March 8, 2005

Libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right...

I highly recommend this critique of Libertarianism, by Robert Locke, in American Conservative Magazine...

....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. We’ve 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...
.......
....Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect libertarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes libertarianism by its own premise, as libertarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians...

We never see Libertarian revolutionaries seizing control of the state like leftists do. I suspect they lack a certain ooompf, because they don't have the biggest psychological attraction of Socialism: the prospect of being one of the superior people who control everyone else's lives in minute detail. (If there ever were a Libertarian state, I suspect that the outcomes Libertarianism predicts would soon be compulsory, and the totalitarian apparatus would evolve accordingly.) But socialists have this in mind all along (perhaps unconsciously), so the little Lenins are happy to labor for decades in obscure Zurichs, or pour fanatic energy into controlling the student council at the local Junior College.

Libertarians can't match that ant-like dedication, because they have no tantalizing vision of the wonders they will achieve in the first 5-Year Plan...

Posted by John Weidner at March 8, 2005 2:47 PM
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