You are here

Libertarian critique of Libertarianism

This is a good read. It's a pretty fair critique of American (right-wing) libertarianism from a libertarian perspective. Libertarians tend to glorify the late 1800s as the golden age of laissez-faire, but the author rightly points out that the government actually did substantially intervene in the economic affairs of most people, to an extent that this era cannot even be regarded as an era of laissez-faire.

White men who owned land were more free (in a right-wing laissez-faire sense, at least) but women, African Americans, and queers weren't. There were substantial restrictions on employment imposed by government for women and African Americans. Homosexuality was regarded as a crime, which would justify the State enslaving you or even murdering you. This era was neither economically nor socially libertarian in any meaningful sense.

One point that is not mentioned, probably because the author is a right-wing ideologue himself, is that many of the government interventions that we have today actually increase our freedom rather than restrict it. EPA and Clean Air regulations give us the freedom to breath without being poisoned by pollution. In the past, people died young as a result of breathing in smog and being exposed to toxins in the air and water. OSHA ensures that we have the freedom to make a living in a relatively safe environment. Employers can't expose their employees to asbestos or require them to do dangerous and reckless things. Social Security and Medicare give everyone a little freedom to relax and pursue their own goals in old age. From a dialectical libertarian perspective, or a broadly left-libertarian perspective, many of the absences of intervention in the late 1800s were actually despotic relative to the forms of liberty granted by the addition of these interventions. Some government activities and interventions actually make us more free. Now we are reaching the intersection of dialectical libertarianism and social democracy.

Right-wing libertarianism has never been about liberty. It has always been about property. In fact, American libertarianism, since the rise of Rothbard, Friedman, and the Libertarian Party, has been the bedfellow of fascism. It has consistently opposed liberty in favor of privilege, property, and plutocracy. When it comes to actual liberty, defined as a lack of domination, social democrats and the left have been its biggest advocates.

Wes Whitman, July 20

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on September 20, 2018.