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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/5/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,152 times Debate No: 51704
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)




I will argue that libertarianism is not beneficial to a society.

A set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end. Government keeps economical and social interference to a minimum.

Not beneficial
Does not have a good effect [on the society].

No semantics, first round acceptance.

I ask the voters to vote based on who won the debate not on your personal beliefs (because then I'd be screwed).


I humbly accept.
Please, state your case.
Debate Round No. 1


My first argument will be an example.

Imagine there is a lake with 20 fish in it. There are 4 fishermen. They have two years to catch the fish in the lake. The first year the fish will be worth 1 dollar each, the second year it will be 2 dollars. What do you think will happen?
The first year the lake will be untouched. The second year the four fishermen will try to catch as much fish as fast as they can, leaving the lake completely empty. The fisherman with the most starting money, the biggest boat and the most advanced equipment will catch 15 fish, leaving the remaining 5 to the lesser fishermen. The rich fisherman is now even richer, while the other 3 are left with nothing.

Now compare this with a new scenario. The same 4 fishermen but now each has his own little pond with 4 fish in it, belonging to them. There will be 4 fish left in the lake. The first year, when the fish are worth 1 dollar, one might grab a few, and the second year the fish might be gone. But after that, each fishermen has 4 fish of his own to sell. Each fisherman now has 8 dollars, one or more might have caught the remaining 4 so they have more. But now each fisherman has 8 dollars to buy food for his family.

The first scenario is libertarianism. The scenario where the government doesn't care about the economy. Here the fisherman with the most advanced equipment will take everything and the remaining three will starve. The second scenario is what you might call a socialist state, where the wealth is divided but there's still room for competition.

If you apply these scenarios to a larger scale you will see the huge differences. The first scenario would be the US of A. Notice how the differences in wealth are huge because of lack of government interference. The second scenario would be Holland for example. Where the government plays a role in the economy to make sure everybody gets a slice.

Compare these two scenarios yourself and decide which one you would like to live in as an average citizen.


I thank my opponent for this opening example. I will offer my rebuttal below.

My task, however, is to offer proof that libertarianism can be beneficial to society. One example will be sufficient to disprove my opponent.

So, following the example of my opponent, I will offer an example that shows how libertarianism can be beneficial to a society. My example will be a famous one: the society of George Orwell's 1984 - as a placeholder for any authoritarian society.
It is obvious that a society that bans creativity and independent thought is in many respects inferior to a society that supports creativity.

For reference, I refer to a number o studies on that topic:

"When you’re building an innovation team, it’s a given that you need creative people.

"conformity pressures tend to elicit kinds of motivation in the individual that are incompatible with the creative process. The second general point, for which empirical evidence will presently be provided, is that high susceptibility by the individual to conformity pressures tends to be associated with certain personality traits that are detrimental to creative thinking."

"of course politicians are fighting over the middle ground, of course most TV programmes are the same and of course all our high streets are identical. People are social animals who work in groups and, especially with the advance of globalization, the number of groups that govern or control our world has shrunk. These groups naturally kill creativity, or at least redefine it as conformity."

The society of Orwell's 1984 is doomed. The arrogant government assumes to have all strings in their hands. But without creativity, there will be no innovation. Without innovation, society will not adapt to outward threats. Without that, they will be overrun.

Now let us add Libertarianism: all the people content with serving the government will still be allowed to do so, keeping the state stable and running. Because the book clearly shows us that there are many people who just love the new Ingsoc system. They willingly speak "newspeak" and love the "Big Brother".

Others, like protagonist Winston Smith, could develop their individual talents and create new ideas and concepts, furthering society.
This is corroborated by studies. If people wish to be conformists and serve, they would be allowed to. And such people exist:

"We studied 41 radical-innovation teams in R&D and manufacturing units of a large defense contractor. The groups had varying proportions of three types of people—extremely creative, detail oriented, and highly conformist—along with more-general thinkers, typically the largest component. Our most surprising finding: Conformists, though they may be useless at generating breakthrough ideas, dramatically increase a team’s radical innovations."

As we can see, creativity and innovation - hence progress - are "dramatically" increased by the cooperation of three types of people that exist naturally. Libertarianism allows all of theses three types of people to put their talents to their best use.

An authoritarian society - like Socialism - requires a centrally planned economy. Which cannot take into account each individual person's strengths and talents, nor their type as classified above: creative, detail-oriented or conformist. Centrally planned economies are regulated by a small group of people who believe thy have a brilliant plan, but must ultimately fail, as they cannot possibly comprehend the interactions of the countless variables that make up an economic circle.
So far, Communism and Socialism have mostly failed. China, as the largest communist society on our planet, is right now literally suffocating and dying of thirst in its own pollution.

So, Libertarianism CAN definitely help societies.

In fact, conformist societies, especially socialist ones, have a tendency to SPARK Liberalism:
"There are many examples of the way regulation and control by the State contributed to unanticipated and often very creative outcomes in the performing arts. These include:the dissident play-writer Václav Havel, the future president of post-communistCzechoslovakia, who satirized communist bureaucracy and worked with one of the keyunderground bands ‘The Plastic People of the Universe’; Karel Kryl a protest songwriter who became an icon of the anti-communist movement and had to escape prosecution by living in West Germany; the comic duo Lasica & Satinský who usedwell known plays such as ‘Waiting for Godot’, which became ‘Not Waiting for Godot’,to comment on the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people – struggles which in theofficial communist propaganda only existed in capitalist countries."

"Unanticipated" - "dissident" - "anti-communist": it is clear that these are UNWANTED in a socialist system.

It is thus established that a Libertarian system allows for creativity and innovation, while an authoritarian system would inhibit those, trusting the judgement of their government above that of the sum of the people.


My opponent fails to argue why a libertarian system would cause the fishermen to wait. This is totally improbable. No man knows the future. Hence the fishermen will not know - in a libertarian system - the fish will be worth 2 dollars next year. Some may hope for an increase, but others will fear the price will drop, catching fish right away, to sustain their families. As a result, fish will become rarer, and the price will THEN increase. Other fishermen will have read the famous prophecy of the Cree and catch as few fish as possible to sustain their families for the longest possible time. Libertarian systems allow for everybody to act as they wish, hence conformity would be very improbable to happen. My opponent's example is thus wrong, as it does not pertain to Libertarianism.

The second example I don't understand. If each fisherman has four fish of his own and there are four fish in the lake, why does that change anything? The place where the fish dwell in the first example did not make any difference. Does having the fish nearby magically change the time when the fishermen catch the fish? Why do they catch the fish in the public lake? In extension of the first example, they would surely still wait for the second year, when the fish will be more valuable.
How did the fish get into the ponds? They must have come from the lake. Transferring them requires catching them. which is what fishermen do. So, the fishermen caught the fish a year before, and decided to keep them for a year, then they do or do not catch the fish in the lake to sustain their families, selling the previously caught fish two years after catching them in the first place. This is the exact same scenario as example one, then. The fishermen have access to fish and wait a year before they sell them. The only difference is this: in this example, the fishermen hungered for an additional year - after catching the fish they now keep in their ponds.

None of this makes sense.

In Libertarianism, people with fewer resources become resourceful by innovation and cleverness. If the fisherman with the most advanced equipment waits for a year to catch the fish - his fault if the others are there first. I assure you the little fishermen will catch the fish, unless the government forbids them to.

Which is a problem with the USA. The government intervenes with taxation, license fees etc., which is what keeps little businesses down. That's not Libertarianism.
In case you haven't noticed: the Libertarian Party is only the third largest party in the USA, while the Republican Party holds the majority in Congress. What you are describing is "free market", maybe "Liberalism", but not Libertarianism.
Debate Round No. 2


Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we would call a false dilemma. Pro bases his entire argument on the thought that a state is either libertarian or authoritarian, and that there is no middle ground. To prove this, he uses a fictional piece of literature that describes a scenario that has never happened in the history of men.

Orwell's 1984 wasn't a plea for libertarianism, it was a warning for a totalitarian regime. A threat that was very real in the time it was written. The cold war was at the start of its run and people were terrified of all the possible scenarios that would arise had the USA and the Soviet Union gone to war. One of these scenarios was a division of the world into three large dictatorships. One of which was Oceania, where Ingsoc was introduced as a way to oppress any form of self-expression.

Again, this is not an argument for libertarianism. George Orwell himself was a socialist. The problem presented wasn't that the government interfered in the state economy, but rather that it took away all liberty and private property.

Let's give some examples of problems that can and will arise if a country's government is completely libertarian, and how it could be solved with government intervention.

Minimum- and maximum prices
When a company has exclusive rights on the production of one specific medicine, the company can ask incredibly high prices for it. Why? Because people will buy it anyway. The government can solve this problem by introducing maximumprices to counter this. Now one might say "isn't it the government's fault in the first place that this company has these exclusive right? Can't other companies compete and lower the prices?" No, because a medicine is a mere formula that, if not published, will remain a secret to all competitors.

Pollution of the earth
In a libertarian government car manifacturers and oil companies will be able to destroy the earth with no resistance. Factories won't build an ventilation system because it's too expensive. Preservation of nature is expensive and it will not happen if the government doesn't make it mandatory. An entrepreneur won't spend thousands of dollars to clean their water and air or stop dumping toxic waste in the sewers if they don't get fined for it. Near-extinct animals will not be protected and risk total extinction.

Bad products
Food production companies won't have to abide to rules anymore, so they will put the cheapest most efficient filth in it and lie to the consumer about it. Without laws, businesses will create unsafe goods, they might endager workers and use violence. Why? Because there will be no unionization.

Cartels and monopolies
Without laws preventing it, competiting businesses will work together and raise the prices, so every business will make even more money. A monopoly is a company which has no competitors, and thus raise the prices. Now every product is so incredibly expensive, how can anyone buy them? Because remember, there is no minimum wage and no union, so workers get paid almost nothing.

These are some of the countless problems that will arise if a government keeps his hands away from the economy of a nation.


My opponent obviously does not understand his own resolution: "libertarianism is not beneficial to a society"

A society is "a" society. Not "every" society, not "societies".

All I had to do was show a single example of a society that CAN benefit from the introduction of Libertarianism. I chose - as an example - the authoritarian state of Orwell's 1984.
This does not create a false dichotomy. An authoritarian state is an example of a state without Libertarian principles. Logically, I choose this example over any mixed form, as the benefits of introducing Libertarian ideas into a state will be more evident if they were completely absent before. This is a three-round-debate. We don't have the time to argue hence and forth over which element of success can be attributed to which part of a mixed state.
As for the "fictional" part: my opponent used a highly fictional example himself, which I countered with my own. No real state has ever had only four fishermen, twenty fish and the precognition to know prices for fish years ahead. So, my opponent has no right to complain about me using a fictional state as an example. Introducing Libertarianism into a state that is NOT libertarian right now MUST create a fictional model of a state, just like my opponent presents a totally fictional - as not based on fact or observation (see the lack of any sources on his side) - idea of what "will" allegedly happen in a libertarian society. So, his accusations against me are completely unfounded.

As for my example: 1984 was NATURALLY not an example for Libertarianism. If it had been, I would not have been able to choose it, as I needed a society devoid of any Libertarian ideas to show what would happen if Libertarianism was introduced. Orwell's intentions of what he wanted to show with his work have no further relevance for what I extended from his work.

My opponent however goes against his own definition of "Libertarianism" if he says that my example is not an argument for Libertarianism.
He concedes: "the government [...] took away all liberty".
He defined: "Libertarianism A set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end."

So, if he concedes that the government in my example took away all liberties, then he also concedes that it is by his own definition not libertarian. He has thus accepted my example as valid.
Hence by showing that the introduction of Libertarianism into that example improves the state (which I showed by studies on innovation through creativity) I have fulfilled my predefined task - which my opponent never objected: to provide an example how Libertarian ideas can be beneficial to "a society".

As for my opponent's example with the fishermen from round 2: he does not defend against my criticism, does not answer my questions. He has completely dropped them, so I consider my rebuttal as conceded by my opponent. My opponent is thus disproved.

Now, all that is left for me is to refute his new arguments and show he did not meet his burden of proof.
My opponent makes a number of propositions what will allegedly happen in Libertarian societies. He does not back any of this up with any evidence whatsoever. As in the previous rounds, all we have is pure conjecture. My opponent has to provide proof that Libertarianism does not ever, in any way, benefit a society. He doesn't. He makes a few claims, and while I agree that some of these phenomena MIGHT come to pass, I deny that they "WILL" occur in EVERY Libertarian society.
And even if they DID, this does not say a lot about the resolution.
The resolution states that "libertarianism is not beneficial to a society".
But so far, my opponent has only talked about negative effects. In order to prove the lack of a net benefit, he would have to take the benefit into account, too. He doesn't.

At this point, the debate is over.

For my own entertainment, I will take a closer look at my opponent's attempt at precognition, where he detailed what he believes "will" happen.
"Maximum prices": This argument does obviously not hold. If the government introduces maximum prices, companies will naturally stop research at a point where they will not be able to refund their costs by selling the finished product. A government cannot possibly calculate how much a medicine has cost a company in research, resources, personnel, logistics etc. In order to determine a maximum price, all companies in the country would have to expose themselves completely to the government for a fair judgement. Nobody would even be able to process that amount of data. And it would mean every company had to reveal any company secret, robbing them of their business and opening the market for piracy. Piracy will lead to bad copies of the original product being produced cheaply, and in the case of medicine this will lead to great health risks. So, this is not an argument against Libertarianism, it is an argument FOR it.

"Pollution": What my opponent proposes here is well known, but he draws wrong conclusions. In a Libertarian society, lobbyists will not have as great an impact on governments, as governments have less influence on economy. This means that laws can be passed to guarantee the "minimum" - which my opponent has included in his definition of Libertarianism - and this minimum is preserving our environment and preserving resources. Of COURSE a government in a Libertarian society would have to make this mandatory, and it doesn't go against my opponent's definition. If there is no planet Earth left to live on, what would any of us do? So, this surely falls into the minimal action a libertarian government would have to take. But they would do so much more freely. Bribing officials only pays off if the officials have a lot to say, so in a truly libertarian state, corruption would decrease substantially, allowing for the government to be stricter about fewer laws. That's what the "minimum" entails.

"Bad products": Competing companies will keep the quality of products up. If there are less rules, commercials would be allowed to call competitors out for bad products, all companies would sample and analyze the products of others in order to convince the public that they offer the better product for the same price. Instead of an overburdened government the whole market would regulate the quality of products without an authority overlooking it all.

"Cartels and monopolies": This is obviously the "appeal to extremes" fallacy. If really not even "anyone" can buy products, the companies will lower the prices, because they would not make any revenue from their products, bleeding themselves to economic death. Nobody would do that. If someone attempts to build a monopoly, some form of competition with an alternative, cheaper way will form and shake up the market. As it happened in the computer industry with Apple.

My opponent's argumentation must fail because of one fatal flaw: he reduces Libertarianism to economic influence of the government, in spite of his own definition.

So, summarizing:
My opponent has offered no proof for any of his propositions. He has introduced and dropped a far-fetched example. He has not refuted a single one of my arguments. None of his arguments remain unrefuted or undisputed.
He has thus not met his burden of proof.

I thank everybody for taking the time to read this.

Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Rasputin45 7 years ago
Libertarianism is beneficial to a society because, even if you
disagree with it like I do, it makes the other positions (liberal, conservative, populist) stronger. It gives a differing opinion which creates conversation which is what politics should be about.
Posted by The_Scapegoat_bleats 7 years ago
Thanks. I don't know the future, though. The audience will have to decide on this.
Posted by RowanM 7 years ago
Welp, looks like this will be my first loss. Congrats.
Posted by RowanM 7 years ago
Please do
Posted by travis18352 7 years ago
i would love to debate you on libertarianism
Posted by RowanM 7 years ago
Why? I was under the impression most of the people here are pro libertarianism.
Posted by Pfalcon1318 7 years ago
You might want to change that last line....
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by WilliamofOckham 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: A very interesting debate on a very interesting topic. Con did have some burden here, but his arguments revolved around a weird sort of fish analogy that wasn't really relevant. Pro had a well-substantiated, thought-out case.
Vote Placed by travis18352 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: both con and pro conducted the debate very well and both had good spelling and grammar. con pretty much just said that libertarianism doesnt work because some people can catch more fish than the other. con didnt use any sources at all and pro did so sources points go to pro.

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