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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Libertrarianism Really Is

I have had no respect for the people who call themselves "Libertarians" nearly since I first became aware of them. To me, they are people who realized their political party--the Republican Party--was falling a apart and they wanted smaller government so they came up with this idea they'd be edgy and controversial, create a new political party and call themselves this.

But the fact is, as I've said before, the thing with Libertarians is that they can't collectively decide how small this new, functioning government is supposed to be, among other things.

Then, last week, I saw this and it helped clarify further more of the issues I know I have with these people and their very loosely-formed group. Enjoy:

Libertarians believe they're rebels, but they are really political children who scream through tears

Libertarians believe themselves controversial and cool. They're desperate to package themselves as dangerous rebels, but in reality they are champions of conformity. Their irreverence and their opposition to “political correctness” is little more than a fashion accessory, disguising their subservience to—for all their protests against the “political elite”—the real elite.

Ayn Rand is the rebel queen of their icy kingdom, villifying empathy and solidarity. Christopher Hitchens, in typical blunt force fashion, undressed Rand and her libertarian followers, exposing their obsequiousness toward the operational standards of a selfish society: “I have always found it quaint, and rather touching, that there is a movement in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.”

Libertarians believe they are real rebels, because they’ve politicized the protest of children who scream through tears, “You’re not the boss of me.” The rejection of all rules and regulations, and the belief that everyone should have the ability to do whatever they want, is not rebellion or dissent. It is infantile naïveté.

As much as libertarians boast of having a “political movement” gaining in popularity, “you’re not the boss of me” does not even rise to the most elementary level of politics. Aristotle translated “politics” into meaning “the things concerning the polis,” referring to the city, or in other words, the community. Confucius connected politics with ethics, and his ethics are attached to communal service with a moral system based on empathy. A political program, like that from the right, that eliminates empathy, and denies the collective, is anti-political.

Opposition to any conception of the public interest and common good, and the consistent rejection of any opportunity to organize communities in the interest of solidarity, is not only a vicious form of anti-politics, it is affirmation of America’s most dominant and harmful dogmas. In America, selfishness, like blue jeans or a black dress, never goes out of style. It is the style.

I ask you, how do you run a nation of far more than 315 million people with little government? Or very little?

And how small a government is it, when you're done shrinking it? How small DO we go? What do we get out of, completely? Do we have a national highway system? How small do you shrink the military? And believe me, if you know anything of me, I'm all about shrinking our military spending.

Where do you stop with the cuts?  What's left?

I'm left wondering how much of a nation we are, collectively, if we make all those cuts.

Are we together?

Wouldn't Libertarianism mean that if a state wants to secede, you let them? Would that not be consistent with this train of thought? And if it's not consistent, what would be the position taken on such a situation.

As it is, we're becoming less and less the United States of America.

With Libertarianism, I wonder if we would even be the States, let alone United.


Sevesteen said...

Liberals can't collectively decide, (despite collectivism being a branch of liberalism....) how big they want government, how many businesses should be highly regulated for the common good, how far towards a Soviet style of government we should go. Sure, libertarians can't agree on the exact final destination--but we agree on the direction. You're asking us to settle on San Francisco or Sacramento before we get off Eastbound I-70 through Kansas, or even before we tap the brakes a bit.

There is an element of "you're not the boss of me" in libertarianism...but also at least as big "I'm not the boss of you". I want nothing to do with drug abusers personally, I don't like to gamble, I'm straight--none of those are sufficient reasons to ban drugs, gambling or gay marriage.

How much Ayn Rand have you read? Ayn Rand is not a libertarian, she was an objectivist. Subtle differences to a statist, but significant nonetheless. A big one is that libertarians are not against private charity--but we don't consider it moral to be charitable with someone else's money.

None of this means that libertarians think we should be able to do whatever we want--My right to swing my fist ends before it gets to the tip of your nose.

The question isn't where do you stop the cuts, it is where do you start them? Government is still growing faster than the private sector--do we let it grow until it controls everything, directly providing food and cars? We haven't cut, we have cut the rate of increase--but there is still an increase.

If you want to be in a collective, I won't try to stop you from joining one. If collectivism works, why shouldn't it be voluntary? Why wouldn't voluntary collectives dominate, leaving us poor individuals behind?

Why is force always necessary? Shouldn't we do as much as we can without force?

Mo Rage said...

Collectively, Liberals come to agreements on where we are and where we need to go. No one will ever be satisfied, no, certainly not, but we compromise, together.

There is a huge, thick vein of inordinate selfishness and short-sighted heartlessness that runs deeply and widely through Ayn Rand's philosophy. It does humanity a huge disservice. It's not who we should be or what we should be about.

There will always, always be a measure of "force", if we have to call it that, needed to run nations of hundreds of millions. Things will be required of people. If we were only small tribes, it would no way be necessary but this is what we've become.

What's your source for this statistic that "government is still growing faster than the private sector"? I'm not saying it isn't true. I just don't know that it is or who is saying it is.

Who said I want to be in a "collective"? Why must you belittle a stance that disagrees with yours?

Why is working as a group, for the betterment of all a bad idea? I don't get it. Why id a group cooperating bad?

Force is only necessary for the few that blatantly go against the most egregious rules.

Sevesteen said...

Libertarians compromise as much as liberals on where government should be.

Yes, there is a thick vein of selfishness in Ayn Rand's work...often as an illustration of the problems of collectivism. As for her philosophy, if you insist I take responsibility for Rand, you need to take responsibility for Marx and Engles.

Force is still used when we demand compliance with the threat of force--It is still armed robbery if a man points a gun, takes your stuff but doesn't shoot you. Force is a necessary evil in government, we need to reduce the times where it is allowed.

Federal spending is growing faster than private sector GDP.

Why must I belittle a stance that a response that belittles my stance? Most of the things you post here favor the collective over individual rights. From Each according to his ability, To each according to his need--I haven't see you type those words, but just about everything you write fits that philosophy.

Voluntary cooperation is great. Forced cooperation is not actually cooperation.

Force is only necessary in robbery if you refuse to comply. (I'm not saying all government is robbery, but it is force)

Mo Rage said...

I don't "insist you take responsibility for her work" at all but Ayn Rand is a cornerstone of Libertarianism, surely you agree.

And me take responsibility for Marx and Engels?

Not a problem, at least as far as it goes for Marx. The only thing wrong with Marx--or Communism, for that matter--is that flawed, selfish, and/or greedy humans get in they way. I'd argue that Communism is, in theory, the most "Christian" of government models.

You don't seem to see any benefits of all people working together--that is, government. Social Security reducing poverty in the elderly in the nation, the national highway system, etc., etc.

To "favor the collective" is not to belittle your stance. I'd belittle blind Ayn Rand followers in a second but that's not what you've espoused here.

You repeat that "Federal spending is growing faster than private sector GDP" but still cite no sources. Besides, even if it is, I'm not now nor have I ever defended that. I think Defense spending in the nation drives much of that and we absolutely need to cut that and greatly.

Sevesteen said...

Ayn Rand is not a cornerstone of libertarianism, although there are large areas of agreement, there are also large areas of disagreement as well--and the lack of even private charity is one of them.

I see all sorts of benefits in people voluntarily working together. I see all sorts of problems in people being forced to work together where it isn't absolutely necessary.

The only problem with Marxism/Communism is that it doesn't work in the real world with real humans Apparently the problem with freedom and capitalism is that it does. I won't argue against the idea that socialism is closer to Christianity--both require faith rather than evidence, or even in spite of contrary evidence.

The national highway system I'll give you--it isn't practical to have competing highway systems.

You keep pointing out programs that did some good, while ignoring the high costs that did harm. Social Security was a ponzi scheme from the beginning--If I'm lucky it will last long enough to help with my retirement, but I'm not counting on that. There's little chance that it will be around for my kids, even if they pay in to support my generation. An obvious result from the beginning...but what politician cares about people too young to vote?

The entire initial post was belittling libertarianism.

Mo Rage said...

Now you're disavowing Ayn Rand?

For many, many people she is still the cornerstone of Libertarianism. It sounds great to me.

And that's what I've always contended. That is, that Communism simply doesn't work in the real world. People at the top, who are to be in charge, so to speak, virtually always get greedy. It's the nature of humanity.

Systems that did some good? Social Security? It's undeniable. And it would still do even more good but for people in government raiding the kitty. Sen. Pat Moynihan famously railed against just that for years, rightly. And even now, it can be fixed, for at least a few more decades by taking off the cap at which the wealthy--the greedy pigs--keep paying in. It's low for no good reason.

Yes, the original post was about Libertarianism , of course. You said forced systems" of government don't work. I pointed out Social Security's decades-long success, that's all.

Sevesteen said...

Ayn Rand was right in many ways, was wrong in many ways. She was also an awful writer, making children's cartoons seem subtle and nuanced by comparison. If you manage to get through Atlas Shrugged, you'll see liberal anti-business and anti-rich policies taken to cartoonish extremes, with bad consequences that even you would agree would happen if we went that far.

I don't see where I've said forced cooperation doesn't work. In a few cases it is necessary, but mostly there are alternatives favoring freedom that work better. Countries with economic freedom do better than those without.

Let people make choices, even choices you think are bad. Instead of forcing people to put money into your retirement scheme, let them keep their money and pick their own scheme.

Governments seek power. The kind of people who get involved in government and especially the successful ones seek power, with very few exceptions. Unchecked, government winds up with power over most of our lives. In a representative republic they will have nice sounding excuses, but they still seek power. That power seeking tendency needs to be constrained.

Mo Rage said...

We seem to be far more in agreement, again and again.