Irish Libertarianism

Beagbuí

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Libertarianism as a philosophy has experienced rapid growth in recent years and has certainly swept across Ireland and notably this site politics.ie. It has been said that Austro-libertarianism is the only truly international economic-political movement outside of Marxism. Many people question what libertarianism stands for. Prof Gerard Casey from UCD has written an article briefly introducing its core principle:

Prof. Gerard Casey said:
Libertarianism is a philosophical and political position that takes as its first priority the freedom of every human individual. Individual freedom is and should be the basis of all social relations. The core of Libertarianism is what is called the non-aggression axiom (NAA):

NAA: no one may initiate or threaten to initiate the use of coercive physical violence against the person or property of another.

Libertarianism rests on the initially startling claim that we own ourselves and, as the rightful owners of ourselves, only we can decide what is to be done by and to our bodies and our minds. We don’t perhaps normally think of ourselves as something that can be owned but the self-ownership claim is, at the very least, a rejection of the idea that anyone else owns us. The corollary of owning yourself is that as a free adult person you are also responsible for yourself. No one else is, or can be, obliged to protect, defend, pay for, support, feed, clothe, or care for you. In addition to yourself, you can own and use anything that you rightfully appropriate that belongs to no one else or anything that you can persuade someone else to give you, whether by sale or gift. You can do what you want with yourself and your property provided that in so doing you do not infringe on the equal rights of others to do what they like with themselves and their properties. This reciprocity is the basis of the only kind of equality that Libertarianism supports: the equality of all individuals before the law. Libertarianism can be justified either by appeal to consequences—namely, that the expansion of the sphere of human liberty will lead to greater prosperity and efficiency, or by appeal to rights, namely, that the expansion of the sphere of human liberty is justified by the nature of man and the nature of the world in which he lives.
Read more here if interested:
Libertarianism: An Introduction
 


cyberianpan

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to yourself, you can own and use anything that you rightfully appropriate that belongs to no one else or anything that you can persuade someone else to give you, whether by sale or gift. You can do what you want with yourself and your property provided that in so doing you do not infringe on the equal rights of others to do what they like with themselves and their properties
How far back does that go ? Say if your grandfather was a "landgrabber" ... are you entitled to the land ?

cYp
 

Cassandra Syndrome

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Libertarianism as a philosophy has experienced rapid growth in recent years and has certainly swept across Ireland and notably this site politics.ie. It has been said that Austro-libertarianism is the only truly international economic-political movement outside of Marxism. Many people question what libertarianism stands for. Prof Gerard Casey from UCD has written an article briefly introducing its core principle:


Read more here if interested:
Libertarianism: An Introduction
Its growing rapidly as the Austrian School folk predicted that the economy would collapse in the manner it has.

A lot of people confuse Austrian School and libertarianism with Neo Liberalism, which are in reality very polarised.
 

readytogo

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cyberianpan, I've often wondered about that myself. For example, where would libertarians have stood on the 19th century Land War? Surely on the side on the landlords? Property rights and all that.
 

caulfield-the-yank

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How far back does that go ? Say if your grandfather was a "landgrabber" ... are you entitled to the land ?

cYp
Those types of questions can become interesting, and debate can be fruitful, after the merits of the basic premise have been agreed upon.

I will venture what I will acknowledge is not an entirely satisfying answer, but is, I think, at least a good starting point:

First, we must obviously be able to know with reasonable certainty that the person claiming to own the property in question does, in fact, claim it by inheritance from someone who was a "landgrabber" -- as opposed to a reputed "landgrabber" or a savvy trader, or simply someone who was disliked in the community for whatever reason. At some point, the mists of history must obviously frustrate inquiry along those lines.

Second, if by "landgrabbger" (and I do know the Irish context, but I am addressing a more general question), you mean someone who stole the property -- i.e., did not acquire it through trade or gift -- from someone who had previously acquired it through his or her own efforts, then ceetainly the grandchild of such a "landgrabber" would, if "inheritance" was the *sole* basis for his/her claim, have no better right to it than the landgrabbing grandfather, himself.

What, then, to do about it? Well, please note that there are a lot of qualifying words that I have used in setting up the hypothetical.

Noi doubt, some sort of "rough justice" may be needed -- but note that the libertarian premise still provides at least a measurring stick for what is or is not "just" and what, among competing alternatives, is or is not *too* "rough" in approximating or achieving a just result.

It is at this point that I think libertarian philosophy has done the bulk of its job already -- which is to set forth a rule for *measuring* the extent to which a property claim is justified or not, and for measuring what considerations ought to inform any proposal about what to do about propeertty claims that are not.

As I have posted elsewhere on this site, young enthusiastic libertarians sometimes get carried away to the point of confusing a political philosophy (in their case, an excellent political philosophy) with an actual programme for government, or the like, that can be particualrised down to the finest detail. Not in a democracy. But we can try to get as close as possible.
 

caulfield-the-yank

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cyberianpan, I've often wondered about that myself. For example, where would libertarians have stood on the 19th century Land War? Surely on the side on the landlords? Property rights and all that.
Absolutely not!

The so-called "landlords" got "their" land as a result of it being stolen (through the power of the British government) from those who had been working it and claiming the right to it, as their ancestors had for generations.

The so-called "rent" that was extracted was no different than a form of "property tax" levied by an agent of the government.
 

Panopticon

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Well, the "Irish context" is that the land was gradually seized over time by English and Scottish planters. So in a sense it is all unjustly allocated; or, more accurately nowadays, there is a class with an unjust amount of wealth because of the depredations of their ancestors. However, most of them now live in the UK, not Ireland.

One interesting debate at present among American libertarians is whether women were more free in the late 1800s than they are now. Most believe that they were indeed more free back then, because they paid less tax, in theory. It would be interesting to see what our libertarians have to say about that.
 

Cassandra Syndrome

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Well, the "Irish context" is that the land was gradually seized over time by English and Scottish planters. So in a sense it is all unjustly allocated; or, more accurately nowadays, there is a class with an unjust amount of wealth because of the depredations of their ancestors. However, most of them now live in the UK, not Ireland.

One interesting debate at present among American libertarians is whether women were more free in the late 1800s than they are now. Most believe that they were indeed more free back then, because they paid less tax, in theory. It would be interesting to see what our libertarians have to say about that.
Women broadly used to have the freedom of choosing between raising her kids at home or chasing a career. Many women today have to chase careers to pay for owning the household. Debt is slavery.
 

Panopticon

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Women broadly used to have the freedom of choosing between raising her kids at home or chasing a career. Many women today have to chase careers to pay for owning the household. Debt is slavery.
Your definition of freedom now includes the freedom to not have to work? Libertarians for universal welfare?
 

cyberianpan

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Second, if by "landgrabbger" (and I do know the Irish context, but I am addressing a more general question), you mean someone who stole the property -- i.e., did not acquire it through trade or gift -- from someone who had previously acquired it through his or her own efforts, then ceetainly the grandchild of such a "landgrabber" would, if "inheritance" was the *sole* basis for his/her claim, have no better right to it than the landgrabbing grandfather, himself.

What, then, to do about it? Well, please note that there are a lot of qualifying words that I have used in setting up the hypothetical.

Noi doubt, some sort of "rough justice" may be needed
The problem is... that the further back you go.. you'll nearly always find moral problems

E.g. by the norms of say 1600, a King taking land and redistributing was aok... not so now

For any sort of practical, meaningful interpretation of these rights, there would have to be a cut off point.

cYp
 

cyberianpan

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Its growing rapidly as the Austrian School folk predicted that the economy would collapse in the manner it has.

A lot of people confuse Austrian School and libertarianism with Neo Liberalism, which are in reality very polarised.
Many people also make the mistake of conflating Libertarianism with the Austrian School ... at best the Austrian School is a strain of Libertarianism, possibly an impure strain.

cYp
 

caulfield-the-yank

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One interesting debate at present among American libertarians is whether women were more free in the late 1800s than they are now. Most believe that they were indeed more free back then, because they paid less tax, in theory. It would be interesting to see what our libertarians have to say about that.
I think the question in not answerable in the form it is put.

It asks about "women" -- i.e., a class.

The reply: Which woman, in particular? At the risk of stating the obvious, libertarianism is a philosophy of *individual* freedom.

Also, freedom has many ingredients, and not all of them are of equal importance to all individuals. A 60-year-old single proprietor of a B&B probably is more interested in the freedom to run her business and low taxation, than in the right to contraception. A 19-year-old college student from a working-class family is probably more concerned with the latter freedom -- unless, of course, her tuition depends on her own mother being able to start a B&B, or get part time work from the aforementioned 60-year-old woman. Who knows? But again, the reply is: Which woman, in particlar?
 
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Hazlitt

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Many people also make the mistake of conflating Libertarianism with the Austrian School ... at best the Austrian School is a strain of Libertarianism, possibly an impure strain.

cYp
This is spot on! People do conflate Libertarianism with the Austrian School. The "Austrian School" is a school purely of economics, "value-free" economics at that. Obviously the vast majority of Austrian Schoolers also believe in free markets and property rights, but there is a distinct difference. Even the Mises Institute to a large degree is responsible for blurring those lines. Mises himself was certainly no anarchist!

Mises - from 'Liberalism' said:
There is, to be sure, a sect that believes that one could quite safely dispense with every form of compulsion and base society entirely on the voluntary observance of the moral code. The anarchists consider state, law, and government as superfluous institutions in a social order that would really serve the good of all, and not just the special interests of a privileged few. Only because the present social order is based on private ownership of the means of production is it necessary to resort to compulsion and coercion in its defense. If private property were abolished, then everyone, without exception, would spontaneously observe the rules demanded by social cooperation.

It has already been pointed out that this doctrine is mistaken in so far as it concerns the character of private ownership of the means of production. But even apart from this, it is altogether untenable. The anarchist, rightly enough, does not deny that every form of human cooperation in a society based on the division of labor demands the observance of some rules of conduct that are not always agreeable to the individual, since they impose on him a sacrifice, only temporary, it is true, but, for all that, at least for the moment, painful. But the anarchist is mistaken in assuming that everyone, without exception, will be willing to observe these rules voluntarily. There are dyspeptics who, though they know very well that indulgence in a certain food will, after a short time, cause them severe, even scarcely bearable pains, are nevertheless unable to forgo the enjoyment of the delectable dish. Now the interrelationships of life in society are not as easy to trace as the physiological effects of a food, nor do the consequences follow so quickly and, above all, so palpably for the evildoer. Can it, then, be assumed, without falling completely into absurdity, that, in spite of all this, every individual in an anarchist society will have greater foresight and will power than a gluttonous dyspeptic? In an anarchist society is the possibility entirely to be excluded that someone may negligently throw away a lighted match and start a fire or, in a fit of anger, jealousy, or revenge, inflict injury on his fellow man? Anarchism misunderstands the real nature of man. It would be practicable only in a world of angels and saints.

Liberalism is not anarchism, nor has it anything whatsoever to do with anarchism. The liberal understands quite clearly that without resort to compulsion, the existence of society would be endangered and that behind the rules of conduct whose observance is necessary to assure peaceful human cooperation must stand the threat of force if the whole edifice of society is not to be continually at the mercy of any one of its members. One must be in a position to compel the person who will not respect the lives, health, personal freedom, or private property of others to acquiesce in the rules of life in society. This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.
 

Cassandra Syndrome

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Your definition of freedom now includes the freedom to not have to work? Libertarians for universal welfare?
I am talking about the behavioural aspects of the non unitarian model of the household, not the broader macroeconomy.
 

Cassandra Syndrome

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This is spot on! People do conflate Libertarianism with the Austrian School. The "Austrian School" is a school purely of economics, "value-free" economics at that. Obviously the vast majority of Austrian Schoolers also believe in free markets and property rights, but there is a distinct difference. Even the Mises Institute to a large degree is responsible for blurring those lines. Mises himself was certainly no anarchist!
True, but Murray Rothbard was anarcho capitalist and he was Austrian School
 


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