13 December 2010

The Requisite for Liberty

One of the commenters at Vox Popoli:

Though I tend towards it, the problem with libertarianism is that works only for a moral/responsible people. Though, quite possibly, left to their own devices, the immoral/irresponsible would not be fit enough to survive. (zoegirl: 11:30 AM)

Actually, the only problem with virtually any political system is that it only works for a moral and responsible people.  That’s why socialism works relatively well in Sweden, and why limited governments fail in Africa.

As Vox correctly notes, “since this isn't a libertarian society and never has been, it's obviously true of a conservative/traditional society as well.”  This, then, highlights the flaw in Zoe’s reasoning:  it is assumed that libertarianism either encourages immorality, or doesn’t encourage morality.

To this, I would respond by noting how the increasingly totalitarian American government has made a point of subsidizing immorality.  How many millions of dollars does the government spend paying women to create bastards?  How many millions of dollars does the government pay “artists” to mock religion, particularly Christianity?  How many hundreds of millions does the government spend to subsidize laziness?  I could go on, of course, but the point should be obvious.

A libertarian society may not be better than what exists right now, but it is hard to imagine it being worse.  In fact, I would theorize that if there were no more subsidies for immorality, a good chunk of immoral behavior would cease.  Of course, in a libertarian society, there would be no subsidies for immoral behavior.

While it is true that a successful political system will require a moral people, it does not stand to reason that the state must, or even can, force people to be moral.  In fact, history shows that governments tend to do the opposite.

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