Is liberty a “slippery slope?”

Joe Kent Blog, Political Philosophy, Spontaneous Order

Imagine a slippery slope where big government is at the top, and way down at the bottom is anarchy. Libertarians often stand on the middle of that slope. People constantly tell libertarians, “You kids can play on the slope, but don’t go too far or you’ll fall down!” The top is assumed to be safe. That’s where the government protects everybody, right? Personally, when I heard that liberty was a slippery slope, I immediately leaped off, and chose to live at the bottom. Why not? I begin with the assumption that a world without government would probably be a reasonably safe place to live. If someone proves me otherwise, then I’ll climb up the slope again. Sure, there will be lots to debate about — what about courts, fire, police, defense, seat-belts and schools? Let’s read, debate and discuss all these topics. But I think it’s unhealthy to start with the assumption that total government control is safe. Total government control has been tried, and millions of people died because of it. I don’t understand why we are supposed to assume that it is the safest starting point. So for me, I turn the whole mountain upside down. Let’s start with the assumption that a voluntary world would be ok. If anybody wants to propose a law, just know that you’re on a slippery slope towards totalitarian government control.

A Critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Monarchy vs Democracy

Joe Kent Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

Which is better, a monarchy or a democracy? According to economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, both are not good, but a monarchies probably do less harm than a democracies. In his book, “Democracy: The God that Failed,” Hoppe wrote that a monarchy is like a private government, and a democracy is like a public government. In that sense, the monarchies benefit from the advantages of private property, and have a higher incentive to invest in the long-term value of the country. However, Jacek Sierpinski argued that there may be flaws in this theory. In his paper titled, “A Critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Thesis on Lesser Harmfulness of Monarchy than Democracy,” Sierpinski examined data which shows that monarchies may not be much better for citizens after all. Jacek Sierpinski’s paper has been posted below, along with Mr. Sierpinski’s introduction. The paper has been translated from Polish. Abstract The aim of this paper is to critically analyse the thesis of Hans-Herman Hoppe that although any government – taken as a territorial monopolist in the field of jurisdiction and tax imposition – is an organisation harmful both from the economic and ethical point of view since it violates property rights in an institutionalized and legal manner, exploiting private owners and contributing to the process of “decivilization,” yet the monarchy is less harmful than any democratic state. The ultimate point is to prove that Hoppe’s assumption on lower time preference of the governing monarch is not sufficient to conclude that monarchy is less responsible for violating property rights and that it contributes to the process of “decivilization” less than democracy. Introduction: Hoppe on monarchy and democracy In his works, Hans-Hermann Hoppe presents the thesis that any government – regarded as a territorial monopolist in the field of jurisdiction and tax imposition – is an organisation harmful both from …

Ken Schoolland – the Paradox of Politics

Joe Kent Blog, Political Philosophy

Ken Schoolland, President of Liberty International, talked about the Ethics of Liberty. He asked 3 questions generally speaking: Do you trust the campaign promises of politicians? Is an honest politician more likely to win an election than a dishonest politician? Are the moral standards of politicians higher than my own moral standards? Professor Schoolland said that most people answer the above questions, “No!” But most people answer the next question very differently: Generally speaking, do you trust that the government will do good and necessary things for the country? Professor Schoolland said that most people answer this question, “Yes!” Why is that? Why do people distrust individual politicians, but when politicians are grouped collectively, people tend to trust more? Ken Schoolland talks about this, and many other issues related to his talked titled, “The Ethics of Liberty”.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they view libertarians

Joe Kent Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

As a libertarian, I’ve noticed something about my friends. Often, the way people view me says more about them than it does about me. For example, it’s a pretty good bet that if someone calls me a, “right-winger,” they are most likely a left-winger. Likewise, the only people who call me a, “left-winger,” are usually right-wingers. People who automatically think I’m an anarchist are usually people who love big government. And people who think I’m not anarchist enough — well only anarchists would ever say that. Whenever people tell me that I read too many books, I automatically assume they don’t read many books at all. And people who think I’m naive usually put way too much trust in government. People who believe that my views are too cold and unfeeling are usually the type of people who form their worldview based on emotion. People who say libertarians just, “want to smoke pot all day,” are usually quite tolerant of the government breaking into people’s homes and throwing them in jail over a trace of weed. People who say libertarians don’t care about the environment are usually the kind of people who put the environment above every other issue in the world no matter what. The fact that I am even writing this politically incorrect sentence probably gives fodder to attack me for suggesting that there may be a better way to think about environmentalism. Speaking of which, people who think I should be more politically correct are usually too politically correct. And whenever people assume I don’t care about the poor, I usually assume they do not give much money to charity. After all, if people believe the government is taking care of the poor, why should they contribute anything? People who think I obsess too much about liberty …

Limited Government VS Voluntaryism

Joe Kent Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

The debate between “limited government” and “no government” advocates has been going on for decades. On March 1st, 2016, Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, published an article titled Why I Favor Limited Government. The article was the first in a six-part series which detailed why Mr. Hornberger favored a limited government over no government at all. Lou Carabini, founder of Monex Precious Metals and a writer at, wrote a response to Mr. Hornberger’s article, which defends the “no government” or anarcho-capitalist (also known as voluntaryist) position. Lou’s point by point response to Jacob’s article has been published below, along with an introductory letter. Lou’s response is in blue. May 5, 2016 Dear Jacob, Your article “Why I Favor Limited Government” has given me an opportunity to think about and respond to several of your arguments.  My comments are in italics (blue) and address your abbreviated statement that precedes each of my responses. Please accept my responses with all due respect. Lou Carabini, (LEC)   Why I Favor Limited Government, Part 1 by Jacob G. Hornberger (JGH)-March 2016 issue Future of Freedom   Lou Carabini (LEC): If by your title you mean that you prefer or favor someone to govern you, while not prohibiting others from volitionally choosing to be governed by someone else or themselves, then you’re simply expressing a preference and minding your own life, leaving others like myself to mind ours.  Such a preference is a very libertarian and humane posture.  This would be very much the same as the hundreds of preferences we express every day in matters of commerce and personal affairs with nary a thought that our preferences should in anyway prohibit others from expressing and realizing theirs. Such a posture recognizes the sacrosanctity of the lives of your fellow man …

How Fredrick Hayek Predicted a Trump Presidency In Cartoons

Joe Kent Political Philosophy

In 1940, Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom that it is, “the lowest common denominator which unites the largest number of people.” This is one reason, wrote Hayek, that the worst always seem to rise to the top in the government. Hayek wrote that the Road to Serfdom involves chipping away at small liberties in order to fix the problems with government and war. The following cartoon very much resembles current figures in the American political system. Perhaps America is already on one of the final steps in this process: step 12! This comic strip first appeared in The Reader’s Digest edition of the Road to Serfdom, published in 1945. Step 1: The first step on the Road to Serfdom is war. Terror and danger are used to justify sacrificing a little liberty for security. Step 2: Many want “planning” to stay. Even before the war is over, the planners who want to stay in power encourage the idea. Step 3: The “Planners” promise Utopias . . . a rosy plan for farmers goes well in rural areas, a plan for industrial workers is popular in cities — and so on. Many new “planners” are elected to office. Step 4: Planners cannot agree on ONE Utopia. Each has his own pet plan, won’t budge. Step 5: When the “planners” finally patch up a temporary plan months later, citizens in turn disagree. What the farmer likes, the factory worker doesn’t like. Step 6: “Planners” hate to force an agreement. Most “national planners” are well-meaning idealists, balk at any use of force. They hope for some miracle of public agreement as to their patchwork plan. Step 7: They try to “sell” the plan to all. In an unsuccessful effort to educate people to uniform views, “planners” establish a giant propaganda machine …

Why libertarians are not good at organizing

Joe Kent Blog, Decentralism, Political Philosophy

I’m a passionate libertarian organizer who works for at least three liberty non-profits, and sometimes I get frustrated at how difficult it is to help libertarian movements. Part of the problem is that libertarians are highly independent and intelligent, so it’s a bit like herding cats at times. But another part of the problem is that many libertarians have an old socialist idea rattling around inside, especially when it comes to changing the world. Socialists thought that one day, a “socialist man” would evolve. That man would be completely altruistic, sacrificing his entire life doing back breaking work simply to better the world for others. Of course, now we know that this is a fairy tale. Human beings are self-interested. In general, people care more about their own lives first before they care about the lives of others. But what about libertarian movements? Plucky libertarian organizations across the world are often run by one person doing all the work and everybody else chipping in occasionally. Many libertarians wait for the world to, “wake up”, and suddenly become enlightened. Perhaps they think that a new “libertarian man” will evolve to lead everyone on the road to freedom. Many Libertarian political parties are run by an all volunteer staff, usually of one or two people carrying the brunt of the weight fueled by their passion for liberty. Granted, libertarians like voluntary action, but does that mean their organizations have to be run by an all volunteer staff? Libertarian non-profit think tanks are often run through a donation model, which also assumes that people will be altruistic enough to chip in some money. But few people ever want to pay for the cost of the staff — most people would rather have their money going towards a project instead of payroll. This leaves little …

Jim Lark Presents the Ideas of Liberty

Joe Kent Political Philosophy

Jim Lark, professor in the University of Virginia’s school of engineering and applied science, and board member of Liberty International, will give a talk at the Norwegian Libertarian Party congress on Saturday, April 30th, 2016 in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian Libertarian Party is called “Liberalistene”, and the congress will feature party leader Arnt Rune Flekstad, youth leader Fredrik Lavinge, John Holmesland of Liberstad, and Carl Svanberg of the Ayn Rand Institute, as well as Tom Woods via Skype. In addition, Dr. Lark also gave presentations at the Virginia Military Institute on April 21st, 2016, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina Convention on April 23rd, and the Adam Smith Gala at Campbell University on April 23rd. At the Virginia Military Institute, Dr. Jim Lark’s presentation was titled “Warning: Governmentally-Mandated Safety Measures May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” In March of 2016, Jim Lark gave a presentation at the ESFL Conference 2016 in Prague titled “By the Numbers”. At the talk in Prague, Jim Lark talked about how liberty activists can make the case for liberty. “We must apply the same withering scrutiny to our own ideas, that we apply to the ideas of others,” said Dr. Lark. Jim also talked about how important respect is when it comes to persuasion. According to Jim, if liberty activists treat people with courtesy and respect, “they’ll usually listen to your ideas. And in many cases, the big victories you will win are those where you simply clear away people’s misconceptions about what the libertarian perspective is all about.” Dr. Jim Lark went on to discuss how numbers can be misleading when thinking about public policy questions. In Dr. Lark’s view, it’s important to look at data and evidence in an honest way. View the full video below:

Where Do Good Things Come From?

Joe Kent Political Philosophy

Andrew Humphries gave a presentation titled “The History of Liberalism”, at the World Conference on Market Liberalization in Bali, 2015.  His thesis was that almost all great things today are a result of the advancement of liberty throughout the past 250 years.  “What’s great today that was not great 250 years ago?” ask Andrew Humphries. Audience answers ranged from electricity, to the internet, to longer life spans, and even to the paper clip. It was obvious that in the past 250 years, life has gotten better.  Andrew Humphries said, “I just want to give an idea of the seed that led to the fruits.  So I argued earlier that I think you’d be hard pressed to find something that you think is great to day that wasn’t great 250 years ago, that is not a fruit of liberty.  And I want to talk about what the seeds of that fruit — what is the seed of that tree of liberty?” Andrew painted a picture of the Reformation as a very bloody time.  “If you were a protestant, and someone else was a catholic, you thought your duty was to lock that person up.  Perhaps behead them, take away their property.  If you’re on the winning side of the battle, it’s pretty good for you too, because you get to take their stuff.  And so you had kings and princes fighting to establish their religion as the true religion, and there are two consequences of this:” “One was that people got really sick and tired of the uncertainty and the fear that they might be killed and their goods might be taken away.  What was difficult about the reformation is that there wasn’t a clear winner.  It kept going back and forth, especially in England.  To have a protestant king, and …

The Progressive Mind and Other Essays

alanyim Political Philosophy

Journalist Stephen Browne presents his insights in to the mind of the progressives within civilizations; where they come from and why they believe what they speak about. Part of a work in progress titled “The Progressive Mind and Other Essays” Steve Browne graduated with an MA in anthropology in 1991, and moved to Poland. From 1991 to 2004 he taught English in Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Saudi Arabia. He is co-founder of the Liberty English Camp in Lithuania, and Language of Liberty Institute which teach the principles of political liberty and free markets through English-language instruction.