Dave Smith vs. Chris Cantwell

I had the pleasure of joining Dave Smith this morning as he guest hosted episode 303 of the Gavin McInnes show. Dave is a comedian from New York who came up on a prior episode of Radical Agenda (263) after referencing me on the Tom Woods show. The incident started off somewhat confrontational, as is often the case in my dealings. Dave, however was very good about the whole thing and invited me to come on Gavin’s show to discuss the direction of the libertarian movement and its relationship with the alt right.

Dave Smith vs. Chris Cantwell

Dave Smith vs. Chris Cantwell

The audio will do it more justice than I’ll bother to write here, but here is the basic underlying premise I’ve taken as of late. Libertarianism, understood as a society governed by private property and contracts, in many ways resembles a totalitarian state. Private property owners are not restrained by constitutions or human rights tribunals, only the property lines of others and whatever contracts they consent to. So if libertarians are taking the stance that all government control is inherently wicked based on the initiatory violence of the State, that’s fine, but all libertarianism really advocates for is a reassignment of who gets to call the shots.

In this sense, trying to get the State to legalize drugs, or going topless in public, or whatever silly leftist social issue one might pursue in the moment, does not bring us closer to a libertarian society. In fact, it draws us away from this world in which we wish to live because it promotes practices that produce incapable people. So, to the extent a libertarian might comment on public policy of the day, he is not necessarily obligated  to demand the abolition of every State function. Rather, the State should behave (to the extent possible) as a market actor, and promote virtuous behavior amongst the citizenry.

If we raise a generation or three of capable, intelligent, strong people, then perhaps we will finally achieve a free society. If we continue subsidizing bad breeding and insisting the State stay out of our personal affairs while it remains in everyone’s wallets, then we are going to drift ever further therefrom.

 

  • paendragon

    So legalizing drugs “promotes practices that produce incapable people,” but letting people drive drunk around other people, their families and property, is OK, Chris?

    😉

    And your typical “libertarian” anarchists are only derelict children resentful of being born. You’ve just confirmed that you really only want to tear down what others built, and then rebuild the exact same society, only with yourselves in charge this time.

    • Christopher Cantwell

      No. A private road owner would not allow drunk drivers. He might have more reasonable rules and penalties, but the old “pro drunk driving” Chris is dead with the flag burner.

      • paendragon

        Glad to finally here that, Chris!

        Now I only await your admission of being a Conservative atheist!

    • Richard Chiu

      I’d say it’s up to the owner of the road and the car. But if you let people drive drunk on your road, you’re going to lose business from responsible drivers and your remaining customers are all going to have wrecked their cars, so you might well go out of business.

      I’m inclined to full liability for your actions on the road without regard to arbitrary thresholds of detectable intoxication. If you get behind the wheel of a car and drive on my road, you assume complete responsibility for any actions on your part. If you want to blame someone else, you can seek redress from them after reckoning the bill everyone else sends you.

      That’s not totalitarian. I have no real interest in how you avoid or invite impaired judgment, all I care about is the results. Drive [i]like[/i] you’re drunk, and I don’t care how sober you are. How you manage to drive like you’re sober is no more my business than how you came to drive like you’re drunk.

      • paendragon

        Driving like you’re drunk (i.e: cognitively, perceptively impaired by something) might not be one’s fault, as in if one suffers from a sudden unexpected stroke or seizure or initial bout of undiagnosed epilepsy.

  • tz1

    If we raise a generation or three of capable, intelligent, strong people, then perhaps we will finally achieve a free society.
    I’d add moral, but that is what is required. People that can’t conceive of hurting, stealing, cheating, or lying, yet will defend themselves against invaders.

    I live in a rural small town. It has a city hall that handles the utilities. I know the people who run things because they live around me and some attend church (mostly Christian around here).

    But if focuses my problem with libertarians. With religious zeal, they will insist on razing this pagan temple and replacing it with a multi-national holding company with a call center in India and dispatching who knows from a remote city (cheaper for them) several days later that might fix my water or power. We also have cooperatives (Credit union not bank), and other structures, and if we split the utilities out into a coop it would cost more (economies of scale – they are using the city hall’s infrastructure) but otherwise wouldn’t change much.

    You are also right on the totalitarian aspect of anarcholibertarianism. I note the irony that when Tom Woods has Eric Peters on, they complain about all the horrible regulations forced on cars, but recently with Bob Murphy they pointed out that private road owners should REQUIRE mud-flaps since they only benefit “the car behind”. But they could require really slow speed limits, extra quiet exhausts, picking up hitch-hikers or any number of things as a condition for using a road, and geometry makes it difficult to make competing sets of roads.

  • A very enjoyable and interesting segment.

  • Digital Homicide

    Hmm tell me more about this window to overtown.

  • tz1

    Listening to the podcast, the problem is utopian idealism v.s. what we have today.
    The Federal Government exists, and as long as it’s there it is going to apply its force in some direction.
    Leaving it as a weapon leftists can use, much less lose effectively means giving up on Liberty.
    Even if it fell like the Soviet Union, it wouldn’t leave behind ancap areas. Yugoslavia didn’t when it broke up either.

    In any case, it is far easier to convince a constitutional minarchist to go to anarchocapitalism than the socialist or corrupt cronyists, or Muslims that want Sharia.

    Libertarianism is on the right – if you take the 2D left-right authoritarian-libertarian graph, the Overton window sits on it in 2 dimensions. But there’s a problem. Liberals cannot (or just refuse to) try to implement their do-goodery themselves or through voluntary organizations. They used to – when we had the churches do it, but having gone more atheist and secular, there are no large identifiably atheist charities I know of. What’s left to get it done? Only the state.

    I think it is futile to attempt to convince most leftists to have smaller government – as you noted, they don’t play by the rules. Welfare? “You would have extra money so you could take care of the poor yourself” won’t fly because they need more than the left can possibly generate, and the only reason you can tax the right is from a guilt trip (the rich don’t pay their fair share – how come they aren’t calling on Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. to give every dollar over $10 million to charity or to the Feds to pay down the debt?).

    It would be better to shrink the Federal government as much as possible under Trump and his successor, return power to the states, and lock it in.

    We need fewer Thomas Paines, and more soldiers willing to drill at Valley Forge.

  • tz1

    The Left thinks it is legitimate to use violence at any time to push forward their agenda – either the military, police, or anarchist riots. Their problem with police and support of BLM is that it doesn’t advance their agenda, not that the violence is intrinsically wrong. They will use violence against perfectly innocent people who are in the way or simply resist. The first thing a leftist would have to reject is any legitimacy of government violence (or robbery – taxation is robbery, because it is at the point of a gun), as well as the other forms.

    The right only accepts violence in “due process”, “just war theory”, etc. so isn’t comfortable with violence, and generally would only say it is legitimate in response to some other violent act. It is fairly easy to show that such violence is used in an unjust manner at least as often as a just manner, and that it isn’t really possible to fix it.

    Also, I forgot to emphasize the point you made that it is very different to legalize or deregulate vicious and reprobate behavior (inebriation, debauchery), than to legalize or deregulate virtuous behavior (charities, self-defense). One example, gay marriage is imposed, but I can’t get a marriage contract that would prevent “no-fault” divorce. Why is it easier to get out of a marriage than student loan debt? And the subsidizing of vice and taxing virtue is even worse.

    The amount of liberty and freedom will be proportional to the amount of moral virtue. If no one steals, you don’t need laws or police to counter it, but you don’t need whatever ancap mechanisms either. If you have rare crime, it doesn’t need a big response team of any form. If there is a lot of crime, you are going to have some form of tyranny, either government or the private companies will insist on such.

  • goodmatt10 1

    The one thing I think he nailed you on was the Dem/Rep thing. Sorry to say Chris, Repubs don’t do any better, Bush was horrible, they all have the same donors at the end of the day.

    The only real right wing left is people like you and Pat Buchanan. Repubs are just Marxists with an “R” painted on their chest.

    Other than that one issue, I think you did very well, nice discussion.

  • Joe Redtree

    Dave Smith is entirely mistaken.

    We don’t disregard his arguments because he’s jewish.

    We hear his arguments and can tell he’s a jew.