“Only by acting collectively … will be be able to protect personal liberty”

This was a posting at the History of Economics discussion forum which I find both very revealing in the state of mind it displays but also in how he connects the reaction to the coronavirus with global warming. I intend to put up my own comment but thought I would see what the reaction of others here might be.

Of course, with the spread of the COVID virus, I have been thinking of the libertarian arguments of the constraints of government on liberty. But now the constraint on liberty is not from the government but from nature where one’s individual actions can harm others. I would assume that for a responsible libertarian, they would recognize their behavior affects the liberty (health) of another, and change their behavior. Besides having rights, liberty also means individual responsibility to protect the liberty of others from one’s actions.
But what if individuals don’t and add to the tragedy of the commons?

If one believes ecological economists, individual constraints are going to increase with global warming. It is only by acting collectively to control global warming that we will be able to protect personal liberty from the constraints that nature will force on us. The point I’m getting at is that besides demanding rights, individuals need to act responsibly. If not, then collective action needs to step in to protect the common good. The libertarian argument for me has only made sense if individuals besides demanding rights are also willing to respect and act to protect the rights of others. If not, you get too many tragedies of the commons.

I will only say this is to me a true example of the depths to which economic theory has fallen.

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