The Only Thing Dumber than Libertarianism's Critics are its Right-Wing Defenders


mhstahl's picture

Great article! Kevin Carson rightly skewers those who suffer from aggressive historical ignorance.

half_orc_libertarian's picture

I understand the obvious utilitarian appeal of having a form of government that functions effectively and relatively smoothly, but what bothers me most about the original Michael Lind piece is that all-but-outright-stated premise that the only 'good' form of social organization is one that can carry out the basic functions we ascribe to states — "defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor." By coming up with an example of a country that falls along the general guidelines of libertarian thought (or what most people falsely perceive to be libertarian thought), he writes, "would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world."

And that's the crux of the piece. That there's no proof that libertarianism 'works,' and thus the philosophy has been inadequately vetted.

Yet he brings up the Soviet Union and "other Marxist-Leninist dictatorships" as "imperfect but genuine models." He touts the opinions of unnamed 'political philosophers' (meaning himself), that, "while communist regimes fell short in the areas of democracy and civil rights, they proved that socialism can succeed in a large-scale modern industrial society." That's all that separates a fictional 'libertarian government' (no such thing) from the brutal socialist regimes of eastern Europe in Lind's eyes — "socialism can succeed in a large-scale modern industrial society," and, presumably, libertarianism cannot.

But is that really the sole benchmark by which these people evaluate their society? It 'works,' and thus it's more valid? I don't like that idea.

I much prefer the uniquely libertarian idea — and wholeheartedly believe in it — that there are grand principles, embedded in the circumstances behind nature and man's existence that dictate, without reservation or exception, that we are meant to be free, that we are meant to respect each other's freedom, and that, more important than accumulating resources and maintaining a cohesive and stable society, is the moral imperative that we aspire to be righteous in thought and just in our dealings with one another.

I'd much sooner live in a country like that — even with any of its attendant flaws — than an involuntary socialist regime that 'works.'