EXCLUSIVE: Charlotte Gore is not a witch – she’s a Nutter!

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Okay, it isn’t particularly exclusive, but it does happen to be true. Sort of.

Anyway, now that I have your attention, I just wanted to respond to a couple of points that came out of Charlotte’s post earlier today in response to my post about ‘airbrushing.’ More precisely, I would draw your attention to the comments which for me perfectly outline the key difference between liberalism and libertarianism. As Joe Otten points out, it seems to boil down to whether or not you are a foundationalist (in my more perjorative terminology, I describe libertarianism as ‘religion-like’ but it amounts to the same thing). Although I describe myself as a pragmatist, I don’t mean that in the strict, philosophical sense. My ‘pragmatism’ – as I outlined yesterday – is closer to critical rationalism.

The Devils Kitchen doctrine of “listen [to the evidence] and then ridicule the idiots who proposed it anyway” pretty much sums up libertarianism for me. It emerged in the 17th century and then stayed there. In that sense it is quite profoundly anti-historical. Only a libertarian could brand me a “bansturbator” and demand I get hurled out of the Lib Dems for demanding actual evidence before supporting a ban.

One thing I would take issue with is Charlotte’s claim that at least libertarianism is consistent (unlike liberalism). It isn’t that I disagree that libertaarianism isn’t consistent – it certainly is. But it is just plain wrong to argue that liberals are necessarily any less so. The comments by Joe Otten and Richard Gadsden expose how easy it is to end up in some pretty daft places if you “consistently” apply libertarian principles, no matter how much its exponents might squeal “foul” – that is hardly a strength.

The blogosphere’s obsession with libertarianism isn’t mirrored outside of it at all. It will be interesting to see if it turns out to be just a temporal fad or has some lasting impact, but either way I can’t see it ever breaking out into the mainstream. I suspect that its exponents will ultimately fall into two camps: people who ultimately decide that they can’t hold onto the strict tenets of libertarianism and evolve into liberals, and the ones who end up breaking out the Kool-Aid. I do hope Charlotte finds herself in the former category. Her admission that actual facts do matter to her, and the subsequent disapproval that she elicited suggests there’s hope for her yet.

9 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: Charlotte Gore is not a witch – she’s a Nutter!

  1. It emerged in the 17th century and then stayed there. In that sense it is quite profoundly anti-historical.

    Rubbish. Libertarianism has developed in leaps and bounds since then. What you mean is it didn’t follow the statist (meant as descriptive term) path which mainstream liberalism and right-wing socialism followed.
    Libertarianism has developed with the challenges set it, and with the changing world.

    Personally I think much of the most interesting and important thought is coming from libertarians and their anarchist brethren.

    the comments by Joe Otten and Richard Gadsden expose how easy it is to end up in some pretty daft places if you “consistently” apply libertarian principles

    I didn’t notice them. Yeah, some of the usual straw men which weren’t well dealt with (mostly due to the short comings of the ideas of those debating there).

    I suppose you’d say that anarchism is a silly place to end up, we’ll just have to disagree on that one though.

    Please just remember that the libertarian blogosphere you reference is not representative of libertarian thought. Its not even representative of libertarian blogging.

  2. It’s a bit harsh to point to the ‘yeah but what about’s’ of the libertarian force principle. I seem to recall that J S Mill suffer much the same fate with the harm principle, endlessly dealing with exceptions and gotchas.

    While I think there is use in these principles, they are really just that. What is needed is constitutional limits on the power of the state and protections for the liberties of individual – these principles form the basis of arguing for such things.

    Crucially the measure of reasonableness is whether or not you’re willing to consider evidence that X conflicts with your principles enough to justify doing something you find repellant. This sceptism and reluctance is a sort of first defense, and something seemingly missing from mainstream politics.

    Real people don’t talk about politics the way libertarians do but I can assure you from my own experience of talking to non-politics geeks that this stuff goes down really well. In fact, spookily so after years of meeting incredulity, anger and hostility trying to explain official lib dem policy.

    There is method in my madness but I guess you’ll have to take my word for it 🙂

  3. Sorry Charlotte, can you elaborate on this

    Crucially the measure of reasonableness is whether or not you’re willing to consider evidence that X conflicts with your principles enough to justify doing something you find repellant. This sceptism and reluctance is a sort of first defense, and something seemingly missing from mainstream politics.

    Particularly the first sentence. If X conflicts with my principles, then I would oppose it. Why would this be repellant? I don’t see what you’re getting at.

    The big difference between the foundationalist and the critical rationalist as I see it, is that if each has a seemingly good principle A that leads to a seemingly bad conclusion B, the foundationalist concludes that B must be good after all, and the critical rationalist concludes that there is room for improving A. The foundationalist therefore keeps finding himself having to do unpleasant things because they are right on principle. The critical rationalist on the other hand has better principles because they are tested – they are not held stubbornly indifferent to the consequences.

  4. Sorry Joe, yes i wrote that comment on my iPHone without being able to see what it was I was writing properly.

    Start a new paragraph after repellant and change the next line to, “But this sceptism and reluctance that many libertarians display…” and add “… which explains the appeal of libertarianism among people frustrated with the seemingly limitless ambitions of modern politicians”

    🙂

  5. Whether or not she is a witch or a nutter, Charlotte is clearly able to respond rationally to rudeness.

    James, by comparison, responds to rationality with rudeness.

  6. Actually Tom, I think Charlotte (and your good self) more than hold their own in the rudeness stakes. But either way, I don’t think you are appreciating the irony of that headline. Perhaps if you followed the link…?

  7. Plus, the whole point is that libertarians are not rational – indeed in people like Devil’s Kitchen’s case they poo poo it.

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