New Jeffrey Friedman blog

This is a good post: in it, Friedman, a critic of libertarianism, shows how dishonest Nancy MacLean's critique of libertarianism is. A representative quote:

"But MacLean fails to recognize that libertarians are positively obsessed by 'coercion,' blinding them to just about everything else. It is wrong to accuse them of anything more than the narrowness that marks the thinking of any ideologue."

Exactly right: my libertarian friends are not racist conspirators involved in a cabal promoting the interests of rich white men. That is absurd. They are good people (for the most part!) who have simply become too obsessed with one particular good (freedom from coercion) and so neglect all other goods.

UPDATE: Let me say that I think Friedman's characterization of Dan Mitchell's blog post is itself rather unfair.


  1. Well, there are obsessions and then there are obsessions.

    Personally, I view non-coercion as what Nozick called a "side constraint." That is, anything goes EXCEPT coercion.

    Suppose I run a store that offers Coke, Pepsi, Cheerwine, lemonade, root beer, black cherry seltzer, all the flavors of Vitamin Water, and every other soft drink ever conceived _except_ Dr. Pepper, and resolutely refuse to stock Dr. Pepper.

    And suppose someone else's continual critique of what I offer comes down entirely to "but there's no Dr. Pepper! Why isn't there any Dr. Pepper? It can't possibly be a legitimate soda bar without Dr. Pepper! We must make this man offer Dr. Pepper!"

    Which one of us is obsessed with Dr. Pepper?

  2. I'd say that if your customers want Dr. Pepper, and you stock every other soda, and repeatedly refuse to carry it... you sort of are obsessed with Dr. Pepper.

    1. I'd say he's pulling a fast one with "side".

  3. Coercion of the rich and powerful anyway, coercion of the poor and powerless, not so much.

    1. Yes, they are, in fact, *mistaken* in their claims about coercion. But I do think (most) of them are sincere.


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