I got into another tete-a-tete with the inimitable Stephen Harris today on Twitter, and as a result went looking for some critiques of the libertarian school of thought. I found Mike Huben’s page, from whence I moved on to Robert Locke’s laser-fine deconstruction.
I don’t know that I agree on all points with that article, as I do have some basic optimism about humans as a species, but it points out the basic irrealities that seem to dominate most libertarian thought I’ve encountered. I don’t see the problem with allowing people to use any drug they want as far as individual choice goes. I do see the harm, however, as soon as I consider what that means for the world around me. It requires a very narrow definition of “harm” to ignore the potential ills of ubiquitous drug use.
The thing that tweaked my nose today was a point about the “social contract”. Mr Harris, and others with whom I’ve discussed the subject, proposes that no contract exists, because he did not agree to it. Both Huben and Locke dispose of this idea rather quickly – we accept the contract by living in the society, and there is no guarantee that the particular contract one desires to live under would ever be considered acceptable by enough people to form a social territory. Indeed, as Locke points out, that hasn’t happened so far, which is a pretty good indicator that in fact it’s not as simple as it is often represented to be by those speaking about libertarianism.