The Core Weakness of Libertarianism and Hyper-Individualism

Taleb is an amazingly smart and observant guy. His book on antifragility is, in my opinion, a must read, and maps to observations that others have made about the long-term wisdom of choosing optionality over efficiency in the moment but being locked into one path.

In the leadup to the publication of Skin in the Game, one of the chapters, on the intolerant minority, was published:

I was at a large multi-table dinner party, the kind of situation where you have to choose between the vegetarian risotto and the non-vegetarian option when I noticed that my neighbor had his food catered (including silverware) on a tray reminiscent of airplane fare. The dishes were sealed with aluminum foil. He was evidently ultra-Kosher. It did not bother him to be seated with prosciutto eaters who, in addition, mix butter and meat in the same dishes. He just wanted to be left alone to follow his own preferences.

For Jews and Muslim minorities such as Shiites, Sufis, and associated religions such as Druze and Alawis, the aim is for people to leave them alone so they can satisfy their own dietary preferences –largely, with historical exceptions here and there. But had my neighbor been a Sunni Salafi, he would have required the entire room to be eating Halal. Perhaps the entire building. Perhaps the entire town. Hopefully the entire country. Hopefully the entire planet. Indeed, given the total lack of separation between church and state, and between the holy and the profane (Chapter x), to him Haram (the opposite of Halal) means literally illegal. The entire room was committing a legal violation.

Read the whole thing, but the takeaway for today is that several answers that libertarians provided for things like the existence of the state, state violence, etc., never sat well with me. Keep in mind, I fundamentally agree with the whole “passing a law is like pointing a gun at granny, is the law that important” principle, and that, to a degree, that taxation is a form of theft, or at a minimum forcible taking of property.

First, if we have respected third party organizations that handle contract disputes and jailing, how are they anything but de facto government organizations at micro scale? If Andy and Bob and Charlie hire Dan to handle contract disputes between them, but Charlie skips out and is punished or fined, someone has to hunt him down and extract the penalties. Andy and Bob are happy with the results, but while Charlie may have signed the contract, I’m sure that he’s no longer a willing participant.

Most importantly though, how does a libertarian society of individuals making individual contracts – science fiction short stories aside – that can’t work together with a shared identity (and keep in mind, the loonies of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had a shared identity that caused them to stick together and work to a common purpose…) resist invasion by a state actor that has hundreds, thousands of people working together to a common goal?

“Well if Charlie gives them right of way through his property Andy and Bob will be angry and never do business with him and Dan will make sure he collects a fine.”


No, seriously. Really?

If Charlie is still a lowlife, not a principled libertarian who believes in universal reciprocity, maybe he cut a deal to be given Andy and Bobs property when the army is done.

Hey, he got paid for the right of passage through his property, right?

Libertarianism, despite liking to use the tragedy of the commons to explain why public management won’t work, doesn’t have an answer to the loyalty issue other than a purely materialist enlightened self-interest. If you don’t have a unified nation with shared values and culture, then people will betray you for personal gain, and the group that can act in concert and not tolerate any deviation from their group plan, will take you over.

After all, do we not observe that a team of mediocre players who play together as a team will outperform a team with star players that doesn’t do the whole teamwork thing?

So go read that Taleb essay, and think of how – as he points out – muslims act, how SJW’s act, how intolerant they are and how they force people out “or else”. Consider that if they won’t play by Queensbury rules then neither are we obligated to except where advantageous to our strategic goals. If they won’t respect our rights to defend ourselves or speak, or make a living, or even live without being sold out to Jihadis, then we should return that favor where it’s to our advantage.

Oh, and listen to this bit by Milo.

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