I recently wrote a blog on “Work in the Private-Law Society“. I pointed out that in a private-law society, work regains its luster as an ethical value and its importance as an economic value, as opposed to the glorification of other values like equality or fairness that supposedly accompany the state’s welfare system. With no safety net in the private-law society, the necessity of work is bound to loom larger in people’s minds. This will have effects on the education system, the relations between employers and employees, and the family. Cultural and sociological changes can be expected when the work ethic is revived, and it will be revived as a natural feature of any private-law society that’s going to survive and prosper.
The implication is that a private-law society is going to be right-libertarian, not left-libertarian. This will not happen because of a conscious choice of values or by design or by the taking of ideological stands on social issues. It will happen because the revival of the spur to work and the revival of individualism as opposed to collective government action has the inherent or natural tendency to revive certain traditional values and relationships.
Consider what happens when the income tax is ended. I claim that the resulting effects are right-libertarian in tone or character; they link up to effects that Austrian critics of government emphasize. The income tax causes non-market activity to increase; its abolition will allow more activities to resurface as market activities. Specialization and division of labor rise. More importance to the market is right-libertarian in character and emphasis. The income tax finances government consumption; its abolition results in greater investment. This too is right-libertarian in character. The income tax causes higher time preference and consumption; its abolition produces lower time preference and more capital formation. This again is right-libertarian in emphasis. My claim is that left-libertarians emphasize leftist issues that are far different than these economic ones.
The private-law society is not going to aim specifically for social justice in the sense that leftists and left-libertarians value highly, other than whatever efforts go into clarifying private property holdings that may have been brought about by coercive means and such that evidence of better titles exists. For example, various forms of discrimination will not be explicitly forbidden as is the case today. Market forces will diminish these, but private property rights will allow many kinds of discrimination. Employers, insurance companies, landlords and homeowners will be able to discriminate. This is not a result that left-libertarians are going to find to their liking. It too is right-libertarian in character in its pro-market emphasis.
The private-law society is not going to be concerned about the income distribution that’s produced by the private and free decisions made by its members. This clearly does not sit well with left-libertarian thinking.
The work relations that may develop in a private-law society are unlikely to satisfy the preconceptions held by those left-libertarians who condemn what they term hierarchy, bosses, corporate power and inequality in the workplace. This is another significant area in which a viable private-law society of any significant size and scope is likely to be more consonant with right-libertarianism.
Work relations can get quite detailed. Employers may want to hire people who are clean, conservatively dressed, drug-free, sober, tattoo-free, polite, courteous, cheerful, detailed, honest, etc. There is bound to be discrimination, and it’s quite possible that the job requirements will look “conservative” in a broad sense, as opposed to “democratic” and “equal”, also in a broad sense. Right-libertarian again may win out. But there will definitely be cases where employers may want to hire people with startling dress, clothing, hair colors, jewelry, sexiness, etc. Male-female differnces will definitely arise because females are more adept at some jobs than males, and vice versa. This is still right-libertarian in nature because the market is matching people with occupations and not being forced into some arbitrary hiring methods.
The private-law society is going to place a premium on moral authority that’s earned, time-tested and that survives market tests. This is not consonant with left-libertarian ideas. They depend on assumptions about authority based upon ad hoc categories or characteristics that do not measure moral authority. To quote a left-libertarian, “But left-libertarians emphasize that the commitment to moral equality that underlies belief in equality of authority should entail the rejection of subordination and exclusion on the basis of nationality, gender, race, sexual orientation, workplace status, or other irrelevant characteristics.”
Employers in a right-libertarian society will be free to hire outsiders (immigrants) who possess desirable characteristics and who do not burden the society. By the same token, they will be free to keep undesirable immigrants out. The presence of such filters and discrimination are unlikely to satisfy left-libertarians.
I recognize that what I’m saying depends on how left-libertarianism is characterized, and that’s bound to vary from one clique or even person to the next. However, I think that my main point will stand, which is that a market order is going to tend to be more consistent with a right-libertarian than a left-libertarian character. I also recognize that not all private-law societies are going to be the same. I’m thinking in terms of a large-scale society that benefits from division of labor and trade. These are bound to be market-oriented and that’s the case I’ve assumed.
This and my previous blog are intended to deepen the divide between right and left libertarians by arguing that the private-law society of substantial size and scope is inherently going to be right-libertarian in character.
8:08 pm on May 13, 2018
Email Michael S. Rozeff