Thursday, November 08, 2012


This latest election continues to show the irrelevance of libertarianism as anything but a cats paw for the rich.

After roughly 30 years of support for the Libertarian Party, the Kochs very successfully showed their true colors by funding/founding the Tea Party movement.  Essentially, the idea that rich white males ought to run society in their own interest because that will keep THE OTHERS subordinate.  Others such as the poor, the non-white and females.

As far as the Kochs are concerned, libertarians are just "the help", and ought to be hired or fired at will. Thus we had the spectacle of the ownership of CATO becoming publicly disputed.  Golly, it was so funny to hear the true believers squeal when they discovered that belief doesn't mean squat against ownership.

Now that CATO is governed by a board instead of by shares, we can easily see who CATO represents.    Let's look at the 16 or so board members.

Only two are women.  One, Nancy M. Pfotenhauer, is a long-time lobbyist for the Kochs: part of the hired help.  The other is Ethelmae C. Humphreys from the Mackinac Center, part of the system of interlocking directorates that so closely resembles the Robber-Baron era corporate practices prohibited by the Clayton Act.  She's got family wealth.  So it doesn't look as if women are really represented in the board at CATO.

The rest are (judging from names) apparently rich, white males from the financial industry, heads of corporations, or provide interlocking directorates with other Koch-supported organizations.

What do these people represent?  Why liberty, obviously: the liberty of the 0.01%.  The liberty of the first class citizens -- the large corporations and the ultra rich.  Certainly not the liberties of the poor, sick, immigrants, minorities and women.  They allow their hirelings to write about those groups, but it is all lip service.  And people know it is lip service, which is why those groups are so under-represented in libertarianism.

Libertarians are applauding some of the electoral drug-war rollbacks that have taken place.  But those are not thanks to libertarianism: libertarians do not own drug issues.  As a matter of fact, they are very peripheral to drug issues.  Liberals have long opposed the drug war, and called for regulated usage of drugs.  Not freedom to use drugs.  And that is what has prevailed.  The heavy lifting has not been done by libertarians, but instead has been done by groups like NORML.

It would be very interesting to see libertarianism actually try to do something like get drugs legallized: if  a fraction of what libertarians spent on rights for corporations to poison and pollute got spent on promoting regulated legalization, it could happen very rapidly.  But it won't, because libertarianism is primarily a cats paw for the rich and their interests.


Mike Bast said...

This is interesting. I had a "discussion" with a libertarian a year or so ago where he said that no "rich" people were libertarian. I pointed to both the Kochs and Peter Thiel, and he denied it. He may have been right, more so that I was. All the worse for him, too.
As to the point about those who aren't rich, white males, and their not being libertarians, I find that interesting. I have had some discussions (from with libertarianism and without) about that, and most libertarian ideologues really don't get why minority groups don't see the "truth" of libertarianism (sort of like conservatives) and think they've been duped (or worse) by the left. It just never occurs to them that people can see through their shiny bs and can see the real-world of their policies.

Mike Huben said...

The rich are seldom libertarian or anything else: they are mostly aristocratic. That means using others as cats paws in the stuggles to stay on top of the heap.

Right-libertarianism is particularly vulnerable to exploitation this way. Primarily because it has no source of cohesion except the rich, and because it has been shaped for generations by the propaganda financed by the rich that glorifies the rich. They are mostly incapable of thinking outside of the propaganda that has been the air they breathe since their teens.

Very few libertarian ideologues have felt the oppression routinely felt by women and minorities. They think entrepreneurship is the solution to oppression by bosses, when all it does is give them a chance to be the oppressor. That's why the civil rights movement has been one of their great bugaboos: it is a classic example of non-market application of government to relieve widespread oppression.

Mike Bast said...

Interestingly, and I would be surprised if you've never had this discussion, I have been told that civil rights, child labor reform and most of the other progress we've seen through government action really were created by the free-market and that mass movements and government had nothing to do with them.
There is an entire industry on the right (conservatives and libertarians) feeding them false history, economics, politics and so on. All the worse because the ideologues really believe THAT is the truth, and actual, academic material is the revisionism. It's almost as though they live in a parallel world.