Saturday, July 14, 2012

Best short introduction to "Libertarianism for Dummies" (and anonymous commenters)

By Max Borders at the Daily Caller.

This should be read in its entirety, but one money quote is sufficient as a teaser:

7. Myth: Libertarians are corporate apologists.
To quote Bugs Bunny: “Eh, he don’t know me very well, do he?”
Libertarians and classical liberals from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, James Madison to James Buchanan, and Frederic Bastiat to Friedrich Hayek have been warning us about corporations since there were corporations. It’s not that corporations are evil per se, however. Companies are just people cooperating for common goals. Bad things happen when corporations collude with the state against the people. When you hear the words “crony capitalism,” there is a 95 percent chance that’s coming from the mouth of a libertarian. That’s because liberals, conservatives and populists cannot so easily distance themselves from it. The left has had its Solyndras. The right has had its Halliburtons. Both tribes have had their banksters. And libertarians have had enough. We believe cronyism will destroy this Republic as surely as it destroyed Rome.

There are, of course, legitimate critiques of Libertarianism, many of which stem from Libertarians themselves.

For example, these two essays (here and here) by Jim Peron of the Moorefield Storey blog present a devastating critique of "Me Libertarianism" and a call for Libertarians to make themselves more relevent to the freedom aspirations of others.

This is an extended quote, but well worth the investment of time to read it:

But, what is interesting is listening to libertarians dismiss issues that are important to people who aren’t like them. Let us be truthful: the typical libertarian, and certainly the typical attendee at this conference, is a middle-aged, white, straight male. And, they seem utterly incapable of seeing freedom through the eyes of anyone who isn’t the same.
Mention equal marriage rights for gay people and they simply dismiss it as unimportant. If they aren’t actively opposed—and some were—they see it as inconsequential. If you talk about guns they often are interested since so many of them own firearms. If you talk about pornography they are interested. But when it comes to the barriers to immigration they don’t give a damn since they aren’t immigrants. They hate tax laws, but then they pay taxes.
They really are libertarians who only see liberty as an issue as it applies to white, middle-aged, straight men (WMASM). . . . [snip]

Clarence Thomas saw the fallacy in the claim because he views history through his own experiences as a black man. He realized that during the “golden age” of liberty, which so many libertarians pine for,  black people were held in slavery. Even after slavery was eventually abolished, government policy actively discriminated against black people. They were subjected to laws mandating they be treated badly by public transportation. They were easily convicted of crimes, including those they didn’t commit, and were happily lynched by rabid mobs of whites, who would then slice them up and take body parts as souvenirs. There is a reason Justice Thomas questioned whether the trend in liberty was entirely in one direction—as so many libertarians see it.
Women certainly have it much better today than they did during any other period of American history. They can own property on their own. They can easily escape abusive relationships. They can sign legal contracts without the permission of their father or husband. They have control over their reproductive abilities, which had previously been denied them by the force of law—and this doesn’t just mean the right to abortion, but the right to birth control, something that was previously illegal.
What about freedom of religion? Did you know that there were periods where the states made it illegal to be a practicing Catholic? No state does so today. The Pilgrim Fathers—you know the ones you were told came to America for religious freedom—executed Mary Dyer because she was the wrong kind of Christian. Virginia banned the Puritans, Quakers, Catholics and Jews. Maryland had the death penalty for anyone who challenged orthodox Christian beliefs and later made it criminal to be a Catholic priest, with a life sentence attached. They also legislated that only Anglicans could hold office and that Catholics were not allowed to vote.
Today, the main claim of religious persecution made by Christians is from those who feel persecuted when they can’t impose their religious beliefs on others through the force of law. They think that not being allowed to teach religious dogma in public schools is oppressive. But, their churches operate openly, they still go door-to-door annoying the unwilling, and they enjoy something denied their secular opponents—tax exemption.
All of this is what I call “me” libertarianism. That is the tendency of individual libertarians to interpret political trends only through their own experiences, without caring what the broader reality happens to be.

The point of Peron's critique, and the critique of the entire Libertarian Party by my favorite LNC member (Starchild), as well as the sea change represented in the candidacy of individuals like Gary Johnson for President, Barbara Howe for NC Governor, Scotty Boman for US Senator in Michigan, Andy Horning for US Senator in Indiana, and, yes, Scott Gesty for US House here in Delaware, is what is making the Libertarian Party and libertarian ideas more attractive to millions of people.

All the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are offering America is too slightly different versions of "more of the same."  For all the President's posturing about more "flexibility" in his second term to deal with issues like the drug war, or Romney planning massive changes on "Day One," we're going to keep tottering along in a permanent war state/welfare state/special interest state until we try something different.

If I had my way, not only would Gary Johnson be on the Presidential debate stage, but so would Jill Stein of the Greens and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party.  They might not win any electoral votes, but there are enough swing voters among the three of them to play havoc with the Demopublican plans for victory.  Which means that they will have an impact on the conversation . . . .

No comments: