...a goal that is sometimes much harder than occupying Wall Street.
Peter Boettke offers a very thoughtful post about OWS and leaves it open to his readers. I have two comments at the very beginning.
One of the things that I would have hoped something like OWS would bring to light is that critics of libertarianism do not take libertarian arguments for granted about the (1.) robustness of libertarian polities, (2.) the idea that it is non-libertarianism that devolves into crony capitalism, (3.) the idea that libertarianism is the most advantageous social order for human liberty, or that (4.) non-libertarian social orders are in opposition to principles of emergent order.
Generally, non-libertarians don't think any of these things make much sense. It's why we're not libertarians after all! If we thought these things were true, we would be libertarians!
Nevertheless, as many non-libertarians know when you talk to a libertarian you often get treated like you:
1. Have never put much thought to institutional robustness
2. Do not place great importance on liberty
3. Do not think emergent orders have commendable qualities
Part of the reason why they treat us this way is that we don't always use the same language and buzzwords - so there's a certain amount of information that is lost in translation (you'll notice on this blog I explicitly try to use the language of libertarians when talking about these issues so that less is lost in translation - Bleeding Heart Libertarians could perhaps be said to use the opposite strategy to talk more effectively to the left).
Anyway, to a certain extent the post from Boettke is a little dispiriting for me - really the Chris Coyne video. I know that's Chris's view of things. And I have another view of things. But there's the sense from the video that feels like "these OWS people mean well but this goes over their head", which worries me. I don't think issues of institutional robustness have gone over Chris Coyne or Peter Boettke's head. I just think we disagree about those questions!!! But I get the impression from a lot of libertarians that they don't think it's just a matter of disagreement - they truly think critics of libertarianism don't comprehend the issue at hand.
That's discouraging - to a large extent I think we've failed to "occupy libertarianism".
I don't think all libertarians are like this - nobody in the comment section should go off on that tangent. Gene Callahan is one guy that actually agrees with me on a lot of things, but I think probably is still a "libertarian" - and where we disagree he knows it hasn't "gone over my head" - we just disagree. Same with Bob Murphy who I have developed a tremendous appreciation for. We disagree all the time, but I never get the sense from him that he thinks the fundamental issue is lost on me or has gone over my head (sometimes the whole disagreement is which issues we consider truly fundamental!). Not all libertarian are like this. Many just think their critics have failed to appreciate the real issue at hand. That needs to change.
I've found that an excellent litmus test for this is to talk about "libertarian social engineering". If you think this concern is completely nonsensical and are shocked to hear people talk about it, you really don't understand your critics and probably mistakenly think they are a lot more clueless than they actually are. Now, you can disagree with the charge of "libertarian social engineering" but still know why people like me worry a lot about it. That's fine. But if the very phrase makes you see a big flashing "does not compute" sign then you have some work to do.
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