Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Short, Simple Dismissal Of Libertarianism

99% of libertarianism is obviously untrue or unacceptible.
How can we know that so easily? Here are some simple principles that make it obvious (though these problems are not unique to libertarianism.) For brevity and clarity, "many" and "most" are omitted: presume they are there.
  • Libertarians can only agree with each other if they get so vague that their statements have no fixed meaning. It's the same way we know that no more than one religion could be right, and probably none are.
  • Libertarians use vague glittering generalities of propaganda (terms like "liberty") rather than specifics such as "liberty for A to do B at an uncompensated cost C to D".
  • Libertarianism is based on imaginary "natural rights" (including property rights.) Real rights are creations of coercive human institutions such as law.
  • Libertarianism privileges property rights (their "liberty") above all other values, redefining liberty in terms of property.
  • Libertarian economic arguments are based on multiple, conflicting, unrealistic economic models such as "economic man".
  • Libertarians prefer the feudal property relations of business and markets to democracy.
  • Libertarian philosophy is a "one size fits all" procrustean bed that doesn't address the other human needs of women, children, elderly, incompetent, sick, minorities and others who resent being forced into unjust market competitions.
  • Libertarianism is domineering and totalitarian: nothing and nobody is excused from ownership and markets. No matter how impractical markets might be.
  • Libertarians want to dictate which freedoms we get for all time, and don't want to allow others to choose their freedoms.
  • Libertarians ignore ideas of equality and justice except to make the ludicrous claim that markets provide them.
  • Libertarians demonize government while ignoring the benefits of government.
  • Libertarians argue as if government is monolithic when there are hundreds of competing nations and most contain balances of powers and many independent levels.
  • Libertarians shill for the wealthy.
  • The intellectual structure of modern libertarianism has been funded from the start by the wealthy and corporations as propaganda to serve their interests.
  • Libertarians engage in corporate-funded denialism of science, history and economics.
For a more extensive list, see: What Is Wrong With Libertarianism.

If you have other straightforward, one or two sentence additions, please suggest them.


Nicki Brøchner said...

You missed one: Libertarians rapes babies

Unlearningecon said...

Tired with property rights, but libertarians:

(a) Ignore the fact that a poor man is 'coerced' into not being able to take food from a shop by the law.

(b) Think the employer-employee relationship is equal, and opportunities for coercion in the workplace are negligible.

It has been said that the simplest and best rebuttal to many libertarian arguments is "on the other hand, all of recorded history."

Unlearningecon said...

That should be: tied* with your point about property rights.

Chili Dogg said...

For a libertarian response to the alleged critiques to libertarianism, go to http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/response_to_huben.html.

Huben gets toasted!

Unknown said...

Chili Dog, if by toasted, you mean raising a glass, then maybe. Otherwise, not really.

Anonymous said...

Re: the David Friedman article. I didn't know whether to read it, or create my own geo-cities website in response chalk full of animated gifs.

Anyways,I think this is a great article with short and sweet summaries of the many of the gaping flaws. I like to write in critiques of libertarianism as well, and you sum it up quite nicely.

I staunchly disagree with the libertarian literature, but I wouldn't say 99% of it is crap. I think it just gives your critics fodder to point out hasty generalizations.

Anyways, to add: Libertarianism operates on the assumption that wealth creates happiness, yet completely ignores more than 50 years of social psychological research that refutes that assumption.

Michael said...

What I find interesting is that this will be ignored outright, or attacked as "missing" something or other that isn't important.
I just saw an interview with David Brin where he talked about dogmatic libertarians and in the comments, he was dismissed as not being "smart enough" to understand Rothbard.
The biggest reason for dismissing libertarians is that they're a cult, nothing more. They talk a great game about reason, logic, truth and evidence, but they just use the words to marginalize and attack outsiders, and reinforce their identity within. It's a cult.

bookbuster said...

Is Unlearningecon serious? Making it illegal to steal bread is coercion against a poor man? In the state of nature, when you are hungry you have to work to get food. We are not born into a perfect utopian state of nature. In fact, we have problems right away. The free markets and capitalism will not solve all problems, of course, but it replicates the most basic and natural way of living.

The poor man has no right to eat for free because God or nature didn't give him that right in nature. He has to work for what he wants.

Everyone has the same rights and is treated equally before the law. Governments role is to protect those rights. I agree that there is dogma in the Libertarian view, namely the Non-aggression principle and the adoption of the individual rights. While there is definitely dogma attached, what possible other dogma do you want society to live by?

"It has been said that the simplest and best rebuttal to many libertarian arguments is "on the other hand, all of recorded history." Is this a serious? Are you putting socialism's historical track record up against capitalism's?

Mike Huben said...


In a state of nature, there wouldn't be property rights preventing people from working for their food. You could grow your own food, fish, hunt, timber, etc. These options are not available to the poor today because of the property rights of others.

Today's poor did not agree to those property rights which leave them with nothing: they are FORCED to accept them by coercion.

But you don't seem to know very much about states of nature: there is nothing in a state of nature to prevent somebody from taking food either.

Michael said...

Bookbuster's comment is exactly the kind of cultish response I was talking about. It uses a nearly-meaningless but accepted phrase (state of nature) as a way of shorthanding thinking, it frames the issues from a particular perspective and filters out anything that doesn't work in the cult's favor. It also uses assertions as though they're facts (government's role...)
It all ONLY makes sense to someone within that cult's bubble.