I’ve criticised libertarianism many times on many different levels, but I have never done so in ignorance or as a way to purposefully incite hatred. A recent article over at Bloomberg titled “Libertarians Are the New Communists” does just that. To be honest I normally enjoy these kinds of articles. Are libertarian views communist? If proper arguments were to be made, I’d be willing to listen. But these two authors… are just plain wrong.
The basis of this entire argument is “radical libertarianism” is based on freedom while communism is based on the opposite. But because they result in the same thing, they are the same? Well, thanks for further reinforcing the idea that Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. As for libertarianism and communism, they really are opposites. Every argument made in the article is based on stereotype and zero understanding of anything that is being talked about. It is your classic, simple minded, one track, hit piece. It also clumps many different philosophies into one.
First, “Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.” I’d like to know what objectivists think about this. Those who simply believe in the free market and capitalism. This short sighted attempt at pigeonholing libertarians into objectivism and accusing them of dividing mankind ignores those who are really doing the dividing. Such as the government who plays favorites with particular races and income levels to gain votes come election time.
The article then makes mention of the Koch Brothers who are corporatists hiding behind the name of libertarianism because they found a niche in which they can manipulate followers into sending them money. Much like Rand Paul, the Koch Brothers, are not libertarians, but politicians who enjoy the emotional attachment that libertarians have to the things they talk about. In reality, it’s all about the money and political power for these people.
The next mention is Ted Cruz and his followers. I certainly don’t approve of fighting fire with fire because, in the end, you’ve just got a bunch of damn fire. Because of that I don’t know a whole lot about Ted Cruz, but if his goal were to shut down government, great! Currently, however, his job depends on keeping government going. When it comes to “libertarians” this guy is not radical and like everyone else so far, not a good reference.
Lastly, Grover Norquist? I mean… classic republican. He’s spent his career playing the no tax increase game and spent a career losing. Norquist is just another politician in a long list of Republicans who have decided that it is in their personal financial interest to use the title of libertarian.
These are the examples of “radical” that this article picks out. I call these people cowards who aren’t willing to take a sound philosophy to its logical conclusions and actually stand up for the beliefs that they claim to defend. If we’re going to base libertarianism on these people, yes I’d call it a massive hypocritical failure, but communism? Maybe it is fair to judge this article for going for the shock value rather than truth.
Libertarianism is not based on each individual living in isolation and hiding in a hole. Even the libertarians this article talks about, who are more accurately described as minarchists, are worth a little more research than this. The philosophy depends very heavily on cooperation, in fact, more so than the current system. Instead of making government do everything with the use of forceful transactions that harm everyone, it depends on real cooperation in which people work together to create mutual transactions that benefit all. It gets rid of most government intervention and allows people to cooperate, rather than sticking the government in the middle and overseeing the whole thing like a hovering parent over fighting children.
Communism fails because there is no possible way for the government to manage peoples lives. It has never worked and never will work. Minarchists fail to see this on the most important of levels, but they recognize that everyday interactions should be voluntary, and that government in these matters is not necessary. In fact, they recognize that government harms everyday interactions by trying to manage them from afar and across time. When people are allowed to act in the moment, they can adapt to changing standards. Make the government set the standards, and they are slow moving and try to apply one set of standards to all interactions. It is like forcefully keeping society in a primitive state. Both communism and modern political systems do exactly that.
One good point that the article does make is that a President Paul might indeed rule by tantrum. I can definitely see that as a probability. In fact, my stress of might may be unwarranted because it probably would happen. Government, by nature, attracts sociopaths who want to rule other peoples lives, Rand Paul is no different. However, if Rand Paul wanted to privatize the post office, and I doubt he would want to, I can see him using an executive order to do it, ignoring congressional vote. People would speak against any vetoes of his as an abuse of power. The whole system is screwy anyway and belongs in the trash, but this point makes sense. What good is a libertarian president when the system itself is not libertarian?
A quote that stood out as particularly outlandish goes as follows, “Reasonable people debate how best to regulate or how government can most effectively do its work — not whether to regulate at all or whether government should even exist.” Reason, (i.e. logic), involves taking in all sides and looking at them with criticism. I came across anarcho-capitalism, and accept it as viable, because I can not argue against it. I have yet to come across anything that makes sense against it. That’s not to say that it is perfect but that it actually leaves room for the fact that people are different and that you can not put everyone under one system. Calling the ignoring of other peoples arguments “reasonable” is totally dishonest.
Reasonable people don’t argue for murder or rape, but libertarianism? Why not? It has it’s logical foundations, albeit incomplete, and can be argued for. Especially when the arguments are against that of the democrats and republicans. Libertarianism and even anarchy does not reject cooperation. Libertarianism increases cooperation and makes it more possible. It makes cooperation more beneficial and allows for more incentive for doing so. Libertarianism makes the people who live under such a system more adaptable to their unique situations than under any other government system. So when these Bloomberg writers say the opposite, they are immensely mistaken and confused. When they say that libertarianism calls for the removal of government altogether, they are also mistaken.
This article is another in a long line of fairy tales that try to put complicated philosophies into simple stereotypical terms that fit into the simplistic and primitive outlook that is American politics. People have varying ideas, and to pigeonhole them in this way is mean, stupid and disappointing. Yet another story for the trash can.
I am not a representative of objectivism, minarchism or libertarianism. If you consider yourself to be so, please leave a comment below. Help expand the conversation and get your unique beliefs out there. Where exactly does this article go wrong?
Note: I know I excluded Ron Paul from this discussion. I don’t approve of any of his government dealings such as being in congress and running for president. If you’d like to expand on him specifically, leave a comment or send a full article to me via the Contact Page and get it published.
UPDATE: Stefan Molyneux recently responded to this original article, you can see his opnions below.
UPDATE: Glenn Jacobs recently responded to this article over at LewRockwell.com, give it a read here.