Libertarians Have 5 Tough Answers for 5 Tough Questions
Questions and Answers
Commentary from the Libertarian Opinionizer
The vast majority of criticisms leveled against libertarianism come from non-libertarians and anti-libertarians in the form of false assumptions, ill-considered objections, strawman arguments or just plain boorish hatred.
An article by Keyvan Farmanfarmaian at the Being Libertarian website, “5 Reasons Why The Libertarian Movement Won’t Take Off” considered a handful of very thoughtful and on-point reasons why he thinks the Libertarian Movement has hit a brick wall and has stalled out. This in spite of the Libertarian Party’s best electoral showing to date, the explosive growth of libertarian student groups nationwide, and numerous surveys and polls indicating that Millennials are the most libertarian generation in modern history.
The five questions raised by the author aren’t the typical knee-jerk brain-dead criticisms of libertarianism with which we’ve all become too failure, thoughtlessly scattered like last decade’s New Year’s Eve confetti across discussion forums and Facebook Pages like “Who will build the roads?” (Answer: road-builders) and “If you hate government so much why don’t you move to Somalia?” (Retort: If you hate capitalism so much why don’t you move to North Korea?).
YOUR LIBERTARIAN OPINIONIZER PICK: This updated and expanded version of Dr. Ruwart’s classic libertarian Q&A belongs on all of our bookshelves. We can turn to any page and arm ourselves with knowledge or pick a specific topic and read up/brush up on it.
After years of reading her column on Advocates for Self-Government it’s great to have her book in hand.
“I believe there are five main issues that plague the libertarian movement” proclaims Farmanfarmaian in his article, and then proceeds to do an excellent job of identifying them and explaining why he sees them as intractable.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer very many “Short Answers” to his “Five Reasons.” This article will attempt to do just that. But the overarching answer to all of these kinds of questions is this: People wanting to educate others about the libertarian philosophy must first thoroughly educate themselves and then reach out to help others understand how the non-aggression principle in a post-statist society naturally results in personal freedom, economic liberty, self-responsibility, equally-applied individual justice (there is no such thing as “social justice”) and tolerance for all peaceful people.
Here are Farmanfarmaian’s five critiques with their original headings and the Libertarian Opinionizer’s five answers.
1. Entitlement Culture
The author’s first observation is that “the State acts like a drug.” Once people become addicted to government welfare programs it’s difficult for them to imagine life without them. He argues that the “over bloated entitlement culture” makes recipients virtually immune to every libertarian argument against it.
But that’s true of any status quo situation. The known becomes comfortable while the unknown is scary. The good news is that not everyone has to be persuaded by libertarians to abandon the coercive entitlement culture and help build the libertarian free society. Only 10 percent of people need to be persuaded.
It’s fully explained in a 2011 article headlined “Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas”
The first sentence spells it out and every libertarian should read the entire article and never forget it.
Making vs. Taking
“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.”
Everyone familiar with America’s political and social history are keenly aware that this is exactly how Progressivist Marxist socialist communist welfarist ideology became the dominate mindset in a once-free country.
This is also the reason why libertarians with their unshakable belief should never never ever compromise on the non-aggression principle. Doing so simply dilutes the 10 percent tipping point and defeats, rather than furthers, progress toward the 10 percent that we need.
Government IS Tyranny
2. People Don’t Realize State Programs Reduce Liberty
Farmanfarmaian is concerned that libertarianism “requires people to think in the long term” while most people only think in the short term.
“Every time a new state-run program is introduced to help people do this and that,” he complains, “their freedom from government is slowly being nibbled away, but the general population seems unable to see this in the long run.”
The result is that “Many people don’t seem to understand or see the connection between tyranny and government.”
But people don’t have to remember this in the long term if libertarians keep pounding away in the short term at every opportunity that there is no “connection between tyranny and government” because government is tyranny.
It comes right back to Reason 1, why libertarians should never compromise on the non-aggression principle that rejects the use of physical coercion, intimidation and fraud by some against others, and that this principle applies just as explicitly to government as it does to everyone else.
Libertarians, in short, don’t have to convince everyone that government is just a criminal gang; only 10 percent of the population needs to learn and internalize this simple reality. They then become the 10 percent “opinion makers,” “opinion leaders” and “opinion formers.”
Don’t Mess With the NAP!
Heartfelt Not Heartless
3. Libertarians Appear To Be Heartless
Libertarians insist on freedom and responsibility simply because individual freedom requires personal responsibility. It’s inescapable. But Farmanfarmaian rightly points out that libertarians have an image problem. Some people think that asking people to be responsible for their own actions and the consequences of their choices means no one should help others.
But it’s less an image problem as it is a strawman problem. Social justice warriors consciously lie about libertarians being heartless to keep people believing that only coercive government welfare programs can ever help anyone.
The reality is, as explained in David T. Beito’s classic work From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967 that all social welfare services were created by the private sector before they were co-opted, politicized and monetized by the crony corporatist/statist public system.
What libertarians need to make clear is that the non-aggression principle very specifically rejects the interference of people helping people. Reams of paragraphs could be written about this but a simple word-illustration works even better. The following is from a December 10, 2016 article by Micah J. Fleck in the Libertarian Republic titled “Libertarian Social Media Pages Unite to Prove Voluntary Donation Works.”
Briana needed surgery to save the sight in her left eye but she and her husband couldn’t afford the monthly premiums and the deductible that Obamacare required, and the enrollment deadline was December 15. So they launched a GoFundMe campaign. It was discovered by Being Libertarian Director Nathaniel Owen who posted it on his site’s Facebook Page. People began giving – and giving – and by that evening Being Libertarian had raised over half of the total needed.
Fleck wrote in his article, “A quick scroll through Briana’s GoFundMe page‘s donor list will prove just how tightly involved the libertarian circle was in getting this campaign (now trending) off the ground – every other accompanying comment reads ‘taxation is theft.’” And the couple’s politics had never even come up.
But that’s not all. Through the process of “spontaneous order” the funding turned into a three-way effort between Being Libertarian, Occupy Democrats Logic, and Capitalism. By the Obamacare enrollment deadline of December 15 the couple’s $10,000 goal had been met and exceeded, topping out at $10,605 along with the notation “Raised by 513 people in 8 days.”
There’s your libertarianism!
Laissez-Faire Favors Everyone
4. Libertarianism Appears To Favor The Rich And Well-Connected
Libertarianism not only doesn’t favor either the rich and well-connected or the poor and unconnected but its rejection of initiated force, intimidation and fraud actually leaves everyone equally free!
Get that? It leaves everyone equally free.
It means that without coercive institutions like governments or the corporations and unions created by government legislation or non-government criminal enterprises like the Mafia and street gangs, everyone is free to pursue their own lives. The rich and well-connected, as often happens, are free to lose all of their riches and connections while the poor, as also happens, are free to gain riches and connections. Everyone between those extremes is free to do the best they can with their individual abilities.
It means, furthermore, that everyone is free to voluntarily help anyone else they choose to help if they think someone doesn’t have enough freedom or enough connections and no one has any right whatsoever to forcibly prevent them from helping others.
If collectivists really believe, as they often claim, that there can be no freedom without equality the free libertarian society leaves them completely free to help others acquire more freedoms, more connections, more wealth, and whatever else they wish to do as long as they leave everyone else alone (see 5 below) unless they’re just not really the caring types like libertarians (See 3 above).
It’s Corporatism vs. Free Market
5. Crony Capitalism vs. Free Society
Here the author rightly complains that people have a “huge distrust of capitalism” because “people don’t seem to understand the difference between crony capitalism” and what he and many libertarians call “true capitalism.”
The simple solution here is that libertarians should just stop using the word “Capitalism.”
The word carries too much baggage. In too many manipulated minds capitalism means cronyism, statism, fascism and corruption. Libertarians believe in free markets in a free society which not only includes a free marketplace in goods and services but leaves people alone to freely interact in all other peaceful aspects of their lives as well.
Don’t believe in private property ownership? Don’t own any, but leave everyone else alone. Don’t believe in hierarchical structures? Don’t create or join any, but leave everyone else alone. Want worker-owned businesses? Create or join them, but leave everyone else alone. Want people’s collectives, co-ops, communes, kibitzes, communities? Help create them and join them, but leave everyone else alone.
Some collectivists don’t believe in markets of any kind. The answer is still the same: Don’t participate in them, but leave everyone else alone.
All any “libertarian socialist” or “libertarian communist” has to do is help create a truly free society by accepting the non-aggression principle against initiation of physical force, intimidation and fraud and they will be free to peacefully pursue their own ideological beliefs. No libertarian would prevent them from doing so. They could put their Marxist vegan restaurant with its worker-owned staff right next door to Bubba’s BBQ Corral with its hourly employees. What could they be afraid of? They’re appealing to totally different clienteles anyway so they’re not even competing with one another.
Using any form of coercion, whether statist or non-statist, disqualifies anyone from using the “libertarian” label in both the European sense (non-statist anarchist) and in the American sense (The non-aggression principle). A true free society allows for an endless variety of peaceful lifestyles and human interactions.
Libertarianism serves everyone equally except for one class of soulless humans: Those who want to use, control, manipulate, victimize, oppress and coerce others. Anyone who is not libertarian is authoritarian. There is no in-between.