Friday, September 27, 2013

Are Libertarians Individualists?

That's the question Steve Horwitz posed in his recent article for Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF).

Says Horwitz:

A young libertarian recently told me that, as an individualist, he thinks it strange that people identify with a religious or ethnic group as “part of their roots or culture.” For this young man, individualism apparently means rejecting all sorts of possible (voluntary) connections to others that might suggest that group identity is equal to, or even more important than, individual identity.  This sort of individualism, which is found too frequently among libertarians, misunderstands the ways in which libertarianism is and is not “individualistic.”
There are three ways that the words “individualist” or “individualism” might be used to describe libertarians.  Two of them have some accuracy, but the third, which is the one raised above, does not.
One sense in which libertarians are individualists is this: When we analyze social phenomena, we assume that only individuals choose.  Therefore, understanding even highly social institutions like the market begins, although it does not end, with individual human action.  The theory of spontaneous order explains that many social institutions are the “products of human action but not human design.”  That is, they start with individual actions, but those actions produce outcomes that no individual or group of individuals intended.  Libertarians recognize that those actions create something greater than the sum of their parts.

A second sense in which libertarians are individualists is that we believe the individual is the meaningful political unit, because only individuals have rights and all individuals should be equal before the law.  Notice that this does not mean that all individuals have equal talents or abilities; it is rather a statement about the moral standing of individuals.  Individuals are the relevant moral unit, and they are equal in terms of their moral standing.
Read the rest here.

Letter of Liberty News Edition (9-27-2013)

Here is the Friday News Edition.

Art Carden on why the naughties weren't always bad

Steve Horwitz asks the question: Are libertarians individualists?

Sheldon Richman looks to guidance from the late Lysander Spooner on the national debt crisis.

Gary North on Jim Wallis and Pope Francis

Gary North on Abraham Lincoln and central banking

Jacob Hornberger gives us reasons on why we should dismantle international checkpoints.

Edmond S. Bradley on the unintended (yet expected) consequences of Obamacare

Scott Lazarowitz on SovietCare

Paul Craig Roberts on Washington's tyranny

Justin Raimondo: It's time to defund the Syrian rebels.

Tom Engelhardt on the Stalinist roots of American exceptionalism

Scott Lazarowitz tells the truth about Keynesianism.

Is Rand Paul America's #1 liberal? Jack Rall wants to know.

David Howden makes the case for free immigrants, free capital,  and free markets.

A Brazilian advises the NSA to "have a nice day."

It seems that the US intelligence chiefs are not happy about the anti-NSA sentiment.

Is al-Shabab really a threat to America?

Wes Messamore on the inherent liberalism of gun tech

Scott Lazarowitz on the First Amendment and the American government

Dom Armentano cautions against the maximum stupidity of minimum wage laws.

Ed Stetzer on some great trends in growing churches

Eric Peters on the madness of GM

Doug French on why Wall Street is not the heart of American capitalism

Peter Boettke on the mystery of the mundane

Jeff Tucker on the abolition of the playground

Jeff Tucker on the fun and fascinating Bitcoin

Congratulations to C. Jay Engel

This post is intended to congratulate C. Jay Engel for the new daughter that has been born into his family: Elizabeth Grace Engel.

Here is his excellent piece today: "God's Life and Creation: Reflections on a Daughter Born"