ”
    Karl Popper

  31. Lloyd Rowsey said on April 16th, 2008 at 7:51am #

    OT? WTF is OT?

    I have immense respect for Karl Popper as a philosopher of science, but I still see the appropriate debate — on March 16, 2008 — over the climate problem as btw greenies and ANARCHISTS, not greenies and libertarians.

  32. hefty said on October 10th, 2009 at 2:32pm #

    in the libertarians’ defense, scientists were voluntarily leaving the IPCC due to perceived corruption and political influence permeating the research.

    independent universities have challenged the IPCC’s findings and criticized its scientific method. even the high court in london made it mandatory that a warning be placed at the beginning of al gore’s movie ‘an inconvenient truth’ because of factual inaccuracies.

    scientists have fucked this up before, and are doing so again.

    if you cant personally crunch the numbers and verify the results, all youre doing is listening to men in white robes preach from pedestals.

  33. DavidC said on October 14th, 2009 at 3:10pm #

    I’m English. My immediate and lasting impression of libertarianism is that it is a club for pathologically greedy people.

    It is a cult for those who see nothing apart from their own entitlement. They deserve that Hummer and that 8000 sq. ft. McMansion! They worked hard for it!

    But when you mention the cost of maintaining a society that allowed them to accumulate that wealth – they don’t want to pay it.

    It’s a full circle of pathological greed.

    They will *never* accept a worldwide, humanity-driven call to curb their consumption or accept a penny out of their pockets to help anyone outside of the McMansion.

  34. Nena Bartlett said on December 1st, 2009 at 8:12am #

    Here is an article showing how “the scientific community is buzzing over thousands of emails and documents — posted on the Internet last week after being hacked from a prominent climate-change research center — that some say raise ethical questions about a group of scientists who contend humans are responsible for global warming.”

    Pat Michaels of the Cato Institute (a libertarian think tank in Washington, DC) contends that global warming is real but that “it is also a very complicated and difficult issue that can provoke very unwise policy in response to political pressure. The lack of recent warming and projections that this will continue for several years reinforce the notion that warming will be modest, at least in coming decades. Drastic action is unwarranted at this time.”