Why Aren’t There More Female Libertarians?

“The thing about freedom is that its heights are limitless, and its lows are bottomless. Libertarians, I presume, look at that void and never consider that they will do anything but rise. And communalists, as the Research Institute dubbed the other end of the spectrum, probably look and are horrified by the many eventualities that could sink them. This is Thomas Hobbes’s state of nature: The strong snap up all the firewood and nuts and berries and whatnot, and the weak die starving and shivering in the cold.”[1]

This extract, from an article in New Republic entitled Why aren’t there more female libertarians, goes on to suggest that young white males can afford to embrace Libertarianism in a way that those more likely to fail in our society cannot.Virginia Postrel

There is a fundamental flaw though, in the argument as presented. The author, Nora Caplan-Bricker, assumes that there are not enough bits of “firewood and nuts and berries and whatnot,” to go around. The author presumably subscribes to the Malthusian catastrophe, etcetera.

In contrast, libertarians fundamentally believe that there is enough to go around, or at least that they will be able to gather enough to meet their basic needs.

Indeed, I’m yet to meet a libertarian concerned that humanity is about to run out of water, or energy.

Libertarians are not even concerned by overpopulation or anthropogenic global warming. Rather, libertarian believe in progress, and to quote Virginia Postrel they believe that today we have greater, wealth, health opportunity and choice than at any time in history.


1. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115410/why-arent-there-more-female-libertarians

2. http://www.amazon.com/The-FUTURE-AND-ITS-ENEMIES/dp/0684862697

And the picture is of Virginia Postrel.

71 Responses to Why Aren’t There More Female Libertarians?

  1. Luke November 5, 2013 at 6:15 am #

    Professions not undertaken by libertarians: soil conservationist, grazier in NW Qld, Darling cotton grower and australopithecine hominid.

  2. Robert November 5, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    While not being a virtuous type, I’m a believer in virtues over dogma and system. Kindness, one virtue, may prompt me to believe in a universal dental or disability scheme. But such will only come about through other virtues, such as thrift, industry and prudence. While I don’t possess these virtues in any great degree, I recognise that nothing will replace them: no “ism”, no system, no philosophy, no policy. Libertarianism may be a fine guide, but I wouldn’t spend five seconds worrying about whether a certain action is advisable because it fits a libertarian ideal. An action is advisable if it is wise, and libertarianism can only counsel wisdom. Like any other “ism”, it cannot BE wisdom.

  3. spangled drongo November 5, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Bikie gang members consider themselves to be the ultimate libertarians but you can see just by the way they travel in big numbers, looking for aggro, that they don’t give a damn about the rest of us and they revel in their own power.

    Women are generally too intelligent and civilised to embrace this half baked attitude.

    Respect for others is the real hallmark of the libertarian.

    I think women are more true libertarian than maybe we realise but by nature they do tend to embrace that crazy precautionary principle more than men.

  4. Debbie November 5, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Good comment SD,
    I think that many confuse the concept of ‘libertarian’ with the concept of ‘anarchy’.
    As you point out:
    ” Respect for others is the real hallmark of the libertarian.”
    In a highly urbanised society, we do need some checks and balances and the bikies’ attitude is not libertarian it is based on ‘anarchy’
    Not so enamoured of your comment re women and PP. . .IMHO women (especially once they become mothers) are much more inclined than men to ‘live and let live’ but their ‘mother instinct’ is highly defined and they can be manipulated if they are led to believe their children are in imminent danger.
    The real problem with the PP (IMHO) is that the concept has been taken over by centralised bureaucracies who have a very different view of ‘risk management’ than people who run their own businesses.
    The bureaucratic mindset re ‘risk management’ is to avoid risk altogether and if a risk appears they change the rules so that they can avoid even the hint of liability.
    It’s called 100% ‘risk averse’ behaviour.
    In the NRM space it comes completely unstuck because natural resources couldn’t give a rat’s about centralised bureaucratic human rules and just won’t behave and just continue to be highly variable and unpredictable.

  5. Denis Webb November 5, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Debbie and Spangled Drongo,

    I’ve never been a member of a bike gangs, but aren’t they tribal collectives? They have limited respect for the individual.

    I’ve never been to a meeting of Libertarians, but I thought they were more interested in freedom than individual rights? What is meant by this word ‘respect’. Are you two after equality or respect for difference. Are you after freedom or distribution of the loot to everyone.

  6. Beth Cooper November 5, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Serfs, even libertarian serfs, appeciate Rule of Law and guvuhmint responsibility
    in maintaining it. Serfs appreciate the idea that while every law restricts human
    freedom , as Hayek would say, a restricted Rule of Law, the basis of justice
    when non-arbitrary and consistently applied, allows us serfs ter go about our
    business peacefully and plan fer termorrow.

    And another thing, non-heavy-handed open -society Rule of Law allows
    entreupreneurialand energetic, industrious risk takers, yer INTJ’s et al, ter go
    fer it, hopefully ter succeed. But we, society, benefits, regardless, by their trial
    and error efforts, from the winners innovations and from not having ter pay
    the price of those who don’t succeed.

    Subsidizin’ windmills ‘n such is using our money ter back winners, tsk! Spare
    money could be better spent ter help the needy with dental bills ‘n such.

  7. spangled drongo November 5, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Equality is a dream but respect for others is based on our very consciousness. Not being a greedy bastard. A fair share for a fair effort.

    Before the times of laws and police we still had these problems and we had to put the fear of god into ourselves for the sake of regulation of civilisation. Jihad is still trying. Some systems work better than others. There were those that took it seriously, those that didn’t because they respected others anyway [the Golden Rule, Denis] and the Pirates who will always be with us.

  8. jennifer November 5, 2013 at 10:28 am #


    Bikie gangs exist to provide mateship and income for the tribe?

    If Libertarians were running the show, the drugs that they make their money out of would be legalised. I’m assuming this would undercut the Bikie’s trade/profits. Would they have to bribe police and war amongst each other over turf if the drug trade was legalised?

    So you see with more freedom, there would be no need for the new draconian laws. 😉

  9. Debbie November 5, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    definitely tsk! Beth.
    IMHO. . .Focus could be better diverted to what many would consider is the real business of responsible Government or as you put it:
    appeciate Rule of Law and guvuhmint responsibility in maintaining it.
    Historically. . .they are not particularly successful in free and/or even nominally subsidised markets and consistently move the goal posts in order to avoid the whole idea of ‘risk management’.

    Dennis…it’s very simple for me.
    I believe in equal opportunity. . .which does not mean that ‘everybody is equal’.
    I am now remembering the line in ‘Animal Farm’ that I think cleverly encapsulates the conundrum we are discussing about ‘equality:
    “everybody is equal but some are more equal than others”

  10. Roberto November 5, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    The original manual/manifesto for Libertarians is probably John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. JSM says that the statements there were mainly from his wife. I’ve got to give that claim some weight.

  11. spangled drongo November 5, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Jen, speaking as a founding member of a bikie club 50 years ago who saw the error of his ways, they discovered that when they shoved a broom-handle up the exhaust of their Harleys and knocked out all the baffles and then thundered in concert down the street, they impressed themselves if not the locals with their own importance and it took off from there. They became legends in their own libertarianism [we don’t need no stinkin’ helmets] and they have always sought to run their own show.

    Bikie gangs exist to feed big ego, not big lib.

    But that would be a brave experiment, to legalise drugs to see what happens.

    Can you see the look on Nanny’s face?

  12. Hasbeen November 5, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Surely Libertarians are simply confident people, who don’t see danger at every turn. They simply get on doing what they want to do, without worrying about the “what ifs” of life.

    I bought an old yacht, did it up, & made a few changes, then spent 8 years sailing around the pacific islands. I did not think much about it, but I wanted to see the out of the way island lifestyle, Island culture as it was, & couldn’t think of any other way of doing it.

    Many have asked how I could do such a thing, with no support, no regular income, no free medical treatment, not even the dole. None of this occurred to me. I expected to manage, & actually came back with more in the bank than I’d left with, without doing anything illegal.

    Surely this is simply not needing a tribe or society to feel safe, & not some “ism”, requiring great explanation. I figured I could sail around with out running into things, & there would be someone who would pay for my skills. As it turned out, if I was not so lazy, I could have become quite rich.

    I think today we analyze everything to death, making the confident less so, & the timid scared of their own shadow.

  13. spangled drongo November 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Good to hear from you Hasbeen.

    I am sure you could still do stuff like that if you didn’t let Nanny find out. Otherwise she would regulate you off the face of the ocean.

    It’s hard to vacuum up all the nuts and berries when you’re out on the ocean but Nanny still thinks you could. Not to mention all those fish.

    But the druggies have stuffed it for us. Any time I sailed into an Australian port Customs would wait till I was sailing out and then want to come aboard to inspect for drugs just to make life difficult.

    They didn’t really believe I had any otherwise I would have been raided on my way in but it was just to show who was in charge.

  14. Hasbeen November 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Hi SD, yes customs could be funny sometimes.

    I was heading for Gladstone from the south one time. When I was out off Tannum Sands a customs high speed launch, [game boat type] came up & asked me where I was going. They offered to tow me into Gladstone, to get me there quicker.

    I don’t put the safety of me & my boat in the hands of some unknown boat driver, by being tied to them, but they seemed surprised when I declined. They sped off, but reappeared as I passed the Alumina wharf, again offering a tow, again declined. I think it must have been near their knockoff time.

    After I was tied to the visitors piles in Auckland Creek, they came back, asked permission to come along side, came on board, then just sat talking. I had done a few races with the Gladstone yacht club, & was fairly well known there, so I guess they had made a few inquiries while waiting for me.

    They were very impressed that I had sailed into the pile berth, saying they had never seen it done before, but with my yacht, with no reverse on the engine, with a suitable wind direction, it was easier than under power.

  15. spangled drongo November 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Hasbeen, that sounds like the same high-speed launch I met. They must be busy these days.

  16. cohenite November 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    SD, bikies are a good example of expedient non-conformity; this syndrome involves a confected disdain for the social structure while being utterly dependent on it. Bikies still have day jobs, their kids still go to school and they still need medical attention when they shoot each other.

    I recall a good example of this form of hypocrisy back in the Franklin dispute days; I had wandered down to Tassie and got caught up with some alternatives who loudly declared their independence from the society which was going to dam the river. Crystals and pyramid power were big at the time. One of the dredd-locks went down with what was obviously appendicitis; I suggested a pyramid be placed on his gut with some little crystals surrounding it, sort of like a garden. But no, off he went to hospital and made a full recovery I believe.

  17. spangled drongo November 6, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Interesting isn’t it cohers that they don’t quite believe in the stuff that they insist we believe in.

    What is also interesting are the lefties who are absolutely screaming at Newman’s crackdown who also demand to live a quiet civilised existence in a law abiding neighbourhood.

    They just want cheap and available drugs as well.

  18. Ross Johnson November 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    Jennifer there are quite a few. Ellen Brown http://webofdebt.com/ and Karen Hudes http://kahudes.net/ Both are women of courage and integrity. Karen Hudes is a ex-senior executive of The World Bank and now Whistle Blower. Karen is now making revelations that even I find mind blowing.

  19. cohenite November 7, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I must confess, I often get Libertarian and Conservative mixed up. For instance which, if either, are you Jennifer?

    I would classify Jo Nova as having Libertarian qualities, along Meranda Devine, Jane Albrechtson and there is this list of US conservative/Libertarian female writers and commentators:


    Excuse the slightly sexist context.

  20. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Hi Cohenite

    It is a huge mistake to confuse conservatives and libertarians. But one that is made all the time. How I sometimes despair.

    As a member of the Australian Sceptic’s party you would do well to understand the philosophical difference between the two. Indeed the sometimes ‘conservative’ as opposed to ’empirically based’ policies that your party espouses would alienate many libertarians like myself.

    The classic essay by Hayek explaining the difference between conservatives and libertarians is here…


    As regards Jo, Miranda and Janet… I suspect Janet Albrechtson is very conservative, but I’ve probably not read enough of her stuff to conclude this. My main reason for assuming as much is that she gets on so well with the very conservative Australian Liberal party.

    I abhor the conservative side of Australian politics as much as I do Labor. But being tolerant, I let Neville continue to post his conservative guff here.

  21. Luke November 7, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    With Jo – I wondered if green had discovered gold? Gold has more fun. (true colors!)

  22. bazza November 7, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    I would like to know how you could have a useful discussion with somebody who is a self-styled libertarian. They have already played their only card. They are confused by means and ends. They can’t rationally accommodate all the exceptions to a true libertarian position. Women are still struggling working through fraternity and equality before they get to liberty and go up the dry gully of libertarianism. A good part of the reason the not very helpful term got invented was the corruption of the word liberal by parties which are not.

  23. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    While I like to think I am an empiricist before a libertarian, Bazza clearly brings all the assumptions of a socialist to his empiricism.

  24. toby November 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    A very interesting topic Jen, i particularly like your link to hayek above. He makes some telling points about conservatism being led along by socialism. It seems to me unfortunately that we have created a world now of great entitlement and whilst capitalism is still the go to economic system it is being held to ransom by socialist ideals that work against the rights of the individual and the principals that should underpin. The more people addicted to welfare, the harder for libertarian ideals to prevail. Like you Jen I have no love of the liberals but at their worst it seems to me they are still better than the alternative available all over the world.

    I have long believed rather than using a straight line ( or even a triangle) a circle is a much better way of showing how the different political systems sit. I place communism and fascism right next to each other on the basis of the totalitarian principles which underpin them. The USA has moved away from its libertarian ideals IMO to very much socialist and totalitarian attitudes. Privacy is no longer a right, the state now owns too much of the means of production and basically keeps the economy ticking over by printing and spending money it doesnt have and propping up its major banks and corporates via handouts and its global policy decisions.

    As an economist who admires both hayek and keynes I have always found this rap tune to be a clever way to differentiate some of their ideas. That said Keynes was actually far more flexible than many seem to think and i suspect he would have little respect or time for many governments and their attempts to use huge budget deficits to stimulate economies via “Keynesianism.”

  25. bazza November 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Tobes, I assume you mostly mean big L Liberals. I am small l on many issues, conservative on some like climate and sport and public broadcasting, bit left on many social justice issues. I think Jen as an empiricist could give some good examples where libertarianism has been the answer rather than a silly question.

  26. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm #


    To ensure we mean the same thing by the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘libertarian’ I suggest you read Hayek…


    It might also give you some insight into how inappropriate your use of the terms big L liberal and small l liberal are.

    Also, it might be worth noting that if Toby is writing from the US, he could be assuming you mean ‘socialist’ by liberal.

    Let’s get back to the original/classic means of the terms, but first read Hayek to understand the difference between a classic liberal (Libertarian) versus a conservative.

  27. toby November 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Baz, I do indeed mean Big L, whilst once “liberal” could be associated with libertarianism i think those times are long past. Interesting that you think of yourself as a conservative when it comes to climate, no disrespect meant but that’s not how I would categorize you!

    This link is an interesting one in discussing how liberal and libertarian have moved away from each other.

    My students in year 12 recently asked me to sit this political test, http://www.politicalcompass.org/test

    they and i expected me to come out as libertarian. In fact

    I came out at (-2,-2) on the cartesian plane/ graph which surprised me a little…thought I might be bottom right….libertarian, small govt strongly in favour of individual rights….but I didn’t!

    interestingly when you finish the test ?( takes acouple of minutes) it gives a graphic of where a number of political leaders sit…most of them are authoritarian right wing!…irrespective of their “political party”

  28. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Toby, I’ve seen the test advertised on Facebook, with comment from various Libertarian friends of mine that it seemed ridiculous that they could be labelled after doing the test as a Green. When I look at the first question …

    “If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.”

    …And the possible answers, I know its not worth proceeding because who ever designed the test is completely unaware of their own prejudices.

    As regards use of the term ‘Liberal’… its become meaningless. That’s why one is better to use the term ‘classic liberal’ or ‘libertarian’, otherwise one might be assumed to be a socialist who has simply highjacked the term.

  29. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    PS Can someone find a better test to give an indication of political/philosophical leaning?

  30. toby November 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    your criticism of the test is fair enough Jen, it is none the less interesting to take it ( 2 minutes) and even more interesting to see where “our” political leaders sit. Of course the designer has probably used his own prejudices to place these political leaders on the graph….just because it says i am not a libertarian does not change my own opinion of what i think i am!

    I don’t think we can call our Liberal’s classical liberals and certainly not libertarians! so we can use the term Liberal in reference to people who support the Liberal Party, but it certainly should not be construed that therefore they are libertarian. Nor indeed that because they voted Liberal that they are not libertarians!

    Indeed you could probably go further, many libertarians vote Liberal for want of a better alternative. A vote cast for anyone other than labor or liberal ( or maybe the greens) is a vote that is going to have no say in how the country is run. You can put me in that category.

  31. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm #


    One point at a time… the questionnaire first perhaps… how could a classic liberal/libertarian possibly answer a question like this:

    “If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations?”

    Its an absurd question!

    The idea that economic globalisation should serve humanity or trans-national corporations… what sort of choice is that? And the mere assumption that economic globalisation should serve a purpose? Straight away I know that the questionnaire has been designed by someone who watches Q&A and is in love with the amazingly ignorant Tony Jones.

    I’m happy to be labelled, but I can’t answer questions that don’t give me a choice. That simply make absurd statements.

  32. toby November 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    well of the two choices i would have thought a libertarian could only answer to serve humanity?…globalisation by leading to a more efficient allocation of resources and by allowing individuals and countries to use their own comparative advantages should lead to incomes rising ….which means more to spread around to those who genuinely cant help themselves………whilst making the average person better off and better able to look after themselves?!

  33. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm #


    I’m intrigued by your reasoning.

    Following this reasoning… which ‘political type’ would have answered to serve ‘trans-national corporations’?

  34. Johnathan Wilkes November 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Economic Left/Right: 1.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 2.67

  35. toby November 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    JW, is that what you expected? i suspect most reasonable people will appear close to the x and y intercept (which you do).

    Jen, i would expect most modern governments whatever their ilk would go for transnationals. Government is very closely linked to big business nowadays, and economic globalisation most certainly helps multinationals as well.

    i think you answer the questions from your own paradigm ( stating the bleeding obvious i know!) and i think many of the questions are very open to interpretation.

    i am not trying to defend the test or give it any special cudos.

    i am out now for the evening so can partake no longer for now, adieu

  36. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    No Toby!

    Any reasonable person, if they assumed there was a purpose for globalisation (which I don’t), would answer “humanity”.

    But the person who designed the test is assuming that ‘the right’ would answer transnational because they are not humanitarian in their outlook. IMO it’s a classic case of the person(s) designing the test ‘projecting’ a view that has no basis in reality.

    I’ll have to find the Jung quote about projection.

  37. Johnathan Wilkes November 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    well if means anything I answered “humanity”, simply because the way the question was put ie. “inevitable”

  38. bazza November 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    jen, you seem to be all MB J for judgemental/patronising making assumptions that I need to be educated /sorted/clarified on this or that. Given what I wrote how could I not know the difference between big and small L and how the terms have been corrupted ( as well noted by Toby)and how silly it would be to depart from modern usage. Meanwhile some good examples where libertarianism works and some where it does not and what is the critieria to tell the difference.
    And as for being conservative on climate, I prefer the old one to venturing into the unknown.!

  39. jennifer marohasy November 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm #


    In your little world, you may have a particular concept of what it means to be ‘Liberal’. But if you want to discuss the concept on this blog in any meaningful way, then I suggest you and others adopt a more universal language. Indeed I’m suggest we take our lead from either Hayek or the article in ‘New Republic’ that I quote from in the blog post that heads this thread. If you just make it up or use the language of the Australian Bogan we may all get confused as to what is really meant by particular statements.

  40. Debbie November 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    I found some of the questions a bit “off” too.
    Nevertheless. . . did the test and landed just off the axis.

  41. spangled drongo November 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Jen, don’t forget that Hayek’s economics today would be considered super conservative, that his conservatives of the 60s are probably non-existent today [even in the Vatican] and the credit he applies to the liberals of those times [the JFK era] does not necessarily apply today.

    Lib is being thrust upon women by men whether they want it or not [not so much in the ME or the Vatican that you would notice ☺] in the west so I think there are a lot more Libertarian women than there were a while back.

    In the past women were always less willing to embrace change without knowing where it was heading than they seem to be today because then they were always left with the dross if things went pear-shaped.

    But also today the philosophy of libertarian becomes more vague with ever-increasing issues.

  42. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    But SD, Hayek was never a Conservative. He explains why in this link…


    He suggests that Conservatives, Liberals and Socialists sit at the three opposite corners of a triangle.

    Like Bazza, Hayek considers himself a Liberal.

  43. jennifer November 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm #


    I see from your link… http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/libertarianism.html


    “A4. How do libertarians differ from “liberals”?
    Once upon a time (in the 1800s), “liberal” and “libertarian” meant the same thing; “liberals” were individualist, distrustful of state power, pro-free- market, and opposed to the entrenched privilege of the feudal and mercantilist system. After 1870, the “liberals” were gradually seduced (primarily by the Fabian socialists) into believing that the state could and should be used to guarantee “social justice”. They largely forgot about individual freedom, especially economic freedom, and nowadays spend most of their time justifying higher taxes, bigger government, and more regulation. Libertarians call this socialism without the brand label and want no part of it.”

    And so would you suggest the triangle (following on from Hayek) have four corners… Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian and Socialist?

    Alternatively we lump the Liberals with the Socialists and call Hayek a Libertarian which is what I perhaps incorrectly assumed was the more usual popular approach amongst contemporary Economists?

  44. spangled drongo November 8, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    It’s all extremely relevant to time. Hayek’s admirable economics by today’s standards were very conservative.

    The incredible luxury of our modern SOL allows us to become far less conservative and still survive.

    The Feudal system was based on sheer survival [hey Beth] and when the Whigs arrived they were radicals in England and Scotland but later constituted the conservative element of the Liberal party.

    They likewise were the basis of the Republicans in the US.

    Not so long ago if you didn’t believe in the divine right of kings you were a radical. And the world has been warming in approval ever since constitutional monarchy arrived ☺.

    Libertarianism has evolved slowly because half the time it is going backwards.

  45. toby November 8, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    Gobsmacked that a libertarian could be against globalisation! its key consequences are providing more choice, higher quality,lower prices, higher incomes and higher living standards?! Yes there are negative consequences but IMO massively outweighed by the benefits?

    And that doesn’t mean i am into consumerism. I recall Robert recently saying he was pro consumerism but also the smallest consumer he knew. I likewise am not a big consumer and cant believe how so many people are such huge consumers.
    But being a libertarian at heart I believe in freedom of choice and the businesses wouldnt be there if they weren’t satisfying consumer demand.

    I reckon 3 points are all that is needed, socialists ( ie democrats and labor) are very very similar to Liberals (republicans and our Liberals), in reality there is little difference in their policies or direction or how they go about trying to manage the economy. From my biased perspective given they are so similar you have to vote for the party most likely to manage the money better.

  46. cohenite November 8, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Conservatives stress the social, political, legal and particularly economic context for the expression of individual rights; Libertarians also stress individuality and individual rights but not so much the context; socialists stress the context at the expense of individuality. For me they all exist on the same continuum, not a triangle, with Libertarianism being the diametric opposite to socialism and conservatism in the middle.

    NCTCS tends towards the Libertarian end of the continuum and Greens beyond the socialist end as is implicit in this article currently at OLO:


  47. toby November 8, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    SD I agree, it is very much time relative and Keynes in his time was very radical! fancy trying to manage the economy!

    Baz asks a very pertinent question i think “Meanwhile some good examples where libertarianism works and some where it does not and what is the critieria to tell the difference.”

    sadly I cant think of any! I think being in govt and being libertarian are complete opposites in the politicians mind. I expect most believe they are doing the right thing but there are few truer statements I think than “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Humans love empire building and the power that goes with it. I think that test (that i agree is not particularly good although interesting IMO) is telling when at the end you get to see where so many of our world leaders would apparently sit. They are all basically authoritarian which is a long way from being libertarian.

    Baz from your paradigm I can now see why you would classify yourself as conservative when it comes to climate. But making radical changes to an economy based on the precautionary principle, whilst knowing that current payoffs are very low, but costs very high, I would think was a long way from being conservative?

  48. jennifer November 8, 2013 at 8:46 am #


    I’m gobsmacked that you could think I am against globalisation!

    I simply question that it has, or, has to have, a purpose. It’s like people assuming evolution is about the development of more complex life forms. No they are a consequence.

    Its abundantly obvious that globalisation is good for humanity AND multinationals. But why suggest multinationals or humanity as its purpose. And why make this a choice.

    It’s this illogical and presumptuous reasoning that I rally against.

    I’m certainly not against globalisation.

    Cohenite et al.,

    I’m with Hayek on definitions and concepts. A classic liberal/libertarian is as different from a conservative as they are from a socialist in basic philosophy.

    And as regards Baz classifying himself as a conservative when it comes to the climate, perhaps all he is trying to say is that he is with the consensus, with the authorities.

  49. toby November 8, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Actually Jen, re reading your comment re the globalisation question i agree with you. Its a poor question that is loaded with the writers bias and perhaps i misinterpreted your point about globalisation serving a purpose ( I interpreted your comment as anti globalisation and maybe that was wrong?). It evolved naturally, as technology overcame the tyranny of distance and has served humanity well I would have thought?

  50. jennifer November 8, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Hi Toby

    I would have thought it obvious from the opening question that the questionnaire is in itself a piece of propaganda. I think they call this sort of thing ‘push polling’?

    And again, of course globalisation is good, great, fantastic for multinationals and humanity.

    Just like capitalism is good for humanity.

    But the capitalist doesn’t have to have as her purpose, humanity’s good. The socialist might have the good of humanity as her purpose, but she will have much more limited means of achieving anything.

    Just like Bazza may think that he cares more, but caring more in itself achieves nothing.

  51. toby November 8, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Jen, having now read your last post I clearly did misinterpret your point. Instead i should just say i agree and i think the points i made above show how close we are on that point!

    would you agree that Liberal/ republican are now basically the same as labor/ democrat and hence a triangle is sufficient? i find it very hard to seperate them on most key issues.

    I cant think of any examples of libertarian governments in recent times?

  52. bazza November 8, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Ruffle the feathers and find a cranky old crow below. Maybe it is an INTJ thing. They do make good libertarians and there are very few female INTJ so maybe that answers the question as to why there are so few libertarians. For example INTJ: “They value clarity and efficiency, and will put enormous amounts of energy and time into consolidating their insights into structured patterns. Other people may have a difficult time understanding an INTJ. They may see them as aloof and reserved. Indeed, the INTJ is not overly demonstrative of their affections ….”
    Anyway here is a pattern emerging in terms of extracts from Jens responses to my recent posts including a humble request on examples of libertarian success and failure.
    Bazza clearly brings all the assumptions of a socialist to his empiricism.
    Like Bazza, Hayek considers himself a Liberal.
    And as regards Baz classifying himself as a conservative when it comes to the climate, perhaps all he is trying to say is that he is with the consensus, with the authorities.
    Just like Bazza may think that he cares more, but caring more in itself achieves nothing.
    Bazza in your little world, you may have a particular concept of what it means to be ‘Liberal’
    Bazza, …… you just make it up or use the language of the Australian Bogan.
    How pathetic from someone trying to upmarket her blog to a wider audience with her pretentious topics.
    So the pattern I see emerging is just as libertarians have little concern for their presumptous words on the feelings of others, they have less concern for impacts of their actions on others. So who cares about pollution, climate change, other externalities, overfishing. Go somalia.

  53. jennifer November 8, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Bazza

    The first arrow was shot by you. Your first comment at this thread was:

    “I would like to know how you could have a useful discussion with somebody who is a self-styled libertarian. They have already played their only card. They are confused by means and ends. They can’t rationally accommodate all the exceptions to a true libertarian position.”

    Following this comment, I assumed there was no potential for reasonable discussion. Indeed I assumed you were against me.

  54. spangled drongo November 8, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    “So who cares about pollution, climate change, other externalities, overfishing.”

    Only a socialist could be hubristic enough to assume they were the only ones who did.

  55. bazza November 8, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    noblesse oblige

  56. toby November 8, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Baz, I was not having a go at you for believing you are a conservative regarding climate change, just interested that you would perceive yourself that way. I think all here would believe that they care a lot about the environment, humanity etc. But clearly we have different ways and views on how that can be achieved.

    From my perspective whilst I acknowledge that “socialist and greens etc” do care, they most certainly do not have a monopoly on caring and for me their policies and intentions do more harm than good and reduce our current and future living standards .

    In particular our current attempts at controlling co2 emissions.

    If Jen responded to me the way she did to you above I would be a cranky crow as well. But you dish it out a bit as well!

  57. jennifer November 8, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Bazza et al.

    So, if we can start almost all over again?

    Can we first agree how many political types there are and how they are arranged?

    Toby and I suggest three types at opposite points of the triangle.

    I suggest they be labelled:

    1. Conservative
    2. Socialist
    3. Libertarian

    All of the above have at different times called themselves Liberal, so the term is practically useless?

  58. bazza November 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    I thought it a reasonable opening gambit
    “I would like to know how you could have a useful discussion with somebody who is a self-styled libertarian. They have already played their only card. They are confused by means and ends. They can’t rationally accommodate all the exceptions to a true libertarian position.”
    but all you could do despite requests for some less abstract stuff from toby and I, was respond with cheap shots not worthy of a blog that goes under the tag of Philosophy. I am not interested in semantics – I am interested in what libertarians have got to say about externalities and that may even explain why women, who may well be more into externalities?, are not in your ranks. Over to you or I am out.

  59. toby November 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    Jen, in reality based on modern politics I think if a triangle is to be used we would have totalitarian in one corner ( fascist or communist), socialist and conservative (ie labor and liberal) together in the next corner and finally the libertarians on their own. sadly I don’t think there are any libertarian govts anywhere and nor has there been for a long time?!

    Anybody who thinks our current Liberals or Republicans are anything other than socialists I think lacks an understanding of just how invasive govt has become in all of our lives(when govts ( federal, state and local) spend 40-60% GDP they have become far to dominant in our lives).

    And hasn’t big brother enjoyed the threat of terrorism to exert even more influence on our lives!

  60. Debbie November 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm #


    You may decide to delete this comment and I understand if you do. . . but I simply can’t resist.

    Maybe Bazza is a ‘preservationist’ when it comes to climate? (yes I made it up)

    What is your definition of the term ‘externalities’ Bazza?
    Are you using that term in a social, philosophical, economic or physical context? Unless you make that clear, your comment/question …’I am interested in what libertarians have got to say about externalities and that may even explain why women, who may well be more into externalities?’ . . .is a very vague, sweeping, generalised comment/question.

    Also having a chuckle at the irony of your claims that you aren’t interested in semantics and that you object to cheap shots.
    Very funny.

  61. cohenite November 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    I don’t think it’s a triangle but a straight line. The straight line is the individual’s role within the society. At the socialist end the role of the individual is minimal if existent at all; at the Libertarian end the individual’s role and freedoms are barely constrained by society.

    If I can express it in terms of blogs; Catallaxy is almost Libertarian, as is, strangely, Deltoid at this point in time; this blog is more Libertarian than Jo’s while The Drum is almost at the socialist end. Having said that the Bird is banned from Catallaxy but is not banned from here?

    Individuality is a fraught state of affairs; it offers freedom but it can also bring threats. It requires a great deal of confidence and capacity to defend against attacks of all kinds. Could it be that there are fewer female Libertarians because they are not disposed to be confident about their individuality in circumstances where the expression of individuality by other people may involve attacking theirs forcibly, and I mean intellectually.

    Is luke a man? If [s]he is female I would class him as a Libertarian.

  62. jennifer November 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm #


    You want to define the terms relative to freedom. But that is perhaps just too limiting. Their origins are in economics and politics which are about more than freedom.


    Thanks. You make some good points.


    I would prefer we first agreed to agree on the meaning of the term ‘Libertarian’.

    But to try and answer your question, and acknowledging that this is not my area of expertise (economic philosophy)… And adopting contemporary political usage of the Libertarian…

    I would answer, that given David Hume, John Stuart Mill and John Locke invented the concept of ‘property rights’ and that if they lived today would be labelled ‘Liberatarian”, and that property rights underpin the concept of the free market and that the free market is responsible for the fact that today, you and I, enjoy greater wealth, health, opportunity and choice that at any time in history. Then I say, so in answer to your question, the political philosophy of Libertarianism has been useful, indeed very beneficial for humanity.


    We are on the same page. But I’m not sure about putting the socialists and conservatives together! While many modern conservatives think like socialists, I think that makes them socialists. There are, however, real conservatives that still exist and the philosophy still exists?

  63. cohenite November 8, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    “You want to define the terms relative to freedom. But that is perhaps just too limiting. Their origins are in economics and politics which are about more than freedom.”

    I disagree; in respect of politics my link to the OLO article defines a Libertarian approach in terms of the preference exhausting system. Can you think of a more Libertarian approach to politics than that which stresses each individual vote to the limit of candidate selection?

    As for economics is the market model, which is individual based, more Libertarian than any other alternative such as Globalism?

  64. toby November 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    In principle/ theory, Jen I agree, but in reality I struggle to think of any political party in the world who is actually conservative. They all have a strongly socialist bias which is very likely the fault of their respective electorates and their addiction to government largesse.

    We tend to get what we deserve, but we need libertarians to point out the errors of their ways and try to hold them accountable.

    I have no doubt at university and schools there are many conservatives, as there are amongst individual voters. But if you want power/ to govern you have to “feed the masses”, the romans tried free bread and gladiatorial battles, we provide middle class welfare, an over bloated public service, massive waste in education and health (very important, particularly for libertarians? and i support them but believe our delivery and waste is criminal) and both key parties are guilty.

    And I still cant think of a libertarian govt in recent history

  65. Debbie November 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I think discussions like these can sometimes get lost in the cerebral and the political which tends to make people want to label everything, put it into a clearly marked box and then file it away to be plucked out at a moment’s notice. A lot of this information is very useful in helping people to develop personally and consider the perspectives of others and to therefore cohabit better in our increasingly urbanised and interconnected society. . . but once it gets used to just paste labels on people then I think it is moving into the realms of misuse. . . and hence used to polarise discussions and pass unsolicited and often ill informed judgement on others.
    I don’t really care what my political label is as a woman (rural based).
    My philosophy is pretty much “live and let live” and I also attempt to help others when I am asked but stay out of other people’s business if I’m not.
    However. . .I’m quite sure in relation to my female status as a wife and mother as well as part of a close knit circle of friends/family/peers. . .look out (!!!!!) if you interfere in my life (and even more so in my children’s’ lives) if you haven’t been asked. . .most especially if it doesn’t really materially affect your life and property.
    I abhor moralising and elitism and I think it is often as bad as and remarkably similar to racism but definitely reeks of hypocrisy.

  66. Larry Fields November 10, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    I’d like to expand on a point that you made in your blog post:
    “There is a fundamental flaw though, in the argument as presented. The author, Nora Caplan-Bricker, assumes that there are not enough bits of “firewood and nuts and berries and whatnot,” to go around. The author presumably subscribes to the Malthusian catastrophe, etcetera.”

    The counterpoint to neo-Multhusianism — the most vocal proponent being Paul Ehrlich — is the Demographic Transition (DT). The DT should be a part of Scientific Literacy 101. There are a number of factors that promote the transition of a traditional society, having high birth rates and high death rates, to one in which both rates are considerably lower:

    Freedom from theocracy
    Universal public education
    Respect for the rights of women
    Rudimentary public health measures
    Strong property rights for middle class farmers, and business people

    I’ve written a long, boring article about population at HubPages. If anyone is interested, I’ll post a link. Here’s another HubPages article on the subject:

    Population Development: What Kerala can Teach India and China

    by Goodpal


  67. jennifer November 10, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Hey Larry

    After 66 comments, your first comment at 67, gets to the central point of my original post… much thanks!

    Thanks also for listing key points re. the DT. Demographic Transition! I hadn’t heard of this term.

    And can you please post a link to your article about population?

  68. Larry Fields November 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Your wish is my command.

    Larry’s Take on the Population Disinformation Bomb


  69. Justin November 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Why aren’t there more female libertarians? That’s easy, females like to spend the money, they don’t give a shit where it comes from. Males are more likely to contemplate the actual nature of money. Note “more likely”, since how many males are libertarians?

    And no, I’m not being facetious. Few males understand that freedom is not political, it is economic. Money is power, if you control money you control destiny. It is the one & only thing on this earth you cannot possibly have too much of. The government now controls money with an iron fist, any wonder why?

  70. Jennifer Marohasy November 22, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Just filing this here: http://thoughtsonliberty.com/why-do-women-hate-freedom

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