The Lind Wars Trilogy (2x)

The Lind Menace

Attack of the Woods

Revenge of the Statist

A New Hope (yeah i gave up. I have no idea how to change this)

Michael Lind Strikes Back

Return of the Libertarian

I’m not sure why I compared this to Star Wars, but I think I counted 6 articles and jumped on it. I myself wrote a blog post which, to continue with the same analogy, could be compared to the Clone Wars animated series they had on Cartoon Network.

But seriously, the issue I had earlier with Michael Lind’s “devastating” question still remains: it is a non sequitur. I made a jump in my previous blog post (about this topic) to that conclusion, so I want to really spell it out here.

Michael Lind asks “If [the libertarian] approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it? Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?”

From this alone, one might think “alright, this is an interesting question for sure, and one that we might need to answer.” But Lind goes on to call it “devastating.”

Curious, sure, but devastating?

To understand why Michael Lind thinks his question is catastrophic for libertarians, we have to continue reading his original article. He states:

“But [the fact that some policies are libertarian] isn’t an adequate response. Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.”

Lind calls it a “utopia” to deride the philosophy, but in other, more objective words, Lind is saying that libertarians theorize a state of affairs that does not currently exist. It has not been tried. Therefore…what?

Therefore nothing. There is nothing you can say about libertarianism from an empirical standpoint. But Lind isn’t trying to say just this. If he came to this conclusion, I’d agree with him. Unfortunately, he’s going even further:

“If socialism is discredited by the failure of communist regimes in the real world, why isn’t libertarianism discredited by the absence of any libertarian regimes in the real world?”

Ignore for a second that this itself is a blatant non-sequitur. Michael Lind thinks a political philosophy should be discredited by the fact that it has not been tried.

This is his real argument, the argument that is the basis for his “devastating” question. Implicit in his initial inquiry “If [the libertarian] approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it?” is the argument “If it hasn’t been tried, it’s not good.” Well, okay, then, that throws every single technology out the window as well, because by definition, at one point in history, they hadn’t been tried.

Imagine if venture capitalists (the investors on Shark Tank for example) held this attitude. “Wait a second, your product is a new idea? Are you nuts!??!? Why would you try something new?? That idea is discredited by the fact that it hasn’t been tried. No way I’m investing in that.”

Likewise, Michael Lind’s question has no bearing on libertarianism whatsoever.

Photo Credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) via Compfight cc


Posted on June 15, 2013, in Ethics, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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