Is Libertarianism Incompatible with the Fact that Humans Are Social Animals?

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Can't responsible people be social too?

Aaron Ross Powell writing for critiqued one of the primary ways people attack and dismiss libertarians in an article entitled, “How Not To Argue Against Libertarianism.” In that critique Powell write:

Stripped to its essentials, Corning’s argument (which I stress is quite common among intellectuals who reject libertarianism) looks like this:

  1. Humans are social animals, require deep social connections in order to thrive, and develop much of their sense of self through the social environment they’re raised in. Humans cannot live well in isolation, and live best when working together within a framework of mutual respect and reciprocity.
  2. Big government is the only political system compatible with (1).
  3. Libertarians oppose big government.
  4. Therefore libertarians reject (1).

Set out like this, the absurdity of these anti-libertarian arguments becomes clear. Libertarians don’t dispute (1). In fact, many of us are libertarians because we believe libertarianism (broadly defined as strong respect for liberty, private property, and free markets) will best facilitate the sort of human flourishing (1) describes. Further, we believe the evidence supports this claim.

So instead of rejecting (1), libertarians in fact reject (2). Not only do we reject (2) by claiming that there are other political systems compatible with (1), but we take it a step further by saying that big government isn’t just unnecessary for a rich, social environment, but in fact undermines the very sort of flourishing (1) describes.

Whether we’re right about that is an argument worth having. But it’s not the argument Corning seems interested in.

In my own writings I’ve tried to explain why in two articles (Why I Lean Libertarian, Part 1 and Seven Reasons Why I Lean Libertarian) and a radio interview (Radio: Why I Lean Libertarian) why libertarian government combined with personal values produces the greatest amount of liberty and virtue. I describe my position as leaning libertarian because I am not interested in making heroin legal I am interested in making raw milk legal. In other words we should move more toward liberty from where we currently are politically.

Here are seven reasons among many to lean libertarian:

  1. Centralized power in government fosters corruption.
  2. Controlling other people’s lives is wrong.
  3. Government regulation does not create security.
  4. Government monopolies kill innovation and efficiency.
  5. Many government-run agencies are inefficient, wasteful monopolies.
  6. The costs of regulatory compliance are often greater than direct taxation.
  7. Regulatory compliance only means your paperwork in is order.

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David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.