Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Libertarianism resembles feudalism...."

Crooked Timber" quoting Freeman:
Under feudalism, the elements of political authority are powers that are held personally by individuals, not by enduring political institutions. These powers are held as a matter of private contractual right. Individuals gradually acquire the power to make, apply, and enforce rules by forging a series of private contracts with particular individuals or families. Oaths of fealty or service are sworn in exchange for similar or compensating benefits. Those who exercise political power wield it on behalf of others pursuant to their private contractual relation and only so long as their contract is in force. Since different services are provided to people, there is no notion of a uniform public law that is to be impartially applied to all individuals. (148)
In other words:
Libertarianism resembles feudalism in that it establishes political power in a web of bilateral individual contracts. Consequently, it has no conception of legitimate public political authority nor any place for political society, a “body politic” that political authority represents in a fiduciary capacity. (149)
... Now, to repeat, libertarians don’t have to buy this hyper-propertarian scheme, by any means. But I think libertarians should admit that it is a libertarian scheme.

There are some significant arguments against this strange view being literal. It's an interesting way of looking at the world, though.

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