Thursday, October 18, 2012

Do libertarians lack the concept of tzibbur?

A friend of mine has recently asserted, in his critique of libertarians, that they lack the concept of tzibbur: a community. As a result, he said, they think about everything in terms of individual rights and responsibilities, but they don't conceive of the 'community' owning things or having rights and the individuals owing to the community.

I disagree with my friend. First of all, without the concept of a tzibbur, libertarians would not have rights. Yes, rights are centered on the individual, but the purpose of the rights is for the individual to live in a community, at peace with others.

But I agree with my friend that there is a concept that libertarian lack. And that is (for better or for worse) the concept of slavery. Here is my response to my friend:
I think you're wrong that libertarianism doesn't acknowledge the existence of tzibbur: both as a psychological need (or reality) and as a metaphysical concept of co-existence of individuals. There is a lot of evidence that it does. For instance, see this article: 
But I would say that libertarianism doesn't acknowledge that tzibbur can hold individuals as slaves. (And that is because, according to libertarianism, slavery is praxeologically impossible. It is impossible for me to be mafkir of my will. I can never let go of it in order to transfer it. One can certainly 'let go' of his will by committing a suicide, chv"sh, but in that case the transfer is impossible; the same goes for lobotomy -- in other words, as long as a will is really a will, it belongs to only one person, and nobody else can own it or take possession of it.) 
So, while I can belong to a tzibbur, I must be free to choose a different tzibbur. For instance, if I don't like A's minyan, I can join B's minyan. Just because I am a Jew, or a social being, and, as a result, I have to be a part of the tzibbur, I still should be able to choose the particular tzibbur that I am going to be a part of. 
Even if, as you say, a person finds himself automatically belonging to a tzibbur, as you describe it ('a person never thinks of himself only as an individual -- he always thinks of himself as both an individual and a part of a tzibbur'), it doesn't mean he must remain beholden to the particular tzibbur into which he was born. (Such a situation would be absurd for many Lubavitchers, ba'alei teshuva, de novo Chassidim, etc.)

And you implicitly agreed with the above when you said: 'America is a great country, where you can live in a state that suits your desires. If you want to work hard and live well as a result, you can move to Texas. If you want to be a couch potato, you move to California.' (Not that I agree with this logic completely.) 
But what libertarians are saying is that the same principle must be applied to all aspects of life, including protection and legal services, and cannot be tied to geography. I should be able to choose which socio-political tzibbur I belong to without having to move. (As I do with a shull or, lehavdil, a phone company.) 
One may say that it's utopian, since we need protection, and there is a free-rider problem, etc., etc. So, your objections are economic, not principled, and that's a separate discussion (whether private legal authorities and defense agencies would do as good a job as the government, and whether public good can be externalized).


The Friend said...

The friend's point was that when libertarians claim that "taxation=stealing" they are being fools because they are ignoring the fact that people exist both on the plain of the individual and on the plain of the community.
Sure, we can argue about how to decide which tzibur each person belongs to, and whether we should use the simple geography based concept or more complex concepts, and how easy it should be for people to shift from tzibur to tzibur, but the notion that taxation is stealing is refuted by the idea of tzibur

Anarchist Chossid said...

Imagine that someone says that the shull has a right to tax people, because a Jew is both a yochid and a member of a tzibbur.

(Let's ignore for now what the actual Halacha on this is. Let's just look at the logic of the argument.)

Someone could say: 'It's true that I have to be a member of a tzibbur (arguably), but that doesn't mean that a given tzibbur can force itself upon me and demand that I pay the shull dues. Let me choose my own tzibbur and then privately arrange with it payment for participation.'

And my point is: we already agree (or some of us do) with this to a large extent. People should be free to choose governments by crossing state lines. What libertarians are saying is that people should be free to choose 'governments' (or cell phone companies, or book clubs, lehavdil, shulls, or any other tzibbur) without having to go move. (A 'government' in here is an organization that performs traditional government functions but without being a territorial monopoly.)

Anarchist Chossid said...

A grub example would be marriage. There is a mitzva for a man to get married and have children.

But that doesn't mean that a particular woman can force a particular man to fulfill this mitzva specifically with her.

So, it wouldn't be fair to accuse libertarians of not understanding the institute of marriage in response to their condemnation of rape.