Debate Magazine

Great Minds Think Alike

Posted on the 24 August 2011 by Mikeb302000
(I was looking for one of my "Libertarianism is only right wing anarchy" posts and only found this)

I was curious after my George Monbiot, you swine… post as to what George's thoughts on libertarianism since we do share common beliefs. So, I did a search of his blog on the term libertarian and came up with subject headings such as:

Libertarians are the True Social Parasites
The Anti-Social Bastards in Our Midst

Yep, we are on the same page on libertarianism as well.

When it comes to the description of parasites, George should know since he is an Oxford educated zoologist. The concept that people will work well "if they can get government off our backs" is challenged by George in a case of what I call the ladder principle, which is where one uses the governmental system to prosper and then pulls the ladder up so that no one else can follow. In the case of one Libertarian, he was against government intrusion in the market, until his bank needed help!

The problem is that there needs to be some form of government, which libertarians decry as statism. But the government can be society at large. The libertarian prefers to not live within society's norms. Of course, as Geoge Monbiot points out, libertarians are all too interested in using the system's institutions against the system for their self-interest. For example, the Cato Institute used the Court system to rewrite the constitution in the Heller-McDonald cases. I am not sure what to think of the aspect that the Court did more than just interpret the constitution and the populace at large failed to notice that.

My personal experience of libertarians is that they are the ones who scream loudly of freedom, but do their best to intrude upon other's freedom and security. Naturally, that comment would attract claims from the libertarian crowd that my support for gun control is "anti-liberty". I counter that with among other things the fact that security checkpoints are common in US public buildings and people live in fear of being shot. Even more saliently, the Second Amendment was written to prevent a large military, not to ensure private arms outside the militia context.

MY impetus to write this is a response to a post at Daisy's Dead Air where she mentions incest. My opinion is that she is confusing liberals and libertarians. My first encounter with libertarians was that a class mate had libertarian parents. The parents gave their kids pornography and tolerated behavior which turned out to be the son molesting the daughter. I blame it on the libertarian dislike of the nanny state and calling incest a "victimless crime".

In reading the Maclean's article Daisy mentions, it sounds like the libertarian viewpoint. The first comment bears that out:
I agree wholeheartedly with the commentator. I think is a clear example of government overreach. There is no reason to criminalize incest. There is no need to deter people from doing it, since most people are naturally repulsed by it.
The article and the comments have that "intrusive government" aspect which is libertarianism.

As opposed to "Statists" who believe in things such as laws...And conventions of society.

Likewise, as a Green, I have a strong distrust of libertarianism since it is a pro-industry viewpoint. They argue such things as global temperatures have scarcely increased, so we should stop worrying about climate change. They suggest that elephants should be hunted for their ivory, planning laws should be scrapped, recycling should be stopped, bosses should be free to choose whether or not their workers contract repetitive strain injury and companies, rather than governments, should be allowed to decide whether or not the food they sell is safe. They rage against taxes, subsidies, bail-outs and government regulation. Well, bail-outs to the point that the libertarian requires them--then they are acceptable.

I will end by quoting George:
Wherever modern humans, living outside the narrow social mores of the clan, are allowed to pursue their genetic interests without constraint, they will hurt other people. They will grab other people’s resources, they will dump their waste in other people’s habitats, they will cheat, lie, steal and kill. And if they have power and weapons, no one will be able to stop them except those with more power and better weapons. Our genetic inheritance makes us smart enough to see that when the old society breaks down, we should appease those who are more powerful than ourselves, and exploit those who are less powerful. The survival strategies which once ensured cooperation among equals now ensure subservience to those who have broken the social contract.

The democratic challenge, which becomes ever more complex as the scale of human interactions increases, is to mimic the governance system of the small hominid troop. We need a state that rewards us for cooperating and punishes us for cheating and stealing. At the same time we must ensure that the state is also treated like a member of the hominid clan and punished when it acts against the common good. Human welfare, just as it was a million years ago, is guaranteed only by mutual scrutiny and regulation.

I doubt that libertarians would be able to sustain their beliefs in a place where the state has broken down. Unless tax-payers’ money and public services are available to repair the destruction it causes, libertarianism destroys people’s savings, wrecks their lives and trashes their environment. It is the belief system of the free-rider, who is perpetually subsidised by responsible citizens. As biologists we both know what this means. Self-serving as governments might be, the true social parasites are those who demand their dissolution.
And add that in a democracy, the people ARE the government, which makes me even more suspicious of the libertarian dislike for "government" and "the State".

"L'etat c'est moi" toi (vous?).

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