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Libertarianism: the Result of Political Immaturity?


Is libertarianism really the product of political immaturity, unworkable in practice, the result of sentimentality and ignorance of hard facts? Or is it at best a “blue sky” proposal, one that may work out as long as the going is good but falls to pieces the minute crisis arrises?

It depends one what means by libertarianism–to me, it means opposition to arbitrary power. Usually in the US it is constructed to mean the freedom of corporations (actually more or less totalitarian institutions) to wreak havoc on people, animals and the planet unfettered by regulation. I think the traditional form, as rendered in, e.g., van Humboldt’s writing, is anything but immature. The American conception, on the other hand, serves an ideological function but is, mature or immature, dependent on various absurdities that mean it can’t be put into practice–i.e., it perverts one’s rational mistrust of the Fed into a defense of "private" tyranny.[1]

Regarding immature politicoeconomic organizations that have been put into practice, surely capitalism (or whatever one wants to call what we have now) is about as infantile a system as can be imagined–and talk about "blue sky", not only is it nearly helpless to deal with major disasters, most of today’s major disasters are actually created by it![3]

As to the vision of a "Rugged Individualist" often presented either as an ideal or an obstacle to constructive political action, who really suffers from the delusion there is such a thing today? Basically anyone with a job or trying to get a job knows from direct personal experience there’s no such thing; you come in, take orders and help make some unknown others wealthy powerful. Even people in the professional/managerial or coordinator class are subject to periodic rude reminders who’s really in charge.[2] The problem is getting people to work together for their own sake rather than that of an arbitrary authority, such as an employer–and this is the form of libertarianism I advocate.[4]

 

FOOTNOTES

  1. I know the image of an entrepreneurial shopkeeper or small business owner is what’s actually invoked, in much the way an image of class struggle is invoked by Obama’s PR agents, but the actual legislation that gets passed is such that it helps corporations to the detriment of the potential business owner and everyone else–e.g., enabling one of GHW Bush’s favorites, Barrick Gold Strike (a gold mine located near my home town of Elko, NV) access to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land by making the BLM out to be an extension of the evil Federal Government in oder to win public support for the land theft.

  2. E.g., one of my cousins works as some kind of IT project manager for WSJ and was quite perturbed when the paper was bought out by Rupert Murdoch. She has expressed a desire for a new job ever since (not that doing so would actually do her any good).

  3. a) Every system is “blue sky”, actually, even the most rotten, since things can always get worse. The legitimate questions is, “Is this proposal relevant to the present state of things?”

    b) What about relief organizations such as FEMA? These exist only to the extent capitalism has been subverted as was amply illustrated by recent events.

  4. Obviously working together means one won’t always get one’s way; what, in my opinion, many fear from a democratic economy. Well, on the one hand, one needs a job and thus spends a significant part of one’s life completely subordinate to the will of the others in any non-democrat alternative. On the other, people who do have some power in the present arrangement have to cooperate in much the same way as we all would in a participatory economy–in a cooperate board or a managerial meeting, e.g. Therefore, the situation would only be an improvement for most and the limitations are ones that can easily be born–we have examples in the present to prove it.

 

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