Is it me, or have there been an inordinate number of anti-libertarian diatribes in the media these days (sorry, no links)? I realize that Ron Paul’s running for president again, but judging by all the soiled liberal drawers lying around you might think a horde of libertarians were marching on Washington as we speak.
Here’s another one, which posits that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy and is therefore a natural ally of right-wing autocracies because a few leading 20th-Century libertarians had good things to say about Mussolini and Pinochet, because libertarians tend to have elitist disdain for democracy, and because voters in modern democratic states overwhelming reject libertarian policies. Okay. Without getting into whether libertarianism is really right-wing, or whether Hayek and Milton Friedman are its most suitable representatives, or whether the voting results from Coke v. Pepsi democratic elections tell us much of anything about anything, I’d just say that finding an ideological hack or two willing to toss their supposed principles aside for a little taste of power isn’t exactly an argument against an entire political philosophy. And if it is, then modern liberalism, which this piece implicitly defends, is in even worse shape than libertarianism. And no, not because some liberals in the 1930s were apologists for Stalin, but because a lot of liberals in 2011 are apologists for Obama’s expansion of Bush’s “illegal wars,” his consolidation and expansion of Bush’s executive power grabs, his selling out to Bush’s Wall St. and Bush’s insurance companies and…so on. Jonah Goldberg isn’t wrong about liberals. He just forgot to mention that conservatives are fascists, too.
Then there’s this nugget:
But civil libertarian activists are found overwhelmingly on the left. Their right-wing brethren have been concerned with issues more important than civil rights, voting rights, abuses by police and the military, and the subordination of politics to religion — issues like the campaign to expand human freedom by turning highways over to toll-extracting private corporations and the crusade to funnel money from Social Security to Wall Street brokerage firms.
Really? Who aside from Glenn Greenwald is writing about civil liberties issues from the left? As for their “right-wing brethren,” what about Radley Balko, or Will Grigg, who writes regularly about police abuse for LewRockwell.com, which in a lot of ways comes pretty close to the right-wing caricature on parade here? Just because they tend not to dress these issues up in the garb of identity politics doesn’t mean they’re not concerned with “civil rights.” And libertarians are easily as good on anti-militarism as “the left.”
But this is the best:
Unfortunately for libertarians who, like Hayek, prefer libertarian dictatorships to welfare-state democracies, even modern authoritarians reject the small-government creed. The most successful authoritarian capitalist regimes, such as today’s China and South Korea and Taiwan before their recent transitions to democracy, have been highly interventionist in economics, promoting economic growth by means of state-controlled banking, state-owned enterprises, government promotion of cartels, suppression of wages and consumption, tariffs and nontariff barriers to imports, toleration of intellectual piracy, massive infrastructure projects to help industry, and subsidies to manufacturers in the form of artificially cheap raw materials, energy and land.
A liberal invoking China’s authoritarian state-capitalism as an argument for welfare-state democracy, and, even better, at the end of an article that attempts to discredit libertarianism in part by citing some of its adherents’ support for authoritarian regimes. (Hey, I hear Kim Jong Il is no fan of libertarianism either. You see?) I wonder if it’s ever occurred to Lind that things like “government promotion of cartels,” “suppression of wages,” and “subsidies to manufacturers in the form of artificially cheap raw materials, energy and land” are what’s causing the problems that the welfare-state is designed to ameliorate. The only question that remains to be settled is why anyone should pay attention to liberals.