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Re: [bostonatheists] who is interested in social justice? And why libertarians are not

From: William J S.
Sent on: Saturday, February 2, 2013 1:30 PM
Maybe it is just that Libertarians have come to grips with the fact that life isn't fair.  They same way they do not believe in ghosts.  And they are ok with both.

From: Catherine Caldwell-Harris <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Saturday, February 2,[masked]:12 PM
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] who is interested in social justice? And why libertarians are not

Hi, I've enjoyed the discussion below, and can understand both pts of view that are being articulated:

Statistically, it is known that atheists are mostly liberal and progressive, as mentioned by prior writers in this thread (e.g., Michael R).  But some atheists are libertarians.  Are libertarians against social justice?  Not necessarily against it, since they are not against any choices that individuals make (as noted in prior post), and some individuals choose to pursue social justice.  But libertarians as a group aren't very interested in social justice because social justice is generally about other people, those who have-not.  A recent survey revealed that libertarians are less concerned about other people (even those in their own group) and less concerned about helping others than are typical liberals and even conservatives, see this blog post:
and this

So:  both liberals and libertarians distance themselves from tradition (which can include religion).  So atheism includes both libertarians and liberals.    This is why I like to identify as a secular humanist or atheist humanist -- so that I am distanced from libertarianism.

I also like the point by David M. that many religious groups aren't interested in social justice.  Social scientists like David Sloan Wilson (Darwin's Cathedral) propose that a main function of religion was to support one's own group; religions historically promoted within-group altruism but out-group hostility.  That has changed somewhat in the last century along with modernization, which diminishes tribalism, and now many religious groups have social justice projects.

Catherine Caldwell-Harris

On Feb 2, 2013, at 11:58 AM, David M <[address removed]> wrote:

> I'm curious...
> Are libertarians against social justice? I know they are opposed to the government doing the social justice. But if individuals act to increase social justice, how does that contradict libertarianism. Don't they espouse individual choice and charities as the proper way to try to solve social injustice? I suppose some might just lack empathy, which might lead them to oppose all such measures, but no one would be taxed. Social justice is also broad. Would a libertarian be opposed to a group supporting a shelter for women fleeing from abusive relationships?
> Environmental protection is an area where many libertarians have come around now that it is clear that AGW is a reality. Climate change has also recently become closely tied with evolution due to bills in multiple states that attempt to undermine the teaching of both. This is why the NCSE has expanded their efforts to include not just evolution, but also climate change teaching in schools. Rejecting climate change will marginalize atheists in the atheist community because it is typically an example of indulging in ideology at the expense of empirical data, science and the future of humans.
> I agree that economic reform is not a good place to go in such groups since liberals and libertarians will have drastically different ideas for the direction that the reform should go.
> When talking about these issues in the context of atheism replacing religion, it is easy to forget that a lot of religious groups have no interest in social justice. Many just Bible thump. Some even just focus on trying to take all your money to use on nonsense like larger chapels or a larger mansion for the minister. Considering the variety within the Christian movement, why would we expect shared goals among the atheist movement? On the other hand, If the group is named "Boston Atheists", such a broad and general name, I tend to feel that the group should try to be a big umbrella, letting people express their atheism as they will as individuals. All types should be welcome, and all types should be able to initiate activities that may or may not have broad appeal. This means some should be able to do their social justice activities, and others should be able to do their sit around and talk-about-how-lazy-the-poor-are activities (sorry, but I am not fond of libertarianism and the thought process behind it once it extends past objections to taxes -- perhaps if my mirror neurons get damaged this would change).
> Dave
> On Jan 24, 2013, at 5:51 PM, Michael Ratner <[address removed]> wrote:
>> Mike,
>> It is my impression that there is already a very high degree of mutual agreement between organized atheists and "progressives" who support advances in religious and personal freedom, social justice, political and economic reform, and environmental protection.  I see a danger in atheistic organizations becoming too linked to these other issues, in that these organizations already have a poor record of enlisting atheists with a libertarian outlook.  While I am not libertarian myself, I have enjoyed being part of a predominantly libertarian discussion group in Cambridge, in which participants have helped each other understand a wider range of views.  I have no objection to progressive atheists being open about their own causes, and even recruiting for them, I think that both atheist and progressive causes are better served by having each organization avoid taking stands on issues outside of its stated purpose.  Such restraint helps to maintain a wide range of big tents under which we can grow our organizations and mobilize our supporters.
>> --Michael R.
>> On Thursday, January 24, 2013, Mike Hanauer wrote:
>> Thanks Ann,
>> So many organizations, including churches, give money or food to the poor but do little or nothing to relieve or eliminate poverty. Perhaps our biggest challenge today (in caring for the future) is environmental degradation. Again, so many churches will rally for insulation or solar panels or LEDs, but do little or nothing to get our society to embrace the basics of TRUE sustainability.
>> I'm hoping the Humanist movement WILL do so.
>> I have come to believe that one of the main problems that progressives have is that they don't stick up for each others causes. Rivers organizations don't worry about air pollution or the importance of science. Global warming groups ignore the other major and destructive problems not related to climate change -- and achieving true sustainability. And yes, humanists organizations often only see separation of church and state as important to helping the human condition.
>> There are a few overarching issues -- issues that make all the other issues, at least to some extent, symptoms. Eternal growth is one of those. Special interests influence is another. Separation of Church and State is perhaps a third. Lack of knowledge of systems engineering may be a fourth. We, and those other groups, have an opportunity to stick together, to become allies, and only then to make a difference -- especially about those overarching issues that inhibit all of us from achieving our common dreams.
>> If we progressives would just give each other even public lip service to those overarching issues, I believe we could turn our major problems around through our unity and resultant numbers. If we continue to ignore each others issues, we all lose the power of unity and go down together.
>> If we can't support each other for the good of humanity, we have - I believe - lost the war for the future of humanity -- god or no god.
>>    ~Mike

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