Since Comrade Karl doesn’t seem to want to play, I thought I might ask some of the more Libertarian-minded readers here on the RNL if they would help me understand a few things about your ideology. Now, mind you, I am going to be civil, so I hope you will be in return.
OK, let’s start by granting your “Libertarian Utopia.” I do not want to set up a straw man, so let’s just say we somehow manage to create a society with the absolute minimum of government – even less than what the founders had. Let’s also assume that prostitution, gay marriage, drugs, gambling and whatever other vices free and responsible person might wish to engage are legal. In fact, let’s assume that there is no attempt to legislate morality at all in this new society. We will simply focus on individual rights and liberty. I trust that this is a reasonably accurate picture of a Libertarian “Utopia.” So, unless corrected, I will operate from this position.
First, let me ask you how you would deal with someone who steals your stash of weed? I mean, it is legally your property, so what do you do when it is stolen? Do you call the cops? After all, laws against theft are not “legislating morality,” right? So it would be perfectly in line with the Libertarian principle to have laws against stealing other peoples’ property. So I assume you will call the cops. My question then is the same one I posed to Karl: on what grounds? You claim you do not want to legislate morality, so how can you accept a law against theft? Without morality, theft cannot exist, so why would you have a law against it?
Let’s look at another example. Suppose you are a prostitute and you enter into a contract to have sex with a man for an agreed amount of money. Now let’s assume this man likes it rough, and he seriously injures you in the process. What do you do? Do you press charges, and, if so, on what grounds? First, there can be no law against harming you because there can be no forced morality. And as Karl has so eloquently explained, there is no Natural Law, so there is no universal morality. Therefore, you cannot have a law against assault in this Libertarian world because there can be no assault. The next problem then is that you willingly entered into a contract to accept money to let this man do what he did. You may say that physical harm is not part of the contract, but to him, that might just be an inherent part of the act, in which case, for him, it most certainly was part of your agreement. How do you dispute this? You can’t argue your version of what is sex against his anymore than you can argue your morality against mine – not without setting some sort of universal moral standard supported by law. But, if you do that, then haven’t you just crossed the divide over to the “Social Conservative’s” position? So, how do you deal with these issues?
Next, I have a question about the legal drugs. Like it or not, this will lead to wide-spread social disorder and massive crime. People will lose their jobs because they either do not go to work or they are useless on the job. People will be lying around in the streets, homeless. And they will be stealing to support their habit (remember: minimum government = no public assistance for drug addicts – not even health care). If you doubt me, if you feel the need to dispute my assertion, I offer you one word in defense of my assertion: Woodstock! So, how do you propose we deal with this situation? (don’t talk to me about Denmark, I’ve seen it firsthand. I am on solid ground here).
Next, when you realize that the “responsible” members of society are starting to understand that your policies are destroying society, what are you going to do? When those who have sympathy even for drug addicts start to demand that something be done for the addicts lying in the mud in the streets, what do you do? When people start to demand that you do something about the theft, what do you do? When businesses fail because they can’t find employees who will or can work, what do you do? You can’t pass any laws against the drugs; that would be legislating morality. You can’t pass laws to provide public assistance; that wouldn’t be “Libertarian.” So what do you do? And again, if you think I am exaggerating the inevitable, ask someone who is old enough to actually remember what it was like to be around the Hippie Communes of the 1970’s what they were like. I think – if they are honest – you might learn that I am on solid ground here.
You see, all laws are based in morality. What else is a law but a rule that allows society to punish people for violating the social norm of what should and shouldn’t be done? And what else is morality but a social norm of what should and shouldn’t be done? Therefore, when a Libertarian tells me that “You can’t legislate morality,” what I hear is, “Let me do what I want to do,” and that sounds a great deal like the Left to me. In fact, in my experience, the only operative difference is that the Libertarian agrees that I shouldn’t be forced to pay for his welfare. Other than that, I simply do not see the distinction between the Libertarian and the Liberal who thinks he has claimed the mantle of Jefferson. And this is why I find that, no matter how sympathetic I may be to their general ideal, society — if it is to preserve individual rights and liberty — must accept that morality is a necessity. The founders told us so, and who studied these issues more than they? This is why I cannot stand with the Libertarians. If I would be free, I must stand with the founders.