Don’t let it be said that opposing views are not represented on M*.
A guest post right below mine makes several claims about libertarianism, using the tired Korihor example. There are several basic problems with this post that I would like to point out. This does not mean it is not worth printing – it just means it is poorly argued and comes to false conclusions. I am not sure who posted this guest post, but I have no problem with it being published. I simply disagree with it and will point out why.
I hope readers will keep in mind that there are many different kinds of libertarians. For the purpose of my response, I will mention three different kinds.
By far the largest, and most important and influential group, is what we may call “practical libertarians.” These are people who may describe themselves, like I do, as “libertarian-leaning” people. These are people who are generally fiscally conservative to socially liberal and/or moderate. These people may favor Ron Paul but they may also generally vote for fiscal conservatives and may even, like I do, admire Bill Clinton’s presidency because he lowered the national debt and cut spending.
This post has absolutely nothing to say to this largest group of libertarians because it is only concerned with very, very small ideological groups. So, the first strike against this post is that it does not understand what libertarianism is and isn’t. It is only concerned with the most extreme libertarians who have absolutely no real chance of ever seeing their ideas implemented in society.
The other, more extreme groups are what we could call “anarcho-capitalist” and “objectivist” libertarians. The first group are extreme libertarians who accept no government of any kind. The second group includes followers of Ayn Rand, who are generally pro-free market, selfish and atheist.
It should go without saying that Mormon libertarians are not atheists and therefore reject Ayn Rand objectivism, so the post is creating a massive straw man argument (“libertarians are selfish atheists”) that has nothing to do with reality.
I would like to point out that many of the leading libertarians today are religious people in their private lives. Just to name a few examples: Ron Paul, Tom Woods, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek. Libertarianism is not anti-religion.
The writer’s first point is that communities should have the right to band together and set up community standards. He is correct. Libertarianism is about individual and community standards. The issue becomes: what happens when a community bands together to offend the natural rights of its citizens and visitors to the community?
Forcibly ousting Korihor from the community may make sense for a small 1st century BC town in the Americas. But would it make sense today? I think we should be able to agree that under the Constitution people have the right in the United States to preach atheism even though I may personally disagree with it. So my question for the writer would be: does he reject the First Amendment? Does he think the sheriffs of small towns should arrest atheists who come to town and start preaching from the town square? I would hope not.
We begin to see the absurdities of trying to trying to compare 1st Century BC towns to modern-day America, and these absurdities should have made the author immediately stop and reconsider his post, but unfortunately he went on.
The most important thing to consider about Korihor is that he is a “throw everything onto the wall and see what sticks” kind of atheist. He has no coherent philosophy. He just repeats anti-religious bromides, even if they directly contradict each other. So the only way the author of this post can try to turn Korihor into a libertarian is if he picks out at random small parts of Korihor’s philosophy and declares – aha! – that sounds like Ayn Rand!
We have already established that Rand’s objectivism represents a tiny minority of libertarians. But let’s consider the post’s quotation of Alma 30:17.
This is of course the quotation used by all Mormons haters of libertarianism and has been used multiple times before. But of course the haters only quote the last part of Alma 30:17 and ignore the rest of the discourse. Let’s look at the entire description of what Korihor says:
12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying:
13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.
14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.
15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.
16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.
17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was cno crime.
18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.
As any fair-minded reader can see, Korihor has a lot more to say than just one phrase. He says:
1)There will be no Christ. 2)Don’t follow vain traditions of your fathers. 3)Don’t expect Christ to come. 4)Don’t believe the prophets. 5)People who follow prophecies are crazy. 6)There will be no atonement. THEN Korihor says people should concentrate on things of this world, and he directly contradicts Christian teachings by saying people should be selfish and self-centered.
The reason? Because there is no afterlife and you may as well get whatever you can while you are alive.
So, what do Mormon libertarians preach? The exact opposite of this message.
Mormon libertarians say: There is a Christ. Believe in the traditions and scriptures. Christ will come again. Believe the prophets. Following the prophecies is sane. There has been an atonement and in your personal life and in the Church please, please, please help the poor as much as you can, pay your tithing and pay fast offerings. In the afterlife (which we believe in), you will receive blessings for doing so.
Libertarian Mormons simply believe, as Jesus did, that you cannot and should not force other people to do things. You should do these things yourself.
So, when you take Korihor’s teachings as a whole, Mormon libertarians believe the exact opposite of what Korihor believed.
This post has gone on long enough. I am glad that an opposing view was published, but I believe I have shown it is a violent distortion of what libertarian Mormons truly believe.