Free Markets, Free People


The obligatory “this ain’t libertarianism” post

My dad used to refuse to watch Hollywood’s version of war or life in the Army.  He said it was more of a cartoon than reality.  Of course Hollywood is famous for that, and nothing much has changed over the years.  My dad enjoyed documentaries about the military (I remember well, “Victory at Sea”) but he preferred real cartoons to Hollywood’s version.

I’m sort of that way with articles about libertarianism.  As you know, both sides of the establishment political spectrum are scared to death of real libertarianism.  And so they attempt to demonize it and make it “unpalatable” for the mass of the citizenry.  The usual procedure is to decide what they want to claim, define their version of “libertarianism” to support their claim and then using their false premise, attempt to logically prove their point.

The latest attempt is an article in Bloomberg entitled “Libertarians are the new Communists“.  Now as ridiculous as that sounds, the point of the article isn’t to say libertarians are the same as communists, i.e. pretty much share the same belief systems.  But that libertarianism suffers from fatal flaws that ignore human nature just as communism does.  And that’s where they try to establish their false premise, i.e.:

Like communism, this philosophy is defective in its misreading of human nature, misunderstanding of how societies work and utter failure to adapt to changing circumstances. Radical libertarianism assumes that humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution. It assumes that societies are efficient mechanisms requiring no rules or enforcers, when, in fact, they are fragile ecosystems prone to collapse and easily overwhelmed by free-riders. And it is fanatically rigid in its insistence on a single solution to every problem: Roll back the state!

Wow, where to start.  Let’s start with “selfishness”.  Among non-libertarians this is the most misunderstood concept of them all.  What they try to do is make a simple and absolute part of human nature into something else again.  Libertarians do not believe that “humans are wired only to be selfish”.  What libertarians do believe is that we act in our own enlightened self-interest. That’s a no-brainer. Anyone who argues otherwise doesn’t know human nature. We all act in our own rational self-interest when we do things. And guess what? Sometimes it is in our own rational self-interest to cooperate with others! Oh my goodness. You mean libertarians believe in cooperation. Yes! As long as it is voluntary cooperation, not coerced.

Now, does that sound so horrible or something that is against human nature? Of course not. But to listen to the Hollywood version, well we’re all selfish SOBs.

Number two … no libertarian that I know actually believes that we shouldn’t cooperate to ensure that others rights aren’t violated or people aren’t coerced into doing things they don’t wish to do.  How that translates into a system with no rules or enforcers is beyond me.  The very fact that libertarians believe in individual rights (rules), are against coercion (rule) and would like to ensure those rights aren’t violated (rules/laws/enforcement) makes a dog’s breakfast out of that claim.  It’s nonsense.

By the way, before you get too far into this, let me point out that although in the title, the authors use the term “libertarians”, throughout the piece they pretend they’re talking about “radical libertarians”.  Their examples?

Some, such as the Koch brothers, are economic royalists who repackage trickle-down economics as “libertarian populism.” Some are followers of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose highest aspiration is to shut down government. Some resemble the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who has made a career out of trying to drown, stifle or strangle government.

Can you say “establishment hit piece”?

And that’s all this is.

Anyway to wrap it up, look at their final claim – Single solution to every problem is “roll back the state”.  Single solution?  Have these two bothered to look at the state of the state these days?  Are they insisting that rolling back the state is always a bad thing (see I can make unsupported assumptions about them too)?  Any prudent student of today’s state knows it has grown out of all proportion to its original design.  And, they also know it has become oppressive, intrusive and frankly arrogant in its power.  Anyone who isn’t screaming “roll back the state”, whatever their ideological affiliation, is a statist and no friend of liberty.

And that’s how I classify these two authors.  They’re establishment statists deathly afraid of the liberty those they try to demonize represent and willing to misrepresent libertarianism as anarcho-capitalism.  I’m sorry, but that’s not libertarianism, extreme or otherwise, and ask any self-respecting an-cap and they’ll be the first to agree.

So in essence, what we have in this article is an attempt at political demonization, by misrepresenting libertarianism and giving it the Hollywood war picture treatment.

#FAIL

~McQ

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Print
  • Google Bookmarks

22 Responses to The obligatory “this ain’t libertarianism” post

  • We all act in our own rational self-interest when we do things. And guess what? Sometimes it is in our own rational self-interest to cooperate with others!

    What is more, since Adam Smith, it has been recognized that self-interested people find utility in helping others, AND that when you leave them the means to do so, THEY WILL help others.

    What jerks like Erp REFUSE to understand is that the greatest flowering of charitable behavior the world has ever seen came about by purely voluntary urges among Americans left with the means by their SMALL GOVERNMENT and the working of a free market during the latter part of the Nineteenth Century.  There has never been anything like it in the history of the world.

    Erps believe people must be whipped to help others by compulsory means.  That is one…just ONE…of his Collectivist lies.

  • Yeah, and small government Tea Party types are Nazis.
    Welcome to the inverted world of Post-Modernism (perhaps a variation of  the Calvin & Hobbs cartoons “opposite” game. Our gift from the party of FACTS, logic and reason.

  • I think Sol Alinsky is my favorite libertarian author!

  • Wow, the War on Straw continues apace.

  • My most memorable war film was “The Cruel Sea”, a British film.
    As for “self interest”, there is self-interest and enlightened self-interest.  The first is exemplified by the folks who que up to get a cheap X-box on Black Friday; the latter is what most people try to think it is.

  • Never, ever forget: a post-modern leftist reserves the right to redefine any word as necessary to benefit collectivism.

    When a person writes an article like this, with a claimed definition of libertarianism that isn’t anywhere close to reality, that person does not think he or she is lying or deceiving in any way. Collectivist sympathizers believe that they have the right to define their opponents’ philosophies to make them easy to attack. They’re not lying (in their mind). They are merely putting out a narrative they wish to become predominant, and if it does, as far as they are concerned, by redefining a word, they have redefined reality.

    As we see regularly in our comment section, such people are deaf and blind to any attempt to challenge their redefinition, or any claim that they don’t understand or match up with reality. The only “reality” that matters to them is the one they construct in their heads.

    They expect you to play the game the same way they do, and just put your definition of reality out there as a narrative to compete with theirs. If you are not willing to do that, as far as they are concerned, they win.

    It’s an easy game for them to play, if you grant them any status as honest debaters. They can just claim to not be convinced by any facts or logic you use to counter their skewed view of reality. The game of narrative is best played by asserting one’s own viewpoint over and over and over, and never admitting that the other side has any points in favor of a competing narrative.

    Of course, they pretend that they are following Enlightenment rules of logic and argument, but they’re not. They put up a facade using the right words, but since words mean whatever they need them to mean, it’s all a fiction.

    Never, ever expect to convince them by playing their game. Certainly countering them, as in this post, is valuable to help those who have some emotional sympathy with collectivism but have not lost a connection to reality by making it into a post-modern faith. Just don’t expect post-modern fools to ever change their mind about anything, to ever argue honestly, or to ever acknowledge plain facts that contradict their position. That would require them to acknowledge the validity of Enlightenment principles the rest of us all hold in common, and if they ever do that, the whole patchwork, illogical structure of collectivism comes crashing to the ground.

    • In the Orwellian world of the post-modern left, “cooperation” and “voluntary” are NOT redundant.
      (Boy, oh, boy, Billy!! I wish you’d get in on the Sunday podcasts!!!!)

  • To be honest I have come across self-described libertarians who want to dissolve our military.  That they believe we only need a military because ‘we bring it on ourselves’ and basically and excuse to give money to corporate cronies.   And if for some reason we were ever invaded we’d be able to repulse a modern military with shotguns.

    • Yup … don’t disagree.  They exist.  But the basic tenets of libertarianism are nothing like these two authors try to depict them as.

    • Traditionally we have needed a standing navy, but we were able to rely upon the militia for defense*. We could figure out such a system today, although we would need a standing air force as well as navy. We could probably ditch the large standing army, and rely more on a militia that was organized and equiped with modern weapons. It would change some of our international involvements, we would be less likely to invade Iraq or Syria, for better or worse.

      *Part of what I mean is that we could quickly raise a large army as requried: for our war with Mexico we went from a standing army of not much more then 5k, and invaded Mexico City with 50k. In the Spanish American War we had 27k standing but quickly raised 100k then another 100k. This wasn’t appopriate during the Cold War but since then we could shrink the standing army considerably.

  • Gotta get ahead of the curve.   People see that the current ism’s that are in vogue ain’t working.    They have to point out that Libertarianism isn’t good for us before people go and get a bunch of crazy ideas (and people lose power/phoney baloney jobs).

    Use the patented logical extreme argument that the media left reserves for the right during campaign season.
    You want limited government?  No, you want NO government!
    You don’t want any rules!  You want people to be able to marry chickens!
    You want every man for himself with people scurrying by others as they’re beaten raped and robbed, or worse yet, joining in or cheering.   Count the Hollywood movies, count the apocalyptic TV series.

    The only good I can see in this sudden interest they have in denouncing Libertarianism is, as the saying goes, if you’re not catching flak, you’re not over the target.
    So someone must be feeling like they need to defend us all against Libertarian concepts.

  • Just a quick note:
    With the election of Australia’s new government, she joins New Zealand, Canada, and Great Britain in being led by people to the right of Pres. Red Line.  (h/t Mark Steyn)
    Not that Cameronism is always anything LIKE what I as a Conservative would support, but it does put the lie to the Collectivist meme that we SMALL(er) GOVENMENT types “are so over” as a political philosophy.
    And I am a WAY SMALL GOVERNMENT type, especially as pertains to the central government.

  • Voluntaryism is picking up steam in leftist circles. Probably by lefties who are sick of having to defend the State’s sad sack actions. But I wonder if they really have dropped their love of the state and realize that there were more voluntary associations before the state became so large.

  • “easily overwhelmed by free-riders”

    Did they just admit that free-riders will destroy any society? Have they looked at most welfare states lately, or is this another Erb-level of cognitive dissonance?

  • Radical libertarianism assumes that humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution.

    And I suppose they never heard of VOLUNTARY…
    “Cooperation” has been around since, “Tinkers, to Evers, to Chance”, about 1000 years ago.

  • “Number two … no libertarian that I know actually believes that we shouldn’t cooperate to ensure that others rights aren’t violated or people aren’t coerced into doing things they don’t wish to do.  How that translates into a system with no rules or enforcers is beyond me.  The very fact that libertarians believe in individual rights (rules), are against coercion (rule) and would like to ensure those rights aren’t violated (rules/laws/enforcement) makes a dog’s breakfast out of that claim.  It’s nonsense.”
    I wouldn’t call it nonsense.  What I would call it is anarchy (in the classical sense, not the black clad rock thrower protesting for bigger government).  While there is some overlap between libertarians and anarcho-capitalists it would be nonsense to consider them to be the same.

    • While there is some overlap between libertarians and anarcho-capitalists it would be nonsense to consider them to be the same.

      I have view them as an extreme branch of libertarianism. Libertarians (and I’m not specifically referring to the LP here) represent a varity of views.

      The problem with anarchy above all is that it sets up a situation where an evil group can form to take advantage.

  • The early American republic was actually very close to a libertarian ideal and it worked well.

    Aside from that, I have noticed that SOME libertarians have ideas that don’t allow for the way humans actually function. The biggest of these IMO is the open borders types who don’t believe in border enforcement. What they don’t grasp is that the rule of law and other prereqs for liberty require certain cultural preconditions, which don’t exist in Third World culture.

    • I will add that most open border libertarians believe that eliminating the welfare state is a prereq for open borders.

      My argument is that even without the welfare state, you don’t want open borders.

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet