I need to stay away from The Week. Really I do. I’ve already taken issue with their flippancy before. I swear this time I was led there by the Drudge Report’s link to this article about a fascinating discovery on Saturn’s moon, Titan. As I was scrolling down I found this. Don’t click on it. Don’t. You know what it’s going to say. Too late.
I’m tired of this needing to be said, even though I know the motive as to why it needs to be. But here goes:
LIBERTARIANS ARE NOT ANARCHISTS!
Anarchists are anarchists.
Yes, highlighting the most vocally extreme elements of a group is a tried and true method for discrediting it. But libertarians as a whole do not subscribe to complete anarchy. If you were going to generalize us, the closest thing you could say is we seek to return the federal (very important to specify federal) government be returned to its constitutionally defined boundaries. Yes, even socially liberal libertarians acknowledge the blatantly obvious fact that government is out of control.
No two people think exactly alike, and libertarians run the gamut on a variety of issues. I, for example, am more of a social conservative so I may not entirely fit the chart below. But it certainly provides a much more accurate portrait than Mr. Linker’s piece.
But while libertarians vary greatly on issues, their uniting principle is more important. They agree on the process. We frequently recognize many of the same problems trumpeted by others. We just don’t often jump immediately to a government solution. Which is why we are anathema to progressives, who never want to, “…let a serious crisis go to waste.” No, libertarians don’t see every problem facing humanity as an excuse to expand the power of the State, with a side of not solving anything so it can be expanded a little more.
The author spends a great deal of time wrapped around his perception that libertarians believe in spontaneous generation of order. That we subscribe to the notion that people would treat each other just fine without Big Brother keeping an eye on us. AKA, anarchy. He brings up the infamous Obama “you didn’t build that” quote. He states that while small government enthusiasts were busy taking that sound bite completely out of context they were also missing the fact that the statement was accurate.
Again, for the cheap seats. Almost no one denies the need for structure! It is progressives’ religion of the State that continually grows it into an all-devouring monster. If small government advocates are forgetful of entrepreneurs’ dependency on government infrastructure, then progressives are at least equally forgetful of the successful entrepreneurs making the money and paying the taxes to fund it.
They are codependent of each other. Yet I would still go farther and argue that the State is actually the more dependent of the two. Mr. Linker’s misrepresentation of what libertarians actually believe aside, he is also guilty of what he believes he is pointing out. Spontaneous generation of order is a misleading description, the generation of order is actually very deliberate. It just doesn’t originate from government power and therefore, in a progressive’s opinion, invalid. But there is something to the phenomenon he’s describing, though he’d evidently loath to admit it if his article is any indication.
There has never been any idea or sector of business, industry, or technology where government came along first and built them a nice little regulatory enclosure to grow up and prosper in. It has always been people who on their own blaze a whole new trail into uncharted territory, places others didn’t even know were possible. Then the government comes in and decries the absence of regulation. Sometimes they have a point. Usually they’re chasing a new revenue stream or living in horror that people are surviving an even thriving without their direct involvement. Government hates nothing more than not dictating the comings and goings of life.
Irresistible side note: Apparently “spontaneous generation of order” is a sufficient explanation for existence but not for a government or economic model.
Of course, using fear mongering at its finest, whenever discussions of the absolute necessity of scaling back the government’s size and spending come up, people are inundated with how budget cuts mean that roads won’t get repaired and teachers, cops, and firemen will be laid off. It’s a patently absurd belief held by progressives that every dollar the government burns is money well spent. Entire agencies could and should be dissolved. Their “services” are no longer required if they ever were.
On most of the conflicts wrapped up with the sexual revolution and its aftermath, for example, I’m on the libertarian side of the argument — though I also think libertarians too often ignore or skirt over the moral dilemmas that arise in a culture of sexual autonomy.
On economic issues, I have far less sympathy for libertarian arguments…
I’m sure we’re all guilty at some point of making a similar statement, but do we ever stop to wonder at just how pointless it is? The parts where they agree with me I have no problem with, it’s the parts where the disagree with me that I take issue. In this part he was describing the generalized but not inaccurate depiction of libertarians as socially liberal. Quick plug for conservatives who come to this stumbling block with libertarianism. The refusal to out-and-out ban a thing or behavior IS NOT a tacit endorsement.
The use of victimhood combined with deferred consequences is the left’s main vote-buying mechanism. Libertarians might agree with things like gay marriage or drug decriminalization but they don’t then go on to support endless entitlements or the villainization of the successful. Libertarians believe that life itself is the best teacher. If people aren’t cushioned from the consequences of their decisions, both good and bad, then they do tend to make better decisions as time goes on. It is largely a self-sufficient system already occurring in nature. All government could hope to do is interfere with it. No matter how much we disagree or debate a topic, if your belief is valid it will require no props. It can stand on its own.
But surely there are instances where you need a little more government. If only we had a mechanism in place. Oh wait, we do. The Tenth Amendment. Progressives despise the Tenth Amendment. It lays their faculty lounge policies naked before honest competition. And as we can see over the last century, when the Tenth is ignored, people in New York, California, Chicago, and D.C. get a disproportionate amount of influence over how people in Kansas, Minnesota, or Alaska live their lives. The Constitution defined tight limits on the federal government. If people in individual states want a larger regulatory body, that is their business.
The primary point of the article in the Week is that libertarians neglect major aspects of reality to support their beliefs and that in doing so they’re inviting danger. But to discount what libertarians have been preaching for decades now gives a false impression. To denounce the libertarian view as unworkable implies that we can continue on the way we are just fine. Any proclamation that, if anything, we need more regulation is the height of foolishness. Once already I’ve brought up that an attempt to simply count the laws on the books was abandoned as a fool’s errand, three decades ago. And it didn’t even try to address regulations. I also included the Wikipedia page that listed the federal agencies. Notice how not only does each one expand government power, but it expands it in the executive branch. The one with all the guns.
Even if too much libertarianism would be a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea,” we’re not in danger of too much of it anytime soon. Still, the only ones it really endangers are those that need to control others’ lives. The biggest danger of it for everyone else is that we’d all need to grow up.