Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Virtue of Libertarianism

I have aimed accusation after accusation at Libertarians for several posts now, and I want to temper it by showing that I understand where they’re coming from. I do see their point of view… I just can’t help also seeing through most of it.

Libertarians have some of the most valid arguments against Marxist governments as they have been applied in reality. They defend the right to private property (such as in opposition to eminent domain), and their opposition to the cumbersome notion of a command economy is spot on. Most importantly, their vigilance against corrupt deals between politicians and businesses is invaluable. These are concepts necessary for the application of any meaningful regulation.

Not all regulation is good regulation. In fact, I personally believe the US has some of the worst regulatory agencies and policies in the world. A good start would be to cap campaign contributions, which means electing people who will vote to end corruption through self-regulation (since this would be government regulating itself). Sounds pretty Libertarian, and maybe it will be they who performs this monumental step in the right direction. I know it is an issue many of them espouse.

They’re heads (though not their hearts) are also in the right place when it comes to personal liberties. While I see things like drug-legalization as a step towards bringing the problems of many out into the open, where treatment is more acceptable and available, they tend to see a revenue stream. Sometimes a situation is just win-win. I just hope they’re willing to regulate it to ensure a modicum of safety.

Libertarians are also leading the fight against the two-party system. Perhaps the most appalling thing about our democracy is the tyrannical hold the Democrats and Republicans have upon the election process. It is to a point that election after election, there simply is no choice for most Americans. The two-party system has driven many to not bother voting. Until additional parties are encouraged—and not just “allowed”—to participate, our elections will continue to be shams that elect people who do not represent the population.

Then again, perhaps having more than two parties is too complex for a nation with five-hundred TV channels to keep track of. Perhaps Libertarians will replace Republicans, which would be a windfall for those looking for real political debate. I have long said that Democrats are roughly 50% right, while Republicans are 100% wrong. With Libertarians being about half right themselves, perhaps they can form the much-needed other part to the political debate that has been retarded by obstinate Republicans.

I could never do a post like this for Republicanism.


  1. "perhaps the most appalling thing about our democracy is the tyrannical hold the Democrats and Republicans have upon the election process."

    This is an important point, and cannot be stressed highly enough. The contradiction is that many people undoubtedly agree, but, come election day, they never can manage to put their vote where their mouth is.

  2. The trouble is limiting campaign financing and spending (to allow dark-horse candidates), while providing an equal platform for multiple parties to be addressed (instead of the media-monopoly held by the Dem and Reps).

    If we could do those things, I really think we'd have a chance at real democracy instead of a sham plutocracy.

  3. I am of two minds as to whether neoliberals might actually be worse than neocons. Neocons at least think that what they are doing is "the right thing", even if their perception of "right" involves homophobia, xenophobia, war etc. Neocons are clearly evil, but hey, they are at least trying to be nice.

    Neoliberals on the other hand, are just purely selfish. It is at least a logical perspective, unlike neoconvervatism which is largely based on a shiny man who lives on a cloud, but it is a cruel sort of logic.

    Corrupt deals between business and politicians are usually being carried out by neoliberal business leaders themselves - Robert Reich's book 'Supercapitalism' appears to highlight a very strong correlation between deregulation and corporate lobying and "consultancy payments" and other such euphemised forms of bribery.

    I don't really see that there is any such thing as "Libertarian Values" - they say they are opposed to corporate welfare, but then the same self-professed neoliberals who say these things are only too happy to go begging to the state to have their bank/car manufacturing business bailed out.

    Neoliberalism is just about selfishness. Which makes sense, it is one of two logical ways of managing society - help others, or help yourself. In that respect it can be seen as "right" insofar as neoconservatism (follow the shiny man) is definitely "wrong", but I fail to see any virtue beyond their simple logic.

    I do agree, however, that political debate at government level, of any nation, is better if it is between the left and neoliberals, rather than the left and neocons.

    Oh, and as an aside, I think that the left have some pretty valid arguments agaisnt the, ahem, "Applied Marxism" of the various so-called communist states. Namely that they were largely totalitarian and oppressive dictatorships which caused much suffering and did little good.


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