From Steve Horwitz at BHL. He writes:
"Over the weekend, my good friend Pete Boettke wondered why it was necessary for us to call ourselves “Bleeding Heart Libertarians” when the whole history of classical liberalism (from Smith forward) is full of thinkers who clearly cared about, for example, the condition of the least well-off. My response was that “yes, that might be true, but most observers of libertarianism don’t know that, and too many ‘true believers’ talk about libertarianism as if it’s all about self-interest to the exclusion of other values.” In response, Pete gave me the same eyeroll he’s been giving me for more than 25 years.
As if on cue, we get Jeff Sachs writing about libertarianism this weekend and saying:
'Yet the error of libertarianism lies not in championing liberty, but in championing liberty to the exclusion of all other values. Libertarians hold that individual liberty should never be sacrificed in the pursuit of other values or causes. Compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable — all are to take a back seat.'
Well Pete, there you go. Jeff Sachs is a smart guy, right? Look at what he thinks libertarianism is."
I really don't know what else to do with this mindset. I've been getting complaining about Sachs on here and an facebook. If the difference between those in the classical liberal tradition that call themselves "libertarian" and those in the classical liberal tradition that consider themselves non-libertarians is not making other priorities take a back seat to liberty then what the hell is it that defines libertarianism?
I get so much grief from some commenters about how I unfairly approach/define libertarianism (which I regularly clarify on here as refering to the minarchist brand and are honest attempts at productive discussion), but no suggestions for alternatives. Most of the alternative definitions that you do see are so broad that I would be considered a libertarian.
So here's a request to Steve Horwitz or anyone else. If you don't like Sachs's definition of libertarianism as a philosophy that prioritizes liberty over other classical liberal values, then what definition can you offer that:
1. Would satisfy libertarians generally, and
2. Wouldn't include people like me who are in the classical liberal tradition but are probably not who we would want to include in a definition of "libertarian"
Weekend Reading: Tony Yates on John Taylor
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