Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Was Ayn Rand boorish?

The November (2009) Reason includes "Are Property Rights Enough? Should libertarians care about cultural values? A reason debate".

It seems to me that libertarian (or any serious) discussions cannot avoid touching on cultural questions. But libertarian individuals and positions are another matter. All are products of a culture and all have individual interests in many aspects of that culture, but the three debaters do not pursuade me that there is a tight fit or connection between the libertarian approach to property (economics and politics) and all the rest.

We argue for standing up to those who want to tax us (on the left) as well as those who want to arrest us (on the right). And that alone can keep us quite busy. But we are also put off by the boorishness that we encounter every day, much of which is not linked to the agendas of those who want to tax or arrest us.

When my fellow concert or theater goers behave in ways that curtail my enjoyment and if it is the business model of the theater or concert hall owner to allow that kind of behavior, the property rights are clear and that is fine, but I still have a problem. I'll probably enjoy more entertainment at home. "Home theaters" are a growing phenomenon anyway. But I am not sure that any of this can be or should be a part of any "libertarian agenda". Much of life is beyond and independent of that agenda and that's fine.

When people bring their lifestyle priorities to political conventions and meetings, they usually do seek state sanction for their cultural positions (be it anti- or pro-abortion). I thought that libertarians were the ones who left that stuff at home when they do politics.