Libertarianism: A Naive Ideology

It is true that Libertarians believe in liberty, private property and the Constitution, but their platform goes much deeper according to David Boaz in “Libertarianism: A Primer,”  and Charles Murray in “What It Means To Be A Libertarian.”  Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life any way he chooses as long as he respects the rights of others.

Our Republic was based on the belief that human happiness was intimately connected with personal freedom and responsibility and that happiness required freedom and that freedom required limited government.

According to the Libertarian Party Platform agenda: Government must not define, license or restrict personal relationships for consenting adults.  Criminal laws must be restricted to violations of rights through force or fraud and all laws for victimless crimes like drug use, prostitution, pornography, should be abolished.  Abortion should be free of government interference.  The government should only maintain a military sufficient to defend this country against aggression.  Economic freedom requires open borders except for those people who might pose a threat to the country.  All income and property taxes must be abolished along with all federal agencies, services and programs not required under the Constitution.

They almost had me until I got to drug use, prostitution, pornography and abortion which, by the way, are NOT victimless crimes.  Open borders would essentially destroy the traditions and cultures of all nations and leave not only America but every country at the mercy of drug cartels, dictators and terrorists.  Utopia always sounds good on paper – it just never works in reality.   

Yes, we should protect human liberty above all else and minimize the role of government because it leads to the best outcomes for everyone. A laissez-faire market creates the most wealth; free expression creates a free marketplace of ideas in which truth prevails; market based solutions are the best way to protect the environment because if people want a clean environment all they have to do is pay for one. The competition of the private sector drives companies to greater heights of efficiency, productivity, and equality, which is why we should entrust everything from mail delivery to space exploration to the private sector and not to government.

But in the real world, the free exchange of ideas does not always lead to truth especially if evil is shouted more frequently and louder.  A free market for environmental goods is impossible because you cannot buy your own individual slice of clean air. And the efficiency of the private sector is only true when all parties have full, free, and perfect information, which never happens unless compelled by (gasp) government.

On its simplest level, Libertarianism is a combination of radical pro-free-market economics, opposition to regulation of our personal lives, and a strong opposition to foreign intervention, foreign aid, and generally to all American involvement overseas. Philosophically, it is a hostility and suspicion toward government period, so much so that libertarians want to restrict, not only the illegitimate powers of government, but also its legitimate powers. 

Libertarianism is linked historically and philosophically with the work of Ayn Rand, a mid-twentieth century Russian American novelist, screenwriter, atheist, and self-proclaimed philosophy  objectivism,  which is the moral and anthropological companion of libertarian political theory. 

The central tenets of objectivism is that reality exists independent of consciousness; that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, etc. I won’t bore you with its long and nonsensical atheistic explanation but, in its simplest terms,  Objectivism says that the highest ethical value a person has is selfishness, or the imperative to pursue one’s own happiness and fulfillment. Living sacrificially for another is a betrayal of the obligation to live, first and primarily, for oneself. Accepting someone else’s help is degrading; offering help to another is insulting.  Narcissism at its finest!   

Ken Bisson, of the Advocates for Self-Government defines “libertarianism as “what your mom taught you: behave yourself and don’t hit your sister.”  Mary Ruwart, author of Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression, defines Libertarianism as the “simple morality we learned as children: don’t strike first, don’t steal or cheat, keep your promises. If you inadvertently fail to live up to these standards, make it up to the person you’ve harmed. If someone harms you, you may defend yourself as needed to stop the aggressor and obtain reparations. This simple morality works group-to-group just as it works one-to-one to bring about a peaceful and prosperous world.”

The more I read, the more I contemplate Libertarianism, the more I realize that it is simplistic, deeply flawed and ideologically naïve, resting on a view of human nature that is totally unrealistic to reality. 

Am I to believe that Libertarianism can confront the reality of the real world, the reality of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Iran, Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood, drug cartels, mass murderers, greed, China, Russia, and evil in general?  

We’re responsible for what we’ve become.  America votes party, sound bites and empty promises. The less honesty and transparency we demanded from our elected officials, the more rotten government became.  But I’m not convinced that Libertarianism, even a more moderate Libertarianism is the solution for America’s problems.   A return to our founding principles and small government is the answer perhaps wrapped in the enigma of a riddle.  But like everything else – only time will tell.

Source: Reclaiming Conservatism from Libertarians, by Paul Miller at the Imaginative Conservative

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