The Libertarian Case for Good Manners

Some bits and pieces from here and there in the libertarian corners of the web:

  • At the Bleeding Heart Libertarians group blog, which tries to use intellectual arguments to meld libertarian instincts with liberal sensitivities, Matt Zwolinski makes a libertarian case for good manners. Good manners? Really? Really. They’re by no means as trivial as they’re often treated by ethicists:

    It is a mistake, first of all, to think about rules regarding the location of forks as paradigmatic of manners and etiquette. It is a mistake, too, to suppose that there is no important distinction to be made between the rules of etiquette and the principles of manners. And it is a mistake for libertarians, especially, to disdain all this business as the stuff of authoritarian busy-bodies.

    …Societies… need rules to keep people from bumping in too each other too roughly. The state is one potential source of those rules. Morality is another. But we should not… neglect the importance of etiquette. Especially if, as libertarians, we want to minimize the role of the state as rule-maker and enforcer.

    …I would think, moreover, that libertarians would find the topic of good manners theoretically interesting. Manners and etiquette are, after all, kinds of spontaneous orders.

  • Wendy McElroy, at Laissez Faire Today, writes about Freedom and Frugality. Excerpt:

    I no longer believe the American dream is functioning. My choice is to earn and spend less in order to control my own time and to avoid fueling the State through more taxes. I have called this choice “frugality,” but some people are more comfortable with the term “voluntary simplicity.” The point of such simplicity is not to save every possible penny. It is to ensure that your time and money are expended on your goals. Voluntary simplicity can be viewed as a “business plan” for getting the most out of life. Ask yourself what your goals are and what is necessary to get there. Of equal importance, ask what is not necessary.

  • Paul Bonneau, at Strike the Root, notes that libertarians can be just as susceptible as liberals and conservatives to squabbling over symbolic elements of ideological tribal belonging when they’d be better off making friends and knowing who their real enemies are.
  • Matthew Feeney, at Reason, reports that Alternative Currencies Rise as the Eurozone Crisis Worsens.
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