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Friday, 20 May 2016

Some thoughts on Libertarianism; schizophrenia for the embarassed conservative.

My major problem with libertarians (right wing, "fiscal conservatives") is the thinking that equality can be achieved by removing constraints. That somehow just letting everyone do as they please has the net result of greater liberty.
"it's the difference between equality of outcome and of opportunity!" I hear.
No. It's not.
This is conflating two VERY DIFFERENT conversations in order to avoid addressing the argument. Understandable, given the domination of the regressive left on the "equality issue," but declaring that everyone has all available opportunities by virtue of living within the same system is simply dishonest.

The idea that only personal liberty can ensure or enshrine equality (any definition of it, call it "fairness" if you like) is asinine. We ALL place limitations on individual freedom, the difference is only where the line is drawn.
This to me "bootstraps" thinking is the suggestion that "Darwinism" is a GREAT social strategy.
Survival of the fittest, right?
People will find their level, and to the winner goes the spoils.

Just... no!
Nature is fucking HORRIFYING.
Natural selection is just what happens, it's not a metric for moral and ethical living. It is CERTAINLY not what we should aim for as a society.
The superpower of our species, the things that has let us dominate a planet filled with animals that can individually out compete us, is cooperation. We rose above the limitations of "nature"
The sacrifice we make is to sign on to this unwritten social contract. We give up some of our personal freedom in order to benefit from the collective. I don't murder you and take your things, you don't murder me and take my things and now there are two of us to work together.

If somebody only has the "freedom" to do a thing that they have no conceivable method of ACTUALLY achieving, then they do not have that freedom.
Pretending they do is so faulty as to be utterly retarded.
There are no laws against you jumping to the moon, but you can not DO it. Such a freedom is utterly irrelevant.

With this said, affirmative action or government programs to try to ensure equality of opportunity MAY NOT be the best solution.
They certainly are not in all instances.

The pretence that there would be anything resembling equality without ANY intervention is delusional to the point of insanity. Might makes right. We can either choose to make that "might" accountable to the greater community, or make the community accountable to a mighty individual.
Discarding a system of accountability because it is not perfect and subject to corruption is not a solution.
This thinking stems from the mistaken belief that capitalism is equipped with a morality, that it can self govern and self correct.
That was NEVER an argument made by the original economists, and it is an issue that is run from in terror by economic conservatives who rush instead to blame all ills on "the state."

In order to ensure the greatest liberty to the most people you can not simply declare that everyone has access to the same opportunities because there are no laws AGAINST them taking the opportunities.
That is a silly statement, but it is one taken without thought by many conservatives.

To me, this "negative liberty" mindset is just a demand for the authority of wealth.
If you're rich, do as you please; if you're poor, do as you're told.
It *literally* does work like that, historically and wherever there is no social accountability.

Rich people are free to spend their resources as they please, poor people are NOT allowed to spend their resources. If they spend resources on things their employers do not agree with, the Pinkerton's may come along to break some skulls.
Poor people used their resources, ie: their time and bodies, to lobby for things they wanted.
According to the "individual liberty" crowd this is evil statism, apparently.
I've yet to hear a libertarian that supports Unions, but I've also yet to hear a libertarian suggest that wealth should be restricted in its uses, even when it comes to lobbying.
A clear double standard that places wealth above other resources. You can spend wealth to do whatever you want, but if you DARE use your time, effort or voice in an attempt to "purchase" something you desire... well. That's evil! But only when poor people do it.

Speaking of wealth as a tool for political influence;
It is ALWAYS the state at fault, never the "capitalist" bribing them.
Crony capitalism is apparently socialism these days, because who gives a fuck about what words mean? Socialism just means government wasting money, right? If it's giving that money to private institutions against the very nature and definition of socialism? Doesn't matter, still socialism!

I mean, libertarians can perfectly understand the flaws inherent in communist thinking.
Perhaps they generalise too much given that humans practice "communism" on the small scale almost universally, but as a political philosophy I tend to agree with "conservative" criticism.
The idea that we're all unique individuals that can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps is every bit as flawed and ignorant of human nature though. Communism may be too idealistic as a societal practice, but to dismiss it as evil is just... dishonest. Evil is done in the NAME of the ideology. A lesson we should all learn from and apply broadly to all ideology.

When will libertarians examine their own principles in the same light? They identify communism as too idealistic, utopian and unreasonable but rarely do I see any self awareness when identical ideas about "volunteerism" are proposed.
Lets just deregulate, right?
Humans will ALWAYS do the responsible thing! And if they don't, somehow it will all self correct because that's a reasonable argument! The markets will fix it!

The double standards and inconsistencies gall me constantly.
If a person receives help from the government it is evil. It oppresses everyone because tax is theft, people should EARN their own damn money! Getting money you don't earn (even if it's so you can eat) is immoral, it makes you lazy and is actually unfair because it traps people in poverty!
If a person receives help from their parents it is TOTALLY fair! It's an even playing field because everyone has parents! They EARNED that inheritance, and the golden standard; "it was already taxed once!"
Can nobody else see the hypocrisy?

I personally choose a more nuanced approach.
I don't think the regressives are correct in attacking the wealthy because of "privilege" (though I share a lot of the fire, as a socialist) and I don't think "fiscal conservatives" are correct in their contempt for the poor, nor their idea that "charity does it better"
If charity "did it better" then Africa would not have faced starvation in a generation (it has had billions in charitable aid) and we wouldn't constantly hear of mismanagement, corruption and incompetence.

My take? The government has an OBLIGATION to provide some services to its citizens. This is none negotiable.
Universal education WORKS.
Without it you would not be sitting in a modern western nation.
You'd be sitting in a slum.
What, you don't oppose universal ("free") education? Well, then you're a communist!
What, it's an exception? Then why must we talk in absolutes all the damn time!
If libertarians make SOME exceptions for state run utilities (police, military, emergency services, education, public service) then why pretend these things are INHERENTLY evil?
I never seem to get an answer to that. Just excuses as to why it doesn't count and having a different line drawn as to what services the government should provide suddenly turns you from a free thinking libertarian into a statist monster akin to Stalin, Mao and Hitler.
I'm sorry, I think a public option for healthcare works. I'm sad that makes me into Satan-Hitler.

And if you seriously do not agree with government as a concept?
Move to Somalia. Stop making excuses. Go to somewhere without a state to interfere with your life, for better or worse. Stop being a parasite. If you enjoy the benefits of a civil society so much, quit trying to destroy it or demonise those that don't share your ideology.