Unsolicited Praise for the Non-Libertarian FAQ

Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.

Last updated 10/25/07.

As someone who frequently rebuts libertarian claims, I suffer a moderate amount of abuse (up to and including claims that I am insane.) One of the things that keeps me going is the certain knowledge that lots of folks out there value my arguments. Many libertarians have scoffed when I made that statement, so I have accumulated some evidence.

I'm not presenting this to toot my own horn (well, maybe just a little), but to show how people perceive libertarian argument. Interestingly, most libertarians I've talked to disdain the libertarian side of at least half of the arguments I rebut in the Non-Libertarian FAQ. Even more interestingly, no two dislike the same libertarian arguments. (These statements are based on reviews by at least a dozen selected libertarian reviewers and a large number of unsolicited discussions with other libertarians.) Non-libertarians are even more receptive.

These email and news postings were unsolicited, however they are doubly selected. I made the first selection pass (I get hate mail too); then I requested permission of the authors of the email, and they self-selected whether they wished to make public their endorsement. Consequently, the proportion of approving libertarians is much smaller than I actually see in my mail.

If, by error, I have mistakenly misrepresented anybody, or you wish not to be cited here, please let me know. I generally consider email private, out of courtesy.

From iadmontg@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca  Sun Apr  2 13:45:51 2000
From: "Ian Montgomerie" 
To: Mike Huben 
Subject: Recommendation of your site
When I finally get my web page put together I'm going to put up the 
following recommendation of your site.  You can put it in the 
"unsolicited praise" section if you want.

Mike Huben's "Critiques of Libertarianism" web site is an excellent 
source of information for anyone who has spent much time debating 
politics on the Internet.  Heck, I'd also recommend it to anyone 
interested in politics at all, especially North Americans.  His web site 
is devoted to providing a clear, thorough, and exhaustive critique of 
various Libertarian ideas.  Libertarians, for those blessed enough to 
have never encountered them, are a peculiar fringe group in politics 
who believe primarily that the government should get out of just about 
everything (or should not exist at all).  On the Internet, the strain that 
predominates is from the US, and believes that the free market should 
decide essentially everything in society, that most government is 
inherently evil, and so on.

While the Libertarians themselves are a tiny minority, they are one 
of the most vocal political groups on the Internet.  Probably because 
their ideology is most popular with well-off white males who don't like 
much about mainstream society.  The real reason that this web site is 
important is not because it criticizes Libertarians specifically, but 
because it also criticizes each of their major ideas individually.  Many 
of those ideas are considerably more popular than Libertarianism itself 
is.  Many of the economic ideas of the right wing in North America are 
cut from the same cloth as some Libertarian ideas, for example.  
Libertarians have also been known to frequently repeat a set of 
standard kookish arguments such as that we should return to the gold 
standard, that we really don't have to worry about the environment, and 
that the Internet is a new realm beyond government.

Mike's site takes on all of these fallacies, in an engaging and easy 
to read form.  His "Non-Libertarian FAQ" is a vital resource for anyone 
who has the misfortune to start encountering the stereotypical 
Libertarian arguments on the net.  His site also contains an incredible 
number of links to various resources critical of Libertarian tenets.  Not 
only is it the supreme anti-Libertarian web site by an order of 
magnitude, it is also right up there among the best political sites on 
the entire Internet.  It is considerably more accurate and less polemic 
than most, which is doubly unusual for a site designed as a critique of 
a particular ideology.  So get yourself over there and take a look!

From WIENER%emc2@ccsvm.stortek.com Sat Oct 29 15:25:34 1994
To: mrh
Subject: comments

Thanks for your interesting and challenging posts.  I also want to thank
you for the anti-lib web.  Great idea.  With any luck this will raise the
level of discourse for all of us.

[Bert Wiener adds: "Please be sure it's clear that I am one of those
wild-eyed libs. MRH]

From: george@nccu.edu (conklin)
To: mrh
Subject: Libertarians

   I just spent the last 45 minutes reading you Web page
on libertarians.  Wow.  All the arguments which they
have thrown out on the internet, on talk.politics.medicine,
all in one place!  It is useful to think of the bunch
as missionaries.  They certainly have the jargon down.
There was a 1950s term for missionaries called MISHY.
It was a look as well as a mindset.  I found this out
from living abroad and attending a missionary-led 
language school for several months.  
   As for the libertarians, they have never set up a working
society, and probably never will.  You are right about that.

From bein@pyramid.com Thu Nov  3 09:50:06 1994
From: David Bein 
Subject: your faq on libertarianism
To: mrh

Hi Mike,

  I just discovered the alt.politics.libertarian
newsgroup yesterday and after perusing it, I have decided not
to bother getting into a flame war in that group.

  I just came across your faq and really want to thank you for
the time it took to construct it. To be honest, I have found
that most libertarians do not really engage in discussions
which go outside their carefully {mis}-constructed arguments,
mostly because they seem to be missing a larger context of
history and also delve into a lot of reductionistic kinds
of thinking which appear to give them the upper hand by virtue
of simplicity. I find myself always wanting to scream back
"It ain't that simple!" and whether I do or not, I find it
makes me kind of crazy to enter their {il}logical loop.

  Again, thanks for doing a fantastic job in putting together the
FAQ. It has clarified much for me. It is rare that I read something
from the network which not only supports me, but actually teaches
me something.


p.s. I also applaud your courage/willingness to be the object of scorn by
     those who probably disagree with you.

From scasburn@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu Mon Feb  6 00:32:17 1995
From: Steve Casburn 
Subject: The Non-Lib FAQ
To: mrh

	Thanks for writing the non-Libertarian FAQ. I'm in the same
position you are -- agreeing with many of the lib's goals without
buying most of their philosophy -- and your FAQ is a *great* resource
for any arguments I may have to use in the future.

From lwirbel@aol.com Sat Feb 18 17:13:18 1995
To: mrh (Mike Huben)
Subject: Re: Non-Libertarian FAQ

A hearty thank you thank you THANK YOU to Mike Huben for this
Non-Libertarian FAQ post.  I am a fuzzily-defined anarcho-syndicalist who
always felt that the European libertarians made a lot more sense than
their U.S. counterparts (primarily because they recognize the dangers of
corporate and capital concentrations as well as political power), and this
posting helped explain some of mainstream libertarians' limitations.
   I wouldn't mind a healthy anarchist-libertarian debate on these points,
and I think most anarchists would stay relatively civil.  However, judging
from the tenor of libertarian newsgroups like Bill Frezza's DigitaLiberty,
I dare say most traditional libertarians take the same crass bully
attitude on the net that Newt Gingrich and friends practice in Congress.

Loring Wirbel

From jeh@iris77.biosym.com Mon May 22 16:38:02 1995
From: jeh@biosym.com (John E. Harrington)
To: mrh

Finally a web site devoted specifically to the reasoned opposition of
knuckle-dragging anarcho-capitalists.  (I didn't know you had a web site:
I'd just seen the faq.)

Excellent.  This is just the kind of opposition that is requisite.  It 
demonstrates that liberals are above the facile arguments and spiffy 
anecdotal rhetoric of the right.  We can beat them without joining them.


From frowhj@iia.org Sun Oct 16 20:59:19 1994
From: James Rowh 
To: mrh
Subject: non-libertarian FAQ

I had your FAQ, printed it out, read it, enjoyed it, and then promptly 
(and with little or no thought, apparently) deleted it from my hard drive 
in one of my frequent, Stalinesque file purges. 

What can I say? I'm an absent minded, anal-retentive, memory monger? Ok, 
"I'm an absent minded, anal-retentive, memory monger." There. . .but 
enough about me. . .

Would you be so kind as to forward it to me via email? I promise to 
take better care of it this time.

From george@nccu.edu Tue Oct 25 10:25:58 1994
From skok@itwds1.energietechnik.uni-stuttgart.de Thu Oct 27 11:27:14 1994
From: skok@itwds1.energietechnik.uni-stuttgart.de (Holger Skok)
Subject: NON-lib www-site
To: mrh

I just leafed through your non-lib www.pages and I liked it. Good job
you did there. Funny to observe the similarities between the liberal and
the libertarian FAQ. Which one was the predecessor, by the way? The
liberal one, I suppose?

[The libertarian one.  MRH]

From shubbard@popmail.mcs.com Wed Nov  9 13:52:40 1994
From: shubbard@popmail.mcs.com (Steve Hubbard)
To: mrh
Subject: Re:  Anti-libertarian resources.

WOW!!! Great stuff.  I've downloaded all to read off-line.
I will DEFINITELY post your site on my page.

This will make good reading tonight as I recover from
last night's Republitarian debacle.

From mt@media.mit.edu Mon Nov 14 19:12:59 1994
From: mt@media.mit.edu 
To: mrh
Subject: Anti-libertarian page

I liked your critiques of libertarianism page. I've also spent a lot
of time arguing with these folks on the net, and I'm glad to have a
place where I can send them rather than repeating the same stuff over
and over and  over.

From eeide@jaguar.cs.utah.edu Thu Dec 15 19:43:16 1994
From: eeide@jaguar.cs.utah.edu (Eric Eide)
To: mrh (Mike Huben)
Subject: Comments on `A Non-Libertarian FAQ'

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your Non-Libertarian FAQ.

Until recently I had an officemate who was a fairly evangelic libertarian.  We
had quite a few discussions about libertarian ideas, especially taxes and the
concept of tax as theft (and "men with guns").  I could have used some of the
rebutting ideas that you present in your FAQ.

...  I enjoyed your writing
immensely and I will add your Web pages to my list of favorite links ASAP!

From @spider.co.uk:jack@cwi.nl Tue Jan  3 10:18:07 1995
To: mrh (Mike Huben) <@spider.co.uk:mrh@centerline.com>
Subject: Re: Announcing the Critiques Of Libertarianism web page.
From: Jack Jansen <@spider.co.uk:Jack.Jansen@cwi.nl>

I've just read your Libertarian Critique FAQ. Nice work! I've had more
than my share of discussions with libertarians, mainly on the
anarchy-list (a list of left-wing anarchists (or "real" anarchists, as
a "real" left-wing anarchist would say to a libertarian:-)). The funny
thing is that a lot of the arguments you use are orthogonal to the ones
I would use, but they seem to lead to the same conclusion.

From jnelson@crl.com Sun Feb  5 01:26:58 1995
From: jnelson@crl.com 
To: mrh
Subject: Non-Libertarian FAQ

What can I say?  Good stuff.

The "evangelists" need to get off their rant-and-rave soapbox and 
start listening more than talking.  I identify myself as a libertarian, only
because I can find no other single-word label that fits.  I don't like
the political party.  I don't like being associated with them either.  
But I'd rather that than be associated with Republicans or Democrats.

Good job.

From truffula!cls@hustle.rahul.net Fri Feb 17 16:04:15 1995
From: cls@truffula.sj.ca.us (Cameron L. Spitzer)
To: mrh
Subject: Re: Non-Libertarian FAQ

Thanks for that great document!  I'll put it in my FTP archive
when I get a chance.

From dmckee@NMSU.Edu Sat Mar 11 18:11:30 1995
From: David Wayne McKee 
To: mrh
Subject: Critiques of Libertarianism

   I was very glad to find your page today. While I agree with some of 
the ideas expounded by libertarians and anarchist types, I have long felt 
that they could not be wholely correct. Unfortunately, political 
philosophy does not seem to be my strong point, and I have been able to 
develop argument to support my position only slowly and with some difficulty.
   I was also glad to see that you are maintaining links to pages of the 
other persuasion (I found your page from the anarchy home page at Duke 
university  http://www.duke.edu/~eagle/anarchy/). It is only by 
participating in an open dialog that we can develop strong and meaningful 
political philosophies, or hope to convince others to agree with us.
   Keep up the good work.

From jeburris@students.wisc.edu Thu Apr  6 08:24:55 1995
From: Jack Burris 
To: mrh
Subject: Thanks!

Having debated time and time again with so-called "libertarians," I found   
your Web page to be quite helpful (you're right, there is very limited   
discourse that attempts to shed light on Libertarianism in its real-world   

From yoggie@MIT.EDU Sat Apr 29 18:21:37 1995
From: Laurence T Yogman 
To: mrh
Subject: A Non-Libertarian FAQ

	Thank you for the time you spend building and maintaining that Web page.
 As a college student with an interest in politics, my political philosophy is
currently under construction.  I'm currently teaching some high school kids a
class in "How Not to use Logic," which should tell you that I enjoy logical
reasoning, identification of unstated premises, and the general making of
careful distinctions.  I know, now I sound full of myself; but this letter is 
intended as praise of you and your efforts.  I've enjoyed my initial reading of
http://draco.centerline.com:8080/~mrh/liber/faq.html.  I
	My general political leanings are libertarian.  I argue with Democrats
more than Republicans on economic issues, and vice-versa for social issues.  But
mostly I argue with anyone who dares to put forth a simple idea as THE ANSWER
to any particular problem.  I'm glad to have your collection of arguments as
ammunition, and as points to ponder.
	Thanks for your contribution to the intellectual level and reality
content of the cyberspacial political forum.  BTW, I found the Critiques of
Libertarianism page through a link from the pages of the MIT Libertarians.  
I hope that you will agree that it does the MIT Libertarians credit to have
recomended your FAQ on their pages.  I'm going to advise them to move the link
towards the top of the page.

Newsgroups: alt.politics.libertarian
From: s66010@cc.ntnu.edu.tw (Joseph Askew)
Subject: Re: Grateful Slave
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 1994 10:56:06 GMT

Jon M. Taylor (osiris@netcom.com) wrote:

: 	Mr. Huben, I find this "non-libertarian FAQ" offensive in the 
: extreme.  It is rude to go into a newsgroup dedicated to the discussion 
: of a particular opinion on anything (politics, religion, computer 
: preference, sexual preference,etc.) and start preaching at the 
: people who "live" there.  I've had to deal with this all over the net 
: (alt.atheism, alt.drugs, comp.sys.amiga.*, rec.games.video.*, and many 
: others) and it's rude no matter where you are.

You have to remember that most Libertarians on the net rely on the same
old arguments time and time again. Not all but some (I'll name no names
but they do) To have a FAQ that discusses each argument from a nonLib
view point is a self evident good. Discussion of opinions inevitably
means discussions against as well as for. Or do you want a private 
protected reservation where everyone can strach each others backs?

: 	I personally disagree with almost all of what gets posted in 
: christnet.*, alt.politics.radical-left, alt.fan.bill-clinton, 
: comp.os.ms-windows.advocacy, and lots of other groups.  I do not, 
: however, barge into these groups and start telling people in, say, 
: C.S.Ms-W.A, about how [OS2/Linux/Amigados] is superior and how windows 
: sucks.  I don't do this because it is rude, plain and simple.

This is not what Mr Huben is doing. If he came onto C.S.Ms-W.A and told
people where a bug in their program was that would be fine. This is what
he is doing here.

: 	If there are people here that actually LIKE Mr. Huben's FAQ and 
: wish him to continue to post it here, by all means speak up.  And while I 
: personally think that writing an "anti-" FAQ about anything is a rather 
: childish thing to do and find it offensive, I would have no objection to 
: having it posted in another newsgroup.  Posting it in APL, however is 
: analogous (in my mind) to having a republican get up during the 
: democratic national assembly and start bashing Clinton.

I am sorry that you find it childish. I find the need to avoid all
criticism extremely childish as well. That is what you are asking
isn't it - that he stop criticizing you? I support such a FAQ but then
I am not a proLibertarian writer despite an early and brief involvement.
The analogy with what you are doing is for Clinton to ban all Republicans
from the national media. This group is for discussion about Libertarianism.
For and Against. Mr Huben is pre-eminent in the latter. If you don't like
it tough. There are mailing lists for people who need to avoid all opposing
points of view. Alt.* as a whole is not like that. I find it amusing that
those who loudly claim to support everyones right to do anything that does
not infringe someone elses rights should now be whining. Do you own the Net?
What right have you to keep Mr Huben off?

: 	In conclusion:  Mr. Huben, please grow up and take your 
: anti-libertarian rhetoric elsewhere.

It is worse than rhetoric - it is rational argument. If you object to
his FAQ then do the normal adult thing and go through it point by point
so we can see where he went wrong. Do not throw childish temper tantrums
and ask Nanny to save you from the Big Bad Huben.


From: richp@clark.net (Rich Puchalsky)
Newsgroups: alt.politics.libertarian
Subject: Re: Grateful Slave
Date: 27 Sep 1994 18:23:49 GMT

I, for one, like Huben's FAQ.

It's amusing to see a Libertarian take a holier-than-thou attitude and
start denouncing people for posting disagreements to a newsgroup
dedicated to a particular topic.  I'll make a deal with the original
poster; if he can get all of the Libertarian know-nothings who persist
in posting in the sci. groups (especially the environmental ones) to
stop posting their ideological garbage; I'll stop posting here.

I started posting at this group because I was tired of Libertarians
pushing their equivalent of creationism in "my" sci groups.  Once
I learned how clueless most Lib's are and how fun it is to scoff at them
for their ignorance of the ideals of their own party, I decided to stay :-).

To be fair, there are some Lib's who are intelligent, reasonable people
who support a livable political philosophy.  But most of them on the Net
are strange fanatics who support slavery, think the gov't should make
abortion illegal, think that democracy is antithetical to freedom, or
similarly don't have a clue about what their own political philosophy
is about.

From jeh@iris77.biosym.com Fri Oct  7 13:49:41 1994
From: jeh@biosym.com (John E. Harrington)
To: mrh
Subject: Re: Response to Prop 186 biffs


Thanks for your faq.  It is *wonderful*!  I have avoided the libertarian
newsgroup in favor of arguing against libertarianism on ca.politics.  It
is nice to know there is *one* person out there who is not content to 
parrot the simple-minded doctrine of egoism.

Counter image omitted.

Copyright 2007 by Mike Huben ( mhuben@world.std.com ).
This document may be freely distributed for non-commercial purposes if it is reproduced in its textual entirety, with this notice intact.