09 November 2013

The Problem With Libertarians

Derek Hunter:
Honestly, what does being a Libertarian mean beyond legalizing drugs, banging hookers and sitting by while the rest of the world blows itself up?
The great Reason magazine is a wonderful publication filled with great articles, solid journalism you won’t find elsewhere…and a voice that does little more than complain.
Reason is great at highlighting abuses by every level of government, stories ignored by other media outlets. But you won’t find much in the way of philosophy or solutions. (There’s some, it just doesn’t seem to be a focus.) They preach to the choir, and it ends there.
I love the Cato Institute and have a lot of good friends who work there, and they do offer some good solutions. They just refuse to do anything about them. Cato has a deserved reputation for refusing to play nice with anyone else. When was the last legislative “victory” spearheaded or introduced by Cato?
What Libertarians do exceedingly well is sit on the sidelines, arms folded, and complain. No idea was ever put into action by complaining that it wasn’t so, yet that seems to be the Libertarian modus operandi.
This is all true enough, but I think it’s worth pointing out, in the words of Mencken, that “the fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary” and that “it takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty.”  Or, to state it another way, there’s a reason the Tea Party came to naught.

The Tea Party, started in large part by Karl Denninger was supposed to be a libertarian response to government tyranny and excess.  It turned into a neo-conservative bitch-fest wherein most participants expressed their hatred for Obama, some nebulous concept of big government, and a lot of petty trivialities.  As I noted on at least two occasions, the Tea Party movement loves itself some big government.  Thus, one of the largest attempts at a proper libertarian movement ended up getting co-opted by big government neo-cons.

The current open borders movement—a libertarian movement if there ever was one—is basically in the process of getting co-opted by politically connected big businesses that want to use the movement to pressure the government into expanding the labor base to drive down the price of American labor.  Instead of leading to more liberty, the open borders movement, if it is successful, will lead to oligopolistic tyranny.

Thus, there is little reason to do anything but sit on the sidelines.  Every time a couple of libertarians start to advance the cause of liberty in a major way, their movements get co-opted by supporters of big government.  As a result, only those who simply want to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like paid sex and drugs, continue to speak out, in part because they are the only ones who can’t be co-opted by big political blocs.

From a practical standpoint, what sort of political victories could CATO have achieved that would have, on net, advanced the cause of liberties?  The whole point of political deals is to get some nice things for your constituents at public expense by approving of nice things for other politicians’ constituents at public expense.  That’s how deals are brokered in politics.  So what could CATO have accomplished without putting taxpayers on the hook?  And how can increasing spending to score a political victory really be considered working for the cause of liberty?

The world will blow itself up, as it has done many times before.  It is inevitable and fighting back—at least in the political arena—is a waste of time.  It would be far better to focus on changing the culture, one person at a time, but this is a time-consuming and rather unglamorous work, and its fruit may not even be seen, if at all, for centuries if not millennia.  It’s fun to say that libertarian is stupid since it can‘t fix the government in any way, but the truth is that few people want to have liberty.  And it’s damned difficult to impose a minority view on a majority.