Thursday, September 02, 2004

Libertarian or libertine?

Catallaxy is an Australian website which is on the "right libertarian" end of liberal politics. I find it interesting to observe how the libertarianism of many contributors leads on to a very permissive view of morality.

For instance, in one discussion the Labor Party was condemned as supporting "authoritarian" plans to force hard core porn sites to have age filters. I asked the question of what alternative they would propose to protect children from access to adult sexuality.

I received the reply from c8to, who I believe is running for the Australian senate on a "democratic liberal" ticket, that,

I'm not entirely sure early sexualisation is as bad as it's meant to be. It certainly will change society, but will it necessarily change it for the worse? I think sexualisation has been increasingly pushed back over modern history.

I had expected the argument from libertarians that it was illegitimate for the state to regulate morality, or else, that access to porn wouldn't have much of an effect on children. But here was a realistic assessment that porn actually would have a significant effect, but that we ought to accept this as a positive development!

It's the same with the issue of drugs. Again, you expect libertarians to argue that the fight against drugs gives the state too much power. But in a recent discussion, Jason Soon went further by agreeing that there was a "great possibility" that legalising drugs would mean "that a lot more people would be taking pot, coke, amps, etc" but that this was OK as there was nothing "intrinsically bad" about taking such drugs anyway.

The liberalism of these libertarians, therefore, is not just some "neutral" device for allowing people to make their own decisions on moral issues. Instead, the liberalism has an "active" effect of leading people to draw a certain set of remarkably permissive views on moral issues.

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