How to Argue With a Libertarian – The Ultimate Guide
2. Arguments are like taxicabs. Take them as far as you actually plan to go and pay no mind to wherever else they might lead.
Example: “When you drive on government roads, you enter into a social contract with the government and that contract obligates you to pay any tax that the government demands.” Don’t worry about the implications of this argument when an IRS agent drives on a privately paved road or pulls up in a privately paved driveway.
4. Criticize capitalism by its worst cases. But do not (ever!) compare these to the worst cases of statism.
Example: “The Enron scandal was the product of unfettered profit seeking under capitalism.” If a libertarian replies that Stalin’s brutality was the product of a statist program, change the subject or claim that your brand of statism precludes such abuses. Better still, try to argue that Stalinism was actually a kind of capitalism.
11. The complexity of the world is always and everywhere an argument in favor of government intervention.
Example: A libertarian might argue that price ceilings will lead to shortages. Do not waste time discusing the interplay of supply and demand. Istead, try an argument like “Society is too complex for simplistic supply and demand arguments to be taken seriously. So the government should implement price ceilings.” Characterizing libertarian arguments as simplistic is helpful too, as it makes statists seem to be the more sophisticated group.
14. Disregard the possibility that libertarians make tradeoffs in their own lives.
Example: “You claim to oppose taxation but you live in a place with taxes.” The libertarian in question will argue that he opposes taxation but remains in his present place of residence to avoid other things that are worse than taxes, such as even higher taxes or the costs of leaving the country. Disregard any such protest. Call the libertarian a hypocrite.
15. Use logic, but do so with discretion.
Example: If a libertarian points out that there is an inconsistency in some statist argument, argue that, “Libertarians are too axiomatic. That’s fine for mathematics but not for real world issues that don’t fit precisely into neat logical categories.” Needless to say, the same kind of thinking need not apply if a libertarian even appears to be guilty of some inconsistency.
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