Battlepanda: Free to jump off any bridge he wants


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Free to jump off any bridge he wants

Brad DeLong's head explodes when he reads this piece of libertarian mind-wankery by Julian Sanchez:
Classical liberals have become good at explaining how the market order they favor promotes freedom and happiness. They have been less adept at explaining why—at least past a certain point—people ought to want that freedom, which when genuine is always at least a little frightening. In the face of the parentalist impulse, we may need to develop the case that our bad choices, the choices that make us unhappy, are as vital and precious as the ones that bring us joy.
So lets see. Any collective restraint of private action, even if it will make more people happier in the long run, are bad. Unless they are market maintaining mechanism, presumably. Why ought we want that freedom? The Libertarians says so. Hmm.

The funny thing is, I probably agree with Julian Sanchez on a mess of social issues. Euthanasia? Check. We do that kindness for our loved pets, so why not for ourselves? Legalizing marijuana? I'd be first in line to get legally high. But the starting point for advocating all those freedoms is that having those freedoms would ultimately make people happier because they know better than the state what's right for them. But Sanchez is arguing that even if we have a hypothetical situation where people don't and are 100% certain to get hurt by their own faulty choice, the state should still not step in to prevent them from that choice because, you know, it's "vital and precious."

This kind of blind worship of individual freedom (and only individual freedom) above every value is so sophomoric. Like a teenager shouting "I can jump off any bridge I want!" before slamming their bedroom door and reading some Ayn Rand. Commenter Dave Johnson said it well over at Brads:
Libertarians seek to remove people from the benefit of the institutional memory of civilization, making them easy marks for hucksters. They call the accumulated wisdom "collectivism" and ridicule it. But civilization is based on reigning in negative human traits.