Gustave Flaubert in a letter to Georges Sand
I feel compelled to unburden myself on the topic of libertarianism. There are all sorts of people who describe themselves as libertarians, and it’s hard to make sense of the mix.
- You have gun-obsessed Rambo-wannabees like the guy who created the picture here (Click on it to visit his blog if you have a robust tolerance for the way out!).
- There are folks like Clint Eastwood who once remarked, “My political philosophy is simple. Everybody should leave everyone else alone.” Yep, good one, Clint. That’s a real roadmap for governing a modern industrial state of 300 million.
- There are those inpsired by the crackpot intellectual, Ayn Rand, who at least must be granted the credit for inventing a new literary genre, the philosophical soap opera.
- And then there are thoughtful people, like a fellow I work with, who are quite reasonable but seem to revel in the libertarian cachet of ornery contrarian thinking.
I often find myself in agreement with specific critiques of libertarians, whether they are left-libertarian nearly-anarchists or right-libertarian, free market ideologues. In fact, many of the respectable, i.e., rational and scientific, critics of the global warming point of view (AGW) are, in fact, libertarians. But, in the end, I find it to be a bizarre and utopian political philosophy that is in full denial of the facts of human history. As a point of view that influences the political choices you make, yes, I can see that, but anything more…? Closer to wacko.
For libertarians of all stripes, the state, um…I mean, THE STATE, is the greatest evil. The state, and “collectivist” actions that seek to improve life, or enslave others. I’m all against enslavement, but I rather like improving life, even if the agent is the evil state. Libertarians would say that’s a Faustian bargain, bound to end in the Gulag or the death camps.
Why The State? Why not money? Isn’t that the root of all evil? Or…language? Without language, no state, no money! It’s a rather simplistic point of view. Are they realistic in their expectations of what would succeed the present situation of vigorous state activity? Do they care? Do they want to revert to pre-industrial, geographically isolated “eco-regions?” I dunno…
Sure, some state solutions fail. Bureaucracies are cumbersome and can mutate into strange things that frustrate the very improvements they were created to bring about. What else is new in this, the fallen state of mankind?
As a practical political philosophy, liberatarianism is hokum. People advocating it are either naive or dishonest. Naive if they believe that a general attempt to apply libertarian principles would result in anything other than the most powerful economic and political forces capturing the state and bending it towards their own ends, which is what they are always trying to do; or dishonest because they are part of those forces and they see libertarianism as a nifty way to pursue that goal under cover. Mostly the former, I think, because corporate and political power has captured so much of state power today, that libertarianism is probably more of an annoyance than a help.