The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Would Libertarians Practically Achieve
“A World Without Moral Judgments”?

Posted on | March 21, 2013 | 42 Comments

by Smitty

While a tremendous Nick Gillespie fan, I can’t suppress a guffaw at this:

I submit to you that few statements are more wrong than saying “libertarians might want a world without moral judgments.” From my vantage point, one of the things to which libertarianism is dedicated is the proliferation of moral judgments by freeing people up to the greatest degree possible to create their own ways of being in the world. To conflate the live and let live ethos at the heart of the classical liberal and libertarian project with an essentially nihilistic dismissal of pluralism and tolerance is a gigantic error. It’s like saying that because religious dissenters want to abolish a single state church that they are anti-god.

The libertarian, and, thus, highly rational, view seems more like a commitment to tolerating such promiscuous pantheism that “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law“.


The libertarian commitment to true pluralism and tolerance is not easy to maintain, but it remains exactly the sort of gesture that allows for differing moralities to flourish and, one hopes, new and better ways of living to emerge.

While technology varies, I’m more with Ancient Commenter Solomon,

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

I’m looking at any shiny new “differing moralities” and sensing a bill of goods on offer. However, I do want a separation between the court of law, and the court of public opinion, with a minimalist, ethical, low-common-denominator as a public standard. I’ll keep myself and raise my son to a higher, moral standard, and let the old school, traditional, no-surprises effectiveness of sobriety, boys as boys, girls as girls, and heterosexual monogamy both speak for itself as a strategy, and be the drum I beat in the court of public opinion.

It’s one thing to support the liberty to be an idiot, in the name of liberty. It’s quite another to lack the moral courage to label idiocy as such, in a firm manner, publicly, liberally garnished with humor and humility. Liberty untempered by maturity and morality does veer into hedonism and nihilism. That’s not Gillespie’s fault, personally. However, in that vein, the mess that is Social Security isn’t FDR’s fault, either. The Ponzi scheme was stable on his watch, after all; he merely planted the seeds of doom.

See how easy it is to avoid moral responsibility?

Update: Daily Pundit accuses me of ignorance, then, arguably, demonstrates some about Christianity (though maybe not Judaism–I’m ignorant.) However, the .pdf he links looks to include a number of great modern heads, so, thanks!


42 Responses to “Would Libertarians Practically Achieve
“A World Without Moral Judgments”?”

  1. dmataconis
    March 21st, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    @smitty_one_each And your post completely mis-interprets what Gillespie said, and what libertarians actually believe

  2. pmatons
    March 21st, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

    @smitty_one_each It seems as if libertarians r similar to libs,to let ppl do anything they want,where is their moral fiber,where is God?

  3. t-dahlgren
    March 21st, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

    Sorry Smitty, count me as one who fully acknowledges that there can be no true morality without free will.

    a disciple of Luther might be troubled with this comes as no surprise
    though. Sadly, it is this mindset that also informs much of the left –
    religious or atheist – it is their determinism that overrides and demands that people be controlled.

  4. DonaldDouglas
    March 21st, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    Well done, Smitty!

  5. Jessica L
    March 21st, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who is laughing at Gillespie’s comments on this matter.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve been cursedly labeled a “theocrat” by libertarians like Nick for merely questioning the state’s role in redefining marriage. Now Nick feels injured by a little hyperbolic statement suggesting that some libertarians might be a bit nihilistic.

    So much irony from these libertarians.

  6. smitty
    March 21st, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

    I was accused of misinterpreting Gillespie by Doug Mataconis.

  7. Frank Koza
    March 21st, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    Did Jesus ever petition Rome to make a law to restrict anyone’s liberty or free will to save sinners from themselves?

  8. JeffS
    March 21st, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

    A world without moral judgments is a world where all sapient lifeforms are extinct.

  9. K-Bob
    March 21st, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    Nick Gillespie and Rand Paul have both been trying to lecture Republicans about “letting more people into the United States.”

    This is the old leftist, Alinsky trap, and they fall for it hook, line, and Zebco. What they fail to realize is that the leftists have slipped right past their noses the accusation that Republicans, and especially those raaaaacist conservatives, hate, Hate, HATE immigrants. Of course it’s slander: a lie that no decent, thinking person could possibly accept. But accept it they do, because they also fall for the leftists’ framing of the issue of illegal aliens as some sort of “immigration” issue.

    These otherwise brilliant men are following the Judas Goat of Immigration Reform right into the horrific slaughterhouse of Democrat accusations of raaaaacist, anti-Mexican, xenophobia. Well done, gentlemen.

    If you would simply reframe the issue along the lines of, say, reality, you could hammer away at the illegal alien problem, while simultaneously inviting new immigrants to come find prosperity here, in a more secure United States. You could tell these new immigrants that, “The only people who care about skin color are Democrats. So don’t be afraid: march to your local US Consulate, and get an application today!”

    I cobbled together some links that might be alarming to a few folks over in the bleachers at TheRightScoop, if anyone is interested.

    We do not have an “immigration” problem, Mr. Gillespie, we have an illegal alien problem. I wish you and Rand Paul and Marco Rubio would be more honest with the American people about this.

  10. ThomasD
    March 21st, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

    Neither did Jesus advocate Rome assume responsibility for giving aid to the sick, nor alms to the poor.

  11. gvanderleun
    March 21st, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

    “The libertarian, and, thus, highly rational, view…” You keed. You keed. Every one with a forebrain larger than that of a planeria knows that libertarians are nucking futz.

  12. gvanderleun
    March 21st, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

    When I ascend to absolute power my only moral quandary is going to who I deport to the fumeroles in the Mariana Trench first: libertarians, leftists, or Lindsay Lohan.

  13. DaveO
    March 21st, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    A world without moral judgements is a world without morality. See also: Sodom, Gomorrah.

    For the atheists who go for that Old Testament morality, there’s easier logic. “Without Morality” equals “Amoral.” Ted Bundy was amoral. So a world without morality is a world filled with Ted Bundys.

  14. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    March 21st, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    I would keep the libertarians out of the trench. Leftists right to the bottom.

    Lindsay Lohan? Flip a coin?

  15. DaveO
    March 21st, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    In fact, Xt advocated for giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s – in this case, taxes by which Caesar built roads, provided entertainment and protection – all of which was credited to Caesar, and not to Xt for having been his advocate.

  16. Quartermaster
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

    Big ‘L’ Liberatrians, yes. Small ‘l’ libertarians will get you buried in richly deserved opprobrium if you accuse us of that sort of insanity.

  17. Quartermaster
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

    We do have some problems with legal immigration as well. The H1b is good example of this. That pales beside illegal immigration at the moment, however.

  18. Quartermaster
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

    Calvinists have the same problem with free will. Luther did moderate, however. Calvinists, however, have resorted to various sorts of clownish legerdemain to get around their philosophical problems, and without success.

  19. richard mcenroe
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

    She’s fairly buoyant.

  20. t-dahlgren
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    Gerard, thanks for

    a) A chuckle, and

    b) One more thing to be thankful for

  21. t-dahlgren
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

    But more toxic than a deep ocean vent. Those poor clams…

  22. t-dahlgren
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

    I tend to agree with Ric Locke on this one, if n is the number of libertarians in the world then n+1 is the number of forms of libertarianism in the world.

    When referring to libertarians it is important to think ‘trees’ and not ‘forest.’

  23. In Some Places, Smitty Could Be Said to Be “Showing His Ass…” | Daily Pundit
    March 21st, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    […] Would Libertarians Practically Achieve“A World Without Moral Judgments”? : The Other McC… […]

  24. Wombat_socho
    March 21st, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

    More sniping from those not of the Chosen?
    (Just kidding, guys.)

  25. Wombat_socho
    March 21st, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

    Hey, LiLo’s going to get herself right. Any day now.

  26. Frank Koza
    March 21st, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

    Correct, on Rome, for government does not care for the poor other than as a tool for power. But he did advise to do good, love one another, and share what you have with brothers in need willingly; not reluctantly or under compulsion. You don’t agree?

  27. SDN
    March 21st, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

    In fact, Christ specifically calls for any charity to be private, not public at all. Government “charity” would be anathema to everything Christ taught.

  28. K-Bob
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 12:11 am

    Definitely. But the actual, “genuine” problems with immigration are ones that could easily be settled in about a week of bipartisan work sessions, and neither side would care much about the politics, because it’s just gruntwork that bores the tears out of low-info voters. It would be like proposals to shorten the form length and number of signatures required. Maybe fund an improvement in electronic processing of all applications and background checks. But none of that is an imminent threat to the union.

  29. t-dahlgren
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 12:26 am

    Exactly, good deeds as with all moral acts, are something expected of us individually. There can be no agency.

  30. t-dahlgren
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 12:30 am

    More the opposite, I think seeking to have government provide that which we are charged with individually neither fulfills our obligations, nor absolves us from compelling others to do so against their will.

  31. Eric Ashley
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 12:36 am

    Just tell them that God told you to forbid them from opening the hatch on the submarine. They will be opening it so fast that you’ll barely have time to hear them call you a ‘theocrat statist’.

  32. Frank Koza
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 3:06 am

    I think we’re saying the same thing? I’m not in any way advocating for a government provided welfare state. To give or not to give charitably must be an individual choice.

  33. Rob Crawford
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    Ignorance, from Daily Pundit?

    How surprising.

  34. Eric Ashley
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 10:03 am

    DP claims that religion is irrational because its source is beyond man. So he’s saying that Vulcan’s if they exist, are not rational. Fascinating.

    Quirk one eyebrow.

  35. rmnixondeceased
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 11:08 am

    Blinders …

  36. rmnixondeceased
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Perhaps Kirk one eyebrow?

  37. Finrod Felagund
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    There’s a CS Lewis book, the name of which I can’t remember, where he makes a convincing argument for a common human morality spanning time and cultures that not only includes traditional Judeo-Christian morality but also (for example) the morality of the Roman soldier who teaches his son that it’s a good and honorable thing to die in the defense of one’s country.

    I’m guessing Gillespie has never read this book.

  38. t-dahlgren
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

    Nor, perhaps, Quick.

    Else he might not be so prone to declare something so universal in the human mind irrational.

  39. Lucifer
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    If something is rational, it follows logically from a
    rationale. If something is dictated from above, and no contrary discussion is allowed; nor can any contrary rationality be applied to that dictate “because it is the word of God;” it is therefore not rational; it is an a priori given. So religion is not rational, unless one allows some exercise in the rational application of religious precepts and dogma.
    Do you?

  40. richard mcenroe
    March 22nd, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

    I don’t know about devoid of moral judgments, but I’d give good odds on devoid of municipal sewage systems….

  41. Eric Ashley
    March 23rd, 2013 @ 1:28 am

    First, Fairest, and Fallen, I bid you defiance. It seems likely to me that you are seeking a pointless semantic gain that you can use as a club to beat social foes rather than seeking truth.

    However, according to….

    reasons: the reasoning or principle that underlies or
    explains something, or a statement setting out this reasoning or
    We have principles and from them we reason. Your first point is bootless as it describes religious and non-religious thought equally well.

    You accuse your Maker of not allowing contrary discussion. Did He not say…come let us reason together…..? Further, He allows you to come to Heaven to speak accusations against the saints. And He is the God of Freedom. You slander your Maker.

    Your exercise of Reason and Judgement, flawed tho’ it is by your fallen nature, is possible because there is a Source. Without a Source, there is no Reason or Judgement.

    The vast weight of evidence would drive a fair-minded man to his knees before God. Be not stiff-necked.

  42. DaveO
    March 23rd, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

    Exactly. Thank you!