Saturday, 5 July 2014

Is 'Libertarian' An Oxymoron?

Libertarians are favourite prey item of mine, as you can tell by the sound of crickets emanating from my worthy opponent's corner after I'd called him out for his hypocrisy over corporations.

The reason I pick on them (and win every time) is because Libertarianism is an immature, undeveloped ideology based on egocentric fantasies of wish fulfillment predicated on the erroneous notion that taxation is theft and freedom means no social responsibility.

The seductive lure of a political position based on treating people as economic units is hard to resist when you're convinced that merely deciding to buy or sell gives you power in a world subject to "the market."

Anarchists of every stripe are drawn to the Pirate Party because of our name. When they realise we're centrists, they don't like it and try to win us over to their way of thinking, promising freedom for all if we could only do away with government and the state.

Libertarians are particularly prone to this, and often hop into our discussion threads attempting to plug their brand of political snake oil, the ingredients of which feature Austrian School economists and thinkers like Bastiat and Paine.

What they believe

Libertarians, despite their professed beliefs, advocate for a social free-for-all where personal responsibility is for other people and social responsibility is condemned as theft and an abridgement of the freedom of the individual. In practice, this means liberty for me: I can buy up and hoard in-demand items to drive up prices and if the demand-side doesn't like it they can go elsewhere. I can hack your phone and publicly trash your reputation in the media. If you don't like it, take me to court - if you can afford it. Their philosophy, in its entirety, is predicated on the belief that "the free market" — the mere exchange of goods and services — can solve all our problems. Well, what about those people who can't take part in "the market"? They must rely on whatever aid their friends and neighbours are willing to provide.

The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals. We believe members of society will become more charitable and civil society will be strengthened as government reduces its activity in this realm.

Oh, really? In a socio-economic free-for-all where you can only choose to put up with a job that doesn't pay you enough to live on or look for work elsewhere, I'd have thought that the introduction and enforcement of a minimum wage would be the answer.

Why they are wrong

There is no such thing as a free market, and there never will be. Libertarian faith and practice ring-fences this by forbidding governmental interference with trade or property, trusting instead that the public will simply boycott bad actors until they behave. Unfortunately, in a world where large swathes of society are convinced that climate change is a con, good luck with that. Take a closer look at my conversation with Libertarian Allan R. Wallace:

I read the quote and, having ascertained what I was dealing with, I began to salivate, looking forward to Libertarian on toast. But I had to get him to reveal himself.

Oh, dear, butthurt, much? I baited the hook:

Then I went in for the kill. I'd only wanted a snack:

Mmm. Libertarians. *Drools* I could have made a bigger meal of this, revealing our learned friend as a corporatist running dog intent on assisting with our enslavement via the secret trade agreements being negotiated at the moment. I believe that conversation did enough to inoculate Pirates against the inherent hypocrisy of Libertarianism, and that I've revealed it for what it is: a fantasy that its own ideological positions prevents from existing. The fact that it has remained structurally unchanged for 150 years is enough to put me off: fit the ideology to the society, not society to the ideology.

The saddest part of it is that they're not able to adapt it to actually make it work in practice because it's an intellectual dead end: admitting that its central conceit, to wit, the existence of a free market, is a lie, would bring the whole edifice tumbling down. So yeah, libertarianism is an oxymoron as far as I'm concerned.

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