Skip to comments.Marxism of the Right (A paleoconservative pot pontificates on libertarian kettles)
Posted on 03/07/2005 1:08:36 PM PST by quidnunc
Free spirits, the ambitious, ex-socialists, drug users, and sexual eccentrics often find an attractive political philosophy in libertarianism, the idea that individual freedom should be the sole rule of ethics and government. Libertarianism offers its believers a clear conscience to do things society presently restrains, like make more money, have more sex, or take more drugs. It promises a consistent formula for ethics, a rigorous framework for policy analysis, a foundation in American history, and the application of capitalist efficiencies to the whole of society. But while it contains substantial grains of truth, as a whole it is a seductive mistake.
There are many varieties of libertarianism, from natural-law libertarianism (the least crazy) to anarcho-capitalism (the most), and some varieties avoid some of the criticisms below. But many are still subject to most of them, and some of the more successful varieties I recently heard a respected pundit insist that classical liberalism is libertarianism enter a gray area where it is not really clear that they are libertarians at all. But because 95 percent of the libertarianism one encounters at cocktail parties, on editorial pages, and on Capitol Hill is a kind of commonplace street libertarianism, I decline to allow libertarians the sophistical trick of using a vulgar libertarianism to agitate for what they want by defending a refined version of their doctrine when challenged philosophically. Weve seen Marxists pull that before.
This is no surprise, as libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.
--I must be an anarcho-libertario-Vulgarian---
"Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism"
That might be true of communism,but, in fact, marxism is even more ludicrous. It posits a crazy pseudo-hegelian philosophy that leads to iron-cast historical "laws" that societies follow neatly and allows itself the conceit that it is scientific. Amusingly Marx and his followers never had anything much to say about how a socialist society would orshould be run. It is truely a worthless ideology.
While I'm much more of a Conservative than a Libertarian I do exalt the rights AND responsibilities of the Individual. As such, I find this writer's thesis Hogwash.
Robert Locke is the Bea Arthur of the Right.
Bingo. It is all about the mix. Look at how the founders granted the federal government explicit powers and protected individuals with rights. The authors argument (if it can be called such) is in fact a strawman.
Some of the Libertarians I've run across seem fairly sensible;others chant slogans that would make a Marxist feel at home.One even sings the praises of "the valiant resistance fighters in Iraq",and complains about the needless cruelty of American troops.
I wonder,at times,how many of those self-proclaimed Libertarians are really Maoists in drag ???
But because 95 percent of the libertarianism one encounters at cocktail parties, on editorial pages, and on Capitol Hill is a kind of commonplace street libertarianism, I decline to allow libertarians the sophistical trick of using a vulgar libertarianism to agitate for what they want by defending a refined version of their doctrine when challenged philosophically. Weve seen Marxists pull that before.
In fact, quasi-socialist "liberals" of the vulgar modern American type (ranging from Barbara Streisand to John Kerry) try to pull this maneuver. When they are pushing for freedom for perversion (or slaughtering the unborn), they invoke all of the personal freedom/"privacy of the bedroom" pieties as if they were written somewhere on stone tablets and brought down from Mt. Sinai by the Archangel Thomas Jefferson.
"It promises a consistent formula for ethics, a rigorous framework for policy analysis"
Got that right, they are about the most dogmatic people in the world. A set formula for everything.
Paloes are pretty dogmatic too.
And libertarianism degenerates into outright idiocy when confronted with the problem of children, whom it treats like adults, supporting the abolition of compulsory education and all child-specific laws, like those against child labor and child sex. It likewise cannot handle the insane and the senile.
This is incorrect. There are some libertarians who believe that. However, most hold that children, the insane, and senile are not capable of exercising their rights. Therefore, legal protection and limits on them are appropriate.
Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom.
This is incorrect. I do not believe that all free choices are equal. What I believe is that the cost of restricting free choice is, more often than not, greater than the cost of allowing an individual to freely make a poor choice.
Considering the author gets the "root dogma" of libertarianism wrong, that calls into question the rest of the piece.
I'm a Conservative with and I consider myself a 'small l' libertarian....
The Islamo-fascists attacked our country and it is my prime duty to help in any way I can to destroy the evil menace.
If that goes against some folks who say that is not libertarian, thats too friggin bad. I just wish our government would be as eager to destroy the enemy as I am.....we are way to easy on them and the stuff that goes on in abu grabe and Gitmo is just childs play compared to what we should be doing to get the scum to fess up and to 'name names'.
"quasi-socialist 'liberals'" are not in fact libertarians. They love Big Brother. They cannot get enough of the state to suit them. Libertarians (at least most of my big "L" Libertarian friends) want just the opposite - minimal government. People like Walter Williams (who is pretty clearly a libertarian based on his writings) are not at all on the same page as the Anarcho-capitalists (who in reality just about don't exist [statistically speaking]).
Why don't we wait until liberalism has been officially swept into the dustbins of history before we have this debate?
You don't have to be a card-carrying "libertarian" to understand that there is a problem with compulsory education along the lines of the statist monopoly/secular humanism model. An eduational system that leads to enslavement of the mind to lies is a disgrace that hardly advances either "freedom" or the "improvement of mankind" as boasted by its banal propagandists. Intelligent Americans have a moral duty to oppose that kind of statist tyranny.
Just let Karl Hess, Ayn Rand and me be..
"quasi-socialist 'liberals'" are not in fact libertarians.
They pick and choose where they would like "freedom" to be applied. Hypocrites. STUPID hypocrites.
They also claim that moral values are completely unknowable. If that were true, any preferences for "freedom" or human "rights" wouldn't matter. They're just stupid a-holes.
The most insane ones get more upset about tobacco smoking or hunting wild animals than about slaughtering unborn humans.
"You want to kill a baby? Well, I feel like a steak now. Contemplate that."
then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism.
The fallacies in this person's thinking is exposed in this sentence. People are most generous when they get to keep and spend their own money on what they choose. Governmental theft most often results in the money being spent in the wrong places, inefficiently and, on top of all of this, severely inhibits economic growth. A voluntary society not government tyrannically is exponentially more efficient at charity.
From 'Tsunami Tyranny'
Do you now see the reason for the disparity between the US public and private giving and that of the other countries of the world? The US has the highest per capita GDP of all those countries listed because we still respect the property of our citizens the most, which is reflective in our 'low' public Tsunami aid. However, the most interesting part of this entire analysis, and the key point of this paper, is that by respecting the property of our citizens the most we also assure that the largest and most important aid contributor in the Tsunami relief effort are the private citizens of the United States of America and their military.