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Friday, May 21, 2010

 
Libertarianism: Not Ready For Primetime. Never Will Be.

by tristero

The folks who believe in libertarianism are like the folks who believe in Bigfoot. They can point to respected academics who share their delusion. They never let reality get in the way of a good story. And ultimately, libertarianism, like Bigfoot is nothing other than a white guy cavorting around in a cheap gorilla suit, an obvious fake.

I've said just about all I want to say about libertarianism here. Short version: The only good ideas in libertarianism are those that are already part and parcel of liberalism. The rest is poppycock. But someone who suffers fools far better than I has written a useful takedown in case you think there's any there there. The nub:
never, and I mean never, has there been capitalist enterprise that wasn't ultimately underwritten by the state. This is true at an obvious level that even most libertarians would concede (though maybe not some of the Austrian economists whom Rand Paul adores): for the system to work, you need some kind of bare bones apparatus for enforcing contracts and protecting property. But it's also true in a more profound, historical sense. To summarize very briefly a long and complicated process, we got capitalism in the first place through a long process of flirtation between governments on the one hand, and bankers and merchants on the other, culminating in the Industrial Revolution. What libertarians revere as an eternal, holy truth is in fact, in the grand scheme of human history, quite young. And if they'd just stop worshiping for a minute, they'd notice the parents hovering in the background.

Libertarians like Paul are walking around with the idea that the world could just snap back to a naturally-occurring benign order if the government stopped interfering. As Paul implied, good people wouldn't shop at the racist stores, so there wouldn't be any.

This is the belief system of people who have been the unwitting recipients of massive government backing for their entire lives. To borrow a phrase, they were born on third base, and think they hit a triple. We could fill a library with the details of the state underwriting enjoyed by American business -- hell, we could fill a fair chunk of the Internet, if we weren't using it all on Rand Paul already.
One of the problems with taking the trouble to refute bad rightwing nonsense - intelligent design creationism, birtherism, libertarianism - is that it is a complete waste of time. Everyone, including most of the people propagating them, knows these ideas are ludicrous, Regarding intelligent design creationism, for example:
ID is not only dead, it was stillborn. No one believes in it; it is a sterile abstraction with no evidence that was cobbled up entirely to pass the church/state separation tests in the courts...
men
The Dover trial laid it bare. ID was simply the fa├žade a troop of fervent Christian creationists used to conceal their true motivations.
Libertarianism, especially in public political discourse, is the same thing, just one giant dog whistle for racism and other behavior whose covert purpose is to hoard and extend the privileges of the few at the expense of the many. Arguing over its non-existent merits as a political philosophy takes time away from thinking seriously about the unbelievably grave crises this country faces, crises precipitated and aggravated by the Bush administration's far-right extremists, including libertarians. I'd rather argue about the existence of Bigfoot.

Joan Walsh is right that not all libertarians are racists, but many surely are, finding libertarian nonsense the perfect cover to cloak their racism in lofty-sounding "higher" moral/intellectual principles.

As for Rand Paul, I don't care how often he claims he's not a racist. The fact is that his associations, stated beliefs and actions empower racists, empower those who would discriminate against qualified workers based on an irrelevant disability, and empower those who wish the American people to be even more ignorant about the world and the way it works than they already are.

It is a national disgrace that this cheap-minded little man who has less emotional maturity than a sulky eight-year-old, is a candidate for any public office, let alone a high national one.


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