It has been with great sadness that over the past year I have witnessed my fellow Libertarian Blogger Richard Goode change tack and sail off course, and now become an apologyst for Socialist Statism.
This has been evidenced by his entire behaviour in relation to the Psychoactive Substances Act, and particular with regards to Synthetic Cannabis.
To make my point I refer you to all his Blog posts on this subject in which he consistently demonstrates that he believes all the Negative hype about the dangers of Synthetics… which is in my view incredulous considering the history of Prohibition, and it’s reliance on Lies and phobia about drug use, as supposed vindication for the Governments perpetration of a highly oppressive war upon it’s own citizens.
While he calls himself a Libertarian, He has in reality swallowed the Socialist lie that Harm Minimisation is a legitimate function of Government and has attempted to formulate an argument for this >>>Here<<<, yet it is a tragic testimony to his having put the Cart before the horse. While Libertarianism has many pragmatic advantages over Socialist tyranny, Libertarianism is firstly an Individualist Ideology.... a philosophy which embodies clear principles of Law and Justice which protects the sovereignty of Individuals from tyrannical Government, and the pragmatic advantages for society... to the degree that there are any... are merely the By-product which flows from these principles. The Free society is a far more Humane and enlightened civilisation than socialism, and the type of Self reliant- self responsible, and charitable citizenry it fosters, and the peaceful Social interaction which spontaneously generates in a coexistence free of political coercion and advantage... are all extremely preferable ... pragmatically speaking.... yet to mistake these benefits as being the vindication for it's principles is utterly false. The Vindication for Libertarianism is in it's *Justice* for Individuals, and it's defence of the Individual's self-ownership, and it's Principled limits to political power... whether the will of a Monarch, or 'The mandate of the Majority'...the will of the largest Mob. Ie Libertarianism protects Individuals, minorities, and even Majorities, from Social arbitrary Law. That is what vindicates Libertarianism... not its pragmatic social advantages, and certainly not any idea of 'Harm minimisation' for the individual. Libertarians ought to have social concern for others, yet that is an utterly foreign principle to Libertarian ideology... It is in fact a definitive *Socialist* political lever, and pseudo-justification for Political intervention...and it is here where my friend has gone so far astray... Libertarianism embodies voluntary community action. Believe me when I say that I sympathise which how he was lured down this road... It was because the Anti-Prohibitionist movement (in particular Cannabis Law reformers) whom were never Libertarians began to argue for an end to prohibition... not on the basis of Individual rights, but on the basis that Cannabis was safer than alcohol. This was the socialist 'Harm minimisation' Doctrine... which sought to win over the socialist parliament by convincing a big enough mob that by allowing legal cannabis, they would be helping to reduce the Evils of Alcoholism which have been exacerbated by its monopolistic Legal Status. These arguments are thoroughly aimed at a socialist pragmatic mentality which prevails both within New Zealand's parliament, and in our society as a whole. It is a Utilitarian mentality which has abandoned all ideological principles of justice in pursuit of 'The Greatest Happiness'. Under this philosophy the Government can do whatever it pleases with individuals as long as it can convince a majority, that it's actions are conducive to the collective well being of society as a whole. Thus Individuals have become the property 'of society'. Society may overstep a persons individual liberty and self-responsibility either under the pretence of protecting the Hapless individual from himself, or the pretence of minimizing 'problems' that individual choices can have upon Society at large... esp Financial strains upon 'social services' which are run by the government and funded collectively via taxation. Druggies are deemed to be an inexcusable burden upon the system.
It is under these pretences that modern Socialist judges have no compunction against Jailing peaceful old Pot smokers whom refuse to submit to the Political will of Nanny state.
*Jail is deemed to be for their own good, and the Good of society as a whole*
They believe the ruinous effects upon an individuals life of incarceration are in fact preferable to ‘allowing him’ to continue in his drug use, and that society is safer while drugs are actively being suppressed by the Police.
*Freedom is dangerous* *Nanna Knows Best* *Etc*.
Now it is not the place here and now for me to argue why this whole socialist perspective is utter tyrannical, or why Libertarianism denies it is the proper duties of government to provide social services like public health care.
It ought to be enough to point out how utterly at variance with Libertarianism, this whole approach to ending Cannabis prohibition is.
I shall proceed to explain how my Brother Blogger took his wrong turn and has now wandered so far off track that he has crossed the line and is no longer worthy of the Name *Libertarian*.
My explanation is not written to vilify, but to show how easily this deviation occurred.
Not only do I sympathise with my fellow blogger, but hope that after contemplating what I have written that he will correct his course back over to the Libertarian side.
Many years ago many Kiwi Libertarians, including myself, as members of the Late Great yet struggling Libertarianz party, were supportive of a proposal written by Richard Goode for having a Transitional policy for Drug Law reform, which was accepted because it provided a rational pathway of least resistance to ending the war on drugs.
Our previous policy of simply legalising all drugs was too much for the voting public to swallow and had absolutely no hope of ever being adopted in totality, and so the new proposal presented to the voting public and parliament, was that the War be de-escalated starting with de-criminalising the softer drugs first, and then as fears were alleviated by having legal highs, that support could then be gained for further reforms, with ultimate end being an absolute end to the war on drugs.
We would devour the Prohibition elephant one bite at a time… leaving the boniest portions till last.
And what defined ‘soft drugs’ was their perceived ‘safer than alcohol’ status.
The virtue of this policy was that it was idealistic, yet also realistic as means to our ultimate end because it was far more popular with the People… there was already support for Cannabis Law reform and our definition of cannabis as a ‘softer drug than alcohol’ was met with great enthusiasm from the Socialist faction of Cannabis Law reform movement whom are by far the greatest majority in the movement.
I have no doubt that Richard ‘liberated’ his definition for ‘soft drugs’ for the Libertarianz party transitional drug policy directly from the Socialists.
Richard’s policy was genius, as it unified Idealism with pragmatical realism, and popularity.
He ought to be proud of it.
Unfortunately though, in the years that have since past, and with the de-registration of the Libertarianz party, and Richard joining and now representing the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, which is still predominantly a Socialist Party, He has obviously lost his Libertarian bearings.
He has forgotten that The Libertarians supported his transitional policy because of it’s progression of Justice… not because it’s starting point of legalising softer drugs was in any way supposes Libertarians endorse the socialist idea that Governments ought to concern themselves with ‘harm reduction’.
It is only in the light of these sorts of consideration that as Libertarian I had anything good to say about the Psychoactive substances act.
To the degree that it did allow a special dispensation to some products to be legally available, and also allowed a convoluted means (in theory) for other products to eventually make it to Market… having run the ‘regulation gauntlet’, it was supposed to be an improvement on the ‘Ban everything as they appear’ prohibition-ism which was the prevailing ‘socialist wisdom’ at the beginning of the rise of synthetic dugs which are now being manufactured to bypass existing prohibitions.
The thing was that Richard had now utterly lost all sight of what Libertarianism is about, and swallowed the socialist ‘Harm minimisation’ pill that he actually condemned the PSA for being too Libertarian!
*He was thoroughly in the Socialist Camp that it is the governments duty to decide what Citizens are allowed to ingest*
He was outraged that Peter Dunne was not acting Nanny Statist enough… because in his mind it was committing a crime by allowing dangerous and untested Synthetic Cannabis to be legally sold!
He relentlessly fanned the fires of Anti-Synthetic Cannabis hysteria… much to the joy of many of his Pro-cannabis Socialist mates, and condemned the Legal highs industry as evil profiteers at the expense of Hapless sheeple.
He told them to voluntarily remove their products, and castigated them for not heeding him… saying that a backlash was growing which would result in their products being banned.
I said that I didn’t think that would happen, yet I was wrong on that count… and I am sure he experienced euphoria when…. being an election year… and with all the Media sensationalism surrounding the Anti-legal high lobby that via the ensuing shysterism/ party politicking of the powers that be.. that the Libertarian portions of the Act got blotted out, and the means by which products could be deemed safe and thereby legalised… was virtually shut.
(Read my post on this >>>Here<<<) This was a leap backwards in the struggle to End Drug prohibition as it re-invigorated Prohibitionism. The world was watching and prohibitionists everywhere celebrated. Having Legal highs in New Zealand... they say... proved to be a failure.
Richard and his friend Blogger Mark Hubbard now dwell on the Dark side.
They ignore studies which suggest synthetic cannabis is relatively safe, and instead invoke terror by calling it ‘Legal Heroin’ ‘like P’…. etc… as if Libertarians support the War on Heroin and Meth!
Mark blames the Government for all the supposed troubles experienced by Legal high users… as if they have no personal responsibility.
I have no problem with Libertarians believing certain drugs to be dangerous… even if they are getting their information from patently Dubious sources.
Of course there can be dangers involved in taking drugs.
Alcohol is dangerous… yet to say their Dangerous nature justifies Prohibitions is patently Un-libertarian and socialist!
The philosophical war they have declared is a Socialist Jihad against Individual Rights and Liberties!
Richard’s last blog post attempts to be an argument for the government socialist interventions
He by passes the fundamental Libertarian principles which clearly define and articulate the legitimate function of government as being strictly limited to defending Rights and Liberties of individuals, and instead substitutes that with his bogus Pragmatist doctrine of ‘Harm minimisation’ which is pure Utilitarian Socialism … not Libertarianism.
To say that he is going ‘Back to basics’ could not be further from the truth
He attempts to smoke you readers by saying harm minimisation is a legitimate concern of Government with the bogus rationalisation that preventing ‘itself’ from putting people in Jail… which is harmful … as being a form of ‘Harm minimisation’ when in reality the principles involved are no such thing!
He has stitched up a sophistry which is in complete contradiction to Libertarian limited government.
The Legal and just principles against unjust imprisonment are keeping constitutional restraints forbidding the State from stepping outside it’s legitimate and just functions and encroaching upon our legitimate liberties, and violating our Rights which it has been instituted to protect!
This is black and white… lines not to crossed…. spheres of liberty, personal ethics, the pursuit of happiness, and self-responsibility… not to be encroached upon… not even for ‘harm minimisation’.
There are Powers never to be usurped… and they are not contingent upon whether or not Nanny State’s dictates are harmful or beneficial to either society or Individuals themselves.
It could very well be that some Laws could prevent idiots from harming themselves… yet to the Libertarian… that is no justification for passing oppressive laws…. which treat everyone like idiots… and gives the State paternalistic powers.
Harm minimisation is an endorsement of social interventions, not Libertarian self- ownership and responsibility.
Libertarians say that to allow the Government to legislate to protect people from themselves is to people the world with Fools.
Read my Blog post on this >>>Here<<< Richard... the Philosopher... no doubt assumes the Libertarian principle of having an arbitrary demarcation for being of Age of 'Adult consent and culpability' (in regards to being allowed to purchase alcohol without Parental permission) as being a form of 'Regulation' and 'Supply control'... which is again Bullshit. By that way of thinking All Laws are 'Regulations'... and that therefore the only 'Free market' can exist is under Anarchy. That R18 Principle of Law is necessary in regards to Legal parental rights and responsibilities, and custodianship , yet a young person ought to be able to apply for Adult Status earlier. Libertarianism is not Anarchy. It recognises a limited legitimate sphere for Government, yet these do not include 'Licensing products'... like alcohol, FDA approval, or Taxes, or 'Harm minimisation' etc. The only 'License' Libertarians would support is an R18 age restriction on the purchase and sale of liquor, etc with those whom violate this condition being criminally liable and negate their right to sell. If parents allow their own kids to enjoy alcohol, Pot, etc at a younger age, that is their own business. If Parents want to try alternative treatments on their sick infant children such as Cannabis... they have that fundamental right. I brew some booze yet I also buy Alcohol, and pay taxes on it. It does not mean I support the Status quo.... yet I still believe it is better... more Libertarian than outright prohibition. The same with proposals to 'Educate', 'Tax', and 'Regulate' Cannabis. Again I dont say that is the Libertarian Objective, yet it is better than current Prohibition. Richard and Mark have utterly abandoned Libertarianism and become Socialist Statist Prohibitionists. You have abandoned principles of Justice in favour of Socialist Utilitarian Pragmatism. To recover yourselves and to restore yourselves into the Libertarian fold is simple, and it does not require you to drop your opinion about the Safety of Synthetic Cannabis, or mean you must cease arguing that you think Real cannabis is safer. All it requires you to do is to stop arguing that 'Harm minimisation' is a legitimate concern of governments, and desist from supporting any prohibitions on drugs. If on the other hand you think the War on P, on H, and on Synthetics is justifiable, and legitimate, will them please desist from calling yourselves Libertarians.
It has only been a few weeks since Synthetic cannabis was taken off the shelves, and yet My InLaws reported seeing a bunch of people sniffing glue in the Park.
So much for Harm reduction!
20 thoughts on “Utilitarianism vs Libertarianism. Socialist pragmatism vs Libertarian Idealism”
Tim, what was your state of mind when you wrote this?
To be truthful Reed, I did not wish to write any more on this subject as i have had a guts full of it.
I ignored some of Richards posts, yet he kept flogging the horse and the last post he put up needed to be refuted.
I tried to write a response that covered as many bases as possible, and even to look at how and why Richard has managed to end up supporting prohibition.
It may seem like nit picking, yet when you look at the consequences of his rationale it is obviously a very serious departure from the Libertarian limits of Just Government use of force.
Part of the difficulty is in the fact that I have no problem with people embracing Libertarianism because of it’s pragmatic appeal.
I have always argued that it is plausible for the greatest variety of disparate groups/ individuals to agree to the *minimum set of Constitutional principles*… because they embody a set of universally agreeable values, and that they can arrive at this ‘overlapping consensus’…. each, via his own rationale… one being pragmatic reason… ie Libertarianism is less destructive than totalitarianism.
The difficult thing is though, to maintain the fundamental doctrine of Rights and responsibility and prevent it from being subverted by utilitarian doctrines like ‘harm minimisation’.
This is a direct ideological conflict to the very foundations of Libertarianism, and must be seen as such and rejected.
There is no ‘right’ to Nanny your Neighbour by force… therefore that power cannot be delegated by the people to the state, which is only an extension of the rights and liberties possessed by the people.
it is a fundamental that the People cant vote to give the state powers which they have no right themselves to exercise.
This is one of the greatest faults of Social democracy and Utilitarianism.
The problem with Satanism/Libertarianism is that it’s more effective as an individual ideology, so the fewer other people who have it the better. This makes it uniquely difficult to convincingly argue for.
Libertarianism was born of Protestantism and the conception of *God given* inalienable rights, and so is as far as you can get from Satanic ‘Do what thou wilt’.
It certainly is a Satanic ploy to claim Libertarianism is Satanic!
This way the Sheeple will fear it and embrace the Wolves in sheeps clothing… the Totalitarians.
Satan Laughing spreads his wings.
Atheists also try and suggest that Libertarian Rights and liberties are *Anti-religion*… as if Religion is fundamentally Savage and barbarric…. yet again History refutes them… and Satan Laughs as these fools march to hell.
> It certainly is a Satanic ploy to claim Libertarianism is Satanic!
I believe it – certainly I’d say this if I wanted fewer, but a higher grade of, followers and colleagues.
I’m not a Satanist because I think it requires a special kind of delusion to worship one’s false self over one’s true self.
To clarify my position, per my post syndicated here. I am against all prohibition, and against the PSA, because that Act, by law, restricts those who want to keep their jobs, and travel (without criminal convictions) to the truly psychosis forming hard drugs, while keeping the relatively harmless (often medicinal) cannabis [criminalised].
So, yes have syns, LSD, et al legal, it’s our own choice, but not while the ‘best’, as in non-toxic, cannabis is still illegal. I would love the odd Friday night joint, nothing more (so I could grow myself a plant): but I wouldn’t touch anything else, certainly not these dreadful synthetics.
Also note I make quite plain on my blog I was originally against the PSA because of its animal testing criteria. If I am ever faced with an apparent contradiction between Libertarianism and animal welfare, then I’ll take the latter. On that matter I’m quite prepared to live with a contradiction despite the admonition from a very clever woman to check my premises. Although I don’t personally see a contradiction even in this.
Finally, per my latest post, I also think this topic defines the arrogance of our current politick, and why we need to rebel against Wellington.
Love your work, Tim. Your post on motorcycles and budget was spot on.
I sympathise with your point Mark that it would be far better had real cannabis been legalised immediately rather than having the PSA first allowing synthetics because we definitely know cannabis is safe.
The thing is though I think You and Richard mistake this reasoning to mean that by legalising synthetics first, that this constitutes a greater evil than simply retaining the status quo monopoly of Alcohol.
This is not a valid argument from *any* Libertarian perspective.
The Data on the un- PSA tested Legal Highs as being seriously dangerous was far from objective, and even being so biased as to accept the hype at it’s worst, still it will be safer than *no legal alternatives* …. not only from the Legal aspect which…. as Richard himself points out …. is a recipe for great harm via oppression and jail, but also because having zero legal alternatives to alcohol means people resort to sniffing Glue, huffing petrol, flyspray, etc.
*Prohibition doesn’t work*
We already know that Banning alcohol was a disaster…. even though Alcohol is far more dangerous than Cannabis.
By You and Richards Logic, Libertarians should support the government’s immediate ban on Alcohol…. for harm minimisation….until they get around to legalising Cannabis, and testing Synthetics, etc
The trouble you and Richard have fallen into is the belief that because of tyranny in one area… we need to have another tyranny to mitigate the first tyranny… just as some Libertarianz tried to argue that because we suffer a State health system funded by Taxes, that this justified also having bike Helmet laws.
The real solution as far as Libertarianism is concerned is *never* more tyranny… *always* less.
Thus the Libertarian arguement is to end State Health… not encourage more Nannyism.
Thus if you are concerned about the perceived Dangers of legal highs (real or imagined), then by all means argue for legal cannabis…. yet Never-ever argue that Having legal highs is an act of Criminal negligence on the part of government.
No argument with that. But as I said regarding animal welfare issues, I’ll live with the contradiction(s).
One point, now that animal testing has been ruled out completely, then yes, there should no prohibition whatsoever. So long as individuals are stuck with their decisions, and nanny state doesn’t grow herself coming to the rescue: (albeit, unfortunately, I already know what would happen.)
Typo above. First para should end with ‘criminalised’.
You say: ‘Libertarianism is firstly an Individualist Ideology.’
The problem with all ideologies, including Socialism, etc is that they typically fail because they overlook one salient point, the reality of the human condition. They are by definition utopian, idealistic, and thereby rendered unworkable in practice.
Decision makers have to deal with ‘what is’ not what idealists suggest ‘what ought’.
I don’t know what Richard has or hasn’t done, but if he is committed to a pragmatic approach to harm minimisation when it comes to drug use, then he deserves support. Quite what that has to do with his joining a political party committed to liberalization of drug laws, I’m not quite sure!
However, I can see you have put a lot of effort into your post, and hold your views sincerely which is to be respected.
All the best.
Richard wrote an attempted justification for Nanny State.
You are entitled to your opinion Richard.
I have said my peace… and that is my opinion… in accordance with my conscience.
As I have argued many times, It is not for me *to impose* *my reasons* why I would enter into a Libertarian social compact … or *insist* others agree with me before they agree to enter into the compact, yet still I reserve the right to express my view on any alternative rationales offered up in the Ideological arena.
Thus I welcome any Atheist whom chooses to enter into the Compact, because they believe the Goddess Rand has given her blessing…. yet dont expect me not to have an opinion on such a position… or not to challenge Objectivist ignorance and slander on things pertaining to the rationalism of the Christian faith.
Thus If you think that ‘Harm minimisation’ is a principle which convinces you that Libertarianism is just and right…. I sympathise for you…. yet will embrace you as an equal… politically speaking, and will happily leave you in peace… while reserving the right to both live by and articulate matters of my own conscience… and I think your last blog post was in grievous error, and that it is evidenced by your support for the banning of synthetic cannabis.
I know I have just repeated myself for the 10 000th time, and I will resist commenting further unless you present something new… for better or worse…which deserves new/more commentary on my part.
Unless you have New material to present… i would like to move along.
We both know each others position on this issue.
There is plenty of other stuff going on which I think would be a more productive ‘investment’ of my 5c.
How do you devour a straw elephant?
Tim – are you for or against the PSA?
As it is today Reed, I am against it.
It’s a complete travesty.
It was a travesty from the get-go.
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