by Kung Fu Zu 12/28/13
Much of what Libertarians preach is simply a rehash of classical liberalism or constitutional conservatism. To a very great extent, American Conservatives fall into the category of classical liberals and wish for the smallest possible government consistent with maintaining a peaceful and orderly community. If Libertarians could focus on this broad area of agreement, there would be the normal back and forth on specific policies, and a working political coalition between Libertarians and Conservatives could be established.
Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen because, at the heart of the Libertarian philosophy, there is the desire for a Utopian paradise which is based on a profound misunderstanding and denial of human nature. This Utopian dream has pronounced similarities with Marxism. Some may find this statement outrageous but the following quotes should give those people reason to reconsider their position:
“The interference of the state power in social relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then ceases of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production. The state is not “abolished,” it withers away.”
The above statement was made by Marx’s good friend and financial supporter Frederick Engels. Many have forgotten this part of Marxist theory, but the end point of Marxism was the state of no State.
The next quotes are from the famous Libertarian Murray Rothbard.
“It’s ours to right the great wrong done,\\ Ten thousand years ago — \\ The State, conceived in blood and hate, \\ Remains our only foe! \\ Oh, join us, brothers, join us, sisters,\\ Victory is nigh!\\ Come meet your fate, destroy the State,\\ And raise black banners high!”
“The State is in no sense required by the nature of man; quite the contrary.”
“The great non sequitur committed by defenders of the State, is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of the State.”
The similarity in thought is striking. Both groups have the political end of doing away with the State. We know how Marxism’s most successful proponents, the Bolsheviks, and their cousins the Maoists, tried to attain this goal. It was by the slaughter of tens of millions of people. The Libertarians’ method is not yet clear, but perhaps they hope to bring everyone around a campfire and get them stoned on weed.
Why any rational human being would entertain the thought that humanity could function without the “State,” (however one wishes to define it — society, community, etc.) and some sort of communal coercion which comes with being a part of a political group, is something which psychologists should further study. Yet in their Muenchausian world, Libertarians such as Rothbard appear to believe that each individual is completely autonomous and can act without affecting others. This leads to several questions.
Do Libertarians truly believe that, all or even most, individuals left to their own devices could exist in harmony together, as everyone would be “reasonable”? If so, they should cite an example of such a town, state or country. Have Libertarians no idea of the volatility of human nature? Do they think by wishing to change human nature they can simply say “make it so” and it will be? Such magical thinking moves one to say “God save us from all social engineering theorists.”
Throughout history, groups starting at the family level have determined through experience that a minimum level of unity and cohesion are requisite for survival. They established rules of conduct in order to promote such unity and cohesion. These rules have sometimes been maintained by group force. Such rules, developed over time within the tribe and larger units, eventually evolved into the “Rule of Law.” The fact that the “Law” was known and everyone was, at least theoretically, subject to it, is one of the greatest achievements of mankind. Limits were imposed. People knew what the rules were and could adjust their lives accordingly. Order, safety — and freedom itself — grew from this.
Libertarians claim they set their own standards and do not wish to impose them on others. This sounds nice, but in reality they would impose their standards on others. To take an extreme case, let us imagine a Libertarian decides to walk naked down the street in a modest community and someone objects. His answer to the objection will be, “you cannot restrict my freedom to walk down the street naked as I am not hurting you. I am not imposing my beliefs or will on you. If you don’t like me walking down the street naked, don’t look.” But this is a disingenuous argument because he is restricting your freedom. He is using your communal morals against you making you avoid a public area in order to keep from seeing him. The fact that the majority of people don’t wish to be confronted with his public nudity is not relevant to the naked Libertarian. To his mind, others have no right to proscribe his behavior. But clearly, communities must set standards. Knowing this, one can conclude that Libertarians desire the advantages of the community without being subject to the demands of the community. This is a type of Egotism which if nurtured and allowed to stand would create monsters and lead to the tyranny of the individual over the majority.
Following Libertarian logic, the only norms which society can impose on the individual are those prohibiting physical assault and theft. In the end, such thinking will lead to the point where exhibitionists, oddballs and malcontents will redefine acceptable behavior and, as Moynihan said, define deviancy down. Effectively, extremists and types who fancy themselves Nietzschean Supermen will rule because the simplistic non-coercion rule of Libertarians is an opportunity for the most ruthless to rule. If you have no authority (a State) to say “no,” then the law of the jungle reigns. These Nietzschean types will not be satisfied until they have brought a large percentage of society down to their level and literally forced the rest out of the public square. Their political reply to those who disagree with them is essentially, “get used to it.” This sounds very similar to what the Left is trying to do to the country and, knowingly or not, the Libertarians are simply abetting the Left in the race for the bottom.
Although Libertarians such as Rothbard may think they are moving forward, they are really regressing to some imaginary Rousseauian State of Nature. They are pining for a time when rules would become blurred and changeable depending upon each person’s whim. In reality, they would be on the road to a place where, at any given moment, the law becomes what the strongest decides. Unrestrained passion would flourish, as rules restrain such passion. The law would become capricious and capriciousness is the enemy of the individual and group. If Libertarians were foolish enough to follow such philosophy they would end up in a “State of Nature” i.e. a place where the life of man would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” as described by Thomas Hobbs. Luckily, we are not yet there and it is the State which has saved us from such an end.
Politically, I am a constitutional conservative. I believe our Federal Government, in its present form, is an abomination that has overstepped all bounds with regards to the rights of U.S. citizens. I believe it is corrupt to its core and is in collusion with big business, big labor and others, who Burnham describes as the “Managerial Class,” to the detriment of the individual citizen. In my opinion, the present Federal government is bloated beyond reason or need, is intentionally profligate with its citizens’ money, and its size and power should be dramatically reduced. However, I do not think it should be abolished. The only hope we might have to turn around our badly off-course ship-of-state is to recognize and understand human nature and the human condition. The quest for an earthly paradise is a fool’s errand. History has shown us that the pursuit of Utopia is too often a bloody journey. We should keep this in mind, as simplistic remedies with little basis in human reality will not be very helpful in reaching our political goals.
Self governance is one of man’s great treasures. The ability and right to have a say in how one’s society is ruled is something which should be highly prized. Keeping a skeptical eye on those who govern us is a duty required by all citizens if we intend to maintain our freedoms. But freedom from societal governance is a pipe dream and something beyond the moral ability of mankind. As Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” • (2604 views)