Schlueter argues, very reasonably:

The end of political authority therefore is not perfectionist; it cannot provide knowledge, friendship, religion, or any other basic good. These are the objects of individuals and associations within civil society. But this does not mean that government must be antiperfectionist. …

Natural law liberals therefore can be called “soft perfectionists,” insofar as they maintain that government plays a legitimate but indirect or subsidiary role in fostering and protecting the conditions in which individuals pursue their own perfection (“the pursuit of happiness,” as the Declaration puts it), rather than perfection as an end in itself. (28-9)

But libertarians, too, are perfectionist in this sense. They, too, seek “good government”; it’s just that some of them believe that anarcho-capitalism is precisely the perfection of politics, or that that government is best which governs not at all.

I myself am not a pure anarchist. My vision of a good society is one where there are no governments above local, but cities and counties as political organizations are probably Ok. However, it is a mistake to label Rothbard, say, an antiperfectionist:

We might refer to this as the “button-pushing” criterion. Thus, Read declared that “If there were a button on this rostrum, the pressing of which would release all wage-and-price controls instantaneously I would put my finger on it and push!” The libertarian, then, should be a person who would push a button, if it existed, for the instantaneous abolition of all invasions of liberty… (EoL, 259)

But injustices are deeds that are inflicted by one set of men on another, they are precisely the actions of men, and, hence, they and their elimination are subject to man’s instantaneous will. …

In the field of justice, man’s will is all; men can move mountains, if only men so decide. A passion for instantaneous justice — in short, a radical passion — is therefore not utopian, as would be a desire for the instant elimination of poverty or the instant transformation of everyone into a concert pianist. For instant justice could be achieved if enough people so willed. (260n6)

How much more perfectionist can one get?

Libertarians want to save people from unjust government violence. They want to promote voluntary social cooperation within the economy and civil society. They do not want to take away people’s “art, play, knowledge, and friendship.” (27)


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