segunda-feira, 24 de dezembro de 2007

LIBERALISMO

No DN:

João Miranda
Investigador em biotecnologia
jmirandadn@gmail.com

"De acordo com o liberalismo clássico, o indivíduo é o detentor da soberania política e a fonte de toda a legitimidade. Por razões de simetria e de igualdade entre todos os seres humanos, todos os indivíduos têm igual legitimidade. Cada indivíduo tem soberania sobre si próprio e sobre o produto do seu trabalho. Os indivíduos possuem uma esfera de liberdade que corresponde às chamadas liberdades negativas. Estas são as liberdades que podem ser garantidas sem que as liberdades negativas dos restantes indivíduos precisem de ser violadas. Cada indivíduo tem portanto a sua própria esfera de liberdade que é inviolável, o que implica que a interacção entre dois indivíduos só é legítima se ambos estiverem de acordo com essa interacção.

Se toda a soberania reside em cada um dos indivíduos, então nenhum Estado pode ter soberania sobre um indivíduo. Os Estados estão ao serviço dos indivíduos que lhes delegam temporariamente poderes. Para servir os indivíduos, o Estado precisa de recursos. Como o Estado não é o soberano, mas um mero instrumento da soberania individual, não tem legitimidade para obter recursos de forma coerciva. Os serviços prestados pelo Estado só podem ser financiados pelas contribuições voluntárias dos indivíduos.

A transferência de soberania dos indivíduos para o Estado requer o consentimento de todos os indivíduos e não apenas da maioria. Mesmo que uma maioria se consiga unir a favor de uma dada política, isso não significa que essa política se torna automaticamente legítima. Uma política só é legítima se os direitos negativos dos indivíduos não forem violados. Uma maioria não tem o direito de exercer soberania sobre a esfera de liberdade de cada um dos membros da minoria.

O facto de a soberania residir em cada indivíduo cria limitações ao tipo de Estados que são legítimos. Um Estado não pode desempenhar demasiadas funções. Quanto mais funções desempenhar, maior é a probabilidade de não conseguir o consentimento de pelo menos um dos respectivos cidadãos. Um Estado não pode centralizar todas as decisões num único centro de poder. Quanto maior for a dimensão geográfica sobre a qual um governo tem de prestar serviços, maior será a heterogeneidade cultural das populações e maior a probabilidade de não existirem serviços consensuais entre os cidadãos. Um Estado não pode prestar serviços demasiado específicos. Se os prestar, corre o risco de defender os interesses de determinados indivíduos contra os de outros. Um Estado, para ser legítimo, tem de se limitar a zelar por problemas gerais que são consensuais entre todos os indivíduos, como a segurança, a justiça e a defesa contra ameaças externas."

quinta-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2007

Uma crítica a Berlin

Murray N. Rothbard
27. ISAIAH BERLIN ON NEGATIVE FREEDOM
http://www.mises.org/rothbard/ethics/twentyseven.asp

"ONE OF THE BEST-KNOWN and most influential present-day treatments of liberty is that of Sir Isaiah Berlin. In his Two Concepts of Liberty, Berlin upheld the concept of “negative liberty’’—absence of interference with a person’s sphere of action—as against “positive liberty; which refers not to liberty at all but to an individual’s effective power or mastery over himself or his environment. Superficially Berlin’s concept of negative liberty seems similar to the thesis of the present volume: that liberty is the absence of physically coercive interference or invasion of an individual’s person and property. Unfortunately, however, the vagueness of Berlin’s concepts led to confusion and to the absence of a systematic and valid libertarian creed.

One of Berlin’s fallacies and confusions he himself recognized in a later essay and edition of his original volume. In his Two Concepts of Liberty, he had written that “I am normally said to be free to the degree to which no human being interferes with my activity. Political liberty in this sense is simply the area within which a man can do what he wants.”1 Or, as Berlin later phrased it, “In the original version of Two Concepts of Liberty I speak of liberty as the absence of obstacles to the fulfillment of a man’s desires.”2 But, as he later realized, one grave problem with this formulation is that a man can be held to be “free” in proportion as his wants and desires are extinguished, for example by external conditioning. As Berlin states in his corrective essay,

If degrees of freedom were a function of the satisfaction of desires, I could increase freedom as effectively by eliminating desires as by satisfying them; I could render men (including myself) free by conditioning them into losing the original desires which I have decided not to satisfy.3

In his later (1969) version, Berlin has expunged the offending passage, altering the first statement above to read: “Political liberty in this sense is simply the area within which a man can act unobstructed by others.”4 But grave problems still remain with Berlin’s later approach. For Berlin now explains that what he means by freedom is “the absence of obstacles to possible choices and activities,” obstacles, that is, put there by “alterable human practices.”5 But this comes close, as Professor Parent observes, to confusing “freedom” with “opportunity” in short to scuttling Berlin’s own concept of negative freedom and replacing it with the illegitimate concept of “positive freedom.” Thus, as Parent indicates, suppose that X refuses to hire Y because Y is a redhead and X dislikes redheads; X is surely reducing Y’s range of opportunity, but he can scarcely be said to be invading Y’s “freedom.”6 Indeed, Parent goes on to point out a repeated confusion in the later Berlin of freedom with opportunity; thus Berlin writes that “the freedom of which I speak is opportunity for action” (xlii), and identifies increases in liberty with the “maximization of opportunities” (xlviii). As Parent points out, “The terms ‘liberty’ and ‘opportunity’ have distinct meanings”; someone, for example, may lack the opportunity to buy a ticket to a concert for numerous reasons (e.g., he is too busy) and yet he was still in any meaningful sense “free” to buy such a ticket.7

Thus, Berlin’s fundamental flaw was his failure to define negative liberty as the absence of physical interference with an individual’s person and property, with his just property rights broadly defined. Failing to hit on this definition, Berlin fell into confusion, and ended by virtually abandoning the very negative liberty he had tried to establish and to fall, willy-nilly, into the “positive liberty” camp. More than that, Berlin, stung by his critics with the charge of upholding laissez-faire, was moved into frenetic and self-contradictory assaults on laissez-faire as somehow injurious to negative liberty. For example, Berlin writes that the “evils of unrestricted laissez faire . . . led to brutal violations of ‘negative’ liberty . . . including that of free expression or association.” Since laissez faire precisely means full freedom of person and property, including of course free expression and association as a subset of private property rights, Berlin has here fallen into absurdity. And in a similar canard, Berlin writes of

the fate of personal liberty during the reign of unfettered economic individualism—about the condition of the injured majority, principally in the towns, whose children were destroyed in mines or mills, while their parents lived in poverty, disease, and ignorance, a situation in which the enjoyment by the poor and the weak of legal rights . . . became an odious mockery.8

Unsurprisingly, Berlin goes on to attack such pure and consistent laissez-faire libertarians as Cobden and Spencer on behalf of such confused and inconsistent classical liberals as Mill and de Tocqueville.

There are several grave and basic problems with Berlin’s fulminations. One is a complete ignorance of the modern historians of the Industrial Revolution, such as Ashton, Hayek, Hutt, and Hartwell, who have demonstrated that the new industry alleviated the previous poverty and starvation of the workers, including the child laborers, rather than the contrary.9 But on a conceptual level, there are grave problems as well. First, that it is absurd and self-contradictory to assert that laissez-faire or economic individualism could have injured personal liberty; and, second, that Berlin is really explicitly scuttling the very concept of “negative” liberty on behalf of concepts of positive power or wealth.

Berlin reaches the height (or depth) of this approach when he attacks negative liberty directly for having been

used to . . . arm the strong, the brutal, and the unscrupulous against the humane and the weak. . . . Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep. The bloodstained story of economic individualism and unrestrained capitalist competition does not . . . today need stressing.10

The crucial fallacy of Berlin here is insistently to identify freedom and the free market economy with its opposite—with coercive aggression. Note his repeated use of such terms as “arm,” “brutal,” “wolves and sheep,” and “bloodstained,” all of which are applicable only to coercive aggression such as has been universally employed by the State. Also, he then identifies such aggression with its opposite—the peaceful and voluntary processes of free exchange in the market economy. Unrestrained economic individualism led, on the contrary, to peaceful and harmonious exchange, which benefitted most precisely the “weak” and the “sheep”; it is the latter who could not survive in the statist rule of the jungle, who reap the largest share of the benefits from the freely competitive economy. Even a slight acquaintance with economic science, and particularly with the Ricardian Law of Comparative Advantage, would have set Sir Isaiah straight on this vital point.11"

Escola Austríaca na Flandres

Rothbard Instituut

terça-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2007

Não havia necessidade...

Todos os Banqueiros Centrais estão sentados em cima de ouro o qual grande parte foi roubada/confiscado à população em geral no início do século 20. È a isto que chamam o "fim do padrão-ouro", assim tipo, evolução natural das coisas... Mas também não havia necessidade:

Ethiopia Central Bank Buys Fake Gold: Seven Officials Arrested

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- At least seven officials from
Ethiopia's central bank and mining ministry were arrested after
gold purchased by the bank was found to be steel and stone
painted to look like the precious metal, the federal security
services said.

Socialismo monetário II

(negocios.pt) BCE prepara oferta de liquidez ilimitada até ao fim do ano

A autoridade monetária do euro subiu para um patamar de intervenção inédito para tentar travar a crise de liquidez e fazer com que as taxas de juro de mercado se aproximem dos 4% em que estão fixadas as taxas de referência.
“…man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
Ronald Reagan

Socialismo monetário: Garantia total dos depósitos

"Northern Rock Deposit Guarantees Extended by U.K. Treasury
2007-12-18 02:46 (New York)

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Northern Rock Plc, the U.K. bank
bailed out by the Bank of England two months ago, had its
wholesale deposit guarantees extended by the U.K. Treasury to a
``wider range'' of borrowing.
The guarantees will be widened to include all
``uncollateralized and unsubordinated wholesale deposits'' and
to cover liabilities under any ``uncollateralized derivative
transactions,'' the U.K. government said in a Regulatory News
Service statement today. The guarantee will also cover mortgage
repurchases by Northern Rock's Granite securitization unit.
The Treasury said its earlier arrangement to protect retail
and wholesale depositors ``will remain in place during the
current instability in the financial markets.'' Northern Rock
will pay ``an appropriate fee'' for the guarantee, it said."

domingo, 16 de dezembro de 2007

quarta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2007

Sintomas de abstinência

Em cada crise, aumentam a dose...até...

"Fed, ECB, Central Banks Coordinate to Add Liquidity "

"The Federal Reserve plans to ease ``elevated'' short-term funding pressures by injecting cash to banks through auctions and providing $24 billion in currency swap lines to the European and Swiss central banks.

The Fed is coordinating the measures with the European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Swiss National Bank, the Fed said in a statement in Washington. The Fed will auction term funds to banks against a ``wide variety of collateral.'' All ``generally sound'' institutions can participate, the statement said.

The central banks are taking the steps after demand for cash sent borrowing costs climbing."

terça-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2007

Ron Paul economic advisers...

Maria Bartimoro: Who are your economic advisers?

Ron Paul: I don't have any. I read
Austrian economics, which I've been doing for 30 years. So my advisers have been [von] Mises and Hayek and Sennholz.

Mais:

What is the most important change you would make?

Aim for the federal government to immediately live within its means, to take the pressure off the Fed to create money.

And that means what?

Means no more inflation. If the Fed doesn't create money out of thin air—and they do it mostly to accommodate the deficits—that would restore the soundness of the dollar and give us our purchasing power back.

But as President, you're supposed to be independent from the Fed. You would encourage the Fed to stop printing money?

(...) But it's an institution that really shouldn't exist. [Its financing] allows Big Government to get bigger without being responsible. And that's why we have runaway spending for both warfare and welfare.

Hasn't the Fed been effective in providing liquidity in the current credit crisis?

You're right, but it's sort of like a drug addict. The drug addict demands more or he's going to have convulsions. The economy would have a convulsion if the Fed didn't inject more credit. But if you continue to do that, the problem gets worse. You can't solve the problem of monetary inflation with monetary inflation. These circumstances have all been created by our government and the Fed.

How was the recent crisis caused by our government?

It was astounding that you could get a mortgage at 4%, and this was all due to the Fed creating money and artificially lowering rates, which gets people to do the wrong thing. Builders do the wrong thing, and people borrow money and buy houses they can't afford.

Do you consider yourself a friend or a foe of Wall Street?

If they believe in freedom, free markets, and sound money, they'll love me. But if they like creating credit out of thin air, they'll see me as a threat. I was one of three people who voted against Sarbanes-Oxley because I thought it was detrimental to Wall Street. I'd repeal it.

segunda-feira, 3 de dezembro de 2007

Sectarismo Liberal

Cada vez que surge uma dissidência/discussão/etc intra-liberal (ou pelo menos, perto disso, "direita-liberal", etc) fico sempre com a impressão que tal sucede também porque a "base" e alcance em termos de público se está a alargar. Por isso, pessoalmente o meu optimismo permanece tal como sucede desde os primeiros passos da Causa Liberal em 2001, a partir do qual depois aparecem inúmeras iniciativas, muitas delas a partir de membros (e ex-membros) da Causa Liberal.

Outro ponto a realçar é que existia por aí uma certa crítica de pensamento único. Mas a diversidade existe em todos os domínios:

- na epistemologia (a grande discussão austriaco vs restantes ou cada uma das restantes escolas liberais)
- na atitude perante o conservadorismo social (religião, moral, etc)
- nas diferentes formas de interpretar o papel do Estado (política externa, deveres primários, etc)

Eu faço a analogia com o que era o marxismo/socialismo no início do século 20. Dividido e co dissidências internas irreconciliáveis mas no seu todo pronto a tomar conta das elites intelectuais e esperança (iludida) dos povos. E estavam errados.

O liberalismo está certo ao permitir desenvolvimento, diversidade, individualidade, descentralização comunitária e localista, aumentando o carácter voluntário das relações sociais.

Como?!

Negócios: "Bush prepara anúncio de congelamento de taxas de juro do “subprime”"