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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A feminist critiques libertarianism

Amanda Marcotte, who runs feminist blog pandagon (and was also hired briefly by John Edwards' campaign until some of her more interesting Internet activities came to life) responds here to Time's recent piece on libertarianism. Her main point of contention with libertarianism seems to be this:

'"I’ve often thought libertarianism is fundamentally a reactionary movement.  I saw this Molly Ivins quote today: “It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.” And I think that libertarians read history that way, and would like to roll back the clock until the liberties are only extended to the people that were first marked as deserving in the Constitution---property-owning white men."

The comments at pandagon are pretty interesting, running the gamut from "Not all people who are sympathetic to libertarian ideals are authoritarians. Just the white male a--holes" to "“libertarianism” is a movement of penny-ante authoritarians who hate the government to the extent that it keeps them from sh-tting all over other human beings." As always, language excised not for my benefit, as I couldn't care less about the use of profanity by Amanda Marcotte and those who comment on her blog (John Edwards' campaign, of course, was not as comfortable with her usual choice of language.)

There are also more generic complaints along these lines about libertarians all being white men who are hostile to women's rights, libertarians being crypto-fascists, and so on. Her post and the follow up comments are a real treat for anyone who appreciates it when self-styled progressives completely fail to grasp the irony of their position.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 6, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

” And I think that libertarians read history that way, and would like to roll back the clock until the liberties are only extended to the people that were first marked as deserving in the Constitution---property-owning white men."

Propoganda, plain and simple.
Libertarians believe in individual responsibility and personal freedom for "everyone"....even, know it all, feminists.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-06 7:50:09 PM


What a completely vile statement from a completely vile source.
As far as I know, One of the basic doctrines of the Libertarian party is Personal Freedom and Individual Rights for EVERYONE. (even vile, meanspirited feminists) We attack the government because it goes in the opposite direction of freedom. Its just that simple.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-06 7:55:43 PM


What a completely vile statement from a completely vile source.
As far as I know, One of the basic doctrines of the Libertarian party is Personal Freedom and Individual Rights for EVERYONE. (even vile, meanspirited feminists) We attack the government because it goes in the opposite direction of freedom. Its just that simple.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-06 7:55:51 PM


Oops. A glitch in there somewhere. :)

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-06 7:57:36 PM


Ok I have a question for WS libertarians. Should there be laws that stop these acts in public? Not private, but public?

http://www.zombietime.com/up_your_alley_2008/part_1_full/index.php

this is from gay pride Califonia Sanfran

Posted by: Merle | 2008-08-06 10:28:52 PM


Merle,

I was wondering when someone was going to bring up those pictures on here. Maybe you should add a warning to your comment though, ok?

Warning: the pictures at that link are definitely not work safe... or safe for anyone, I think.

I kind of wondered why the hell it's important to do all that stuff in public anyway.

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-07 12:22:41 AM


Of course there should be prohibitions on public nudity and public sexual acts, Merle. Think of it as a public nuisance like excess noise or pollution.

It is perfectly reasonable to establish conservative standards for public behaviour so that everyone can live comfortably together. Establishing those standard is, of course, difficult and the standards will likely change over time, but I think we can agree that oral sex on a public street during a parade goes to far.

I could certainly have done without seeing those photos, though.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-07 12:51:53 AM


I ask this as a sympathizer:

What about the critique that libertarianism is a philosophy for high IQ people without kids? In other words, it is appealing but unrealistic -- a kind of political pRon?

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle | 2008-08-07 6:13:36 AM


Sorry folks, but the site posts warning before you clik enter does it not?
Ahh yes the standards and how they change over time-thats a good one. Who sets those standards Matthew? In SF its the homosexuals themselves. Yes I agree its rather disgusting-welcome to their reality!!!
I called a local police station in SF last nite and they told me the Mayor ok's it so there is nothing they can do.
Yup nothing-throw in the towel.

Posted by: Merle | 2008-08-07 7:19:19 AM


I would like to see the preamble to the constitution corrected to state that all men and women are created equal.

Anyone who doesn't like this idea should consider how they would feel about the document if it said all women were created equal and made no mention of men.

Yes, women are now included in the constituion, but only in an amendment.

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Posted by: Virginia Harris | 2008-08-07 7:40:02 AM


Hey Virginia,

It's nice that women are new declared equal to men.

However, since women started voting, the move to the left has not stopped. They helped give us the Liberal wimps that continue to take control of our lives and our money. They are largely responsible for the plague of abortion paid for by others. Without the women's vote I doubt San FranPISSco would be allowed to have the public suck fest they call gay pride.

The biggest Libertarian who ever lived was Ayn Rand. She had it right. Read her work and smarten up.

I recently read a poll showing that women had very little knowledge and understanding of what they were voting for when they voted. They didn't know what the issues were nor what their candidate actually stood for. They just vote for the most feminized politician which usually means a leftie. Lefties are bad for freedom and prosperity. If women paid attention they would already know that.

Men were a lot better in that poll but there is a lot of room for improvement. I think everyone should have to take a knowledge test before they vote. That might solve a lot of the problems we have right with elections.

Of course that still won't do much about the lying pieces of shit who generally run for office.

Posted by: John V | 2008-08-07 9:38:00 AM


It's interesting, actually, that the founders of the modern-day libertarian movement were women. Canadian Isabel Paterson, Ayn Rand, and Rose Wilder Lane.

In fact, we can trace the contemporary movement to one particular year--1943. That's when Paterson published "The God of the Machine," Rand published "The Fountainhead," and Lane published, "The Discovery of Freedom."

It's amazing that a movement founded by women would be criticized on the grounds that it ain't women-friendly enough...

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-08-07 10:00:35 AM


Merle

Those pictures should be labeled "Tragedy of the Commons".

When I was a municipal councillor we were faced with deciding how we would deal with the pressure to declare a Gay Pride Day as some municipalities were being sued for discrimination for refusing to do so. We passed a resolution to cease all declarations for all purposes to cover our asses (no pun intended).

The difficulty with establishing public standards for public property lies in the unacceptability of government to overtly discriminate. As a result, most libertarians would prefer that most if not all property were private. In my opinion, regarding public property, a simple majority, sans litigation, should dictate public standards. I suspect that even San Francisco wouldn't pass a plebiscite condoning what their Mayor has.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-07 10:24:04 AM


Jaws,

Marcotte notes that, comparatively, there aren't that many female libertarians, at least now. She's probably right about that; certainly, IHS events are about 80-90 percent male, at least the ones I've attended.

But it seems wrong on the basis of that fact to draw the conclusion that libertarianism (or libertarians) is/are hostile to women.

On the other hand, why aren't there more female libertarians? Any thoughts on that?

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-08-07 12:41:54 PM


@ JC 7:55
"As far as I know, One of the basic doctrines of the Libertarian party is Personal Freedom and Individual Rights for EVERYONE. (even vile, meanspirited feminists)"

To the extent that feminism really is about equal treatment, feminists should have no problem with such a doctrine. That they do oppose it, and do so so vehemently provides compelling evidence that equal treatment is the very opposite of what they seek.

Posted by: Mark | 2008-08-08 11:38:23 AM


Virginia needs to return to school to learn English. All men are created equal is inclusive and not limited to the male sex. Just as mankind includes women. Oh I know the poor feminazis get into a tizzy over English grammar, so imagine their dilemma with French, Spanish and languages with genders (linguistic term as opposed to the sex of a person by the way) and grammatical rules of agreement concerning gender and number.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-08 3:00:24 PM


It doesn't get any sicker then that.

And the beer was $9.00 a glass.

Posted by: Sarcasm | 2008-08-08 3:34:26 PM


John Chittick, I think you described a difference between libertarians and traditional conservatives. A traditional conservative believes that the local community has the right to establish public standards within its jurisdiction based on the wishes of the majority of residents. The same could then extent to the province and the nation as a whole. This was pretty much the case until 1982 with PETs charter and the rest, thus allowing any minority to impose its agenda and will on the majority.


If I am mistaken about this being different from the libertarian approach, please feel free to advise me.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-08-08 4:53:40 PM


I agree with you about those differences.

The problem I have is to better describe a Libertarian approach to dealing with public land. I think one way is to temporarily ignore the ownership and assume that, as a practical matter, just like highways, rules of conduct are created by whichever order of government is involved. Unless constrained by a Constitution, that leaves democracy to ascertain majority rule on behavior. That could likely pass for a limited-government libertarian, essentially no different than your traditional conservative approach.

The anarcho-capitalist approach might involve private voluntary competing providers of social insurance and civil order to arbitrate / negotiate conditions under which incompatible (or offending) behaviors may prevail on "unowned" property.

I'm sure that there is no shortage of opinion on these questions.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-08-09 11:34:59 AM


Mark, Agreed.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-09 12:37:19 PM



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