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Me Vs. Libertarianism/Anarcho-Capitalism

jat93
Posts: 1,440
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10/17/2013 9:27:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Lew Rockwell, a prominent American libertarian who has ties with Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard, posted a link to facebook with the following title: Billionaire Mark Cuban cleared of insider trading; blasts U.S. government. (The link is here: http://in.reuters.com... ). Here are his comments, to which I felt compelled to make a response: "Good for Mark Cuban. When one of the fascist-progressive era control agencies, the SEC, charged the billionaire businessman with the non-crime of insider trading, he fought back and won. But it often takes someone with his sort of assets to beat back the kazillionaire feds." In response to his casual defense of massive insider trading by corporate billionaire businessmen, I tried to expose what I view as the central shortcomings and hypocrisies of the American libertarian/anarcho-capitalist ideology and the type of society it advocates. This, coming from someone who identified with all that jazz for quite some time. Here's my response.

It's unfortunate that the libertarian movement is associated with the defense of messed up practices like this. I think it's reasonable to assume that we have a responsibility to make sure that all of our free, voluntary transactions are conducted as honestly as possible. If not, you're proving right the most common criticism by anti-libertarians and anti-anarchists: that if we just rely on the non-aggression principle as the ethical bedrock of a society, without a centralized power, then we'd all be in a Hobbesian "state of nature" where we're at war with each other, all trying to screw each other over if we have something to gain from it.

I've always taken it for granted that the idea of a free and voluntary society rests upon both parties being fully aware (or as aware as they can possibly be) of what they're signing up for in a transaction. I thought it was a central libertarian argument that in a free market system, voluntary transactions necessarily work to the relative mutual benefit of BOTH parties, because they're made by informed and rational consumers, and that this is precisely why the market system is practically and morally superior to the state's centralized control. Well sure voluntary transactions free of "coercion" benefit both parties, unless of course we encourage practices which provide massive incentives to act dishonestly and sneakily and to prey upon literally helpless business partners.

Is this not a type of coercion in itself, one which essentially removes the ability of the person who's going to be screwed to prevent himself from being screwed since he doesn't know he's getting screwed? Such a practice encourages total distrust and skepticism of the intentions of one's fellow man right from the get-go of any social encounter; healthy competition is one thing, but we can't let it get so far that we're all cool with getting by in the world through the casual financial raping of others. We should be looking for excuses to be more honest and helpful to our fellow man, not for loopholes out of elementary moral principles like, I don't know, "don't try to make profits by screwing someone over by taking advantage of ignorance they literally could not possibly remedy."

I don't understand how a libertarian can believe that this practice is not reprehensible - I imagine many of them would say it's a moral imperative to act in one's self interest in this way - and at the same time claim that they stand for a free, voluntary, and peaceful society. These two beliefs are mutually exclusive. Some kinds of competition and self-interest are healthy both for the individual and for his relations with his fellow man. These are the kinds we should be pursuing. After all, as libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are fond of claiming, someone's benefit in a free-market transaction needn't be based upon someone else's detriment. In this regard, such a defense of insider trading threatens to knock down basically all of the other libertarian/ancap defenses against critics who allege that the very fabric of our society would fall to pieces if we adopted the mentality of socio-economic competition advocated by such libertarians and ancaps.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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10/20/2013 4:14:53 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/17/2013 9:27:56 PM, jat93 wrote:
Lew Rockwell, a prominent American libertarian who has ties with Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard, posted a link to facebook with the following title: Billionaire Mark Cuban cleared of insider trading; blasts U.S. government. (The link is here: http://in.reuters.com... ). Here are his comments, to which I felt compelled to make a response: "Good for Mark Cuban. When one of the fascist-progressive era control agencies, the SEC, charged the billionaire businessman with the non-crime of insider trading, he fought back and won. But it often takes someone with his sort of assets to beat back the kazillionaire feds." In response to his casual defense of massive insider trading by corporate billionaire businessmen, I tried to expose what I view as the central shortcomings and hypocrisies of the American libertarian/anarcho-capitalist ideology and the type of society it advocates. This, coming from someone who identified with all that jazz for quite some time. Here's my response.

It's unfortunate that the libertarian movement is associated with the defense of messed up practices like this. I think it's reasonable to assume that we have a responsibility to make sure that all of our free, voluntary transactions are conducted as honestly as possible. If not, you're proving right the most common criticism by anti-libertarians and anti-anarchists: that if we just rely on the non-aggression principle as the ethical bedrock of a society, without a centralized power, then we'd all be in a Hobbesian "state of nature" where we're at war with each other, all trying to screw each other over if we have something to gain from it.

I've always taken it for granted that the idea of a free and voluntary society rests upon both parties being fully aware (or as aware as they can possibly be) of what they're signing up for in a transaction. I thought it was a central libertarian argument that in a free market system, voluntary transactions necessarily work to the relative mutual benefit of BOTH parties, because they're made by informed and rational consumers, and that this is precisely why the market system is practically and morally superior to the state's centralized control. Well sure voluntary transactions free of "coercion" benefit both parties, unless of course we encourage practices which provide massive incentives to act dishonestly and sneakily and to prey upon literally helpless business partners.

Is this not a type of coercion in itself, one which essentially removes the ability of the person who's going to be screwed to prevent himself from being screwed since he doesn't know he's getting screwed? Such a practice encourages total distrust and skepticism of the intentions of one's fellow man right from the get-go of any social encounter; healthy competition is one thing, but we can't let it get so far that we're all cool with getting by in the world through the casual financial raping of others.
We should be looking for excuses to be more honest and helpful to our fellow man, not for loopholes out of elementary moral principles like, I don't know, "don't try to make profits by screwing someone over by taking advantage of ignorance they literally could not possibly remedy."

I don't understand how a libertarian can believe that this practice is not reprehensible - I imagine many of them would say it's a moral imperative to act in one's self interest in this way - and at the same time claim that they stand for a free, voluntary, and peaceful society. These two beliefs are mutually exclusive. Some kinds of competition and self-interest are healthy both for the individual and for his relations with his fellow man. These are the kinds we should be pursuing. After all, as libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are fond of claiming, someone's benefit in a free-market transaction needn't be based upon someone else's detriment. In this regard, such a defense of insider trading threatens to knock down basically all of the other libertarian/ancap defenses against critics who allege that the very fabric of our society would fall to pieces if we adopted the mentality of socio-economic competition advocated by such libertarians and ancaps.

This post makes a lot of sense to me, especially the underlined. I will add though that there's no real need for us to "encourage" dishonest practices; such practices have all the incentive already built into them as long as the assaulting party is assured of getting away with it.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?