Free Republic
Browse · Search
GOP Club
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Libertarians Branded "New Communists" at Bloomberg.com
The New American ^ | July 6, 2014 | Jack Kenny

Posted on 07/06/2014 7:51:42 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

The trite joke used to be that right-wing zealots would look for communists under the bed. A pair of political commentators writing at Bloomberg.com apparently can find them at the Cato Institute, or perhaps at LewRockwell.com. According to venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Eric P. Liu, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, "radical libertarians" are the "new communists."

The authors acknowledge the apparent contradiction. "Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images," they contend. "Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways. Where communism was adopted, the result was misery, poverty and tyranny. If extremist libertarians ever translated their beliefs into policy, it would lead to the same kinds of catastrophe."

Since the "extremist libertarians" rarely get the opportunity to translate their beliefs into policy, Hanauer and Liu are hard pressed to find evidence in support of their thesis. They go so far as to claim Somalia as an example. "It is in failed states such as Somalia," they contend, "that libertarianism finds its fullest actual expression." Really. While some hardcore libertarians are self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalists, most would welcome a return to good old U.S. constitutional government. It might be possible to find American libertarians calling for a central government run by rival tribal chieftains, but they would be rarer than hens' teeth.

The authors define "radical libertarianism" as "the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values." That's a stretch. Libertarians by definition hold liberty as their primary value. So did many, perhaps most, of the Founders of our Republic, especially those who risked their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" for freedom and independence from the British empire. Surely it is true of those who composed and ratified the Bill of Rights. But individual freedom need not "trump," but may co-exist with other values worthy of the name. It should, however, trump any "value" attached to the alleged "right" of some to the fruits of the labor and enterprise of others. It should trump also the "value" of having government compel some people to provide services others may want, as is the case with the federal "contraceptive mandate" in the maze of regulations in what is known as ObamaCare. Obviously, "all other values" include the value of public safety. Perhaps Hanauer and Liu know of libertarians radical enough to claim freedom of speech does include, in the memorable phrase of Justice Holmes, the right of "falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." If they do, they might tell us about them some time.

"A President Paul," they claim, would "rule by tantrum, shutting down the government in order to repeal laws already passed by Congress." They cite no example of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) doing any such thing. They describe Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) as one "whose highest aspiration is to shut down government" and claim Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform "has made a career out of trying to drown, stifle or strangle government."

To paraphrase (slightly) "Cool Hand" Luke, "Yeah, that poor ol' government needs all the help it can get." The radical shoe, in fact, belongs on the other foot. While government is necessary and useful to some extent, its excessive bureaucracy, taxation, and regulations have combined in many instances to "drown, stifle or strangle" individual enterprise. Yet these commentators apparently regard as an anarchist anyone who argues for a less ambitious role for the federal government. If they know of any instances of Paul, Cruz, or Norquist debating "whether government should even exist," they have not favored the readers of their Bloomberg article with them.

Proposals to do away with the income tax, or even to eliminate its "progressive" feature, furnish more examples of "radical libertarianism" or the "new communism," the authors claim. If so, then what was the United States before the adoption of the income tax in 1913 — home of the old communists? There are, after all, other streams of revenue, such as tariffs, excise taxes, and the per capita taxation recognized by the original Constitution. It is commonly argued that today's government has undertaken far more activities than it did in the early years of the 20th century and thus needs more revenue. Right. And that's the problem.

As for progressive taxation, the top rate on the income tax exceeded 90 percent in the 1950s and early 60s. Is that not a confiscation of wealth without "due process of law"? One of the foremost advocates of a "flat tax" has been Steve Forbes — an unlikely anarchist or "new communist."

"A Koch domestic policy," Hanauer and Liu claim, "would obliterate environmental standards for clean air and water, so that polluters could externalize all their costs onto other people." Again, no specifics are offered to support that characterization. Surely, not all opposition to environmental laws is radical, since many of the laws are themselves radical. A sensible environmental policy would put people and their property ahead of the welfare of the snail darter, the spotted owl, the Elderberry long-horned beetle, the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly, and the Delta Smelt for whose sake the federal diversion of water has contributed greatly to a drought in northern California.

The authors claim radical libertarians believe "humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution." One need not be a radical libertarian to believe people naturally tend to pursue their self-interest. And it is true that Ayn Rand, who has a significant following among libertarians, published a collection of her essays entitled, The Virtue Selfishness, in which she expressed a dim view of even voluntary altruism. Not all libertarians, even "radical libertarians," subscribe to that view, however. Many, perhaps most, believe that voluntary sharing of one's goods and services to help those in need is a noble deed. They also believe that voluntary cooperation in commercial enterprise is the most efficient and fruitful means of production, as well as the method most respectful of human liberty.

Hanauer and Liu, on the other hand, seem to believe cooperation must ever be mandated and directed by government. They might try reading (or possibly rereading) Leonard Read's essay, I, Pencil, a fascinating account of all the activities and exchanges that go into the creation of a seemingly simple pencil. Now if at some point, perhaps during the New Deal, there had been created a federal Department of Pencil Production, two things would now be true. The first is that there would either be a shortage of pencils or they would be a good deal more expensive than they are now. The second is that Hanauer and Liu would argue that anyone who wanted to do away with the department, rather than call for an improvement of its regulations, should be regarded as a "radical libertarian" and thus, a "new communist."

Thomas Jefferson argued that the Constitution authorizes the Congress to legislate penalties for only four categories of crime — counterfeiting, treason, piracy, and "Offenses against the law of nations." (Article I, Section 8) Today the federal criminal code is so voluminous that Harvey Silvergate a few years ago wrote a book claiming the average American commits as many as Three Felonies a Day. Yet Hanauer and Liu — and unfortunately many others — regard calls to "Roll back the state" as evidence of "extremism."

Yet the pair seems to regard as benign the support some libertarians give to same-sex "marriage." The idea that a government should by legislative act, or worse by judicial fiat, arbitrarily redefine the ages-old meaning of marriage is something truly radical. The idea that such a novel concept of marriage may be imposed contrary to vote of the people, as happened in California, is the ultimate triumph of ideology over the principle of self-government, as well as both common sense and long-standing tradition.

The radical expansion of the arbitrary power of government has been going on for so long that many have come to believe that it is opposition to it that is radical. Long ago George Orwell wrote: "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."

It still is.


TOPICS: Issues; Parties; State and Local
KEYWORDS: communists; environment; libertarians; lping

1 posted on 07/06/2014 7:51:42 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Libertarians may be a lot of things but communist they ain’t.


2 posted on 07/06/2014 7:53:53 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

If, indeed “Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images,” then libertarianism has as much to do with communism as up has to do with down, or white has to do with black. “They are simply mirror images. Is up the new down, according to the thought-challenged author?


3 posted on 07/06/2014 7:54:48 PM PDT by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

One could hold up Chilean dictator Pinochet’s economic policies as validation of libertarian ideas on capitalism.


4 posted on 07/06/2014 7:59:58 PM PDT by Rightwing Conspiratr1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

There are multiple examples of socialist/communist failure in governing. There are no examples of libertarian failure in governing, largely because “libertarian” and “governing” are themselves in deep conflict. The authors suggest that the two are “mirror images” but refuse to acknowledge that it makes them different. Silliness.


5 posted on 07/06/2014 8:04:25 PM PDT by Billthedrill
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

I am critical of Libertarians, but this is just crap. Somalia is a failed state with an effectively anarchical legal system, it is also engaged in a low level civil war.

This is not what Libertarians envision.... at all.

Libertarianism has most of the economic aspects correct. An economically libertarian state would be very prosperous, as Pinochet-era Chile and early America prove. I do think it would fail culturally with the current population of America, who could not be more different than the set of Americans whom the Founders crafted the Constitution for.

If you had presented the current population to the Founders and asked them which society would best suit these people, they likely would have proposed a rigid dictatorship just to keep the idiots from killing themselves.

Libertarianism stands and falls on presuppositions about the people who will live under it. I would say modern America falls far short of those requirements, no matter how much John Stossel plugs women’s liberation and same-sex ‘marriage’.


6 posted on 07/06/2014 8:09:03 PM PDT by Viennacon (Rebuke the Repuke!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
"A President Paul," they claim, would "rule by tantrum, shutting down the government in order to repeal laws already passed by Congress."

Liberals have no problem changing laws when they don't like them. Granted, they don't usually shut down the government because IT'S THEM. They certainly have no qualms about shutting down the GOOD segments of society till they get what they want, you know, the ones opposed to them.

There's certainly a butt-load of laws that need repealing. If "shutting down the government" is the only way to accomplish that, then that would be on balance a bad thing because......?

7 posted on 07/06/2014 8:12:56 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
According to venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Eric P. Liu, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, "radical libertarians" are the "new communists."

But since you guys revere communism and decry "witch hunts" to ferret out communists, then that must be a compliment, right? Right?

8 posted on 07/06/2014 8:15:20 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Actually if you consider anarchist as the bridge between the two

And if you understand theoretical communism in the state is to wither away and die..

Then radical libertarianism to anarchist to communism can be connected.

Truth is many so called libertarian see the miss a major point of libertarianism which is the acknowledgment of the necessity of government as a necessary evil.

What is the old saying ..

If men were angels we would need no government
But because men are not angels we need to limit that same government.

True Libertarianism functions inside that paradox..

Outside that paradox is either anarchy or tyranny


9 posted on 07/06/2014 8:16:03 PM PDT by tophat9000 (An Eye for an Eye, a Word for a Word...nothing more)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Actually if you consider anarchists as the bridge between the two

And if you understand theoretical communism in the state is to wither away and die..

Then radical libertarianism to anarchist to communism can be connected.

Truth is many so called libertarian seem the miss a major point of libertarianism which is the acknowledgment of the necessity of government as a necessary evil.

What is the old saying ..

If men were angels we would need no government
But because men are not angels we need to limit that same government.

True Libertarianism functions inside that paradox..

Outside that paradox is either anarchy or tyranny


10 posted on 07/06/2014 8:17:15 PM PDT by tophat9000 (An Eye for an Eye, a Word for a Word...nothing more)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
The trite joke used to be that right-wing zealots would look for communists under the bed.

Actually, we need look no further than the top of the bed in the White Hut, to find a communist.

11 posted on 07/06/2014 8:18:52 PM PDT by Mark17 (The difference between Nero and Obama. Nero was the consummate professional guitar player)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Typical leftist tactic. Accuse the other side of doing what you are doing and being what you are. Muddies the waters mightily.


12 posted on 07/06/2014 8:27:45 PM PDT by ArtDodger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bamahead

Ping


13 posted on 07/06/2014 8:39:38 PM PDT by BuckeyeTexan (There are those that break and bend. I'm the other kind. ~Steve Earle)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Somalia as an example of libertarian policies?

Chocolate milk right through the nose!


14 posted on 07/06/2014 8:42:37 PM PDT by BuckeyeTexan (There are those that break and bend. I'm the other kind. ~Steve Earle)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
"It is commonly argued that today's government has undertaken far more activities than it did in the early years of the 20th century and thus needs more revenue. Right. And that's the problem."
15 posted on 07/06/2014 8:48:51 PM PDT by BuckeyeTexan (There are those that break and bend. I'm the other kind. ~Steve Earle)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: coloradan

Take the test to find out where you are on the political compass.

http://www.politicalcompass.org/

The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.


16 posted on 07/06/2014 9:03:35 PM PDT by BuckeyeTexan (There are those that break and bend. I'm the other kind. ~Steve Earle)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Viennacon

Why the hell does everyone (The MSM) think limited government equals no government when it comes to Libertarians?????


17 posted on 07/06/2014 9:13:30 PM PDT by GraceG (No, My Initials are not A.B.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: BuckeyeTexan

Tribalism is hardly a libertarian concept.

Every libertarian renounces the initiation of violence. Note this is not pacifism, the renunciation applies only the the initiation of violence for any purpose. Somalia warlords do not qualify.

WRT the efficacy of the Somali government, the country appears to be functioning less badly now than when it had a functioning government. You can negotiate with warlords, but tyrants and bureaucrats don’t negotiate.


18 posted on 07/06/2014 9:28:50 PM PDT by RBroadfoot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: GraceG
Why the hell does everyone (The MSM) think limited government equals no government when it comes to Libertarians?????

The cynical answer is that they know better, but use the no-government strawman to perpetuate their statist agenda.

A more charitable answer is that the most forceful and visible wing of Libertarianism is the Von Mises Institute/Murray Rothbard/Lew Rockwell wing, which IS avowedly anarchist (or "anarchocapitalist").

I'd say both are at work, but it's probably about 80/20 the former.

Hank

19 posted on 07/06/2014 10:42:12 PM PDT by County Agent Hank Kimball (Eat Hooterville Rutabagas!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
It's amazing how leftists will define opponents by making up their "facts" out of whole cloth, basically "we think these people are wrong and will do this..."

Somalia? Really? Somalia is quite simply Darwinian Anarchy (Survival of the Fittest, i.e. most violent and brutal). Libertarians have NOTHING in common with anarchists.

Mark

20 posted on 07/06/2014 10:43:12 PM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

“Libertarians may be a lot of things but communist they ain’t.

They ain’t Conservatives either....


21 posted on 07/06/2014 11:56:50 PM PDT by montanajoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Viennacon
Libertarianism stands and falls on presuppositions about the people who will live under it. I would say modern America falls far short of those requirements, no matter how much John Stossel plugs women’s liberation and same-sex ‘marriage’.

You're right. Political Libertarianism requires a) self discipline, which is required for "enlightened self-interest." And b) a total rejection of the liberal mindset, which believes that "I deserve what you've worked to achieve."

Mark

22 posted on 07/07/2014 12:40:43 AM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Libertarian thinking must be scaring the crap out of these big government socialists.


23 posted on 07/07/2014 3:01:07 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (When I first read it, " Atlas Shrugged" was fiction)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: muir_redwoods

Its a divisive tactic because liberals know that they have little chance against a united conservative libertarian front.


24 posted on 07/07/2014 3:14:16 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: BuckeyeTexan; Abathar; Abcdefg; Abram; Abundy; albertp; Alexander Rubin; Allosaurs_r_us; amchugh; ..


Libertarian ping! Click here to get added or here to be removed or post a message here!

25 posted on 07/07/2014 5:26:13 PM PDT by bamahead (Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master. -- Sallust)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi


26 posted on 07/07/2014 5:47:45 PM PDT by RKBA Democrat (Be a part of the American freedom migration: freestateproject.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’ve head that Costa Rica is the nearest thing to a libertarian nation.


27 posted on 07/07/2014 7:38:51 PM PDT by GSWarrior
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

>> a united conservative libertarian front.

You might get spanked for suggesting that... not that I disagree.


28 posted on 07/07/2014 9:12:35 PM PDT by Gene Eric (Don't be a statist!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Gene Eric
You might get spanked for suggesting that.

I'm not terribly concerned about it. I can compromise with libertarians on most issues and its the only way we're ever going to win again.
29 posted on 07/08/2014 3:36:14 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
The authors claim radical libertarians believe "humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution."

IF so, then there's no need to have the government shove a gun against our heads to make us cooperate, but leftists and statist always use force and the threat of violence or jail time in order to compel association and redistribution/theft of hard earned money.

30 posted on 07/08/2014 3:43:16 AM PDT by Sirius Lee (All that is required for evil to advance is for government to do "something")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
GOP Club
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson