“And God saw everything he had made, and he saw that it was very good; and God said, It just goes to show Me what the private sector can accomplish. With a lot of fool regulations this could have taken billions of years.” –Author Unknown
I finished writing a long-winded (long-typed? long-typeded) post about Libertarianism and its lack of historical context in America. It went into the myth of the “Libertarian Tradition” in America and dispelled the notion that smaller government equals an increase in individual liberty. Then it struck me. I’m over-complicating the issue. I don’t have to prove that the Libertarian and Tea-Party ideations of a small-government will be ineffective at offering people more personal freedom. History has already proven that point.
The Industrial Revolution was a great example of what happens to the average individual when government is disinterested in keeping private industry in check. The question is simple: Is there an appreciable difference between centralized political power and centralized financial power? The answer is no…both are effective ways to bully the majority into subservience. While Libertarian and Tea-Party supporters can point to effective ideas for curbing the power of the government, they have no answer to the problem of large corporate interests filling that power-vacuum.
This is not my point, exclusively; I’ve heard Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, and other like-minded intellectuals make this point. It is a common-sense idea that is well-argued by history. Indeed, the recent rapid rise of Libertarian-thought and enthusiasm for a deregulated free-market is born of our more modern generation’s disdain for learning from the lessons of history, or perhaps there’s a growing zeal for repeating the mistakes of the past, or maybe we just have an underdeveloped sense of irony. At any rate, modern Libertarian and small-government leaning Tea-Party philosophy is nothing more than a do-over of archaic American economics without a strategy for correcting the problems that are known to exist in it.
I’ve heard it said: “Don’t worry about the free-market; it doesn’t need regulation…it regulates itself.” Good news, you don’t have to be an history buff to see the folly in that last statement. Maybe pre-2008ish one would’ve been able to subscribe to the notion that the free-market is too dependent upon its customer-base to cannibalize it. But you would need an undying devotion to ignorance to believe that now. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in Santa Claus well after it was age-appropriate to do so, and I believe that God is real. So you can see that I too have a weakness for ideas that cannot stand up to the scrutiny of empirical scientific data. But I have my limits.
Another tenant of modern Libertarian thought is the privatization of municipal services. History says: “The Pinkertons”. History is boring. But we have a modern-day example of this short-sighted world-view. Only the most ardent ideologues see the privatization of the prison system as a success. That’s not entirely true: Ardent Ideologues and people who aren’t paying attention both seem to be pleased with the privatization of law-enforcement. In fact it is a failure. At best it is a system that is no more effective at accomplishing its ends than its government-controlled counter-part. At worst it is so economically unfeasible that some have stooped to corrupt practices in order to bolster the financial viability of these prisons. Who would have thought that adding a profit incentive to private law-enforcement agencies would be a recipe for corruption? Who indeed.
True Libertarian and Anarchistic societies have existed in the past. Not only did they exist but they thrived (sorry kids, this point requires a little historical homework, as most were eviscerated by Rome…you know, the guys who tried the system at which we are currently failing first), but it is important to note that these pockets of individual liberty enjoyed an egalitarian mind-set that has yet to be mimicked in modern western civilization. Why? Egalitarianism has a strict threshold of diminishing returns when it comes to profitability. It is the sacrifice of prosperity in the interest of sustainability. A concept for which the American Dream has little patience. Who am to argue against somebody’s blood-lust for the ever-elusive brass ring? I would never…but one cannot serve both liberty and mammon. America has been very clear about which master she prefers…for good or ill.
As for the politicos-Paul, please hear me on this one. If you are a true Libertarian, then vote for true Libertarian candidates. A small-government Republican does not a Libertarian make. The Pauls are to libertarianism what the novelization of the Twilight franchise is to literature. Republicans are co-opting ideas that Libertarians hold dear in a move to lure them in to the fold of the Republican base. In the late 1800’s the Democrats pulled the same move with the Populists. The Populists fell for it and that played a huge role in you thinking: “Who?”, when you read the word: Populist.
Any centralized power-structure is bad for personal liberty. It doesn’t matter if that power-structure exists through the bastardization of a well-thought-out democratic process, or if one just inherits it from one’s daddy. But if you do believe that the tenets of Libertarianism can truly help your fellow Americans by restoring power to the individual through shrinking the influence of the Federal Government, then by all means vote for strong Libertarian candidates, not career politicians like the Pauls or the Jindals or the Walkers of this country. Even stupid ideas deserve to be done well…