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Apparently Some Confusion?

A question was asked of Walter Block; the bulk of the question regards something written by me!

He [that would be me!] makes the following claim: A common culture – and a culture beyond merely the NAP – is necessary if we are ever to move closer to a libertarian society. Asks the rhetorical: What is aggression? What is proper punishment? How is it determined when the age of minority ends and majority begins? What is property? Then answers by saying there would actually be many different answers to these questions that could be compatible with the NAP.

This seems contradictory to his original statement about a common culture…

Now, I don’t know why I am not asked directly to clarify this seeming contradiction; I will do so here.

My point is simple: for example, what is “aggression”?  We debate libertarian theory to the nth degree with the hope of precisely defining what is meant by “aggression.” Is it only physical acts?  Is it the threat of a physical act?  Does it include libel?

Theoreticians pretend that they will be able to definitively answer these questions using libertarian theory – and come to one definitive answer.

I will suggest: In a given society, as long as all individuals generally accept the same definition – say…physical acts only – there is a better chance to maintain peace and therefore avoid calls for “someone to do something about it” (aka “government”).

Now, individuals in another society – somewhere way over there – might generally accept that threats are “aggression.”

Who is the purist to say this is not acceptable?  As long as those in the society generally accept such a definition, they will live in something approaching their version of a libertarian world.

My point about “common culture” isn’t one definition for all, everywhere – as the questioner implies.  My point is different societies will come up with different answers to these questions – and each can be compatible with a libertarian society populated with imperfect humans.

Let’s take this one step further: a common culture, generally libertarian, which does not morally accept the libertine libertarian.  Perhaps a society that generally accepts what is known as a traditional lifestyle – a male husband, a female wife, 2.5 children and a white picket fence.  Acts of procreation happen in the bedroom.

Then one day, a new neighbor comes in; he decides his front yard can pass for the set of a XXX movie.  Plenty of oil and whipped cream are involved.  Now – it is his property – he is not violating the NAP as far as I can tell.  Where he came from, this was…normal.

Look, we can say “look at the contract” all we want.  The nudist will say “I see no restrictions on the CC&Rs.”  Is this a situation where peace can easily be maintained?

So…even if the nudist is correct within the thinnest of thin libertarian theory, he is creating a situation where the traditional libertarian community will transform into one that demands “someone do something about it” (aka “government”).

And there goes the previously generally libertarian community.

A generally accepted culture “around here” (based on more than property rights) is necessary to develop and maintain a libertarian community.

BTW, Walter answered the question perfectly – and I agree with his answer:

As far as I’m concerned, some cultures might well be more compatible with libertarianism than others. I’m not enough of a sociologist or historian to say which is which though, although I have my guesses. The point I would leave you with it that this is an entirely different issue than what does libertarianism consist of? As far as this latter issue goes, I’m a thinnist: that is, this issue is entirely outside the realm of what is libertarianism.

My one slight difference – I have my guesses about which type of culture is more compatible with libertarianism, and have written about this often.

Published in Bionic Mosquito